Before you splurge on fabric in bulk, make sure you’re getting the real deal.
Wholesale fabric suppliers specialize in selling fabrics in large quantities to retailers, manufacturers and other bulk buyers. These suppliers offer a wide range of textiles, including natural linen fabric, cotton, silk, wool, polyester and more.
You may be considering working with a fabric wholesale direct company if you expect to need a large quantity of fabric, are looking to reduce your project costs or require special customizations that you can’t get at your local retail fabric store.
Working with a fabric wholesale direct company can be a smart move for your business, but before you dive in, make sure you check out these four essential tips to ensure you get the best deal possible:
- Double check minimum order requirements.
- Choose domestic for fewer headaches.
- Order fabric samples.
- Ensure the supplier offers customizations.
Double Check Minimum Order Requirements
One of the reasons you may be exploring purchasing fabric through wholesale direct is so you can purchase larger quantities at a lower cost. Wholesale fabric suppliers typically have large quantities of fabric on hand.
However, if your project doesn’t require wholesale fabric by the bolt or bulk quantities, it’s important to double check that the supplier you are considering doesn’t have minimum order requirements.
When choosing a wholesaler, you can shop with either a distributor or a supplier/manufacturer. Distributors typically don’t carry minimum order requirements. However, the main problem in working with wholesale fabric distributors is that they act as a “middle man” and will mark up prices before selling the fabric to an end user. This negates many of the cost savings benefits for those who are seeking a deal by working with a wholesaler.
A good rule of thumb before you begin working with a supplier is to make a quick check to see if that supplier has minimum order requirements in general, for the fabric you are considering or for any customizations the supplier may offer.
Choose Domestic For Fewer Headaches
While working with a wholesale fabric supplier located in the same city as you is not necessary, it is important to consider any challenges you may face if you choose to work with an international supplier.
You may even find a supplier overseas that can promise you the quantities of fabric you need at the price you desire, but in the long run, working with an international supplier may cause more headaches than solutions.
Common problems many designers face when choosing an overseas fabric wholesale direct supplier include:
- Difficulty communicating and overcoming time zone barriers
- Longer shipping times due to distance
- Customs issues that may occur, delaying shipments
- An inability to visit the supplier onsite
- Less recourse if an order is not fulfilled correctly
On the other hand, working with a domestic supplier typically provides far fewer potential issues, additional safeguards and more benefits. These include:
- Fewer time zones to overcome
- Shorter shipping times
- No customs to deal with
- An easier ability to visit a company onsite
- More recourse if an order is not fulfilled correctly
- An easier time reaching the company by phone with questions
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t automatically choose the nearest supplier. Geography alone shouldn’t be the sole determining factor in which supplier you choose. However, it’s important to work with a company that can provide you with the highest quality fabric when you need it, and be able to solve any issues quickly that could come up during the fulfillment process.
Order Fabric Samples
Ordering fabric samples before making a large purchase can be an excellent way to ensure that the fabric meets your needs and expectations. Here are some of the benefits of ordering samples from fabric wholesale direct:
- You can assess quality and texture. Ordering samples can allow you to assess the quality and texture of the fabric before making a purchase. You can feel the weight, texture and drape of the fabric and see how it holds up to washing and wear.
- You can test color accuracy. Samples can also help you determine the color accuracy of the fabric. Fabric colors can appear differently in person than they do on a computer screen, so ordering samples can help you avoid any surprises when you receive your order.
- You will avoid costly mistakes. Ordering samples can help you avoid costly mistakes by giving you the opportunity to test the fabric for its suitability for your project (and avoiding having to reorder any fabric that doesn’t meet the needs of your project). Ordering samples can be an inexpensive way to avoid an unnecessary later expense. For example, we offer free linen swatches for your project in which designers simply pay for the shipping and handling.
Requesting fabric swatches from a supplier can also give you a sneak peek into how the company works with potential clients. In other words, pay close attention to your first customer service experience with a fabric wholesale direct you are considering.
Ensure The Supplier Offers Customizations
Every project is different. For one client you may need certain customizations, and for another client, you may need to personalize the order in a completely different way.
Customizations can also be a legal issue, since certain fabrics are required to have specific qualities if they will be used in a commercial setting. Working with a supplier that can meet these needs now will save you from having to work with a fabric printer or upholsterer later.
Here are some of the customizations you may need for your project:
With a wide assortment of colors available, you can match your clients’ preferences, aesthetics and style to a hue that best fits the project. However, you should not rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. This is another reason why it’s always best to request a fabric sample, as we noted above because dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors.
Having your own custom dye lot created can help ensure your upholstery fabric is the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
For a one-of-a-kind design, custom printing is a great way to give a piece of fabric a unique design. Whether your project involves dressing or reupholstering an accent chair, window draperies, couches or sofas, ottomans, upholstered wall paper, outdoor fabric pieces or other home decor items, prints can take any of these furnishings to the next level.
There are two types of printing services available: Rotary/flat bed printing and digital printing.
Rotary/flat bed printing is a direct-to-fabric printing technique where the image is engraved on precision cut stencils, also known as screens. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design and can produce vivid colors and intricate designs on your fabric. Crisp lines and detailed images are created using screen printing, allowing inks to penetrate the fabric and hold color better and longer.
Digital printing on fabric is also known as DTG, or direct-to-garment printing. Digital printing is any ink-jet based method of printing colorants onto fabric. This process allows for lower minimums, eliminates screen charges and removes the need for screen storage.
Depending on how you plan to use the fabric you purchase, you may need to consider backing. For example, when working with furniture upholstery fabric, it’s important to consider the backing since the slightest change in fabric weight can make a big difference in the look of a final product. Particularly with upholstery fabric, manufacturers often add backing to help prevent seams from slipping and to add durability.
Latex backing is commonly used on furniture upholstery since the coating helps prevent soil from sifting through the fabric. Knit backing can also make lighter weight fabrics more durable, allowing designers to use fabrics like chenille and silks for upholstered pieces.
When designing draperies, backings that darken rooms are also popular today both in residential and commercial properties. Particularly in hotels, they are needed to block most or all of the light that enters through a window, ensuring great sleep. Some curtains that feature blackout backing also have noise-dampening properties, and in homes, blackout curtains can help regulate indoor temperatures.
Blackout backings are typically available in different degrees, often referred to as either 2-pass or 3-pass forms. A 2-pass quality features two layers of foam on a fabric. One is a black layer while the other is a white layer. The black layer of foam is visible on the backing. A 3-pass quality sandwiches the black layer in between two white foam layers, providing a higher degree of light blocking. You also have a 1-pass option, though this selection only dims outside light rather than block it.
As you can see, backings can make a major difference in the quality of the product you produce … and why it’s necessary to consider this customized feature in your order.
Protective coatings can provide protection against everyday dirt and grime, which often finds their way onto furniture and room decor.
A popular protective finish used in homes and offices is called a nano coating, a very thin transparent plastic polymer film coating that helps to repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt. Other options include Scotchgard and Alta treatments, which protect the fabric against dirt and spills.
Manufacturers can also apply antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal treatments to prevent the buildup of bacteria, fungi and dust mites. These treatments are typically needed for design projects at schools, hospitals and outdoor environments.
As we mentioned, some customizable features go beyond comfort and appeal, and are a matter of legal requirements. Commercial projects have additional rules that help protect the public from hazards like fires. In the state of California, furniture must comply with TB117-2013. This fire rating regulation requires that upholstery fabric pass smolder cigarette tests.
Fabrics used in public places must also meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law. If your design project involves work in the public sector, it’s important that the fabric you use meets these fire codes.
Fire retardant applications are required under California law for public spaces as well. Fire retardant applications can be sprayed on or brushed on and help limit the spread of a fire. Rather than igniting, the fabric is protected under intense heat. Check with your supplier to ensure that the fabric has a protective coating or finish.
Ultimate Impact Of Fabric Wholesale Direct
Fabric wholesale direct options can provide you with the quantities of fabric you need at the price you want for your project. However, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your budget so that you don’t end up spending more in the long run.
By ensuring that the wholesale direct supplier you work with can provide you with the amount of fabric you need, is domestically located, offers fabric samples and provides important customizations, you can be on your way to completing your project with confidence.