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Best Places to Buy Decorative Fabrics

Never, never, never buy decorative fabrics from an interior designer or a furniture store. You will automatically be paying double what you should.

The majority of the very same fabrics sold by high-end furniture retailers and interior designers are also sold by a variety of other sources for at least 50% less. Even many of the same fabrics found in the "to the trade only" showrooms at the wholesale design centers can be found at half-price.

The sources listed below all sell primarily first-quality fabrics. Factory outlets do also sell irregulars, seconds, and closeouts, but these are normally marked 75% off the retail price.

  • Fabric Stores --
  • Local fabric stores often have great prices on fabrics. Many stores have prices ranging from $8.95 to $11.95 on decorative chintz and sateen fabrics, which is approximately 50% to 62% off of the usual retail price. Also, many fabric stores have remnants and roll ends available, which are usually marked down an additional 50% for a total savings of about 75% off retail. Remnants and roll ends are usually very small pieces of fabric, only about 1 to 3 yards, but that is more than enough for a small valance or a pair of pillows.

    Don't forget to check fabric stores that carry primarily clothing fabrics. These stores often have smaller sections devoted to home furnishings fabrics, and they have great prices.

    If you are a careful shopper, you can get a great deal on fabrics at local fabric stores. Shop carefully, and compare prices. Prices can vary widely between stores, even on identical fabrics.

  • Wholesale Drapery and Upholstery Workrooms --
  • All drapery and upholstery workrooms accumulate small pieces of fabric, usually anywhere from one to five yards each. Occasionally, on bigger jobs, they may have small rolls of fabric left over. Decorators and designers usually order too much fabric for the draperies or upholstery they are having made for their clients as insurance against the possibility that they have not correctly figured the fabric amounts needed for the particular type of furnishings being made.

    Some drapery and upholstery workrooms return the excess fabric to the decorator or designer, but many do not. Often, the decorator or designer does not ask for the fabric back. After all, she isn't the one paying for it - her client is.

    The clients usually never ask for the extra fabric back, either, because they don't know how to figure their own yardage requirements. They usually never know that they have been ripped off by the designers and decorators they hired and trusted to make accurate estimates for them.

    If you need fabric for a small project, such as decorative pillows or chair cushions, you may wish to ask around at these workrooms to see what they might have laying around. Most of these fabric pieces are virtually given away because the workroom paid nothing for them. You might pay $10.00 at the most for a two or three yard piece of a nice fabric. The very same piece of fabric would cost you a minimum of $20.00 to $30.00 from most other sources.

  • Order By Phone Companies --
  • The usual discount on fabric from companies that sell fabrics over the phone is 50% off retail. The companies I recommend are very reputable. Most will ship your fabric order within two weeks. If you are quoted a longer shipment time, it is probably because that particular company is out of stock in that fabric. Try another company - you can usually find at least one service that has the fabric you want in stock and can ship it out much more quickly.

    Before you call, you should know the correct name of the fabric manufacturer or distributor, the correct fabric name or number, and the yardage you require. Shop in your neighborhood, like the ads say, and write down the fabric information. You will usually find fabric distributor sample books in interior design studios, bed and bath shops, furniture stores, and (on days when some of them are open to the public) wholesale design centers.

    Unfortunately, there are some companies out there advertising in the backs of magazines that are nothing more than scam artists with a P. O. Box and a telephone. Magazines do not screen their advertisers for reputability. Fortunately, I always thoroughly investigate any sources I recommend. Check out my list of the best sources for fabrics by phone in "The Insider's Guide To Buying Home Furnishings".

  • Fabric Factory Outlets --
  • Fabric manufacturers generally do not operate their own company-owned factory outlets (except for Waverly, Fabricut, and Scalamandre'). Fabric manufacturers normally sell their irregulars and seconds to one or more of the consolidated outlets listed below. Each of these stores carries fabrics from many different manufacturers.

    Often, any flaws in second-quality fabrics will not interfere with the project you have in mind. Workrooms can cut around many types of flaws. However, occasionally a fabric will be too flawed to be usable.

    Always discuss your project with your workroom before going to a fabric outlet so that you will know what flaws they can and cannot work with, and always go to the outlet personally and inspect the fabrics yourself.

    Some of the stores listed below also carry first-quality fabrics. Occasionally, these stores keep second-quality fabrics in a back room or basement. You may have to ask where the bargains are kept.

    I have compiled a list of the very best factory outlets for fine decorative fabrics in "The Insider's Guide To Buying Home Furnishings". Many of these outlets are unadvertised, but they are factory-owned or approved and have the very best deals.

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