Have you ever seen fabric companies offer a Pre-Order service and been unsure what they mean? Well read on and I’ll run you through what it means.


When a fabric company offers ‘Pre-orders’, what they mean is you pick and pay for your fabric before it is printed. Each company will have different delivery terms, but in general, most pre-orders that I have come across are anything from a 6-16 week turn around, and most averaging around the 12 week mark from when the pre-order closes, to when it arrives on your door. A company may choose this model as its difficult to gauge what customers might like and also not entirely practical to stock a large number of designs and bases.

A huge advantage I find with pre-ordering is the ability to choose the fabric base the artwork is printed on. Because you are paying for the fabric to be printed in advance, most companies will offer you a range of bases to choose. This means if you love a design and would prefer it on a swim fabric for example instead of a cotton lycra, you have the ability to get that done. In that same example, you could also get some printed in peach skin or board short material to match the swim for a co-ordinating outfit. That is definitely one of my favourite things about having a pre-order system.

Current October Pre-Order with Clover & Co Fabrics

It’s good to keep in mind when pre-ordering and time frames, that the time till delivery starts from when the pre-order closes, NOT necessarily from when you order. For example, if the pre-order opens on the first of the month and closes on the last day of the month with a 12 weeks turnaround, the 12 weeks starts from the end of the month, regardless of when you ordered within that month. Even if you had ordered on the 1st, when it opens, the artwork and order is not sent to the printer until the last day of the month, so its good to factor that into your time frames.

It can seem like a long time to wait for fabric and it does require an amount of future planning of what you will need the pre-order for. Doing this will help ensure your fabric will arrive in time for your intended project. I will admit I have had times where I have wanted it then and there, but I also like to think of it as a little gift to myself in the future. There is something exciting about receiving a package that I might have forgotten most of what I ordered and being inspired all over again when it arrives.

In Stock Fabric

The other type of fabric model is an in stock service. This is where the company will pay for the fabric upfront to be printed, bring it in to their store and then sell it. The only waiting you have to do is for them to pack it and the postie to deliver it!

An example of In Stock fabric from Clover & Co. Fabrics

While this is great for those that love an instant fabric hit and don’t like to wait, there are some disadvantages. For example, there may only be a small amount left that is not enough for your project. You may also not get the design you like in the base you wanted. This also carries risks for the business themselves as they are having to pay for the fabric up front and take a guess at how much to order in and what base they think their customers will like most. If a fabric doesn’t sell well, they have stock sitting on their shelf taking up space that they have had to pay for, making it difficult to recoup their initial outlay.

There are definite advantages and disadvantages to both, and I generally tend to do a little mix of both. I really do love the future presents to myself, but ordering and having it arrive a couple days later is also lots of fun!


With the pre-order model, its important to only order from reputable fabric businesses who have a good track record with delivering pre-orders. There can always be things outside of a company’s control, ie shipping delays or problems with printing that may effect a delivery from time to time, but if a company starts to get a reputation for not delivering, I wouldn’t be ordering from them. There is a facebook group that is quite helpful at checking if the company is reputable or not, Aussie Fabric Scams & Information. There are quite a few businesses listed in there and you can find out pretty quickly if a company has bad name or not. There is nothing worse than paying money for fabric and then it never arrives and you can’t get a refund. I recommend doing a little due diligence to make sure you won’t loose money.

Hopefully this helps clears up any confusion over the two different types of services fabric companies offer and will encourage you to give a pre-order a try. If you found this article helpful, I would love if you can share it on your socials to help educate others.