Story originally published by the Kansas City Star.
In March 2016, Barbara Schubert Bartlett, of Prairie Village, Kansas, passed away at the age of 77 – leaving behind 15,000 yards of fabric.
Her family, who had been planning to sell her belongings in a garage sale, had no idea what to do with the 1,875 bolts of fabric Barbara had accumulated in the last 30 years. Rather than holding the garage sale, her children rented a storefront in Shawnee, Kansas, and opened a fabric store. After one month, Barbara’s family estimated they had already sold around 7,000 yards of fabric.
Crafters, sewers and quilters from all over the area flocked to the store to take advantage of the deal the family was offering: all fabric at $2 a yard. Many of the buyers are planning to do use Barbara’s fabric for charitable projects. Barbara’s daughter told The Star that customers were buying the fabric with plans to make charity quilts, blankets for nearby Children’s Mercy Hospital, and the Linus Project, an organization that gives blankets to critically ill children. One woman came to buy "manly fabric" to sew beanies that go under men’s construction hats.
When the fabric no longer takes up the entire store, they’ll move in other items and the store will become a cross between a craft sale and an estate sale. “I can’t imagine how she collected it all under our noses and we didn’t realize it,” son Mark Bartlett said. “She didn’t just buy one — she bought 12 of everything,” he said, sorting through a basketful of sparkly ornamental grapes.
She had created several quilts, some small afghans, and little pillows. Her daughter said the family was planning to donate the afghans to Children’s Mercy for new babies, and that they would donate the small pillows to breast cancer patients.
Although Barbara is no longer with her family, her legacy (and her fabric) will comfort others for years to come.