Category Archives: Sewing

The trouble with fabric stashes

*scratches head* I need to take better notes on things that I buy and stash.

I quilt. I love quilting. I also sew some clothing, but quilting is my first love and the reason I learned how to use a sewing machine. The problem with being a quilter is that you tend to buy and hoard fabrics when they’re available, because they might be perfect for a project you have planned a few years from now…or would be great in a scrap quilt in shades of blue…or any other justification that you can cough up to buy fabric and store it somewhere in your house. It’s a very specific variation on pack rat tendencies that people have at any garage sale, flea market, or thrifts tore. You don’t have any use for it right now, but you just might, and so you have no choice but to buy it and put it away until you need it. Of course. Ahem.

I try not to, but I must confess that I do stash fabrics. So thanks to this, I have what looks like two or three yards of cream-colored white cloth with a tiny floral print, and no recollection of what I could have bought it for. Or when. I must have had a project in mind for it, even if it was on sale. I can’t imagine buying something so bland without an intended purpose.

Thinking back on it, the fabric probably came from a garage sale I hit near Syracuse about four years ago. My dad noticed a classified ad in the local paper advertising a sale of fabric, quilt books, and other supplies. I’m not one bit a morning person, but for this, I got my butt out of bed at 7 AM.

The garage sale consisted solely of craft supplies, and was probably 95% quilting items. The main seller was a woman in her 80s who had quilted for years, and now had arthritis bad enough that she had to give it up. She decided to sell of all of her things, not having anyone to pass them down to.

She was thrilled to see me there, and surprised that someone as young as I am had taken up quilting. (She should have met me when I was nine. I knew I wanted to quilt then, but sort of made it up as I went along. That didn’t turn out well.) I walked out with a few books, three amazing quality wooden hoops, yards of fabric (most of which is older than I am) and bags of scrap pieces. I still squeal with delight a little when I go through the stash from that sale. It had to be a once in a lifetime experience…usually craft materials that people decide to get rid of are junk.

Now that I have all of my fabric, supplies, and half-finished projects here I’m trying to finish off old projects. I have hundreds of pieces cut and at least a dozen blocks finished for a queen-size Dresden Plate quilt, so of course now I can’t find the friggin’ container of blocks. I’m hoping it didn’t go in the wrong box when I was packing up my bedroom. I also have four different baby quilts in different phases of done-ness. Gr.

Spoiled brats of the high street

I’d like to see this reality show, where young British women spend a month working in garment factories in India, reproduced in the US. Forget the other reality shows imported from Europe; let’s bring this concept here. I’m appalled at the girl who buys inexpensive clothes to wear once and throw away.

I finished sewing a dress this week that’s similar in style and material to dresses sold at the store where my roommate works. We talked about this, noting that this dress, which cost less than $7 in materials and a few hours to sew, is similar to dresses that would cost $30-40 at the mall. The irony, of course, is that I’m sure that my sewing machine was manufactured in China and the fabric woven in a third-world factory, so I can’t exactly claim self-righteousness.

Had I spent the six or seven hours that I took to work on the dress at my job, I’d be ahead of the game financially, but sewing is fun to me. I work fifty hours per week as it is, and sewing is useful but relaxing.

The dress project, it is finished

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m fat. (It’s pretty obvious when you look at me, so why avoid dealing with the obvious?) I’m also very short and strangely proportioned, and this makes clothes shopping a miserable experience for me. Which is unfortunate, since I like to look cute.

I reached a combination of summer clothes shopping frustration, low budget, and a coupon from Jo-Ann Fabric last week, and inspiration struck in the form of Butterick B5193. I bought slinky knit fabric and got to work.

It turned out….well, almost not a total disaster. This is the first dress that I’ve ever sewed, and my first time making sleeves. I’ve done a lot of quilting, but dealing with a full dress pattern and non-cotton fabrics was a confusing and frightening experience.

Pictures after the jump.

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How I feel today, expressed in lolcat.

I didn’t finish the dress as planned last night so I have to find something different to wear. I had to rip out a seam and start over….and this may come as a shock, but 88 cent seam rippers from Wal-Mart are not very sharp, so I had to pull an eight-inch seam out one stitch at a time, tearing a hole in the dress along the back zipper line while I was at it.