Chronicles of a Garbage-Picking Crafter, III

Or, When free is not free.

Beware of the trap that yawns at the edge of free — it’s a trap toothy with labor and storage.

After our recent basement flood, I gained a renewed appreciation for the cost of housing fabric…

The cost of free fabric includes not just washing and drying it (and depending on the disaster of the month, sometimes two or three times), but folding it, stacking it, stuffing it or heaving it, trimming threads off its edges and negotiating around it while working.  And if it’s fabric you don’t even like but are keeping because it was free?  It becomes an exercise in idiocy.

One of the worst offenders is a manufacturer’s sample book.  I know that I lauded them yesterday, but they have unique requirements for use.  Every piece of fabric needs to be cut OUT of the book (some of the bindings can be removed with a screwdriver and a good tug), and every paper ID strip that edges the swatch needs to be cut off.

Then, if the swatches are intended to be pieced up into a blanket (and I often use them this way, because it’s a nice way to make crib quilts with fabrics that are not primary-colored hand prints or farm animals), then the swatches need to be washed, dried, and pressed.  That’s a lot of work for a 5×5″ floral print that you may or may not like and may or may not use.

Here is a commissioned baby quilt top made last year that makes good use of the tropical-plant-print samples in my collection.  Contrary to any labeling, these linens and cottons washed and dried beautifully (that is a requirement for all of my baby blankets).

On the plus side, these books are great for classes, especially with young people — the fabric stays flat and is ready for collage without ironing.  And, if you get a few books in a rainbow of hues, they can be used to audition colors for a work in progress.

7 thoughts on “Chronicles of a Garbage-Picking Crafter, III

  1. Victoria

    I regret so many of my fabric freebies, including those sample books and every friend and relatives, “here maybe you could use all this fabric I’ve been hoarding for years.”

    At first I thought I could put it all to good use, but years later… there it all still sits. I am in the process of de-hoarding, and learning the art of restraint and saying “no thank you!”

    Great job on the sample cloth blanket!

  2. deemallon

    De-hoarding is really what it is… I’ve learned there’s a point at which being open to every free thing STOPS being about abundance and turns, instead, to something about paucity… It is so tremendously freeing to be letting stuff go.

  3. Deb G

    Now you have me laughing…. Sometimes I’m in awe of what people will share and other times I just have to shake my head.

  4. deemallon

    Jude — “strange buried greed” is right (and as I look at the picture — behind the quilt top is a color bin marked “GREEN” but all that shows is “GREE” so, in fact, GREED COULD be buried there)… and that’s the problem with the so-muchness of free – it can and WILL bury you.

    DebG — you’re too funny. I’ll have to read your blog with that awareness, now!


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