Last week, my husband and I spent two days at his boyhood home by the lake in Upstate NY before we headed west to our son's house to spend a week and a half or so with him and his adorable little family (and enjoy our daughter-in-law's first Thanksgiving turkey dinner!). While we were there, at what will forever be known as "Papa and Grandma's house," I asked my husband if he thought anyone in the family would mind if I did a little fabric "shopping" in the attic. "Are you kidding?" he replied. "They'd be thrilled! Take whatever you want." (So you heard it here, everyone: your brother gave me the green light to remove some of Mom's material from the attic.)
I've mentioned this before, but my late mother-in-law, who was a talented seamstress and sewed throughout her lifetime, had a deep love for fabrics--all kinds of fabrics. One might even call it an obsession. She couldn't resist a beautiful piece of cloth, always seeing the possibilities it had to offer. Over the years, she filled her attic with packages, boxes, and bags, all filled to bursting with folded pieces and bolts of fabric, spools of ribbon, and yards and yards of lace and other trims. In 1997, my in-laws' had a fire on the first floor of their house, and they had to gut it and rebuild it because of all the smoke and water damage. That meant clearing out all of the boxes of fabric in the attic (an enormous undertaking!) and tossing out anything that was deemed unsalvagable. In spite of that purging, a lot of Grandma's fabric stash was found to be unharmed and went back up into the attic after the house was rebuilt...and so--fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it--the attic is still pretty much filled with material! Some of it has smoke stains on it, but for the most part, it's in good shape.
Grandma's attic is a virtual goldmine if you're like me: you love to sew; you have trouble choosing fabric for your projects because you know once they cut it for you at the store, you can't return it; and you have trouble spending the kind of money that quality fabrics cost. So when I went up there, I was like a kid in a candy store. I was mainly looking for some red velveteen, to make Christmas jumpers for my twin granddaughters--and wouldn't you know, one of the first boxes I opened was filled with a number of large pieces of velveteen, two of them red. Bingo! I looked around a little bit longer and also found a box filled with various pieces of cotton calico prints, and I thought they might be good for making little girls' dresses, so I took those as well.
When we got to my son's house, my daughter-in-law and I were talking about making a dust ruffle for Bonny Babe's crib (the bedding set on Cutie Pie's crib came with one, but not the set on Bonny Babe's); so I looked through the treasures I'd plucked from Grandma's vast fabric collection and sure enough, I found a calico that matched one of the designs on Bonny Babe's crib bumper almost exactly.
The funny thing is that after I cut out the six sixteen-inch strips I needed to complete the project, there was just a small, smoke-stained remnant left. I think it's almost like a sign that I had exactly enough of the unstained fabric to make the dust ruffle before I came to the damaged part. It feels like a thumb's up from Grandma, who would probably be thrilled to know that one of the pieces of material she chose with such care was being used to make something for her great-granddaughter's crib. Now there'll be a piece of her in my granddaughters' bedroom, all because I got to go fabric shopping in Grandma's attic.