Quilters â€“ weâ€™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 hereâ€™s the rationale: If we cut it up and use it, we wonâ€™t have it to cut up and use anymore.
Just buy more, you say? Therein lies the problem. Once itâ€™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 canâ€™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. Iâ€™m sure if youâ€™ve been reading this blog for very long, youâ€™re aware of my obsession with these humble pieces of fabric.
If you recall or if youâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 donâ€™t know if other collectors just werenâ€™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 donâ€™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.