Always Quilting -- Lots of Fabric and Supplies Here!
Apr 16, 2009
Buying this birthday gift for a good friend was a bit of a nightmare. I ordered from one online store, and the order appeared not to have gone through, and contacting the store yielded no response from them. So I needed a great gift to arrive in a timely fashion. That was why I chose Always Quilting. -- except things didn't go exactly as planned.
What is Always Quilting?
As you can guess from the name, this website sells quilting related products: Fabrics, Patterns, Kits, Notions, Books, and even sewing machines. They offer several clubs, too. There is the Block-of-the-Month club where each month one block is mailed so that the quilt top is made in installments. There is also the Monthly Stash Club where you can choose fabric themes (ex: batik fabrics), and once a month fabric relating to that theme is sent.
In addition to taking orders at their online store, Always Quilting has a brick-and-mortar store located in San Mateo, California.
Navigating the Website
The Home Page offers a welcome message along with their physical address and telephone number. From this page you can travel to these category pages: Online Catalog, About Us, Classes, Register to Win, Contact Us, Friends, Visiting Hours, Shipping Info.
Navigating the site is simple. However, their Online Catalog section can appear overwhelming. The page lists thumbnail images of products and fabrics (ex: Books, Notions, Featherweights and More -- sewing machines). The confusing part comes with the huge array of fabrics Always Quilting offers.
Each fabric is listed by theme (ex: sports, patriotic, holiday, florals, checks & stripes) as well as by manufacturer (ex: Andover Fabrics, Hoffman, Moda, P&B Textiles, Thimbleberries). Click on a manufacturer and the next page displays thumbnail images of the various fabric lines (ex: Marcus Brothers includes these fabric lines: Linen and Champagne, Paislez and Daisiez, America the Beautiful, and Fresh Paint).
Let's Go Shopping!
My friend lives in California, and I live in Massachusetts. Due to the fiasco of my first attempt at online ordering her a gift (from a different online store) ... I was in a time crunch. I figured ordering from an online store with a physical presence in California would provide quick delivery of the birthday present.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to order. Over the years we have traded gifts back and forth, and I wanted to buy her something that she might not purchase for herself. So I did a lot of clicking through the website categories.
I focused on the Notion category figuring I might be able to find a unique quilting gadget. This website offers a lot of selection: rotary cutting supplies, pins and needles, batting, threads, scissors, sewing totes and luggage. They even have a Gifts section that sells quilting related items such as calendars, scrapbooks, organizers, magnet sets, even a t-shirt and quilting pin.
I found what I wanted under Pencils & Pens. Always Quilting sold a set of six fine-tip Micron Permanent Markers (these are acid free markers designed to use on fabric). I own a set and have benefited from using them -- great for writing on fabric labels, touching up fabrics, or adding a bit of color to existing fabric bits to customize the fabric to the quilt project ...and if you can draw ... well, you're a step ahead of me!
The price was excellent, too. The set of markers sold for $16.00. It hasn't been a month since I ordered them, though, and see the price has gone up to $16.79 on their website.
Fabric prices are about average roughly ranging from $8.95 - $16.95 a yard. You won't find a bargain on Clearance fabrics either. The lowest clearance price I saw was $6.95 a yard. Each product thumbnail image opens to a larger picture of the item with a brief description and the price. You can type in the quantity (or number of yards) that you wish to purchase and click the "Add Item to My Cart" button.
Checkout, Order Confirmation & Delivery
To Checkout, click the "Checkout Stand" link at the bottom of the page. A new page opens displaying a list of items in the cart. If ordering fabrics, there are three options to choose from: 1) Send what you have; I'm stash building, 2) Cancel the item on my order, 3) Write a comment regarding what the store should do if the fabric is unavailable.
You can also select the method of shipping: US Postal Service for US orders, UPS Ground for US orders, USPS for Air Shipment (foreign orders). There is also a comments box to provide special shipping instructions. I made a note to Always Quilting that this was a birthday gift shipping directly to the recipient.
A nice feature is that they did not charge me sales tax. Initially when the shipping address showed as California, the order reflected a sales tax. But a later page showed my billing address as Massachusetts, and the sales tax vanished from the order.
Always Quilting accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express credit cards. The security code on the back of the card is required to place the order. Should you have a coupon code, there is a place to enter it.
Shipping rates for US Domestic Priority Mail start at $5.75 and go up to $21.00. Spending up to $29.99 will cost $5.75 shipping. Spend $30.00 to $ 69.99 and pay $10.75 for shipping. Definitely consider the shipping cost when placing your order.
My order went through, and I received a confirmation email. The email included an order number and listed what I had purchased along with the notes I left in the online comment area.
Here is where communication broke down a bit. I notified my friend in California to expect a package from Always Quilting. She was ecstatic since she has shopped at their brick-and-mortar store and likes their merchandise. When I placed the order, the website showed the markers in stock. I placed the order on March 19. When I didn't hear from my friend, I wrote her toward the end of the month to ask whether she had received the gift. "No," she answered, "and I called the store a few days ago. They said it was backordered but should be in soon." What bothers me is that Always Quilting did not let me know the item was backordered. On April 1st, I received an email from Always Quilting saying the item was now in stock and ready to ship. My friend in California wrote that she received the markers on April 7. So my "speedy gift" took about three weeks to arrive.
The good news is that the gift did arrive in good condition, and my friend is delighted with the markers. Apparently she has needed a new set, and she loves that these markers are acid free. Hurray!
Other than the one bit of missing communication regarding the backorder, I enjoyed my ordering experience with Always Quilting. They went a step further and also mailed me a hard copy of the invoice, which matched the price quoted on their website.
My California friend also tells me that she enjoys shopping at the brick-and-mortar store. She goes there every couple of months. Apparently, Always Quilting has lots of fabric, and some of it you can only purchase via their online store.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy the day!
Please read my other reviews:
Keepsake Quilting Online Store
Joann .com Fabric & Craft Store
Rotaing Olfa Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter
Quilter's Dream Sewing Table
Janome Jem Sewing Machine
Bernina 1260 Quilter's Platinum Edition Sewing Machine
Copyright 2009 Dawn L. Stewart