Saturday, September 5, 2009

A story from the stash - Part 1

In the mid 1990s I was living in London and working at my dream job. One day while having lunch with a workmate I mentioned that I hadn't had much joy buying useable fabrics while living there.

I'd been to stunning antique fairs, shops and markets and seen beautiful, museum-quality vintage textiles. I'd been to the fabric departments of high end department stores and seen designer fabrics costing more per metre than I earned in a day. I'd been to numerous charity shops and found plenty of treasures but minimal fabric yardage. The few everyday dress-making fabric stores I'd found sold twee or tacky fabric yet charged five times what I had been used to paying in New Zealand.

My workmate was a curator with a special interest in textiles. She was also a sewer. On hearing this she grabbed my arm, got a huntress look in her eyes and said "You are coming with me next weekend!"

So I did. First we went to the V&A and ogled the costumes. Then she took me to what I think heaven looks like. It was a fabric market run by some of her friends. It was a jumble sale in an old hall filled to overflowing with fabrics, textiles, haberdashery, yarn and tools. From the overwhelming assortment of old and new I bought several metres of a clothing designer's surplus hand-printed cotton (since made into a shirt for my partner), some retro printed barkcloth (since made into a skirt for me), several bakelite buckles, some buttons the size of biscuits and some sequins the size of coins. I bought a battered piece of textile jewellery like the ones I'd just seen at the V&A.

And I bought the blue fabric pictured above. It is upholstery fabric and not what I usually buy but somehow I couldn't resist. I have carted it around the world and brought it out of my stash and chipped away at it several times. In the next few posts I'll tell you about some of them. I only have a wee scrap of that fabric left.

If Stash ReHash is only a quarter as wonderful as that market in London I'll be very happy, and my wallet will probably end up considerably lighter.

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