It started early yesterday morning when I was checking out the latest conversations on PatternReview.com. “What Minnesota PR members will I see Saturday morning at the Guthrie Theater Fabric and Trim sale?” asked SewMN. “It’s on Saturday, October 19, from 9 am to 1 pm at the Guthrie Theater.”
This was news to me. We live only a short, scenic drive from the Guthrie. How could I not go? At 8:58 am I was about twentieth in line for the sale.
Since settling in at the Jean Nouvel-designed, three-stage Guthrie Theater complex the costume shop had been acquiring fabric until every storage space was crammed. It was time to clean house. Hundreds of fabrics rolled on tubes or tied in bundles had colored price tags indicating $20, $10, $5, or $1.
Fabric rummage sales are certainly exciting, but I’ve bought my share of “bargains” that sat in my stash. A few years ago I bought some beautiful wool at such a sale with the department store credit card receipt, dated 1983, tucked into the folds. Guess what–I ended up donating it back to the same annual sale a few years later.
Having learned some lessons editing my fabric stash earlier this year, I’ve wised up about what I allow in. My fabrics can’t be prima donnas. They must play well with each other and with my wardrobe.
After circling the remnant-laden banquet tables a couple of times, I scooped up a perky, loosely woven gray and white checked wool and a mint green wool with milk-chocolate brown flecks in it. They both said “early spring suit” to me.
I brought my bolts over to the window to examine their colors in the natural light. Another sewer was clutching half a dozen fabrics rolled on tubes. One grabbed my attention: a wool in the mossy greens that go with my eye color so well.
I must have looked especially covetous or else she was feeling extra generous in that moment. After I admired her choice, she asked if I wanted it. I protested feebly. She said, “I don’t have a plan for it. You know what you’d do with it.” I had to agree. She said, “If I handed it over to you, would you take it?” She had me there. Yes! Of course!
Which is how I ended up in the checkout line with three fabric pieces of unknown lengths totaling $50. Each of them, it turns out, is about 58 inches wide and 3 1/3 yards, which is plenty for a couple of garments each.
Now, I know my tendency to attach colorful stories to my fabric purchases. I don’t want or need to change that habit. What I’m doing differently now is imagining possibilities more fully–continuing the story of each fabric through the planning, construction, and wearing stages.
When I brought these beauties home I looked at what buttons, patterns and wardrobe items could go with them. Even though I didn’t see any dazzling button-fabric combinations, the gears started turning, and that’s enough for now.
I think there are some winning pattern-fabric combinations, though. The moment I saw the checked fabric I was thinking about this 1962 jacket with detachable scarf. This fabric has some loft to it, which would be great for the scarf. It is also very ravelly. I’ll learn how to work with this characteristic.
The mint green, brown-flecked wool has the warmth needed for the end of winter and the colors of early spring. One of these 1956 jackets could be delightful to wear in March or April.
The mossy green wool is not a coat weight, but has a little more body than many jackets need. I found this 1959 pattern for a between-kind of jacket: warm enough to be a light coat in cool weather, yet light enough to wear indoors, too. I’ve admired this pattern for years and have another fabric in mind for it. The mossy wool could be my practice piece before I cut into the more unusual fabric I have ultimately in mind.
These serendipitous finds have fired up my imagination. It really wouldn’t take that much more planning to turn them into living, breathing garments.
Why not make it so?