Ask Kat: Why Don’t You Include Fabric in your Kits?


Here’s a question we hear on a regular basis.
They’ve seen a bag they like on our site and it’s either been made up in the colors they normally wear, or a print that really “speaks” to them, and they just can’t imagine being able to find any other fabric combination that they’d like any better, so they want to know…

“Why don’t you include fabric in your pattern + notions kits?”

Now I know that many other independent designers do in fact include fabric in their kits, but honestly, I have never felt inclined to follow suit and the FOUR primary reasons why are listed below.
(in no particular order)

Here’s a recent picture I took of our studio. I can’t imagine where I would find the room to store bolts of fabric! 🙁

1) Bolts of fabric require a LOT of storage space. 
I normally make up at least 5 different show samples for each pattern we design, and since that would involve an exterior, a lining, and sometimes even a contrasting fabric, that means potentially finding room for up to 15 bolts of fabric or the appropriate cut components!

2) Cutting & adding fabric to our kits would take a LOT of time.  Let’s face it, cutting fabric can be slow, tedious work. I would MUCH rather be sewing, or designing or doing just about anything else!

3) I could get “stuck” with a lot of fabric that I really don’t like or just wasn’t suitable for our bag.  Having to order most of the fabric I use online, sometimes I either don’t like it when it arrives, or it just isn’t suitable for my bag (due to the actual color looking different than it was on the screen, or the print size turning out to be inappropriate, etc). And you know what? Even if I fall in love with a particular fabric, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will like it, and if this happens, I’ll find myself “stuck” with a whole bolt of a fabric I can never use again. (Since I avoid using fabric twice.)

4) If I’m using fabric sample from a designer, the fabric might not actually be available for months–   I have a collaborative relationship with a few fabric designers and when they send me fabric to use in a sample for display at Market, it might not be available to the general public for many  months. For example, when I posted pictures of the Uptown Saddlebag I made with Pat Sloan‘s fabric back in April, it was to help her sell fabric (and in turn my patterns) to retail stores in May at the Spring Quilt Market. The scheduled delivery date for that fabric wasn’t going to be until August 2014, long after the pictures of this bag were posted, (and when folks would’ve been inclined to want the fabric in a kit from us).

So… in summary-

Adding fabric to our Pattern and Notions Kits would be tedious, labor-intensive work. It would also present serious storage issues and could potentially present a cash-flow problems for us, so I doubt you’ll be seeing us adding fabric to our Notions Kits anytime in the foreseeable future.

But here’s what we’ve chosen to do instead;

You might have noticed, (or just in case you haven’t), that whenever we post a picture of a bag sample, we ALSO include all the information we have about the fabric used in that sample at the bottom of the post. We also try to include hotlinks to either the site where we purchased the fabric(s) or to other online sources. My advice to you is… if you like the fabric we’ve used, do NOT put off your purchase. Fabric manufacturers today generally produce only ONE production run per design… no matter HOW popular a fabric is. They rarely go back and produce a second run. So this means when the first run is gone, you’ll be scrambling to find more, and then only if you get lucky with a google search!

Here's a sneak peek at a few of the fabrics we've lined up to use for our new bag pattern for Spring 2015!  :)
Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the fabrics we’ve lined up to use for our new bag pattern for Spring 2015! 🙂

And now it’s YOUR turn!

Do you have any follow-up questions or comments for me on this topic? If so, please feel free to post them in the space provided below.
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4 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. You do all I need; thank you. But, certainly wish other pattern makers would do the same. My Grandson fell in love with the picture of Magic Squares on the pattern cover and wants that for his HS graduation quilt. I had to guess that it is Stonehenge but have no idea the prints. I bought the closest looking fabric that I could. After putting several squares together I felt I had one wrong piece of fabric so had to get another: money wasted and much frustration. I’m from Ohio and had to buy the fabric in ND with no time to contact the pattern maker.

  2. I agree….you can die with that first fabric bolt you ever bought that no one wants….and you have to sell at least 15 yards of it.
    I sold fabric at Expos and barely made enough to cover expenses because of the labor etc. And we were crazy buzy the entire time…and there was Peggy Sagers doing a zillion things and making a lot on her patterns.
    Love your new patterns!
    Kathie B

  3. I agree with all four of your points! I am one of those people who tend to fall in love with a particular fabric and want to buy a kit–if I am making a quilt. But when I make a purse, I’d probably rather choose my own fabrics in the hope that my finished purse will be unique to me. I’d really rather be able to choose my own fabrics for quilts also, but it is hard to do online for the reasons you mentioned. Plus I am a bit insecure that my own choices will turn out to be as beautiful as the kit. I believe that my choice of pattern is more highly influenced by the fabrics in the sample than I’d realized. Since I live in a rural area, I don’t get to shop in person more than a few times per year either. However, I’m beginning to think that the next time I want to make something, I should just ‘shop’ in my own stash which is starting to get out of hand!

  4. Love you honest explanation.