How to Sell: Fabric

This is going to be our last How to Sell post for a little while. This series isn’t going away; it’s just going to take a step back to let some other posts shine for a while. I’ve hit on all the major categories we sell in, so I’m running low on ideas (if you have any, please let me know!). I also want to talk about some other important things that vintage collectors and sellers should be aware of.

So, to make a long story short:

> Mondays will feature How to Sell posts once in a while.

> Other series will be alternated in to change it up a bit, including posts on fakes/forgeries, diagrams detailing the different parts of an item, and even a section that tells you the differences between two similar things. There may even be some fun surprises in store once in a while, too!

> Wednesdays and Fridays will still be Word of the Week and My Weekly Score, respectively.

There’s 18 yards here – buy in bulk!


Fabric is super easy to buy and sell, and it does fairly well online. Imagine having a project in mind and going to your local fabric shop, only to discover that the pattern you absolutely need for it doesn’t exist in the store. What do you do?

Turn to eBay, of course! eBay has sellers from not only all around the country, but all around the WORLD. If you can’t find the perfect pattern for your project, chances are that it never existed in the first place.


When buying fabric to resell, we have a few suggestions:

1. Buy vintage. People love vintage fabric for the crazy designs and retro style patterns. Just be careful it’s not too stained or worn.

2. Buy crazy. The uglier, wilder, stranger the design, the better it will sell. I promise! It’s happened to us time and time again, and we swear by this rule. Iconic colors (like turquoise for the ‘50s and yellows/oranges/browns for the ‘70s) are important to look out for too.

3. The more, the merrier. Longer pieces are better than shorter ones. Buying ten yards versus buying one yard is also better. It’s always better to have too much, rather than too little.

4. Smell your fabric. It sounds weird, but this is pretty important. Sometimes the musty/mothball smell doesn’t come out. Fabric always soaks up cigarette smoke too. Some people are very sensitive to these smells, so make sure that you’re aware that you might be buying fabric with a strong odor.

Crazy patterns = good!


1. We form our titles like this: 4 Yds Yellow Orange Flower Paisley Jersey Fabric Vintage 1970s. (That’s not a full 80 characters, but you get the idea. Generally the format is as such: Length, Colors, Pattern, Type, “Fabric,” Style, etc. Including words like “sewing,” “apparel,” “upholstery,” etc. is also important.)

2. Know your fabric types. This is so, so important. We’re still learning, or else I’d outline the ones that I know off the top of my head. I’m familiar with about two of them – jersey and tulle. I can tell what these are without asking. Beyond that? Not a chance. Do your research and commit the different kinds to memory. Being able to put the specific type of material in your listing will help you sell a lot more of it.

3. Describe, describe, describe. This is especially true if you don’t know what kind of fabric you have. Since I’m not familiar with a lot of the different types, I usually try to explain how it feels – stretchy vs. non-stretchy, silky vs. cottony, thin vs. thick, etc.

4. Condition. This goes along with the previous point – describe! Look for moth holes, rips, and stains. If there are some, make sure you mention them. Sometimes these spots can be cut away, washed, or hidden, so it might not be a big deal to a lot of buyers. As I said in the previous section, odor is also important. If it smells like anything other than regular old fabric, make sure you mention it. A lot of people have allergies, so you need to make sure you’re very clear about this.

5. Give suggestions. Some fabric was just made to be turned into a dress. Or a pair of pants. Or a handbag. The buyers who are going to be interested in your listings are creative folks, so giving them an idea for what they could use your fabric for might just push them to buy it!

This is the best way to take pictures of fabric, especially if it has a pattern. The close up shots give the buyer the best view of the design and they stand out better in that long list of items when a buyer searches for something on eBay.

We’ve done pretty well with fabric in the past. The ones that do best are the larger pieces with patterns – particularly floral. Also, note that lace is a HUGE money-maker. When we run out of room (or we’re just tired of looking at it all) we’ll sell our fabric in large lots – these go really fast, so it’s nice when we need to move inventory right away.


6 thoughts on “How to Sell: Fabric

  1. linda dombrow says:

    I have lots and lots of new mainly cotton fabric and would like to sell it in bulk lots,,,and don’t know how to do it

  2. Kim says:

    How do I go about having my designs & patterns made into fabric?

  3. Scott Sticka says:

    Need to sell my grandma’s fabric it’s old from the 30s were guessing please help 9203763867

  4. Arlene Cocke says:

    Very Helpful! I have a storage space, climate controlled, of course.with tons of vintage fabrics, quilts, just tops, draperies. and lots and lots of Vintage Bark Cloth, silk, damask, and tablecloths, and yes, quite a bit of lace! All accumulated the last 25 yrs.!
    Help, need to sell it soon!
    Arlene Cocke 469-682-9019 Thank you!

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