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. kara says:

    hooray for washingtonians! glad to hear more about your sponsors!

  2. That is so awesome! I’ve been looking at a lot of european fabrics lately, but those german prints take the cake, I totally want a bunch of the cottons for summer skirts!!!!

  3. floribunda says:

    oh, I’d love to win a gift certificate! what beautiful fabrics…

  4. Kelley says:

    Beautiful shop!

  5. Paula says:

    Beautiful fabrics, please count me in!

  6. 2hippos says:

    I love the idea of the color-happy stash!

  7. Lisa Stolze says:

    Love Yvonne! She is a great mom and business woman.

  8. Cindi says:

    What an interesting lady! The fabrics that she purchases are fabulous. The Tulip fabric is so lovely for spring!
    A few of my close friends and I are beginning the early stages of learning how to quilt! Now, I know why they make thimbles. Please enter me in your delightful prize giveaway drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

  9. Bev Herbst says:

    Congratulations, Yvonne! What a nice write up. I looked for you at Sew Expo but never caught you in the booth. Hope you sold lots of fabric!

  10. Melissa says:

    Fantastic! We love Bunte, it’s great to here more about your fabulous fabric addiction, it’s definately contagious.:)

  11. Tara says:

    Good for you Yvonne! I love to hear someone take a chance to do something they love or feel passionate about. I will be sure to check out your fabrics as I would love to support your business.
    Best of luck to you.

  12. carol says:

    Congratulations Yvonne! Nice write-up! I love your fabrics!! You are one of the nicest people I know that sells fabric.

  13. Betsy says:

    Thanks for another giveaway – I need to class up my tiny stash with some cute stuff!

  14. Ginger says:

    Thanks for the gerat giveaway!

  15. Kristin says:

    What a wonderful collection of Euro fabrics, and so inspirational – these fabrics are just swimming in my head in an array of many different sewing ideas!

  16. Tabea says:

    I LOVE ALL THE COLORFUL FABRICS:) OILILLY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE. AND YOU HAVE SOME OF THE FABRICS:)THANKS:)

  17. Shannon says:

    I’m so glad to learn about Bunto. Too bad they don’t have a physical location. I have been very sad about the lack of fabric stores here in the Seattle area.

  18. Cyd says:

    I just found Bunte Fabrics a few months ago and since I received my first order, I have been having so much fun in my sewing room. I usually am so burnt out on doll making after the holidays that I can’t bring myself to sew until summer. Not so this year. So thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Prue says:

    Yay another give away and another informative post about a great fabric supplier….

  20. Jen C says:

    I love Bunte fabrics, I have purchased a few times and the fabrics are beautiful and the customer service is wonderful! I do have my eye on a few things right now that would be perfect for spring and summer outfits!

  21. Catherine Wheeler says:

    Thanks for the great interview. I love the corduroys and velvets, but don’t know so much about how to use all of the beautiful knits. I’m inspired though!

  22. Cyd says:

    I found Bunte Fabrics a few months ago and have already ordered twice. Usually after the holidays, I am so burnt out on doll making that I can’t face my sewing room until summer at the earliest. Not so this year–I’m having so much fun! Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. Karen S says:

    What fun to read all about you!!

  24. Sara says:

    Great interview! I love Euro fabrics. The colours are gorgeous, and they are beautiful to sew.

  25. Carmen says:

    Yvonne, what a great selection of lovely fabrics and the cutest buttons!

  26. Gayle says:

    I love your website. My daughter and I check it often. You have the best selection of European and Japanese fabric. What a great story, you inspire all of us wanting to start our own business.

  27. Vicki says:

    I loved reading about your fabric shop. I always see your banner over at sewingmamas.com.

  28. Ruth Kenney says:

    I love the fabrics I have gotten from Bunte Fabrics! It is exciting to be able to get such delightful quality fabrics. My grandchildren are the recipients of wonderful outfits with your fabrics, which I make into patterns from Ottobre. Thank you for being here for us!

  29. Tammi Kay says:

    I love the fabrics – especially the knits. I was so excited to discover your site on the web. I visit often.

  30. Edith says:

    Oh man! I wanna win. I’ve been ogling her fabrics for a while now, but I haven’t yet taken the plunge.

  31. Skulleigh says:

    I’ve been lusting over Japanese fabrics, and never thought about what was going on in Europe! I’ll have to check her site out, and cross my fingers that I’ll win a gift certificate! :)

  32. Alissa says:

    Great interview! Amazing fabrics…

  33. Aida says:

    me, me, me please!!

  34. Marla says:

    I just love my fabrics from Bunte. I have done a bit of snooping online at resources for european fabrics, and by far, she has the best selection at the best prices. My fabrics and notions have arrived in beautiful condition. Now, if only I had more time….. I think the website is very user friendly as well, and what a great selection. Thank you for having such a cool store. If I put hours of work into a garment, I don’t want it to pill, fade, or look tired the first time I wash it. The fabrics really do wear well. Thanks.

  35. Courtney says:

    What a neat find! Thanks so much for sharing : )

  36. Regina Moore says:

    Cool feature on a great fabric shop!

  37. DianeY says:

    What beautiful fabric! I’m going to have to head over to her website now!

  38. Wendy Barth says:

    What a great interview! I love all of your fabric and your customer service is wonderful:)

    Wendy

  39. cinnamama says:

    What a nice article Yvonne! I love your new iron ons and what a dream it would be to come and see your fabrics in person!

  40. Katherine L. says:

    Beautiful! I love looking at new fabrics. Thanks for the spotlight!

  41. Cynthia Carmona says:

    I am a big fan of Buntefabrics!! Love everything and the customers service is excellent!!
    Thank you

    Cynthia

  42. MelissaB says:

    I love it that you’re a fellow Washingtonian – I’m sorry I missed seeing you at the expo (I went on Friday). You have such beautiful fabrics in your store!

  43. karen says:

    I’m so happy to help welcome Bunte to Washington! There are lots of quilters around here but there are plenty of garment sewers too :)

  44. Jenn says:

    Pick me! Pick me! :)

  45. Jenny Kim says:

    Good luck to you Yvonne! I would love to win some of your fabric!

  46. mary in IL says:

    I love the fabric on this post. Would love to shop there.

  47. Jacqui says:

    I first came across European patterns and fabrics in Ottobre, and really love the bold, bright colours and simplicity of many of the patterns. Have definitely bookmarked Bunte fabrics for future use! Globalisation might have lots to answer for, but ready access to fabulous fabrics from around the world isn’t one :)

  48. Marilyn says:

    Pretty fabrics! So springlike…

  49. Renee says:

    Love the interview.
    I would love to win!
    Great fabrics!!

  50. Leigh says:

    I’d never visited her shop – I will definitely be back! Beautiful fabric – thank you for sharing!