Friday, April 30, 2004

Almost made it

It's the last day of April and I thought I could make it through the day without buying more fabric. But I didn't. I just had to check out and she had new fabrics up. Three of which caught my eye but I ended up ordering only these two:

photo photo

They're both cotton/lycra. I'm thinking a casual, sporty skirt with the blue one and either a longer skirt or capris and perhaps matching top out of the gold/plum fabric.

I'm a fabricaholic, addicted to fiber but also to shopping for it on the internet. A very dangerous combination indeed. My mother often reminds me (too often) of a comment I made about my sister's stash about ten years ago. This was long before I was sewing again and before I became a fabricaholic. On a visit to my sister's house, I was amazed and a bit disgusted by the piles and piles of fabric in her guest room closet. It wasn't because she had so much fabric, it was because I knew she couldn't really afford to have bought so much fabric. But I also didn't know how addictive it can be. Most of her stash appeared to consist of children's fabric so I'm sure she has put it to good use since then. Later, she moved to a different house and set up her sewing area in the living room/dining room. She had quite a few boxes around, which I assume held fabric, but something else really caught my eye. Her patterns. She lot. I was surprised to see that many were duplicates. Now that I'm sewing, I know about the 99 cent and 1.99 cent pattern sales at Joann's. I can only hope that my sister does too. Perhaps she prefers to just buy a duplicate when she needs a different size rather than take time and paper to trace the pattern. Now she is living in very cramped quarters but still has her sewing space. I am guilty of enabling her fabric stash by adding to it. Last time I visited, I brought her two large boxes of my fabric stash cast-offs. If she lived closer, I'm sure I'd be bringing her more.

A few pieces in my stash are about 15 years old, from a brief time when I had a burst of sewing enthusiasm, but most have been purchased within the last five years.

My mother taught me to sew, first with needle and thread and later on her sewing machine. My first sewing box consisted of scraps of fabric and trim from which I'd make "clothes" for my Barbie. I didn't use patterns, but simply draped the fabric over Barbie's volumptuous figure and tucked and stitched, usually in whatever color thread I had. My darts were quite prominently sewn on the outside. Later I went through a prairie/settler phase (too much Little House on the Prairie perhaps?). I created and handstitched a period dress for Barbie, complete with petticoat, corset, and stockings. I sewed tiny beads down the back as buttons. My dress won a first place ribbon in our township's little Independence Day fair. The following year I attempted a renaissance-style dress based on what I saw on a Romeo and Juliet movie on TV. This satiny dress took third prize in the fair that year. My interest in sewing perked up when I inherited my grandmother's 1919 Franklin treadle sewing machine. The musty smelling oak cabinet stood in my bedroom and afforded me privacy while I sewed. My mother had a nice Kenmore sewing machine in the basement and I did take sewing in 7th and 8th grade, but somehow sewing on the treadle took me back in time. I loved the mechanical-ness of the machine. The shuttle c*ck swishing back and forth with each up and down motion of the needle. The whirring of the wheel as my bare feet rocked the iron foot pedal. Alas, I didn't develop an interest in sewing garments at this time, although I did sew a jester costume for my Halloween costume. As a teen, sewing your own clothes just wasn't "cool."

In college I taught myself how to knit. I didn't have the space to do any sewing even if I wanted to. There was a girl on my dorm floor who had a single room. I remember walking by one day and her door was open. She was sitting on the floor, pins in her mouth, working on cutting out a pattern. I wish now I had talked to her about her sewing but perhaps I realized that I didn't have time for it then. Knitting was easy because I could just pick it up and do a few rows to get my mind on something other than differential equations.

After college I bought myself a basic sewing machine from Montgomery Wards. I made a few tablecloths for some tables I used in my bedroom as night stands. I only made two garments. One was a skirt and top in a crisp blue and white cotton in a floral print. I actually wore this and even wore it out on a date. The sleeveless top crossed in the back and fastened with snaps. The skirt was just a simple A-line. My second attempt at sewing clothes was a dress for a friend's wedding. I knew nothing about fit or altering and made the pattern straight out of the envelope. The dress had a scoop neck, 3/4 length sleeves and a dropped waist. It didn't really fit all that well but I wore it to the wedding anyway. However, I'm sure that the fact that it didn't fit so well didn't help my desire to sew. The clincher was when I attempted to make a black lace and satin dress (or blouse, I can't recall) for a New Year's party. The fabric skittered around and caused me all sorts of grief. Frustrated, I stuffed the unfinished bodice in a bag and didn't sew again for a long time. A few years later, I had a surge of interest when I decided that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on simple, short sleeved, dressy blouses. So I went to the fabric store, selected a few patterns and proceeded to purchase about five pieces of fabric and matching buttons. I went a little overboard. Even the clerk remarked that I was going to do a lot of sewing. I never did. The fabric (and the unfinished black lace mess) moved with me from apartment to townhouse to apartment to house to apartment to apartment to apartment and finally to my current house. I still have the fabric from that overzealous shopping trip but the black lace mess was chucked in the trash at some point. My Montgomery Wards sewing machine was lost during one of the moves and I replaced with a Singer, which was actually a worse machine than the one from Wards. I sewed some curtains and valances and started a few other home dec projects but didn't attempt to sew clothes for myself again.

When I got may last (and current) surge of sewing enthusiasm, I saw that part of my problem was my sewing machine. So I bought a much better one. Another part of my problem was not having anyone to help me. That's been mostly solved by the wealth of information and support from the sewing communities on the internet. I've also been able to take some hands-on classes and that helped a lot too. I also knew that I had a problem with and perhaps fear of fitting. So I thought I'd buy cheap fabric to start with. However, the cheap fabric turned out to be nice stuff and at those prices, well, a stash was born. Now I try to limit my purchases to interesting or hard to find fabrics or really good prices for good basic fabrics. The third fabric that caught my eye at emmaonesock was a very pretty flowered linen/rayon. I immediately saw it as a flowing dress using this pattern. But as pretty as the fabric is, I knew I could probably find something similar if and when I want to make this dress. And of course I already have fabric in my stash would work, it's just not as pretty. I don't usually have a garment in mind and then hunt down the fabric. Most of the time I see some fabric and visualize what I would make with it. Therefore, I have many, MANY lovely fabrics in my stash that all "talk" to me.

I hope to find some time to sew this weekend. I want to paint the doors in the hallway but other than that I'm going to try to sew. I'm even going to break my "one project" rule and put the quilted wall hanging aside so I can work on a garment. If I don't get to work on some of these trendy fabrics, especially the pink ones, the trendiness will be gone and I'll be left with fabric I won' t use. I used to think retro fabric was cool until I saw some real retro fabric on a web site. Yuck. I'd forgotten how ugly some fabrics from the 60's and 70's really were. I would feel bad if my fabric stays packed away in boxes for so long that it becomes yuck.

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