Fabric rolls on wooden cutting table

Dressmakers need metres though...

As a sewer, I often hear it discussed that buying in half-metres can be confusing, as traditionally in dressmaking (in the UK), fabric is bought in metres, therefore we are used seeing fabrics priced per metre.

Some sewers suggest that fabric shops deliberately sell at half metres to trick buyers into thinking they are full metres at cheaper prices! Some sewers even go so far to say that they refuse to buy from shops that sell in half-metre increments as they believe it is a 'trick of the trade'!
As a dressmaker myself, I can appreciate this confusion. As a fabric retailer, we can clarify why we choose to sell at half metre increments, and trust me, it is most definitely not to trick our customers (morals aside, I'm not sure I could handle many a complaint call about being tricked into a purchase)! 

Cutting down on waste
The main reason we made the choice to sell at half-metre increments is that it allows for less wastage for the buyer. If the buyer knows how much fabric is needed for their project, they can order closer to a 50cm increment. For example, if a sewer needed 3.2 metres of fabric for a dress, they can purchase just 3.5 metres of fabric, rather than 4 metres of fabric, meaning there will be less fabric leftover, and will also be cheaper for the sewer.

To further cut down on waste, the ideal would be to sell at 10cm increments. However, for dressmakers who generally require more than 1 metre in length, it can get very confusing to convert the requirement to the units of 10cm increments, leading me to...

Website limitations
The ideal of selling fabrics for us would be to have the fabric price displayed per metre, but then to allow the customer to input how much they need in 10cm increments. For example, you could type in 3.2 metres, and the website would automatically calculate the price for the customer. However, many website building platforms do not have the capability to allow for this; these websites can only sell per unit. Hereby we choose to sell at 50cm (half-metre) units.
But some websites allow to buy exact meterage, so why can't everyone
Many online fabric shops such as A KIND CLOTH are small independent businesses. Creating and maintaining websites can be an incredibly expensive business. Developing a more complex website with various purchasing options are even more expensive unless you know how to code and can build a website from scratch, in which case would be very time consuming, in particular if the business is run by one person.

You will find that more established fabric businesses with a number of staff have systems where they can display the fabric price per metre, and you can then order however much you need. 

As a small business starting up, it is expensive enough to create a website from a website building platform. These websites only allow for purchasing in one single unit. As a small business start up, there is not enough money to hire a full-time website developer, nor time or money to pay for a more complex system. We chose to spend money on buying more fabrics for more choice to our customers, rather than scrimping by on a complex website with little stock. As both the store and our knowledge of websites grow, we will then be able to upgrade the website - hopefully this will be much sooner rather than later!

Don't get caught out
Most websites very clearly state what unit they are selling at. Also, if the price seems too cheap to be a full metre, then double-check the website pages, and get in touch with them if need be, to let them know it wasn't clear enough. They are probably genuinely unaware that this was the case. Website building can be very complicated, many things can simply be overlooked, there's a lot of hats to wear as a business owner. I can tell you that from experience first-hand! 

You can take a look at our collection of sustainable dressmaking fabrics and independent sewing patterns here at A KIND CLOTH

Thank you for reading!


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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