Last week I shared some unedited and un-styled updates from the
upstairs and downstairs of our new home upstate. I can’t begin to describe how much it meant to me to hear your feedback, comments and questions, and also to see the conversations that came from that post, both here on the site and on social media. I have a big list of questions and requests that came from those posts and today I wanted to start with one that was asked a lot: How did I find the fabrics I used for our DIY headboards on Etsy and what’s the best way to search and select fabrics from the sea of sellers there? So today I’m going to walk you through my tips and tricks for shopping (and saving on) fabrics on Etsy. I’m also going to share my favorite shops to pick up small and large pieces of fabric, for upholstery and other around-the-house craft projects. Fabric is pretty much all I seem to buy on Etsy these days, so I hope this will come in handy! xo, grace
*If I missed any type of fabric or area of the search/find that you need help with, just let me know and I’ll add it in the post or the comment section right away!
Step 1: The first thing to do when you're looking for fabric on Etsy is to KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I find it's too overwhelming to look through their textile section without any factors that will help you edit. So try to know the following if you can. What type of fabric do you need? (Upholstery weight? Lightweight? Linen? Cotton?) What is that fabric called? (Kilim, Ikat, etc.) How much do you need (in yards)? What scale of pattern do you want? Once you know these answers you can start searching.
Step 2: Once you know what you want, enter the search terms into the GENERAL SEARCH BOX on Etsy. Do NOT narrow by category yet. I've found too many sellers mis-categorize their work and you can miss out on something great. Try not to add more than four search terms, ie: "Black striped linen fabric" or "Yellow velvet fabric." If you get too detailed ("Peach large polka dot pattern upholstery fabric"), chances are you'll miss anything close to it because most sellers don't label things as well as they should - or they use different terminology than you will, especially when it comes to colors.
Step 3: I find I have to look through at least 10-15 pages of search results on Etsy to get what I want, so step 3 is to do the legwork and look through all the search results. Sometimes the best things are at the end of the group, so don't give up if you see 20 pages of results. Chances are, you'll come across a few great shops in that search result that have similar items or can be bookmarked for later.
Step 4: Once you have your desired fabric or shop, don't be afraid to email them about a price discount if you're buying a large amount of yardage or if you're buying multiple things from their shop. Most vintage fabric sellers especially are open to discounts for multiple or large purchases - or sometimes a reduction in shipping costs. This isn't always the case, but many of my friends have done this with great success when they're buying large quantities.
Step 5: MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE. Be sure that what you're ordering is what you actually want/need. Be sure to check the
dimensions (make sure the units of measurement match, often sellers will list in yards or centimeters), the scale of the pattern (ask for a picture of the pattern next to something recognizable, like a penny or dime), the weight (is it upholstery weight or something thinner?) and last but not least, ensure that what you're getting is the ACTUAL PICTURE SHOWN (often it is a representation of what their stock typically looks like, not what you're getting). Just email the seller to confirm all of these factors before buying.
Step 6: Stay in the loop! If you see a shop that has something similar to what you want, or they're sold out of what you DO want, email them to be added to their mailing (or personal) email list when they get in new stock. A lot of sellers will alert you before adding something, or are open to keeping their eye out for something similar if you're hunting for vintage styles.
Ways to Find HIDDEN GEMS: So often people will list things with the wrong terms or words that are spelled incorrectly. I've found that sellers know every buzzword, so they'll list something as "Indigo, Shibori and Boro" and other buzzwords of the design world just to reel you in during search results (even if it's only one or none of those words). So if you're looking for Ikat, don't be afraid to throw in "Kilim" or something similar if you want to scan those results and make sure something wasn't mis-categorized. Also check for misspellings. For example, "Kilim" is often misspelled as "Killim" with two Ls. So double check common misspellings to see if you missed anything good.
SECRET SEARCH TIP: One of my favorite ways to "deep dive" search is to look through my favorite shops' "Favorites" lists. Each seller on Etsy has a "favorites" list where you can look at the products and shops THEY think are great. I look for or check out shops that I already know are great and look through THEIR lists to see if there are new sellers, styles or artists I should know.
MY FAVORITE SHOPS: Now for the easy part, these are the shops where I've bought the fabrics and pillows I've been using in my home for the past few months (the ones you've seen in our house photos on the site and on Instagram).
(for Japanese fabrics),
(for Kilim pillows),
(for mud cloth),
(for mud cloth),
(for mud cloth and indigo pillows),
(for indigo and Hmong pillows),
(for rugs and Kilim pillows) and
(for Kilim/Turkish pillows).