27 October 2007

I Refuse to Apologize - Ever

On the discussion boards I frequent, I often see a 'fabric moratorium' thread. On this thread, many women are trying to curb their fabric buying and have banded together with other like minded individuals for encouragement and support. Many of the woman express a desire to have less clutter in their lives and some even go so far as to suggest that building a stash is amoral because North Americans are too materialistic (pun intended) and are too focused on the acquisition of 'stuff'. Although I applaud their willpower and desire to pare down their stash, I will never join their ranks. I believe I am genetically predisposed to acquire fabric - lots and lots of fabric. Before you write me off as a helpless addict or a shallow twit, please read on.

I love fabric. I love everything about fabric. I love the colour, the texture, the drape, the feel, the smell, but most of all I love the possibilities. Oh, the sweet possibilities. To me, fabric is woven dreams and knitted fantasies. My fabric closet is a magical place. It has power. Each piece of fabric that it contains is like a little piece of my soul, my history and my future. The warp and weft are akin to space and time. In my fabric closet time travel is possible.

The cocoa and cream houndstooth wool reminds me of being 18, standing in Shanfield's Fabrics (now defunct). It was a small, cramped shop, filled to the rafters with fabric and embellishments. I can still see Mr. Shanfield pulling bolt after bolt of beautiful fabric off his shelves to tempt me. I was searching for the perfect fabric to create the perfect prom dress. I knew exactly what I wanted - I had spent hours imagining exactly what this dress would look like. As usual, Mr. Shanfield was able to fill my order; like a magician, he produced the exact shade of soft pink satin that I saw in my head. The smooth coolness of the fabric is still ingrained in my memory - it represented the promise of a fairy tale evening to be shared with the first boy that I ever loved - I can still picture the look on his face when he saw me in that dress...but I digress. Obviously, I hadn't come to the store looking for wool, but when I spotted it sitting on the cutting table next to the satin, how could I resist? It whispered to me - promises of sophistication and style, something that I was desperately trying to acquire. Like many young women in their late teens, I was trying to find my niche. I longed to be confident and classic, like Jacqueline Kennedy and with this wool, I felt it might actually be possible. It's now almost 20 years later and it still has the faint smell of promise.

The yellow cotton pique with the flower embroidery takes me back to the spring of 2005. I had just decided to reenter the world of garment sewing. I was standing in the fabric store, second guessing myself. Would I remember how to sew? Would I be able to create a garment that was wearable??? At this point, I hadn't sewn in over 10 years - university and the start of my career had taken precedence. Standing in the store that day, I was filled with self doubt and fear. That is, until I saw that yellow pique. It's sunny colour sang a song of optimism and confidence. It assured me that not only could I sew up a garment, but that it would be an extraordinary garment that would ensure hope and happiness. In that single moment, it became clear to me, I knew I had to sew again - it was a requirement of my existence.

The coral cashmere wool reminds me of my husband. He has been my greatest cheerleader during my trek back into sewing. He encourages my passion for sewing and he truly understands how important this "hobby" is to me. He never rolls his eyes when I tell him about SWAP, or what the ladies on the discussion board are talking about. He is always ready to help me pin up a hem or act as my fashion photographer. He even goes so far as to encourage my fabric acquisition. Each year, when we travel to Toronto to visit his brother, he is sure to include a large block of time to explore the fabric district. He patiently follows me into store after store, carrying my purchases and through it all, he actually seems to enjoy it. Last summer, I spotted the coral cashmere in one of my favourite TO stores. It sang a siren song to me the moment I spotted it in amongst the other bolts. When I decided to purchase a piece, my husband just smiled. No reminders of the size of my existing stash, no snide comments about the cost, nothing negative - just a smile. I am a lucky woman.

Fabric is like a magic carpet, able to transport its owner to any time or location that she desires. The rustle of silk speaks of glamorous starlit evenings. The warm caress of wool encourages thoughts of strolling through the English countryside. The cool comfort of linen brings to mind hot summer days at the beach or garden parties replete with the heady smell of roses. Fabric is the initial stage of a dream, of a hope, of a promise.

So, that's my story. Now, it's your turn. Speak to me ladies (and gents, if you're lurking), share your thoughts on fabric with me. What does fabric mean to you? Does it inspire flights of fancy? Does it fulfill you or does it depress you? Do you revel in your stash or do you find it overwhelming?



In closing, here are the latest bits and pieces that have been added to my stash (from Timmel Fabrics & Fabric Mart - two of my most cherished purveyors of textile dreams).
Rust crosshatched rayon, rust baby cord, rust plaid wool, spice herringbone RPL, black wool satin, brown tweed and white striped cotton shirting


Khaki wool crepe, chocolate RPL doubleknit and Anna Sui paisley silk charmeuse

25 comments:

SRR said...

Thanks for sharing! Yes, oh yes, on the possibilities. Health problems currently keep me from sewing very much, but I keep buying fabric. I may not be accomplishing much but oh, the possibilities. My mind and imagination are engaged. Plus when I CAN sew, there are gorgeous fabrics from which I can choose. Or I will reorganize and discover fabric anew.

My husband is thrilled when I make a fabric purchase I like. He cheers when those boxes of fabric arrive. He came with me to the Sewing Expo and stood there smiling, holding bolts of fabric while I went to choose more. I was the envy of everybody in line!

Marie

Marguerite said...

Shannon, Other than the following me around the fabric store...he will drive way out of the way though, I'm married to a guy like yours. (35 years next Feb.!) I think, and this is after two years of reading your posts and blog...I am truly your alter ego...soul sewing sister...call it what you will, but I'm there. I revel in my stash and visit it daily! Makes me happy just to imagine the possibilities and remember where I was when I made the purchase. I have a piece of raincoat stuff from San Francisco that may never get made into something...but I was there with my Dad and have such great memories of our trip that I can get misty when I see it up on my shelf. Almost every piece of cloth has a story...So let's add to the stash and the memories!
Marguerite

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Now you know you just called out a Fabricaholics convention, right! Yeap, we are all lining up at the door, getting our badges, practicing our stories so that we can share with like minded sisters, just how much we love fabric! *LOL*

Hey, you know how much I love fabric and is that the brown doubleknit I see from Fabric Mart! You are going to LOVE this piece. It has a great hand and a great weight. I was over the moon when it arrived.

And you know that I am an UNREPENTANT Fabricaholic...I loves me some fabric! Great post!

Anonymous said...

I ordered 23 yards of fabric right before logging on to your blog (could it be that I associate you with beautiful fabric and great productivity??) I feel simply joyful! Possibility thinking abounds!! Then....I read your blog entry, and now all I can think of saying is "Amen." Linda M.

Shannon G said...

and a hearty AMEN to everything said:)
Fabric is my palette.
ShannonG4d

Juliane said...

All I can add to this is "Amen".

MarilynB said...

Thank you for this lovely entry on your blog. You have given romance to fabric collecting. As you said, the fabric stash is your future (as well as many of us who collect)--that statement certainly puts a positive note on collecting fabrics. Fabrics speak to me, telling all their possibilities. Fabric usually is the starting point and inspiration for all my projects, the patterns come second.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a therapist and buying fabric is my therapy.
Fabric connects me to generations of women and lets me be free to express myself.
I have to go order the lavender Lepore print now that Carolyn ordered!

Maureen

Maureen said...

Excuse me---the Anna Sui wool!
Must have been having an anxiety attack--he he!

Theresa (Textilogist) said...

Its always good to know there are others like yourself-I love textiles-the searching, the dreaming, the feel and the care. I love to get ot my fabrics when dreaming up possibilities for fabulous clothes and love to see the cut out pieces become a wearable garment. And being realistic I have more fabric than I will actually ever sew.

rosanne said...

I love textiles and I love shopping for fabric. Let me say that again; I love fabric. I don't have the many associative memories like you though. Since much of my fabrics have been purchased at Joann's or Hancock's, or just digging through a bin at a local fabric discount store, they are not what I would consider "magical" moments, to say the least. However, I love to imagine the possibilities of the fabrics I do have and opening my fabric closet always a revelation. The countless times I have reorganized have been opportunities to reengage my imagination with different pairings of fabric to pattern. Feeding the creative side of myself is what I cherish, and having a massive stash is simply an imperative one cannot ignore.

Gorgeous Things said...

Sing it sister! Never give in, never surrender is my motto! Of course, I'm on a serious stash reduction jag right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not supplementing my stash for every piece that goes out. And more....

Mardel said...

Yeah Shannon. Stand up and shout it out for all of us fabric lovers out there. Every piece is a promise and a dream and wonderful just for itself.

I just had to stick my head in and joint the throng.

Melody said...

Yes I totally agree with you. I've felt the same way for a long, long time but I'd never have been able to word it so eloquently. You really do capture the romance of fabric. I know that when I look at a particular piece of fabric, my mind begins to explode with possibilites and that's not even to say the feelings it evokes of the discovery of said fabric. You tell it sister. Besides, there's alot worse things we could be addicted to, right?

Linda said...

You go girl! I really appreciate what you said and can so identify!

The J said...

I think I walk up the middle of this road - I can't seem to give away anything I have, for the very reasons you mention. But I also find that having the totes full of fabric, all with amazing ideas attached to them, the "voices" tend to get overwhelming. I avoid going to places I might find more things calling too me, because I have SO.MUCH.TO.DO.

I think I just have to get faster at sewing ;).

tumblina

Vicki said...

Shannon great post. Fabric to me is the possibilities, the dreams. One day a piece of fabric can be one thing and then the next day something else.

And I have to agree with you as I have just bought 24 new dreams for my stash!

beth said...

Well, yes, there's the garment fabric stash, the quilt fabric stash and the yarn stash. Like the resta ya, I can't quit.

It's embarrassing how much I have stashed, but I love every centimeter of it!

marty said...

Everyone has their vices. For us, it is collecting fabric and patterns that shout out possibilities for lovely garments. My DH is very understanding and supportive of all aspects of my sewing. He is my biggest cheerleader. I don't "fuss" about his pipes and custom tobacco and he doesn't "fuss" about my growing sewing machine collection and fabric. Here's to all the great guys out there who so willingly and lovingly help us with our fabrics.

Paula said...

Yes, it's the dream of what can be...the possibility of what you can do with the fabric, the hope that you will 'do' it and how good you'll feel when it's done. And the comfort in it all...I feel more 'secure' knowing all my precious little fabrics are tucked away waiting for me to take out, consider, touch, hold close, and put away again. My idea of 'stash reduction' is not buying anything new...A couple of weeks ago my daughter, who is a tutor at UNR's Autism Program, volunteered my stash for a project. When she told me she said, 'My Mom has more fabric than she knows what to do with and will LOVE to get rid of some.' I had to stare at her with my mouth open for a moment. Then that little twinge of anger at the thought that my precious stash was something that I was eager to part with, and how very, very wrong her take on it truly was...I don't mind contributing, but NOT because I can't wait to get rid of it! It's my security bankie, after all!!

Eme said...

Shannon...that first group from Timmel is looking very SWAP-like! ;-)

Heather said...

Well said all! Plus, it is not like a stash has a time limit on it - fabric doesn't go out of style (for the most part). I am using a flannel plaid that I bought at least 10 years ago to make McCalls 5466. To me, that seems a lot less materialistic than loading up on a bunch of RTW clothes that will go out of style.

carolyndh said...

When life is extremely busy, and you really can't do much actual sewing, you can still build your stash collection and dream of what might be! That is where I am right now, building up momentum for when I can actually sew some of what I have collected. Well said!

Isabelle said...

That is such a beautiful, Shannon and I entirely agree. My only limits are space and budget. Nothing else. Before I started sewing, I used to paint quite a bit. It dawned on me one day that fabric was now to me what oil colours used to be in the past. You can't paint if you don't have a wide enough palette to choose from. You can't be creative in sewing if you don't have fabrics to pick up and pair with a design in a whim.

Thank you for your sharing your fabric memories! Beautiful post.

Tany said...

What can I say that has not been said here before? I love fabric, I really do! I have limited space or else I would have a closet full of good memories too! But what I really envy is your husband! I am not that lucky! My boyfriend was dead bored while I and Isabelle were floating around the fabric bolts!