Sunday, 3 August 2014

OSF 2: Good Notion #4

Phew!  A lot is on the go at OSF. In an effort to clear out inventory in anticipation of our upcoming move, last Wednesday we had a sorting bee. (Thank you to the many supporters who came out to heave and hoist bolts of fabric!) Fabric bolts can now be found all grouped according to price and each price marked with a different coloured band:
  • $10 bolts sport black twill tape
  • $20 bolts are wrapped with blue ribbing
  • $40 bolts wear black knit collars (!!!!)
  • and the large $60 bolts are identified by their bands of waistband facing.  
Go to town!  (Please!  We need your support now more than ever!)

Waistband facing: $60/bolt
Blue ribbing: $20/bolt
Knit collars: $40/bolt
We've also unearthed most of the stash that's been hiding at the back of the store since we moved in. Yes!  It's the moment I know many of our devotees have been waiting for! Believe me, there was never any strategy involved in holding it back; we just never got around to sorting it!

Seriously, it's a big - but if you're sewweird like me, satisfying - job to sort through the many donations we receive.  In fact, even with the frequent assistance of Carol, Erika and a few faithful others, I can barely keep it all from smothering us, let alone actually get on top if it! So I ask for your help: 

  • if you crave the thrill of emptying mystery boxes full of who-knows-what sort of delicious - or occasionally, disgusting - fabrics and who-knows-what sort of notions lovingly saved by someone who just knew "someone will use this" 
  • if you sleep better after rolling cuts of fabric into tidy little bundles and then grouping it by colour, and arranging it in boxes so it can be easily located
  • send me an email and I'll put you on my list of special people to call when I'm feeling suffocated
'Cause even organizing fabric can lose its appeal when it's done on demand, under pressure of time, and we're faced with an unanticipated 9 boxes of polyester hotel upholstery fabric that needs to be sorted, 90% of which will end up in the free box!

BUT! even those 9 daunting boxes contain some goodies: professionally made draperies; sheets and bolts of black-out fabric; lengths of cotton sheeting - not enough for a queen size bed, but big enough for a crib sheet, white button-down shirt, or pin-tucked sundress with release pleats forming the skirt, tiny buttons on the left shoulder and three rows of horizontal tucks at the hem, or perhaps a piece of hand-crochet cotton inset lace that was found in a box of Grandma's sewing room contents donated by her family.

This coming Wednesday, August 6, 5-9 PM we will meet again for a sorting bee.  Having finished the less inspiring bolts, we're going to begin now on the cut pieces, which almost invariably come in the form of bags and boxes of personal donations, and often come with stories.  When was this bought, and why?  What was the plan? Why didn't it happen?  Or was it just plain ol' fabric lust?  We all can relate to that.

Sometimes we receive small bags filled with everything needed for a specific project: fabric, pattern, thread, zipper, buttons, trim. Occassionally there will be fitting or design notes. I love trying to piece together the back story from the clues in the bag, and I can become quite attached to the resulting garment.  Taking up the Sewing Baton from an unknown kindred spirit gives me a sense of connection to the Flow of the Earth, (a flow I believe OSF itself is propelled by, and the same one the Beatles rode).  (Don't get me started).  I love wearing the stories, adding my own chapter and being part of the flow.

The bags containing the never-started projects usually come from the store where the materials were purchased.  More often than not these same fabric stores no longer exist.  They are the same kind of place I used to haunt as a high school student when I first seriously became gripped by the need to sew: a tiny, non-descript, suburban fabric store in the strip mall near my home. Just 10 or 12 racks of poly/cotton prints, some broadcloth and a few other useful fabrics. I would stop in on my way home from school for a treat: just touching and meditating on fabric.  I would stand and stare through it and cast my mind sideways and make judgements, vaguely planning a never-ending series of garments I might or might not attempt.  A rack of thread, a rotating stand of buttons, a few sizes and colours of zippers.  The impossibility of matching the zipper colour perfectly to the garment marked it forever as "home made".  Not cool at all, but I loved it.

More often than not I bought nothing. The ladies behind the counter were always the same ones.  I never spoke to them - I guess out of a sense of perceived sewing skill inferiority (I was still ripping out every other seam I sewed, and I was too eager to get a project started to take the time to pre-shrink). I would silently study the goods, weighing in my mind and hand the properties of the fabrics, debating inwardly the merits of one type of closure over another, the utility of the notions, the purpose of some roll of mystery stuff.  Then I would leave. They rarely acknowledged either my arrival or my departure. At the time I didn't question why they never spoke to me. Surely they knew I was gripped.

Sewing was so fringey a pastime, so other-than-cool, and very solitary. I had many questions, and not a lot of information handily available. Most of the answers came from my own experiments sewing from patterns I bought with my babysitting money: hours and hours and Friday nights and all day Saturday and Sunday if there was no game on (the sewing machine interfered with the TV reception and pissed off my dad.  He never complained or made me stop, but I knew it really bugged him.  But sometimes I just couldn't refrain myself.  I HAD to sew!) Sitting at the dining room table until I could no longer stay awake enough to avoid irreparable mistakes.  Vaguely worried that I might never find a boyfriend if I spent every night at the sewing machine. But I really didn't care.

By day the TV was almost always on, one of the three adults in the home was almost always smoking, and every activity had to stop if my younger sister needed to have a 25 minute silent telephone argument with her boyfriend.  She would lie on the orange and brown wall-to-wall carpet a few meters away from me, glaring, tethered to the telephone by its short-range curly cord, giving him the silent treatment while he ignored her back, on the other end.

But long after everyone went to bed: stitch stitch stitch, rip, rip, whrr whrr, shoosh shoosh, crinch crinch the scissors sliding along the carpet, the fabric spread clear across the living room, in front of the cream, brown and orange floral couch with matching arm covers.  Sore knees from crawling across the carpet to lay out and cut the pattern. Critch critch the scissors, the static and crinkle of the pattern.

Aw man, I loved it.  Sewing was one big bowl of sliced strawberries.  Now, volunteering for OSF is the real whipped cream on top.  Sewing can be a very isolating and lonely pursuit, but through OSF I get to touch and meditate on as much fabric as I can stand, right along with people who understand.  I couldn't be any more fortunate!

Half our wooden rack is now $10/bolt
So, in conclusion:

  • OSF needs to move so we need to clear everything out 
  • nearly all our bolts of fabric are now out on the floor and cost $10, $20, $40 or $60 each
  • we have 90% of the contents of 9 boxes worth of free fabric to poke through
  • we have plenty of curtain sheers and black-out fabric
  • we have a number of sets of decent-looking, lined draperies
  • if you want to help out at this Wednesday's sorting bee, August 6 from 5-9, please RSVP
  • if you want to be on a list for sorting, please email me at

See you at the next sale on August 9,

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