Mary Fons is Selling Off Her Fabric Stash! (A Bunch of It, Anyway)

posted in: Quilting 65
The glory goes on and on, believe me. Photo: Jazzy.



There comes a time in any blog’s serialized tale of woe that it must break the bonds of the narrative to announce a big, fat, juicy fabric stash sale. I’ll give you alllll the details in just a sec. First, let me tell you why I’m about to sell off a huge chunk of my personal fabric stash because many of you may be thinking that either I’m giving up quilting or I have been hit on the head by a coconut. Neither are even remotely true!

I am selling off a large portion of my personal fabric stash … because I moving to a pet-friendly apartment! Yes! It’s the best thing ever! The only downside is that the space I’m moving to is way smaller than where I’m at now. Stuff’s about to get real, y’all. So …

Beginning Friday, March 22, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. (CST), I will be auctioning off a significant chunk of my personal fabric stash on eBay.
The auction will be live for five days, ending at midnight, March 27th. 

***If you don’t want to read the reason/story behind why I’m doing this and just want to know how to get the fabric, skip ahead to “How This Will Work”!***

Announcing the fabric sale means speeding ahead in the story of my recent major depression, but honestly, it’s kind of a relief to take a break. It may be interesting, but by its very nature, it’s a real drag. So like, can we all just roll around in fabric for a while? Great!

The good news is that the breakdown story concludes with multiple happy endings, and this new dog-friendly living space is one of them for sure.

After the veto of Philip Larkin, so many of you encouraged me to find a new place to live — and you were right. I started looking at condos a couple months ago and found a perfect unit in a 10-floor building a few blocks north of downtown. It was love at first click. This condo checked all my boxes: puppy approved, in a vintage building in a safe neighborhood, with generally good vibes — everything I was looking for. The listing said the seller was “very motivated”, which made sense because the unit had been on the market for half a year. There’s nothing deeply flawed about it; it’s just that with no parking space, a narrow kitchen, and in need of a serious paint job, it makes it a hard sell for a lot of people. But the place was out of my price range by a lot. It was going to take a whole lot of “motivation” to get that number down enough for me to even think about making an offer.

But then one day, I got an alert that the price dropped. Cool, but it was still too expensive for me to seriously consider it. Then, about a month later, the price dropped again. Woah. We were entering the realm of possibility, now. Could this actually happen?? I contacted the realtor my family has worked with in the past and asked her if she had time for a chat. She did, and chatting commenced.

The process was agonizingly slow for weeks and then everything began moving fast. I scraped together all my savings and my IRA monies for a downpayment. After considerable drama, I applied for and got a decent mortgage loan. I crunched the numbers over and over. By renting the place I’m in now, I can pay my mortgage and my HOA fees at the new place. My realtor and I made our offer. The seller countered. We countered back. And then the answer came: Our offer was accepted. At this news, there was much squeaking and hand-flapping and I may have done several laps around my current apartment. Inspections were ordered. Appraisals, too. Checks were handed over. And just yesterday, the closing date is confirmed: March 29th, 2019. That would be next Friday, and I’m not freaking out at all.

Now that you know what’s going on, it’s time to talk about this fabric. You’ve waited so patiently.

The new, totally fabulous place is a one-bedroom. My current place is a two-bedroom. This single-woman-in-a-two-bedroom setup has been a great luxury for me as a quilter, since that back bedroom could serve as my lil’ fabric stockroom. My stash has grown over the years because duh, but also because with so much room back there, I could just keep filling it. Every yard, every fat quarter I purchased was brought in with love and excitement and I am fond of every bit of it. Suddenly, though, I’ve got serious problems. I do not have room for this stash. The only way I could keep all this would be to store a lot of it in my new kitchen cupboards and that would be crazy. Please tell me that would be crazy. (Thank you.)

What, then, are my options for significantly reducing a fabric stash? The way I figure, there are three: get a storage unit, give it away, or sell off a bunch of it.

A storage unit is out of the question. Fabric belongs in quilts, not in grimy storage units. Besides, it’s gross to keep a horde of fabric like that all to myself just because I bought it and love it. Other quilters might love it, too, and they could put it to good use. Donating sounds good, but it’s not as easy as you think to donate fabric. The Goodwill isn’t excited about getting boxes of raw yardage, and so few schools do sewing projects anymore, I haven’t found a single school that will take fabric donations. I have several boxes to send to a local guild for use in charity quilts, but as I thought about sending it all away, I thought, “Well, wait a second, Fons. You purchased this fabric. You have taken good care of it. You have a new, scary mortgage. It’s okay to sell things. It’s not evil.” This is an important note for me and for us all, maybe? Consciously or subconsciously, there exists a certain uncomfortability about making money on a quilt or selling one’s supplies when one could give every last scrap to charity. Quilts and money have a complicated relationship, but a fabric garage sale does not make me or anyone else a bad person. Some may disagree and that’s okay. I know how much a crosstown move costs in the city of Chicago and also I would like to eat food.


How This Will Work

My lovely assistant Jazzy came over last week and we hauled out all my fabric. It was pretty crazy in here. We brought in dozens of Medium-Sized USPS Flat-Rate boxes and filled each of them with a lovely variety of fabrics from my stash. Some cuts were excruciating to part with, but I was firm in my resolve. Each box was able to hold a lot of fabric. There’s Kaffe, Tula, Moda, Art Gallery; there are prints, solids … everything. Each box is a grab bag, but don’t worry: My fabrics are awesome. Some of the boxes are filled with smaller cuts, mostly fat quarters; other boxes are filled with large cuts of serious yardage, somewhere around four yards in some cases. It’s impressive or depressing, depending on how you look at it.

But there’s more than fabric in these boxes.

My book, Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts For the 21st Century, is now out of print. There won’t be any more in all of existence once my inventory is gone. I now have five boxes of books left, and two of them have to be saved for a couple gigs later this year. When my books are gone, they gone. But I don’t have room in the new place for these boxes, either, so I autographed a whole bunch of books and Jazzy and I put one inside each box.

“Mary!” you cry, “I must have one of these boxes! I love fabric and I want your book and I want to help you live! How much??”

Each box starts at $50.00, including shipping. I’d like to explain how I got that number:

As you probably know, USPS Flat-Rate Boxes (FRBs) are prepaid. FRBs were the only way to go, otherwise Jazzy and I would be at the post office for one fafillion years and everyone in line would be murdering us — with good reason. The boxes ain’t cheap, though: A medium-sized box is around $15 bucks. But we could pack a ton heavy fabric in each box and the poundage was irrelevant. The price of the boxes also accounts for the signed book, which retails for $22. A yard of quilt shop-quality fabric hovers around $12/yard. If you pick up a medium-sized FRB, you’ll get an idea of how much yardage each box is going to contain. Once we added all that up, we decided $50 bucks looked pretty fair. All the pre-washed fabric comes directly from my smoke-free, pet-free (!) home. Oh, and I put a fun certificate of authenticity in there, too, just to be cheeky.

There are 63 boxes that will be listed on eBay tomorrow. DO NOT JUDGE ME. If folks want the boxes, just put in the bid. If no one else bids higher, the box is yours when the auction ends. If the boxes don’t sell at all, I will weep and then I will donate everything, but I have to try this first.

If you’re interested in having a fun with this, be on the lookout here in my blog and on my Facebook page tomorrow morning when I post the link to the eBay page. I’ll do it early so you can get it all loaded up if you want to bid. The eBay page will give you all the above info and more. You are welcome to ask questions in the comments and either Jazzy or I will do our best to answer. As soon as the auction is over, the boxes ship out because heaven knows I need to get them out of here before the move happens on Monday. I’m still not freaking out at all. Do you happen to have any Tums?

And if this garage sale table excites you, just wait: I’m going to be selling a few quilts, too. More on that later.

65 Responses

  1. Paulette
    | Reply

    Good for you! Glad things are better and I’ll cross my fingers for a future sale of fabric from your “smoke free pet filled” home.

  2. Cindy
    | Reply

    Happy for you! I know it’s hard to give up the stash! But you will gain a puppy!
    I look forward to the auction and the quilts for sale!

    • Linda
      | Reply

      You are an inspiration! Hard choices but good ones being made for your health and happiness. ♥️

  3. Donna Dougherty
    | Reply

    Congratulations on finding that special new place to live. That is not an easy task especially when you are not feeling your best. I too am already selling some of my things because I need to move for my sanity but can’t yet because I have my canine kid Lucky that was a stray rescue. He showed up 9 years ago and I believe he had been abused. He’s afraid of about everything. And he an American Staffordshire which isn’t welcome in most places. So I wish you the very best I will check out your auction.
    Love your strength to share what you are going through. Thank you.

  4. Jennifer Reinke
    | Reply

    OH MY GOODNESS! This is awesome!

    • jacqueline peery
      | Reply

      Will you have a “buy it now” button option?

  5. Carol Odell
    | Reply

    Omg. Mary, I will be on the watch for this. ❤

  6. Elizabeth
    | Reply

    Look at you making lemonade out of lemons! Keep moving forward, good things are already happening. Best of luck with the sale and best wishes today and always.

    • Kathy Isaacks
      | Reply

      Very happy for your good news Mary! I hope you and Phillip Larkin have a long happy life together! Looking forward to your sale and hearing more about him. Photos too!

  7. Gina
    | Reply

    So excited for this new chapter, Mary! You are just the best 🙂

    • Rob Mac
      | Reply

      Glad you found your way around the wall that was stopping you from having your puppy. Instead of going thru the wall or over or under sometimes you just need to find a way around it. Congrats. Wishing you good renters for your condo.

  8. Cynthia Luke
    | Reply

    I am so happy your doing well. New place is such a great feeling. I know how you feel about parting with your stash. I had to do the same years ago. It feels good to give to others even when you sell your fabric and books. Time is a good thing and all will work out. Keep the faith.

  9. Donna
    | Reply

    I am happy for you and look forward to seeing a picture of your future puppy and hearing all about him/ her.

  10. Patty Stagl
    | Reply

    Purging is good for the soul. You are moving forward in a sane and healthy way. I’m excited and happy for you and Philip Larkin!❤️

  11. Kathleen
    | Reply

    Hope I can figure this out! ( remember, I sewed my square wonky in Racine!?) I have been so sad about Phillip. Glad to see you are moving!

  12. Debbie Taylor
    | Reply

    Mary, you will be in my prayers as you transition into a new home. His exciting! So grateful that you want to share a little part of you with us. May you be blessed in this new chapter and may your new home be a new start. We are dog lovers too and cannot imagine our lives without dogs. Great that your place allows you to have one.

  13. NotThatJen
    | Reply

    This is a FANTASTIC idea. Forge ahead, great things lay there (lay. lie? lay? I never know)! In any event, a cuddly face-licking puppy is where it’s at!!! and beats a pile of non-face-licking fabric to fill the heart who has longed for him all these years. Congrats Mary, this is awesome!

  14. Debora
    | Reply

    So proud of the progress you are making. Take care of YOU!

  15. Jeanne Glick
    | Reply

    Good for you! . Congratulations on your new digs – a judgment free zone which you can share with a furry companion. Happy to read this news. And as the owner of a burdensome stash who salivates when she sees a new line – letting go of it sounds so freeing!

  16. Angela Baker
    | Reply

    Oh Mary Fons, you are a joy. I DO have your book and love everything about it. I have every issue of Quilty when you were its creative force. I grieve to learn you’ve suffered major depression lately but am even more fond of you for explaining it so matter of factly as it is so unfortunately common. I thought your narrative was going to end somewhere in Marie Kondo territory, rather than Small Condo territory. But all your number one fans, like me, are excited for your new adventure! Please post some photos somewhere of the before and after of what you do with your new dazzling bachelorette pad!

  17. Helen
    | Reply

    Congrats! My husband died four years ago and I moved last year. I will always have the memories but I didn’t need the
    “shadows” in my life. Moving is hard – treat yourself to whatever treats you enjoy (wine, chocolate come to mind). A fresh start is always good – and a puppy!

  18. Janice
    | Reply

    Great thinking. Is this USA only?

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Yes! Just USA, sweet Janice. The Flat-Rate thing dictates it. But I love you!

      • Janice
        | Reply

        Understandable…but in my mind I bought one!

  19. C a Treesh
    | Reply

    Mary, I’m so glad you are better. I Would love to have one of your boxes. I know the fabric well be fabulous. Take care. Lv.

  20. pat garcia
    | Reply

    I can feel the happiness in you writing. You will love your new place! Congratulations to you. I am sew excited about your garage sale.

  21. Shirley
    | Reply

    The puppy you are getting is he the one you thought you could have or will you have to wait for another litter? Cheering you on .

  22. Claire Popp
    | Reply

    Hooray! Dog coming soon!!!!

    I reallllllly want one of these boxes, and your book, and your cheeky certificate. I’m not a pre-washer though–is there enough fabric in each box to make an entire quilt? And do they coordinate at all?

  23. shawn
    | Reply

    I can’t find the ebay link

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Not up yet, Shawn! Soon!

  24. Sher
    | Reply

    Yay! Such great news! And more great news on top of great news! Can’t wait to see your fabric, etc., but more importantly, I cannot wait to hear that you’ve gotten your new baby!!

    Great things ahead, Mary Fons!

  25. Kate
    | Reply

    Soooo glad you’ve found a way to have Phillip in your life!

  26. Barbara
    | Reply

    So happy you’re moving to a pet friendly home. I call it a home because that’s what is will be when you move in and make it yours. Your Philip Larkin is waiting for you! Feel good Mary. xo

  27. Vivian
    | Reply

    Happy, happy, happy for you and Philip Larkin! Even though downsizing is/will be hard, the love of your new pup will make up for it!! So, sew, sew very happy for you. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! (yes, I am yelling, but it’s happy squealing, yelling)

  28. Judy
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your new place.

  29. Mary Lu Booker
    | Reply

    I am ecstatic for you. You needed Philip and the move was a great idea! You’re smart, you’ll be fine. Congratulations!

  30. Maria Murphree
    | Reply

    BRAVO! I’m proud of you! You are grabbing hold of the FUTURE and moving forward.

  31. Kathy H
    | Reply

    This is wonderful all the way around!

  32. Tami Von Zalez
    | Reply

    Mary, this is excellent news – that you have made a major change toward your happiness.
    I kinda want some of your fabric simply because it was yours. I can say my quilt will contain Mary Fons Fabric. How cool is that?

  33. Carole Sullivan
    | Reply

    HI MARY…I used to sell some things on Ebay, and I swap fabrics with a cousin that lives on the east coast and I can vouch for you that the box (with the book in there) can hold 14 to 17 yards of fabric! so this is quite a deal. I am so excited for you to be moving to your space. YOUR HOME!!! makes a difference when you leave it and lock the door, as opposed to renting. and a PUP to keep you company….seems pretty darn perfect to me!!!! easiest way to downsize, too!

  34. Anna Lapid
    | Reply

    Bravo…..I hope you will be able to unload your curated boxes of awesome fabrics. Like you I have to downsize too because of a pending divorce. But if you don’t, consider donating to the Navajo Quilt Project (and there addresses to the senior centers and housing authorities on the reservation) at ……

  35. Nadine
    | Reply

    Whoop whoop! This is awesome news in every way! I am clapping my hands together over here for you!!! I totally think you are making the right decision on everything! I have tears of happiness in my eyes for you- seriously ❤️ I want to bid on the fabric and do my part and help you along your way. I am not good with the computer so please lead me/ us by the hand in every step on how to get to the right site and do this! Bravo Mary!

  36. Helen G
    | Reply

    Will there be a way to pick which box we would want? Also, can someone who doesn’t use facebook participate? excited for your blessings…..a sweet little doggie! Doesn’t get much better!

  37. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    And the stars align*****Congrats on the Phillip Larkin solution.

  38. Maggie VanBrunt
    | Reply

    I’m thrilled that you’re moving to a pet friendly apartment.

  39. Johanna
    | Reply

    If you have any fabric to donate, contact a Lutheran denomination church in your area. A lot of them have quilting groups that make quilts for Lutheran World Relief and local hospitals. We love accepting donations.

  40. Peggy
    | Reply

    Congratulations! The short term pain will be soooo worth a Philip Larkin! We’re getting ready for a move too, so I know how enormous the effort is, believe me! Best wishes!!

  41. KellyG
    | Reply

    Yes!!!! So excited for you and your puppers! I’ll take two! Boxes that is

  42. Rebecca
    | Reply

    Fun! I want some for SURE! Your spirit would certainly inspire a project. This is an unrelated question- I wonder, did it help you to have people offer advice or were you thinking it anyway? I was hoping you would move, but I knew you would figure out what was best for you without my advice. I’m naturally a bosser as a big sister, and have been trying to tone it down over the last couple years for the sake of my friends and family. What kind of advice giving did you find supportive?

  43. Pam Williams
    | Reply

    Doing the happy dance in Memphis!!!
    So happy for you!!!!!

  44. Gerry
    | Reply

    A great solution! Hard to part with fabric I know—good for you to do this. I hope all the boxes sell.

  45. Sue Lohr
    | Reply

    Love what you are doing, and I’m 99.9% sure they will be SOLD by noon. However – IF you have any fabric left, please consider donating it to Living Threads Ministry in Zeeland, Michigan. I volunteer there, making memory quilts which funds Bible classes and meals for over 500 children in the Kibera Slum of Kenya. A double blessing you can give to families here and there. Thank you!

  46. Deborah Kurowski
    | Reply

    Hi Mary! I love this idea! Can’t wait to see what is up for auction, I do want a box!! But…I would also love to see pictures of the new condo! I love to see how others decorate and just live in their spaces!! Good luck with the move!!

  47. Becky Garten
    | Reply

    Rest assured that your fabric is going to good homes. Congratulations on the move!

  48. Charlotte
    | Reply

    I needed happy news today and you just gave it to me. The news that you are moving to a new pet-friendly apartment makes me warm and fluffy and teary-eyed. Go you!

  49. Barbara
    | Reply

    I’m so excited about your move and your progress. I have a huge stash of fabric also, but if it came down to a choice between my two pups or my fabric, I wouldn’t think twice and the fabric would be gone. You are an awesome person and you will make a wonderful, responsible puppy owner.

  50. Mary, you’ve always been such a wonderful lady and a quilting friend. Wishing you well for your upcoming move and what a cool idea to part with your stash and share it with others!

  51. Judy Murray
    | Reply

    I have one suggestion for you, look up the book “Before You Get Your Puppy” by Dunbar (can’t remember his first name right now). It is available on line, he has a lot of classes in dog/puppy training. If you start out right everything is so much easier, no retraining.

    Glad to hear you are feeling better, and I know the puppy will help a lot.

  52. Linda Drew
    | Reply

    I can’t find a link to the auction. Help!!

  53. […] Yesterday, I announced a fun thing you can read about right here! […]

  54. Bob Collis
    | Reply

    Oh Mary, (me, taking a deep breath) I’m so happy and relieved that things are looking up! I’ll (we’ll) be anxious to hear updates on your new place, and Philip Larkin.

  55. Lesley
    | Reply

    I’m so happy for you that ‘things’ are finally going your way and little Pipkins can finally live with his mistress Fons. I have some Larkin literature I’ve been meaning to send you for months – is your the same address? Good luck with your move on Monday.

  56. Jess Irwin
    | Reply

    I have sold a TON of fabric and I feel zero guilt about it. I dig through estate sales to get some amazing finds, clean it and press it, and keep the stuff I want. The stuff I that doesn’t make my quits sing? Ebay. People who can’t/won’t go find them then have access to amazing midwestern vintage cotton. (I sell a lot of it to places like NY and California.) It’s a great system! Plus it puts money back in the kitty for, you know, groceries.

    This is a great idea, and I’m bidding! I’m so glad you are getting your puppy, and also – look at you, real estate mogul! I’m so proud. Hugs!

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