Cheap as chips

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

I don’t like the word cheap.

It’s too hard to distinguish between using it to indicate loss cost and implying low quality these days. People say you get what you pay for but I have often found amazing quality fabric at lower prices. And worse, the same fabric for frustratingly different prices.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

For instance my elephant print cotton lawn was £4.99 a metre but I’ve seen it listed for £14 a metre on other sites.

Part of me wonders if the cheaper fabric is a knock off of the more expensive. If I had only ever seen the lawn listed at £10 + I would have accepted that was its value. But maybe the seller I bought from was massively undercutting the market to secure sales?

I often project a perceived value on fabric if it feels nice or worse if the print sends my heart racing. I’ll put it up on a pedestal and have to will myself into cutting into it. But thats not to say I wouldn’t turn down fabric if the price seemed unfair. I’m still a fickle consumer, driven in some part by a sense of value: Even if the quality and longevity of my clothes is higher by making them myself I still need to justify my hobby from a price perspective.

Who knows.
It’s been playing on my mind though.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

So what am I sharing today. A polyester dress in an amazing triangle print called constellation.

I love the colours in the print. It’s like my dream design – geometric, repeating, with coral and teal.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

Here’s the kicker… The fabric was £15 a metre. With a discount code I got it for £11. Maybe you think this polyester looks worth that price? Or maybe you think polyester in any format screams cheap and nasty.

Granted, the fabric is prone to turning static and needed a fine sharp needle during construction. It’s actually slightly thinner than regular polyester, more like a peachskin weight that lifts with a slight breeze. But I still love it.

I bought it from Anna Ka Bazaar the Paris-based fabric shop last year –  sadly for me, I had to buy over the Internet instead of making a trip in person. One day though.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

The pattern is my one true love; a Simplicity 2444 bodice and gathered skirt. I altered the neckline and armholes to use bias binding and left the whole dress unlined. Made it super quick to sew! My overlocker kept everything tidy inside.

So there you have it! Would you ever pay £15 for polyester? Ever seen a fabric priced significantly higher or lower than you bought it for?

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16 Comments

  1. Hmmm, this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately! That elephant fabric is a perfect example and I’ve seen it for £2.99. I have a feeling the more expensive seller bought it cheap, but is including it in a pricier collection of fabrics so wants to keep things consistent. They may not have an idea that it’s in a lot of other places for a lot less though. I have often found good quality fabrics at reasonable prices, especially when the rolls are slightly flawed (can be cut around). What one person is willing to pay for something is irrelevant, because it stirred some emotion in you to compel you to buy it, which cannot be felt by anyone else. I hope that people buying elephant fabric for £14 still love it as much even if they see it for £2.99!!!

  2. That elephant fabric’s pricing is mental! It’s the most inconsistent I’ve ever seen! Having said that I’ve still got two 3m lengths, one of which cost me about £15 and the other less than £10!
    £15/m is my mental limit and I have to love it to cough up now, but that’s because my financial situation has evolved… Doesn’t stop me lusting after £18/m Echino sateen though!
    I’ve also become much more open to other fibres (in part because I’ve increased my skill set and don’t need the reliability of 100% cotton). The drape, print and price are my drivers, not so much fibre content.
    Value is very personal, that old saying ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ rings true. As long as you’re happy and think it’s a fair price, then it is! I adore the print of your fabric and would have bought it at £11 as I know I’d wear the resulting dress constantly and that it would be low maintenance once made!

    1. Mmmm, Echino! I’ve got a serious stash of 1/2m cuts of the original linen blend, and they are just so. damn. pretty. I have some little zip purses that I use everyday in Echino prints, and I love ’em! It’s one of those rare fabrics that I can’t often afford but never regret.

  3. This is a great print and an interesting post. I love to get a bargain but have to try and temper my bargain loving tendencies with the fact I also like to try and buy quality that will last. I don’t like sewing with poly fabrics because I don’t really like wearing them but actually since I don’t iron anything they are a good choice for me!

  4. Ooh yes, I’ve certainly seen some fabrics that were massively differently priced. I once coughed up £18/ m for a fabric I later saw at £14/m (this is the most expensive stuff I’ve ever bought). I adore the fabric, and the resulting dress so I don’t mind toooo much, but still a little put out about the price!
    As long as a fabric wasn’t really expensive, how much I love it is usually what determines how worried I am about cutting into it, not the price!

  5. beautiful print! i think fabric is like everything else – part of the money pays for the actual product (so the true value of it if you like) and the rest goes for the brand (whether that is the retailer or the manufacturer). some shops probably buy last season’s prints for example that might be marked down other places but price them comparably to their normal stock, and some will buy a popular print and sell it cheaper as a loss leader.

    I try to buy better quality stuff than i used to (especially for something that will take a lot of time like a jacket or coat) as it holds up better and looks good for longer, but i’m as susceptible as everyone else to a good quilting cotton print!

  6. I think there’s a difference between intrinsic value of fibres and difficult to produce fabrics (like silks, double gauzes, even Liberty lawn), and those that you’re willing to pay for just because the print screams to you. I tend to splurge on beautiful fibres because I know I can get prints that I love at any price point – look at our £3/m Whistles bargain! So it’s unlikely I would spend more than £5-6/m on polyester because tbh I think the markup is too high and there’s always another lovely one round the corner.

  7. Your dress is lovely – I’d have wanted that print too! I tend to buy quite cheap fabric too, although we don’t have markets like you do, so it’s more about waiting for sales. Everyone once in a while though, there’s a print worthy of a splurge – like the $70 I spent to get 3m of Art Gallery Knit! Turns out I didn’t like the fabric all that much in the end though – proof that more expensive is not always better!!!

  8. I’ve been wondering a lot about fabric prices recently too – there are some shops that just always seem to charge significantly more than others for no obvious reason, so I’ve also wondered if the cheaper version is a knockoff or if the more expensive seller is just after better margins. As for your fabric, it looks lovely and you’re obviously happy with it, so I’d say it was worth the price you paid!

  9. My nana would always scold if you said something was cheap.
    “Cheap is about quality – inexpensive is about price”. So I buy inexpensive fabric, and leave the cheap stuff on the shelf!

  10. I am still frightened of spending money on fabric, so I tend to buy inexpensive fabrics. I am still worried about ruining it when sewing! I think your dress is beautiful by the way, perfect in fact.

  11. I dunno… the more I learn about fabric sourcing, the more I’m surprised that we don’t see massive variations in price more often! Fabric is purchased in different ways, and the price can greatly vary to the retailer depending on the quantity that they order and when they buy it (if you’re buying designer leftovers or overstock, this year’s stuff is more much expensive than last year’s). Another weird thing that I sometimes see in the Garment District are prints that I recognize from runway collections, but on a totally different fiber (ie, it was silk twill in the designer collection but it’s printed on poly charmeuse in the store). My suspicion is that these were test prints. It’s pretty interesting to see the way these fabrics migrate from one part of the fashion world to another!

  12. I always have a price point in my head when I buy fabric, certain fabrics in my head have certain prices attached to them. Sometimes when I then check the price are expensive and some a bargain. Our local chain store sometimes has fabric for over $20/m – in my head I’m like “i’d never pay that for Spotlight fabric” so I don’t and I wait for it to be on special. But if it was at another store I might have bought it. Perhaps this just makes me a snob!! At the end of the day though I won’t spend large amounts on fabric unless it is something super special.
    Great dress btw!!

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