Thursday, July 17, 2008

the joy of fabric

From the time I was a little girl, I have always loved touching things. It used to get me in trouble when I would go shopping with my mom "Kris, don't TOUCH everything!" I had to feel stuff-the nylon chiffon scarves hanging from a rack at Woolworths, the shiny oilcloth hanging on rolls in Lindruds, and all of the fabrics on display at JCPenny's second level in downwtown Bemidji. Linen, and cotton, and soft knits. Actually, back then, it was probably a lot of polyester double knit, but I have to believe that I gravitated towards the finer fabrics....

My dear Grandma bought me my first sewing machine. She and Grandpa Don (who was also a sewer, and had his own machine, for sewing canvas, and leather, and other manly fabrics) ordered it for me from Montgomery Wards. She patiently taught me how to thread it, and care for it, and use it to create anything I could imagine. Although the final product often ended up looking nothing like my dream, it taught me to never give up.

She helped me read a pattern, cut out all of the pieces, and figure out all of those confusing directions. Her closets full of fabric were my first real experience with true obsession. Her stash included fabrics from all parts of her life, as she sewed for her home, and most of her own clothes, and still had fabric from when she had sewed for my dad and uncle when they were young. And it wasn't just the fabric, it was cans full of buttons, and trims, and thread, and notions. I adored going through all of it, and playing with them, and imagining what I would make. I have some of her things now, carefully stored away in some of her old hatboxes. I am sure the thread is so old that it is no longer usable, but someday I am going to have my very own sunlit sewing room, and I will be able to put it all out on display.

So I became a fabricholic at a young age. I worked for Northwest Fabrics for several years after college, which of course made my stash grow exponentially. I started buying fabric to make baby clothes years before I ever got pregnant, and planned all of the things I would make. For a time, I made baptismal gowns for my friends baies, so I collected heirloom trims when I found them.

When our attic began to burst at the seams with too much fabric, and very little time to actually sew it, I was forced to make an archeological dig back through my years of collecting, and let some of it go. I donated BAGS and BAGS of fabric, knowing that I would never use it. I of course kept ones that I knew I would use someday...

And now that Charlie is getting older, and hasn't worn anything that I have made him in many years, I have turned my focus to sewing again for myself. And one of my favorite fabric and pattern designers is Amy Butler. You can see her stuff at Or just browse a small sampling here:
I adore her color combinations, and her patterns are such fun. I am in the process of making a kimono style robe, just gorgeous. And planning to make several handbags, for gifts. (you will note that I said "planning". I do lots of "planning", not so much actual creating. But isn't it fun just to look at them? I wish you could touch them through your computer screen...)
Yesterday Tracy M and I were able to steal a few hours away from home, and took a field trip to Crafty Planet in NE Mpls. Fabric, patterns, yarn, I nearly broke out into hives. Just wonderful. After a yummy lunch at Pop! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name) we checked out The Textile Center on University Ave. (a must-see for anyone else bitten by the fiber and textile bug), and then ended our fun day with a stop at Treadle Yard Goods to take advantage of their summer sale. A fabriholics dream shopping day.
One thing I noticed yesterday? Fabric makes people happy. For those of you who have been bitten by the fabric bug, you know what I mean. Every employee we ran across yesterday at any of the fabric places was happy. Overly happy. Smiling all the time happy. And you know why? Because they are surrounded by beautiful things that they get to touch, any old time they want to.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you my dear fabric obsessed friend for the amazing day yesterday! I was so excited to introduce my stash to it's new friends that came home with me. Let's make this a regular outing once school starts!

    Oh, the the Woop Woop was Woopderful too....


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