Where to Buy Stash
Howdy stitchy people! Today’s Back to Basics Wednesday topic is one near and dear to my heart – how to find all the wonderful charts, fabrics, flosses and embellishments needed to create your works of art. Honestly, buying the supplies is half the fun of creating a cross stitch project. Even if you do not plan on stitching what you’ve bought right away, adding to your stash is one of the joys of needlework
Local Needlework Shop (LNS)
If you can buy local, you should do it! LNS serve as meeting spots for stitchers and offer classes to learn new techniques. As such it is a logical place to buy your cross stitch supplies, especially for newbies – it is much easier to see the difference between Aida, linen and evenweaves in person, for example. In addition, LNS are able to offer patterns and flosses directly from distributors and offer freebies (with purchase, of course) from designers that individual consumers are not able to acquire.
One of the easiest ways to find an LNS near you is to check out the website of a major needlework distributor like Hoffman or Wichelt. If the nearest LNS is still too far away to visit, craft stores like Michael’s, Joann’s, and Hobby Lobby usually have needlework sections, albeit with very limited selections.
The downside of the LNS is the cost – if you are watching your pennies you need to be careful you aren’t paying above retail for your supplies. Yep, I said “above retail”. Some shops do try to take advantage of stitchers by charging much more than they should, so be careful that you do not pay overmuch for what you want. Also, some of the smaller shops do not update their inventory too often, so they may not have the latest charts (and will take too long to special order them, too).
ONS (Online Needlework Shop)
So you went looking for an LNS and there isn’t one anywhere nearby and Walmart had exactly none of the floss you need? Time to try shopping online! There are tons of places to shop for cross stitch supplies over the Internet (I have a list of the ones I like here) so here are a few things to look for before you shell out your hard-earned cash.
1. Check shipping costs. I recommend checking the shipping policies for the ONS before you start shopping so you do not waste your time or get your hopes up. This is also a good time to ensure that the website ships to your location and to figure out whether you have to pay taxes on your purchase. If shipping costs equal 30% or more of the purchase price, you may want to consider buying somewhere else.
2. Read item descriptions carefully. Not only do you want to be sure of what you are buying (especially when buying fabrics and flosses – getting the right counts and colors are pretty important), you want to know if the ONS has the item in stock and if they have to special order it, how long it will take to get to you. Having to wait 6-8 weeks for a purchase when you could have ordered it somewhere else and had it in a matter of days is a frustrating experience, to say the least.
3. Look for the “extras” that make being their customer easy. While not offering these extras may not be a dealbreaker, they are still nice to have and make shopping fun. Wishlists, newsletters and bulletin boards are ways many ONS improve the customer experience and share great deals – coupon codes can make a serious dent in your costs, especially through free shipping offers.
While shopping online can make finding deals easier, you still need to be careful about where you buy. Make sure they have contact information clearly stated somewhere so you know how to get in touch with a human being if something goes wrong with your order. If you have a question about a shop’s track record, check Yelp or Google their name and see what other customers have to say. Try to use a third-party service like PayPal to keep your credit card and bank info safe, and if a website seems to be offering something that is too good to be true (454 skeins of DMC for $50!) it probably is.
If you are looking for an out-of-print (OOP) chart or kit, eBay is the place to shop for you. It has become a great resource for stitchers looking to get rid of stash and for needleworkers trying to find a good deal. Just remember that when it comes to eBay, what you see is definitely what you get! Be on the lookout for scams, especially for floss (beware of companies offering DMC for pennies a skein, it is probably a cheap knockoff). Still, there are tons of gems there, especially when sellers are offering stitching supplies in a lot. I recommend using PayPal here too, particularly because they offer excellent dispute resolution just in case you need to try to get your money back.
I hope you find this helpful and have lots of fun adding to your stash this year
Peace and blessings,