Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh Jo-Anns, Jo-Anns, never fail to surprise me

Holiday sales at Jo-Ann Fabrics are ones that I like to avoid. I don't know about the Jo-Ann's near you, but the one nearest to me is typically overcrowded with shoppers and understaffed with employees. They've been that way ever since I worked for them in the early 90s. At least then we all knew something about sewing and fabrics.

I happen to have taken today off from work to complete a project. As I cheerfully sat down at my sewing machine I discovered I had no matching thread for my project. Which meant I had to make a run the closest fabric store...the dreaded Jo-Ann Fabric store during the final day of the Columbus Day sale.

Because I desperately wanted to complete this project, I bravely I arrived minutes after they opened. Looking around I realized it wasn't crowded at all so I could spent a few minutes browsing the fabrics. I may not plan on shopping the holiday sales, but I do keep that 50% off coupon in my purse just in case.

All of a sudden, there is was. The perfect shade of green RPL knit. EXACTLY what I had been searching for for the past few weeks. See that sequin trim at the top of this photo? That's thre green I've been trying to match. The perfect green makes the little sequins POP. And with the 50% coupon it would be affordable at only $6.50 per yard.

What the heck, I happened to have two different 50% off coupons so I grabbed a deep purple also.

Eagerly I made my way to the cutting table, asked for three yards of the perfect green knit fabric only to gasp as she began measuring out the fabric. It was discolored. Very obviously so. Right along the fold lines on the bolt.

I had to tell her to stop that I didn't want discolored fabric. Remembering there was another smaller bolt of the same color I went back and brought that to the table, hoping there would be three yards and no discoloration.

No luck. This one was discolored even more so. I can't believe the bolt was almost gone. Does that mean no one noticed it was discolored when they were making their purchase?

Anyway, as she began cutting the purple knit (thankfully no fade lines in this one) I unrolled the green yet again hoping to against hope the fade marks had miraculously disappeared in the past three minutes. No luck. Not only that, this time I noticed multiple holes in the fabric that had been on the underside when she had been measuring.

As I'm unrolling and inspecting the green knit, I'm trying to keep an eye on the cutter who doesn't appear to know much about grain lines and getting fabric laid out properly to measure and cut. Man, that Jo-Ann's is really strict about how they teach these cutters to cut. One piece I just had her put back as I could tell I would have been shorted close to 1/8" of a yard. Not much money overall, but it's annoying.

The cutter noticed me still inspecting the green fabric and asked if I planned on washing my fabric first.

"Sure", I said. To which she replied, "Well, sometimes those marks go away when the fabric is washed". Maybe, but I'm not willing to spend the money on a "sometimes". I get it...she's trying to be helpful.

Do you think if I purchased three yards, washed it and discovered the lines are still there Jo-Ann's would give me my money back? Oh silly readers, of course not.

So, two questions for you today.

1) Have you ever purchased fabric that appears to be discolored only to have the discoloration disappear when you wash it?

2) How are the cutters as the fabric stores you frequent?

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  1. LindaC1:47 PM

    No, if the fabric is faded, washing it won't bring the color back. If the fabric is dusty, washing it will remove the dust. Fluorescent lighting will fade the colors on fabrics and thread. (I worked in a fabric store also).

    The fabric cutters at the Joann's near me are completely ignorant about fabric and grain lines and the whole thing. I asked one if they had batiste and I was sent to batik fabric. "Isn't it the same thing?" I was asked. sigh

    While I was purchasing some cotton flannel once, I noticed the flannel was pilled and holey and dirty and I asked her to not cut from that piece. She said she didn't see anything wrong with it and what was she going to do with it and she totally embarrassed me in front of the other customers. When I got home, I noticed the flannel I did get was full of holes and I took it right back. The manager of the store actually told me that I should have looked closer at the fabric before I purchased it. They did replace the piece and I had the same cutter cut me a new piece and I stood there and examined that fabric for every little flaw. I rarely purchase fabric from Joann's anymore unless the deal is so great or the fabric is so wonderful I can't pass it up. It's very frustrating because I have so few fabric stores in my area.

    Sorry for the long rant. ;)

  2. Unless it's like $1 a yard, I wouldn't risk it!

    As for the cutters at my local Joann's, most are awful and I suspect that some have never even ran a sewing machine before.

  3. well.. i would not callthem fabric "cutters" as I would so much FABRIC HACKERS! LOL JUST HORRIBLE. I plan on ordering more than I need since it's probably going to shrink in washing anyway...your experience is just =-[

  4. Anonymous3:19 PM

    As a former Joann's employee, I can say that I honestly did my best to help customers and so did my coworkers. Everyone at the cutting counter in my store had experience sewing and the managers tried to balance out sewing background--upholsterers/home dec vs. fashion sewing vs. quilting. If you have a problem with your Joann's and the store manager is not doing anything, contact the corporation. While it may not change overnight, and there are corporate policies that will not change, they do hold their staff accountable.

  5. Last February, I purchased some crepe-backed satin from my local Hobby Lobby to make a formal dress for my daughter; it was on short notice and I didn't have a lot of time, so I didn't pre-treat the fabric...just cut the dress out.
    After I'd sewed up the side front princess seams, I pressed the dress and pressed out the center crease, only to find that the center crease had faded to hot pink (the fabric was purple). Fortunately, I'd purchased enough fabric that I could re-cut the front, but I was completely ticked off. I just didn't think to check it...

  6. I quit buying fabric at JoAnn's because I got so dubious of the quality. Now I buy most of my fabric from my sewing teacher at Studio Bernina or from EmmaOneSock. They are both meticulous about cutting.

  7. Sorry that happened to you! I never buy discolored fabric hoping it will miraculously be okay with washing...she didn't know what she was talking about and was just trying to make the sale! I must say I have had good luck with the staff at the JoAnn's I shop at. They have even pointed out flaws when they roll out the bolt or will cut the bad piece off and start my yardage beyond the flaw. Guess I should thank my lucky stars!

  8. My sewing friends and I had the same conversation over the weekend---how you have to buy a 1 1/4 of fabric at JoAnn's in order to get 1 yard that's on grain. This conversation occurred on the way home from a field trip to Vogue Fabrics where they ripped every woven fabric! How refreshing to actually get what I was paying for!

  9. The Joanns that I prefer shopping is pretty good. It's not one of those superstores and all of the staff including the younger girls (or guys), measure and cut very well in my experience there.

  10. No, you should never buy discolored or faded fabric because washing it doesn't make it better. And you know I don't visit the craft store masquerading as a fabric store! *LOL*

    I don't have cutting issues with my online or in person sites. They are all generous with their cuts!

  11. My Joann's does a fairly good job of cutting but then I usually but a bit extra. You know, just in case.

    Must be something with their RPL. They had the perfect shade of grey that I had been looking for. As I started to unroll it I discovered that one entire side of the bolt was faded!
    And not just the fold line.
    It looked like it was wide stripes of two shades of grey! Another bolt, different color, had runs through the entire length.
    I'm now very very leary of J's RPL to say the least.

  12. The cutters at every Joanns I have been to are awful! If the fabric is can be torn, I ask them to tear it. Sometimes on both sides! They will hate you, but they will do it. Also, when I started sewing a few years ago, purchased fabric for a dress and because they cut the fabric so off-grain, I was short. I lost about 1/4 yd of fabric. I went in to complain and spoke to the manager who straightened the whole thing out by giving me more fabric for free. It was really annoying, but the manager was really nice and helpful.

  13. Sorry to hear about your experience. My fabric store options are Jo-Ann's or Hobby Lobby. I prefer Jo-Ann's. While they do have a frequent rotation of new hires that don't know much, they do also have a handful that have been there a while and know me by name. Eeks, I think that means I shop there way too often. But the older works do sew and are often helpful when cutting and do sew themselves. Since they know me by name they are the ones I tend to have wait on me.

  14. From all I'm reading about Jo-Anns, guess it's not the place to stop for a look if I happen to pass one while I'm in the US.

    No - never buy faded fabric, unless ... it's so reasonable that you can buy extra yardage to work around the problem areas. I buy a lot on clearance, and when I'm paying 1 or 2 dollars a metre, I'm willing to work my way around flaws.

  15. I don't think washing will help. I live in Germany and so far, every fabric I've bought (store or internet) had been cut with care. Except maybe at the open-air fabric market but then they always cut about 10 cm more to account for their not so careful cutting. So my piece of advice: move to Europe!

  16. I don't think washing will help. I live in Germany and so far, every fabric I've bought (store or internet) had been cut with care. Except maybe at the open-air fabric market but then they always cut about 10 cm more to account for their not so careful cutting. So my piece of advice: move to Europe!

  17. Anonymous6:21 AM

    At Ginny's FIne Fabrics (NAYY - just a happy customer) they straighten the grain on every bolt of fabric that they receive (on wovens they actually pull a thread from one end to the other and cut on the line that the pulled thread leaves). I never saw the value of it until I (mistakenly) bought fabric at Joann's and witnessed the mess that can result from repeated hacking at the fabric

  18. I am fortunate that I do not have to buy fabric at Joann's since I find the fabric to be highly overpriced and low quality. Though, I do pop in in emergencies when I have a 50% off coupon.

    The employees at my local Joanns are useless. I was looking for crinoline and asked for assistance. The employees had no idea what it was. When I tried to explain, I received blank looks. Funnily enough, months later I found the crinoline in with the interfacings.

    I tend to get a headache if I spent more than 5 minutes at Joanns.

  19. beverly10:13 AM

    I have not purchased fabric w/ markings on it.

    Oh, Jo-Ann's is the worst at cutting. We have a Hancock fabrics near us & they seem to know more about sewing & they know how to cut fabric. But, their selection is not as good as Jo-Ann's. We had a great independent fabric store 5minutes from my house that was great w/ everything. But, they moved across town. Very sad:( So, know I'm resigned to buying a little extra at Jo-Ann's to compensate for their lack of abilities

  20. We don't have a Jo-Ann's around me now so I don't buy there.
    At the time I did the cutters tended to also be sewers and were knowledgable. But a friend of mine who worked there told me that they had a strict policy about not allowing even a thumbs worth of extra (they had a poster saying so in the employee bathroom) so if the fabric was on the bolt off-grain you were out of luck.
    Now I shop at the local independantly owned fabric store and the workers are all VERY knowledgable and helpful. They notice flaws and will cut extra or start after.

  21. I have two yards of the same green fabric. Mine is fine. I there another store near you? I have to be more careful at Jo-Ann. They have such a great selection of knits, so I keep going.

  22. The Joann's near me has pretty good cutters, but I think most of them are sewists themselves. Fade marks will not disappear with washing. So if you fall in love with a fabric, you may need to re-think the pattern and make sure it doesn't need to be cut on the fold, or can be modified to have a seam instead. I think florescent lights are almost as bad as sunlight for fading, given the condition of some papers and rubber bands left lying out on the desk for a couple of months. *So far* I haven't had bad fabric from there, but then I've cut back on buying, as I'm so far behind in sewing it's not funny!

  23. I just had the fabric fading problem at Hancocks. Fortunately, I had a cutter who knew her stuff -she saw the fading before I did and knew it wouldn't wash out. It was the end of a bolt too, so ended up not getting it. Kinda disappointing as it was a nice, substantial knit, unlike what is usually in stock...

  24. DanainDFW9:05 PM

    Some of the people working at the cutting table at my closest JoAnn's are great while others are not so good. Few of them know much at all about sewing. I was looking for flannel the other day and couldn't find it for all the fleece. I asked about it's location and the clerk looked around and told me we were surround by it. I pointed out that the tags said fleece rather than flannel. She then had to ask another employee.

    I recently bought sold-by-the-yard ribbon at Hobby Lobby and was pleasantly surprised to see how much extra she added on the end before cutting.

  25. Lywww.iwasknittogetherinmymotherswomb.typepad.comnne7:40 PM

    Oh, Joann's. I have two stores that are equidistant from my house. At one, they have a core staff that has been there awhile and the definately know what they are doing. My only complaint there is one older woman who cuts fabric beautifully, but always seems mad that she has to do it. Like I am an inconvenience to her. The other store? Oh, gracious...I had to stop someone from cutting just this week when she was a good 1" off! Granted, it wouldn't have made much difference in my cutting, but come on! Can't we be precise? Makes me nuts! And this is typical of that particular store. Must be management!

  26. I recently bought 2 fabrics with discolorations from 2 different stores (not Jo-Ann's) and both washed out. Both fabrics were from the "as is" markdown sections of the stores, so they were inexpensive. Both times the discoloration was pointed out to me and I bought extra fabric so I could cut around it. Bonus for me that they turned out perfect after washing. I did also buy some fabric at a store that was going out of business and did not notice that the fold line was faded. Of course, no amount of washing will change that.

    I've lived all over and shopped at many Jo-Ann's stores and found them to be radically different from place to place in terms of quality of product and expertise of the staff. Frankly, even the worst ones were not as bad as the chain fabric store where I live now.



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