Being an online only fabric store, we are more than aware of the challenges that can come when buying your dressmaking fabric from a website. We think that buying your fabric online can be a great experience with huge benefits and so we have put together our tips to make sure you get the most out of it.
When shopping for fabric online, the options are well categorised and it can be easier to shop for a certain type of fabric or print using the search features. It can also be easier to hunt out remnants and sale items! But, we know you can't feel the fabric, so how can you make sure you are getting what you are looking for?
At Harmer and Huff, we spend a lot of time developing our product content to make sure our imagery best reflects the fabric and colours, and that you can get a good sense of scale. We also try to add a product video to each product so you can see how the fabric moves and drapes. Our product descriptions also have everything that you need to get a good sense of how the fabric will feel and sew.
As professional fabric buyers, we spend a lot of time assessing fabrics for our range, often comparing samples to their online pages. We have a host of things we do to make sure we are buying the best and want to share our top tips with you.
1. Get to know your favourite fabrics.
Spend some time thinking about the garments you have made and worn the most. What fibres are they made of? How do they feel on your skin and in your hands. What is it that you love about that particular fabric?
Having this front of mind can stop you from going down a costly rabbit hole. For example, if you don't like wearing polyester, it doesn't matter how beautiful the print is, you will probably be disappointed when you have it in your hands. Get to know your favourite fabrics and shop for the fibres that you love.
2. If you aren't sure what you want, buy a sample.
If you are looking for something very particular, or can't tell exactly what a fabric will look and feel like, order a swatch.
At Harmer and Huff we offer swatches for almost all of our products, there are only a few exceptions (eg, no swatches on remnants or last pieces). You can add a swatch to your basket from any of the product pages.
Most fabric stores offer a swatch service and so if you don't see it mentioned, just ask.
Having a sample of the product might not show you how the fabric will drape as swatches are only small, but you will get a good feel for the fabric, the colour and quality.
3. Know what the cut increments are.
We can't stress this one enough.
Every fabric store offers a different cut increment and it's important you know what it is so you can buy the right amount of fabric for your sewing project.
At Harmer and Huff, we cut in 0.25m increments meaning you can buy the perfect amount for your patterns needs without needing to buy more. Some stores sell in 1m, some in 0.5m and so it's a critical part of the process.
We detail our cut increment on every product page so this is a good place to look on other websites too.
4. Check the pattern's scale
One of the things that can be hard to tell from an image, is how big the pattern on a fabric is. We use a rule in our product imagery to try and get an idea of the scale, and you will also see the fabric over a hand within our fabric videos.
It's important to take note of details like this so you don't expect a ditsy print that is actually huge.
5. Read the product info
We get it, sometimes you see the image, fall in love and commit without checking everything out and let's face it, we won't always want to read the product info either.
However, it's important to read the details to check the fabric weight and width at least and also to get a bit more of an idea about the fabric overall.
Checking the width is an especially important one as you will want to make sure you are buying enough fabric for your project and the fabric width naturally has an impact on this.
6. Make Yourself a Swatch Book
This is a great way to better understand the weight and feel of the product that you buy.
Every time you cut a project out, take a small sample of the fabric and staple or glue it into a book or folder. Taking note of the fibre and the weight in gsm will give you a reference guide when shopping.
Want to know if the 150gsm cotton will be heavy enough? Compare it to what you have in your sample book and you'll have less of a surprise when your package arrives.
7. Got a Question? Just Ask!
If you have a question about any of our products, or shopping online. Just ask!
You can use the chat feature on the website, or drop a message directly to our inbox and we will do our best to help. We love talking about fabric and are always happy to help.