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