Tuesday, February 22, 2011

online fabric

i'm fairly certain my postal carrier hates me. but right now i feel like giving him or her a huge squeeze. packages in the mail are so nice, don't you agree? and a box of fabric contains endless possibilities.

like many newer homes, we have to get our mail from a neighborhood communal box, much like apartment complexes have always had. no more walking out my front door to my own box. even better was a really old house we used to live in that had a mail slot in the front door. i didn't even have to get dressed to fetch the mail, it simply fell on my living room floor. nowadays the postal service is more frugal and efficient. i have to keep track of a key, get dressed to a reasonable level, and walk four houses down and around a corner if i want mail, most of which is government-subsidized junk mail. more paper for the bird's cage.

our box is usually stuffed to it's gills by the time we check it every few weeks. there's often a notice saying they're going to return all our mail to the post office for holding if we don't empty it. our primary mail key has been missing for a few weeks, so even though i was expecting mail at the end of last week, i couldn't get to it. on saturday, i grubbed up five sets of unidentified keys that might possibly be the spares and tried to "open sesame" with no luck, standing in the rain the whole time. my treasures remained locked inside my box all because i couldn't locate the key.

monday morning, the mr. gave it a good hunt down since he needed his business mail (he works from home) and found the spares. joy! i threw on the first clothes i could touch and flew to the mailbox. it did not disappoint. not only was there one package box key hiding in my over-full inbox, but there were two! i'd filled up both spare boxes designed for packages, probably for a couple days. that's why i'm pretty sure my mail carrier hates me.

somehow i managed to get all three packages plus the mail balanced between my arms and chin (barely) and waddle home down my street. i'm sure i was a sight to see. the pants i'd grabbed were low rise and the shirt was an old one from the "let's show our belly a bit" era a few years back. (so glad that has passed.) it was an uncomfortable stagger home, but the fruits of my labor were well worth it.

first, from cia's palette:

a few yards of this and that, beautifully packaged, as always. i've ordered from her a few times. my yardage is always nicely folded and wrapped with the pretty vintage sewing label sticker sealing the deal. cia also includes a small cut or two of something new you didn't order (the floral piece on top.) i like that. i've talked to her on the phone before because she's called me with a question about an order. she's very courteous and pleasant. i like her fabric selection because it is rather different than what my local store carries, in many instances. i find her site easy to manage, although occasionally i have a hard time getting back to my cart if i'm not on the right page. overall, she's a pleasure to work with.

in packages no. 2 and 3 from the quilted castle:
two new quilt patterns and a whole mess of fabric. i raided their clearance section and "end of bolt" deals. i find that when a fabric line has been out for a while, stores that like to move stuff through will begin marking items down. i picked up some things that coordinate with fabric i already have for a fraction of the original price.

i've ordered from castle a handful of times and always get great service. the very first online order i did was through them. i was very nervous after it came because a whole fat quarter package was missing. but i emailed them and they completely believed me, gave me the option of shipping it, refunding my card, or a store credit. wonderful customer service. i like the way their site is arranged. you can shop by company, designer, collection, or even types of precuts.

after a save up a bit again, my next order will likely be to purl soho, the trendy shop in nyc. they've got some nice things i can't find here or on other sites. they come highly recommended in several books, so i'm anxious to give them a try. too bad their site is so slow, though. and the search feature has given me trouble. still, i've got my eye on some items.

i'm no expert, but my opinion on online shopping is that it's great for items you've seen before and know what they will be. often colors and/or pattern sizes are hard to judge accurately on the computer screen. i've gotten items before that were much brighter or differently colored than i'd anticipated. knowing exactly what you're getting will really help make for a good experience.

it's also a great way to pick up sale items. sometimes i take a chance on the sale items i might not have seen if the price is good. it's a tiny bit risky, but fun. what's popular in your local area may not be moving elsewhere and you can get some surprise bargains.

if you have your heart set on an item you must have, you'll probably find it online somewhere. etsy has tons of fabric offerings, even some small custom collections not found anywhere else. but if you go hunting for a specific hard to find item, be prepared to pay a premium and some hefty shipping. it's just not worth the shipping sometimes to get a yard or two.

i save up money to do bulk orders because many shops will throw in free shipping if you spend a certain dollar amount, ranging anywhere from $35 to over $200. i don't bother with the shops that don't ship for free. i haven't been that desperate yet. i see no reason why they can't do it if you're going to spend a nice chunk of change with them.

i'm looking for some sandi henderson i couldn't find anywhere else, so maybe i'll have some new sites to review in the near future.

anyone have a favorite site they'd recommend?

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