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Fabric Inheritance

aakira | Posted in General Discussion on

My mother sewed for me her whole life and I grew up very spoiled with custom fit, designer clothing.  I was fortunate to pick up a bit of sewing skill and sew for myself, when I have time.  Mom was always buying fabric and patterns, even though she had way more fabric than any one person could hope to sew up in a single lifetime, but it was her candy so she bought it.  Unfortunately, mom fell ill with cancer and passed very quickly last year and I have now inherited her huge trove of fabric and patterns.  She and I occasionally agreed on the two and I have selected many pieces and patterns from her collection that I want to make into items for myself.  I am still left with an ENORMOUS inventory of a wide range of hundreds of yards of pristine, never cut fabric.

Does anyone out there have an idea on how I might sell this as a “case lot” to a warehouse or other reseller?  I am reluctant to do this via eBay or Craigslist because I just don’t think that’s a good way to go, but perhaps someone out there has a different experience.

I would really appreciate hearing any suggestions.  Thanks for your help!


  1. Lovessewing | | #1


    Just a thought - if you do sell the whole lot to a warehouse/reseller, you won't get much money for those treasures.

    If you have the time & energy for such a project, please consider selling those items on http://www.patternreview.com which is a wonderful site.  Maybe you could divide up the fabrics into a "bundle lot" of two or three coordinated pieces (if there are fabrics that can be grouped together).  Who knows - I may even be one of your customers?  :)

    I can only imagine & drool over the wonderful fabrics you now have.  My mother threw out everything left from her grandmother who was a professional seamstress.

    NEW:  I also thought that, if nothing else works out for you, you might want to donate the entire lot to the costume department of your local theater or opera house.  Perhaps you might even receive a tax deduction for the value of the donated goods from the theater or opera?

    Edited 2/11/2009 10:40 am ET by Lovessewing

    1. aakira | | #2

      Thank you for the tip on the site - I will check that out!   I like the suggestion of grouping some pieces together and selling them that way.  I just know that right now, I don't have time to measure and tag each piece - we're talking a LOT of fabric!  Mom was a master seamstress - she could do ANYTHING.  If I live to be her age, I doubt I will ever be as good.  I still shy away from buttons and zippers - I get very nervous just thinking about trying to line a jacket but for her, it was a piece of cake.

      One option that had been suggested to me early on is to have an estate sale at the house once it's sold and see if the fabric might be sellable then.  If that doesn't prove to be a good idea, then I will likely bring all of the fabric to my house and over time, try to find a way to sell it (I have already donated and given alot to mom's friends.)

      1. Ceeayche | | #3

        I have a similar challenge. I can't remember which chat thread here on Gatherings but someone on this site recommended a couple things that I'm going to work on (I'm currently on business travel) when I return home next month:

        1. Group some of the unspectacular and quirky items and donate to the local high school performing arts department.  Basics are always welcome and some of the quirkly stuff may be embraced for costumes.  Subtle patterns will be lost on stage anyway.  Upon my reserach, I was surprised that one of the drama teachers dispared over where to store it.  However, I have a lead on a couple of non-profits who may be interested--including one church that has a thriving drama ministry.  Also, someone on one of the non-profit boards that I sit on suggested I find another non-profit that makes things like quilts for the armed forces, or bears to comfort kids after a tragedy, or heart pillows heart patients, etc. and donate them there.

        2. Select special lengths and make something special for special friends of my mother.  I like this idea.  And have set aside a couple of silks-- i figure maybe scarves might work.  She wore them a lot and it's not too ambitious-- so I might get it done by mother's day (my goal).

        3.  This one is mine:  I'm promised myself five pieces that are truely beyond my reach right now.  I'm going to keep them and use them as inspiration to improve my skills. Someday I'll feel I have them and I'll use the fabric then.

        Like you I'm in the midst of trying to set mom's house, so this project may be delayed a couple more months.  I wish you strength and comfort as you pass through your storm.  The first anniversary of my mother's passing is approaching.....

        1. Jonagold | | #4

          You might contact the local ASG unit.  They may use it as a fundraiser and share the profits with you.  They would do the labeling, etc.  It seems a shame that people who love to sew may not happen upon your sale if you have it in a smaller place.

          We recently did a fabric sale for a "hoarder."  We had so much that in the end we just wanted to have people take it.  However, it wasn't high quality.  It was very sad to think of all the dreams that were never completed.  Made me look at my stash in a different way!

          There might be 4-H groups or colleges with clothing construction classes.  We sent some of our wool pieces to Russian immigrants in Colorado who were thrilled to receive them. 

          I have seen want ads for entire collections for $2-3000, including machines etc. 

          I suggest that you take your time.  You want to make decisions that you won't regret in the future.  Now might not be the time to make those decisions.  My sister and I left my mom's home for a couple of months before we returned to make decisions.  It was much easier and we were ready.  The grief wasn't so new. 

            Someday my daughter may be in the same postion.  If your mom's fabrics could talk what a stories  they would tell.

          Warm thoughts to you.

          1. Sancin | | #5

            My mother didn't have much of a stash when we moved her. But I have never seen so many down pillows - many very old and pure white eiderdown! Found them in a trunk I had never seen before. I brought her stash home but have given it most of it away. I washed the pillows (sometimes finding old covers in the centre), put them in new fabric and now have the most wonderful down cushions all over the house. I even have some stored away for my daughter to find when she has to go through my stash. One mistake I did make. I dried the pillows in the dryer and then transferred the feathers. My neighbours thought it was snowing and after I had them all done a friend suggested I should have transferred wet feathers! Duh.

  2. Palady | | #6

    Please accept my condolences on your mother's demise.  A fate awaiting us all, but stiil very sad at the happening.

    My mom like yours was a very skilled seamstress.  Likewise, I have all her whatever.  Time managment being what it is, I have yet to "organize" the all. 

    You've received excellnt suggestions.  The one addressing ASG (American Sewing Guild)  is excellent.  MO.  You can consider browsing the web site for a Contact overall or a Chapter.


    A thought from me is to the notions & supplies your mom had.  Please go through these carefefully. The quality of her treasures are irreplaceable in today's market.   Hams, clappers, yard sticks, tape measures, scissors, and all sort of her whatevers are far and away the better.

    As to your mom's talent surpassing yours, you may find her spirit is with you and you will take up her mantle before you even realize you have done so.


  3. mantuamaker | | #7

    Where are you?  There is The Legacy in Sebastopol, CA.  This is a small store from which the profits support the local Senior Center.  They started from a situation just like yours and now are a local treasurehouse.  Everything is donated to them, and resold at reasonable prices, and everybody wins!

    If you are in Northern CA, I have a Quilts for the Homeless project.  We have done over 2000, all from donated fabric. This is sponsored by the Rancho Cotati Rotary Club.  I would be happy to take care of the whole room for you, depending on geography.  Have done this  several times, including handling a bequest of two entire fabric stores.  We shared the fabric with all the drama, dance, nonprofits, etc. in the county, sent some to the quilt project, some to the Legacy, and some to other charity thrift stores.

    Happy to help if you need it...


  4. dressed2atee | | #8

    Hello there, sorry about your loss.  The person who suggested that you look over her notions is so correct.  Your mother's things are so much better quality than what is available now. 

    I hope you will consider ASG, they have members who will appreciate your mother's treasures.

    Also, I hope you will consider taking up her mantle.  An older lady friend from church passed on and her family knew that I sewed.  They gave me all of her sewing treasures--what a blessing.  Now whenever I use something of her's, I look to heaven and thank her from rescuing me from having to go to the fabric store!  Her things are so special to me!

    Take care and God bless


    1. Stormee | | #10

      Also you can sell on Etsy.com. I have bought some fabric pieces from sellers on Etsy. You would have to sell them under the supply tag.

  5. thehat | | #9

    one word quilts

  6. User avater
    clothingeng | | #11

    This topic is so close to my heart...I lost my Mom 2 yrs ago. We were business partners(sewing business specializing in bridal)for 25 yrs. When she died, I had to bring all of our sewing supplies (you cant even imagine)to my house. I have gone through it many times and have got rid of some of the fabrics that I know I will not use. Some of the fabrics were our own personal as well as for the business. So many tears later, at Christmas I made memory pillows out of my Moms favorite silks and gave them to my family,7 sibs. Lots of tears but they said it was the best gift they had ever received. It was healing for me. I plan on taking my time and selling and giving away what I don't want.
    Sorry for writing a book on the subject...I have never written in a forum before, but I couldn't resist. I am still crying almost daily, but getting better as the days go by.

  7. KharminJ | | #12

    My friends ~ I too lost my Mom suddenly, but not as recently as some here ~ and while she was an excellent seamstress, her passions lay elsewhere, so her stash wasn't so overwhelming. Please know that my heart goes out to everyone, whether you've replied in this thread or not! "Take your time" is probably the best advice - and give yourself permission to break down occasionally - the oddest things will bring tears!If, among the treasures you decide not to keep or pass on to someone directly, you have sewing machines in good repair, please consider http://www.SewingMachineProject.com or a similar organization. Margaret is currently only collecting from the Wisconsin area, but surely there are other groups around the world doing this sort of work, who centralize both donations and distribution of useful sewing and crafting items. Bright Blessings! Kharmin

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