I think it’s pretty safe to say that, if you do some kind of craft – whether it be sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, quilting, tatting – you’ll start building up a stash of something. My mother has a stash primarily made of yarn (TONS of yarn, hiding in different locations around the house), though hers also includes embroidery floss, cross-stich kits, and a big jumbly container of crochet hooks. There are a few knitting needles in there, but the hooks far outweigh the needles.
My stash falls, primarily, in the fabric-and-patterns category, though I also have a nice collection of vintage buttons, through the kind donations of friends and family. Honestly. So. Many. Buttons.
My fabric stash is interesting – to me, at least – in that it’s got a nice half-and-half ratio going. Half of the fabric in the stash are purchase that I have made. Some of those are specific purchases with specific projects in mind (white terry cloth for Olaf, pink satin for Rose’s “Idiot’s Lantern” skirt, and a lovely woven material that has nubby little blue polka dots that I still intend to make into a 1950s wrap dress, despite the fabric having been in the stash for several years by now). Some of them were purchased because they were on sale, or because I spotted them and they were just too good to pass up, and I thought “I need to have a white-on-white calico on hand,” or something similar.
The other half of my stash has been donated/gifted to me. As with the aforementioned vintage buttons, I have been the recipient of several people’s moving/cleaning/lucky finds. My friend Angelica used to wind up with various piles of fabric from her days at FIDM, and I was the lucky recipient of a number of those pieces. There are several particularly beautiful swatches of fabric that I honestly don’t think I will ever actually use, simply because I think they’re too pretty. I just sit and stare at them. Sometimes, I’ll stroke them and intone “preeeeeetty.” I know. I’m a creeper. But they are pretty. And I don’t want to ruin the pretty pretties by using them. And yes, I know that’s not the point of fabric. It’s meant to be used.
But they’re just so pretty.
Of course, not all of the donated fabric in my stash meets that same level of prettiness. A number of pieces fall into the “this will come in handy” or “useful solid colors” category. I’ve used a number of those items to create baby quilts for friends. Actually, about half of the fabric used in Robert’s quilt – all of the solid colors actually came from my donated fabric stash. I’ve also used some of the fabric to create muslin mock-ups when costuming.
Unfortunately, there is also a whole category of “who in their right mind would pick that?!” fabric in my stash. You know a particular pattern or color is truly awful when even I have a hard time figuring out what to use it for. As Maggie will undoubtedly tell you, I have a penchant for going into the fabric store and picking out the most god-awful piece of fabric in there.
Of course, in my defense, when people poo-poo my fabric choices in the store, they usually wind up liking the finished product I used said fabric in. Like Maggie’s Raven Stealing the Sun quilt. She hated the red and teal fabric when she saw it side by side on the bolts, but even she had to admit that it worked in the final quilt. That being said, I will tell you right now that there are some pieces in my stash that I can’t see myself ever using. Some of them are just horrid.
When Heather and Frank moved to their new place in Stafford, necessitating a rather large downsizing in Frank’s great-aunt’s own fabric stash, I wound up with a fair amount of assorted stretch knits. Some of them are small quarter-yard solids that will probably become stuffed animals. Others fall into that unfortunate never-gonna-use-it category.
One of the winners in this group of fabric has been sitting in one of my stash boxes, begging to be used for a few years now. I don’t generally work with many knits, but I fell in love with this one and knew what I wanted to use it for almost immediately.
It’s not often that I find a pattern that I love as much as this shirt. There are three slight variations in the package, and I have made two of them. The first was made of a lightweight knit featuring a cute little print of black skulls and crossbones on a dusky peach background. Anyone who has seen my usual wardrobe would tell you the peach color was a surprise, but it was adorable. Sadly (though only partly), I lost a great deal of weight shortly after making it and it was donated to Goodwill for someone else to find and love. The second attempt at the pattern was successful. I chose the more modest version of the pattern, without the V-neck, and used another lightweight knit – this time, blue with tiny brown and yellow hearts. It remains one of my favorites.
The knit I’ve worked with here is a little heavier than the original two versions I made up, but it’s still rather breathable – a must, considering we’re about to get into the rather hot and muggy summer season here in the swamps of the DC Metro area. The little vent in the back will help keep my back a little cooler in my un-air-conditioned car.
The shirt works up pretty quickly. It took about 30 minutes to cut out (and most of that was just fiddling with the stripes to make sure they matched as well possible), and about two hours of pinning and stitching and encasing the elastic. Tonight, I’ve just got to finish hand-sewing the bottom hem and the sleeves, and I’ll be ready to wear it this weekend for the quilt show Mom and I are going to over at the Dulles Expo Center. Weee!