Cotton Prices On the Rise

November 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm 1 comment

"Cotton Clouds" by Brian Hathcock, used here under a Creative Commons license

I’m not normally one to track international commodities trading; much to the dismay of my 401(k), business is not my strong suit.  However, today for obvious reasons, the following headline caught my eye:

What to Buy Before Cotton Prices Rise (from

From the article, emphasis mine:

“Bad weather in cotton-producing regions of India and China, and flooding in Pakistan, resulted in poor harvests this season, driving cotton prices up nearly 80% since the summer. So far, most clothing makers haven’t passed that cost increase along to consumers. But in recent weeks, the parent companies of a variety of brands – including retail chain Bon-Ton, Jones New York, Hanes, premium denim producer 7 For All Mankind and outdoor clothing maker North Face – have said they expect to raise their prices by up to 10% in 2011. At this point, says Randy Allen, an associate dean for The Johnson School at Cornell University, ‘they can’t afford not to.'”

At no point does the article discuss the impact of this news on cotton fabric by the yard for quilting, but it only stands to reason that if clothing manufacturers are raising their prices to adjust for the rising cost of cotton fabric, the quilt fabric companies will need to, as well.  In fact, since I would imagine that the cost of the initial greige goods represents a higher percentage of the final manufacturing cost for yard goods than it does for an item of clothing, quilt fabric prices will probably rise by more than the 10% cited for apparel, as likely will the price for cotton batting.


But, much as the article goes on to recommend that consumers take advantage of holiday sales and January white sales to stock up on cotton-heavy items like jeans, underwear, and bedding before prices rise, we quilters can do likewise.  I know that several of the quilt shops I frequent have a pre-Christmas and a post-Christmas sale, not to mention the ever-popular Superbowl Sunday sale.  (I may know next to nothing about football, but I always know when the Superbowl is!)

This will also be an excellent time to revisit and reevaluate the stash, to “shop” from what we’ve already accumulated, rather than reflexively acquiring more.  And that scrap bag/ box/ basket/ basement could use some attention too:  as Bonnie Hunter says, “I’m sure we’ve all heard ‘Oh, it’s just scraps.’  Have you ever stopped to realize that your scraps cost you just as much per yard as the original fabric purchased that they came from? Your scraps could be worth $9.00 or more a yard. Makes you think twice about tossing them out, doesn’t it? Or relegating them to the lowly position of  ‘just a scrap’?”

And of course, when we do need something new, for a back, a border, or just because, we should all do what we can to support our local quilt shop owners, who will be paying out more in wholesale and aren’t just raising prices on a whim.  It’s hard enough, I’m sure, trying to run a quilt shop in a recession, without learning that you’re going to have to charge even more for a yard of fabric to maintain that wafer-thin profit margin most of them run on.

On the bright side, I’ve recently discovered how much I love working with soy, bamboo, and wool batting.  Perhaps they will enjoy a popularity surge in response.  And I’ve seen some gorgeous quilts pieced with silk…

In other words, this news isn’t going to help me control my stash, is it?


Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping. Tags: , .

The Appalachian Quilt Trail Little Happy Dances!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Last Post about QwM 2011: Vendors « Sarah Loves Fabric  |  October 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

    […] especially now that full price is $10.85 or more per yard! The cotton price increase I had posted about last year has definitely arrived, giving a whole lot of quilters a pretty significant case of […]


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