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A Glossary of Wholesale Fabric Terms
In the wholesale textile industry, buying by the bolt yields cheaper prices than retail and usually comes in 15-20 yard increments. If you have a home or community project that requires bulk fabric, buying from wholesale distributors is definitely the way to go. Here are some terms to help you better understand the industry.
Broadcloth – This fabric is sturdy enough to upholster furniture yet soft enough to make clothing. Made from wool or cotton, it is very densely woven and high-quality.
Damask – Damask is a woven fabric with a reversible pattern that suits curtains, table linens and furniture upholstery. It originated in Medieval Islamic culture and can be made of wool, linen, silk, synthetic fibers or cotton. On an unrelated note, the term damask commonly describes a specific print, which looks somewhat similar to the fleur-de-lis.
Embroidery – Embroidery is an ancient craft that has its roots in ancient Egyptian, Northern European and Chinese societies. It is a decorative element of clothing or fabric with threads sewn into a design. Wholesale embroidered patterns are often machine-sewn.
Remnants – Fabric remnants are leftover fabrics from warehouses and manufacturers. Usually less than a yard long, these pieces are sold at a discount for such purposes as quilting and affixing appliqués to garments.
Swatch – When going the online route, you can order swatches to determine whether the color and print is what you really want. This is particularly a good idea for expensive fabrics such as camel hair and handmade lace.
Synthetic Fabric – Synthetic fabrics are popular textile industry staples because they imitate natural fabrics but are cheaper and sometimes have better properties. Acrylic imitates wool but won’t wrinkle or itch. Acetate is like silk but doesn’t pill or shrink. Other examples of synthetics include nylon, latex, polyester, fleece and spandex.
Fabrics come in all sorts of textures, colors, and styles. When you need a lot of fabric at one time, whether because you own a retail fabric shop or you are a seamstress or tailor, buying fabric such as cotton and linen can really translate to a savings. Fabric wholesalers specialize in volume pricing when selling bolts of fleece, silk, and lace. Many people like to sew their own clothing, or make bedspreads and quilts. They often visit fabric shops to get the patterns and sewing supplies they need. When fabric stores need to stock up on the latest upholstery fabrics, they deal with wholesalers.
Wholesalers may have a local warehouse where they sell their remnants, closeouts, and newest fashions. Manufacturers and distributors sell at a bulk discount to customers like retailers, seamstresses, and tailors. Each fabric holds its own appeal. For instance, lace, always thought of as an extravagance, was especially coveted in the 1500s. Made from fibers such as cotton, flax and silk, lace was also woven with metallic threads of gold and silver.
Whether you like yards of funky fabrics with wild patterns or traditional designs of cotton and linen, you’re in luck buying in bulk from a textile wholesaler. These dealers may sell anything from cheap home upholstery fabrics to clothing fabric. Garments are easily made with the right supplies, fabric, and a reliable sewing machine. You can also use fabric to make your own curtains and quilts. Print and use free sewing patterns online or purchase some from a fabric shop.
Buying from a wholesaler can be beneficial in the long run when you need to contract on a regular basis with a reliable textile distributor.