The perils of online shopping

Much as I love browsing through real-life fabric stores and stalls, I simply haven’t got the time to hoof it round to Walthamstow Market or Goldhawk Road every weekend (oh how I wish I lived near there). And the fabric shops near my place of work are generally pretty expensive (Berwick Street being the closest and very prohibitively priced).  So I tend to rely a lot on online shopping. Much of the time I’m pretty pleased with what I receive; the service is generally excellent and the fabric is of good quality. But occasionally online shopping results in a fail. A big fat fail. Not because of any lapse in quality, but because what you see on your monitor doesn’t necessarily tally with what gets delivered. And because the fabric is already cut from the bolt – most places won’t give you a  refund.

I bought 3 metres of ‘silver’ corduroy recently from an online fabric shop. Instead of an image of the corduroy there was just a colour chart. I should have asked for a swatch to be sent through in advance but I was so excited.  I was thinking a lovely soft grey (the colour in the image was definitely soft grey, trust me) would be delivered. At £13.00 a metre it wasn’t cheap either. This is what was sent yesterday:

'Silver' corduroy

Now that’s not grey. It’s not even ‘silver’ is it? To my eye – that’s just plain off-white. Hmpf. Definitely not suitable for my Minoru jacket. Waaaah.

A previous fail was of my own doing. I bought what I thought was a bottle green corduroy and when it arrived I found I had two metres of bottle green cotton canvas. Neither use nor ornament! When I looked back at my order I realised my mistake. I don’t have much luck with corduroys do I?

The lesson dear friends? Think twice, read the product description carefully (unlike me) and if in doubt of the colour, ask for swatches before you order. I for one will be doing this in future. A £39 mistake is too expensive to just dismiss.

But now onto the positives – what could I use this fabric for? I think this colour next to my skin will just wash me out so I’m thinking judicious use on accessories. What about hot water bottle covers? Or a shoulder bag with a bright neon lining? Or could I use snippets of it as trims and cuffs for future projects? Over to you for ideas!

22 thoughts on “The perils of online shopping

  1. If the fabric is 100% cotton, you could dye it – or why not use it for a skirt or pants if the colour is not so good against your face.

  2. Gargh. I am so sorry. I’ve had my fingers burnt by online fabric shopping, too. I try as often as I can to ask for swatches first, but it takes all the joy out of the purchase, doesn’t it? You know, I really recommend Stone Fabrics’ Cloth Club. They send you quarterly bags of swatches so that you can see exactly what you’re ordering. You have to pay something like £30 a year to be in the Cloth Club, but I have ordered so much on the back of it. Quite a lot of the fabrics are expensive (my boyfriend and I have a game of guessing which is the most outrageously expensive swatch!) but there are reasonably priced items too. I’m struggling to make suggestions for the off-white cord as it’s not a practical colour, is it? Do you know any little girls who need a white cord pinny? White cord surfer shorts? Could you make a variation on the classic white shirt in cord?

    • Oooh I just don’t like the colour though! It’s just so… meh! Hehehe. I’ll check out Stone Fabrics though – thanks for the tip! I quite like ArnySews suggestion of dying it though… has anyone else dyed corduroy? Good results?

  3. Oh no, I know exactly what you mean. I do most of my shopping for fabric online – and mostly it works out well, but sometimes the fabric that lands on your lap just isn’t what you thought you were buying.
    If you really don’t like the colour of the ‘silver’ fabric then maybe using it for something else could end up in you not really liking whatever you have made. Perhaps it might be better just to say goodbye to it – you could try selling it on Ebay?

  4. It could be turned into a nice military-style jacket for early spring. I’ve seen a couple of patterns in the September (?) burda magazine. Or, alternatively, some sort of a sleeveless dress you could wear over sweaters in winter?

    I am sorry for that though – I got burnt as well and I’ve swayed very far from ordering anything online since.

  5. Rubbish, there’s nothing silver about that! Ebay sounds like a good option or you could go round to their head offices and demand they all look at it and clarify it is not silver in anyway!

  6. Have you tried contacting the retailer to see if you can return the fabric? I just found out that Fabric.com accepts returns. I wish I would have known that when a similar thing happened to me!

    • Actually yes I did just email them to let them know that their fabric quality is excellent but they should probably update their colour charts so you never know – I’ll keep you updated! Cheers Lindsay

      • Great news! The shop has just been in touch after my email and have offered to refund me the full amount if I send the material back to them.Hooray!

  7. That’s great news and good customer service from the shop. Out of interest which shop was it ? I was about to suggest you could maybe dye the fabric?

  8. As I mentioned via Twitter I somewhat feel responsible for this as I recommended the cord. I’m glad you’re able to get a refund. I find that smaller, independent business are more approachable and understanding and will often work well with you.

  9. Ah, yes. Online fabric shopping my downfall. As my ‘local’ fabric shop doesn’t have as much choice as I like and is a bit of a hike away I tend to buy online. Unfortunately my lack of knowledge when it comes to types of fabric has let me down. I have learned several things.
    Lesson 1: Don’t buy fabric just coz its cheap…its usually cheap for a reason.
    Lesson 2: Something that looks terrible on screen sometimes turns out to be your best buy. (got gorgeous floral print cotton that way and really disappointed I only bought a metre and now its not in the shop anymore.)
    Lesson 3: Never buy crinkle cotton. (I bought some coz its was ‘cheap’ online) and found it was impossible to do anything with…I struggle to make an apron with it.

    As for your fabric dilemma…what about using it as a base and adding some silver sequins?

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