Where are you buying your fabric online in these unprecedented times?
June 13, 2020 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Difficulty: Canada. I've been taking this opportunity to improve my sewing skills by making masks (just for myself so far as they are very bad) with old pillow cases and random pieces of fabric I have around. Recently I found a place with elastic in stock and ordered a bunch! But now I need to buy more fabric and I'm having trouble.

Looking for basic woven cottons in solid colours (ideally black!), which I thought would be pretty common. Where do you shop for stuff like this?

I've seen recommendations for upscale shops like Blackbird when talking about apparel fabric but the fancy organic stuff would be wasted on me, also I can't really afford that.
posted by 100kb to Shopping (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a local quilt shop? They sell precut variety packs for quilts that are a good size for masks. If you don’t have a local quit shop try Lens Mills, they are open for in-person shopping in Ontario as well as online shopping.
posted by saucysault at 8:50 AM on June 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Etsy. I can't speak to Canadian Etsy shops specifically as I'm in the US, but I've had by far the best luck getting fabric and other notions fulfilled quickly through Etsy. (One of my orders from a bigger fabric store took over a month to come, which included two weeks sitting at a fulfillment center in NJ. Etsy sellers have been much quicker.) Restrict your searches for shop locations in Canada to reduce shipping speed/cost.

Check the reviews - most shops on Etsy have 4+ stars, but if you look at the actual review text, you may see a few four-star reviews with "Took a little while to ship, but worth the wait!" or "Nice fabric, but maybe a little expensive?" Avoid those shops. Ideally, you also want a shop with enough reviews to show a track record, although I've taken a few risks on shops with fewer reviews that worked out, so YMMV. Also look for the little badges like "Ships Quickly!" and sellers who report 1-2 day shipping speeds in their shop announcements.

Basic muslins and solids have sold out pretty quickly, so don't be surprised if they're harder to find. Look for 100% cotton being sold by the yard for solids. I personally avoid broadcloth (too loose a weave), lawns and voiles (not enough body unless you double them), and Kona cottons (lovely variety of colors, but I find them scratchy for a mask lining). For prints, fat quarters work well and let you have some variety. I wouldn't go below fat quarter size as smaller-sized precuts will be inefficient or too small entirely. And watch the price - I've seen some borderline gouging on my side of the border. ($10 for a fat quarter, really? Unless that fat quarter is Tana lawn, it's probably not worth anywhere near that.)
posted by pie ninja at 9:10 AM on June 13, 2020

Response by poster: To clarify, I'm ONLY looking for solids by the yard – no prints, no precut fat quarters. I will definitely check out Etsy, other suggestions welcome! Also: is muslin appropriate for masks? I've seen a few places with that in stock but I haven't used it before.
posted by 100kb at 9:16 AM on June 13, 2020

I can recommend Quebec-based Club Tissus; recently bought elastic from their online shop and bought patterns in person a while ago. They seem to have a wide range of fabrics available by the yard.
posted by delphic at 9:30 AM on June 13, 2020

I'm a U.S. quilter. You might want to search for "Kona cotton solids". They make a range of colors of good quality solid (plain) fabrics. If black is sold out you could finds some other very dark colors.
posted by puddledork at 9:38 AM on June 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

In my region (MB), the fabric stores are open, and most seem to be offering online/phone ordering with curb-side pickup. Is that an option for you at all? Fabricland, for example, has per-customer limits on things like elastic, but you have that already, and your fabric needs are broad enough that any brick and mortar store would be able to (and probably very happy to) help you out.

I can also vouch for the Kona brand for mask-making. It's widely available from online retailers in Canada, but I can't recommend any one in particular.
posted by wreckingball at 10:07 AM on June 13, 2020

Fabricville is doing online shipping if you don't want to go out.
posted by platypus of the universe at 10:37 AM on June 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding Fabricville and Club Tissus, and looking for local quilting shops. It looks like you might be in BC so you could also look at Dressew or Gala Fabrics for more local options, I have only been to Gala which was lovely but they are both popular among sewists I follow.
posted by phlox at 10:48 AM on June 13, 2020

Response by poster: I'm high-risk, so I'm looking for online + shipping only. In Montreal if that matters. It would be a lot easier if I could go in person!
posted by 100kb at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2020

Tonitex up the Main, maybe? You can go there (the website says "enter by the parking lot door" now) or order online. It's on the 55 bus route, there's parking, or you can walk from Sauvé metro.
posted by zadcat at 11:23 AM on June 13, 2020

I am veering a bit off the question, but I will come back to this at the end. *Any* fabric works if your goal is to protect other people from your aerosols. *Any* fabric does not protect you, the wearer.

The fabric pieces around the house will make a mask but not a mask that protects you. There is a published study which compares the efficiency of different materials (including fabric masks and cloth hybrid masks) for how well these protect the wearer. (If you read nothing in the paper, look at Table 1). If you can get two layers of cotton fabric of 600 or higher thread count, and add a layer of silk or chiffon to it, and the fit is good (this is important), then the mask is as good as an N95.

You can use T-shirt to make the ties, if you run out of elastic. Works just as well.

I purchased a bedsheet of over 600 thread count. Didn't add a layer of silk etc but the mask has a slit to insert more layers. (You can see from the Table that this two layer mask is 82% efficient). A bedsheet you can buy anywhere. The pillowcases (200-300 thread count?) will be useless in filtering out any virus particles to protect you. Its hard to rip a brand new bedsheet but if you are making many masks for people you care about who can't make their own then its absolutely worth it.

Please feel free to memail me if you have questions or want to know why you should believe the info provided here!
posted by xm at 3:07 PM on June 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Fabric.com is my favorite of several recent sites I've used. I'm in the US, but they do ship to Canada. No idea about international rates/speeds, but I was impressed with the service I got; shipping was free in the US on orders over $50, and took only a couple days to arrive.

This isn't quite a solid, but close: 108" Wide Back Cotton Blenders Charcoal. Good quality, comes in other colors, not luxuriously soft but definitely not scratchy, and cheap. They do have solid cottons as well, at reasonable prices, but the extra-wide ones are a steal.

Feel free to memail me if you'd like photos of the material (site has photos, but I may be able to show you more detail of weave, color, etc.) or masks I've made with fabrics from their site.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2020

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