Friday, October 14, 2016

When Hoarding Pays Off

As any knitter, sewer, jewelry-maker, quilter, embroiderer, or any other kind of crafter knows, hoarding comes as part of the territory. First off, you always have leftovers from whatever project you just finished: half a spool of ribbon, a yard of extra trim, a partly-filled bobbin, some interfacing. Second is the supplies you didn't have a specific project in mind for, but it was such a great price that you couldn't possibly have left it on the shelf: five yards of quilt backing, a bag of polyfill, a bunch of mismatched beads, some rhinestone buttons, an entire bolt of fleece. And finally - the one we try to never talk about - there are the supplies for the project that you either planned but never started or started but never finished: the Christmas embroidery kit you picked up in April and forgot about, the pattern for that cute maternity dress that you were too pregnant to cut out by the time you got around to it, the quilt top for your niece that didn't get finished in time for the wedding.

This box contains, among other things, scraps of interfacing, leftover fabric from my daughter's Easter dress from two years ago, pink lining fabric, and some green vinyl that I bought right after I got married (in 2008) that I never got around to making into a grill cover (it did make some great shoe covers for my brother-in-law's Buddy the Elf costume a few Halloweens ago, though). 

The bottom line is that every crafter is a hoarder at heart. We all have a stash somewhere. For a knitter, there's a shelf with five dozen skeins of mismatched yarn. For a quilter, there's a Rubbermaid tub full of fat quarters. For a sewer, there's a box (or three) of neatly folded fabric remnants. For a needleworker, there are five or six plastic racks filled with every shade of embroidery floss imaginable and a huge stack of patterns. For the jewelry-maker, there are beads and beads and beads - in ziploc baggies, in boxes, in plastic organizers - tucked into the attic or the corner of the craft room or hidden under the bed.

Most of the time, the people who share our living spaces quietly roll their eyes and shake their heads as they see us slinking home from Jo Ann's or Michael's or AC Moore with yet another bag of stuff. But as long as we keep the craftmania to a limited area, they let it pass, forgiving us this one bit of insanity.

But every now and then, it pays off in spades. Every now and then, we suddenly need to do a specific project, and BOOM! Everything we need is right at our fingertips. Today was one of those magical moments for me.

My 5-year-old daughter had decided weeks ago that she wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast for Halloween. She found a costume at Costco which cost about 1/3 of what it would have cost me just to buy the fabric (plus, it came with a crown - how could I possibly say no?). She also insisted that I, too, must be a princess. I hit a costume sale put on by a local theater group that was cleaning out their costume room and picked up an old prom gown for a song (I also picked up a fabulous 1920s gown that I'll probably never wear, but see the first several paragraphs of this blog).

Honestly, how could I have left this behind? It has a TRAIN, for heaven's sake!!

The gown was just a hair small, but I knew it would be easy enough to add that "golden triangle" to make it fit.
Remember that pink lining fabric from the above photo? Yeah, near-perfect match to the pink gown. [modestly buffs nails on shirt]

I quickly realized, however, that - this being New England, after all - it was likely to be too chilly for either of us to wear our princess dresses without some kind of coat or wrap. We could add an ivory turtleneck underneath (that's practically a Halloween tradition in my family), but even that might not add enough warmth. However, having attended King Richard's Faire last weekend, it immediately struck me that what we needed to complete our "princess looks" was hooded cloaks.

I could have made a quick trip to Jo Ann Fabrics to pick up a pattern, some fabric, and the needed notions, but I decided to go shopping in my own stash first. A few clicks of the mouse and I found online directions for a simple princess cloak that was easily sized for a child and an adult.

It called for mesh fabric and velvet ribbon, but I improvised. I'm a crafter; that's what we do.

I dug through my stash and came up with an L-shaped length of burgundy crushed velvet that I had used to make a Christmas stocking (and a tablecloth) some years ago. Cutting it into two rectangles formed exactly (okay, "close enough to") the right sizes for mother and daughter capes. I didn't have the right color and width of ribbon for the casing and the ties, but I did have some lining fabric left over from a recent theatrical costuming project that happened to be a near-perfect match to the color of the velvet. I trimmed it to size with pinking shears and made a casing (yes, of COURSE I had the right color thread on hand), then dug through my ribbon collection and found some narrow black ribbon that I could double to make elegant ties. 

A handful of straight pins and a few long straight seams later, and I had two beautiful capes for two beautiful princesses. 

Yeah, sometimes hoarding does pay off! Actually, now that I think about how many times I've dug into my stash and been able to come up with an instant fix for some project or other, hoarding pays off a lot. 

Gee, I'd better go shopping!!

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