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Out of Curiosity:: How Much Is Too Much For Fabric?

Since I’m on a quest to find the striped fabric (or something pretty darn similar) that is on my $8 garage sale chairs, I’ve been scouring the websites of different fabric companies. My search has yet to reveal that particular striped fabric, but I have found some pretty amazing fabrics. For example, these fabrics from Kravet are really appealing to me:



Pretty, right? I absolutely love a chenille stripe or geometric design. The colors aren’t exactly right, but I was interested enough to check out the details on these particular fabrics. So imagine my surprise when I clicked on them and found that the retail price for both of those fabrics is $430 per yard.

Yes, you read that right. $430 PER YARD. PER…YARD!!!

Now of course, I have trade accounts with these fabric companies, so I don’t pay the retail price (lucky me). But even with my trade discount, I simply couldn’t imagine paying over $3000 for fabric to put on $8 chairs!! Heck, I couldn’t imagine spending $3000 on brand new chairs!!

That shouldn’t come as a shock. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know how cheap I am. I find it thrilling to see how inexpensively I can decorate a room.

Here’s another one I found…


…for the bargain price of $137 per yard. Again, that’s the retail price, but the trade price is still way more than I’d ever spend on fabric for $8 chairs.

So that leads me to the question…

How much is too much for fabric?

Are you the kind of person who would never spend more than $20 per yard on decorator fabric (which is generally only possible if you have a 50% off coupon for JoAnn Fabrics or find an incredible sale), or are you the kind of person who will scrape together and save your pennies to purchase exactly the fabric you want, no matter the cost?

My own personal out-of-pocket limit is generally around $20 per yard for the average home decorating project, which means I can usually get fabric that retails for around $40 per yard if I save my coupons, purchase from my trade accounts, or find fabulous sales. However, I would consider paying more if I knew I just needed one yard of fabric for an accent, such as throw pillows.

Now when it comes to clients, I approach this topic a little differently. The fabrics I recommend for clients generally depend on the client’s overall budget for the room.

Remember this Virtual Room (re)Design I did for Cassandra’s dining room a couple of months back?


For this design, I recommended some drapery fabric that is actually quite expensive.

Why did I feel comfortable doing this?

I did it because Cassandra had given me a very specific budget for the room. Knowing that those incredible windows would be the backdrop for everything else we did in the room, I knew they had to be a real showstopper. So when everything else in the room came in way under budget, I felt the freedom to recommend that fabric that was PERFECT for the room, even though it was so expensive. And even with the expensive fabric for draperies, I still came in under budget!!

So now I’d like to hear from you on this. I generally present these questions in the form of a poll, but I really have no idea how I would even word the different options. This is a topic where people’s approaches are as different and unique as each individual.

There may be those of you who would never, ever, in a million years, purchase $200-per-yard fabric for draperies, but you may consider purchasing one yard for pillows if it’s something you really love, while others of you would never consider paying more than $20 per yard, regardless of the project.

So please, share you thoughts. I’m curious.



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14 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lizzy @ Lizzy Designs
    May 4, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    For normal every day cotton fabric I don't pay more than £4 a metre. (Conversion rate: $6 according to Google!) Yes, I'm a really cheap person. If I was making curtains etc, the maximum I would pay would be £13 a metre. (Conversion rate as of Google: $19) Whatever fabric you choose will look amazing! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    May 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Lizzy, I completely understand!! I like to pay as little as possible.

    Now one thing I AM quite particular about is using the correct type of fabric for a project. I don't use clothing fabric for decorating projects, no matter how good the price is. I don't use drapery fabrics for upholstery, no matter how much I love the fabric.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Corie
    May 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Holy wow, I don't think I've ever spent more than $20 a yard on fabric. I'm a cheapster though, I save coupons and shop the discount fabric until I find something I like.
    I would think somewhere around $40-$60 a yard would be the most I would spend on a fabulous accent fabric. And then, only if I didn't need that much of it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dan and Jeannine
    May 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I spent about $30 per yard on my fabric for my cornis boards in my dining room that have yet to be finished, but I had a coupon for 50% off, so I got it for $15/yd. Im pretty cheap overall, but when it comes to drapery & upholstery, I would say you get what you pay for, so if you intend on it lasting awhile- I would say the one that cost in the $100's would be good. (even though I doubt I would shell out that much!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    May 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I spent $42 a yard on the fabric because I LOVED it but there was another fabric I loved for $80 and I got over that love! I will not ever spend more then $60 on fabric no matter the degree of LOVE! Ha! I love to see when people can take a fabric they love for $300 and find something similar for $60! It is WAY more impressive! ;0) And you have more money to spend on other projects. Just my thought!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    May 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    While I blanched at the price of the fabric on that project you mentioned, I totally saw your point of making the windows/curtains a focal point. If I had the money to spend it probably wouldn't bother me. As it is, I definitely don't 🙂

    I'd probably be willing to spring the big bucks for a wee, little, tiny, very small piece of fabric for pillows but I think it would KILL me to spend more than $40-50/yard on greater quantities. And even that amount is a stretch. I'm a bargain hunter!

    I once scored over 20 yards of lovely upholstery weight damask for $50 on eBay (spent almost that much again in shipping) even though I had no idea what I'd use it for…now fast forward three years to when we moved overseas. Yes I lugged that roll of fabric with me! 🙂 And it came in mighty handy when we moved into a house that has a living room with two entire walls of windows plus another window on a third wall — TALL, almost floor to ceiling windows. That's a lot of glass to cover! I didn't have enough of the blue damask to do the job, but combined with 12 yards of upholstery weight plaid fabric in blue, green and a little yellow, I was able to make lovely pleated drapes for the space. The panels are about 3/5 blue damask and 2/5 plaid. You can see a photo of them here: http://kimfromthesouth.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-cant-believe-i-actually-made-it-to.html

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    May 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Kim, those draperies are beautiful! And what an incredible bargain!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Shantastic
    May 5, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    $20 per yard is probably my limit. I found a lovely pattern that I thought I needed, but at $40 per yard, I moved on. While fabric can make quite a statement, it's also something that changes and gets dirty rather quickly, spending more than my mortgage payment on fabric to recover chairs would not enter my brain. I join in the cheap/chic ranks. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sindy
    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Hi Kristi, If I had a million $ in my checking account and the fabric for my $8 chairs would total $3000-$5000, it would sort of be like if I had a $100 in my checking account and the fabric would total $3-$5 to do the job. It's sort of relative. I get very emotional over fabric–love it at first sight, gotta have it, but then if I make myself wait and go back a day later to see it, strangely enough the emotional grip isn't so strong and I can be a lot more rational and objective about it.
    Since I'm more on the $100 in my checking account side :), $15-20 on fabric is my limit, but that doesn't stop me from loving all the fabulous designer fabrics I see–it's just that I have to, you know, live in the real world!
    Sindy

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laurie - Little Blue Chairs
    May 6, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Wow- I don't think I could spend that amount on fabric. I am too cheap. I don't have a specific amount that I will or will not spend. I usually find something I like and automatically think it is too expensive (it can be $7/yard and I will still think this). I then go home/ search for it cheaper and then decide if I really like it for the price.

    I do not recommend this process, as I miss out on a lot of things I should have bought when i saw them, as they never are available when I finally come around.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maryam in Marrakech
    May 6, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I just confronted this dilemma. A friend was buying some fabric for me and she bought fabric that was 75 euros/meter (about $100/yard). I told her I just couldn't afford it and thankfully, the owner took it back. However, I did buy 2 yards of Liberty fabric at the same time that was about $35/yard. The 2 yards will make a coat — I will pay a tailor about $125 to make it and so the total will be $200 or so. That's still a lot of money but it will be a custom coat made out of a beautiful fabric.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elizabeth
    May 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I saw some fabric very much like what is on your garage sale find chairs at modern-fabrics.com. You should check that website out (I am not affliated with them in anyway, fyi). They have designer fabrics at deeply discounted prices. The yardages can vary but you could find a bargain.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    April 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    While I blanched at the price of the fabric on that project you mentioned, I totally saw your point of making the windows/curtains a focal point. If I had the money to spend it probably wouldn't bother me. As it is, I definitely don't 🙂

    I'd probably be willing to spring the big bucks for a wee, little, tiny, very small piece of fabric for pillows but I think it would KILL me to spend more than $40-50/yard on greater quantities. And even that amount is a stretch. I'm a bargain hunter!

    I once scored over 20 yards of lovely upholstery weight damask for $50 on eBay (spent almost that much again in shipping) even though I had no idea what I'd use it for…now fast forward three years to when we moved overseas. Yes I lugged that roll of fabric with me! 🙂 And it came in mighty handy when we moved into a house that has a living room with two entire walls of windows plus another window on a third wall — TALL, almost floor to ceiling windows. That's a lot of glass to cover! I didn't have enough of the blue damask to do the job, but combined with 12 yards of upholstery weight plaid fabric in blue, green and a little yellow, I was able to make lovely pleated drapes for the space. The panels are about 3/5 blue damask and 2/5 plaid. You can see a photo of them here: http://kimfromthesouth.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-cant-believe-i-actually-made-it-to.html

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Corie
    April 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Holy wow, I don't think I've ever spent more than $20 a yard on fabric. I'm a cheapster though, I save coupons and shop the discount fabric until I find something I like.
    I would think somewhere around $40-$60 a yard would be the most I would spend on a fabulous accent fabric. And then, only if I didn't need that much of it!

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