Ask: 3/7/11

Are you able to source your sewing notions, fabric, patterns locally? Or do you find your raw materials online?


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. The only thing I get dependably locally is muslin and notions. Even then I often use co-ops for things like that. Almost my entire stash is from sources online, or from out of the way trips to the LA fabric district.

  2. Both. We have a couple of good fabric stores in Seattle – Pacific Fabrics and Nancy’s Sewing Basket. I also belong to a fabric co-op, and buy lots of fabric from online sources. My favorite online stores are and And we host the Sew Expo at Puyallup (about 30 miles away) every March. Yay for Seattle-area sewing!

  3. I get most of my fabrics, notions, patterns etc from the chainstore Spotlight (similar to JoAnns), which is only about 20 minutes from me. My first preference is to shop at smaller fabric stores, but unfortunately Spotlight has pushed most of them out of the market.
    I’m a bit nervous about buying fabrics online, I’m always worried that when they arrive they wont look like they did in the pictures – does anyone have that problem or is it usually ok?
    I would love to be able to find thrifted fabrics like so many of you do – I’m obviously not looking in the right spots!

  4. I can get fabrics locally, as we have an NYC style fabric store that sells end bolts from designers. Sadly, their buttons and notions section is lacking. I pick up patterns here and there in junk shops but I’m a half-size in patterns so the patterns I usually end up making all come from online.

  5. I live in Pittsburgh and there is only one fabric store that isn’t a Jo-Ann… but it’s an upholstery store. The Jo-Ann stores aren’t very convenient, either, as they are all in the suburbs and I don’t have a car!
    I enjoy searching for fabric in thrift stores and flea markets and have had some success at them (never 10 yards for a quarter, though!), but again I am limited by not being able to drive.
    So, yes, I order fabric online. I have been disappointed by some of my purchases – mostly by the colors – but I haven’t sent any back since they were on sale to begin with. It’s also difficult to know what to look for since I haven’t yet sewn with a large variety of fabrics. Happily, I’m moving home to Boston soon and will be able to go to actual stores!

  6. The majority of my fabric and notions come from Joann but the thrift store and yard sales are great places to get the things I need. I look for buttons on shirts at thrift shops and yard sales. My MIL has given me a large number of buttons that are vintage and I am just waiting for the right pattern and fabric to use them.

  7. I can hardly find anything locally. Quilting cotton and some notions and that’s about it. I shop when I’m travelling or online.

  8. I do a lot of shopping for fabric at a couple of the “big name” stores… Joanne’s/Hancock Fabric’s… but you know, my stash has also grown from hand me downs from my mother in law… and then just a month or two ago a friend of a friend set up a fabric sale for her neighbors hubby who lost his wife to cancer! Whewwww (got that all!) Anyway the lady was into all sorts of crafts… quilting, sewing, etc… we went thru at least 50 hugeee tubs of fabric! I paid $40 for a tub that I filled…. I probably got around well… I’m not sure… over 50 yards maybe even closer to 100 I can’t be sure… but you know it’s nice that we can help each other out. I don’t go to the store too often for fabric any more… unless I need something to accent that I may not have. Thread is a biggie too… my MIL gave me a 5 gallon bucket of thread that I’m still whiteling down! I do like to use trifted linens to sew with too… great for skirts etc…

  9. Guess I should have checked my spelling b/4 I posted! LoL..
    some thing never change… and my spelling or lack of correctness in that dept. is one of them!

  10. I used to get everything locally when I lived in LA so I guess when I make things with them it still counts as being local :) I have a great fabric store about an hour from me so every once in awhile I’ll make the trek. There’s a decent fabric store close to me and I get something good every once in awhile (so happy to have it around for notions, interfacing, etc. in a pinch!). Definitely rely on the internet much more now that I’m not in LA though.

  11. Judy Roberson

    I am very fortunate .. I buy alot of my fabric locally.. I have a Walmart, that has a fabric department in the grocrey store [not very good on discipline..I visit tooo oftn,ha but They put fabrics on clearance all the time. so I have really built up a nice stash, with not near the amount of money!]
    I also live about 45 minutes from Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby Fabrics. and they carry nicer fabrics and notions. And I heard a rumor that JoAnns Fabric was coming soon..[I am excited about this one too]
    But, I also buy on line from and ebay and Etsy. I just love getting the packages in the mail.. so fun..
    I buy most of my vintage pattens off of ebay.. Cant seem to get lucky enough to find them at yard sales and thrift store…

  12. Until I moved to Ontario, I sourced everything locally. Fabricland (West) was a wonderful source, and I was blessed to always live near an independent dealer. Hence, my stash is well stocked. In my current locale, the only options are Fabricland (Ontario) – which is seriously less interesting than it’s Western counterpart, and Quilting Stores. Hence, I have bought a lot of quilting cotton and very little fashion fabric. I make occasional trips to Western New York, which have had varying results, and before Walmart here stopped selling fabric, I bought a bit there, but I’ve actually had more luck thrifting than shopping in the last couple of years.

  13. A lot of my patterns are either inherited from my grandmother or I get them at garage sales. I love it! I have over 300 patterns to use up!

  14. samantha joyce

    im really lucky, ive got a huge! fabric shop just round the road from my work. they dont list anything on their website so you have to go into the shop to have a look. its great. they have a few catalogues with the patterns in them (ive not bought any from them yet). i always try and go into town a bit earlier so i can have a wonder around stroking all the purty fabric. i dont think my purse likes it very much though.
    samantha x

  15. I buy all my patterns on line, I usually wait for holiday sales of McCalls/Butterwick/Vogue. With membership you get another 10% off even the out of print patterns. $2.99-4.99

  16. I believe the only fabric/notions purchase I’ve made online since I’ve started sewing was from Aunt Bea’s going out of business sale (which was sad).
    I actually have vintage notions that were made in my own town, Chicago, back in the day.

  17. Lucky me living in Portland,OR. We have Knittn Kitten for vintage fabric, patterns and notions for CHEAP; Fabric Depot for pretty much everything and a great section of remnants; Mill End for GORGEOUS stuff and so many smaller venues to cover everything else. We are SPOILED here for sure.

  18. Patricia Austin

    Pretty Much! Very rarely do I buy fabric online unless it is purchased for me as a gift. (I have fabric on my Amazon wish list) The only sad thing is that all our fabric stores (I live in chicago) are extremely far apart. but I do feel very fortunate to have multiple places to find what I need.

  19. In Puerto Rico sourcing is very limited and in general of bad quality or so expensive that it is prohibited. I do use mail orders but not always get what I expect and shipping time take away from my projects schedule. So I work based on what I already have and continue buying fabrics and notions until certain mix of what I have inspires me to work on a new project.

  20. I live in south devon – England… there are a few fabric shops which are unfortunately fairly overpriced (for fabric). I buy patterns online where I suscribe and make the most of their sales/bogof promotions. I get occasional fabric online. I buy all notions and thread in and around the town so I can match the colours. I rarely plan for projects so buy fabric and patterns and then decide what to do… not always with success!!

  21. margueritedesigns

    I’m lucky – although I live in a rural area (or perhaps I live in such a place!) there’s a large independent fabric store in the small local town as well as a similar outlet in a larger nearby place – prices are very good here. I also look for things online and have found things in charity shops, of which there is also an abundance.