2013 saw more Dancing Threads RI products created than in any year thus far. Thank you to all of my fabulous customers for making that possible!
After the dust has settled from the busy holiday season, I have embarked on a studio reorganization. All that productivity has lead to this mess:
This is all high quality fabric that I am not about to just throw away. How on Earth did these piles get so large? Let me show you a bit about how I sew.
Let's say I'm going to make a grocery bag like this. Note the slight curve of the handles where they meet the green part of the bag.
I start with a fresh new yard of fabric that is cut from the bolt in a rectangular shape.
I pin the pattern pieces, cut, and start constructing the bag. But this is what the fabric looks like after cutting.
It's the same beautiful fabric, but now it's bizarrely shaped. I can't cut out another grocery bag, there isn't enough continuous fabric. Maybe I can cut some snack bags. That leaves an even more bizarrely shaped piece of fabric. What do I do with this????
Most people would simply throw it away and start the next project with another fresh rectangle cut from the bolt. Being in the business of eco-friendly products, I couldn't bear to throw this away. Over the past year I've been saving these weird bits of fabric, forming ideas of what to do with it all.
I can muster my Yankee thrift and make a quilt. That's what women have done with scraps for centuries. I am doing that, but the pile of fabric is enormous from my business. I'm not just making clothes for the family with a meager basket of scraps leftover that add up to a single quilt. To be honest, I'm not much of a quilter. The ones I've had in progress have been in progress for a YEAR or more. That's not going to clear out my studio very quickly. So I've begun testing out some other ideas.
All products made through this scrap-busting process are still the same high quality you have come to expect from me and my shop. It's the same high quality fabric being used, just in smaller bits. These products are much more time-consuming because of the piecing and extra sewing, but it's also a fun method of creative expression. I'm pretty excited to see where this leads in the coming weeks/months. I would hate for anyone to think that I'm unloading cast-offs onto my favorite customers. Far from it!
In fact, many of the fabrics that will appear in scrappy projects this year have been discontinued and are out of print. They are getting a second chance!
So what was the first project that I came up with? A much-needed draft dodger for my basement. Bear with me on this one...
Instead of patching fabric scraps to make a tube stuffed with fiberfill, I thought, "Why not stuff it WITH SCRAPS??" The scraps that are way too tiny that would drive me insane making patchwork. The thread snips. The ribbon snips. The ends of cuts that are just plain small. Like this:
This is the mother of all draft dodgers. Not only is it two tubes, one on the inside of the door, one on the outside, connected by a flat piece of fabric, but the stuffing makes them extremely dense. I'd like to see breezes even try to get past this sucker.
This is a basement door that goes to our bulkhead. Someone in the past has apparently used the door as target practice for a BB gun. Um, ok. That compromises the insulation of the door even more, but we have plans to address that later. For now, closing the bottom gap was the first order of business. Since the side/bottom also had some gaps, I made two door-stopper type of bags. Think of them as sand bags, but filled with fabric scraps. Just in time for today's morning temp of ZERO DEGREES.
This project swallowed a good chunk of my scraps, it was great! I thought I would start selling them, but they are so dense, that the weight would be obscene to ship. (If anyone local is interested in a single-sided regular draft-stopper....let me know! It would not attract critters like a rice/bean filling might, it's a bit lumpy, but it's not plastic like fiberfill, and it's even eco-friendlier since you're helping me recycle).
The fabric was perfect for this part of the basement since it's right next to the washer and dryer. I have a few old-school washboards and plan to make the door even cuter in the near future.
So this was project #1 in my Scrappy New Year. Next up is finding more ways to use the stuffing-grade scraps, and move on to larger scraps where the print can be used and even highlighted.
Enter the mug rug.
Have you ever seen these? They are just adorable. I think it would be a lovely hostess gift with a box of tea. The idea is to make it larger than a coaster, but just large enough to hold a mug and a little treat. For someone like me who works from home, it's used daily. I'll have a breakfast bar with coffee when I first wake up and work at the computer. Or maybe have a granola bar with more coffee later in the day. You could also have a cookie, muffin, piece of chocolate with your mug of tea. I may or may not have had sweet treats on my prototype mug rug on a regular basis. I think this would be a great addition to anyone's work office whether at home or not.
This rug has seen a lot of coffee in the past year.
Another idea that I have wanted to try out for a while, came together last week. Some of you may have seen the Facebook post and/or Etsy listing. Bunting is all the rage right now. It's pretty darn adorable, so I thought it would work well on a zippered pouch.
There will definitely be more of these showing up in my Etsy store.
I think bunting may work well on a tote bag too. Maybe even on the mug rug. Hmmmmmmmmm. The wheels are turning...
Those are the products I've been able to work through since being on vacation. I have so many more ideas to test out. Because really, this is getting obnoxious.
And there's more in my attic. You people out there who like to give me circa 1990's fabric...please don't. At least no more for now until I reduce these ridiculous piles! If anyone has any ideas for using ugly fabric, please speak up. What looked good as a window treatment in 1983 doesn't quite work as a tote bag in 2014...
May you have an Eco-friendly start to the new year!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.