FabMo: Building a Stash in an Afternoon
I was always proud of the fact that I didn’t have much of a stash. I bought fabric I needed when I had a specific project in mind. This year I’ve been a bit worse, what with picking up a decent amount of fabric over the holidays for both the SWAP and presents to be sewn. Plus, I just don’t have the room to store lots of fabric or the time to burn through lots of projects.
Yesterday made an end to that.
No, I didn’t gain more time or space, but I did find a crazy outlet for fabric. FabMo coins itself a rescue for “designer materials for creative reuse.” The owners pick up samples and unsellable material from fabric stores in San Francisco and offer them to the public so that they don’t end up in landfills. They also take donations as well. Once a month they open their doors to those with appointments, though there are a few times open for anyone and everyone.
I was curious, so I’d scheduled an appointment for Thursday after work. Unfortunately, a few things came up that prevented me from making my appointment (a story for another day). Yesterday I noticed that they had open hours from noon to three. After my morning run (my marathon is in eight days!), I quickly showered, ate, and then jumped in the car. Before I knew it I was walking into a room with mountains of fabric.
I spent the first ten minutes just watching others. There was the woman who picked up most anything that looked like a sizable amount of fabric and threw it into her own bag. I overheard her saying this trip was her second this month, but since she hadn’t taken much last month, she felt the need to stock up. Stock up she was! There was another woman who’d politely ask if I was going to take whatever it was I might have had my hand on at the moment. I always said no. I was a bit overwhelmed, to say the least, and I didn’t want to take something that someone else might really want.
After ten or fifteen minutes of just circling the room and trying to get the lay of the land, I finally got up the courage to chat with one of the volunteers working the event. She was very nice and explained most of the process, which helped me finally get comfortable enough to commit to fabrics. Bags were provided if you hadn’t brought your own, each with a suggested donation that was based on the bag’s size. The donations help keep the organization running. I grabbed a medium-sized bag, which had a suggested donation of $10-15. (As a note, some things there had actual prices on them. Bolts were $1/yard, and things on a back table also seemed to be four for $1, or something like that.)
Most of the pieces were small designer samples, perfect for wallets and bags. I’d love to make myself a nice clutch wallet, and these smaller pieces would be perfect. But, since I haven’t even made the gift clutches I already have fabric for, I decided to wait before picking up pieces for a clutch I’d never make. If I do get the motivation, I’ll just make sure to head to FabMo that month. Instead, I focused on fabrics I knew I could make garments from, since garment making seems to be my focus these days.
I grabbed a red twill for another pair of Jalie 2908 jeans and a sweater knit for another Renfrew cowl. A huge pile of big pieces came out (they restock every five minutes it seems), but as I was looking them over, the lady who seemed to pick up anything and everything grabbed the entire lot and threw it into a bag. That woman was a seasoned pro and obviously had a lot more room to stock fabrics at home than I!
Since the big pieces were mostly gone from the center table, I picked up a few odd samples here and there. A nice linen; a fun stripe. They’re really too small for an adult-sized garment, but they’d be super cute on my little niece.
Then, I found the section of non-designer fabrics. These seemed to be donated fabrics. And, some were huge. I found yards and yards of interfacing; a crazy brown and mustard floral piece that could look very Anthropologie if used properly ; lots of long, narrow pieces of plaid and striped suiting, which I hope to turn into pants or many paneled skirts while working on my pattern matching; some jerseys for yet more Renfrews, maybe one with a scarf collar, à la Jalie 2921.
Before I knew it, my bag was full, and I had more fabric than I truly needed. I left my donation, signed up as a volunteer to craft with kids, and then ran away without looking back.
When I got home, I somehow managed to stuff all of my new fabrics in my sewing corner, but just barely. What I need to do is invite friends over who have sewing machines and haven’t really gotten into garment sewing, hand them a pattern and some of this fabric, and see what happens. Because, really, I won’t be able to use all of this fabric myself anytime soon!
If you live in the San Francisco area, I’d recommend making an appointment to go to their May event. While I’m sure every month is fun, next month sounds extra special. When I was chatting with one of the volunteers, she mentioned that a fabric store in the area had just dropped off three semis full of fabric. There will be more fabric there than FabMo knows what to do with, and they need people like us to help take it off their hands. I have no idea what kinds of fabrics will be there, but it’s worth a look, right?