Sewing

Girl Charlee: a frank look

8/1/17 UPDATE:  I am unable to recommend Girl Charlee any longer.  Please feel free to read more here.

So, I’ve been drooling over the neat knit prints available at Girl Charlee for quite some time now.  The only thing holding me back were some reports I’d heard about the quality of their fabrics.

Well, that, and the fact that I am technically trying to “fabric fast” with a ton of other lovely folks over on Pattern Review.  My rules for my own fast are that I need to sew two yards for every one that I buy to decrease my stash.  This has not really been happening, but hey, oh well.

Anywho, after receiving some good advice on what to buy and what to avoid (mostly light prints and fabrics less than 8 oz) from the lovely Aleah (whose awesome Thread Theory top is pretty much responsible for spurring on my order) and HanPanda at Pattern review via the Fabric Fast thread (yes, I got advice on what to order from a group of people trying to abstain from purchasing fabric.  What can I say?  We support and enable.).

So, without further adieu…

Purchasing Experience

Girl Charlee’s website is pretty organized, but I still found some different colorways of prints that weren’t included anywhere in their navigation on the left, which was pretty weird and confusing.  I also wasn’t a fan of the fact that they don’t have a straight forward way for you to see ALL colorways for a single type of fabric.

That being said, their search function is pretty functional.  Type in “feathers” or “fawn” and you’ll get peacock feather fabric and cute little prancing deer.

I really like that once you have an account, you can add items to your cart and they are remembered for a long period of time.  I don’t actually know how long, because I haven’t tested it, but word on the street is they’ll stay in your saved cart within your account forever unless they sell out.  There’s also a “stash” feature to save fabrics you’re eyeing for later.

Most of the fabrics I looked at, with few exceptions, ran from about $6.30 to $6.90 per yard.  So, pretty reasonable for every day regular pricing, but not as awesome as a Fabric Mart sale can be.  (I may be a little biased…)  I ended up with 18 yards for a total of $107.82 (including the 10% coupon below), which worked out to $5.99/yard on average.

New customers receive a 10% off coupon, which I believe is only applicable toward a purchase of $99 or more, and is also the threshold for free shipping.  The coupon is only good for two weeks from the date of registration, though, so it made me feel like the clock was really ticking once I’d signed up.

Shipping

Spending essentially $100 to get free shipping also seems a bit high to me, but I can’t really complain since most of my fabric comes from Fabric Mart where there’s an $8.75 shipping charge per order no matter how much you spend.  Though, I feel like I can make up for the shipping cost with sales at FM.

It took 2 solid business days for me to receive shipping confirmation for my order.  This isn’t that long, and is communicated in the shipping section of their website, but I was antsy to get my fabrics so I could get them prepped for the Wardrobe Contest.

GC is located in California and I live in Wisconsin; from the date of purchase, it took EIGHT days for me to receive my fabric via UPS.  I’m not gonna lie; it felt like forever.  I can only imagine that the wait for East coasters is 9-11 days.

I was not very pleased with how my order was packaged.

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This is what I like to call the “brick of drugs” packaging.  I understand why they do it:  poly mailers and tape are cheaper and lighter than boxes.  However, I’m always afraid I’m going to cut my fabric in a bad place when attempting to open such packages.  Spoiler alert:  I successfully did not eff up any of my fabric!

Fabric

Here’s my first glance at my goodies.
UntitledI always measure my fabric to make sure I haven’t been shorted, and I wasn’t with any fabric in my order.  There were some pieces that were pretty close, though; they definitely don’t give you extra like other places do.

I washed all of my fabrics on warm using the “free and clear” laundry detergent du jour (we’re using Up&Up AKA Target brand at the moment) and tumble dried (with Bounce dryer sheet) completely on medium, and they all came through like champs.  Huzzah!

There was some shrinkage, seeing as these are all cottons, but nothing crazy enough to write home about.

And since I’m a tactile person, I thought I’d share with you exactly what I bought and what my brain and fingers think of each cut:

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First, the 3 yard cuts

Black Solid Cotton Spandex Knit

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Fiber content/weight: 95% cotton/5% spandex; 10 oz.
Prewash hand:
  has a soft, but not too soft hand.
Postwash hand:  Softened up a bit more
Weight/recommended use:  Not super beefy, but definitely has some good weight to it. Could use it for lighter leggings and would make a great dress.  Heck, I think it would also be good as a top.  A really versatile, all purpose fabric.
Stretch:  Very good 4 way stretch, true to website description.
Would I buy it again?  Hell yeah!

Coral Peach Floral on Slate Gray Cotton Jersey Blend

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Teal Orange Cherry Blossom Floral Cotton Jersey Blend

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These two are the same fabric in different prints, so I’m just going to lump them together.

Fiber content/weight: 50% cotton/50% polyester; 7.5-8 oz.
Prewash hand:
  Stiff hand.  Made me feel like a sad panda
Postwash hand:  Softened up to a level that made my sad panda-ness dissipate.  Whew.
Weight/recommended use:  This is definitely a top weight.  You might eke a dress out, but…eh…
Stretch:  Very little 2 way (cross-wise, of course) stretch.  Maybe 10-15%.  Website says 30%
Would I buy it again?  Eh, I dunno.  The prints are cute, (but the gray print turned out a lot “muddier” looking in person than it appeared on my monitor.  Not so happy about that.) but I would need a definite plan for what I was making (AKA something that doesn’t require really any stretch) to buy this fabric for myself again.  As a fan of spandex, this pretty much means it’s a no go going forward.  Unless I am super allured by a cute new print; then, all bets are off.

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Next, the 2 yard cuts

Gray Rose Floral on Black Modal Cotton Spandex Knit

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Fiber content/weight:  98% modal cotton/2% spandex; 9 oz.
Prewash hand:
  Stiff, ucky hand.  Almost coarse.  WTF, when I see that something is modal, the first thing I think it soffffft.  What a let down.
Postwash hand:  Lost its coarseness, but still doesn’t feel as delightful and I expected.
Weight/recommended use:  Top or dress
Stretch:  Good 4 way stretch, true to website description.  Its one redeeming quality.
Would I buy it again?  Probably not.  It was kind of a let down.

Big Black Chevon on White Cotton Spandex Blend

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Fiber content/weight:  Cotton Rayon Spandex Blend (doesn’t indicate how much of each on site); 8 oz.
Prewash hand:
  This fabric has all of the wonderful properties of a good rayon spandex.  Smooth, wonderfully soft hand.
Postwash hand:  I WANT TO ROLL IN IT.
Weight/recommended use:  Top.  It’s a bit see through, so that’s your only option without having to really think about lining.  Make a top, pop a cami under it, and you’re done.
Stretch:  Good 4 way stretch, true to website description.
Would I buy it again?  YES.  It is completely delightful.  If I could Scrooge McDuck a vat of this fabric, I would.

Heather Blush Pink Solid Cotton Spandex Knit (not available at the moment, so no link)

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Fiber content/weight:  95% cotton/5% spandex; 10 oz (didn’t write it down, but I’m pretty sure it has the same composition and weight as the black cotton spandex)
Prewash hand:
  Has a soft, but not too soft hand.
Postwash hand:  Softened up SO MUCH.  Even more than its black counterpart.  Such a lovely feeling cotton spandex.
Weight/recommended use:  Top or dress.
Stretch:  Great 4 way stretch, true to website description.
Would I buy it again?  Yes.  This one’s a winner. I also have a hard time buying pink fabrics online, and found that this one was very Goldilocks for my taste.

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Last but not least, the 1 yard cuts

Stretch Denim Blue Orange Cotton Spandex Blend Knit

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Fiber content/weight:  63% Cotton/33% Poly/4% Spandex; 9-10 oz
Prewash hand:
  As expected for something that’s called a denim knit.
Postwash hand:  Not much change.
Weight/recommended use:  Light women’s jeggings or baby pants (the latter of which I’m using mine for! :D)
Stretch:  OK 4 way stretch, true to website description.
Would I buy it again?  Maybe.  It will depend on how much I like sewing it for this cut, I believe.  I do like how it has the denim colored face and orange back.

Fox Family on Aqua Cotton Jersey Blend

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Black Mustachio on Heather Gray Cotton Jersey Blend

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These are the same fabric as the rose/cherry blossom above, so you can read that for my review.  The only change is that I probably WILL buy more of these cutie prints for baby clothes, as long as I like how they sew up and wear.

So, that’s all she wrote!  Hope that wasn’t too boring.  I kind of got a little yawny near the end myself.

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19 thoughts on “Girl Charlee: a frank look”

  1. I enjoyed reading this! I did a haul/review video of Girl Charlee last summer, and every time I’m tempted by their cute prints I think back to how I’ve been repeatedly disappointed by them! The shipping to Canada is pricy and slow for any store, so I’m done with messing around with dubious quality!

  2. This was the opposite of boring! I love reading truthy reviews of fabric retailers, because it helps this can’t-stop-won’t-stop fabric shopper decide where (or NOT!) to shop online. I’ve never shopped at GC and probably won’t start, but that B&W chevron vat-worthy fabric looks and sounds amaaaaazing! I’m glad you got things that you are (mostly) happy with and hope you (and baby!) love the finished garments.

    And OMG the “brick of drugs” thing is hilarious!! I don’t totally hate that (easier to store unopened than boxes, waterproof, could theoretically be opened with brute strength/teeth in a pinch…) but I don’t totally love it, either (totally obvious to DH that it’s fabric in there, OMG DID THE USPS TEAR IT???, looks like drugs…). Thanks for the LOL-worthy description for that packaging style though–now I can’t un-see it! =)

    1. Time will tell! I am also hoping I don’t regret my purchase. Set to cut into two of the cuts I bought this weekend and am crossing my fingers.

      I hate the uncertainty of the brick packaging. I see your point, but you also know the fear of torn/ripped/cut fabric!!!

  3. Fabric delivered in the mail is probably a little like crack for me… perfect analogy with the ‘brick o drugs’ reference!!! I’ve been eyeing so many of the fabrics you list here, so super helpful, particularly the florals.

  4. Very thorough review, and very consistant with my experiences with GC. They always come in the brick, but because I’m only 100 miles from where they’re based, I generally get my fabric in like two days.
    I actually bought the double-sided denim jersey also (but green) and used it for a pair of Hudsons, and I like the color but it pilled really quick in the inner thigh area… baby pants will be a perfect use for it – outgrown before worn out! I tend to avoid rayons for pilling reasons, but I hope your awesome chevron fabric fares better.
    It is generally such a bummer that all the best prints are on such rough and un-stretchy fabric… Is there seriously no market for nice jersey with cool prints?

    1. Ugh…how disappointing, and thanks for the heads up! I will to use it to make him pants when he’s immobile. LOL

      Yeah, I hear ya on rayon. I hate how it pills, but my love for how it feels outweighs its longevity.

      I don’t really understand why they can’t pop some of their cut prints onto something with spandex. Sure, maybe that’s not the best quality, either, but at least it stretches like a knit is supposed to! I feel like there probably is somewhere that sells cool jersey prints, but I am not willing to pay as much as they want for them.

  5. I don’t live in the USA so can’t order from GC. I’m also on a fabric fast/stash bust. But still I read avidly, drawn in by the first picture of those fabrics peeping out of the split polythene parcel. “Brick of drugs” – quite apt.

  6. Thanks for the review! I have a lot of the same thoughts on ordering from them. I actually did cut one of my chiffon fabrics when opening their packaging. It was super disappointing, but luckily I was able to make that piece work and the quality of it was worth it. I have gotten a couple of their prints which were completely off grain and made it awkward to sew. I have also ordered one of their Hacci sweater knits which pilled so terribly when washed. I have been wanting to try their Vegan leather but am super scared too.

    1. Ugggh…nooooo! That’s the worst. And you want to blame them for how you packaged it, but then you feel like you need to blame yourself for not being careful enough. Thank goodness you were able to work around it.

      I really thought about ordering a hacci, but had a feeling it would not end well (AKA pill, like yours did!). People on their Facebook page seem to like the vegan leather (let’s just call it what it is: pleather), but then again, people on their Facebook page LOOOOVE everything about all of their fabrics.

      1. I have to agree with you about the people on their FB page. A LOT of Kool Aid has been drunk lol! I guess I must’ve ingested some, because I just ordered $100 worth of fabric from GC today (including the vaunted KnitFix).

        I’ve been pretty happy with my purchases so far, and have managed to not cut my fabric when opening (my 5YO daughter opened a package last night with scissors and I was TERRIFIED. She was super careful and all is well!). But I am definitely going to measure before/after washing and double check the pattern/grainline to make sure I can use the fabric.

        Thanks for the great review, especially the floral!

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