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Tools & Supplies

A Special Trip to Mary Jo’s Cloth Store

Apr 29, 2009
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Senior technical editor Judith Neukam (left), and Coats and Clark's Nancy Jewell (right) and Lynne Browne (2nd from left) pose with Mary Jo (2nd from right). 

On a recent trip to North Carolina, we happened upon fabric heaven. If you live anywhere near Gastonia, North Carolina I’m sure you already know about this 58 year old gem of a fabric store and are probably on a first-name basis with Mary Jo. But if not, and you are anywhere within driving distance, then you need to make your way over to Mary Jo’s Cloth Store so you can get a piece of this fabric heaven for yourself. In fact, if you’re not in the area, then you need to make a special trip to Mary Jo’s. It’s that good.

Senior technical editor, Judith Neukam and I discovered Mary Jo’s while visiting with Coats and Clark for an article on how thread is made. On the way back from the Coats factory in Marion, North Carolina, our gracious hosts Nancy Jewell and Lynne Browne mentioned Mary Jo’s and that we simply must stop by; it really “couldn’t be missed”. 

With the New York fabric district at our fingertips here in CT, I thought I’d seen the best of what a fabric store could offer. But, what I saw when I got inside Mary Jo’s made my mouth drop open. Not only is it huge (we asked Mary Jo how large it was and she said “large enough”) it is chock full of some of the most gorgeous fabric you have ever seen.

We only toured one floor of the store, but on that floor we found ourselves wandering aisle upon aisle, touching and admiring beautiful bolts of fabric in every color and style imaginable with our awed faces permanently afixed. From drapery fabrics, to quilting and bridal fabrics, to trims, lace, and notions — you name it, they’ve got it. And, it’s organized in the most pleasing, user-friendly way: accessible, and with each section lovingly labeled with hand-made signs. 

We had the great pleasure of meeting Mary Jo and she shared the amazing story of how the shop got started. Click here and click on “Quick Tour” to hear the story from Mary Jo herself. If you just can’t make it to Mary Jo’s, then the website and blog are the next best thing. You can even find their current fabric selections and order online.

I left Mary Jo’s feeling a little sad that there wasn’t a comparable fabric store back home. While roaming the bridal section (I’m getting married in August) I actually got teary-eyed thinking about the wedding dress I could have made  with these fabrics and at the thought of not being able to shop at such a great place on a regular basis. This charming shop, and it’s owner had won over my fabric-loving heart. I just had to take home a little piece of Mary Jo’s with me. I did find a stunning floral trim and a few yards of silk organza which I’m going to make into a sash for my wedding gown.

Is there a fabric shop in your neighborhood that you just can’t live without? Share your favorite fabric store with us.

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  1. User avater mimmer123 December 5th

    After reading all the great things about MJ's store. I hope I can find the web site. I am always looking for new places to shop.

  2. User avater bkinyorkton November 25th

    Bring a franchise to Yorkton, Saskatchewan Canada! Your store looks sooooooo wonderfulllll :) ohhhhh,awwwwww :)

  3. lorrainek August 15th

    I live about three hours from the fabulous MaryJo's. I have other sewing buddies I go with and we just have a blast. I always spread the good word about MJ'S to every sewer I meet.
    So happy to see the store featured in you magazine.

  4. User avater mrschuck May 4th

    I have shopped at Mary Jo's for over 40 years. I no longer live in North Carolina, but still make trips to Mary Jo's when I can. A little over ten years I bought fabric to make bridesmaids and flower girl dresses for both of my daughter's weddings that were 6 weeks apart. I enjoy shopping at Mary Jo's and am now being to order from the internet. I am so glad that she started using that technology. The staff is great to work with

  5. User avater serger6055 May 4th

    Mary Jo's is a fabulous store! I am lucky enough to only live about 1 hour away and make the trip quite often. Her prices can't be beat and if you don't find what you are looking for there, it probably can't be had. If you sew, it's well worth the time to make the trip to Mary Jo's.

  6. vicky_north May 4th

    nancyjf,
    If you are having trouble opening links, you may be using a pop up blocker on your Internet browser. You will have to allow pop ups for threadsmagazine.com in order for the external links to open.

  7. I have been shopping at Mary Jo's for 40+ years and it is absolutely my favorite
    store. Thank goodness I live in Gastonia and can go by whenever I need something. Every time I go, it is always fun to see all of the out-of-state tags in the parking lot. As more and more people are finding out, it is well worth the trip.

  8. linturney May 4th

    Wow! I lived in Gastonia, NC for 12 years and my friend and I would spend hours at Mary Jo's often picking up the same bolt of fabric. I also was employed in Charlotte full time working for a company called American Thread which was purchased by Coats & Clark during the 80's to become Coats American. I know the mill in Marion, NC well. What memories this has brought back. Oh how I wish there was a Mary Jo's in my neck of the woods so I could again just go and spend the day with my friend, Catherine!

  9. quiltinforfun May 4th

    The links on the site work for me I have been shopping at Mary Jos for a long time-probably 16 years or so and as you said, I have always called it fabric Heaven. I go there for projects or to create projects. I love my local quilt shop but Mary Jos is the best because of the organization of it and the variety and price. Can't go wrong in Gastonia NC.

  10. nancyjf May 4th

    links in mary jo's article do not work

  11. Suki2 May 4th

    I have been shopping at Mary Jo's for over 35 years. Everyone is very knowledge about fabric & able to give advice on how to best sew a project. You didn't mention that all the fabric is DISCOUNTED ! One can justify buying twice as much when you see the savings. I now take my running list of "needs" and drive 300 miles each month to purchase all my sewing essentials.

  12. User avater alotofstitches April 29th

    How delightful to actually see the store I've ordered from! I always talk to Maggie in the mail-order department and she's ALWAYS been a big help. This store is one of my favorite online stores--in fact the blue silk used for the 1860's ensemble in the Reader's Closet came from Mary Jo's!

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