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Futzing with Fabric

January 26, 2022

Futzing with Fabric

My mother had a wonderful vocabulary.  It was full of great expressions and evocative words like galavant and rigamarole.  She's been gone more than 15 years and I can still see her sitting at my aunt's kitchen table, smoking a cigarette and holding court. She could be so present with her extended family in a way that seems lost to my generation.

Yesterday, I was busy filling orders (THANK YOU!) and as I was folding and adjusting (and folding and adjusting) some Dino Toile knit, I thought "This is a lot of futzing with the fabric." I smiled thinking about one my mother's better words. And I wondered what my mother would have thought of my new venture.

You see, my maternal grandparents were immigrants from the "old country".  My grandmother left her home alone at the age of 16 in the 1930's with no money and with no English words yet in her vocabulary.

My grandparents got married young and had five children. The entire family (including my grandmother) worked in textile factories in Rhode Island.  It was hard work and didn't pay much, but it put food on the table.  By the 70's, just about all the family had moved on from the factory into other jobs.  But "the mill" was never far from the conversation at family gatherings.  The life they lived in the mill was like another family member, a part of every party and every gathering.  

I never heard much specifically about the work, but I knew it was hard and could be dangerous.  I knew it paid very little.  I knew the mill took more than it gave.

And as right hand amputee from birth, I knew that I would never be expected to work in jobs like that. Everyone expected that I would escape that hard life.

Those factories are long gone. First to the south, then overseas. There is still some textile manufacturing in the US, but much of the production has moved to China, and other parts of Asia.  And there is some wonderful fabric being manufactured in Europe.  

One of the best parts of my work now is being able to touch beautiful fabric.  I have been sampling and sewing with fabrics for Taylor & Hart for nearly a year. It is a privilege to be able to work with quality fabrics and good companies as I try to find the fabrics worth sewing.  It is also a privilege to be on this side of textiles.  But I am always very aware that whenever I hold a new fabric that someone grew and harvested the cotton or flax. Someone turned that fiber into fabric. Someone gave their labor so that I could make a beautiful garment for myself.  I take that awareness into every fabric decision.  And I will never take that for granted.  

What's Happening at T&H?

In just over two weeks, we will hold our live Sewing Lab.  Kelly Hogaboom, Traci Pryde and I will be sewing men's underwear live over two sessions (February 11th and 12th).  Check out the guest blog from Kelly Hogaboom for details.

The sessions are free and you can join directly on the days, but if you want to get reminders, you can register for Session 1 and Session 2 on Calendly. Pick your pattern and pick your fabric.  This will be informal and chatty live sewing. We'll take questions and we'll each show a different pattern and different techniques.

I've got some fun Valentine's Day themed fabrics as well as regular knits in the shop.  

I've also got some new shirtings going up in the shop.  Some great Liberty Lawn in a great print.  And the Sugar Skulls fabric is fun and colorful.

And this week I'll be sewing the Bluster Buster hat by my friend Ruby at Spokes & Stitches.  I love this pattern and I'll make it in the Japanese canvas from the shop.  But I've got a surprising lining to use.  Pics will be on the site and on Instagram when I'm done.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Until next week!

Kevin


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