Written by: Regena Carlevaro, Janome Education
In the sewing community, it is a well-known truth that many of us are fabric hoarders. Every time we go to a quilt show, a fabric store or anywhere that sells fabric, we pick up a piece here, a piece there. Although we don’t have a purpose or a plan for that fabric, we buy it anyway. And, then we feel the guilt.
This is my declaration of independence from fabric buying guilt! I say, “NO!” to that little, negative voice and “YES!” to buying that yardage.
If COVID 19 has taught me anything, it is this - We are not fabric hoarders. We are prepared for a time when getting fabric is difficult if not impossible. We are prepared for making masks in an emergency situation, as well as scrubs for our Doctors and Nurses. We are prepared to make all of those projects that we scheduled for “someday”.
It has taught me something else. Once in a while, when we purchase fabric, we’re also procuring a memory. Let me explain.
About six years ago, I had the opportunity to organize a week of training for Janome’s Education staff in Mahwah, NJ. For four days, we trained on new machines, went over class lessons for an upcoming Janome Institute in San Antonio, Texas and generally worked on being a team. Since most of our educators live all over the country, this is a very important time for us to feel a sense of connection and unity.
On the last day of the meeting, we hopped on a train destined for NYC and walked straight to the Garment District. You know the scene in Willy Wonka where the kids first see the beautiful garden of edible chocolate? Then, you know what it feels like to be a sewist and experience the Garment District in NYC. There is shop after shop of anything you can imagine sewing with! We explored so many shops that day, picking up trims, fabric, leather, decorative zippers and anything else you can dream of.
Along the way, I found this beautiful denim-looking, printed, sheer voile. I had no plan for it, not an inkling of an idea of what I would do with it. But, it spoke to me and I bought four yards of it.
Fast forward six years.
The other day, while going through my stash, I found the fabric in its original bag. I had totally forgotten about it, which in itself was a nice surprise! It was like finding a $20 bill in a coat pocket but, I digress. Upon seeing the fabric, I was immediately flooded with memories of that glorious day in the City with my fabulous co-workers. The sites we saw, the sites we wish we didn’t see (ever hear of Naked Cowgirl?), the meal we shared in Little Italy, all of this and more came back to me. It made me smile.
The Janome Education team outside of Puglia Italian Restaurant in Little Italy
Six years have passed and some of those co-workers are no longer with us. Some have moved on to new jobs, some have retired. Maddie Bushman has since passed away. But, in that moment of finding one piece of fabric, it gave her back to me. I can still see Maddie going toe to toe with a NYC Taxi-driver when we began to walk across the crosswalk! If you had been there, you would be smiling now too.
Our good friend and co-worker, Maddie Bushman
Now, I have a purpose for this fabric and I’m looking forward to wearing the duster I’m going to make out of it. Not only because it’s beautiful and will look awesome with jeans, but because it will remind me of a beautiful day in New York City with my friends.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen of the sewing community, I give you leave to go out and buy that fabric! It supports our industry, it supports our local fabric and sewing machine stores. But, most importantly, it supports the love of what we do and who we are.