I first found out about Fabrics and Notions from the discussion board at Threads Magazine.
Basically, a few ladies work together out of the basement of one of their homes to organize photographing, posting, selling and shipping fabrics and notions. They are located near a mill that produces very high quality fabrics, many from designers like Liz Claiborne. Dawn has posted about the quality of the goods, too, and yes... It's all my fault, I dragged her into their hands, too!!! Click here to see her post.
I've found the same fabrics on other websites for a lot more money, which makes me feel great about the quaility and the savings I'm getting, but there are a few drawbacks.
1. They only ship once every other month, so you can't be in a hurry. They are seasonal (at the end of summer wools and coatings were posted), so even though my order was placed a month ago, it will still arrive in time for me to make and use the garments.
2. You don't always get what you order. Sometimes they have a limited amount available and sometimes enough has to be ordered to fill a bolt. In the case of needing to meet minimum, they have posted the status and asked ladies to change they're color or add to their order to get the fabric for the group. I've missed out on a few fabrics, but also ended up getting one by other ladies filling the bolt (Yay!).
3. There are times of chaos and disorganization, but keep in mind that these ladies are passing the discount on to us, and get no pay for their work. So, you must be patient, this doesn't operate like a fabric store. There is give and take when quality fabrics are sold at reasonable prices!
My experience overall has been a very good one. There's this dress, and this dress, and this skirt. The quality is good, the photos pretty accurate color, and customer service is good also.
A huge array of fabrics are posted each month of many types (velvets, denims, cottons, silks, coatings, flannels, childrens) so beware, you'll love a lot and spend a lot! I didn't realize how quickly my "few yards here, few yards there" added up! Right now, I'm on a fabric diet, and have refused to open the picture files to see the new fabrics ("out of sight, out of mind") or buy anymore for the time being. (Did you see the picture at the top???) I do check in to read what's offered, just in case something special comes through. They also do notions buys from time to time (needles, zippers, elastic) but I haven't done anything with that (Search FabricsandNotions2 at Yahoogroups).
The Joining and Buying Process
1. Go to http://www.yahoogroups.com/ and register or sign in if you're already a member. Here's the link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FabricsAndNotions/
2. Post and request to join the group, and then post an introduction message to get "unmoderated" and receive all the messages.
**This is where you have to decide what messaging works best for you. I get a digest, which is messages in batches of 25. There are hundreds of members, and everytime they post, a new email is made, so you're mailbox can fill up in minutes. Or, you can just check into the Yahoo Groups page and read the messages there on your own time.
3. Ressy is in charge, and known as the Evil Fabric Queen (why? because when she waves her magic wand, watch out! You'll fall under her spell and feel the need to buy lots and lots of fabric!). When she posts "New Fabrics" there will be a link to a photo album where you can see pictures and descriptions of the fabrics and their prices. These aren't usually bargain basement prices, so this isn't really a money saver in that respect. But you will see great fabrics at lower prices than other online fabric stores. Occasionally, she'll get a great deal on something (muslin was a recent one), and it will be a super awesome price, but you have to act fast. Again, there are hundreds of members across the country.
4. When you see something you want, you open the database for that fabric at the main Yahoo Group page, and add your record of which fabric and how much you want. Time is limited, though, usually a few days or a week, then it's done and closed.
5. When that sale closes, Ressy will remind everyone to check their records.
6. Payment can be done by snail mail or Paypal. Include a little extra for shipping.
7. When it's time for a shipping, another message will be sent for you to verify your order and payments. This is where you may find out that you didn't get a fabric you ordered. In that case, you'll have a credit on file, and can apply it to another future purchase. If you're paid up, then your fabric will arrive a few days later, with each one labeled by name and yardage.
If you get stumped, you can either email me or post to the Yahoo group, and you'll get fast help! Becky and Liz are Ressy's helpers, and they are great!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a large pile of fabric to make into jackets, shirts, dresses, pants...