The Best Online Fabric Stores to Make Your Sofa Look Bespoke
Our short list is packed with expert tips.
Updated Jun 21, 2023 9:51 AM
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Welcome to Sofa Week, our seven-day stretch of, you guessed it, sofas. After years spent styling, sitting on, and searching for the best of the best—from bespoke designs to rare under-$500 gems—we’re compiling our couch knowledge in one comfy spot.
You could spend more time narrowing down the best online fabric stores than it takes to reupholster a chair or couch. Surfing the web for textiles has its many perks—who doesn’t love calling in swatches to your home ahead of a project or filtering by style? But too many options to choose from is choice paralysis waiting to happen, and hiring a designer to help you decide isn’t possible for everyone. So we asked fabric pro and stylist extraordinare Naomi deMañana to lend her expertise on the subject, including cluing us in on her favorite places to seek out that statement-making print and a perfect gingham for your English country–chic decor.
Go ahead, leaf through a sampling of our favorite sites for any textile need—from vintage deadstock by the bolt to the latest splashy designer lines. But fair warning: If you didn’t have a throw pillow or curtain crafting job to do beforehand, you might just be inspired to start one now.
- Best for discovery: Etsy
- Best for crafting: Purl Soho
- Best for budget: Spoonflower
- Best for drapery: Perigold
- Best for new to market: Mood Fabrics
Best for Discovery: Etsy
Return policy: Up to the seller | Shipping rates: Up to the seller | Customer service: Yes with Etsy or messaging with individual store
What we like:
- Unique and hard-to-find patterned treasures
- One-offs for small projects
- Large selection of vintage
- Shipping and return policies vary from shop to shop
Why we chose it: Easiest to find discontinued fabric and save it for later.
C’mon, who doesn’t love the endless options Etsy has? With a useful search engine that picks up even far-out keywords, you can usually uncover vintage (like this green and pink stripe by Schumacher) or no-longer-in-production gems that you’ve been after, says deMañana. Instead of clogging your browser with 40 tabs of fabric, you can swiftly favorite items on the site by category and save them as collections to come back to later. You’ll be notified if a fabric you’re eyeing goes on sale, and if you identify with a seller’s taste altogether, you can bookmark their page.
The only hiccup is that listings are provided entirely by individual sellers on Etsy, so be diligent when perusing available photos. Ask yourself these important questions: Does the color match what’s described? Do you see any dye inconsistencies or lot variations? It doesn’t hurt to thoroughly read descriptions and reviews either. “You roll the dice on Etsy, but the risk can be well worth it,” says deMañana. There are great trusted sellers who offer beautiful pieces that won’t break the bank.
Best Crafting: Purl Soho
Return policy: N/A | Shipping rates: From $6 economy to $60 domestic express | Customer service: Can email store directly
What we like:
- Fabric available in precut bundles
- Craft books, tools, and a wide assortment of DIY kits
- Free domestic shipping on orders over $100
- Not as many patterned fabrics
Why we chose it: One-stop shop for fabric, tools, and materials for your next crafting endeavor.
If you have a thing for embroidery, sewing, and quilting, you’ll love the options at Purl Soho—it’s your one stop for everything on your checklist for your next project. That includes the tools that’ll get you there without a crooked seam, like a chaco liner and tracing wheel. The shop, which started out as a brick-and-mortar on New York City’s Sullivan Street, transformed to an online-first platform during the pandemic, and it’s all about specialty selections. You can find items like watercolor linen for sofa cushions; garment-dyed toweling with double-fold hems for napkins and tablecloths; and organic sherpa to make a pile of fuzzy pillows for your sofa. Looking to do patchwork or play around with the different hues of the rainbow? Purl Soho has a hefty selection of precut bundles, too, which shorten cutting time and offer a chance to try different colors without committing to a yard or bolt. The site is a longtime favorite of quilters, but all types of makers would love it.
Best Value: Spoonflower
Return policy: Convenient returns | Shipping rates: Free with Prime | Customer service: N/A
What we like:
- Free, fast shipping
- Organized by material
- Options can be overwhelming
Why we chose it: Seemingly infinite options and the cheapest, fastest delivery sold by the fat quarter or yard.
There are many ways to source fabric, but shopping at a giant depot like Amazon can be very useful. Organized by color, type, theme, and use, it boasts a hefty pool of options including quality outdoor fabric (yes, Sunbrella, too), lace, silk, suede, denim, faux fur, and faux leather. Our go-to storefront, however, would have to be Spoonflower. The shop makes finding swatches with the biggest bank for your buck that much easier. Plus it sources designs by artists—like this dainty blue check Lilyoake—and each is made sustainably in Durham, North Carolina.
Best for Drapery: Perigold
Return policy: N/A | Shipping rates: A flat fee of $4.99 for orders under $49 | Customer service: Phone hotline and email platform
What we like:
- An edit of high-quality fabrics
- Deal on shipping rates
- Designer brands like Morris and Scalamandré
- Can be pricey per yard
Why we chose it: Elegant textiles across the board, but flowing window treatment upgrades are the headliners.
DeMañana loves poring over the wide range of statement fabrics at Perigold, especially its luxury items that are well suited for drapery and curtains. “Perigold has a huge selection of quality fabrics in unexpected finishes and interesting patterns,” she says. You will pay a pretty penny for your fabric here. But whatever your design plan, there’s no doubt you’ll find a flawless neutral to add a lovely layer of warmth and softness to a window or be inspired to take a chance on that geometric pick that really catches the eye.
Best New to Market: Mood Fabrics
Return policy: Fabrics, trims, special orders, and anything cut to size cannot be returned or exchanged | Shipping rates: Free shipping on orders over $100 | Customer service: Live chat and and email platform
What we like:
- Can buy fabric in ½-yard increments
- Newly updated designer exclusives
- Order swatch for $5
Why we chose it: To unearth and shop popular designers’ latest drops.
“Making a fabric selection online, first and foremost, does require browsing a very good website: one with extensive filters and enough imagery to see the detail of the fabric,” says interior designer Fanny Abbes. At Mood Fabrics, that’s exactly what you get—you can shop by skill level and project, or take the company’s fabric quiz to help you on your journey. If you know your project’s color story, you can also narrow by color, new arrivals, and designer exclusives. And Mood is a destination for its sprawling designer selection.
“Newly released prints and fabrics update here often, like the latest from Marc Jacobs and Zimmermann,” says deMañana. If you’re still stumped, there is a live chat feature that allows you to get in touch with a fabric specialist. The only pitfall is that swatches aren’t available per piece of fabric (only by the fabric swatch book), and those can run on the pricey side.
More Online Fabric Sources We Love
When Sarah Sherman Samuel dropped her latest line with Lulu and Georgia back in April, she also subsequently created her first-ever exclusive collection of fabric. Sold by the yard, you can scoop up the Michigan-based designer’s curated offering of earth-toned tigers, painterly stripes, geometric patterns, and more at the online retailer. The brand sells a few other textiles in more subdued linen blends, and even carries timeless Morris & Co. prints.
Whether you need to redo the cushions of your outdoor sectional in a durable Sunbrella Perennials fabric or want to dress up your living room sofa with throw pillows in punchy floral motifs or seaside-inspired stripes, look to Serena & Lily. There are nearly 50 options of indoor- and outdoor-friendly fabrics to choose from.
How We Chose These Products
There’s truly a fabric store for every style, project, and price point. To quality-check our favorites among direct-to-consumer fabric retailers, we huddled with deMañana and a few interior designers. As it takes time and money to make the fabric store rounds, we also spoke with designers and fabric experts about everything from navigating Etsy if you’re after a rare vintage find to how Perigold nails the drapery corner.
Our Shopping Checklist
We usually look for fabric to turn it into something else. “When I’m fabric shopping and deciding on materials, I stop and think: What is the personality I want to lend to the chair, or other item, via the upholstering?” says deMañana. She considers colors and textures; if she wants contemporary, abstract, or modern; and if the piece calls for flair or subtlety. From there, she considers what would complement the shape of the furniture frame. “My personal preference is to go with larger prints because they’re more defined and have more of a presence. I think about whether I want to mix prints together, and whether I want them to complement or contrast each other.”
In general, Pinterest is a great playground to start brainstorming: Pin a wide range of fabrics that you like and then play around with them to see which ones fit together. In a room, you often have drapes and curtains, upholstery for sofas and chairs, and rugs for the floor to consider.
When choosing fabric, think about use and what alternatives look like, explains Preeti Gopinath, director of the M.F.A. Textiles program and associate professor at Parsons School of Design. Drapes, for example, primarily serve the function of privacy; you’re cutting out light and sound. Gopinath advises that you go with a fabric that flows, and if it’s covering a window that is exposed to direct sunlight, you want a fabric that can withstand the light. Silk, for instance, is luxurious, but it can deteriorate if exposed to sunlight, so you wouldn’t typically use it in that way. But there are other options you can use in its stead. “For example, polyester is an excellent swap for silk. You can make polyester look like silk,” she explains.
“Always start with the technical requirements (durability, protective finish, material) based on the use,” says Abbes. For instance, everyday dining chairs will endure heavy traffic while upholstered, but more decorative pieces such as a headboard won’t be in constant use. This will affect the type of fabric you choose.
For home decor, you want long-lasting products—no one is changing out their upholstered chair every month like clothing. “There are important sustainable conversations that come up around synthetic materials like polyester because it’s not biodegradable,” explains Gopinath. “To simplify it, sustainable means long-lasting, and polyester, for example, is a long-lasting material.” That’s why you’ll find a lot of interior furnishings have synthetic blends in them or have synthetic fabric as a primary material. “There’s no problem with having polyester in materials in your home like upholstery. If it’s not going into a garbage pile, if you’re not throwing it out, then you are choosing a synthetic material that is living in your home for a long time. If you’re using it and it’s serving its purpose forever and ever, I think it’s sustainable,” she adds.
Q: How should I source fabric for a project?
First, always consider the use. “Is this something that needs to stand the test of time, sticky hands, and dog paws?” asks interior designer Maggie Dillon. “Or are you looking for a light and breezy fabric for window treatments? Once that’s determined, you can narrow down your selection by the type of fabric: wool, linen, silk and go from there.” If you’re making, say, curtains, be sure to double-check how many panels you’ll need to order based on your window size.
For Abbes, she always starts her process online. “Most of the time I do my sample selection online, but since images have obvious limitations, I tend to short-list quite a few options that seem to fit the brief (various requirements, color, material, texture, pattern/not, budget), order them online, and get them delivered so that I can start building a fabric and other finishes material board,” she shares, adding, “I always get fabric samples before ordering an upholstered piece because pictures can sometimes be deceptive. I also make a point of securing a large enough sample with the material details to make an educated decision.”
Q: If you can’t touch and feel the fabric first, what should you look out for online?
Most fabrics will have a wearability code listed under the description; this clues you in on how much wear and tear it can withstand. As a general guideline, 3,000 double rubs equals one year’s worth of use. Make sure you’re sourcing an upholstery-grade fabric if you’re looking to reupholster an existing piece of furniture.
Q: How much should I be spending on fabric?
This is entirely up to preference, budget, and—most important—fabric type. But the designers we spoke to generally suggested upholstery fabric should fall between $30 and $60 for the yard.
The Last Word
There is a world of online fabric shops out there, but whether you’re looking for material for curtains that will deliver the dappled light of your dreams or something durable enough to salvage a vintage settee’s fraying cushions, there’s a place for you to land, gather inspiration, and add to cart.