Friday, 21 December 2012

Online fabric shopping - Dharma Trading

It will come as no surprise to most of you that the 300 million people in the USA have a greater selection of fabrics than the 4 million of us in New Zealand.

The selection includes more variety in colour, style, fabric types, price points... whereas I'm stuck with Spotlight (mostly expensive polyester) or whatever random selection is at small local shops.

Now that I'm more confident in my sewing ability, I want to use better quality fabric (and more natural fibres). I've tried three different online stores this year. My experiences have varied so wildly that I thought I'd share some reviews. I look forward to your discussions and suggestions!

First up is a positive review for Dharma Trading.

They sell mainly plain silk fabrics and the means for dyeing them, with a small range of other products. I think having a limited range is a good idea, as (presumably) it means they are very knowledgeable about what they sell, and that they probably restock the same products regularly.

Their range of silks leans toward the lightweight end of the spectrum (as opposed to bridal fabrics). I imagine this is related to their focus on silk dyeing and painting, which is usually done on light fabric. The prices are very reasonable compared to similar products, and they are very clear about what you are getting in terms of fabric weight, opacity, uses, etc.

I wanted to try a few different products - silk organza for interfacing, stretch charmeuse for a slip, and crepe de chine for underlining my wedding dress.

Their online ordering system is intuitive and problem-free. Automatic emails are generated at each part of the ordering/shipping process, which I find reassuring and always retain for my records.

They have a whole page explaining international shipping, with example prices for shipping to Australia by different methods. You get four choices from basic post to fast courier. Shipping estimates are calculated before placing your order - for me the actual shipping on 9 yards of fabric only differed by $0.42 from the estimate!

I ordered my silk on 12th November by First Class International shipping. This was the cheapest option, and cost $17.42 for shipping and insurance. The parcel arrived today, which is not bad considering that it's Christmas time.

The fabric seems nice. For fabric of this quality (when I have even seen it in New Zealand), the price difference is around 300%.

From my experience, this store is well-designed and the company is genuinely interested in serving international customers. Based on this experience, I will definitely call on them again for silk (or if I get into fabric dyeing).


  1. Ahhh, poor Old-Spotlight! You do wonder if they will ever lift their game - considering they near have wiped out most of the small independent local stores. I don't particularly like how their fabric is just piled on top of each other, roll after roll of over priced fabric that has been shoved and stretch all over the place.
    I use to buy a lot of fabric via the old snail-mail many years back, from several Aussie companies. But they have all gone now. KnitWit in Perth is brilliant for purchasing knits from.
    Looking forward to your next reviews - thanks for sharing your experiences at Dharma Trading...J

    1. I actually think Spotlight are continually going downhill, in terms of fashion fabrics. Every time I go, the scrapbooking/cake decorating/home dec area has expanded, at the expense of sewing supplies. And I agree, the way the displays are set up is sloppy.

      I'll have to check out KnitWit - thank you! There are a couple more reviews to come, so I'm glad they are useful to somebody other than myself :-)

  2. Sadly last time I checked knitwit wouldn't ship to NZ. I have had lovely viscose knits from They're about $18 per yard, excellent quality, and the last lot I had shipped (total 5.5 yards) cost $25 in shipping which I though pretty good. The shipping calculator is a bit unreliable and often gives huge costs but don't be put off as Linda will send by the cheapest method . I really like the way she shows a dress length in her photos so you can see the drape and large scale effct of any print.. Includes a yards to metres calculator at th ordering point which is handy. I haven't ordered from yet but they answer queries promptly and will send samples fairly cheaply. Will watch with interest!

    1. I haven't tried Emma One Sock - great recommendation! Their prices have put me off a little, but if the quality and service is good then that's really important.

      Thank you so much for your input!

  3. This is very interesting, I've been wondering where one is to buy fabric in Australia - as lincraft and spot light are so disappointing. There are a few around Melbourne.

    1. It depends a little what quality/price you are looking for, as well. There is Cleggs, for higher quality/prices (eg silks, fancy fabrics). There are a number of fabric stores in Bridge Road (and other places that have lots of wedding dress stores)... but again, expensive.

      This is why I'm hoping my series of online reviews is helpful :-) We don't all live in the land of plenty, in terms of buying fabric!


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