When you make sourdough bread, you start with a piece of dough left over from the last unbaked loaf as a starter for the next loaf. This is called the mother dough. And when I was opening the boxes of the stash in my big ‘Fabric Stash Organization and Cleanup of 2013’ project, I have found the first piece of fabric that was ever placed in my stash. It is a piece of cotton, 2 yards in length, with tiny camels on it. It was the piece of fabric that started my fabric stash in the first place, or my mother dough as it were.
When I was in college, I needed a job to pick up some extra cash to help pay for the expenses of going to school full time. And so, back in the day I found work at a discount fabric store named the $2 Fabric Store. My mom had taught me to sew when I was just a young girl and I had entered a few sewing projects as a member of my local 4H club. And now that I was a newly married bride, and a full time student and poor as a church mouse, I was trying to remember all that she had taught me as quickly as I could. I was doing this so that I could make some clothes for the husband, and so we didn’t have to pay the outrageous clothing prices they wanted for clothes in his size at the local Big and Tall store. I understood the basic process of sewing and I had recently purchased some fabric and was in the process of making the husband a shirt from it, but I had not bought any more fabric than I needed to complete that project, and I only had the piece I was currently sewing together.
I of course knew about the obsession to buy and store extra fabric that people develop when they start sewing, but I certainly had not been swept up by it at that point in time. The other ladies that I worked with at the fabric store were quick to snag any new fabric that came in and caught their fancy, and I remembered my mother buying fabric to tuck into a box for later, so I did not find their behavior odd at the time, but it just wasn’t for me. Then one day while at work, some of the fabric had been marked down to just $0.50 a yard and the ladies were going nuts over it! It was at this time that I got caught up in the fabric purchasing frenzy and I bought this first 2 yard piece of fabric just to store away for later. And so I put my dollar in the register and took my purchase home. Even though at the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it.
Purchasing the fabric was fun. I got a little kick from it and the ladies at work were so excited to see me purchase the fabric since I normally did not buy into their mania. So, I figured that the next time I saw a great deal that I just couldn’t pass up I would do it again. So, I soon spent another dollar and purchased another piece of fabric, this time 2 yards of cotton with panda bears skiing printed on it. It was just as much fun to purchase as the first piece of fabric was and the second piece of fabric was soon placed with the first piece.
I quickly learned that fabric purchasing was highly addictive. I began to look at the other fabric in the store and think about what my next purchase would be. I started to agree with the other ladies that I just had to buy another piece that next payday. It was not long before the next payday came and I had purchased my next piece of fabric, 2 yards of purple and green plaid printed fleece. I loved the piece and wanted to make a shirt from it. I had even paid a whole one dollar per yard for it! Outrageous! This was the start. Now I had 3 pieces of fabric in my stash. I now had yardage of fabric on hand. I could make whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without going to the store and making a purchase first. And so it goes.
And even now, somewhat ironically, I still have these original 3 pieces of fabric in my stash. I laughed when I came across them while I was sorting through my boxes. After 20+ years, these three pieces of fabric that I had originally purchased so long ago are still living in a box, sitting in the stash just waiting for their turn to be picked and made into something fun.
As I looked at these three pieces, I thought to myself, “What were you thinking? Especially that purple and green plaid fleece. It’s just awful.” Needless to say those three pieces quickly made their way to the depart with pile, but in the end I had pulled them back out. Doesn’t the little neighbor girl need a dress with camels or skiing panda on it? Plus the purple and green plaid isn’t that bad. I should make me the shirt I wanted, even if I never wear it, just to say that I have a shirt from the third piece of fabric from my stash that I purchased all so long ago. It’s all so nostalgic of course!
Speaking of nostalgia, I found one more piece of fabric that brought back a million memories for me. This piece of beige cotton with fudgecicles printed on it is very old. It is the remnants from a blouse that my mother made for me for my first day of school in the first grade. I remember the blouse having elastic at the neckline and she also made me a pair of brown polyester pants to wear along with the the blouse. The final piece of the outfit was a matching purse from the brown polyester, lined with the fudgecicle fabric. The purse had a ruffle on the flap made from the fudgecicle fabric and a fudgecicle pocket on the front. I thought I was quite dashing in this ensemble at the time!
A few years ago, my mother was parting with this piece of fabric and I quickly took it from her. It needed to come home and live in my stash. Now as far as a piece of fabric goes, it is not a very high quality piece at all. It’s a very thin and loose weave, and it would not be the first fabric I would pick for a project. And I would not have bought it had I saw it at the store, but it still holds a lot of memories for me, so I keep it tucked away in the stash if for nothing more than nostalgia’s sake. I need to do something special with it, but I am not sure what that exactly is yet. So, for now, it continues to live in the stash to provide me with some fond memories of my childhood’s past.
“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.”
― Ally Condie