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).