Tag Archive | yardage

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

But It’s Too Hot

Because we had such a cold winter this past year, the husband has wore his heavy fleece robot bathrobe all winter long, and has been nice and toasty in it. As the seasons are starting to change and the weather is starting to warm back up, I am starting to hear murmuring about how hot and heavy the robot bathrobe is. When I found the husband looking for his old worn out bathrobe for the coming summer months, I knew it was time to make him another lighter and cooler bathrobe for the summer months.

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IMGI got out the pattern that I had used when I constructed the robot bathrobe, but with our recent change in body size, I decided to try a newly purchased pattern, Simplicity 5314 instead. I purchased this pattern awhile back on one of Jo-Ann’s 5 for $5 pattern sales. I started by taking some quick measurements of the husband, but decided that since he would want a roomy big bathrobe, I would just make the XXXL size. Next came what fabric to use? I showed the husband the terry cloth I had picked up at Walmart for $1 per yard, but he cringed at the sight of the baby blue color of it. So, the next time we were at Joann’s, he spotted some nice flannel with monsters on it and I picked that for his next bathrobe. At the cutting table, I told the lady helping us that I needed 5 yards. There was 8 yards left on the bolt. Since I refuse to pay Jo-Ann’s regular prices for fabric and I would be use my coupon, I told the lady to give me the whole bolt, and I am glad I did. After putting the fabric through the washer and dryer, it shrank several inches. It was now only 40 inches wide, not 45. and at least 1/2 yard shorter. Wow. I was sure glad I had gotten the extra fabric.

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P1020777 - Version 2Too scared to cut into the expensive monster flannel, I decided I could use a new bathrobe too. This would give me the chance to muslin the pattern before cutting into the husband’s fabric. So, I dug out the baby blue terry cloth from the stash. I decided since I would be making the XXXL size for the husband, I would make the XXL size for me. I traced both sizes of the pattern and cut my size out of the terry cloth and proceeded to start sewing. Sewing with the stretch of terry cloth is alway interesting but things were going along just fine until it was time to try the bathrobe on. When I pulled the bathrobe on, it was HUGE. The shoulder seams went to my elbows, and the bottom of the armscye was at my waist, and it was longer than I am tall. It was way, way too big! And I decided that it was going to take major reconstruction to fit me. I asked the husband to try it on and, of course, it fit him much better. Begrudgingly, he agreed that with a little bit of altering, this blue terry cloth bathrobe could be his summer robe. That was very sweet of him, but I had not yet given up hope of this thing being my bathrobe.

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IMG_0022Because this bathrobe was just big all the way around, I started my alterations by tracing the size XL pattern and placing its pieces on the bathrobe. With my sliver of soap, I traced the XL size on to the fabric. I then stitched on my soap lines. It was not an exact match. I had to fudge where some seams were already sewn together (I was not in the mood to unpick terry cloth), but it worked out fine in the end. After sewing it, I cut off the extra and tried the bathrobe on again. Wow, it so much better fitting already! The armscye was still very low, so I stitched the side seams up higher into the sleeve to solve that issue. I now had a bathrobe that fit quite well. It was still big and oversized, but it was the right amount of oversized this time around. Even more importantly, I knew what size and alterations like raising the armscye to make on the husband’s bathrobe, so I was now ready to cut into the monster flannel without fear of flubbing it up.

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P1020779The flannel was a dream to work with after working with the stretch of the terry cloth. It cut and sewed up great. It was not long before I had something for the husband to try on. Because of all I had learned while fitting my bathrobe, there were only a few tweaks needed to his before the fit was just what he wanted. I am anxious for the husband to wear his new flannel bathrobe and give it a proper tryout. He has always previously had knit bathrobes and I wonder if he will miss the stretch of the knit that the flannel does not have. If he does not mind the loss of the stretch, I think I will make me a flannel bathrobe next time too.

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As I looked at the fun monster design on the husband’s bathrobe, I became jealous that mine was just a boring old baby blue one, so I decided to add some embroidery to my bathrobe to spice it up a little. It was not hard for me to pick a design. I chose a Peanuts design that I had always wanted to try out, but I had just never found the right item to put it on. My bathrobe was the perfect choice to try it out on. One problem that arose was that I did not place the design very well. I placed it where I would have placed it on a shirt. I did not take into account IMG_0018that the robe is so oversized, or the cross over of the fabric when the robe is closed, or the fact that I will wear the bathrobe without a bra on. Anyway, the design is stitched where it is and I can’t change that now, but I did learn another valuable lesson regarding embroidery design placement on bathrobes. Besides that, no one but the husband is ever going to see me in my bathrobe. And he is happy that he does not have to wear the baby blue terry cloth, and I love having a Snoopy and Charlie Brown on my bathrobe.

I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

P1020861With the sorting of all my fabric in the stash finally completed, it was time to start re-boxing it all back up. And I must say that I just hated to be putting all of my lovely fabric back into boxes. I was wishing as I was packing it back up that I had a way of displaying everything in my stash at once so I could see what I have without looking in the boxes. I could have bought the clear plastic totes to box up the stash in, but I am a frugal person at heart and I didn’t want to put out the money for them.

So, how else could I box my stash back up and yet still be able to see what I had in the boxes?

The answer was a simple one of course! A picture of the contents of the box, taped to the outside of the box, would let me see what I had in the box and yet the fabric would be safe and secure in storage inside it’s box. This also went hand in hand with the way I wanted the stash categorized for my needs.

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P1020916So my Organizational Categories that I came up with are as follows: Category 1 is Knits, solid colors, 2 yards or longer. And so in the first box I arranged 9 pieces of knit solid color 2 yards or longer fabric in the box. I had picked darker colors to go into this box. And since I had taken the time to pre-sort all of my fabrics as I unboxed them all, I knew that I had all of my pieces of this type of fabric together.

Once I was sure they would fit in the box ok, I then removed the 9 pieces of fabric and took a picture of them. I then re-boxed up the 9 pieces of fabric, and then I printed out the picture I took and labeled the box and picture 1a. Next I placed the picture in a plastic sheet protector and taped it to the front of the box so I could easily see it from the side as it was stacked with other boxes in the closet. Since I have many more pieces in this category, I repeated the process for the next box but labeled it 1b and so on with the next boxes of fabric.

Now when I decide that I want to make something that will require a piece of solid color knit fabric of more than 2 yards in length, I will only need to look at the photos on the boxes in the 1XX series to determine which box I need to open. And when I remove a piece of fabric from a box, I will pull the picture out of the plastic protector and mark out the fabric on the picture showing that it has been used and is no longer in the box. Also, if I need to condense boxes in the future, I can just retake the pictures for the the front of the box to show the boxes current inventory.

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P1020923Fortunately or unfortunately, depending who you are and how you think about it, I am not parting with very much of the fabric from my stash. I had started this project with the original intent of getting rid of quite a bit of the fabric that I would probably never use while I was organizing and categorizing it. But that didn’t end up happening.

While I was discussing my intentions with the husband, he asked why I wanted to part with any of my fabric that I had spent so long carefully curating, and he was right. Why would I? It isn’t like I didn’t have room to store it or anything like that. And each piece in the stash is a wanted piece of fabric that I was willing to give money for and was willing to store, sometimes for many years on end.

He wondered why I would part with these pieces only to end up going back out and purchasing them again in the end. I told him it was probably the thrill of the purchase, to which, he of course responded with some smart comment about charging me for each piece that I removed from the stash so I felt like I was getting nothing for my money. I promptly ignored his last comment, but I took his other comments to heart.

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P1020873Of course, there are always those pieces that you just adored back when you first purchased them and at the time knew just exactly what you wanted to make from them, but after aging in a box for awhile, they just don’t have the same appeal to you when you next see them. And all of those pieces have now departed the stash and are being sent to a local charity that makes things to sell at craft shows.

Also a lot of my older scraps that I had been storing are finally making their way to the garbage can. I view scraps quite differently now than I used to.

Previously I would always keep all my scraps, just in case, you never know, like aliens are landing on earth and the only thing that would save us is if I could make a rope from the tied together pieces of the scraps and we could climb down from the rooftop using the rope made from the scraps and we would be saved from certain destruction, and on and on. But after storing the scraps now for years, and just never really needing them, they are finally departing the stash.

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P1030024I remember the first time that I ever threw away the scraps from a project, it upset me greatly and I ended up retrieving the scraps from the garbage can, but I then found a bit of bravery and threw them away again. And I did not in the end ever miss or need them. It was all ok.

So, now it is time I have decided for the scraps in the stash to just go away. Now, bear in mind, that I am pretty conservative about what I consider to be scraps. If I can squeeze a baby sleeper or a size 6 month t-shirt out of a scrap, it’s not a scrap. Instead it is still a usable piece of fabric to me. So, the scraps I am parting with really are scraps. Two or three inches here, four of five inches there, etc, but even at that I even kept some or the cuter scraps for appliqués.

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P1020875As I am writing this I am still in the long process of re-boxing the stash. It is a very slow and painstaking process and so I am taking it slow. I wanted to get this sorting and boxing process done right this time, because I want the stash organized and under control for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to be able to easily and quickly find what I want, when I want it. So far it is looking good with my chosen categories and pictures. And I am excited to be done with the boxing and to start on my next project and to be able to find a piece of fabric from the stash without spending hours looking for it as I would have previously. My husband was nice enough to design me a small computer database of the categories and photos so that before I even head to the stash I can see an overview of everything I have without even leaving my sewing room. I have my fingers crossed that it will all work as I had planned. Here is to hoping that I am right!

Mother Dough – The Obsession Begins

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.

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P1020984When 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.

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P1020986Purchasing 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.

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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.

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P1020987And 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!

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P1020992Speaking 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.

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“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.”
― Ally Condie

Stash Busting

P1020833Since it is too early in the year to break my New Year’s Resolutions just yet, I decided to get started on my great stash cleanup of 2013. I knew that my goal was to get control over the stash and I had outlined a few broad steps to achieve this goal, but actually getting started and getting it done had started to become an issue for me.

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Where should I start?
What should I do first?

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I tried to come up with a plan of action to get the task completed, but in the end I was failing to get a working plan outlined. And I noticed that all my time was being spent trying to come up with a plan instead of actually doing something, so I finally just started opening up boxes to see what I had. As my husband always tells me: “Stop over thinking it! Just do it!”

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P1020839Seeing what surprises were discovered in each box worked great for about half a dozen boxes, until I noticed that I had fabric laying out everywhere in no particular order.

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I was becoming discouraged quickly. I needed some order.
Isn’t that was this goal was all about in the first place?

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So I gave some thought about how I had organized the stash in the past. Previously, I had boxed my fabric according to what I planned to sew with it. There was a box of fabric to make myself shirts, a box of fabric to make the husband shirts, a box of baby prints for sleepers and such, a box of scraps, and so on. This worked out for me for many years, but I noticed that this type of organization system failed when there became more than one box with the same label. Now that there are 5 boxes of fabric all labeled as shirts for the husband, I could no longer remember what was in each box. Plus as the stash grew a number of boxes P1020836were labeled mixed fabric. This was really of no help and I had no clue at all as to what was in these boxes. I also had knits in with rayons in with cottons which was fine when there were only two to three pieces of each, but now that there is, well, let’s just say much more of everything, this had become problem too. Another problem was the yardage or size of each piece of fabric. The stash is just an accumulation of yardage I have bought, fabric Mom has given me, pieces of odd sizes purchased from discount bins and at thrift stores, and scraps, some that are more usable than others. So, in the box marked ‘Husband Shirts’ there might be a 3 yard piece of knit I purchased, a 1.5 yard piece of cotton that Mom gave me (not enough for a shirt for the husbands size, but it could be pieced together with something else for say a bowling shirt), and a 5 yard piece of rayon Hawaiian print purchased on sale for that fantastic vacation shirt I am going to make him some day, plus smaller scraps to piece together with the smaller pieces. Previous to this reorganization, when I wanted to make the husband a new shirt and I would open one of his boxes, and then I would end up spending way too much time sorting through the fabric to find what I wanted. It use to be I just saw two or three options, could pick one and get the sewing process started.

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P1020834With these thoughts in mind and seeing an vast array of fabric pieces before me, the plan to organize my fabric started to fall into place in my mind. I have come up with 30 categories to sort and box my fabric into. For example, 2 yards or more knit solid colors, 2 yards or less knit solid colors, 2 yards or more cotton prints, 2 yards or less cotton prints and so on. This way when I want to make something like the little neighbor girl a dress, I will know to look in the box labeled 2 yards or less cotton prints. I think this will work and since I will not be adding anymore fabric to the stash in the near future, nod nod wink wink, there should not be anymore mixed fabric boxes or boxes I have no idea what is in to slow me down. And say on the off chance that I do add a new piece to the stash (over the husband’s dead body), I can then put it in the appropriate box to find it easily later.

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Now that I had a workable organization plan in place, I began to sort the fabric from the boxes I had already opened. And I am now ready to open more of my boxes to see all the gorgeous fabric that I have, and then get it all sorted into its appropriate piles for later placement into the appropriate boxes.

The Husband Must Really Love Me

You will never believe what the husband did. It just proves that he really loves me. The husband bought me fabric! Yes, you heard correctly and I will repeat it. The husband BOUGHT me FABRIC!

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Remember my blog post about the online fabric sale that Joann’s was having? Remember the piece of Mickey Mouse fabric that sparked me to actually make a purchase? Remember that the next day, I received an email telling me that that fabric was out of stock and would not ship? Well, the husband received an email later stating that that particular piece of Mickey Mouse fabric was back in stock and could be purchased at the sale price. The husband knew that I wanted that piece of fabric very badly and that I was disappointed when it had not shipped with the original order, so he decided to buy me a couple of yards. Isn’t he so sweet?

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It arrived the other day and I am excited to get creative with this piece of fabric and see what I can design and make from the husband’s fabulous purchase for me.