Saturday, 15 September 2012

UK fabric shop news and a giveaway!!!

Well the time has come to make the announcement Mandy, Justine, Laura, Katy and I have been excitedly chatting about for a few weeks.  Simply Solids has changed hands.  Today.  Yes, today.


Where before it was run by Mandy, henceforth it will be owned and run by Justine, known to you all as Sew Justine Sew or the one who brought her new baby to the Fat Quarterly retreat.  And there is a great giveaway at the end of this post!

Awww

What can I tell you about Justine?  Well, she lives in the North of England, although luckily close enough to me to be a regular at my kitchen table.  Here she is in my kitchen and I have her in quite a stranglehold there.

justine

She has a wicked sense of humour but is also endlessly kind and very soft hearted.  She is passionate about fabric and quilts and quilting and crafting in general.  



She is planning to continue stocking Kona solids and will be expanding the range just as soon as she has the business well under way.  She will also continue with the Moda pre-cuts we all love so much.  And she is planning on expanding the range of solids and semi solids to include Timeless Treasures sketch fabrics, quilters linens etc.
 

There will be no interruption to the business as the hand over is taking place this weekend.  For anyone wanting a little incentive to get the orders rolling into Justine straight away, all orders over £10 will have a random free FQ thrown in this weekend.  In the picture below, Justine is the one slap bang in the middle with the stripey t-shirt on. 


And now for your part in her success.  Being new to the fabric shop business, Justine would like you to tell her what you would like from your fabric shop - what offers / clubs / loyalty programs would encourage you to shop there, what are your favourite Kona solids, what lines of pre-cuts do you not want her to miss, what solids and semi solids would you like her to stock, what makes the difference to you between a good fabric shop and a great one etc etc.  Any and all suggestions will be welcomed with open arms.  And next weekend we will pick the best comment and the winner will receive the layer cake or jelly roll of their choice from Justine's stocks.  Here she is in my kitchen at our Christmas party.

Mandy is not pleased Justine swapped hats

And as an additional favour, we would love it if you would spread the word about her exciting news - tweet, facebook, blog whatever.  There are no prizes for this part but we are asking for this favour just as a gesture of support for a new venture by a fellow quilter.  Thank you all in advance for your kind support!

73 comments:

  1. For me that live in Luxembourg and do not have access to many great shops, it make a huge difference for me if they ship to me on an accessible rate (one that does not make my fabrics hugely expensive. Also I like it when the shop stocks something different, arty and that is not everywhere, so I know I am buying something extra special. Thanks for the chance to win and good luck with the shop!

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  2. I would love suggestions for what plains match the patterns, the only downside with online is checking the exact colour

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  3. I would love suggestions for what plains match the patterns, the only downside with online is checking the exact colour

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  4. I would love suggestions for what plains match the patterns, the only downside with online is checking the exact colour

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  5. I would love suggestions for what plains match the patterns, the only downside with online is checking the exact colour

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    1. I've just bought a Kona colour chart for that reason. So hard to get the right colour online.

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  6. Hi! Congratulations to the new shop! I can't buy any good fabrics here and especially for quilting so I'm always happy to find new online shops. I try to find different kind of fabrics, beautiful colours, lovely prints, funny prints and I'm exited if I find artistic/painted prints. It's good to get solids from the same shop with the same order. I'm happy that this shop is in Europe so the shipping is not too expensive. Sunny wishes from Greece!

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  7. Congratulations to the new shop Justine and lots of luck.
    I love to shop in UK online shops as the shipping costs are doable and I don’t need to worry about custom services and VAT. It’s very difficult to find designer quilt fabrics here in Holland. I love to buy colour bundles and rainbow bundles as they are great stash builders and I love a variety of fabrics rather than a whole series of one designer!

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  8. I'm so excited for Justine and wishing her loads of success! One etsy shop I buy from always includes a couple of charm square size samples of other fabrics with my order. I love this as you feel that your getting a little freebie but it also means I will often buy those fabrics in my next order as I've got to see the real colours and feel the handle. So if I was buying Kona from Simply Solids it might be nice to get a little sample of another brand or a linen to make me want to buy them next time too. Hope this helps xxx

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  9. Good luck Justine. I like it when a few solids are matched up with a new line of fabric.

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  10. Well done Justine and have fun running a fabric shop - all I would do is drool and stroke it [sounds rude] and forget to sell it if it were me!! PLEASE stock Moda white Jelly rolls - I am a lazy cow and prefer to use plain jelly rolls as sashing instead of cutting wonky 2.5" strips! And my math is bad so I can never figure out the right amount of sashing from yardage - that's why I like to keep a white jelly roll on hand :)

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  11. 'Gefeliciteerd' as we say in Dutch :-). I like to shop 'local' as in 'Europe' as the shipping rates are more affordable for me. I would like to see bundles of fabric you picked, not the all over the place designer bundles. I like the variety of those bundles as everyone makes different choices of what they think looks good together. Good luck!

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  12. I love the Kona bundles that another favourite shop (US) does that are inspired by particular fabric lines. And good postal rates where possible.
    Good luck Justine.

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  13. Good luck!

    What many of the previous commenters have said - affordable shipping rates (for both sides, of course). Interesting bundles, matching solids for collections so you can order prints and solids in one go rather than waiting for the prints to arrive and put next to your colour cards.

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  14. Fabulous news about Justine! I wish her loads of luck with her new venture. Like others living abroad, I like online ships who ship quickly as it takes an age to arrive without another couple of days on top. I would like some FQ bundles of blues or reds or whatever already compiled as it's diffiuclt to choose without a card. BTW, you hug like my MiL. Bears have nothing on you guys.

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  15. I have just been over and placed my first order and signed up for the newsletter too. What a great new adventure for Justine

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  16. H'mmmm, wonder if she will be stocking AWOL bee fabric ;-)
    Good luck.

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  17. Congratulations Justine! I would love to see Bella/Kona snow/white charm packs and jelly rolls - they improve my motivation to start and finish quick projects! as well as fat 1/8th bundles and mini charm packs - to please my impoverished pocket!

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  18. Good luck Justine! (And Mandy in your new job!) I'd like to see more modern tone on tone prints - I find them much easier to hand sew through than solids but they can be hard to find and if they were matched to a Kona colour then it would be easier to work out if it was the shade you wanted. I'd also love it if Justine started stocking Moda Candy (I think that's what they're called - the mini charm packs?) as they'd suit my budget. I recently (well, four/five months ago!) got a parcel from a fabric shop and they'd included a mini Moo card with 'You may also like...' on the front (and the shop details on the back) with a couple of small (2"x3") samples stapled to it which matched the colour/style of my order. Oh, and maybe stock some Oakshott FQs/F8s that you can buy individually rather than in bundles or as half metres. If Justine also started stocking Aurifil my life would be complete ;o)

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    1. P.S. It would also be great if prints with a white/cream background (like the fabulous Summersville) had a quick description of the colour of the background as it can be very hard to judge on-line - just a 'white/snow/whatever' would suffice! ('Whatever' because I don't know the names of any cream Konas!)
      Good luck Justine!!

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  19. Good luck Justine! It would be nice to have a text fabric store. Somewhere you could buy text fabrics in bundles by colorway or individually.

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  20. Customer service is so incredibly important in an online shop. I was trying to match a cross stitch design I'd done to some solids to turn it into a cushion. Of the four online fabric shops I approached for advice (as it's difficult to tell on a computer screen), only one replied. I will never use the other 3 again. With so many fabric shops out there, you have to strive to differentiate yourself and customer service could well be the winner.

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  21. Fantastic news! Wishing you both all the very best in your new jobs :-)
    I know that for many people, myself included, money is tighter than ever, so charm packs and fat eighth bundles would be great and a little easier on the pocket :-)
    I'd love to see Lu Summers' new Summersville line in the shop, it's so gorgeous!

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  22. Congratulations to Justine! It's great news that Simply Solids is going to continue.

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  23. Congrats on the shop! I agree with all of the above comments...and I like a great price and quick shipping. there is nothing like a good deal to seal the sale for me. But best of all....quality service. I am sure you have that!!
    Thanks for this chance.

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  24. For folks living far from great quilting fabric shops, it's great that online shops like Simply Solids are available to them. I'm very fortunate to live in a large U.S. city where there are many great quilting fabric shops. So, as of yet, I've never needed to shop online. What would it take for me to fabric shop online? Well, besides the obvious great prices and service, I would be moved by unique fabric bundles and precuts that are unavailable in the states or that I could only find there. I have fallen in love with jelly rolls, especially scrappy ones. Also, although this is a very minor issue, I would like to see the prices listed in U.S. dollars so I wouldn't have to do the conversion myslf.

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  25. Good luck to Justine with her new venture!

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  26. Well, one thing that is important to me when I go to look at buying fabric at an online store, is that if there is a bundle of fabric, I don't just want to see the bundle. I want to be able to click on the bundle and then see ALL of the fabrics individually in the bundle close up. I don't have a fabulous imagination, and can imagine the fabric that is inside... I want to SEE it exactly!

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  27. Good luck! I like reasonable shipping costs, suggestions of solids to match fabric collections and good bundles as I'm not good at putting fabrics together so I like it is someone does it for me!

    As far as loyalty I am more likely to be loyal to a shop that offers consistently good service (fast order processing and responds to queries quickly) than to one that offers points or freebies (although obviously everyone likes those too, just not at the expense of good service).

    As for ranges I'm looking forward to are Simply color and Cuzco.

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  28. HELLO! ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR SHOP!
    LOVE SIMPLY SOLIDS!
    ON-LINE SHOPPING REQUIRES MORE VISUALIZATION OF PACKS+BUNDLES!
    FREE SHIPPING IS ALWAYS A WINNER FOR ME!

    msstitcher1948@yahoo.com

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  29. Congratulations to Justine. I hope that the shop continues to go from strength to strength. I think that there have been so many good ideas given but my plea would be for a plain colour to be suggested that matches a particular pre-cut pack. It is so often really hard to match background colours. Di x

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  30. Congratulations and much success! I like that you're adding semi solids, and I also like shot cottons (it gives some visual interest without being a print). It might be nice to offer 1/4 yd/1/4 meter cuts of fabric. Also, I like when fabric stores offer "scrap packs" or "mystery packs" (usually a variety of odds and ends fabric cuts sold by weight). You never know what you will get, it expands your stash, and you often end up with just the right color for a future project.
    ellen(at)myerly(dot)net

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  31. i love it when colours are put together i struggle to visualise things together

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  32. Suggestions on solids that match patterns and beginner quilting tips. Help on judging how much backing to buy. Good luck to Simply Solids - perhaps a good name for someone weaning a baby.

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  33. I think the Oakshott line would be super for your shoppers to have available. Good luck to you--Julierose

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  34. I don't know if this would work, but I'd like to join a monthly subscription type thing, where you maybe each month received fabric. Especially if it was maybe a featured fabric line of the month with matching/contrasting solids to match? It's so hard to match online!

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  35. good luck and congrats. carry christmas fabric.. thanks for the giveaway

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  36. Stash club! I have a woefully small stash of solids and always end up making emergency purchases for projects. It would be great to build my stash up slowly and in a manageable way financially.

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  37. I neeeeeed Kona Natural and Kona Curry please please please! I bought from Pink Castle in the US before as I couldn't get them here and now they're out of stock for both!

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  38. 1. A good range of neutral solids - in both light and dark colours would be fabulous.
    2. Plus as many other kinds of 'solids' as possible - shot cottons, which I love, sketch would be useful too and any others Justine can lay her hands on.
    3. Perhaps a good range of affordable linens too - I love mixing linen in with my work (but I'm probably as much of a quilter as most who currently use Simply Solids so that's maybe just me).
    4. I probably wouldn't use pre-cuts, but again that is just me!
    5. Samples of solids are really useful for when I'm uncertain which to go for.
    6. Extra wide fabrics for backing.
    7. Fabrics for binding e.g. stripes, geometric prints.
    8. Good range of wadding with detailed descriptions of how they 'feel' - I find it so hard to tell online but the way they feel is sooooo important.
    9. Detailed descriptions of all the fabrics stocked - weight, texture and so on.
    10. And, finally, perhaps try to become as much as possible a one-stop shop for everything quilt-y that isn't printed fabric - so the place to go once you'e chosen your prints and need to work out co-ordinating solids, binding, backing , wadding, and maybe thread too? There's so many good on-line UK shops selling prints now that it would be good to concentrate on filling another niche.
    Hope my ramblings help! And very good luck, Justine. Juliexx

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  39. That is such good news, two life-changing jobs! Can I make a plea for a section of text and low value fabrics please. Often these are included in fabric ranges but it would be nice to see them all together.

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  40. I got the newsletter from Mandy last night and was so pleased and excited for Justine! Good luck Justine and I will try and support you anyway I can as a fellow business woman ;) And well done Lynne being such a great pal as always :)

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  41. I do 95% of my fabric shopping online so reasonable postage and fast service would be my main criteria. There is a well known US store that always emails me to say that the fabric I ordered is no longer in stock and I have been caught out twice trying to source it through lovely Etsy ladies. A lot of us Aussies will not be shopping with them again as we share our bad experiences in a Facebook quilt group. Listing what yardage/packs left honestly would generate respect from your customers. I like to support small businesses rather than the larger companies.

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  42. I love a good online shop as I have no local fabric store so do most of it online. Being in England means reasonable postage rates too. It is nice to have updates on facebook about special offers. I like to buy fabric in fat quarters so it is good to offer individual sizing e.g. 1/4m, 1/2m, and 1m instead of just a mtere available in all fabrics, as some shops only offer fat quarters in pre cut bundles. Great customer service means replying and acting promptly to problems. I have waited over 3 weeks now for an order from another U.K. shop and each time I contact them via email they take 3/4 days to reply just saying that it has been sent and should be arriving soon. I would also like to see some Oakshott cottons, and also if you are doing 'semi solids' I would love some ombre dots and chevrons. A loyalty scheme would be very useful, I would certainly reuse a good company if I built up points with each purchase which could later be used for discount or a free fat quarter.Pretty packaging is lovely but not a necessity, but it is so nice to open a parcel that is wrapped and tied with a ribbon and little card, rather than sealed in a plastic bag. Good luck with it all.
    ks(dot)eyles(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

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  43. Well done, congratulations, and I hope you do really well!
    So exciting to be going into a new adventure.

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  44. Thanks for the chance! Well what I like in a fabric store is yardage of a full collection. I can't afford to buy a whole half yard bundle, but even if I could, I wouldn't like every single fabric in the line anyway.

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  45. Firstly, international shipping would be great. I hunt high and low for quilting cottons at affordable shipping rates.
    Also love surprise bundles, grab bags, and anything that will enable me to get a good deal for one shippment's worth.
    Best of luck!

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  46. that's lovely news Lynne, thanks for sharing it, I'll pop across to Justine's blog too.

    I buy all my fabrics online, mainly from the USA. I would always cross the ocean for Essex linen, Moda white jelly rolls, good grey solids, Timeless Treasure sketch, and I love 'textured line' prints like in the Summersville line. And good flat rate postage.

    I also love where the solids have been suggested in an online shop, to match in with a particular fabric line.

    thanks so much, Cat.

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  47. I love the idea of suggesting colour matches - not really knowing the colour always makes me nervous about buying online. I also like a website that is really easy to navigate and where I can get most things I need for a project (Clearly lazy!). My fave precuts are actually FQ - I feel like I get enough to do something with while still getting a nice selection I know will go together, and, like Cat, I'm really liking textured line prints at the moment.

    Hope that helps! Congratulations :-)

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  48. Best of luck on the new venture! I agree with one of the earlier comments about working towards becoming the 'go to' place for solids and semi-solids. Have a really wide range of Konas, plenty of neutrals and the new shades as well, things like the Quilters Linen range would be fantastic and Essex Linen too - the coloured ones as well as the neutrals. I do 99% of my fabric shopping online and the things that keep me loyal to a shop are a quick processing of my order, fast shipping and prompt replies to any email query.

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  49. Definitely white jelly rolls and charm packs. I'm one of the lazy folk too :-)

    I also like postage to be reasonable if I only want a couple of FQ's for smaller projects.

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  50. I'd love it if EG the UK get free postage over £15 (saving £2.50) that us Europeans get a £2.50 reduction off out postage, as you can see alot of the comments are from Europeans looking for good shipping prices, that'd probably be in simply solids favour rather than us buying from the US, £10 postage is nearly the 18$ that we pay for upto 9 yards where we probably wouldn't order 9 yards from you.
    I love little extras like Intrepid sends a couple of scrap pieces to encourage you to try something different, some send moo cards, a little personal note, even a badge or magnet, etc etc... we all like something for nothing and it's a reminder to shop with you again :)

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  51. I would love to see sensible shipping costs. It costs less to post one FQ than it does a yard. I refuse to pay £3.50 for a FQ and then another £3-5 for shipping. Especially when the fabric you want is not all available in one shop! That's why I keep going back to shopping in the US. Despite the postal delay and despite the shipping cost, if you shop wisely there are massive savings to be made. I only have a tiny budget and I need to make it stretch as far as possible. Rant over

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  52. What endears me most to an online fabric shop is the feeling of connection to the shopkeeper. Reading their blog contributes to that, as does the ability to leave a note when I order. Receiving packages that feel a bit like a gift makes me feel connected to the shop and want to return again. I keep the little cards that come with my fabric purchases, and when I think of doing some online shopping I picture those cards, so something charming or quirky or simply very representative makes a bigger impression.

    I'm certain you will hit all the right notes--the fact that you're inviting suggestions tells me that you care about your customers and customers-to-be.

    One last thing--postage can convince me to splurge a little or deter me from making a purchase. If the minimum postal rate is high, then I often won't buy that half yard of fabric I've been wanting, because I can't bear to spend more on postage than on fabric. If you take the weight/size of the purchase into consideration and are open to refunding an over-charge on postage, please consider making that clear on your website to encourage customers to dip in for even a small amount of something they've been wishing for.

    Away you go, Justine! Best wishes on your new venture/adventure.

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  53. As an international buyer what's most importnat form me is affordable shipping (although I'm in Europe and Simply Solids was more affordable than US shipping).
    What I'm buying more right now are nearly solids (I used Kona a lot but Right now I like to use a solid with a little "texture"): grunge, sketch, quilter's linen etc... When I'm making a quilt I already have a nice stash of printed fabrics but I'm always missing in the solids/nearly solids part.
    Congratulations to Justine and wish her all the luck!!!!

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  54. I love when there are suggested solids to go with the new patterned lines coming out. It takes the guesswork of colors on the monitor out when trying to get solids to match.

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  55. My favourite go to kona is Medium Grey - I'd want that stocked 24/7 because it's my go-to shade when I can't decide what else to use. Although dare I say it I've been using Klona a lot lately not Kona as it's so much cheaper and washes up so lovely. I'd also love to see a bigger range of things like linens, shot cottons, quilters linen - maybe focus on this rather than partial ranges of printed fabrics. Although maybe large width fabrics for quilt backings might be something to consider for the future. It would also be useful to have more details as to what solid colours play well with the popular new out ranges. Oh and the free shipping to the UK was a great incentive to buy from Simply Solids. Maybe the newsletter could feature quilters work using predominantly solid fabric, so to give people more ideas about the versatility of some of the fabrics they stock? Also, perhaps another thing Justine could eventually stock are the sort of blender type fabrics that make fab bindings. You know certain dots or stripes that really finish off a quilt? They'd compliment the solid element of the shop so well and I tend to see the best one's on other peoples quilts and don't notice them in online shops because they got lost among the more obvious patterned fabrics. Ok enough already. I went shopping last night at Simply Solids too :-)

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  56. Congatulations Justine and best of luck to Mandy in her new job. I'd like to see some bundles of co-odinating Moda solids, but not too expensive. Maybe 4-6 FQs in a bundle so the price doesn't go too high.

    I think it would encourage me to work with colours I don't normally buy but by having a whole bundle I know I will have at least a few other colours which would work with them.

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  57. Congratulations Justine! I am a kona solids lover the more the better! Available in lots of bright colors from FQ to Yds. I enjoy coupons once a week or month even. I also love good customer service.

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  58. I'm a great fan and user of Kona cottons so it's great to see you will be stocking them at a good price too, especially with free postage in the UK. Is there a special reason why you cost the fabrics by the half metre? It would be good if you stocked extra wide backing fabrics similar to the ones Katy has featured on her blog. And Jeans Stitch variagated threads made in Japan by YLI Corp. Linda on travjonuk@yahoo.com

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  59. As a relative newbie to the quilting game, I'm looking forward to placing my order for a Kona colour card from you so I can get started with matching up the right colours.

    I think then any ideas on what will work well with certain new & popular lines that you are maybe using or have your eye on would be really nice.

    Good luck

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  60. I relatively new to this world of fabrics and I love solids. Just discovered kona solids lately and love the ash, olive, the greys and the melon shades. Also I look for a reasonable shipping cost since that can really increase the price a lot. Also, it's nice if there are a few lightly patterned fabrics that are suggested to go with certain solid colours. That kind of thing is really helpful to new sewers. Thanks for the chance to win some fabrics and good luck with the new venture.

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  61. I'm sure Simply Solids is in great hands. I'd like to be able to buy stash builder fat quarter bundles in shades of the same colour(s) with solids, nearly solids & coordinating patterns.

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  62. Reasonable shipping prices and sales motivate me to shop online. I also like frequent shopper programs like I have with my brick and mortar shops around here as they motivate me to spend a little more if I can get something in the future (i.e. if I spend $25 ten times I can get $25 credit or something like that). I also suggest to have a search function for the fabrics by color as I have found that very helpful with other shops. From my experience looking at lots of blogs and my own personal choice I suggest stocking up on sketch fabric, grays/white/ash solids, and linen like textured fabric. Plus text fabrics seem to be hot right now....rightfully so.

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  63. Congrats on the new venture! I'd like to see more linen's and wide solids for backings would be really useful. Simply Solids was already my go to for solids and wadding, so if Justin continues with the same service, then I'll be a happy customer for sure! All the best x

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  64. Oh I am so glad you decided to continue the shop! I hope it will be very successful for you & the family.
    As I am on a tight budget, with not enough storage space and because I can't decide on JUST ONE fabric, I would LOVE to see 5 inch charm packs of all the gorgeous modern fabrics, including solids. I realise you can't stock ALL the fabrics but even a select range would be lovely.
    I would also like to see some of the linens as they seem to be hard to find.
    Best of luck with the venture, I will do my best to help with my spending.
    Warm regards, Lush x

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  65. Oooh, I nearly forgot.
    LOTS of fabrics with text please?
    L x

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  66. What amazing news Justine!!! Woohoo! Essex Linen please. Hearty congratulations and all the best for a booming business!!

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  67. Amazing news, major congrats Justine! =)

    Since everyone else has already suggested and repeated my main things (shipping, what solids match the precuts/lines especially with the whites, what white is it in the background? etc) I thought I'd touch on offers and such.

    The offer you had until yesterday (soo unhappy I sew it to late today) was such a fun and unusual one, to get random FQs with your order. I'm a sucker for surprise and I'd easily have ordered a few meters of this and that just to get a few random FQ's. =)

    When it comes to clubs and such, I'd love something like the Stash Stack Club (which I LOVE) over at Pink Castle Fabrics but with solids.
    Maybe "The Color Wheel Club"? If you subscribe for a year you'll get all the colors of the color wheel in solids. One color from the color wheel each month in a small set of FQ's in different shades to build a proper solid stash? It would be lovely to have something like that to look forward to along with my patterned ones =)

    For precuts I'd love to see some layer cakes especially, they're really hard to find in any nice, bright and modern lines (big Sweetwater fan here) on this side of the pond. Everything is so dark, dank and dreary....

    Can't wait to see Simply Solids grow under you hand Justine, it's always been an awesome store, so anything you do can just make it fantastic! =)

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  68. Yay go Justine! Love the idea of Pink Castle Stash Club but without the cost of the international shipping. Would love extra wide backing, solids or prints. I'm not fussed about precuts - have never really bought them, have recently used a free jelly roll but prefer to pick my own.
    Good luck to Justine, she's lucky to have a great bunch of supportive friends too!

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  69. Congrats to Justine:) I live quite far from major online shops so it would be great if shipping is more affordable, especially for fewer yards bought:p

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  70. Congratulations Justine!
    I like the idea of bloggers bundles and perhaps help matching solids with prints!
    Good luck with your new venture Justine1

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  71. hooray for Justine! :)
    I like scraps of other fabrics when I buy something, I know that sounds funny but I have actually bought fabric as a result of being sent little squares with an order! It's always nice to see things in real life since I practically always shop online!
    Reasonable postage is a must and offers of free postage are nice too!

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