(My stash of Lush by Erin Michael for Moda...OOP with a reprint coming soon.)
Sometimes we discover our new favorite fabric that we've been drooling over isn't new at all...but rather has been out of print (OOP) for some time and it seems like we have no chance of ever finding any. Or, sometimes we don't finish a project on a timely basis and realize we need just a bit more of a particular fabric, again only to find it's not available anymore. So what is a quilter to do? Why take to the internet to start...here is the exhaustive process that an obsessive fabricaholic like myself goes through...if you have any ideas to add, please be sure to share them via a comment on this post.
(Neptune by Tula Pink for Moda, another popular OOP line.)
The first thing is to know what you are looking for, or rather the exact name. If you go to the manufacturer's website you can match up the information with the selvedge. You should be able to determine the manufacturer, designer, collection name, name of print, color name of print and then also perhaps unique item number code. Here is a photo of a relatively current fabric's selvedge from from the Marmalade collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda and it is pattern 55056.
On the manufacturer's site (Moda), this is the information I find. Here I learn the color name of this print is raspberry and the complete item number maybe 55056-12. It is odd that there is not a pattern name but a quick online search of retailers determines it is sugar. So in this case I would be looking for from the Marmalade Collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, Raspberry Sugar 55056 - 12.
Here then are the options I try to find a fabric:
1. Google: This is the most obvious, try combinations of manufacturer/designer/print name or color to look for results. (Sometimes even searching by item number code only.)
2. Etsy and Ebay: Again, obvious choices, but do try different word combinations for the search. Some listings may not have the manufacturer name or collection name?
3. Quiltshops.com: This is a site that can search a large number of online quilt shops at once. If you are looking for a whole collection it is a nice way to find out which shop has the most different prints in a collection by the responses that come up.
4. Try a different search engine for your general search. I generally use google, but sometimes trying yahoo.com or bing can yield different results.
5. Flickr - there are several groups dedicated to fabric swapping or even ISO (in search of fabric) on this photo sharing site. You can grab a jpg of the fabric from the manufacturer's site and add ISO lettering to it and then post to your photostream. All of your flickr contacts will see it and then you can add the photo to appropriate groups such as these few that I belong to. (Most you can choose to join and are not invite only). If you are working on a collection or something is not an immediate need, put it in your flickr profile and if someone wants to swap with you, they'll see what you are looking for. Many quilters have a swap set of photos on flickr that they are working with on an ongoing basis to obtain or dispose of fabrics. Also, if you don't have a selvedge of your fabric, flickr is a great place to post a picture and search for assistance in identifying what you have.
6. Instagram/Twitter - As with flickr, post a picture with ISO on it in your stream of these social media sites.
7. Online shops that are not listed with quilt shop.com or search engines. Shocking, but there are many stores that don't seem to show up in google searches or a search service like quiltshop.com...so they need to be found the hard way. The Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop had nearly a 100 stores participating for several years...I've saved that paper and made notes which stores have online shopping. This is a pretty large number and sounds daunting. The other thing to consider is foot traffic...what stores don't get a large turnover of customers because they are away from a metro area or are in a small town? Since I grew up in the least populous county in North Dakota which is not exactly a population busting state, I think of home. After quizzing my mom out about which stores she has been to and which stores have a lot of fabric, I have found finds like Prairie Rose Quilt Shop in Minot, ND. They have a LOT of older Moda fabrics, many older Amy Butler lines and even Girlfriends by Jennifer Paganelli. I found several older fabrics of Anna Maria Horner's on the website of Fiberworks in Billings, MT this way. Hingeley Road Quilt Shop in Floodwood, MN was a find off the quilt shop hop list that has lot of flannels on their site as well as precuts and more. Cia's Palette right here in Minneapolis also has lots of goodies that are challenging to find...I really don't know how I even stumbled upon it's site.
8. Calling brick & morters on the phone. I don't do this very often, and it is really hit or miss if the person on the other end knows what you are looking for...even if a shop knows they ordered a specific line years ago, they might not realize that they still have a few FQ in a bin somewhere or remember that they actually have a bolt of one print left on their colorwall.
Those are all things I have done and do to find a must have fabric. (I used to efficiently hold and sooth a crying baby in one arm and web search with the other?!) Sometimes the process involves waiting and watching (flickr groups) or even repeating. (stores joining quiltshop.com bringing existing inventory online)
So what are your fabric finding tricks?