Adventures in Retail

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My recent adventures in trying to sell fabric on my tierneycreates Etsy shop has made me realize I never want to own or work at a quilt shop. People who own and/or work at quilt shops are magical and I am more in awe of them than I was before my fabric selling adventure.

Let’s begin with the background that led to this revelation:

I had heard from other Etsy sellers that the more items you had listed in your Etsy shop, the more visitors you would get to your Etsy shop’s page. My original plan for the tierneycreates Etsy shop was to primarily sell my handmade items and to offer some vintage items (vintage Barbies, etc.) from my personal collection. However due to a pesky thing called a full-time health care industry job (which I appreciate keeps the lights on) I have not been able to make as many handmade items for my shop as I like. Plus I want to make useful, well-crafted, items and not try and mass produce anything. After all there is a reason why people go to Etsy for handmade items.

So how do I add more items to my Etsy shop so I can attract more visitors to my shop?

It was my tierneycreates byline that got me thinking: “a fusion of textile and smiles“. I could sell textiles! I surveyed other Etsy shops that sold fabric and thought – I could do that – I could sell fabric on my shop. One major concern popped up: I have small house with limited storage – where would I store bolts of fabric? Another concern: What if no  one likes the fabric I carry in my Etsy shop and then I am stuck with all this fabric?

Then I had an idea – I would purchase only bolts of fabric that I would like to use in projects. So if I was stuck with a bolt of fabric that did not sell well, then I could use it in textile projects. I would be very selective only stocking unique fabrics, while  increasing the number of items offered in my Etsy shop.

Well that was the plan…


I found a collection of fabric I wanted to offer in my Etsy shop – Peppered Cottons by Pepper Cory. Peppered Cottons are a twist on cotton solids and are like solids with spice! They are considered “shot cotton” as the threads in the warp (lengthwise threads) and the weft (side to side threads) are woven in different colors. This creates to an iridescent or chambray look and the fabric takes on takes on different colors depending on the angle that you are viewing the fabric.

In addition to fabric by yard, I thought it would be cool to try and create fat quarter collections to offer on the shop. If you are not a quilter, a “fat quarter” is a pre-cut section of fabric measuring 18″ x 22″. It is created by cutting 1/2 a yard of fabric along the lengthwise grain (quilting fabric is usually 44″ wide) and then cutting it in in half widthwise. Fat quarters are sold to quilters in coordinating sets of 4 or more fabrics and are a great way to sample a fabric collection.

For many years one of my favorite things to buy at quilt shops were fat quarters. I had watched quilt shop staff cut fat quarter sets. I know how to cut fabric with a rotary cutter, I know how to measure, I thought I could take on cutting fat quarter sets no problem.

Cutting fat quarters nearly broke me.  It was not easily learning to accurately cut fat quarters and it took a long time to make up four sets of 6 fats quarters. I wasted some fabric in fat quarter cutting disasters. Finally I got the hang of it and became accurate but it was so much work. I realize I would never want to own a quilt shop or work at a quilt shop and cut fabric.


I am pleased with the carefully curated fabrics I am offering on my Etsy shop, but once they are sold out I am not going to sell anymore fabric by the yard or cut my own fat quarter collections. I may continue to occasionally offer a cool pre-cut “jelly rolls” (collection of 40 – 2 1/2 inch strips used to make quick quilts) in my shop but my days of trying to be a miniature quilt fabric shop are limited!

Fat Quarter collection of Peppered Cottons