Looking for one of the biggest values in online fabric shopping? You can find that when a mill produces more fabric than was required or originally ordered. This can happen for any number of reasons, but regardless of the cause, factory or mill overruns can offer tremendous savings on many different types of fabric.
What should you look for when it comes to fabric overruns?
Two things, primarily: The quality and normal selling price of the fabric. If it’s a low-value fabric to begin with, the savings opportunity won’t be as high as it would be if the overrun is a premium or upscale fabric. A fabric that normally sells for $8 a yard and is available as an overrun for $4 a yard is still a great deal. However you may be a lot more excited to find a $40, $50 or $60 a yard fabric for $10-$15! Typically these are upholstery fabrics though you can sometimes find lighter weight or general purpose fabrics too. (We are always on the lookout for the chance to pick up bargains on factory overruns and pass the savings on to you. And we do have some at the moment; more on that below…)
While not a ‘catch,’ one thing to be aware with mill or factory overruns is availability. Typically overruns are limited in quantity and can sell out quickly. It’s not always the case, but is definitely something to keep in mind when you’re shopping. If you find some fabric overruns that look like they’d work for your sewing needs, be prepared to act quickly. Regardless of the seller, that’s not a high-pressure tactic. Rather it’s just the nature of this type of ‘deal’ — factory overruns are not routine. Almost always, when the current supply is gone, you’re very unlikely to find the same thing again. For that reason, be sure to order enough material to complete your project, and including enough for ‘contingencies’ is always a good idea.
Also, are the overrun fabrics are being sold as “seconds”? This may be an additional opportunity to save money on your fabric purchase. Just be aware of what “seconds” may include: dye lot variations, blemishes, dirty areas on the fabric and more. None of these should preclude you from buying seconds on overruns, as long as you’re aware of the possibilities and plan your project accordingly. Note that on seconds, whether overruns or not, you should typically purchase more than is required for your project — an extra yard or two for smaller projects, and 10-15% more for larger projects. However, the cost of any additional yardage should be more than offset by the savings when buying seconds.
Overruns: Buy or Not?
So, given the caveats above, should you purchase fabric that’s a mill or factory overrun? Well, if you’re like me and always need more fabric … definitely! 😉 In reality the answer depends on your needs, what’s available and your project. If the fabric available is something suitable for a current or future project and the financial savings are significant, then overruns are not only highly sought after, they’re highly recommended.
Note that what “future project” means to someone doing DIY work for them self or friends might be very different than someone who’s in the upholstery or other sewing-based business. Often these businesses will buy material like this to add to their in-house fabric inventory. At bargain-basement prices, small and mid-size businesses can sometimes increase their profit margins by using discount-sourced material in their regular client projects.
Currently Available Fabric Factory Overruns
As mentioned above, at the time of this post (October 2018) Big Duck Canvas does have a limited selection of heavily-discounted factory overrun fabrics. The current selection includes many linen blend fabric bargains that were originally destined for ‘high end’ retailers (sorry, can’t name names but you’d know them!) and are mostly designer fabrics with regular selling prices up to $65 per yard. That’s not outrageous for what they are, but when you can pick up the same material for less than $15 per yard, we think that’s a good thing!
If you’re reading this well after it was posted and the links above don’t work or there’s nothing there, our apologies. Hopefully the information itself is ‘evergreen’ and will help shed some light on shopping for discount fabrics that are listed as ‘mill overruns’ or ‘factory overruns.’