I have been collecting fabric for a long time and my obsession peaked several years ago when I completely freaked out about the amount of textile items I owned. I am sure there are plenty of people out there that are waaayy worse off than me, suffocating under the piles and piles of dusty barkcloth, slipping on the chantilly lace and wishing they had just the right shade of orange to match up with that chevron patterned polyester. I have been there and I was in heaven, but then suddenly, I had reached a moment of being completely overwhelmed by it all. My 9 to 5 was not letting up on my free time enough for me to create like I had been accustomed to in the past. My website was slinking along, barely there, while most requests came by word of mouth, and I just felt my chest tightening at the thought that I may hold on to this stuff forever along with some crazy teenage dream.
I guess I read to many magazines, blogs and websites about all those talented individuals that some how get "discovered" and suddenly their 9 to 5 becomes their dream job. Don't get me wrong, I chose my career path and I enjoy what I do. It's just lacking in the type of creativity that I thrive on. So, one day after a few deep breathes I began the purge. I went through every single piece of textile on the racks that lined the walls of my office/craft room, and I bagged it all up. I told myself that I would only keep the pieces most precious to me. Those that have the best patterns. The ones that just make me smile at the thought of cutting them to make something great, or keeping them forever to pull out and enjoy from time to time. That day I did manage to take four very large garage-style storage racks, packed two rows deep on each shelf and stacked up to the ceiling, down to one extra wide five-shelf unit. I think I counted 15 large yard-size garbage bags full of fabric and it took me about 4 trips to Goodwill to unload it all. With each trip I dug deep for the will to keep going in the direction of the thrift drop off, did the deed and then felt weight lift on my way back home.
At first I was definitely sad, but the opening up of all the floor space felt very freeing and I believed I had made the right decision. Plus, I knew that some lucky person was about to come upon the fabric stash of a lifetime while just wandering through their favorite thrift store one afternoon. It was not until recently that I started to really miss some of those fabrics. The feeling is almost equivalent to that of losing a pet. I know it seems crazy, but I often find myself thinking, "Oh yeah, I can use that pink floral doubleknit to make a sweet scarf to go with these mittens!", only to remember that the pink doubleknit is now adorning someone else's fabric pile. I think what has really made all of this hit home is the fact that I am starting to get back out there. I find I am being drawn back to the thrift stores for inspiration and the occasional good find. Unfortunately, over the years the thrift stores have decided to use a new pricing scale for anything they think might have vintage value. So, that bin of vintage fabric scraps that used to be about $5.00 is now $10.00 or $20.00, which might not seem like much, but it can take a tole on a tight crafting budget. I guess I got lucky in that I was thrifting at a time when it was not as mainstream. It was a necessity to cloth myself and outfit my first apartment. I miss those days.
In the meantime I have decided to start sharing my prizes and have found a lot of other people out there that have the same kind of love for all things vintage, especially textiles. I will admit that sharing our pictures is fun, but a little hard to stomach when you realize someone else has the most perfect example of 1950's barkcloth you have ever come across. What I am saying is there is definitely some jealousy involved..;0) This reminds me of a story the husband of a couple we are friends with told us about how his wife shops. Actually, they were both talking about how it was like hunting, and fighting could break out at any moment in the mall. Well, I am not a mall shopper and I have always thought of myself as being much more civilized than that. But, then I think of those times when I have slipped into a bedroom at an estate sale just in time to see some other lucky thrifter tucking the best fabric find under their arm. So far I have subdued the eye-gouging and hair-pulling, but there have been times when it was almost too much to take. I am limiting my entry back into the world of thrifting and fabric collecting, but it's like the draw of "The Dark Side". It's just so darn strong!