Fabric from the people to the people, since 2009

In the early days of Felt, one of the most exciting things about growing an online community was the many new opportunities to connect with like-minded people doing amazing things around New Zealand – and one of those new friends, back in 2009, was Josie Brennan, the founder of Fabric-a-brac.

This year Fabric-a-brac is celebrating its 15th anniversary with five new locations around Aotearoa, and an incredible grand total of over $140,000 raised for hospice in New Zealand!

Fabric-a-brac is a market for things to make things, with a focus on fabric and sewing-related items. Stallholders take a table to ‘de-stash’ and sell supplies they no longer need, and the local hospice sells donated items on a dedicated table. A pop-up café provides a social space to share new fabric finds and sewing purchases. (The Christchurch Fabric-a-brac pop-up café will have a very special volunteer – celebrity chef Jo Seagar!) The profits all go to the local Hospice.

The event was created when Josie’s mother went into a rest home. “I looked around and realised that she had more fabric than I could ever use in my lifetime. I thought, if I am in this position, there are probably going to be other people too…”

The first event was in Brooklyn, Wellington, in 2009, and it was a huge success, selling out stallholders and packing out the initial tiny hall.

Since then, events have been held in Auckland, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wairarapa, and Marlborough – and even some events in Australia. In 2024 there are five new locations joining the Fabric-a-brac family – Christchurch, Nelson, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Hawke’s Bay – which means a total of 10 events around the country this year.

Hospice New Zealand Chief Executive Wayne Naylor considers Fabric-a-brac a fabulous event that makes a valuable contribution to hospices around Aotearoa.

“It’s a unique event where people come together to share not only their passion for fabric, but their support for the work of Hospice. Their generous efforts help ensure hospice care can remain available and free for all those who need it.”

Fabric-a-brac is volunteer-run, and it is the passion of the volunteers that brings the event to life.

For Miriam Gibson, one of the Wellington co-ordinators, it’s a meeting of like minds. “It brings sewing lovers together to tell stories and share memories that the fabric evokes in them. It also serves an upcycling purpose, preventing beautiful and often hard-to-find items from languishing in a cupboard.”

Every event is different, but there’s always a huge variety of items on sale: everything from vintage and modern fabric, patterns and buttons to antique lace and vintage sewing machines.

Marlborough co-ordinator Tracy Johnston sees the event appeal to a broad range of visitors and vendors: “Fabric-a-brac brings out fabric-a-holics from far and wide looking for inspiration for their next project. We love that interior designers, upholsterers, and sewing store owners get on board donating fabulous fabric to support the event. It has also become the perfect place for family to sell on a loved one’s treasured collection knowing it is going to appreciative new homes. This means we have the ultimate combination of old and new on offer.”

As generations are passing on, some vintage items are showing up at the event less.

“We’ve noticed that 1950s and ’60s vintage fabrics are beginning to dwindle in our stallholders’ stashes,” says Grace Samuelson, Auckland co-ordinator. “With only a limited stock left, and these items in high demand, we’re bound to start seeing fewer vintage fabrics. Nonetheless, Fabric-a-brac is a true treasure trove!”

Don’t miss Fabric-a-brac, the home of rare and exquisite fabrics and haberdashery, coming soon to a town near you!

Upcoming dates



NELSON 18 May 2024

NAPIER 15 June 2024

MARLBOROUGH 17 August 2024

PALMERSTON NORTH 14 September 2024

Find out more about Fabric-a-brac »