Use your cache
There was only one towel left in my kitchen that would dry a glass.....a 30+ year old, slubby yarn flour sack towel purchased at an Indiana flea market in 1980. It was 100% cotton, made in Russia and had been in continuous use since then. It was stained and worn; at best a cutter, at worst a rag. But the thing could shine a glass!
There were the piles of fabric waiting for a purpose; collected for someday, or just because they were pretty. Most of us who sew have a similar collection. Grandma had a collection of fabric. It filled one drawer. Mine filled a bookcase.
Grandma sewed all the time; where was all her stuff? I searched my memory. It was all over the house. A curtain panel here to act as a door, a comforter there on the day bed, a pile of lap blankets for the nursing home, a master quilt on the bed, a rag rug on the kitchen floor. Grandma didn't store her cache, she used her cache!
It occurred to me that fabric could be stored and used at the same time. I was forever ripping apart one item to make another, anyway. A curtain panel, tablecloth or summer bed cover held up well during use and at the same time stored a large piece of fabric. So what could I do with my stuff?
Need dish towel. Use my cache. Store fabric
So I made some dish towels: 8 from a beautiful, well used, imported tablecloth of slubby cotton. Towels could store a nice piece of fabric and they dried the glass! I kept the two that were stained and sold the rest in a local flea market. And started looking for more fabric.
A search of my bookcase yielded a bag of vintage flour sacks from my mom, beautiful prints on fine, slubby 100% cotton. Each piece was about 1 yard square, intended from the get-go to store and transport flour, then be taken apart and used to make something else. Our mothers and grandmothers made blouses, dresses, towels, curtains and quilts from this readily available supply.
I took a flour sack into the kitchen. It dried my glass! But there wasn't much of it available. ANYWHERE. I started testing other pretty fabrics.....not so much. They left water on the glass even after several swipes. Most quilting and household decorating fabrics these days are designed to repel water and dirt, so they are washable and stay pretty for a long time. Great for almost everything.... except drying a glass.
I combed the second hand shops in my territory and soon exhausted the supply of slubby fabric. None of my local fabric stores had anything like the old flour sacks, so the search turned toward USA fabric mills. What I learned was that there WAS no domestic supply of the slubby yarned fabric that made the flour sacks such great towels. There was, however, a very close match. Organics and More, Greenville, SC, a supplier of fabric to the bedding industry, made a 5.5 oz cotton canvas, very similar to the old flour sacks. It was absorbent, washable, had a soft hand and it dried my glass! I had my stock dish towel fabric.
Using my own stash as banded trim, I started making dish towels and developing collections to suit different decorating styles. The towels are useful, store a piece of fabric to use later for something else, and allowed me to use my cache!
So the story begins. Summer 2013.
You just never know what's going to happen every day when you get up.
- Catherine Schmid Murphy