My First Instagram Fabric Swap

Hello everybody and Happy Friday! The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that two weeks ago, for the first time since I started this blog, there was no fabric shop review last week! Last week I featured the wonderful Sewing At Number 51 so go check that out that blog post if you’re interested. In fact two weeks ago I wanted to write about my experiences taking part in my very first instagram fabric swap however all the fabric hadn’t arrived and then I got quite ridiculously busy so today you join me for a slightly different Fabric Friday!

I want to start by saying that this was an incredibly fun community experience that I am really glad I took part in however I will freely admit initially I had no idea what was going on or how to get involved. This blog post therefore will be half review of my experiences and half guide to beginner instagram sewers who want to get involved in the next one. I’m not sure how regular they are, this one was part of the #sewyourselfsustainable challenge with New Craft House but I’m sure there are quite a few across the year. So, what did I swap and what did I get?

Fabrics I Swapped:

  • Navy Gingham (1m)
  • Red Floral Cotton (>1m)
  • Navy Star Cotton (>2m)
  • Black Floral Cotton (>1m)

Sadly no one claimed my fluffy monster fabric but if anyone wants it you’re more than welcome! its incredibly long but only about 40cm wide so not ideal but still very much available.

Fabrics I Received:

  • Green Stretch Velvet
  • Peach Viscose Jersey
  • Rust Triple Crepe
  • Navy Textured Jersey

The swap was a wonderful experience, it was so lovely to connect with other makers and take part in a big community event. Normally I am too shy or unprepared to take part in these however now I actually have fabric stash and whats more its growing rapidly so I thought it was a great time to take part. It was wonderful to be able to swap out enormous remnants from where I’d just bought too much fabric for one make or I just couldn’t think how to use. There isn’t the pressure of having to take money or pay., it was just a nice swap event plus I got some fabrics I’ve always wanted to work with but didn’t have the financial confidence in my sewing skills to buy.

So to finish off I wanted to share my top tips for taking part in fabric swaps.

  1. If There’s A Hashtag Follow It! – This helps straight away. Not only does it mean you can keep up to date with whats going on, it also massively increases the range of makers and accounts you can find and interact with. More accounts means more fabric options!
  2. Don’t Be Scared To Get Involved – Most people will post fabrics on their grid and some people will talk through them properly on their story. Don’t be scared to respond to a story or comment on the grid post and ask if fabrics are still available. When I started I knew there was a swapping element but I didn’t know how to introduce it into conversation because I have a British awkwardness that knows no bounds. So if you’re nervous just say something along the following, ‘Is that *insert fabric here* still free? I’ve put my fabrics up so let me know if there is anything you would like to swap.’ Something along those lines. The reason I put a literal sentence is because there are some wonderful but rather shy makers out there who wanted to get involved so if you’re nervous thats how you start the conversation!
  3. Get Your Remnants Ready First – This is a key step. Before you start looking at all the gorgeous fabrics that people want to swap, get all of your fabric out and I mean ALL, and figure out what you’re going to use, what you have plans for and what you just aren’t going to use. One of the big sources for my remnants was fabric from early makes because stupidly I actually followed the instructions and bought the amount of the fabric the pattern suggested. *Spoiler Alert* I always need about half a metre less than the fabric tells me is absolutely compulsory. Maybe I’m good at laying pattern pieces and maybe I’m just short.
  4. Plan What You’re Going To Post In – This sounds silly but normally these happen over the weekend and most people post on the Monday and Tuesday so just remember than once you have successfully swapped your fabrics you will need two things; 1. the address of the person your posting and 2. something to put your fabric in. You ideally want this to be pretty cost neutral apart from the cost of posting itself so have a hunt around for envelopes or if you’re starting to plan now save the post bags your fabric is sent in originally as they are ideal.
  5. Don’t Go Crazy – This is just a little reminder that you aren’t buying fabric here you are swapping so presumably you will get the same number of fabrics as you have swapped so remember you can’t have everything! Be discerning, pick fabrics you can’t normally access or want to work with, a lot of people actually specify fabrics they are interested in in their grid post. Just remember, have a great time, take part and don’t go mad!

Fabric Friday Reviews: Sewing At Number 51

Happy Friday everybody! You know what that means? It’s Fabric Friday! Although I am starting to run out of fabric shops so if anyone has any suggestions of places I should try please let me know in the comments. Today I have the absolutely joy and pleasure of talking about Sewing At Number 51. Last week I bought some absolutely stunning cotton poplin from them, picture above, and its beautiful. I have had a great idea of what to do with it but I’m nervous because its a significant pattern hack so I think that will be a project for next weekend. Definitely will vlog it though because I’m crazy nervous. Anyway, on to the review!

Sewing At Number 51

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.sewingatnumber51.com
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics and Haberdashery Equipment
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

Sewing at Number 51 was started this year in 2020 and already is building a great name for itself as an independent fabric and haberdashery supplier. When I read that it was started this year I almost had to double take because while their range of fabrics is admittedly quite small, mainly just cottons, but it doesn’t feel like a *new* shop. It just feels like a smaller fabric shop which is fine. Not everyone has space to have thousands of types of fabrics on hand to send out and for a new operation the range of fabric designs is good and range of actual fabric types I’m sure will build over time. One thing I admire is the curation of the fabric collection. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into choosing what fabrics to stock. The beautiful poplin I bought, shown above, was such an instant win for me. I looked at it on their instagram story and went ‘yes please I want that now’ and they do stock fabrics that make me want to buy them and I have no idea what i will use them for. Equally in terms of haberdashery and sewing equipment they have stuck a toe in the water to see what people buy and I have no doubt will build on that. Honestly in this climate of despair it does me good to see a small business flourishing and I look forward to support Sewing At Number 51 through out the years ahead.

In terms of who their fabric is best suitable for I would say beginners straight away. No tricky stretch fabric to navigate so you pretty much have your choice of cottons to work with. I remember when I first started sewing and all you really think about is colours and patterns because you don’t necessarily understand the properties of fabrics themselves. Equally in terms of cost they are low range so very accessible to all markets and they stock fabric by the half metre. Delivery is quick and when your fabric arrives it comes in a lovely paper bag with a note inside from Abi. Check out my instagram fabric haul highlight if you would like to see exactly how it arrives. Honestly I’m such a sucker for a handwritten note I really feel like it makes the purchase, jut to know there is a real human on the other side makes the making journey feel so much more personal.

The website interface is clean looking however I would say that the inability to filter by fabric types/equipment is frustrating. However as it is a smaller store you are still able to look through all the available fabrics fairly easily and I’m sure as a broader range of stock is added this feature will update. A problem that many other sites have also applies to Sewing At Number 51 which is that the phone interface is so so much easier to use than the desktop. The mobile site is clear and easy to use, the menu is a usable size and the payment system simple, however the desktop interface has an incredibly small logo and a very small menu text. I wonder if focus has been placed on the phone interface to match new consumer habits. Which I completely understand because research shows that people are buying more and more from their phone. I love their blog section I think it reflects their brand identity really well and I look forward to seeing more posts there. Equally I think it would be nice to see some guest blogs as it would push up the profile of a fantastic new sewing retailer.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 5/10
  • Cost – 8/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.2/10

Sewing at Number 51 typify to me the ‘friendly fabric shop-next-door’ it’s sweet, it’s independent, the selection of fabrics although small is exceptionally well curated and when you buy from them you can’t help but smile. They have fantastic engagement on instagram and social media and you all know I love a brand that really engages with their makers and consumers. Would I shop from there again? Absolutely and I’m so excited to start using their fabric. I will keep you guys posted and look out for a vlog in the coming weeks on what I get up to with this stunning fabric.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Pound Fabrics

Happy Friday everybody and you know what Friday means, it’s review day! Today we are talking about Pound Fabrics, a retailer absolutely renowned in their for their low prices and high fabric quality. I stumbled upon Pound Fabrics by accident on instagram and decided to explore their website, where I bought the beautiful red cotton shown above.

Pound Fabrics

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://poundfabrics.co.uk/
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking & Home Fabrics and Patterns
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1metre (N.B. minimum 3m order)

Initially I was unsure about Pound Fabrics as their prices are very low and I absolutely hate anywhere that makes me have a minimum order, that is a personal bias of mine, but its worth knowing as a consumer that Pound Fabrics will require a 3 metre minimum order for the vast majority of their fabrics. I’m always honest in these reviews and initially this put me off however then I looked into their about section to understand why. The original purpose of Pound Fabrics was to provide a cheap dressmaking fabric outlet, an online pound fabric shop, as they recognised that sewing and dressmaking has the power to be an exceptionally expensive hobby. Originally they sold all their fabric as £1 per metre with a 3 metre minimum so you could get 3 metres for less than one metre at most other shops. They have now widened their selection to include some higher priced ranges but the £1 section is still there and thriving.

They also have a bundles section where you can buy mystery 15 metre fabric bundles in lots of different types of fabrics, e.g. stretch bundle, viscose bundle etc. This is something I really want to try in the future, I would do it now but I’m in a self-imposed fabric embargo period as I’ve bought too much fabric and I need to get through it first! It may end up being something I do as a birthday present to myself in the Winter.

The website is simple and the branding may not be very elegant but it gets the job done and the interface is very user friendly. I have to say a word about the mobile shopping interface which is quite frankly fantastic. There are no fussy membership requests, you can choose your fabric and buy it within minutes. I do always try and test mobile and desktop interfaces and I would argue that their payment system is better on the phone but actually viewing fabric is a lot easier on a computer. The delivery from Pound Fabrics was extremely slow however as I’ve said on other reviews, don’t pay too much attention to that as we are very much still in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic and therefore post is obviously goig to be slower and they do warn you of that on the website clearly.

One thing that is genuinely really impressive is their range of fabrics, you can get almost any type of fabric at a mostly reasonable cost. My one quibble would be that the red cotton I bought wasn’t fantastic quality and the photograph of the fabric gave a false impression of the size of the pattern however as I only bought one type of fabric from them I can’t pass judgement over all of their stock. This was my experience and I will definitely try them again in future but maybe for different fabric types such as stretch and jersey. From my own experience, I would advise to shop with caution when it comes to photography of the fabrics to make sure you are getting what you ordered.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 10/10
  • Cost – 9/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 6/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 7/10

Overall Score: 7.8 / 10

The thing is that I believe in the Pound Fabrics dream, I do. I want to believe in the low cost/high quality idea but the evience so far to me is that the quality doesn’t quite match that ratio. Don’t get me wrong its still good fabric and it is very affordable so it is fulfilling the mission statement but I would rather pay slightly more for better quality cotton. After all, one of the joys of making your own clothes is revelling in the luxury of choosing the perfect fabric for the perfect pattern and making it fit you. However I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and I will buy from them in future because I want to explore their range of fabrics for quality and cost. So the fat lady has not yet truly sung in this review, I will review again in the future and I will buy some wools, jerseys and winter fabrics and do another quality test.

Thanks for joining me for another Friday review! Next week we will be talking about beautiful viscose from Sew Sew Sew and gorgeous personalised delivery.