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Fabric Shopping Debrief

May 20, 2005

Today, let us ponder the fabric I bought in Kansas, which as of last night is finally all out of my suitcase, ready to be washed in my traditional weekend festival o’ laundry, held pretty much every Saturday and/or Sunday I’m at home. But first let us ponder why before I could turn the fabric out onto the dining room table to be admired, I had to perform a process involving a sponge, Dawn dishwashing liquid, several towels, and Windex glass and surface cleaner in order to remove the thick, wet coating of polish left there by the woman who cleans my house every other week. Where is she getting all that polish, for one thing? I haven’t bought any new since she started coming over a year ago–do we have a bottomless can of Pledge? And also let us ponder why it’s taken me over a year to figure out that if I just put a tablecloth on before she comes, I won’t have to deal with the polish mess at all. (At least I think that approach will work; I’ll try it and if it does, I’ll think about making a cover for the PC tower, which sometimes gets the same treatment. You’re probably wondering why I don’t just ask her to stop, but you didn’t get the distraught phone call I did after I asked her to not use water on the wood floors upstairs during the summer humidity, when they tend to swell and buckle; I have no wish to repeat that sort of upset.) Maybe I can make a patchwork tablecloth–that would help with the fabric stash if-not-reduction-then-at-least-not-growing-at-more-than-replacement-rate regime I’m trying to establish.

Not trying very hard, though, judging by my purchases in Kansas. I did have a success a couple weeks before the trip, when four of us from work went to a quilt shop on our lunch hour and where, despite the fact that there was a sale on fat quarters, I bought nothing. That sort of willpower is hard to maintain for a whole weekend, much less a whole weekend pretty much designed around shopping for fabric. I did pretty well at our first stop, Prairie Point in Shawnee Mission. I got three half yard pieces that I’ll almost certainly use in my next baby quilt, so they don’t really count as stash additions since they won’t be around for long. I got one yard of a batik, which maybe doesn’t quite reach the “really special” hurdle I set for myself, but it is a sunflower-esque print, and that’s the state flower of Kansas, featured on many signs along the highway, so this is a souvenir that just happens to be fabric, not a wanton stash supplement. I rounded out my purchase with two fat quarters. One has witch (or maybe wizard) hats on it; I’m pretty sure I don’t already have that in my novelty print collection. The other is a stripe, which I know I said I wasn’t going to buy, but I only got a little piece, and this was such a striking color combination that it’s not just a stripe, it’s a quilt starter. Looking at it again, though, I wonder if “ugly” is a better word for it. I am having trouble imagining liking a quilt based on this color scheme: light pink, pale yellow, several shades of brown, hospital green, pumpkin, greyed turquoise blue, and brick red. Yet I know that fabrics that are ugly on their own often work well to make interesting quilts, so I’m holding onto this piece.

Our next stop was Addadi’s Fabrics, also in Shawnee Mission. This isn’t a quilt shop, but they did have many fabrics suitable for quilting, with the added bonus that they were cheap. Very cheap. $2.25 to $3.25 a yard cheap. Good quilting cottons are usually three times that, a fact which the shop owner will make sure you’re aware of. Their fabrics weren’t the latest prints nor from the highest-end manufacturers, but they were certainly decent quality, not the see-through uneven-weave goods that often show up in discount bins. I found a jungle print and also a cute alligator stripe that will be great for baby quilts. Yes, I already have a lot of animal-themed baby quilt fabrics, but $3.25 a yard, man, and also my mom told me I needed these. To assert my independence, I also got a yard of a flaming skulls print that Mom thought was very scary and told me to put back. I’m going to make a Halloween quilt someday, and the skulls will fit right in. In all, I ended up with something like 13 or 14 yards of fabric for a grand total of $40.53. That’s too good a deal to pass up. It’s a good thing I don’t have an embroidery machine, because if I did I bet I would have ended up with many cones of thread, too.

Things got a little out of hand when I got to Harper’s Fabric and Quilt Co.. Whether it was because my fabric buying mojo was warmed up by now or because the fabric buyer for Harper’s and I have similar tastes or a combination of both, I came out of here with a rather heavy bag. Probably the most egregious violation of my recent self-imposed stash rules is the yard of train fabric, but I just had to get this one because it’s got a darn fine representation of one of Dad’s favorite trains, the Burlington Northern Nebraska Zephyr.

The next day at the show I didn’t buy all that much, considering. At no point was I even tempted to return to the car and empty my bag so I could buy more, which is something I’ve done more than once at other shows. Many of the booths had no fabric for sale at all, being filled with long arm quilting machines and crystals and cone thread, which helped me behave. I can’t buy what’s not there. I did the most damage to my bank balance at the vendor who had a whole tub of Lakehouse fabric for me to paw through; I found twelve (!) pearlescent prints I didn’t already have (I knew I didn’t have them because I’d pasted little swatches of the ones I did onto a 3 x 5 card which I kept in my purse–I felt so organized.) Still, I only got fat quarters of most of them, so even that wasn’t too bad. Post-show but still Friday, at Cy Rudnick’s Fine Fabrics, I only got four fabrics, and over half of that yardage is Mom’s fault–she told me I needed those big, colorful dots.

Saturday I was fairly restrained. True, at Quilter’s Haven I did buy a yard of fish fabric, which is on the forbidden list, but this was different than the ones I already have, I swear. These fish are swimming through seaweed that forms a vertical stripe pattern, and some of them are ghost fish–you can see the seaweed right through them. I had to have some of that. And the prices at Happy Crafters were so good that I couldn’t just leave those batiks there, could I?

Now that I’m done justifying my purchases, I guess I’d better focus on spending some quality time sewing in order to make some room in the fabric closet. I’ve also got to find a way to distract myself from thinking about the fabrics I did not buy. There was the rosy Hoffman batik with animals on it that I passed on during the lunchtime quilt shop stop. The small-scale Summer’s North print with the dragonflies that would have coordinated with the panels I got last summer. The fancy foil prints I didn’t see until I’d already cashed out at that vendor’s booth and told myself I might go back for later but never got around to. The misty green and purple landscape print that was so, so pretty. I bet if I poked around on the web a bit I could find most of them. Except I bet I’d find some other things, too, and since it only makes sense to spread the shipping charges over more than one piece of fabric, I’d probably end up ordering more that just the fabrics I regret not buying when I saw them. Okay, this is not helping.

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