Monday, October 22, 2012

fabric tale

Let me share a little tale. A little fabric fairy tale.

Two days after I moved to Philadelphia in August, I received an e-mail from a woman who was cleaning out her mother's house back in Louisville. She said she had uncovered a -- wait for it -- "treasure trove" of vintage fabric and patterns, as her mother used to be an avid seamstress. Not wanting to just throw them all away, she Google-searched "vintage fabric louisville ky" to see where she may be able to take them. That's where she found my blog -- particularly the post in which I whined about the lack of fabric resources in Louisville. 

"Are you interested in them? They're yours if you want them and can pick them up. I'm only in town for the weekend," she wrote.

Interested?! Um, what's the word that describes a trance-like state in which you can't stop yourself from muttering "ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod" repeatedly until your housemate has thundered "What?!" enough times that you finally muster up the words to explain your slack-jawed delirium?

Yes, I was interested.

But of course, I had just separated myself a good 700 miles from my hometown, which I had begrudgingly called a "sewing desert" only a few months before. Little did I know that a TREASURE TROVE of classic wools, Liberty of London lawn, and vibrant cottons waited patiently in neat little stacks in a woman's basement mere footsteps away from where I grew up. Not wanting to pass up this opportunity, I asked my mom if she could scoop up the boxes for me. Turns out my parents live right around the corner. 

This story does get a bit more amazing. The woman who reached out to me -- guess where she lives? Philadelphia. At the time of our e-mail exchange, I had just interviewed at a couple of non-profit agencies in town. Turns out that one of them -- and the one that subsequently offered me the job I have now -- was where she used to work for five years. In fund development, no less. Eerie, incredible, coincidental, fateful, interesting, weird. You name it. 

Anyway, I flew to L-ville this past week to attend a friend's wedding, celebrate my mama's birthday, and finally get my paws on these graciously gifted goodies. I took a carry-on bag of clothes home and checked a full suitcase of fabric on the way back. I still left behind a good amount, so what I show here in these photos is only a slice of the pie.

The wool is the bulk of it, and it's all free of moth holes, incredibly. This woman was so organized with her fabric, I feel a little guilty disrupting her piles and tossing them about. She labeled each box to say what was in each one, including yardage and color. Some of the original receipts are stapled to the fabric to show price, length and selvage width. 

I haven't inspected these patterns very closely, so if anyone wants to take a guess as to what era they're from just from cover art alone, I'll commend you. I love owning these envelopes, though I most likely won't make any of these up. They're just so beautiful and charming.

Oh yea, there are also notions.

Was that not clear? NOTIONS! Seam binding, bias tape, rick rack, hook & eyes, buttonhole makers, snaps, zippers, elastic, piping, lace, ballpoint needles, helloooooooo seamster heaven. My existing notion stash was dismal because I hate spending money on the little extras, so I'm thrilled to suddenly have these at my fingertips. I keep dumping them onto the floor so I can admire the molehill of plastic packages; it's just like dumping out your Halloween candy after trick-or-treating to see how successful you were at acquiring as much free candy as possible.

These gadgets are my favorite. Pleat maker? Hallelujah. Top stitch zipper guide? It looks confusing but if it makes me "topstitch like a pro" then try to stop me from being a pro topstitcher. And a bound buttonhole maker? Oh go on! If you've tried any of these tools before, please give me your insight!

I know I was graced with a wonderful and generous gift here, and I'm so so grateful. Before you curse my good fortune, though, please know that I've already been bitten in the ass by karma. My hands were so full toting all my luggage home from the train station, somewhere along the way I dropped and lost my Minoru jacket. I had just exclaimed in my last post how it was my most-worn item, but now I have to declare it dead and gone, probably sucked under the tire of a garbage truck or swiped off the train platform. Let's just hope the new owner, if there is one, appreciates the hand-crafted pear-shapededness of that well-loved jacket. Oh well. 

What's your favorite fabric acquisition or fabric find story? Have you ever been gifted something unexpected, just because you're one of the few out there who still pursue this sewing hobby?