i’ve worked at a fabric store now for 4 years, so i think i’m allowed to make this list. this is just my way to rant, obviously, because the thing is that out of hundreds of customers that our store has in 1 day, 90% of them usually do exactly those things that in my opinion you SHOULDN’T DO in a fabric store. please note that this is in no way done in a scientific way, just read them for fun. (and please memorize them when you do go to a fabric store. thanks.) oh, and all of these things refer to when you’re buying a fabric, not just looking around, so you’re actually in contact with a salesperson.
1. touch the fabric when the salesperson is cutting it. this is the most common mistake a customer does. i know you’re probably thinking “oh, here, let me help you” when you take the other end of the fabric/straighten the fabric/touch the fabric in any way. but you’re just making things worse, especially if the salesperson is already cutting the fabric. when you pull the fabric your way to straighten it or move it around while the scissors are already on their way through cutting the fabric, you’ll successfully make the scissors cut an uneven line, so unless you want your piece of fabric to look like a dog has nibbled the edges, i suggest you keep your hands off the fabric altogether.
2. talk to the salesperson while she/he’s measuring the fabric for you. another classic mistake. we understand you might feel the urge to tell the story of your day, and really, we don’t mind hearing it. but could you probably do it AFTER the salesperson is done measuring the fabric, so you won’t end up with a fabric that’s half a meter too short for you to make a coat? it’s especially NOT a fun thing to do when you ask for 20 meters of muslin and while you wait for the salesperson to measure it, you decide to fill up the silence by telling her/him what you’re planning to do with your 20 meters of muslin. the salesperson will then lose her/his concentration just as she/he hits 18 or 19 meters, and hallelujah, she/he has to measure the whole thing all over again.
3. talk to/ask something from a salesperson who’s measuring some fabric for another customer. same reason as the above point. you might think “i’ll just ask a quick question, surely it won’t bother this nice salesperson who’s quietly measuring some fabric”, when in fact the salesperson will lose her/his concentration as soon as you try to talk to/ask something from her/him, no matter how ‘quick’ your question is.
4. put your belongings to the cutting table. here’s the most common scenario: you’ve found the perfect fabric, you’ve found a salesperson to cut it for you, you both go to the cutting table where the salesperson will measure and cut the fabric… and then you see the nice big table and thought, “hmm, i’ll just rest my shoulders a bit now and put my precious bag on this nice big table.” that nice big table is none other than the cutting table, so yes, we do need all the space there is, thankyouverymuch. i don’t know how it is in other fabric stores, but in our store, there are many different ways to cut different kind of fabrics straight, sometimes it involves the salesperson moving to both sides of the table to make sure the amount of the fabric is the same on both ends. so please do us a favour and keep your belongings to yourself. IMPORTANT: this absolutely applies to when it’s a rainy day and you come into the fabric store with your wet umbrella. you DO NOT put your wet umbrella on the cutting table. EVER.
5. lean your hand/stomach/back against the cutting table. same reason as the above point. this usually happens when you’re talking at the same time to the salesperson, which is maybe natural. as you try to explain what you’re going to do with the fabric, you walk beside the salesperson, and when the salesperson takes her/his position in front of the cutting table, you absent-mindedly stand next to her/him and keep talking, keeping only 10-30 cm distance from the friendly salesperson, leaning your hands against the table. as i said before, we need all the space there is when we’re going to start measuring & cutting your fabric of choice, so with all due respect, give us that space and keep your hands/stomach/back to yourself. in fact, just don’t touch the cutting table at all. period.
6. help the salesperson to fold the fabric for you. we all have our own ways to fold fabrics, and when you decide to help, just like point one up there, you’re just getting on our way. so again, to make our lives easier, DON’T touch the fabric until the salesperson gives it to you, nicely folded, cut at exactly the right amount as you need it to be. if you’re buying 20 meters of fabric, then we’ll let you know if we need help folding it. trust us, we’re professionals.
7. ask the salesperson where you can find a skirt/dress/curtain fabric. or any other non-specific kind of fabric. this may not be the customer’s fault, as i also have noticed from some sewing magazines that they write “skirt fabric” as a recommended fabric for a skirt. umm… d’oh?? but if you ask a salesperson, “where can i find skirt fabrics?”, chances are the salesperson will just ask you again, “what kind of skirt fabric are you looking for?”, because to us, skirt fabric can mean wool, polyester, cotton, silk, viscose, linen, and a million of other options. saying “a skirt fabric” or “a dress fabric” or even “curtain fabric” WILL NOT get you anywhere, especially if, like in our store, the fabrics are sorted by their materials & colours. so before asking, try to decide first: would you rather have a shiny material, or matte? natural or man-made fibre? thick or flowy, or even see-through? solid colour or with print? the more you tell the salesperson what you want, the easier it is for her/him to find the right one for you.
that’s basically all i can think of, the most common mistakes people do in a fabric store. one additional note would be: when you decide that you’re strong enough to carry the roll of fabric that you want, do mind the other end of the roll when you walk around with it. some innocent bystander might get knocked over on the head if you’re not careful with it (it happened at our store, and we were lucky enough that the innocent bystanders didn’t sue us for letting that other customer to walk around with the roll of fabric in her hands, accidentally swinging it to other people’s head).