I first heard about Mary Jo‘s about two years ago. I was visiting a local quilt shop near my Mom’s house and looking for a very specific item. The two women working at the cutting counter chatted about where I could find it, and both agreed that the only place they knew of was Mary Jo’s. They told me Mary Jo’s had eeeeeeverything. But it wasn’t all that close by, so it went on the mental list for later thought.
Not too long after that Ashley posted about going to Mary Jo’s. I salivated over the photos. But I was far, far away.
But YESTERDAY I was close by. Not on purpose, just by chance. I flew into Charlotte to begin the Thanksgiving family tour and that’s just a hopskipjump away from Gastonia, home of Mary Jo.
As we approached I was a little confused by the construction going on around it. The mall that was nearby was just a pile of dirt, and one side of Mary Jo’s has been refaced…
and the other hasn’t…
I guess there was lots of concern about whether Mary Jo’s might move or close because of the construction, but don’t you worry:
On the door I noticed that they had the line of Dr. Seuss fabrics. And a sign above that that said “Cornmeal and Grits are now here!” And I thought: “Wow, a Southern quilting fabric line? Uhh… lots of yellow and white?”
No. Actual cornmeal and grits. But I was too distracted by the rest of the store to figure out why they were there. (These were the only food items I saw in the entire store. We here at crafterhours humbly suggest M&Ms.)
So as you enter the ladies ask “Do you need a ticket?” And yes, you do. You carry this with you as you have fabric cut on any one of the no less than 25 cutting tables. The ladies add your yardage and prices to this as a running tally to save confusion at the checkout.
I was completely amazed by the size of the place. And to help convey the overwhelmingness of the entry, imagine I’ve stitched these four images together, panning left to right at the entrance.
Perfect! Now you have a headache. Almost how I felt trying to decide where to look first.
I started by heading in the direction of the quilting cottons. On the way there I checked out the vinyl/oilcloth array, the expansive camo and sport fabrics, and walls full of quilting notions I never knew existed. (I’ve made TWO quilts, people! How do *I* not know about this stuff?!?) This is the part where I started kicking myself. I really wished I had had a better plan for what to look for. Anyone working on a I Spy quilt could really accomplish a lot here. So so so much to choose from. Even dental tools!
From there I ended up sprinting across the store because I had to locate the ladies room. Don’t you hate interrupting the crafty thoughts for restroom searches? But I appreciated the fact that all I had to take care of was getting myself in and out. No kids in tow– my mom had both out of my hair for a bit.
Returning to the floor, I wandered to the stripes and dots. At about this point, a woman with a very gentle demeanor asked whether I was finding everything okay. “Yes, I’m having a great time looking!” I said. As I continued to browse, I looked back again across a few rows of bolts. Then I strained to look at a painting I’d gotten a glimpse of on the way in. Yep, pretty sure that was Mary Jo herself, offering to help and straightening shelves.
At this point I realized that while I could spend all day looking at quilting cottons, that’s the stuff I’m more readily able to buy online. But apparel fabric you really have to touch. So I headed for that. But… which part? Okay, let’s just go for the eye candy– special occasion and costume fabric.
There were rolls and rolls and rolls of swimsuit and dancewear fabrics. I liked a stretch denim that I thought would be fun for the girls and checked to see whether I “could use it for swimwear?” “Yes,” the cutting woman replied. “Some stripper girls have been coming in for that.” Wow. Exactly what I was going for. What a coincidence!
They had shelves full of all sorts of powernet. I’ve noticed in a few summery pieces I’ve gotten that something like this is sewn under skirts for slimming/smoothing under slinky fabrics. Looks like a fun challenge to me.
Need a hoopskirt? There are tutorials for DIY’ing them, but at these prices you might as well just pick one up.
They had bags and bags full of scraps for $1.39. Even one bag of scraps that was all THREADS. Any idea what you would do with that? I got nothin’.
And while I’m thinking of “what would one do with that?”: What would one do with THIS? Again, no idea. It has netting underneath and all of these squares attached… so it looks like it’s made to be fluttery… but I have no idea what you’d do with it.
I spent a while looking at upholstery fabrics, but again, with no specific project in mind, I mostly kicked myself. Lots of beautiful pieces, but not the kind of thing that goes well when I just pick prettiness to take home. I checked out more notions, trims, costume fabrics, knits… and then I found the section that I think Adrianna might have liked most: Linen. Lots and lots of delicious linen.
At about this part I realize I keep hearing a baby that sounds like mine. It wasn’t mine, but it reminded me that I did have one who might be all done with waiting on me to finish my adventure. So with my stretch denim, powernet and a pile of remnants I liked in the swimsuit section (more on those later, I hope) I decided I’d had all the fun I could handle. Well, it was also well after lunchtime. It might have been a case of low blood sugar that contributed to waving the white flag.
P.S. Today’s your last day to enter to win your own itty bitty fun. We’ll close entries at midnight Eastern and announce winners tomorrow.
P.P.S. On the way out you get to grab these. I think I need a stack alongside Marjorie and Mikey, no?