Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on March 22, 2012
Where to Buy Bolts of Fabric at Wholesale Prices
With so many women rediscovering the lost art of sewing, it can hardly be surprising that so many home sewing businesses are springing up all over the world. And with the advent of Etsy and many other online resources in recent years, stay-at-home moms can become instantaneous business owners shipping their wares to customers halfway across the globe.
But with the rise of cotton and silk prices in the United States, many ladies are finding it increasingly difficult to make a fair profit. If you purchase your fabric from your friendly local fabric store, you can forget about starting up a new business with all the capital you’d have to put into it. Of course there are exceptions to this, but most designers and seamstresses don’t realize that the “wholesale prices” offered at a retail fabric store can still be about twice as much as if they ordered directly from the fabric vendors themselves.
So if you have ever wondered where to buy fabrics by the bolt, look no further! This is the ultimate vendor list for wholesale fabrics, and I am happy to share what I’ve learned over the years about the fabric industry.
Please note that Edelweiss Patterns is in no way affiliated with any of these vendors and I do not receive any compensation for this article from any of the fabric vendors listed. I am writing this post merely in hopes that it will be helpful for those who’ve dreamed of starting a sewing business but have never quite done it, or for the small business owners who are trying to find where to buy bolts of fabric at cheaper prices.
So without further ado, here is the list of wholesale fabric vendors! I have used all of these vendors’ products and I’m only recommending the ones that I’ve found to be excellent quality. Finally, I’ll add a note at the bottom of this article about how to set up wholesale accounts.
Do be aware - You absolutely have to ignore the lack of selection which some of the websites show! The ones I’ve linked to that show virtually no sites to speak of are actually the ones who carry the most exquisite material. Call or email these vendors and insist on seeing fabric swatches!
Logantex Fabrics – My personal favorite source for fashion, bridal, and special occasion fabrics. This company offers the highest quality cotton knits, suiting, synthetic lace, and an enormous spectrum of colors in satin charmeuse, crepe-back satin, matte satin, stretch satin, taffeta, chiffon, organza, polyester lining, and rayon lining. If you are looking for any type of fashion fabric, chances are good that this company makes it! Logantex’s fabrics are much more exquisite in person than their online swatches show – take my word for it!
This fabric is available from Telio & Cie, the finest fabric vendor you'll find!
Telio & Cie – My next favorite resource for fabrics! As far as quality goes Telio actually surpasses Logantex, but their east-Canada location (and subsequent customs delays) make the shipping process much longer. Telio has the most incredible fashion and bridal laces, novelty pieces, and other exquisite fabrics. Most are not shown on their website, but they do have color swatches available for their basic items – fashion knits, linen, stretch velvets, chiffons, satins, taffetas, silk charmeuse, silk shantung, and many others.
Oriole Textiles – An incredible fabric company which carries many hard-to-find materials. Most notable of these is bengaline moire’ (and I think taffeta moire’ as well) in the largest color variety of any fabric vendor. (FYI, “moire” just means any fabric with a watermark. It was used extensively in Victorian clothing and since the late 1990s has been nearly impossible to find – until now!) They also carry lames, satins, taffetas, crepe, stretch velvet, activewear knits, polyester lace, clergy brocade, faille, tulle, netting, and China silk (habutai) lining.
Liba Fabrics – If you are looking for lots of color options (perhaps for a bridal party), this website has dozens of color cards for your perusal! Take a look at their taffeta, linen, satin, voile, faille, poplin, and organza.
Vitex Fabrics - This supplier offers just about every kind of fabric you could hope for, from ginghams, eyelets and cotton polka-dot fabric to lames, dancewear knits, chiffon, satin, and brocade! I highly recommend spending a few minutes on this website!
EE Schenck - While you don’t see pictures on this site right off the bat, EE Schenck is one of the largest fabric vendors around. Not only do they carry broadcloth, muslin, flannel, batting, wool coating, fleece, craft velour, and a wide variety of “basics”, they are also the main go-to company for lots of quilting fabrics such as Maywood Studios, Cara, Lakehouse, and many others. You can view their easy-to-use first time customer policy here.
Wimpfheimer Velvets – Luxury at its finest! You would be absolutely astounded to see these magnificent velvets in person. These are a bit steep price-wise, but worth every penny! This company offers low minimums, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing a whole bolt.
James Thompson – A reliable source for flannel, burlap, canvas, duck, and buckram!
RocLon Fabrics - This might be the most helpful link for designers, because Roclon offers the cheapest bolts of muslin I’ve found. You can purchase bleached or unbleached muslin in nearly any width.
There are many more fabric sources I can put you in contact with, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for here do drop me a line and I’ll give you some more suggestions!
Where to Buy Heirloom Fabrics by the Bolt
Spechler-Vogel – Spechler-Vogel Fabrics is the creme-da-le-creme of heirloom fabrics. They offer imported Swiss fabrics of the most impeccable quality. A bit pricey, but well worth it! (Voile, Batiste, Silk Tulle, Lawn, Dotted Swiss, Chambray, Cotton Chiffon, English Cotton Netting). This is where Martha Pullen imports all her fabrics from. As of yet this company does not have a website, but you can reach them at: (212) 564-6177.
- An American alternative to Spechler, Robert Kaufman offers a few fabrics which can be used for heirloom sewing. Besides Handerchief Linen, Voile, Batiste, and Lawn, they produce the loveliest sateen on the market - “Radiance”
(a 55%Cotton/45% Silk Blend) has the most lustrous sheen you’ll ever see and comes in a multitude of rich colors.
is also the home to an impressive collection of broadcloths, linens, and quilting fabric.
Where to Buy Silk Fabrics by the Bolt
The supplier which you will probably have the easiest time working with is going to be Telio (mentioned above). They carry the most gorgeous silk charmeuse you’ve ever seen, plus literally dozens of colors of a very lightweight silk dupioni (really closer to a silk shantung).
Silk Safari has the largest selection of silks I’ve seen, and while it is certainly an investment to order a whole bolt from them, their quality is unsurpassed. They produce everything from silk noile to sandwashed silk charmeuse, silk gazar, silk taffeta, silk organza, and resplendent silk suiting (called “Matka/Shimmer”). This company offers beautiful swatch cards, so I’d highly recommend contacting them.
Angus International is the ultimate supplier of silk dupioni! I could spend hours looking through all their color cards of vibrant and pastel silks swatches, and if you are fortunate to obtain some of these cards you will probably find yourself spending a lot of time looking at them as well. This company is usually terrific about getting the fabrics shipped out in a timely manner, so for that reason they are the first source I refer people to for silk dupioni.
Where to Buy Wool by the Bolt
B Black & Sons is what we call a “jobber” (see terminology below), so while their fabrics aren’t usually re-orderable, they are the biggest source I’ve found for wools. Do keep in mind that their website is a full-blown online store at retail prices, so you will have to call up and insist on speaking with a wholesale representative so they understand you are not a regular customer.
For wool coating, Moda offers a terrific Melton wool in a number of rare colors which are way outside the box of typical greys, blacks, and blues.
For wool felt, I recommend National Non-Wovens who supplies some of America’s leading fabric stores.
Where to Buy Wholesale Millinery/Hat Making Supplies
My favorite resource for hat making supplies is www.hatsupply.com . I used their products to make my Regency bonnets when I went to England for the Jane Austen Festival! But they sell all kinds of supplies for various costume eras, and they have a terrific selection of birdcage veiling (English, Russian, and French)!
A Few Words You Should Know about the Fabric Industry
First of all, the most basic terms to familiarize yourself with are “D/R” and “ROT”.
- D/R stands for “Double and Rolled” – in other words, “Fabric on a Bolt”. This is the most standard way that fabric is shipped and usually the most cost effecient way for shipping. However, the fact that the fabric is folded before it’s wrapped on the bolt does mean that there will be a crease down the center of it.
- ROT stands for “Rolled On a Tube” and is simply any type of fabric which comes on a roll and is rolled on in a single layer. This method does cost more for shipping since it will automatically be an oversized package. Usually only fabrics that are 54″ wide or greater will be packaged this way, but many fabric vendors give you the option for ROT or D/R. One noteworthy factor of the ROT fabrics is that they will not have any crease down the center!
- To sound like a pro, ask them what the “Put Ups” are for the fabric you’re inquiring about. This is the official fabric industry way to ask how many yards come on a bolt.
Next, the majority of fabric merchants are located in New York and close their offices as early as 3:00 pm. In addition, a huge number of the leading fabric vendors are of Jewish descent, so many will be closed for all Jewish holidays. Both of these factors can be important to consider when trying to reach these companies.
How to Deal with the Fabric Industry/ Setting up a Wholesale Account
- First of all, you want to make sure you sound like an industry professional. Most of these websites, even if they sell wholesale state that, “We do not sell to the general public.”
- Avoid sounding like you’re “just starting up” your business at all costs!
- Be sure you have your business license ready when you call or email, and it helps to end with a link to your website after signing off on an email to add a sense of validity to your case.
- Ask what their minimum order is, but don’t be daunted if one company’s minimum is too high for you. Chances are good that the next company you contact will be more willing to work with you.
- I would caution you against using the term “designer” too freely about yourself. The recent influx of wanna-be “fashion designer” students who have little knowledge about sewing or fabrics have given the word negative connotations with fabric connoisseurs! Instead, try saying, “I am the business owner of a clothing manufacture (or whatever your specialty is) company”.
- Also don’t label yourself merely “a seamstress” when talking with the vendors. To them “seamstress” merely means someone who should be shopping at a retail store, and they certainly don’t want to help someone who isn’t a professional!
Finally, these sources listed above will not be suitable for every single fabric customer. While many of them are terrifically helpful, others get literally 5,000 orders a day and view one more customer as “just another number”. You will need determination to work with the fabric industry, and of course you will need to make sure that you really need the amount of fabric it takes to meet their first minimum order. Some companies have a dollar amount, while others just have a three-bolt minimum for each subsequent order.
But if the sewing business you have started is to the point where you could go through over a couple hundred yards of the same fabric in a year, I would actually recommend going with an international source. If you are purchasing that large of quantities, it is best to work with the overseas fabric mills directly. Once you reach this point you have the exciting position of being able to choose exactly what weight and color of fabric you want! The greatest resource I’ve found for this purpose is www.alibaba.com – a website which is much like a Yellow Pages of Asian fabric mills. This easy-to-use site has an inquiry form where you can describe what you’re looking for, and within a couple of days you will be receiving quotes and product pictures from dozens of companies all over the Far East! The minimums for using these mills is obviously quite large, but the prices are generally sold at phenomenal discounts and you have the option to choose exactly what you have in mind. The other benefit to using this system is that you know your fabric will be re-orderable, unlike the U.S. fabric vendors who frequently discontinue items on a regular basis.
I hope you enjoy browsing these websites that I’ve linked to, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have! Fabric is definitely one of my favorite things, and I hope the information I’ve shared will be helpful to you!