a palette emerges

Hey, y’all. Long time no. . .forget about it. If you’ve had the grave misfortune of following me on Twitter, being my barista at Bouchon, or standing next to me on a subway platform, you know I’ve been neck-deep in tests for the past decade six weeks.  It’s been real, as they say.  Anyway, I go back to Washington on Wednesday/Thursday and start another batch of classes the Monday after that, so I’ll hold off on the grand declarations of being back, etc.  It is nice to see you, puppyface.

I finished my last final last night (crossing fingers and toes), and, naturally, celebrated by buying fabric this morning.  The sainted Kashi has a cat (well, his neighbors do), and if you, like me, go anywhere where there’s an animal, you should stop by and say hello.  (I swear, Eric at Mood is really on to something with that fluff bucket Swatch.)

Drunk on my newfound free-ish time, I decided to lay out my summer projects.  I sense a theme, you guys.

Fabric Stack
I’ll totally tell you where all this is from. And, no, I did not buy them in one swoop; I only bought three this morning. That last sentence was for my mother.

One of these things looks exactly like every other thing in the stack.  Do you remember the movie 500 Days of Summer?  Zooey Deschanel looks fantastic in it, and I remember reading the costume designer saying that they made a conscious decision to dress Zooey’s character in blue throughout the film.  The pieces were a mix of mall stores and vintage, and I think the restrained color palette made her wardrobe seem a lot more put-together and chic than it otherwise would have.  Then again, this wasn’t really a conscious decision for me.  Maybe I’m just in a blue mood?

I owe you my Meringue, my hemmed Hazel, my trouser-fitting stories (the horror!), some fabric ogling and whole bunch of other stuff.  Also, we’re going to try our hand at democracy here at Seam Ripped Central.

Oh!  Before I jet off (to buy buttons for my seventy shirtwaist dresses), would you like to meet Clementine Bug Witherspoon?

Clementine

I know that everyone says this about their adopted street pigeons, but I think she’s the very best.  Also, look at how clever her parents were, making that nest.  Who knew pigeons could operate document shredders?

Onward, with purpose.

and lobster makes two

I’ve been really good about sewing output recently.  For serious.  I average about 2-3 yards per dress and have made four dresses, two dress muslins, a blouse muslin, and a skirt muslin in the past month.  Not half bad.  (These are totally monthly updates now, which is more than half bad, but I say we just overlook that.)

June Output, sans muslins: four dresses, ~11 yards.
June Intake, sans lining and muslin: 6.5 yards

Can we say victory?  No?  Fine.

I’ve been trying to curb my fabric spending while I save for a new sewing machine.  I know that I’m too far gone to actually give up cold turkey, but I do think I need a step-down approach.  I’ve been over to the fabric stores on 39th Street, which is basically a methadone clinic on every level.  My beloved Paron has moved there (and is not included in this assessment).  Baby Jesus.  It is a truly overwhelming experience.  I used to think that Metro Textiles was a bit cramped and overflowing.  Uh, no.  I left after two days longing for Metro’s organization.  I only bought from one place, It’s a Material World.

Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness noted that this print is still available two years later, and I had to snap it up.  Cathy looked fantastic in it.

Ascher Rose Print

I feel that if Cathy likes something, it must be good.   Also, I totally own an iron, but this was just out of the wash.

I had a big wheely-trolley thing from work and couldn’t navigate the labyrinthine aisles at Material World.  God, that makes it sound almost glamorous.  More like: I was deathly afraid of being crushed by fabric or beaten up by one of the bargain-seeking grannies because of my schlepper wheely.  All was well, I found the fabric easily, I wasn’t asphyxiated, and a man who gave off boss vibes waited on me.  I got 3.5 yards for $17.50.  The boss man’s guest joked with me, everyone was in a good mood and all ended wonderfully.  The end.

I went in today, unburdened by mah wheels, because I thought I’d be able to find some interesting fabrics on a dig.  On my first visit, I thought that there seemed to be really lovely florals and some Ascher to be had.  I suppose there were, but the sales associate kind of followed a bit too close for my taste.  This is a store where if you are anywhere but clear across the room, you are a lover’s distance from the customer.  I decided to choose the first fabric that really jumped out at me (lobsters!) and flee.

Lobster Print Voile

The clerk told me that only chiffons were five dollars a yard and that this cotton was six.  Um, signs and precedent and oh whatever.  Sigh.  I forked over my card and, oddly, the charge only rang up as $4.77 a yard, for a grand total of $14.80 charge.  Wow.  Three yards of voile and a trip straight out the door.  Huzzah!

There’s no cutting table and they seem to be pretty exact about their yardage.  Kashi at Metro doesn’t have a cutting table, he has this big stick-thing (technical term) and he plops the bolt onto it and cuts evenly with at least a little extra.  Do with that what you will.

The stash check-in turned into a review.  Oy.  That was totally interesting for everyone.  Intrigue and mystery and new horizons explored.  No, it was actually boring as dirt and further evidence that I am basically sixty.  Hey, it’s something.  Moral of the story: I think Material World and I are kind of done for now.  I might stick to the greener pastures of labelled bolts and knowledgable sales associates.  Not before I pop into A&K.

and then there was stash

I own a lot of fabric.  You see, the Internet will lead you to believe that it is nothing if not normal to own bolts and bolts of fabric.  I’m not 1000% sure it is.  I have no research, I have no evidence, so I have no idea what the average sewist has in their stash.  However, I do know that exposure to Internet has probably led me to buy more fabric than was absolutely necessary.  I read sewing blogs for years before I sewed, and I bought fabric for a bit before I actually owned a machine.  I only have about a hundred-and-something yards, but my output does not match my intake by a longshot.  Tis a disease.

Do I think we should all stop buying fabric?  Are you mad?  Of course not.  I do think that my fabric habit is teetering on the brink of untenable.  I don’t think I should necessarily stop buying fabric, but that I should set up sound ground rules and a timeline.  Yes, this how I think.  Yes, it is totally over-structured, but here we are.

I suppose I want to:

  1. Try to keep the rate at which I sew yardage in step with the rate at which I purchase.  It won’t be perfect given how I tend to buy fabric (save, save, binge), but a rough estimate might help.
  2. Keep fabric for no more than two years.  I need good turnover in my stash to keep it fresh.  I think it must feel wonderful to uncover a buried treasure after a decade or so, but I’m not sure that works for me.  Also, I really am attached to more than a few pieces, and don’t think I’ll ever take a needle to them unless it’s imperative.
  3. Faithfully track intake and output.  I’ve been trying to figure out what a healthy sized stash would be, and I think I’ve got it.  Enough fabric to last for a year of average sewing.  A year with as many seasons as you’ll experience.  Hopefully, this year I’ll keep track of how much I sew, how often, and what I need.  I’d like to have a solid estimate by 1 June 2013, then I’ll set parameters on purchasing, etc.
  4. I need to always know exactly what I’ve got—from lining, to zippers, to notions, to interfacing.  That prevents getting a whole bunch of doubles from the dreaded Jo-Ann.
  5. Match at least 75% of my fabrics to patterns.  I really do think that’s half the battle.
  6. Weekly-ish stash check-ins to keep accountable.

My summer schedule is a bit thin, so I do hope to log some serious sewing hours before things get busy again in the fall.

I don’t know about you, but I’m nosy as all get out.  Whenever I read someone’s blog, I want to know what’s in their stash, where they got it, how much they paid for it, what they want to do with it; what size pattern they cut, what kinks were encountered, and all of that jazz.  It might be too much information, it might even be obnoxious, but I love getting a peek into the cupboards of others.  I’d like to let y’all know everything that I’d like to know, most especially from a blog that is ostensibly a tool for reining in a fabric habit.

All that to say: Here is the inaugural stash check-in.  It is all the fabric I’ve got, minus leftover bits from projects, linings, muslins, and interfacings.  It’s probably not a lot for the average sewist, but I do require a kick in the pants to jumpstart a healthy turnover.