Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fabric crisis!

Remember the sequence of recent events:

1. Buy Jinny Beyer fabric for foundation blocks

2. Run out almost at the end
3. Order more from US and wait eagerly
4. Realise have mistakenly ordered a shade too light
5. Order the darker shade

.....well, today with great efficiency from Jinny Beyer's shop the fabric arrived. It is too dark! How can this be?! There are only 2 pink fabrics of that design in her range and they have consecutive stock numbers so it's not like there could have been a shade in between that has been discontinued.
I think the answer is this. My nearest quilt shops are either the tiny one attached to the school of Stitched Textiles ( about 35 mins away) which has limited stock as it is mostly there to support the classes these days, or another which I shall not yet name about 45 mins away. Lets just call them QS for Quilt Shop.

QS sells very cheap fabrics. They price by letter on the end of a bolt and prices start from about half what other shops would charge, ranging up to just a little less than other shops. The owner likes to talk and as they dole out free tea I am happy to listen. I have heard several times all about why they won't buy from certain reps who overcharge, how they go to the docks to collect the fabric direct, how they have done certain good deals etc. I find it a tatty, disorganised shop but its really the only local one with a bigish range, they are very friendly and they open on a Sunday which is handy.

At New Year I bought a lot of fabric there, including some African stuff. They had a 25% sale so who wouldn't?! Some of it was of course the Jinny Beyer fabric. The owner was keen to stress that it was genuine Jinny Beyer and that he always made sure people knew that. At the time I wondered what they stocked that was not genuine but as the label said Jinny Beyer on the selvage I assumed he meant that people could not believe he was able to sell it at a reduced price and that he was assuring them he had done another deal. I spied with my little eye, as he was yapping that, it was a 2005 fabric. Aha, I thought. 'Tis how he does it - its end of line and new ranges are now out. Fair enough. What does it matter if it was on his shelf for a while or in my stash. As a teacher said to me early on- fabric does not go off!

Now I am wondering. The first fabric from the US is clearly my mistake. it is a totally different pink. However, this is a scan of the US fabric with a scrap of QS fabric on it:

See how it is similar but in fact faded?

A little while ago I learned - I think from an Alex Anderson Podcast but I am not sure now, how fabric is run off first in in effect test runs then a good batch done then as the ink are getting worn out ( for want of a better prhase) a last run is done. (I know there is a much more accurately technical way of expressing that but I forget!). I suspect that I didn't get fabric from the best batch! Indeed, when I made Caleb's quilt I bought a Disney Fabric from there for the backing which looked suspciousy fuzzy. That didn't matter as it was a small bit of the backing and was for a kid whose eyes were two days old, so to him everything is probably a bit fuzzy, but the combined experience has made me very suspcious of that shop.

I have emailed Jinny Beyer to see if she can confirm that there isn't in fact another shade ( which Is why I am not naming QS yet in case I libel them - and I stress this is my suspicion!) but in the meantime I would say beware of cheap fabric. Although I have to say that if I hadn't had the comparator I would have been perfectly happy with my faded shade! And I wouldn't mind, I didn't buy it particularly because it was cheap so much as because it was local.

As for the impact on the quilt of all this I am now 4 blocks short ( made of 16 smaller blocks) which are 80% foundation pieced and now can't be finished. Hmmm. Time for either (a) panic, tears and stamping of feet or (b) quick switch into problem solving mode for a design varaition. I opted for the latter and am going now to see if my idea of appliqueing hearts with the initials of the recipients will look as good on a test block as it does in my head!


Jennifer said...

Helen, I think I am actually dizzy from reading your latests posts and I just do NOT know how you do it all!

Regarding the Jinny Beyer fabric mystery -- there are a number of schools of thought from quilters in the US about why, for example, a yard of designer fabric costs $8 to $9 in an independent shop but runs $4 or $5 from huge chain stores. I have heard quilters passionately argue that different runs are done for the cheap stores on a cheaper grade of fabric (inferior greige goods) and with cheaper (less colorfast) inks. Your point about different ends of the print run also sounds plausible. I'll be really interested to hear what you find out from Jinny Beyer directly -- the designers themselves tend to dodge the issue it seems. In any case, I know you're going to come up with a creative solution around this -- but I'm sorry this has happened!

Diana said...

How frustrating for you. I think I would have indulged in just a bit of foot stomping, but your solution sounds much more effective. I've also heard the theory that chain store fabrics are test runs or end runs, with inferior results.

Good luck on your design variation!

Susan D said...

Hope you resolve your problem and as your teacher said fabric doesn't go off, my Mum can vouch for that she has a stash that has some over 40 years old.

Vicki W said...

How frustrating for you! I hope you can get something worked out. It's been an interesting lesson for me - thanks for sharing.