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It is time to review the online fabric store Hawthorne Threads. I have placed and received three orders from them so far.

Website: The website is the best I have seen for a fabric store.

Navigation

Fabric can be viewed by the usual manufacture, designer or collection. There are also several theme categories such as animals, children’s and solids. You can search by keyword.

On top of the regular browsing, they also have a great color search. You can select a color from a color grid or search for coordinates  by color in a specific print.

Pictures

The fabric swatch pictures are square and a decent size for searching and viewing on the specific fabric pages. I think they just use the standard pictures from the manufacture.  Sometimes a scale will be noted. It would be nice if the scale was always included and additional pictures provided, especially for large scale prints. Sometimes I have to go looking around for additional pictures outside of the site.

Although they do not provide additional pictures, anyone can upload pictures of their handmade items using the fabric. I find it very helpful to see these action shots. The submitted pictures can be linked to your website/store/blog.

Selection: One of the big perks to this site is the large selection of prints. Combining shipping is a big part of getting the best deal when shopping online, so it is great to be able to stuff an envelope with fabric for many projects. However, as the store is popular, many prints sell out very quickly! I had my eye on some fabric coming soon but didn’t jump on it right when it came out (you can sign up for email notifications) and it was sold out in less than a week.

I said they have a large selection of prints, the solids selection isn’t great. They have some Color Spectrum and Free Spirit Designer solids. Maybe these solids are great (I have never tried them), but I find it extremely difficult to pick solid colors from a computer screen. Because of a couple oops solid purchases, I bought a Kona Cotton colour card. Hawthorne Threads does not carry Kona Cotton Solids. Maybe they are just being polite to the solids sellers out there, because a store with a good selections and prices of both prints and solids would probably take a lot of the business away from the predominately solid sellers.

Money Matters:

Base prices are comparable to other online fabric stores. Quilting weight cotton prints are generally $8.00 per yard. Home dec weights range from around $13.75 to $15.95 per yard with many on sale.

Hawthorne Threads uses are Tiered Pricing system. Discounts are given based on order size, order history and cut.

An order over 3 yards will give a discount of 25 cents per yard and over 15 yards is 35 cents per yard. These discounts are a little push to help you jump into the next level of shipping  and buy more to get the cost per yard down.

Based on $8/yard base priced quilting weight fabrics. All cuts less than 15 yards. No order history.

As you see from the graph, the cost per yard jumps when you hit a new shipping tier (e.g. 2 1/8 yards, 9 1/8 yards, 18 1/8 yards). Generally it is cheaper to stuff an envelope, unless you are suddenly buying a bunch of stuff you don’t want! If I have room in my envelope, I team up with a friend to fill it. Also, I am jealous of the cheap shipping to the United States! Canada and Everywhere Else can decide if the overall cost is better than the local options.

If you manage to rack up an order history of 40+ yards, take off another 15 cents/yard. 100+ 25 cents. 400+ 50 cents.

Cuts 15+ yards are discounted by 50 cents/yard.

Shipping/Packaging: Shipping is comparable to other online fabric stores. In Canada, expect to wait 1-2 weeks. Fabric comes clean and wrapped in tissue paper. Cuts are accurate.

Overall: I like this store and I will order more fabric in the future. The selection and quality are good, shipping and packaging are as expected, and the prices are reasonable.

Three packages came today! Fabric store reviews to come for Pink Chalk and Hawthorne Threads.

Fabric Haul

Two Sundays ago I went on a fabric ordering frenzy. I placed orders at three different online fabric stores – Pink Panda Fabrics, Hawthorne and Pink Chalk. I thought the Pink Chalk order might get here the fastest because it is located just outside Seattle which is very close geographically, but across the border. However, the Canadian Pink Panda won the race even though it is in Ontario.

The main draw to Pink Panda was the free shipping to Canada. 5% off orders over $50. Shipping is free to the US for orders over $99, but I suspect their main business is in Canada at their prices, except maybe for some speciality items. Remember to factor in sales tax Canadians!

The standard quilting weight cotton cost is $10.99/yard. Even with shipping included, this price is still more than most American stores with the US and CAN dollar equivalent. However, some of the more expensive fabrics are a good deal. They carry Etsuko Furuya by Echino and some fabrics are currently on sale for $16.15/yard.

I bought a yard of minky for $14.99. The same fabric was $16.99 at local Dressew. I got 1/2 yard green and 1/2 yard blue.

Total time to receive the package was 8 business days. The packaging was a standard plastic envelope. It didn’t fit into my tiny mailbox so I had to go pick it up.

I brought the package home, opened it and measured the fabric. I don’t know if people usually measure, but I don’t have a good sense for size yet so I do. First I measured the green fabric. 3/4 yard. Then I checked my order: yes, it was 1/2 yard. So I measured again. Yes, 3/4 yard.  Bonus? Maybe it was to make up for the wonky cut of the blue fabric (end of roll I think, slightly over 1/2) which also was a little dirty in one spot (looks like 4 grubby finger prints). It should wash up okay, but someone needs to wash their paws after lunch!

Overall: I have only tried Pink Panda once, and overall it leaves me with a so-so feeling. It does seem to get here a bit faster than the US stores on average. The included shipping is nice because I don’t have to trying to stay within a shipping bracket. I also don’t have to try to milk the most out of the shipping and I don’t feel bad ordering from this store as well as another at the same time. The fabric cut was generous yet sloppy. I am tempted to get some Echino, but I definitely don’t want any messy fingers on that! But I wouldn’t say no to a little extra…

Update June 5, 2010: I ordered a couple yards of Echino fabric for $16.15/yard which included shipping in Canada. I received the package in good condition in 5 business days. The cut was accurate and the fabric was clean. I would order sale fabric from Pink Panda again.


My first online fabric buying experience was with uberstitch. Actually, my second experience was with uberstitch as well!

The first time I bought 2 yards to back my tree quilt (I will get around to that soon…)

Cost: $15.50 + $4 shipping to Canada = $9.75/yard

Shipping costs seem to be pretty standard. This order took 10 business days to arrive, 2 weeks total. Since the store is in Florida, the wait was expected. The package even managed to be stuffed into my tiny mailbox.

The second order was for a bunch (16) fat quarters plus two 1 yard cuts and a half yard cut. One of the yard cuts was on sale for $7. The main reason I went from this store was because they carried Andrea Victoria from Riley Blake (for a ‘mom’ quilt) and they cut fat quarters. I also bought my prints for the traffic quilt in this order.

Not only do they cut fat quarters or 1/4 yards, it is 4 for $7.75! If you want less than four it will be $2.25 each. But back to the main point, $7.75 for four fat quarters is the same as the yardage cost. Most places I have seen charge a pretty premium for FQ packs. They also have no problem mixing and matching.

Cost: $15.50 + $4 shipping to Canada = $9.32/yard (Note: 1 yard was on sale)

The fabric arrived in one week! One week? Seriously? I guess it hopped over the border quickly this time. Really the fabric stores have no control over the US/CA postal service. The fabric was nicely cut and folded. I had forgotten how many FQs I had ordered and unfolding them was a fun surprise. Everything was placed neatly inside a brown paper bag.

Overall: I recommend uberstitch if they have the fabric you like. They do carry some nice lines, but the selection is very small compared to some bigger stores. The standard price is $7.75/yard which I find to be low-average. They will cut custom fat quarters for 4/$7.75.

Oh Dressew!

If you sew and you live in Vancouver I bet you know this place.

As I live near downtown, the biggest perk for me is that it is very convenient for me to get to Dressew. My crafty friend also works right by here so I am easily tempted to meet up for a quick fix.

Fabric: The fabric selection isn’t great for my tastes. They don’t have much on the 100% cotton front. The nice printed cotton tends to be around $13/m. There are a few solids around $6.99/m. In a bind I will buy some so so fabric. Of course they have a large selection of other types of fabrics from other fibres, but I don’t use those so I can’t really judge the quality. The clearance section downstairs sometimes has something worth while. I got some herringbone for $4/m to make cloth napkins. My friend also got some to make kids jackets.

UPDATE May 4, ’10: They added a bunch of Michael Miller, mostly dots and stripes.

Notions! Walls of buttons, zippers, buckles, needles, ribbons, tools – they have it! Sadly they don’t carry cotton thread. Grrrr!

UPDATE May 4, ’10: They now have cotton thread! Either I couldn’t find it before or they expanded their selection. I am still not sure about the quality, but I got some black to try out for place mats.

Overall: Go for some notions. Maybe get some fabric in a bind. Check out the clearance fabrics for some hidden gems.

Warning! We often go to ‘look around’ or ‘buy a couple things’ and end up with big bags and leave $40 less. Where did that money go? No idea…

Money Matters: Cash or debit only

Location: 337 West Hastings Street, Vancouver – Downtown (Yes, somewhat sketchy for the folks from small towns or the burbs – you will probably see some junkies and you might be asked for change.) It is downtown so parking sucks, but I only take public transit. It is right on the 20 busline (or any of the other many buses down Hastings). I usually walk from Stadium skytrain station which takes about 7 minutes. You could easily walk from Waterfront or Burrard as well.

Hours: 9am – 5:15pm, closed Sundays.

I live in Vancouver  Canada. It isn’t a tiny place so there are several fabric stores around. However, the selection for nice cotton fabric is somewhat limited or expensive. I won’t say I hate shopping in real life stores for fabric, but I find it very overwhelming and tiring.

The fabric I love is more easily found online.  Probably the most annoying part is trying to find everything you want in one (impossible!) or two stores. Unfortunately most of the good deals are from stores in the US so shipping cost and time goes up to approximately 2 weeks! Ouch. But I do like to browse around online while procrastinating and it is hard to keep track of all the various stores, so I have decided to do some record keeping here for my own future reference (and anyone else interested).

Expect general reviews from stores where I have made purchases – online or around the Vancouver area. You should also prepare yourself for graphs (ie total cost vs # yards, comparisons of shipping speed, etc) because that is just how I roll!

Work through the pain.

Flickr Photos

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More Photos

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