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.