Where do you shop? Part 2: Online Sources

While I’d rather be able to get everything I need locally at a decent price, it’s just not possible, so I shop online a lot. I used to shop a lot at Hancock’s of Paducah, but their shipping is kind of high depending on the size of your order, their “new and improved” website is dog slow and painful to use and calling to place an order isn’t always the most pleasant or easy experience either. Backorders have always been a problem with Hancocks as well, since they can never tell you when (or if) the backordered item might show up. I’ve shopped at Jinny Beyer’s site a few times over the years, but the last experience was soooo painful and required two phone calls and at least that many emails that I won’t do it again unless I’m desperate.

Lately I’ve discovered some new sites, some great, some not so good. I’ll list below some of my recent online shopping destinations (and some old faves) and my experiences with them, in no particular order:

Quilting Warehouse—I really like this place. The online shop is easy to use, well laid out, and has great prices from what I’ve seen so far. I discovered it while searching for the cheapest prices on fusible Velcro by the box. Not only are their prices good, they don’t kill you on shipping, and add nothing for handling at all. A small-to-medium box with two boxes of 15 feet of Velcro each, and two small packages of needles only cost $41.60 for product and $3.85 for shipping. They shipped my order within two days of receiving it, and it was in my hands in a week. Definitely a keeper.

eQuilter—Not that this is a recent find, and I’m sure you all have shopped here before. Great for fabric shopping, shipping costs are average, but it took them six days to ship my last order which was too long IMO. I do like their virtual design wall where I can see fabrics together before choosing which ones to buy. However, I wish that they would list the manufacturers names and style numbers with the fabrics in the shop, but that’s one of my giant pet peeves with many online fabric retailers. It would make it so much easier to shop for a certain fabric when you have that information in hand, if the shops would note it in the item name or description.

Amethyst Quilts—Not much to say about this place since my order never was completed. I was searching for a certain fabric and found it here through the Quilt Shops Search Engine, only to have the shop email me the day after I placed my order to say they didn’t have the fabric after all. Sad, very sad. That’s another of my huge pet peeves right there. Online shops that show fabrics and products that they don’t have in the store and don’t keep their stock levels current are really frustrating and definitely don’t inspire me to go back. The only thing is, it seems like all 210 online quilt shops that are designed and programmed by the folks that run the Search Engine look about the same; I might not even realize it if I ran across this same shop again a year down the road during another fabric hunt until after I’d placed my order for something else they might not have.

Thread and More—This one’s a mixed bag. The first time I ordered, my order was shipped the next day, and the shipping fee seemed average. The second time, it took them two weeks to ship my order out, and they charged me $7.99 shipping and $1.50 handling for a teeny tiny little Priority Mail box that cost them $4.80 to mail. The product total was only $19.92, so $7.99 was a bit steep to begin with but to add insult to injury, there was no “packaging” to speak of that would have cost them a huge amount of money or extra time. The four packages of finger cots and four packs of John James needles I ordered were inside a plastic zip top bag with the receipt, and the box was free from the Postal Service! I’m not too impressed with this place after the second go round.

Sewing Supply Warehouse—I can’t say enough good things about the service here. I buy Sulky thread from them, because they have the cheapest price that I’ve found on the ‘Net at $2.09 per spool. They ship orders out the next day for an average shipping cost without extra handling fees, and their online shop is powered by Yahoo!; nothing stellar, but very usable and gets the job done without glitches. The only complaint that I have is that they don’t carry more of the items that are on my “need to order” list. How simple life could be if they did.

Soft Expressions—I’ve been ordering from this site for years, so it’s not a recent find, but worthy of inclusion here. They have great prices, mostly much lower than retail and other sites. Timely shipping, usually just two days from order placement to shipment, with slightly lower than average shipping fees and no extra handling charges. The site is not laid out the best, but it is functional and gets the job done.

There you have it, almost all the online sites I’ve shopped at recently. I’m sure I’ve left out a couple of favorites that I’ve not visited recently. I can think of Red Rock Threads off the top of my head; always great service with extra reasonable shipping rates, probably some of the lowest in the business actually. I’m sure more sites will come to me as soon as I hit “Publish.” 🙂

Your Voice: Where do you turn when your LQS doesn’t have what you need for your latest quilting project? What are your favorite online shopping haunts, and how do they stack up when it comes to the real nitty gritty of it all with shipping times, costs and handling fees?

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Favorite Things: Valdani Hand Dyed Variegated Threads

Valdani ThreadsI discovered Valdani Hand Dyed Threads about a year ago, when I was working on my Paisley Pavane quilt. I absolutely love them! They really are hand-dyed though I can’t imagine how they go about doing that without losing their minds. I mean, hand dyed fabric is one thing, but thread? Anyway, Valdani is a cotton thread, and it comes in two weights and a pretty large assortment of colors. Variegated thread adds such a wonderful touch to quilts, and cotton thread is so much easier to work with than rayon.

I used a lot of different variegated rayon threads Continue reading Favorite Things: Valdani Hand Dyed Variegated Threads