Family Bethlehem Star quilt

Family Bethlehem Star quilt

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The High Cost of Cotton

Thought as quilters, you might be interested in the following excerpt from a recent Marcus Brothers newsletter. A friend of mine forwarded this on and I checked to see about passing the info on to you. This newsletter is sent out to retail shop owners so I believe it would be okay to share. If I find out differently, it will be removed immediately. As a quilt shop owner in another life, I remember the days when cotton was $6.00 a yard and we were very nervous about how customers would react. In 2010 the price on the end of that beautiful fabric bolt has risen to $10.00 and beyond. A quality spool of 100% cotton thread is now $7 and up. Where are we headed as quilters in 2011? Read on...

" What is causing the price increases? First, there is a worldwide cotton shortage, now in its second year. The situation was significantly compounded by the flooding in Pakistan, which decimated the local cotton crops. Cotton prices are up over 100% from this time last year. Additionally, there are labor shortages, dollar devaluations and a list of global economic conditions in general; together, these affect the pricing on all products coming out of China. Not only has this created a shortage of greige goods for printing in China, but adversely affected the cost of the greige goods available worldwide. While we do print in Korea, the majority of the greige comes from China.
Looking ahead, what can we expect? We have experienced shortages in the past, but this particular set of conditions is like no other we have ever experienced in our 100-year history. In addition, greed and corruption are fueling extreme price fluctuations, as greige goods producers hold out for the best price. This cannot last forever, and hopefully the market will stabilize in the first quarter of 2011. The good news is that we are just now hearing that the cost of cotton is going down. However, these lower prices will likely not be reflected in the market for another six to nine months; as with any commodity, cotton costs rise faster than they fall. The challenge is that we must produce goods at today's pricing. It will be a difficult 2011 for all of us, both within the industry and beyond." (Marcus Brothers Fabrics)

One of my first thoughts upon reading this exquisite as our quilting fabrics are that come from overseas - and those countries do a fabulous job in quality cotton for quilting...what is holding the US back in reestablishing their own market? Most of our long ago cotton plantations no longer exist and our mills shut down quite a while back. Yes, we still grow cotton in this country, but with all the improved technology at our fingertips, why not increase cotton field production, reopen some of those mills with improved machinery and working conditions and put our people back to work.  I don't know about you, but even my clothing preference has always been for 100% cotton items and I have very strong feelings about shopping for my quilt fabric - it must come from those hardworking, creative independent quilt shops. Maybe by the Fall 2011 Quilt Market in Houston, we can hope to see a friendlier price trend. Making a quilt now requires much more additional planning and budgeting. Remember those old Cotton Industry commericals? For quilters, Cotton is the Fabric of Our Lives!

Thanks so much for visiting my new blog site - still a work in progress. You can also see other current postings at my WordPress site...The Journal of Taylorsoutback. But I am really growing fond of this Blogger place and the opportunities it offers. Thanks for your patience during this transition!! And I am just pleased as punch to see a list of Followers started - Thank you!!

Have a good weekend.

And keep on quilting.


  1. I sometimes feel this world is being consumed by the greed and corrumption of others. Cotton prices can be related to gasoline prices - we usually do not know what the crisis was, but you can be sure it never goes back to the pre-crisis price. I believe most of my friends have enough fabric to see them through (Lol)and are now sewing from scraps and stash as the fixed incomes leave us all trying to figure this out and looking for bargains. Two independent shops have closed in Raleigh in the last three months unfortunately and the remaining three are struggling. I do all I can for sure - just ask my DWH.

  2. Merry Christmas, Pat! I have missed my visits to you - found this one very interesting. I'm getting on, I guess, because I can remember when one could buy cloth milled in the USA and Canada and it was always considered very good quality. Think of all the people here who could be employed if our many mills were taken out of mothballs!

  3. Being over on the 'other' side of the world means that all our favourite fabrics are imported from the US. Our normal average price for quilting fabric is around the A$25 to A$29 per metre..! Thank goodness for online shopping and a strong dollar...

  4. I am finally going to be able to sell off most of my stash at $4 per yard. This makes me happy.
    Since I have been a fabric collector for 15 years.


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