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Thread: Organizing fabric for estate sale

  1. #1
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    Organizing fabric for estate sale

    I could use some advice please on how to organize fabric and quilting supplies for an estate sale. My eldest daughter passed away in August and left behind a ton of fabric, etc. My grandson is planning an estate sale and I am trying to go through the quilting stuff. Should I just put all the FQs together and all the yardage together, etc? Do I need to measure and label the yardage (I consider anything over 1/2 yard yardage)? I know some of you have purchased fabric at estate sales; can you tell me how it was done? Oh, I forgot to mention that my GS is hiring someone to handle the sale - there is everything from personal items to horse equipment to sell. My daughter took in abandoned and abused horses.

  2. #2
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    I would just quote a price per yard and have a yardstick handy for quilt shop type fabric. You can also shove some in bags and sell by the bag. It is too time consuming to try to put a price on individual pieces. My sister even purchased some of her stash "by the pound".

  3. #3
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    First, I am so sorry for your loss. This has got to be really hard to deal with. My thoughts are that IF you have the time, energy and inclination, I would take the time to measure and mark the yardage with a specific price-----you will make a lot more money this way rather than selling by the pound or bag. You can fold and group all the FQs together with a sign that says $1.50 each (or whatever price you choose). Any scraps and odd size pieces can be put in quart or gallon zip lock bags and price with a sign. But if this is just too much for you, let the estate sale people do the work in setting it up---they generally get a hefty commission at 30-40%, so let them earn it.

  4. #4
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    One of our guild members passed away last year and her friend and fellow guild member organized a sale to benefit her daughter, so she could go to college. They set up tables in a house that was empty and had two ladies set up at a cutting table to either just measure and tag or cut. Most of us just bought the whole piece. They sold it at 2.00 a yard. Most pieces were about 3 yards. It was a lot of work,because this lady had an enormous stash. Filled up every room of a 1200 square foot house.
    Good luck, and I am so sorry to hear about your daughter.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would hold a separate sale for the quilting items and notify local quilt guilds of the sale, and do this before the estate sale. I would probably not measure yardage but rather sell it by the pound. Have a scale and simply weigh the purchases. Have signs that tell people the approximate yardage per pound. If you have a lot of fabric to sell, I see this as greatly simplifying the process for everyone. I would also post signs that require a minimum of a 1 yard cut for yardage. You can have a separate table for precuts such as fat quarters and jelly rolls, and a separate table for tools. Those can be pre priced when necessary but, if there are a lot of fat quarters, I would just put up signs giving the price per fat quarter. Anything that doesn't sell at this quilters sale can go into the estate sale at half price. I think this approach would minimize labor and optimize profits as many quilters will pay a little more to have a good choice in a more quiet setting.

    Edit: I do think you could also just sell the fabric for $2 a yard instead of by the pound. I wouldn't pre-measure and label, though. Just measure at checkout. A lot depends on how much there is. Some stashes that look huge to non-quilters are modest by the standards of many quilters.
    Last edited by Prism99; 11-01-2015 at 12:33 PM.

  6. #6
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    I like the idea of selling the fabric by the pound. Most quilting cotton will weigh about the same.

    That also makes it easier to price smaller pieces and scraps. I would put scraps in one gallon zip lock bags and price each bag the same. No opening or mixing bags.

    FQ could be priced by the each or you could bundle them in groups of 5 or 10.

    Precuts, if in originally packaging I would price at 50% or less than the original price. You can check online for approximate prices.

    I would not offer to cut yardage. Too much work and you give up display space to set up a cutting station.

    Books and magazines, depending on how many you have to sell, either bundle the magazines and sell that way or price by the each, but only have one price for books and one for magazines.

    Thread, put similar colours in baggies and sell by the bag.

    Tools this could be more of a challenge, but you could have one price for rulers up to 6 inches in any direction and another for rulers over 6 inches in any direction.

    Try to find all the accessories for each machine and sell as is where is, no testing.

    UFO, WIP, PIGS, if the pattern and supplies are easy to identify, bundle them up and sell them too.

    Having the quilting sale separate from the main sale is a good idea. Invite local, and not so local guilds to come shop.
    Attending University. I will graduate a year after my son and year before my daughter.

  7. #7
    Super Member zozee's Avatar
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    I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine your courage to do this sale so soon after your daughter's passing. Sending hugs and prayers. Your daughter must have been such a kind hearted soul to take in abused horses. She sounds like my sister.

    The suggestion to hold a special quilter's sale is smart. Quilters will understand the value of fabric as well as the enormity of the work to organize such a sale efficiently. When I went to an estate sale of a quilter, the daughter had it pretty well organized. Bolts were leaning against walls or stacked not too high. Supplies were on one table. all Christmas prints were separate from the rest. juvenile prints in one section, machines in a side room. Granted, this was thru craigslist and I set up an appointment as it was 60 miles away. I was her last of many buyers. She started out measuring and cutting at the cutting table, but soon we agreed that she could use her wingspan. I didn't nickel and dime her. $2.00/yd was a steal.

    I guess you need to decide if you'd rather do a little more work for more cash, or less work to get it over with ASAP with less $$.

    If if it were me, I'd sell no less than 1-yard cuts off bolts. I'd price the whole bolt well so that people are motivated to carry the whole thing out.

    fat quarters -- I'd group by color for easy shopping. $1 each.
    thread-- spools in shallow baskets near register -- small $1 each, cones $2 each ?
    Scraps-- stuffed into gallon ziplocks $1 each bag ahead of time.

    Maybe be offer some sort of freebie for any purchase over $25 so that inventory moves faster. People at $22 might just buy $3 more in stuff to get something free.

    Make sure you have plenty of hands on deck for logistical help, security, and moral support. I'd try a Friday andSaturday sale. Advertise well. It'll be worth the price of the ad.

    I'd sell the leftovers thru the professionals. Here's to a great turnout and a successful sale. Again, my condolences.

  8. #8
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Parents should not outlive their children and I'm so sorry you are having to handle this part of your daughter's estate. My heart aches for you.

    I want to encourage you, if you have the time, stamina, and facility to hold a quilting sale separate from the estate sale, to do so. I have done this twice in the past 8 years, with my own stash preceding a move, charging $3 per yard - measured and cut at the sale - and have made over $1100 both times just by opening it to local guild members. I have never had a stash that filled a whole house either!!!

    It's a good idea to have helpers to measure, cut, and to be eyes on the crowd. I took appointments at my own sale so I was not overwhelmed. You likely would make enough $$ to take them out to dinner afterwards with no problem, too.

    I cut any thing from 1/4 yard to 2.5 yards, but sold fat quarters only if they had already been cut. To keep track of what each buyer was getting, I made slips of paper like below to send to the 'cashier'. It was a huge help to just mark a 'chit' in the correct space after each cut.

    Best to you in this endeavor. Wish I could come help.

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  9. #9
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    I am sorry for your loss.

    I also think a separate sale of the quilting and sewing items is a good idea.

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    Thank you for so many good suggestions. I wish I could implement all of them but it isn't possible. Because we are using a company that does only estate sales,decides prices, and handles all the details, I won't be able to set prices. I can, however, suggest!
    A separate quilt sale would undoubtedly bring more money, but it really isn't possible. Just going through her things is stressful enough. Jan, maybe if you were here to organize me, I could face up to it�� And just as a loving reminder, ladies, be sure to get your mammograms every year without fail.

  11. #11
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike'sgirl View Post
    One of our guild members passed away last year and her friend and fellow guild member organized a sale to benefit her daughter, so she could go to college. They set up tables in a house that was empty and had two ladies set up at a cutting table to either just measure and tag or cut. Most of us just bought the whole piece. They sold it at 2.00 a yard. Most pieces were about 3 yards. It was a lot of work,because this lady had an enormous stash. Filled up every room of a 1200 square foot house.
    Good luck, and I am so sorry to hear about your daughter.

    When my sister knew that she was loosing her battle with colon cancer back in 2001, she rented a 2 story row house in Pittsburgh, PA and lined every wall with shelving and added tables. She found someone to come in to sell for her. It was summer and no air conditioning. It was overwhelming for everyone and I was still teaching and 300 miles away, on crutches and had recently had hand surgery. I was able to move most of her 2,500 quilt books to my side of the state and have been sending them all over the world ever since. I know it is very hard to deal with disposing of a loved ones things.

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    Do you mean this is an auction where they will bid on items? or more like a garage sale where things are priced? I have bought alot of fabric at auctions and many times they sort out fabric according to holiday, baby/children, fat quarters, fleece, batting and etc. Many sort into sacks, boxes, totes and then people bid on it. The bidder will be more interested if they are bidding on all the same type of fabric, cottons, knits etc. perhaps you could sort fabric this way. You would be surprised how high the bidding goes on something someone wants! Important to advertise that there is sewing fabric and items.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sdwill's Avatar
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    The people I hired to do my Mom's estate sale did everything. I just had to have everything out of the house that we wanted to keep or have it marked "not for sale". They did everything, sorting, pricing, I mean everything. They even sold all of the cooking spices that were in kitchen.
    Sharyl

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    First I am so sorry for your loss and please extend my condolences. I went to an estate sale just for quilters. They set up a couple(2) large 6' tables on bed risers (easier on the back). TAped a tape measure to it and had couple of quilting friends at each table. They had notions and couple sewing machines that family didn't want. The manuals accompanied the sewing machines along with the attachments. No one haggled the prices of the machines. Scraps were sold in 2, 4, and 6'' etc. If there was a 3" piece it sold for 2"$. There were some flimsies that sold also. Unopened packages of batting. It started at 700a.m. and I could barely find a spot to park at 630 a.m. Luckily this was on the edge of town so no hassles of parking in neighbors drives. Not one irate person there. Fabric was separated into holidays which was really nice. They had solids. Nothing but quilting items. The next week they sold the rest of the estate. I spent $35.00. any spent hundreds. One gal bought 2 machines both rocketeers. Had manuals. $100.00 each with attachments also.

  15. #15
    Super Member Luv Quilts and Cats's Avatar
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    SunQuilts, I am deeply sorry for your loss. I think putting FQs together and any other pre-cuts is a good idea. I like the idea of selling by the yard, with posting a so much per yard sign rather than marking all the fabric individually. I also like the idea of having this as a separate sale for quilters if you are able to do it. I don't know your situation, but perhaps a portion of the money raised could go to another horse rescue in your daughter's name. I wish you peace and hugs at this time for you and your family and your daugher's husband.
    Luv Quilts and Cats
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  16. #16
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    Truly sorry for your loss. So difficult.

  17. #17
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I too am so sorry for your loss. It is a difficult time for all. Why not let the experts handle that, or maybe you have some quilting friends that would help you with it. Good luck and God Bless

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    I am so sorry for your loss. For this reason I HATE estate sales because, as I look at an item, I think that this was someone's life.. (don't mean to sadden you).
    I attended a fabric sale and the sister-in-law had measured all of the fabric and marked it with a tiny piece of paper stapled to the piece of fabric and stacked in piles all OVER the garage.. The tables were stacked really high!
    marked like 1 1/4 yard, 2 1/2 yds, 3 yds, 5 yds, etc... Then she had written prices on a poster board that said, "1 yard = $3.00, 2 1/4 yards= $6.75 (I think). I know that I spent $200 and a woman the previous day had spent over $600. I never once questioned the price..it was gorgeous fabric and a great price. Wish that you were closer because I would come and help you measure.

  19. #19
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    It is so devastating to lose a child, no matter what age. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. My hope is that the folks hired to do the sale will understand the value of the fabric, books, and tools. May you find blessings in each day as you go through this tough time. I don't go to estate sales, although I know one can find good values at them.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  20. #20
    Super Member EmiliasNana's Avatar
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    Just want to say my heart goes out to you. I can imagine that you are overwhelmed at this point. Do what you can to suggest the best way for the estate people to hand it and then step back and let them do the work. You still might want to notify several guilds in the area (or have friends do it for you) of the sale.

  21. #21
    Senior Member AlvaStitcher's Avatar
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    SunQuilts, So sorry for your loss. Prayers for the family and you as you undertake liquidating her things. And, yes, I get a mammogram each year. Thanks for the reminder though

  22. #22
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    I meant to say the large tables were for cutting. They used scissors like at the big box stores.
    Quote Originally Posted by tessagin View Post
    First I am so sorry for your loss and please extend my condolences. I went to an estate sale just for quilters. They set up a couple(2) large 6' tables on bed risers (easier on the back). TAped a tape measure to it and had couple of quilting friends at each table. They had notions and couple sewing machines that family didn't want. The manuals accompanied the sewing machines along with the attachments. No one haggled the prices of the machines. Scraps were sold in 2, 4, and 6'' etc. If there was a 3" piece it sold for 2"$. There were some flimsies that sold also. Unopened packages of batting. It started at 700a.m. and I could barely find a spot to park at 630 a.m. Luckily this was on the edge of town so no hassles of parking in neighbors drives. Not one irate person there. Fabric was separated into holidays which was really nice. They had solids. Nothing but quilting items. The next week they sold the rest of the estate. I spent $35.00. any spent hundreds. One gal bought 2 machines both rocketeers. Had manuals. $100.00 each with attachments also.

  23. #23
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    Thank you for all your suggestions and especially your words of sympathy; it is very difficult to realize my quilting buddy is gone. My daughter got me started in quilting (I had only sewn clothing before) and was the only one of my children to share my love of the art. I miss her every day.

    That said, I have decided to take the advice of several of you and let the estate sellers manage the whole thing. I realize that will bring considerably less money but money was never the point. I will take some of her fabric that had a special meaning to her (I found a Double Wedding Ring she had begun and hope to finish it for her son's wedding two years from now) and hope that the rest of her stash makes some other quilters happy. Liz would like that.

    Thank you again; and blessings to all.

  24. #24
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    II am so sorry for your loss and know this must be a very difficult time for you. Since your grandson is hiring one of the individuals who specialize in estate sales, you should have him check with them before you invest a lot of time in labeling and organizing things for the sale as most of the time they do this as part of their service. When my friend had hers after the death of her DH, she just picked out the items she wanted to keep for her self or family members and they took care of the everything else related to the sale.
    Fabric is like money, no matter how much you have it's never enough.

  25. #25
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    Sure would be the least complicated to sell all in one lot to someone who was willing to sell it piecemeal....just a thought. Once, I bought yard goods at a flea market and wondered where they got so much fabric!
    sounds like there's enough inventory for a quilt store.. Hope it all goes well for you. I can't imagine what your loss was like. So sorry.

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