So it’s been a while since I’ve shared a Frougie Tip with you, but today I have a good one. If you follow me on Periscope I mentioned Fabric Mart’s Julie’s Picks Swatch Club quite a while back but I’m finally giving you a review as promised.
Fabric Mart is one of my favorite online fabric stores. I love them for several reasons: 1) Their prices are reasonable and they always have something on sale 2) $8.75 flat rate shipping 3) Quality fabrics 4) Great customer service and 5) They have some of the most descriptive photos and details of any online fabric store.
All of those qualities are great but with fabric being such a tangible product the last one is hugely important. Especially to someone like myself who buys mainly on feel due to being a self taught and new-ish sewist. I was initially quite hesitant to purchase fabric online because I didn’t know all of the fabrics by name or fabric terms or weights. All I really knew was knits and wovens and that I preferred knits. I couldn’t really tell you the difference between double knits and ponte or ITY and jersey. I just knew how I wanted it to feel – thin and slinky, thin and cottony, thicker and soft, or thicker and sturdy. I’ve gotten better with the names and terms over time but I’m still far from an expert. I think many sewists (new and experienced alike) have this issue and possible fear of purchasing fabric online.
One way I’ve heard to conquer this is to keep a swatch book of all your fabrics. Basically make sure to snap a photo when you buy fabric of the bolt with the name, content and care instructions (usually) and then cut about a 2″x 2″ square of fabric and attached to a swatch card where you record all of the info from the bolt. Several companies sell swatch cards and several bloggers have downloadable templates for swatch cards. (see below for links to options). Both are great but truly you can just make your own out of index cards. This way when you shop online and see a fabric you like you can compare that fabric to a piece of fabric you already own. For instance if you are search for a ponte knit and you find the color or pattern you like online you can then refer to your swatch cards and compare the descriptions. If both pieces are ponte have a similar content more than likely you can rest assured they will behave similarly.
Well if you’re like me you never remember to get that snapshot or you buy from local stores that don’t necessary have labeled bolts like a Hancock or JoAnn. That’s okay just sign up for Julie’s Picks Swatch Club from Fabric Mart and you will receive 30 fabric swatches every month. The swatches come with complete detailed descriptions just like on fabricmartfabrics.com. Because you never know what will be in each mailer this can be better than creating your personal database of favorite (and not so favorite) fabrics as you will likely to be exposed to new fabrics you would have never considered.
Here is a picture of a page from a old mailer. There are 6 pages each a stack of 5 swatches adhered along with the name, colors, content, width, price and care instructions for each swatch. The swatches are approximately 3″ x 3″ so you have enough of the fabric to get a good feel. Additionally on season recommendations are given on each page to provide some sewing inspiration in case you love a fabric but have no idea what you would use it for.
Each mailer is mailed out on the 15th (to Canadian subscribers) or the 20th (to American subscribers). This gives you a little time to peruse the swatches and be ready to order from the current months fabrics when they go live on fabricmartfabrics.com on the 1st of each month. As a bonus these fabrics are offered first to Julies Picks Swatch Club members.
If you can’t tell I love being a subscriber. I look forward to my mailer each month. I bring it in the house, change into something comfy, grab a drink and then settle in on the sofa before I open the package and ooh and aah at all the pretty fabrics. My husband thinks I’m insane but that’s OK.
So I sound like a sales pitch right about now, but I know you want to know…how much is it? and where can I sign up? Julie’s Pick Swatch Club is $50 annually. At first I thought that was kind of pricey BUT that comes with a $25 coupon to Fabric Mart (any fabric not just Julie’s Pick and there is no minimum order amount). If you’re like me you were going to place a $25 order anyway so it’s really just $25 or a little over $2 per month. Still a little steep? or you’d rather spend $50 on fabric you can sew right away? No worries Fabric Mart offers prorated memberships every quarter so if you don’t subscribe now you can always subscribe later and save a little for waiting.
And I know it will be asked so NO I WAS NOT paid for this post in anyway (though I wish I was…talk to me Julie!!!). I actually subscribed around July or August this year and paid $25 (with a $12.50 coupon) because I was always interested. Thankfully a 2016 Julie’s Picks membership was part of my prize package for being the second place winner of this years Fabricista Fashion Challenge. However had I not won I would have signed up for 2016. The only thing I would ask is for the mailer to be printed on cardstock to make the mailer more of a booklet. It comes on regular computer paper and isn’t the most durable with the weight of the fabric swatches.
Have I convinced you to join? Had you heard of Fabric Mart or Julie’s Picks before?
Do you purchase fabric online? Do you keep a swatch book already? If so, how is your organized?
FREE Downloadable swatch card templates