The only way to learn about fabric


I wrote this at the very end of my previous post, as a mere footnote, when it actually deserves its own post.

Here goes, truth bomb - straight from the best Fashion school in the world but you get to skip the £22,000 tuition + verbal abuse from scary tutors:

GET OFF YOUR COMPUTER! GET OFF GOOGLE!
START WORKING WITH THE REAL STUFF THAT MAKES REAL CLOTHES!
You found my blog, you got inspired... and what? You're gonna DM me to see if you can milk more free information, okay. And then what? You're always gonna be coming back to auntie Olivia, until she says "It's okay, sweetie! Let me do all the work for you"?
Seriously, have you even tried to find that 480 gsm sweatshirt jersey? How else would you know it's better than the ready-made hoodie you're getting from the gift shop?
Some people have even DM-ed me asking for a quote on that fabric on such and such colours... could you not see I'm not a fabric mill???
And good luck getting manufacturers to take you seriously: this is not "business casual", this is just dumb. 
Pick up the phone and call them, this is routine in this industry. You just call people, to get quotes, to get updates, to not let them forget about your order.
Okay, Google's great and computers/ phones/ tablets are awesome. How else would you have found me?
But if you're making a high-end physical product, does it really make sense not to have the actual materials that you might use as part of your research?

Time to start building your Fabric swatch library! 

Here are my recommendations - if you're in Europe, it'll be easy to get any of these; if you're in America, China or Korea, you'll probably have a lot more options next to you for much less; other countries... dunno, sorry.

Ecological Textiles.nl:

Knit fabric sample set - Ecological Textiles

Even if you're not looking for organic cotton and sustainable fabrics, I recommend Ecological Textiles because 

  1. they had pretty competitive prices and fast delivery for small quantities of high quality cotton rib;
  2. they offer Sample sets of different fabric types, such as Cotton knit and Cotton weave - so you can see and feel the difference between jersey and interlock, or poplin and satin (instead of calling everything "cotton").

I don't know if you can register and see the prices if you're not a business, though.

Fabric Sight:

Fabric swatches - Fabric Sight

Offers up tp 10 free swatches per client, from their huge selection of high quality fabrics - yay!

DHL shipping from their warehouse in Spain to my studio in Portugal cost €17 - ouch.

Okay, so €17 is not an unreasonable investment. Just be careful not to get carried away and start ordering "free" samples from every online shop you find: be selective and narrow it down to those places where you might actually want to make a big order in the future.

In other words, don't just replace "doing endless research on Google and Pinterest" for "getting loads of free fabric samples from every manufacturer that comes my way". 

Specially if they're charging €17 shipping every time!!!

Tintex Portugal:

Fine cotton jersey - Tintex Portugal

I got my samples from Tintex Portugal around April 2020, when a previous order with another manufacturer got cancelled because of covid, right after I had approved some t-shirt samples for production 

Why didn't I go to them first? Because mills and manufacturers in Portugal usually work with 300 meters/ pieces minimum order (make that 1000 pieces minimum order if it's lingerie or swimwear, aka itsy-bitsy clothing requiring lots of trimmings and specialised machinery).

Once I called and explained my situation, they sent me a few samples before I could place a bulk order: 50m of fine cotton jersey, made to order in about 6 weeks.

I see that Tintex is constantly improving their website and adding new items to their online shop, where you can check prices and request samples.

And it seems they're all stock service, meaning: they have the fabric in stock, ready to be cut in whatever quantity you need, to be shipped right away.

Which can be a good thing if you're just researching, but you gotta double-check their prices and conditions for a large order ( 30+ meters).

House of U and Contrado UK:

Each sells swatch packs with fabrics they have in stock for their digital printing service.

Even if you don't plan on working with digital prints, it's worth buying one of them to learn about fabric names, composition, handle...

Also, House of U Eco Fabric kit has a much more attractive price of €4.99 now vs. €60 in 2019, when I bought it (definitely not worth the price, just because it was in a black binder...learn from my mistakes, people!).

Speaking of learning from mistakes...

Isn't it wonderful that you can learn from my mistakes, instead of learning from your mistakes?

Sometimes it's not just about the money, but you can also feel like you wasted time and end up losing the drive and passion you had at first - so why risk it?

Choose one of my Mentorship sessions and let me tell you what NOT to do.