There’s been quite of bit of debate going on over facebook quilting related pages lately, over the quality and price of Walmart fabrics versus quilt shop fabrics. Some have gotten completely butthurt over comments like “support your local quilt shops”.. One gem of a lady on facebook actually told me to “suck it” after I suggested that Walmart does not carry the same quality cottons you’ll find in an independent quilt shop.
Since I haven’t stepped foot in a Walmart in several years, because I don’t like supporting that monstrosity, I thought maybe I should do a little field research. So, today, I went to one of the walmart supercenters that is within a ten minute driving distance from me (there are four)
It is a proven fact that Walmart purchases fabrics from China, that are made as knockoffs of designer lines and brands like Moda. Designers have a hell of a time trying to track down all these copyright infringements. It would be a full time job to do so. Taking on a monster like Walmart? Fuhgettaboutit.
A perfect example of this is a line I have in FQ bundle form, called Mint Condition, by CamelotFabrics. The prints are at Walmart, though the names on the bolt are completely different. They look nearly identical in colour and design, except that the quality is very poor in comparison.
I browsed the cotton prints, and actually saw a few prints that turned my head. An artsy, faded newsprint type design, a subdued print with antique or Victorian style furniture pieces with a text scattered over it, and a charming black and beige print with fancy perfume bottle on it. All for $4.97 per yard. I examined the quality of the cloth, holding my fingers behind one layer of it. It felt rough, thin, and I could count the threads, visibly, without my glasses.
They also had a few basic batiks for $9 per yard. They didn’t feel quite up to par, but they weren’t terrible. The bolts said made in Indonesia.
Now, for $5 per yard, I was willing to give the newsprint one a chance to live in a quilt, because of the three, it was the best quality. Still, it had a rough hand, but I’d hoped it would wash up softer. I really wanted to try it and report my findings to you in whole.
I’d like to be able to give you a full review of this fabric, from purchase to final binding stitch and maybe even beyond on how the quilt would hold up over the years in comparison with Moda and Northcott and Bali Batiks.. Unfortunately I didn’t end up taking that pretty text print home with me. First, I waited about twenty minutes while the lady (very nice lady whom I’ve interacted with for years while I made many crafts and costumes) tried to find a printer in order to make a ticket for my fabric. After many announcements and pleas with neighboring departments she finally just wrote the information on a slip of paper and sent me along that way.
I should mention I was very patient and friendly up to this point. She thanked me for my patience and I shrugged it off, commenting that there’s no other way to be. Getting huffy doesn’t help anything.
After waiting for a half hour in the “10 items or less” line (screaming in my head the entire time that it should be 10 or fewer) while someone checked out with a $200 school supplies order.. Then the people behind them had someone join their party with an armload of items from the clearance rack with jacked up tags. The clerk started trying to look up the items, gave up, called another person over to help.. I just knew when I got up there with my non-scannable ticket, there would be problems.. I chunked my fabric over a nearby shelf and declared I was done. Done with Walmart, (again) done with the whole experience.
What people fail to realize is that when you pay $6- $12 per yard for high quality fabrics that don’t fade or disintegrate in three washings at an independent shop, you’re paying for quality in addition to prompt and friendly service. If for some reason, you have to wait at a quilt shop, you’re likely offered a comfy chair, and a cup of coffee or tea. You get someone who actually cares to hear about the quilt you’re making for your daughter’s boyfriend’s roommate who is battling cancer. You get someone who is knowledgable about quiltmaking, and most times they will get out a calculator and do the math for you to figure out how much fabric you need.
I’ve said before, if all you can afford is Walmart fabric (I’ve been there!!) then buy it! Quilt with it! By all means, buy it. But be choosy and careful, and try to find the quality pieces. I don’t want anyone to NOT quilt just because they are financially not able to buy quilt shop quality. Also, make friends who have amazing scraps Quilter’s love to share!
But also, realize that if you’re thrifty and smart, you CAN afford quality! Walmart fabrics run $5-$10. While quilt shops range from $6-$13 (in the U.S.) Most quilt shops have reward programs, coupons, or some sort of discount system to help you get the most out of your quilting budget.
Just please understand that you get what you pay for. For a couple extra dollars per yard, you get a quilt that will last several times longer and a personal experience with like minded people that is quickly and sadly disappearing from our society.
Back to your regularly scheduled quilting. I’m making a modern Dresden Plate quilt (thanks a lot Frances!!)
Now, where did I put that wedge ruler?