Meet the Sponsors: Bunte Fabrics

yvonne

Yvonne poses with some of her great European fabrics

In the past few years, Japanese fabrics have taken worldwide crafting scene by storm, but all the while — just more quietly — European fabrics have become more widely available too. Yvonne is the proprietress of Bunte Fabrics, which focuses on European fabrics, patterns, and notions (though she carries Japanese imports as well!). Bunte means “colorful” in German, and with even a quick look for her shop, you’ll realize how perfect the name is. With so many knits, corduroys, and velvets alongside the woven cottons, her inventory definitely leans towards garment sewing, so if you’re looking for high-quality, interesting garment fabrics, definitely keep Bunte in mind. The prints lean strongly toward young girls but there are plenty of options for boys and grownups too.

Leave a comment on this post to win a $30 gift certificate to Bunte Fabrics. Comments will close and a winner will be chosen this time next week (March 18, central U.S. time). And now, let’s go behind the scenes at Bunte Fabrics …

Where do you live? What is the textile/crafty scene like there?

We moved from San Francisco to Everett, WA about two years ago. The fabric scene here is not as diverse as it was in San Francisco, but the quilting scene is pretty big here. I have just been to the Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA and there I saw too that quilting is huge. The range of different fabrics available was amazing to see.

bunte fabrics

How and when did you start selling fabric?

I started selling fabric in September of 2007. It was a whirlwind of an adventure … Just less than two years before I opened my shop I was still employed at a major animation studio and had no idea I was about to become a fabric lover/addict and a business owner.

My love for sewing started because I loved the handmade clothing seen on eBay. I always thought I would like to try sewing myself. I bought a really inexpensive machine and was so very excited when I found Farbenmix patterns for sale on the Farbenmix website, because their patterns really spoke to me in my taste for children’s clothing. On the Farbenmix website they have a gallery and I was just in love with the fabrics that everyone used. Sewing came really easy to me. It really helped too though, that I am German and was able to follow the picture tutorials. But I still wanted to have all those yummy fabrics as well that I could not seem to find here. At the same time my husband took us to live in Everett, WA, and I was in a position to think what I wanted to do besides being a stay-at-home mother. The idea for my business was born then to import and sell European fabrics, notions, and patterns.

stenzo-fine-whale-corduroy-flower-print-on-plum

What surprised you most about the business?

I really enjoy customer service! I hope that my customers can tell how excited I am about the products that I sell. I just love everything in my store and I have gotten such nice responses from far and wide. I think more and more people are starting to sew again, the way generations have done before us, when handmade clothing was the norm. And now that we have such a wide range of fabrics, patterns, and notions the possibility for creativity seems endless!

Is this your full time job? If not, what do you moonlight as?

Being a mother to my three children is my full time job, but Bunte Fabrics rides right beside it. Definitely my fourth child! I moonlight as an Illustrator still.

How would you characterize your shop?

Definitely colorful! Small but bursting to the seams with really great fabric.

What are your hot sellers right now?

Feliz PatternFarbenmix patterns are definitely top sellers. Nancy’s (studio Tantrum & fledge) FELIZ pattern is a huge hit. Hilco knit fabrics and my organic fabrics are hot sellers too.

Are you online only, or do you have a brick & mortar shop? If you don’t have one, are you planning to open one?

Yes, I am only online. I haven’t planned on opening a brick & mortar shop.

Do you run the shop alone or do you have help?

I run Bunte Fabrics alone, although I get plenty of business advice from my children, especially my nine-year-old son. My husband has taken lessons on how to cut fabric, package, and ship it, just in case of emergencies.

tulipas

How do you deal with the challenges of the current economy, and increasing competition on the online fabric retail market?

It is going to be hard for everybody, especially us small online stores. All we can do is ride the waves. I am planning to keep having a great inventory, am planning giveaways and continue to enjoy what I am doing and hopefully that will carry me through the more difficult times of the business.

What are the (other!) biggest challenges — and biggest rewards — of being a fabric merchant?

My biggest challenge is bookkeeping! I have learned a lot on the go but I clearly had no idea when I started! And trying to figure out what my customers would like to have. When I look at 100s of fabrics it can be difficult to make a decision.

Biggest reward as a fabric merchant is to be able to have the fabric arrive and I get to see and feel all these beautiful fabrics first before anyone else does!

campan_blaublau_400

What’s your personal stash like?

It is not super huge, actually, but color happy. Every now and then I keep a yard of imported fabric, because almost all of the fabrics that I sell are only available for a short time. The designs change every year and if I fall in love with one particular fabric I keep that in mind and stash it. I have a big stash of unicolor knits and wovens to go with the patterned fabric.

Who are your favorite designers, from the past and/or from the present?

Naturally I am just in love with the designers that design fabric for Oilily, Hilco and Stenzo! My favorite American designer is Heather Ross and am sad to see her have to stop designing fabric. Another American fabric designer that I adore is Jay McCarroll, he is so out there. I love fabric designers that seem to tell a story with their designs. That’s the Illustrator in me!

Thank you so much, Yvonne! Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be eligible for the gift certificate drawing.

96 Comments

  1. Chasley says:

    Love your online shop:)

  2. Jessica says:

    I had never heard of this shop before. Such lovely fabrics! Thanks for sharing and for hosting another great giveaway!

  3. Violet says:

    Great interview and such beautiful fabrics!
    -violet

  4. Carrie says:

    So fun that she got to start her own shop with things she loves! Oh, I hope I win!

  5. Berrie says:

    I love love love the fabrics Yvonne chooses to carry in her shop. Don’t even get me started on the ribbon she stocks. Delicious! She is also an absolute dear as well.
    xoBerrie

  6. Carrie in KC says:

    I’d love to win something from the Bunte shop! Thanks for the fun giveaway!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Great fabrics!

  8. Liz says:

    Great interview, and really lovely fabrics!

  9. Carol says:

    Great to learn about you!

  10. Kelli says:

    Oh wow–am I glad I checked your site today–I will definitely be bookmarking Bunte Fabrics from now on. And $30 is such a nice giveaway–thanks!!!

  11. Nancy says:

    What great fabrics you have in this fun store! Thanks so much for the interview and the great giveaway.

  12. Phoebe says:

    Great shop. Would love to get my hands on some of her lovely stock!

  13. nichole says:

    oh so lovely. thanks for the great giveaway AND great blog posts.

  14. Anne says:

    Beautiful fabric and great interview – love this giveaway – hope I am lucky. a.haun@sbcglobal.net

  15. Yeah right in Everett..I could save postage if I win and drive over and pick it up!
    We used to get the Olilly catalogue….what great stuff they have!

  16. Sarah says:

    I love European fabric and didn’t even know that Bunte Fabrics existed. I’ll be checking out her store right away!

  17. Jennifer says:

    I’ve been on the hunt for some German fabric and have scoured your store- great to read about the interview here!

  18. Barbara says:

    Hooray! organic fabric!

  19. Margot says:

    Luv, luv, luv yer stuff Yvonne!

    I’m making Farbenmix Feliz right now and only wish it was in some of your fabrics.

    Hope you can continue to sell through these hard times and maybe we can help!

  20. Hyewon says:

    Oh my. I will have to take my mom here when I visit this summer… Thank you for introducing me to Farbenmix!!

  21. Christy says:

    I love the designs–fresh, contemporary yet old world elegant. I loved the interview too!

  22. Andrea says:

    Wow wow wow! I love your fabric lines! Thanks for sharing your website with us!

  23. Kelly Mackey says:

    Love your store! Can;t wait to use the Feliz pattern once school is out!

  24. marnie says:

    i know what Yvonne means by so many choices it is hard to pick – i choose new fabrics 2-3 times a year for my picture frame business – i love heather ross and jay mccarroll too – just bought mermaids from hr and bending trees and woodpile from jay mc. for my products

  25. frog says:

    Thanks for the link to Bunte. I love the European fabrics, especially the the corduroys and velvets, but it can be difficult to find from Australia.

  26. Megan says:

    So happy to hear you are local near Seattle! I am beginning to get into knits for my baby-on-the-way and have been searching for some quality online shops. I will check out the shop now!

  27. Jen B. says:

    I love looking at the fabrics on her site!

  28. Karen says:

    What beautiful fabrics — thanks for breaking me out of my Japanese fabric rut!

  29. Ange says:

    These fabrics are just beautiful, I can’t get enough of them. They make such beautiful clothes for my daughter, and the quality is very impressive.

  30. Rita says:

    so great to hear about a new source of fabric…Europe!

  31. maia says:

    i loooove everything on your site!

  32. happy zombie says:

    Ooooooh… not only do I know what bunte means, and know how it’s pronounced… I love the shop!
    xo,
    glücklich zombie

  33. Cindy says:

    It is nice to see the person behind the great fabric I am addicted to! I love all the Euro fabrics Yvonne sells. I just can’t get started on the Japanese fabrics! Thanks again Yvonne for Bunte Fabrics! Cindy

  34. meg says:

    ALL I WANT FOR EASTER IS SOME EUROPEAN FABRIC!!!

  35. Mel says:

    Love the interview! Love the fabrics!

  36. jordana says:

    wow – there are so many lovely prints. the corduroy has me salivating but i really don’t think i can resist that gnome ribbon!

  37. Kathy says:

    I love that she’s in Everett, WA. So close to me!

  38. Such a colourful site – and a great range of products, too….. it’s good to see apparel fabrics being preferenced – it can be so hard to source good quality apparel fabric online…

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leah xxx

  39. Marcellina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring. I just visited your site and love the variety of fabrics that you offer. I am also a huge fan of Farbenmix patterns.

  40. Asa says:

    Oooh, I ♥ that store… the fabrics, scrumptious, and the notions/embellishments are to die for!

  41. Amy - MamaNurse says:

    Kudos to Yvonne for carrying such lovely fabrics. I often browse to drool. I appreciate high quality, gorgeous fabrics that are sustainably produced.

  42. Riley's Mom says:

    Love you fabrics and so nice to learn more about you :)

  43. kelly says:

    Great article Yvonne! It’s so nice to finally “meet” you — I’ve been a fan of Bunte for a while now. Wonderful selection, great prices, outstanding customer service!

  44. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing her story! She has some really cute fabrics and accessories!

  45. Jessica says:

    Where to even begin? Brunte is too stacked with amazing fabrics! Interesting interview to boot!