Quilters – we’re a funny bunch sometimes. We are the only people I know who will buy fabric for a particular purpose and love it so much that we will not cut it up and use it. I know, I know, it makes no sense to the uninitiated but here’s the rationale: If we cut it up and use it, we won’t have it to cut up and use anymore.
Just buy more, you say? Therein lies the problem. Once it’s gone from the shops, there is no going back for more. If the fabric is popular and sells out at a shop, many times it can’t be reordered because the fabric makers only make enough to fill the orders on hand. And to make that situation just a tad more understandable, the orders were placed at Quilt Market six months prior to the time it hits the shops.
The problem is exacerbated 100-fold when one becomes interested and starts collecting vintage fabric, especially in the form of feedsacks. I’m sure if you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’re aware of my obsession with these humble pieces of fabric.
If you recall or if you’re a new reader, I started gathering feedsacks when a friend of mine gave me a stack of about ten of them. Her mother lived on a farm in Iowa and had put a few back to use as dishtowels and, when she decided she wouldn’t get around to hemming them, she sent them to me.
I would lay those sacks out on the floor and ponder what I would make with them. I thought it would be lovely to make a quilt using only feedsacks fabric. Then I thought it would be even better to make every block in the quilt from a different feedsack.
Once I decided on my pattern, I found I would only need around 180 or so. I was off and running.
One of the feedsacks I found was made by the Percy-Kent Bag Company and was a Disney print featuring Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea what a wonder I had come across. I blissfully decided it would look great in my quilt and cut the pieces I needed, carefully featuring the main characters in the story.
That required some choosy cutting rather than just chopping a strip off of the end of the sack like I was able to do with almost every other sack I used in the quilt.
So there I was with a Disney sack, still sewn in bag form, mind you, and there are holes where I have taken my template and cut my pieces. One end of the sack took on the appearance of a piece of Swiss cheese. My saving grace was that I only made one block.
I finished my quilt in 1991 and thought I was done with the feedsack search. I was wrong. It seemed like the more sacks I acquired the more questions I had. I started writing down my questions and began to do research. And during the process, I found out how difficult it was to find those Disney sacks. And I began to regret cutting up my Alice in Wonderland sack.
Not only did I regret the choice I had made, I also whined about it to anyone who would listen and appreciate what a blunder I had made.
I kept thinking I would be able to find another and watched faithfully on eBay for one to show up. And occasionally that would happen. I would bid and darned if someone wouldn’t snipe it away at the last second or the price would become higher than my budget would allow.
So 21 years have passed since I chopped into that sack. Last week I checked eBay and there was Alice in all her glory. I don’t know if other collectors just weren’t paying attention or if I put in my last bid at the most propitious time but I was successful at winning the auction.
I don’t know who is happiest about me winning that auction, me or the poor people who have had to listen to me whine. Maybe this is a case of everybody wins.