The joys and challenges of gift fabric

So one of the many reasons I’ve enjoyed getting back to sewing is that it is a chance to connect with my mother in law. She’s a formidable woman, who has done epic things in her life. While we both care about the same people (my husband, my step son, my son), it has been hard to connect with her beyond talking about daycare fun, or when the older one will be home from college.

She’s also getting on a bit in years, and has stopped sewing as much as she used to. She used to make intricate suits and (by her own admission) was a hoarder when it came to fabric. So as I was letting her know that I was working on a project with knits, she casually asked – “Oh, do you want my serger? It’s still in the box, I’ve never used it.”


So, while it was a used serger she bought at a garage sale, and she had never used it, it is a sturdy piece of machinery that still had the manual and works LIKE A CHAMP. Based on the font on the machine, it’s from the 80’s but really, amazing.

This has opened up a whole door for my mother in law and me. The serger inspires bad teenage poetry in me as I love it so much. I can even thread it. Yep. BOOM, I can thread a serger.

So then she casually offers me the chance to take what ever I want from her fabric stash.

Holy Jamoly. And by stash I mean 30 folder boxes FULL of fabric. Wools, jerseys, cottons, boucles, double knit, sweater knit, cone thread, flannels, fleeces.

So I liberated 7 boxes on Christmas Day, with my mother in law playing with the toddler, and my sister in law helping me with it.

But here’s the thing. No fiber labels, no care instructions, just a best guess as to what the fabric was.

I’ll be posting my makes soon (1st had to get my roots done, as I can’t post blog pics with my gray showing, natch), and I had to come out of the fog of MAKE ALL THE THINGS, I HAVE FABRIC FOR YEARS. Which seems also to lead to frantically spending my gift cards as soon as I could because I MUST MAKE ALL THE THINGS. NOW NOW NOW.

Ahem. So as I went through the fabric, cut off the moth eaten bits (wool – gah!) I found myself wishing (and not for the first time) that I had much more innate knowledge of fabrics. I wish there was some sort of service where I could just mail in swatches of fabric, and it would come back with a fiber content.

But I picked 2 wool jerseys and pre-treated them based on great info from here.

And I’ve made one dress, and a fleece cardigan for the husband for long winter nights on the computer. All from my mother in laws fabric stash gift. It’s interesting and it’s like flying blind, but I think I can get some amazing projects from this. And while my husband isn’t sappy at all, I think he likes the fact that he’s wearing something I made with fabric from his mother.

I’ll post my makes soon, Just need to get them all photographed. I’m also hoping I can get my family to send me pictures for the blog as I literally ran out the door to UPS within 15 minutes of pressing the final garment.

Happy New Year! May your fabric shrinkage be minimal.

PS – because I love them so much, I want to give a shout out to Colette Patterns Seamwork Magazine. Issue # 2 just came out on Jan 1.


2 thoughts on “The joys and challenges of gift fabric

  1. I have to get you together with Dee, who is a textile designer and knows a thing or two about fabrics and would probably love to help you identify components of The Stash! And I am oh so excited to follow the unfolding of your 2016 resolution!


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