five tips on shopping for fabrics

by | Jul 8, 2020 | All Things Home, Antiques, Decorating, Favorite Finds, Shopping Tips, Tips and Tricks | 28 comments

As I’ve shared pictures of my inspiration board and sewing room, I’ve been asked multiple times where I shop for fabrics.  The short answer is everywhere!  Since that answer isn’t helpful at all to those asking the question, I decided to write a blog post about shopping for fabrics that is a bit more specific.

First of all, I am a fabric hound.  If I see a fabric I like, I will sniff it out, track it, and hunt it down.  I will dig in the resource sections of books, follow brand tags, comb websites, and send inquiries to find out the name of the pattern.  Once I have the name of the pattern and the maker, I will run a good ole Google search to see where it is for sale.  This means that I don’t buy from one specific website when shopping for fabrics, but I buy from whichever site has the best deal.  This shopping method can lead me off the beaten path, which is the best place to find unique pieces to use in my home.

tip no. one

Do lots of searches!  Typically, if you describe the fabric you’re looking for in a search engine box, you’re going to find it or similar fabrics that you might like more or might be more affordable.  When I’m working on a room, I spend a lot of time searching for fabrics until I find exactly what I imagine for the room.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

All of the fabric samples above are from Lisa Fine Textiles, Pindler, Linen Bee, French General, and Vintage Linens Birmingham.

tip no. two

Order samples!  Getting your hands on fabric samples is key and I order a lot of them.  Sometimes they are free and sometimes they cost $1-5, depending on the company and size of the fabric swatch.  I don’t always order them with the intention of buying that specific fabric, but more to test out color, pattern, and scale to see what I like and what works.  Some of the samples I use are even from a decorator’s swatch books that I order off of Etsy and the patterns might not even be made anymore.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

If you don’t want to purchase fabric swatches, print up a picture of the fabrics, and experiment with them that way.  Just keep in mind that your printer might not match the true fabric colors accurately.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

Small blue & white check – Zippy in Lakeland, P Kaufmann

Large check – Check Please in Lakeland, P Kaufmann

Green velvet – Leolaris Forest, Arhaus (special order)

Blue & White Striped Jacquard – Alpine Canvas Jacquard Stripe, Laura & Kiran

The fabric on the walls is Festin Bleu by STOF

tip no. three

Ask about ordering fabric by the yard, even if that’s not an option on the website.  I fell in love with the green velvet fabric from Arhaus when I was looking at swatches for the living room sectional.  I ended up going with Check Please in Lakeland (they call it Ponder Lakeland), but I inquired about ordering the green fabric by-the-yard to make pillows and I was able to put it in as a special order.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

tip no. four

Look for bolts of fabric in unexpected places.  I’ve bought fabric from all over the place, including the trunk of someone’s car!  I’ve bought it at yard sales, thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets.  Just keep your eyes open for folded stacks or rolls.  You can often find great bargains shopping this way.  I also love mixing in vintage, antique, and out-of-print fabrics from Etsy and eBay.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

Here are the sources for the fabrics above that I’m using in my master bedroom

White with blue & green flowers – Jenny Steffens Hobick – Blue Flower Pillow

Blue Linen – Reed, Fabrics | Store

Blue & white bird fabric – Aviary Toile Indigo, French General

Blue and white check – This was a huge bolt given to me by my aunt years ago and it doesn’t have any branding.  It seems to be similar to a small-scale version of Buffalo Check Blueberry by P Kaufann. 

Blue & white flower – Rambaugh Indigo, Lisa Fine Textiles


tip no. five

Shop with a high/low approach.  My fabrics can be anywhere from free to $100+/yard, so it’s a pretty wide range!  I use expensive fabric very sparingly for pillows and small details and use inexpensive fabrics for larger projects.  Most of the fabrics I use are between $15-30/yard, supplemented with ones that are $5-10/yard.  I look for sales and coupon codes and always compare prices.

Fabrics can be a luxurious part of a room, adding texture, pattern, and color, so I think it’s a smart place to splurge in small quantities.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

When I can’t make a decision on a little fabric swatch, I’ll usually order one yard or 1/2 yard as long as the fabric isn’t too expensive.  This allows me to wrap the fabric around pillows or tack it up on the wall to get a sense of how I like it in the room.  Any kind of visual you can give yourself is going to be helpful (and worth the expense) when you’re making decisions.

5 tips on shopping for fabrics miss mustard seed

I hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas for shopping for fabrics to use in your own home!

Here are the places I purchase fabric most frequently…



  1. Amy Moe

    I agree- searching for the best deal on fabrics in general is a fun way to shop for fabrics. Thank you for sharing your style.

  2. vicki bucy

    What is the fabric in the last picture, blue/white with birds? I love that and I don’t see where you mention it.

    • Marian Parsons

      That is Aviary Toile by French General. It’s linked in the post and you can find it on their website, Amazon, Etsy, Decorator’s Best, etc.

  3. Terry

    As often happens this blog post is exactly what I need right now. And by the way, Nora Murphy’s book Country House Style you recommended is my all time favorite. Thank you!

  4. MsryLisa

    Thanks for these tips. I will have to check out these sites.

  5. Mary S

    We shop for fabric the same way. I’ve found great pieces in antique shops and always check the references pags in the back of magazines. I ordered 18 yards of the Aviary Toile in Indigo and was very nervous when I started working on my project. I made 6 curtain panels and also ordered 30 yards of lining from Hobby Lobby so I could get my 40% discount. They are all finished and I absolutely love them. Thanks to you, I was able to track down the Toile. I just finished making curtain panels for 5 rooms in my house and a bed skirt. I’m a happy camper!! Thank you very much for sharing your sources. Such an important piece of information! 🙂 Sadly, fabric stores in my town have been reduced to about 2. You are so kind to share.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, it’s hard to find fabric locally! I miss the local fabric store with the remnant bin, but I haven’t lived near one for years, so I’ve gotten used to shopping online. Aviary Toile is so pretty and I’m glad you love it for your projects!

      • Diane

        I used the Aviary toile in two other colorways; the brown on cream went on my BFF’s dining room chairs as well as her window valances, and the red on cream I bought on clearance at Hobby Lobby for $7/yard! l only have 6.5 yards of it, and haven’t decided what to use it on yet. I adore toile, and have it in almost every room in my house, for every season! Even my friends’ husbands now know what toile is!

  6. Theresa

    Marian, thank you!! I was just thinking to myself, “oh how I wish Marian would share on her fabric finds.” Perfect!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I’m so glad!

  7. Cindy

    Is there a limit to how heavy a fabric can be if you starch it onto the walls? Also, if you can address the stretchiness of a fabric in regards to using it for wall covering? Thanks, if you can respond!

    • Marian Parsons

      Good question! I’ve worked with light cotton fabrics (like a quilting-weight) and as thick as a woven upholstery-weight fabric. I wouldn’t use a fabric with a knap without testing it out first to see how it works. I also wouldn’t work with something super stretchy, like a nylon. Fabrics with a little stretch can be helpful when making adjustments if needed, but the woven fabrics I worked with didn’t have much stretch and they were fine.

  8. Anne

    Thank you for the resource list! I love to work with fabrics!!!

  9. Terry A.

    This is a great post, and I appreciate all of the advice! You answered my question on the source of that mossy velvet fabric. I’ve ordered my sample. Thanks so much!

  10. Amy

    You truly are a “fabric hound” and thank you for sharing all your techniques.

  11. Carol

    I just bought some linen from Fabric based on your recommendation. It’s beautiful and I love it so, thank you very much!
    I love all your fabrics. When you see them piled up together they look so pretty. But, I’m sorry to say, I’m a pink girl!! Rose, blush any muted soft shade of pink makes me smile! That’s why I’m always hoping you’ll do a painting with just a bit of pink in it. Maybe in the clouds or some flowers amongst the greenery!!

  12. Marian Zimmerman

    thank you so much great source of info

    but you did not show the closet you store them in,,,I just clean out mine this coved season and sent a lot to be rescued. I love fabric, I buy to much.

    • Marian Parsons

      I keep most of my fabrics in the wardrobe the bolts are leaning against and a few other bolts in the closet.

  13. Leone

    The tips are so helpful and we thank you for sharing all of it. I have been interested in the navy blue windowpane check ever since you first showed us your inspiration board. I have checked all the sources you mentioned in this email and did not find that fabric listed, or did not recognize it if it was there. Can you tell me the source?

    • Marian Parsons

      It’s one of the linens from Linen Bee. Send them a message about purchasing fabric by the yard.

  14. Teresa JC

    THANK YOU on this post! Very helpful and enjoyable to look at all your fabrics! Don’t we ALL just LOVE FABRIC.??? Who can resist?!

    But I MUST ask you, what /how is the “finish” of the cupbourd/wardrobe that the rolls of fabric are leaning on?
    I have been wanting to finish a peice just like that, but not sure how to do it!


    • Marian Parsons

      It is an antique and that is the finish it came with. It feels like it’s oiled.

  15. Leone

    Thank you so much for your response to my question. I went to Linen Bee and promptly found linen navy blue windowpane fabric. You are always so helpful and willing to share.

  16. Phyllis

    Thanks for sharing your shopping tips for the beautiful fabrics you use in your home. I haven’t sewn in quite a few yrs now, but still have my fabric stash that I can’t part with. About 15 yrs ago I found what I thought was a great find at a fantastic bargain. At a local thrift shop I came across a piece of vintage bark cloth of 17 yrds, 54 in wide, all in one piece for $3. Muted yellow background with large flowers in rich burgundy, green and mustard colors, with some gray also. To this day I still haven’t used it, guess I’m saving it for perfect project. I will use it one day though! Please keep sharing your tips with us.

  17. Cathy

    Thank you so much! This was very useful. I love what you pick out!

  18. BestCurtainsDecor

    Good day. Choosing a fabric on the Internet is a crucial step. You do not always get what you counted on. But thanks to your advice, you can now not be afraid. Thank ))


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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