The Mystery Fabric Stash + Springer Spaniel
I’ve mentioned a few times that I had access to a literal mountain of fabric when I learned how to sew. I find it hard to believe, looking back. In fact, I don’t really remember what made me decide to sew something, except I had seen my mother sew incessantly as I was child and just assumed that I could do it, too. Nobody taught me to sew, and it never occurred to me to ask anyone any questions. Apparently, one day, I walked into a storage closet, grabbed some random piece of fabric and the sewing gene kicked in.
Like a springer spaniel puppy pointing at a bird, or a young swallow pointing its beak to Capistrano, I must have held the fabric up against my hand, checking for coverage, and thought, “This would make a nice skirt.”
I know that by the time I hit 7th grade sewing class, I had already been sewing for a few years. Now, part of the mystery of the fabric room is solved by the fact that in 5th grade, you don’t need a lot of fabric to make something, especially with the hemlines of the 6o’s. So my mother may never have even noticed the little bits and pieces I was using up.
Another piece of the puzzle is that my mother was the Winter Carnival Queen in St. Paul and had a multitude of ballgowns she probably didn’t know what to do with. I specifically remember a rocking gold lamé bathing suit, too. Mom, if you’re reading this, did you have any idea I was sewing up your entire fabric stash?
Anyway, sewing for me was a matching of the few patterns I could afford on babysitting money (did you know that they used to let 9 year olds babysit?) with this plethora of textiles.
The room was a cedar closet in the corner of our basement. I remember the day I discovered it. I saw a bunch of garbage bags–but wait. Were there even garbage bags back then? There must have been, because I remember opening a bag out of curiousity, and taking out each piece of fabric, one by one, fascinated by how different each was from the next. Eventually all the fabric and old formals were out of the bags and on the floor and I was sitting on a giant pyramid of color and tactile glory. I never put them back into the bags, but instead would root around in there like a truffle pig, searching for inspiration for my next project.
I had no idea what the fabric was made of. I made overalls out of pink baby flannel with little sheep on it. I made a vest/skirt combo out of hunting dog upholstery fabric. It made no difference to me, and I wore each and every thing to school.
Even now, as I’m recounting this story, I find the whole thing hard to swallow. But it’s true.
Fast forward to today.
I have heard about fabric stashes, and wanted to control my purchases so it was unlikely I would ever have one. I ordered only fabric that was plain, versatile, and about 75% off so I could sew all my patterns without worrying about “hard-to-handle” fabrics or ruining a garment with my rookie ways.
Except I ordered some stuff from Fabric Mart. And they gave me Free Mystery Bundles.
Now, unfortunately, only one is in yardage big enough for a plus size woman to make good use of. The others are in yardages between 1/2 yard to 1-1/2 yards. They’re called “small project” bundles.
Luckily I have a very tiny grandma I’m planning to sew for, too, eh?
I loved opening these little garbage bags of fabric and pulling them out, piece by piece. It was like time traveling to 1968. At first I thought, “none of this is useful to me, what should I do with it..” But, within the hour I was sorting them by weight and color, and imagining how I could combine them or use them. To be honest, it was the most creative moment I’ve had in sewing since I’ve returned.
So, I will flag these mystery fabrics whenever I use them, because I’m adding to my 100 patterns goal: I will use each and every mystery piece of fabric, even if it’s not always for clothing. I have always found that I’m most creative when limitations are imposed on me. That’s when I have the most fun.
A few asides: Yes. I know the masthead is ugly. I need to make a real one. I just needed a placeholder, and now I’m lazy about replacing it. I promise you won’t have to look at it too much longer.
also, if you want to follow the blog, please select “follow” over on the right, and my posts will be sent to you in email. It’s very easy. And it just occurred to me that if I edit the post after I publish it, you might get it sent to you more than once. So I won’t do that again. Sorry.
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