FAQs, News & Updates
Thank you for visiting this page! I hope I've answered most of your questions but if I've missed something out please don't hesitate to email me on email@example.com or via the contact page. I respond the same day to everyone who emails me, so if you don't get a response please check your spam trap!
Have a lovely day and do take care,
How quickly will you send my order?
We aim to dispatch your order the same day, or next working day, Monday to Friday.
We do not make you wait.
Dispatch times are very important to us and we treat every order as a priority.
If I buy more than half a metre will it come in one piece?
Yes! The price you see is per half metre but if you buy any length more than this, say 1 metre, or 2.5 metres, I will cut your fabric in a single, continuous piece. Not in half metre pieces!
Why don't you do pre-orders?
I don't do general pre-orders for a couple of reasons. First because the vast majority of fabric wholesale suppliers cannot guarantee in advance the exact amounts requested by the fabric shop - or, in rare cases, even guarantee that you have secured any of that fabric at all.
That means if a fabric shop sells a 12 metre bolt in multiple pre-orders to customers in advance of receiving the bolt, when that bolt actually arrives at the fabric shop it might only be 10.2 metres and not 12, or the brand owner might have sold the entire run of that design to another large wholesaler and therefore it might be marked as 'out of stock' on the invoice and not arrive at all. That's a risk I'm not prepared to take.
Also, there can be huge lead-in times for fabric. At a wholesaler the fabric might be available for pre-order by a fabric shop up to four or five months in advance of its 'release' date, and occasionally a fabric can be withdrawn during that period, or delayed even further - 'release' dates are very rarely accurate and in my experience are almost always too optimistic, sometimes by months. Again, it's just not a risk I want to take. All the fabric we sell is in stock - it's physically here.
Do your organic fabrics have certificates?
All my organic fabrics by Poppy Europe or Fiona Hewitt, including all the printed and plain solid colour ones, are fully certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard organisation. However, no organic fabrics from any shop have a physical or downloadable certificate provided directly by GOTS, but rather GOTS certify the brand owner and that allows them to use the GOTS 'label', i.e. the green circular symbol, on the selvedge of their organic fabrics where they choose to use it, and on their website. It also allows the brand owner to provide GOTS certification of their own fabrics.
The Poppy Europe and Fiona Hewitt brands are owned by a very large, well-respected Dutch wholesaler that has been established for more than 40 years. This company is listed with their license number also known as a CU number on the GOTS website in the 'Certified Suppliers' section under their business company name, which is not Poppy Europe. This is quite common and in fact some of the other very well-known European fabric suppliers that sell organic fabric are not listed under their brand names on the GOTS website.
I do also sell a small number of organic jersey and organic cotton fabrics by well-respected European brands that are not GOTS certified. Where a fabric is made from organic cotton but does not carry the GOTS certification it is certified instead by the supplier and there will always be an element of trust involved, on my part and on yours. I only buy from highly reputable brands and suppliers with long histories and, in my opinion and experience of the superior look and feel of organic fabrics, where a fabric is sold to me as organic, it is organic.
For further information on specific fabrics or certificates, please contact me.
N.B. Also see below why I don't do custom prints or Print Your Own. TLDR: the fabric quality and traceability doesn't currently meet my standards, even if the base fabric is organic GOTS certified!
Do you sell gift vouchers?
Yes! We do sell gift vouchers. They are an auto-generated code emailed to you, or to the recipient. The code does not expire and can be used up in multiple purchase over time.
You can find the link on the home page in the About Us column at the bottom left hand side of the page. That link takes you to the page to add your own name, the recipient's name, a message and the amount you want to give as a gift.
At the checkout page, if you put the recipient's details in the Delivery Information box the code will be emailed directly to them. If you put your own details in the Delivery box, the code will be emailed to you.
Why don't you sell deadstock fabric? Because it's not as green as you think!
I don't sell deadstock fabric because, in my view, it's not as dead as the original manufacturers would like us to believe - and it's nothing like as sustainable or green. Deadstock is not dead or homeless, and the vast majority of it was never destined for landfill or incineration. Instead, manufacturers and intermediaries have 'greenwashed' surplus available fabric. This has created a brand new market that increases textile production and encourages big fashion brands, and their textile manufacturers - often the ones with the lowest minimum levels of workers' rights and wages - to continue to purposefully overproduce. I mean, why stop producing when you know you can sell it at a profit anyway?
Plus, it's important to point out that many UK fabric shops love deadstock because it's so cheap for them to buy. And thanks to it being so uber-fashionable, shops can now charge the customer almost as much for a deadstock fabric, if not more, than a non-deadstock fabric! Again, why stop buying deadstock when you're making such a big profit out of it?
The problem is, giving global textile manufacturers the green light to overproduce is not good for the environment at a time when we're all trying to live more sustainably. This is especially so when such a lot of deadstock fabric on sale in the UK is poor-quality viscose imported from the Far East made from wood-pulp and high-polluting chemicals. That's why I don't, and never will, sell deadstock fabric of any kind.
I've written a blog post about it here: The problem with deadstock fabric
If you're interested in further information, here are a few great articles on why deadstock fabric is not as sustainable or green as people think:
How stretchy is my jersey fabric? Will it stretch enough for my sewing pattern?
All jersey fabrics with at least 5% Elastane or Lycra or Spandex will have enough stretch for any sewing pattern that specifies that it's for jersey fabric. I don't give the stretch percentage on my website as some shops do because only jersey fabrics with less than 5% Elastane/Lycra or Spandex; no Elastane at all (as is sometimes the case with certain 100% cotton jersey fabrics), or fabrics made from polyester, like a Ponte Roma fabric, won't stretch enough.
Basically no decent jersey fabric with 5% or more wouldn't stretch enough for any typical jersey clothing pattern. But there are certain stretch fabrics that you need to look out for:
The first is what's called an Interlock jersey fabric (it should say 'Interlock Jersey' on any description - I haven't got any at the moment) - this fabric stretches much more in the horizontal direction than the vertical direction.
Secondly, although it's easy to sew with, especially if you're a beginner don't use French Terry (typically used for sweatshirts and hoodies - so sometimes called sweatshirting or Double Knit) if the pattern specifies just jersey fabric and not French Terry or Double Knit. French Terry is a slightly heavier fabric and as a general rule it doesn't stretch quite as much as jersey fabric. Some French Terrys (but not all) stretch more in one direction or the other.
Finally, some Soft Sweat French Terry fabrics (i.e. the fleece-backed cozy version) stretch vertically down your body well but not as much in the horizontal direction; across your body. However, Swafing and Poppy Europe Soft Sweats do stretch well in both directions generally.
N.B. If you want to make sports clothing, things like running shorts or swimsuits for example, you need a technical fabric - i.e. a fabric with a very large amount of Lycra (usually around 20% and upwards) or certain water repellent properties. I don't currently have any technical fabrics. Yet!
Why don't you sell fabric in less than half a metre, do custom orders or samples?
At Simple Life Fabrics we try very hard to keep prices as low as possible, therefore we can only sell fabric in increments of a half metre. In an ideal world of course we would love to be large enough, with enough resources, to offer custom lengths. But except for shops specialising in patchwork fabrics, most online stores do not sell fabric in any length below half a metre - in fact many only sell by the full metre.
This is because margins on fabrics are tight for online stores, and for smaller stores it doesn't make business sense to cut into bolts or rolls to sell less than half a metre, especially when you factor in the time to prepare and post. That's why when a store does offer smaller lengths such as single fat quarters or small increments, generally that fabric length comes with a cost premium to the customer - i.e. to buy a full metre or half metre of the same fabric at that price would be more expensive than you could find elsewhere.
We would love to do samples but sadly it's just not cost effective, even if we charged for them. This is because I would need to cut a strip across the whole width of the fabric bolt to create samples, reducing the number of metres and half metres available for sale. While we're still a young company it's not possible to carry this cost - maybe one day - but not today!
Do you do discounts or wholesale prices for other businesses or makers?
Unfortunately I cannot offer any discounts to other businesses or makers for volume orders of fabrics that are in stock on the website. However, in January 2022 I launched a new scheme, Buy Bespoke For Makers, that gives small businesses, Etsy sellers, makers and home sewers who want to buy in bulk an opportunity to choose from thousands of fabrics from top brands, order 5 metres or more at a discount of around 14-20%, and instruct me to import the fabric for them. You can see full details here: Buy Bespoke For Makers.
There are lots of reasons for not doing discounts on the fabrics I already have in stock, including, primarily, that I set up Simple Life Fabrics for home sewers and so I don't hold enough stock; I buy most of my fabric from Europe and can't always guarantee repeat supply; and I keep prices as low as humanly possible. I respect and really value the businesses that do buy from me - you are absolutely wonderful! Truly! - and I know how hard you work in a highly competitive market but sadly I can't do discounts outside of my new scheme - see above.
I buy from wholesale suppliers, as does every other UK fabric shop. It's not possible for a fabric shop to sell at true wholesale prices because that's the cost that they are paying the actual wholesaler for the fabric - so if they were genuinely selling you fabric 'at cost' they would make no money at all and have to pay the import duty and carriage on top, and I can't see that happening! So if a UK high street or online shop tells you you're buying something 'wholesale', you're not, you're still paying a mark-up. If you want to buy at true wholesale prices you need to go direct to the original wholesaler and buy in bulk; you must demonstrate that you're a registered UK business, buy usually 10-12 metre bolts and, in some cases, minimum order values of up to £600.
In short, real fabric wholesalers are factory operations with warehouses so large I bet you can see them from space! They do not have shops in the local town or sell anything at all by the metre to the public. So be very sceptical if you're being told you're buying fabric 'wholesale'.
Where do you source your fabric?
We are very picky about what fabric we will stock, the designs we sell and who we will buy from - and the same goes for our gifts, sewing patterns and accessories.
When I set up Simple Life Fabrics I knew that the only way to guarantee quality and have a hope of buying fabrics from responsible sources was to buy from smaller family-run brands, and from very high-quality wholesalers.
That's why we don't carry huge quantities of stock. It can take more than an hour to choose one single fabric and I always sleep on the choice overnight - my assessment and vetting of wholesalers and brands takes literally days of research.
That means our cotton and viscose jersey fabrics come mainly direct from high-quality European suppliers in Germany, Scandinavia and The Netherlands. We also use agents who import fabrics from other parts of Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. We stock these fabrics because they are the best in the world.
In addition, fabrics from Europe, Japan and Oceania often have unusual, appealing, vibrant and culturally diverse designs which we rarely see in the UK. We also source top-quality fabric from America and of course from the UK, as British manufacturers produce some of the very finest cottons and linens available anywhere in the world.
Why don't you do custom prints or print-your-own fabric?
I'm really picky about quality and in my experience only established heritage brands such as Swafing, Poppy Europe and others produce the kind of quality that I want to sell - plus with big brands you have complete transparency about the manufacturing process and what's in the fabric. While everyone loves all the gorgeous custom prints and beautiful designs you can print and buy these days, the base fabric (substrate) is often poorer quality. And there are issues even when the substrate cotton is GOTS certified, and is of a much better standard, because the final printed fabric (not just the inks!) is rarely also Oeko-Tex certified, which is very important when making children's clothing as it guarantees there are no harmful substances in that finished fabric as a whole. Alongside the certification and traceability issues, I don't like how thin, 'cold', overly elastic-y feeling and even a bit scratchy the finished fabric sometimes is, although the quality of Print Your Own is now starting to improve. But still, I'm unlikely to sell these fabrics until they get to an equivalent standard to the heritage brands I love.
Why do some fabrics, especially children's jersey, sell out quickly?
We don't currently have the space to hold a vast amount of fabric, and I don't like to over-buy because that's just not very sustainable. That means I tend to buy on a just-in-time basis - so I buy a bolt at a time, not multiple bolts, re-ordering when there are a couple of metres left, but I don't re-order every fabric we stock, sometimes because the supplier has discontinued that design; because the quality wasn't up to my rather picky standards, or sometimes because, in the flesh, the fabric just didn't appeal to me as must as I'd hoped - and I only ever buy fabrics I really love. So if you see something you love, please don't wait too long to buy it!
Why do most of your jersey fabrics have the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard?
Today’s cotton jersey fabrics are easy to sew and new industry initiatives such as the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 textile-production marque have pushed quality standards up across the board.
Oeko-Tex fabric is particularly good for children and babies as it has been tested and certified free from harmful substances. Personally I believe Oeko-Tex jersey fabric - and in fact any fabric bearing this standard - is softer and frequently far better quality than equivalent jersey fabrics without the certification.
European and American jersey fabrics are the gold standard; and these are the cotton jersey fabrics I sell – and use myself. Where I can source a fabric with an Oeko-Tex certificate or an organic GOTS pedigree I will always choose this fabric first.
However, new brands and smaller brands can't always afford to apply for certification. So I do stock some jersey fabric without the Standard - but only when I believe that they are of equal quality and would likely pass the standard if they applied.
For more information, read my blog post about Oeko-Tex certification here.
Is sewing with jersey fabric and stretch viscose difficult?
In the UK, we’re regularly told that sewing with jersey and stretch fabrics is hard; that you need new techniques or equipment; that the results are unpredictable.
This is not true. And I do sometimes wonder quite why this myth is continually advanced.
Sewing with jersey fabrics is quick and easy. Even if your sewing machine has no stretch stitches (and the majority do), you can use a basic zigzag stitch. If it has stretch stitches then I use the basic stretch-zigzag stitch for doing necklines and cuffs, and a stretch straight stitch for everything else.
The most wonderful thing about stretch viscose and jersey fabrics is that THEY DO NOT FRAY – so it’s cut and leave; no hemming or finishing the seams off required, unless you want to of course (I don't!).
In my view, sewing with jersey and stretch viscose is absolutely no more difficult than sewing with cotton. If there is one slight difference it's that you shouldn't yank it through when you're sewing - but do you do that with non-stretch fabrics? Probably not!
In addition, just because a sewing pattern says to use a non-stretch fabric, it doesn’t stop you from adapting it slightly and trying it in any type of stretch viscose or jersey fabric you fancy. You'll be surprised! I make lounge pants in French Terry from a pattern that is adamantly non-stretch cotton fabric only.
Once you know this, sewing with jersey and stretch viscose becomes simple, and unlocks a whole new world of fabrics to enjoy.
For more tips read my blog post on why sewing with stretch fabrics is not hard, here.
Who are you?
Simple Life Fabrics is a trading name of a small UK registered company called The Simple Life Group Ltd, VAT Number: 395930650, founded in 2019 and run by two 50-something, seasoned, and married (to each other!), creatives, Sarah and John.
Before I started the shop I spent 15 years running a business in the Private Client sector as a national-press ghostwriter and adviser to high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. John still runs a stock photo library. This is our first collaboration!
We're a UK online fabric store inspired by the simple life, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and the authentic pleasures of arts and crafts for all.
We sell a carefully curated range of attractive, unusual craft and dressmaking fabrics; many rarely, if ever, seen online in the UK.
From quality modern stretch viscose and jersey fabrics, French Terry and knitted fabrics, to cottons, canvas and quilting fabrics, along with sewing and home accessories and gifts, we celebrate the art of creating a simple life.