Let’s face it, we’re decorating addicts! And fabric by the yard can make a major impact on any design project. If you’re like us, you love fabric. It can do so many things! From pillows, table linens, bedding and curtains to more heavy-duty furniture, like couches and ottomans, fabric by the yard can help create one-of-a-kind pieces that will make your rooms look amazing.
But, if there’s one thing about fabric by the yard that makes it even more fun, it’s hunting for and collecting special pieces. Yes, you can drive down to the big box store near you and find good fabric. But the most dramatic examples are harder to find.
When you go on a vacation or travel for business, take some time to look for unique fabric along the way. It’s a perfect, packable souvenir that will add color, texture – and memories – to your rooms.
Global Fabric by the Yard Shopping Tips
Here are a few tips to help you out on your travels!
1. Know the Region’s Specialty
Before embarking on your journey, do some research. Either look up the specific fabric by the yard you want to own and then where to find it or look up a country and find out what type of fabric they’re known for. This way you are informed, and you know what to expect even before stepping foot on foreign soil.
If you like Indian textiles, for example, you’ll find that every state in India is famous for a specific kind of weave, and they’re all really beautiful. Of course, they’re best bought from their native states and from studios across the country. To save you research time, here’s a great guide on India’s textile specialties by region.
2. Bring Your Tools
There are some things that you just need to bring! These tools may seem like obvious choices but not everyone will remember to take them along. Always bring your tape measure when going out, so that you can easily assess the size of fabric your newly-inspired project will need. It’s also a good idea to bring a calculator. Or your phone, of course, so that calculating foreign currency will be a breeze!
3. Pack Light
Yes, you need your small tools, but otherwise, bring only the essentials. Leave lots of empty space for all the treasures you’re going to find! Fabric by the yard can take up quite a lot of space so make sure to keep that in mind when packing (especially if you’re buying in bulk!).
4. Don’t Forget Your Measurements
If you have a specific project in mind, or even just an inkling of an idea, don’t expect to remember details when you’re in a new place, overwhelmed by new sights. It’s best to write down (or store in your phone) all of the specific measurements you may need. If you’re purchasing fabric by the yard particularly for a key piece like an overstuffed chair or a drapery panels, you’ll definitely want to figure out your dimensions beforehand and have that info with you when you start hunting and gathering.
5. Chat with the Artisans
This is your chance, so take it! If you’re at the source, ask any artisans or craftspeople about the fabric they’re making, how it was made, why it’s designed as it is, how long it takes to make it, where they get the raw materials. Sometimes, these one-of-a-kind designs have special stories that will interest you and will make for a great conversation starter when you’re back at home.
Also, why not ask an artisan for a photo of him or her with the fabric you’re buying, or with you (or both!). This will add more to your fabric’s history, and it’ll be a nice keepsake as well.
Global Destinations for Fabric by the Yard
Fabric by the yard or meter, textiles measured by denier or knots per inch – however its measured, fabric has a rich history and is one art form that has, since ancient times, transcended cultures and regions.
Here are a few special mentions of wonderful places where you can find unique fabric by the yard.
Peru is known for colorfully patterned frazadas. Made from the wool of an alpaca, the frazada is an ethnic blanket that needs skill and time to make. In fact, it can take up to a month just to finish one! Think of owning a piece you know took such effort to make. Plus, frazadas are made by rural communities so you’ll be helping them make a living as well!
In addition, in the Andes, near Cusco you can visit a women’s weaving collective in the small village of Chinchero, to see (and purchase) colorful traditional backstrap weaving. These are the oldest type of looms in the world, and locals are preserving the tradition, while becoming more self-sufficient. Plus the textiles are gorgeous. What’s not to love?
Fabric in Japan is well-known around the world, particularly kimonos, obis and related silks and finery. But, this oriental masterpiece isn’t the only Japanese fabric by the yard that you can purchase and love. Sashiko hand stitches are amazing fabric works that need more attention. Created as an alternative to the more expensive kimono, sashiko is made from cotton and has a homier vibe to it.
Mexican hand crafts often tend to have spiritual meanings behind them. This also holds true for some of the local fabrics. One such fabric is the Ojo De Dios, which actually means ‘God’s Eye.’ This fabric was originally intended as a ceremonial piece and in certain regions and groups, a new born child is given one. Every year, the father of the child then adds a new eye to the fabric until the age of five. Nowadays, genuine Ojo De Dios are hard to come by but not impossible! Just be patient while searching for it and you’ll find the results to be rewarding! Colorful embroidery is another item to look for in Mexico.
Indonesia’s Batik has been an inspiration for many fabric by the yard collectors because of its intricate designs,. Batik tends to come and go when it comes to fashion trends, but fabric connoisseurs appreciate it every day. These regal patterns were actually created for royal families in the olden days, but the craft has filtered its way down to the celebrations and culture of almost all Indonesian people. What’s so amazing about this beautiful piece of fabric is that it’s still widely available and you can easily buy it anywhere in the archipelago!
No textile-collecting destination list would be complete without mentioning Morocco. Rich jacquard pillow shams are a staple in Moroccan homes. For many years, Moroccan rugs have been all the rave, as well, and finding an authentic one is still a treasure! If you’re looking for a breathtaking Moroccan textile, look no further than an Azilal rug. It may look simple but the eye-popping colors and awe-inspiring patterns woven by Berber women into this fabric-like rug make them truly special.
In Morocco, like many destinations, you’ll also want to look for vintage fabrics at the bazaars and markets of the region. For more on Moroccan decor, check out this post by Rover@Home.
BONUS: If you can’t go on an overseas adventure right now, try fabric showrooms near you!
Sometimes traveling just isn’t an option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live your fabric by the yard dreams!
Plan a visit to some designer showrooms near you. A quick search on the internet will give you thousands of results. There’s a treasure trove of decorator fabrics that are more unique and of a higher quality than your bargain basement outlet or big box store.
Yes, fabric by the yard can be costly if you want something truly unique, but in the long run, it’s a good investment. If you need it, get advice from a professional who can tell you if the fabric you’ve got your eye on will work and wear well on the project you’re planning.
There are so many more ways to get the fabric of your dreams!
If you want to learn more, we’ve curated a special list of global resources for you. Just head on over toFabric By The Yard: Secret Addresses & Resources!
And thanks for reading!
The primary image featured in this blog is from Maxwell Tielman‘s Maximalist Style Outside of Chicago. The designer, Peaches Freund, pieces scrap garments from around the world to create decorative throw pillows. Gorgeous!