Whether you sew as a hobby or as your job, there are expenses involved. You will need to pay for the tools needed and the fabric you will need to create your items. If you’re new to sewing, you may be wondering, “How much does fabric cost?”
Fabric is usually sold by the yard or by the bolt. The price of fabric depends on many factors. The cost is usually based on the quality of the fabric and the type of material it is made of. Fabric weight, color, and type of fibers also affect the price of fabric.
With that being said, the price of the same type of fabric can vary from store to store. In this article, you’ll explore what accounts for the price variation, what makes fabric expensive, and the best places to buy fabric so that you can be sure you’re getting the most for your money.
- How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost?
- What Makes Fabric Expensive?
- How Much Does a Bolt of Fabric Cost?
- What is the Most Expensive Type of Fabric?
- How Much is Cotton Fabric Per Yard?
- How Much is Satin Fabric Per Yard?
- How Much is Silk Fabric Per Yard?
- What are the Best Online Fabric Stores?
- How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost at Joann’s?
- How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost at Walmart?
- Where Can I Get Fabric For Free/Cheap?
How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost?
There is no set answer for how much a yard of fabric costs, but the average price is between $15 and $50 for high-quality fabrics, with luxury fabrics costing as much as $1,000 per yard. Several factors can influence the price of fabric. The price can also vary depending on where the fabric is purchased from. Let’s look at some of the factors that affect the cost of fabric per yard.
Type of Material
The type of material fabric is made of has one of the biggest influences on price. Fabrics like cotton and polyester tend to be cheaper because they aren’t heavy and are more readily available. Heavier fabrics like velvet, wool, and denim will cost more, as will more delicate fabrics like lace, silk, and satin because they aren’t as readily available and cost more to produce.
When purchasing fabric by the yard, the most fabric is measured in terms of a linear yard. This means that the length of the fabric is 36 inches, the typical length that would make up a yard. This is a standard measurement. Before the fabric is cut, it will be measured to a length of 36 inches, regardless of the type of fabric it is.
In a square yard, the width of the fabric would be 36 inches as well. But since there are many different types of fabrics and they are all made from different materials, the width of the fabric will likely be more than 36 inches. The width will vary based on fabric type and can affect the cost of fabric per yard.
Fabric Quality and Retail Competition
The quality of the fabric affects the cost because low quality fabrics cost less to produce. For example, low quality cotton will cost less than high-quality cotton. Competition among fabric retailers can also affect the price. This is because different retailers are trying to beat each other’s prices to draw in more business.
What Makes Fabric Expensive?
We previously mentioned the factors that can affect the price of fabric per yard. Most of the expense comes from the type of material fabric is made of, which largely affects the price per yard. Several factors influence this price that come into play when the fabric is being produced – the cost of the raw material, size and chemicals used, and production costs.
Raw materials are used to create the fabric, such as fiber, thread, or yarn. The cost of raw materials accounts for around two-thirds of the total cost of fabric.
The cost of fibers depends on the quality of fiber and how it was sourced. Wool, linen, cotton, silk, and polyester are all different types of fibers. Cotton is cheaper to produce because it is more widely available in larger quantities. In contrast, real silk fibers are more expensive because they aren’t as available and may have to be imported.
The cost is also affected by the fiber or yarn count. Fabrics with finer counts are more expensive because they cost more money to produce more fabric and reinforce that fabric’s strength.
Fabric Size and Type of Dye
At the factory where they are produced, fabrics usually have to be of a certain size to be dyed. The width of the fabric is often adjusted to produce more fabric because it is cheaper to dye wider fabrics than longer ones, but it still costs money to dye fabrics. Heavier fabrics also cost more money to dye than lighter ones because more dye is needed.
The type of dye that is used also affects the price of fabric. Fabrics that are darker in color are more expensive. This is because darker fabrics take longer to dye and use more dye in the process. Some specific colors of dye also cost more than others.
Production costs are the costs associated with running and maintaining the machines. Spinning and weaving are two ways that fabrics are made, and the machines that run these processes cost money to purchase and keep in good working order. The amount of money it takes to keep up these machines is reflected in the price of fabric.
Fabrics that are more rare cost more to produce because the fibers used to make them aren’t as available or take longer to harvest. Fabrics that are patterned are also more expensive because they require a special dying process to create, which costs more money in production. Higher quality fabrics like designer fabrics cost more, too.
How Do These Factors Affect Retail Prices?
Retailers have to pay for the fabrics that they sell. The price that retailers pay depends on the factors listed above. Both the factory and the retailer want to make money. Factories charge retailers more than what they paid for the materials to make the fabric.
Retailers then turn around and charge the consumer more than what they paid the factory to purchase the fabric for sale. If a fabric costs more at a retail store, it’s because it costs the retailer more money to purchase it. Cheaper fabrics cost less to make and factories charge retailers less to purchase them.
How Much Does a Bolt of Fabric Cost?
A bolt usually consists of 100 yards of fabric. If you’re planning a large sewing project or are making multiple of one item, you may wish to consider buying a bolt of fabric instead of purchasing the fabric by the yard. This is because the fabric is usually cheaper when you buy in bulk, as retailers will charge more for individual yards of fabric to make more money.
Like with purchasing fabric by the yard, the cost of a bolt of fabric depends on the fabric type and is affected by the factors listed above. Popular retailers such as Joann Fabrics and Walmart sell fabric by the bolt, but the prices vary. To give you an example, Walmart sells a 25-yard bolt of tulle fabric for $2.50, with larger bolts of other fabrics costing up to $100.
Wholesale outlets are also a great way to purchase bolts of fabric. Still, buying fabrics this way is usually only available to those who own their own sewing business and need to buy fabrics in such large quantities. Some wholesalers charge for a bolt by the yard, but this rate is still discounted and would be less than what you would pay by buying individual yards of the same fabric from a retailer.
What is the Most Expensive Type of Fabric?
Some fabrics are very rare or hard to get. These are considered luxury fabrics and can cost thousands of dollars just for a small amount. Here are the most expensive types of fabrics.
Vicuña wool is the most expensive fabric in the world. A relative of llamas and alpacas, vicuñas are endangered animals that live in South America. This means that vicuña wool is rare, which is what makes it so expensive. Their wool can only be shorn once every two to three years if you can catch them. They are extremely hard to catch. $3,800 will get you less than 500 grams of vicuña wool.
Guanaco wool is similar to vicuña wool. The fibers are extremely fine, which is what makes it so expensive. The only fibers that are finer are the fibers from vicuña wool, and like vicuña, guanacos are also endangered. Their wool is soft like cashmere, but it is extremely warm. Alpaca Collections sells a scarf made of guanaco wool for just under $2,000.
Mulberry silk is made by silk worms that feed exclusively on mulberry leaves. Mulberry silk is the highest quality of silk available as well as the most refined. It is also hypoallergenic and 100% natural. All of those factors account for the expense, but it is not nearly as expensive as vicuña wool. Mulberry silk can be purchased for around $60 per yard.
The most expensive type of fur is leopard fur, but it is illegal to sell leopard fur because leopards are so endangered. Other types of fur, such as chinchilla and mink, are considered very elegant, but they can also be difficult to work with. Chinchilla is the softest fur. Coats made out of chinchilla fur are incredibly expensive, with some costing as much as $100,000.
Cashmere comes from cashmere goats that live in the Himalayan mountains of Asia. The mountains are very cold, which causes the goats’ fur to grow thick. That is why cashmere is so warm. It is also one of the softest fibers in the world. It is expensive because each goat only produces around 200 grams of fiber and the fibers can only be collected once a year.
What is the Cheapest Fabric Material?
The cheapest fabric materials tend to be cotton and polyester. This is because they are more available and cheaper and easier to produce. But depending on how they were produced, this can sometimes mean that they are of lower quality than other fabrics.
Cotton usually comes in two forms: traditional and organic. Cotton is a very in-demand crop, meaning that more is being grown by farmers in one of two ways. The way the cotton is grown affects both the quality and price of cotton.
Traditional cotton is cheaper, and several reasons make traditional cotton so cheap. But since it is so in-demand, machines are usually used to pick traditional cotton because they are faster and more efficient. Unfortunately, picking cotton this way can damage the fibers and cause them not to be as pure as they should be.
Traditional cotton is also grown using the same soil as the previous, which lowers the soil’s quality over time. This results in lower quality cotton. More chemicals, such as herbicides, are also used. This affects the quality of the cotton, which lowers the price paid by both the retailer and consumer.
Organic cotton is picked by hand, keeping the purity of the cotton intact. Hand-picked cotton is also less likely to become damaged and the fibers are usually longer as a result. Longer fibers make organic cotton softer than traditional cotton but also more durable.
There are also no chemicals used on organic cotton to kill pests. Organic cotton crops are rotated to different soil each season, increasing the quality of the soil and the quality of the cotton itself. Higher quality cotton costs more to produce and purchase.
Polyester fabrics are becoming more popular because they are cheap to produce. Unlike cotton, it is not a natural fiber. It is man-made using coal, oil, and water, which means that it is a type of plastic. Man-made materials can be made quickly and cost less to do so. Polyester fabric can be mass-produced, making it cheaper to buy than other fabrics.
How Much is Cotton Fabric Per Yard?
The price of cotton fabric per yard depends on a few things. These factors are where it is purchased from, if it is plain or patterned, and is high or low quality. Taking all those factors into consideration, most cotton fabrics can be purchased for around $5-$20 a yard. Higher quality or organic cotton fabrics will cost more than lower quality or traditional ones.
Is Cotton Cheaper Than Polyester?
Cotton is not necessarily cheaper than polyester. Even though one is natural and one is man-made, neither of them is very expensive to produce. The price of each one depends on the market.
Let’s say that for whatever reason, the cotton crop one year wasn’t as good as in previous years. This would cost the price of cotton to go up because there would be less of it. Polyester might be cheaper in this case.
But if the cotton crop was better one year than in previous years, there would be more cotton available, which would bring the price of cotton fabric down. If there was a shortage of materials used to make polyester, this would make polyester less available. The cost of polyester fabric would go up and cotton would be cheaper.
How Much is Satin Fabric Per Yard?
Like polyester, satin is a man-made material. This means that it can be mass-produced at a low cost. Despite its luxury look and feel, it is very affordable. Different types of satin are used to make different things. Different types have different weights and some satin looks different than others. Style and quality affect the price. Most satin fabrics can be bought for as little as $3-$4 per yard or as much as $40 per hard.
How Much is Silk Fabric Per Yard?
Silk is a natural material. It is a soft fabric that is considered more elegant than other fabrics and is used a lot in fashion design. Silk fibers are mostly produced by silkworms that use them to make cocoons. The first silk fabric was produced in China, where it was seen as a luxury.
Even though it is a natural fiber, silk costs a lot of money to produce. It is made by harvesting silkworms, but it takes between 2000 and 3000 silkworms to produce 1 pound of silk. The fibers are then woven or knit together to create fabric. There are also different versions of silk that can be created. These include chiffon, crepe, and organza.
Raw silk can be purchased for less than $10 per yard. For woven silk fabrics, you can expect to pay more depending on quality. Most silk costs between $5 and $65 per yard. Mulberry silk is at the higher end of that range. Chiffon and crepe are cheaper, and organza is somewhere in the middle.
What are the Best Online Fabric Stores?
When purchasing fabric online, several stores have a reputation for high quality and a wide range of fabrics. Here are some of the best online fabric stores.
Fabric.com is the leading online fabric store. With a large selection of affordable fabrics, it is a great online fabric store for people who have a particular project in mind. You can shop by fabric by color, type, purpose, or theme. If you don’t know what you want to create, their Get Inspired section offers ideas and free patterns to help you get started. It is also a great site to buy fabric by the bolt.
Joann Fabrics is one of the most well-known stores to shop for fabrics. If you don’t have a store near you, you can shop their website for a wide range of fabric styles and patterns. Online categories are broken down based on the theme and use for certain types of fabrics. People love them for their selection of quality and affordable fabrics.
Minted has been known for selling stationery, cards, and prints designed by global independent artists in the past. They have recently started selling fabric as well. Some fabrics by featured artists can be purchased in different colors and materials. Fabrics here aren’t as cheap as other stores, but all of the fabrics listed on their site are unique and the prices reflect that.
Mood Fabrics has a flagship store in New York City, but they also have an online store. Geared toward fashion, there is a large selection of fabrics available for purchase, including some exclusive and designer fabrics. Fabrics do tend to cost a little more, but they are of high quality. With so many choices, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Organic Cotton Plus
Organic Cotton Plus specializes in organic and eco-friendly fabrics and is the sister company of a cotton farm in Texas. The farm was one of the first in the country to be certified organic. Fabrics sold here include woven, knit, hemp, wool, and silk. This is a great online store for people who prefer to use natural fabrics for their projects.
Like Minted, Spoonflower is a company that sells custom fabric designed by artists from around the world. In addition to unique fabrics, the website also posts seasonal fabric trends. Fabrics from Spoonflower cost a little more than other places, but they are created using an eco-friendly process and your purchase supports the designers that created them. You can even purchase a sample pack to test the softness, stretch, and other qualities of fabrics to help you decide what will work best for your project.
Walmart has a large selection of fabrics that are sold and shipped by Walmart and some that are sold through third-parties. If you go to a physical Walmart store and can’t find what you’re looking for, check out the website. Fabrics here are affordable and are sold in a variety of materials and colors. Walmart is also a great place to buy bolts of fabric.
How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost at Joann’s?
Fabrics from Joann’s typically cost between $5 and $300 per yard. If you are shopping on Joann’s website, fabrics are broken into categories such as home decor, fashion and apparel, quilting fabric, and utility fabric.
Fabrics in some of these categories cost more than others. For example, fabrics that would be used for curtains may be thicker than fabrics used for clothes. Fabrics under the home decor category may cost slightly more than fabrics in the fashion and apparel category. You can filter by price if you are trying to stick to a certain budget.
How Much Does a Yard of Fabric Cost at Walmart?
Fabrics that are sold exclusively by Walmart can cost between $2.97 and $15 per yard. Clearance fabrics can sometimes be purchased for less than that. If you are shopping on the website, they also sell fabrics through third-parties. These fabrics can cost more.
Categories on Walmart’s website are divided by material, size, pattern, and brand. You can filter by the material if you want a certain material like polyester, cotton, or canvas. You can also choose to see only patterned fabrics. Shopping by the brand is a great way to see third-party fabrics that Walmart sells.
Where Can I Get Fabric For Free/Cheap?
If you need a lot of fabric but don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are ways to get fabric for free or cheap. If you like vintage styles, this is also a great way to get vintage fabrics.
To get free fabric, you can repurpose old bedsheets, tablecloths, or curtains that you no longer use. If you like to make quilts, using old t-shirts is a great way to hold onto your favorite shirts that you want to keep but no longer wear.
Yard sales, garage sales, and thrift shops are good for finding cheap fabric. Some thrift shops even sell bundles of different fabrics that are leftover from other people’s projects. Check with friends and neighbors, or ask in social media groups to see if anyone has any fabric that they want to get rid of.
I hope this article was full of useful information about the cost of fabric. When purchased by the yard or bolt, the cost of fabric depends on the type and quality of the material. Shop around to find the best deals, or try yard sales and thrift shops to buy fabric for cheap. If you know someone else who would benefit from this information, share the article with them and comment to leave us your thoughts.