'Material girl' repurposes fabric with purpose for fabric-a-brac

Fabric-a-brac organiser Josie Brennan prepares for the next Arohanui fundraising event in Palmerston North.
Nicholas McBride

Fabric-a-brac organiser Josie Brennan prepares for the next Arohanui fundraising event in Palmerston North.

'Fabric-aholics' rejoice because Fabric-a-brac is back.

When Josie Brennan's mother went into a rest home, Brennan inherited her mother's stash of fabric and sewing accessories.

"I thought if I didn't know what to do with it all, there must be others, so I started an event where people could sell on things they had no use for, but that others might value."

Fabric-a-brac provides a venue and a table people can hire to on-sell fabric and materials they no longer have a use or storage for.

The first Fabric-a-brac took place in Wellington as a fundraiser for the Mary Potter Hospice in 2009. Brennan brought it to Palmerston North for Arohanui Hospice the following year.

"Palmerston North - Manawatu has a background of textiles and a strong quilting community, so there was a bit of momentum already here."

Since then, she has helped set up Fabric-a-bracs around the country.  

Wellington now has two oversubscribed Fabric-a-bracs a year and Brennan said the Auckland event was also oversubscribed. It has also proved popular in New Plymouth and now in Masterton, and has launched across the Tasman in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

"It's like a franchise - without any money changing hands. It's about bringing together the many 'fabric-a-holics' out there who have collected more fabric than they will ever be able to use, with others who want affordable quality fabrics and sewing accessories."

There are "industrial scale" roles of binding and roles of clothing sizing labels that have been donated probably from a commercial source, and there's always the possibility of scoring unique and vintage fabrics. 

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Brennan said one spin-off from the event was that it had created a community of its own.

"It's a lovely vibe, with people telling the stories associated with their fabric, and buyers talking about what they're going to make with it. It makes people feel better about selling it when they know it's being bought by someone who appreciates it. I'm really pleased with how it's panned out."

If people don't want to take a table, or just want to quickly pass on their stash, they can donate it for the sale through any Arohanui Hospice shop.

Fabric-a-brac, with live music, tea, coffee and baking, is from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, November 5 at the Crossroads Church hall on the corner of Church and Cook St across from the fire station.




 - Stuff


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