As you look forward to the ease and accessibility of online transactions, getting what you pay for may not quite be as straightforward.
After all, the web is a vast tapestry of options, where nuances in color, texture and quality may differ from your initial expectations. This uncertainty highlights the need for cautious exploration and thorough scrutiny before making an important purchase for your design project.
As you navigate this landscape, here are three pivotal must-knows before buying linen fabric online:
- Key details matter before you shop.
- Colors may not always align with expectation.
- Sourcing and reputation matter.
Key Details Matter Before You Shop
One of the primary challenges in online fabric shopping lies in the absence of a physical interaction to gauge the fabric’s quality. Designers often have to rely on provided descriptions, specifications and customer reviews to evaluate the fabric’s caliber.
So how can you gauge which linen fabric is of high quality and is best for your project? Key details like thread count, fabric weight, composition and recommended care instructions all serve as essential indicators in determining the fabric’s suitability for your envisioned design.
This meticulous scrutiny enables designers to make informed choices, ensuring that the selected fabric aligns precisely with the intended creative vision and practical requirements.
For example, it’s important to consider how the length of the fabric you require can impact the weight of the fabric selected. Drapery panels that are too heavy will not hang well, which is why choosing a light- to medium-weight linen fabric that still effectively blocks natural light while maintaining a billowy flow is key to a quality product. Look for a weight that is less than 13 ounces per square foot.
For non-hanging fabrics, here are some minimum fabric weights to consider that work best with common items found in residential and commercial areas.
- Upholstery: 11.5 ounces and up per square foot (more for high-traffic areas)
- Slip covers: 10 ounces per square foot (more for high-traffic areas)
- Pillows: 5.5 ounces per square foot
- Bedding: 6 ounces per square foot
- Table linens: 7 ounces per square foot
You should also possess a comprehensive understanding of the diverse spectrum of fabric types, weaves and textures available in the market. Each fabric embodies distinct qualities that significantly influence its visual appeal, strength, flexibility and tactile sensation.
With weave counts, tighter weaves (or higher weave counts) often equate to higher thread counts and comfort. There are also various weave patterns, including:
- Damask linen (similar to embroidery and used for decorative additions)
- Plain-woven linen (simple and durable, and used for dish and hand towels)
- Loosely-woven linen (highly absorbent and used in reusable diapers)
- Sheeting linen (a close weave with a higher thread count, and used for bed linens)
There are also linen blends available to you, such as linen/rayon, linen/cotton and linen/polyester. Each has its own set of advantages. For example, linen/rayon drapes nicely, whereas linen/cotton helps reduce wrinkles. Linen/polyester helps fabric retain its color.
Familiarity with these key details in advance of shopping online can aid in selecting the ideal material that aligns with the intended design’s requirements.
Colors May Not Always Align With Expectations
The color you see on your computer screen isn’t always reflected in the finished product when it comes to linen fabric color.
Variations can stem from monitor settings, lighting and photography, not to mention the dyeing process itself.
That’s why it’s important, when choosing a linen fabric for your project, that you do not rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. It is always better to request a free linen swatch so that you are more likely to receive the color you desire.
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 fabric features 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%.
When shopping online, the best fabric stores will provide zoomed-in imagery, facilitating detailed examinations of weave, pattern and texture. You’re encouraged to leverage these features for a closer inspection, but a linen swatch will always give you the best idea of a fabric’s visual and tactile attributes.
Sourcing And Reputation Matter
Selecting trustworthy online fabric suppliers is pivotal. Designers should vet sellers with positive reviews, excellent customer service and transparent policies covering shipping, returns and quality control.
However, it’s important to go beyond this initial layer and dive deep into where your fabric is sourced to ensure you are getting the highest quality material.
Linen is sourced from flax plants, and flax plants can be found around the world. However, flax grown in European countries along the English Channel offers many additional benefits, including sustainability and durability.
In fact, France, Belgium and the Netherlands account for 80% of the world’s flax linen production. That’s due to the ideal, cool geo-climate conditions found in this region. The production of linen in this European region is carried out by a skilled local workforce using ethical production methods. All of these production methods are in compliance with the International Labor Organisation.
Once linen is crafted using the methods and experience passed down through multiple generations in this region, you typically have three options available to you from where to purchase it: wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
While all three often have online options, it’s important to keep in mind that each still has advantages and disadvantages. For example, wholesalers will often offer the best price and the quantities you may need. The best wholesale fabric suppliers will also offer customization options, such as custom colors and patterns. However, wholesalers may have minimum quantity order requirements.
On the other hand, distributors may not require minimum orders, yet their prices will likely be higher since they operate as “middle men.” Retailers may offer fast shipping or even curbside pickup, but will also carry higher prices and a limited selection of linen fabric choices.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options and selected wholesale fabric online companies you may want to work with, what is the next step you should take? It’s always a good idea to assess customer reviews, which can offer valuable insights into fabric quality, description accuracy and the overall shopping experience.
Reaching out for references from industry peers, professionals and those who have previously collaborated with particular wholesale fabric online businesses can also aid in informed decision-making. Ask about their firsthand insights, hitting on areas like reliability, product quality and customer service. This knowledge will ultimately feel confident about your choice in a partner.