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Donna Flood
Using Fabric Wisely

Over the years it has been my experience to know a lot is tied up in the ability of purchasing fabric. In 1959 I first learned this lesson. At that time there was a fire sale with bolts of a crepe like fabric in a dull gray green color. I purchased one half yard for five cents. The material was selling for ten cents a yard. That was a whale of a bargain even at that time long before the prices of today.

First I washed the fabric to see it would wash, not shrinking and looking good after it was pressed which it did. I then experimented with the color by using undiluted bleach to try to change the color. This was a success and the lovely soft peach color to come forth was totally pleasant. The fabric was strong and not at all weakened by the bleach. At this time I returned to the fire sale and purchased two bolts of the fabric. There was very much there for all the windows of the large two story home we had purchased.

Just recently I purchased fabric of a chintz like material at a fire sale, for one dollar a yard. The color is light, soft peach, soft grey, beige, with an off-white design. I took the material to a lady who owns a quilting shop. She quilted me a beautiful king size bedspread for 77 dollars. We all know the cost of an elegant chintz king size spread. I can tell you it isn't 77 dollars. The cost would be more like one hundred and seventy-seven dollars and even more.

This is another principle of economics I have learned not just in fabrics but in all parts of my life. At every opportunity I try to give the work to people of my community. This does several things. It keeps the money circulating in the area, gives one an opportunity to discuss the workmanship, pattern, color, etc., and actually these people around close become like friends. There often are ways they become a help to a person in too many circumstances to actually list.

Back to choice of fabric. If one is alert to a practical use for a fabric a greater value will be realized. For instance, when double knit went out of style I spent some time on trying to think of a way to use the good sale material. It was a discovery for me in that this makes a very good table cloth, especially one with a pattern. I have a tablecloth of a checked pale grass green color (no one would choose this for a garment), a red and white checked plaid like design, a cloth of dark and light pattern of a floral design and on and on. The fabric is heavy and has lasted forever, and I do get tired of some of the tablecloths. I then just fold them and stack them back using others for a while. There is no pressing involved because the double knit is wrinkle free, and as far as I'm concerned, this is the best part.

Another way I have found to use fabric wisely is to always purchase very good quality. Recently, I found a Chartres color in a crushed velvet on sale for one dollar a yard. Probably it was on sale because no one wants this at the time. Since the fabric was so nice, soft and nice against the skin, I made a lounging caftan of it. There was a small amount left over and with this there was enough for a couple of very nice soft pillows and a number of small pin cushions. At wedding showers I tuck these small things in with a gift.

So, not only was the fabric a quality fabric even bordering on expensive it provides me with a soft comfortable caftan and pretty accent color pillows for a bed. The bright color will also give just a touch for a pin cushion making it easy to spot in someone's sewing space. All this for a little more than three dollars.

One more example and then I will leave you to your own creative ways. I found a very expensive 54 inches wide fabric at a fire sale. I brought home a piece of it, experimenting with it as to washing. It proved to be beautifully free of wrinkles. Then I measured the length of the twin beds in the house from over their top to over the bottom. I then cut a length of the fabric to go over the top of the bed and over the bottom as well. I then took the scissors and just rounded off the corners. The strip was then hemmed with a small hem all the way around. Then on the corners I simply stretched enough elastic on the edges on the under side to gather the edges, by pulling and stretching the elastic tight as I sewed it. These are truly fitted sheets and my husband will search for them because he likes them on the bed, they fit.

It took somewhere around two and a half yards for each sheet. Two dollars and fifty cents for a sheet is quite a savings, since sheets can go for at least 30 dollars a set.

The top sheet I did sew two lengths together using a French seam down the middle. I like an extra large size top sheet. In the summer time these can substitute for a light spread.

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