April 23, 2013
Honestly, I did try my local quilt shop first. But, oh, I have a confession. I admit it … I went into one of those chain stores the other day. Occasionally it is just necessary as they do fill some needs. Quilt shops just do not nor cannot carry everything.
I needed to make a very large tote bag and I was looking for some really heavy canvas duck or denim fabric. Since JAs carries home dec fabric, I was pretty certain I could find something for my project. Sigh, there just is no atmosphere — well there is — it’s glaringly bright, cluttered, usually messy and full of lots of just stuff — unorganized stuff. Remember the November issue of American Quilt Retailer, the one on making your shop a “curated” collection for your specific customer? Well chains are not exactly an example of “curated.”
I found some denim and took a number. When my number was called I asked the sales woman to help me cut the denim from the home dec racks. I asked if it was all cotton as it was not marked. She didn’t know the answer, but we went to find the heavy denim on a wrapped bolt with the garment fabrics, which was labeled 100 percent cotton. So, I found what I needed and the service was fine, even pleasant. The total experience? Totally uninspiring.
Yet on this day, as in past visits (okay, so I have been there several times for things not found in my local quilt shop), this chain was packed. I overheard several conversations each between a couple of women, excited about sewing as they shared “how-tos” with each other. Their exchanges were over basic beginning sewing skills and they were eager to learn from each other recent experiences. They were helping each other pick fabrics talking about one selection over another.
I have another admission here — I’m a fabric snob of sorts. I know good fabric. And I also know as in any craft, your success will be proportional to the quality of the supplies and tools you use. These women, so eager to learn and sew, were they going to find happiness in their craft using fabrics not up to the quality carried in your shop?
The denim I purchased was pretty severely off-grain, whether woven or rolled that way. It didn’t matter too much for my tote, and I did what I could to compensate. But, had a novice purchased it to make a skirt, the skirt would not have hung properly.
Yes, people shop based on need, price, on convenience and, yes, on quality — if they know the difference. We should start a campaign to educate. Teach your customers skills to enjoy and teach them the differences in quality and why, in the long run, paying more for something will or can yield better and longer-lasting results. And this is actually more economical.
Check out this link: http://www.swatchandstitch.com/home_page/the-robert-kaufman-printing-process.html
Ken Kaufman CEO of Robert Kaufman Fabrics put together this video on how the fabric that you carry in your shop gets produced. The laborious process is eye-opening! It’s a wonder our fine-quality fabrics don’t cost the consumer twice as much as they do.
Let your customers know about this link. Share it during a “sit and sew” night or even have it running regularly on a laptop.
There are many places were costs can and are sometimes cut with lower-priced goods. But, watching this distinctly shows what goes into making quality goods and educates people why costs are higher.
You needed another goal to work on, didn’t you? There’s a market out there to earn. There’s a desire to sew — whether it is quilting, lifestyle home sewing or garment sewing. Education in many ways may just be what it takes to earn it. — Susan
PS — Oh, my big tote bag? Well it turned out okay — rather gargantuan — but okay.Good grief! A couple of sofa cushions would fit in this thing! Off-grain fabric or not, even with experienced skills, excellent tools and accurate math, if the initial measurements are wrong the project can be somewhat of a disaster. No problem — a new high-quality seam-ripper and a little time will whip it down to size!