Friday, August 30, 2013

Fabric Retailing: Selling Used Clothing

Rosie Mayhew, Leftovers

I have several friends who do wonderful things with used clothing.

Nifty Quilts, quilt made of 70's fabrics
See Nifty's blog here:

Buffy, Huipil Quilt
Quilt with a center made from used Guatemalan clothing, a huipil.

For Brian by Deb Rowden

See Deb's take on the upside of the obesity epidemic here:

The history of recycling fabrics and clothes is a long, yet strangely familiar story. 
See a post I did about buying used fabric here:

The other part of the story is selling used goods. Where did the Rag Fair and the Used Clothing Shops get their goods?

In 1864 towards the end of the American Civil War, Confederate Mary Boykin Chesnut was wearing rather shabby mourning, "such things as I have would not have been thought fit for a chamber-maid." She no longer needed her brighter dresses and she needed money.

An unknown woman in mourning during the Civil War

"March 18th.—Went out to sell some of my colored dresses. What a scene it was—such piles of rubbish, and mixed up with it, such splendid Parisian silks and satins. A mulatto woman kept the shop under a roof in an out-of-the-way old house. The ci-devant [once] rich white women sell to, and the negroes buy of, this woman."

Wardrobe Dealer:
He bought/he sold.

In her book Fashion's Favourite: The Cotton Trade and the Consumer in Britain, 1660-1800, Beverly Lemire tracked the market, noting a 1740 English ad offering to barter crockery in exchange for used clothing. A dozen years earlier Mr. & Mrs. James Varlow's occupations were described. He gathered rags and his wife sold Manchester ware (new British-produced fabrics)---an excellent partnership.

Lemire lists sources for the used clothing markets. Tailors, who might barter with their customers, sold the used clothing of the well-to-do; thieves sold stolen clothing; pawnbrokers sold unretrieved items given as collateral for loans. Many households listened for the call of the peddler who came through the neighborhood offering to buy used clothing (and worn-out quilts, we can imagine.) And then there were what we might call estate sales---the public vendue.

In 1776, Philadelphian William Adcock sold a 
"great variety of goods suitable for the season."
Vendues might be the estate of one deceased person, 
one bankrupt family or a regular public auction
of new and used items.

Everything had a value. Boots and shoes were recycled to make mineral dyes. Rags too worn to wear went to make rag paper. And slightly worn and slightly unfashionable clothes descended the ladder of social class.

During the Great Depression the government documented poverty.
Here is an Iowa family described as living in dire poverty---an example of how much for granted
we have taken an excess of clothing in the U.S. for well over a hundred years. Even cash-poor families have an excess of clothing.

(Living in a similar house, I might also guess it's a lack of closets rather than a lack of money that causes things to pile up in such fashion.)

As the industrial revolution made clothing cheaper and more commonplace, excess clothing moved briskly around the local market. 
An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials, London
About 1878
John Thomson (1837-1921) 

See the rest of this great photo of a used clothing dealer in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum here:

The Ohio quilt project book, Quilts in Community, noted an 1870 discussion of the economies of patchwork and rags in the Western Rural magazine. Apparently a letter-writer labeled patchwork a waste of time. "Hass" wrote her two-cents worth:

"Patchwork Quilts-Tied Comfortables
Nothing...is neater in my opinion than a neat scrap quilt to say nothing of economy...I save every scrap left over from my dresses & aprons...If we sold them for paper rags we could get only 2 cents a pound, while at the very least we would pay 12-1/2 c a yard for calico to make comfortables."
While selling and buying used goods might be something polite people didn't ordinarily discuss, war-time fabric shortages and other disasters periodically made the whole idea patriotic and worth bragging about. 

Above and below from the Library of Congress
 During World War II it was called scrap collecting.

The Library of Congress has many pictures of the workings
of a WW II recycling center.
Go to their web page and search for
Scrap salvage.

Used American clothing often winds 
up in countries like Myanmar.

The wheel of textile recycling is international today. We buy and sell at garage sales, consignment and thrift shops. Charities sort and grade our donations, selling the higher-end clothing back to us with the lower-end goods shipped to other countries. Low-grade textiles are recycled as rags for industry or fiber for new products. 

Unless Buffy or Rosie get there first...

Thrift Shop Star by Buffy

Hawaiian Shirts by Rosie Mayhew

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Twin Sisters in Morris Modernized

Twin Sisters by the Sewhatevers,
 33-1/2" x 33-1/2"
Made from a Morris Modernized Jelly Roll
and two extra pieces.

I hear some of the pre-cuts for my new Arts & Crafts repro line are in the shops way early. The yardage is supposed to be shipped in October---

Jane in Adelaide stitched this Jelly Roll Race.

I've been working on a Jelly Roll pattern myself.

Twin Sisters is an old design, given the name by the Ladies' Art Company about 1900.
It's #2314 in my BlockBase program.

I had planned to use a pumpkin-colored print for the small triangles, but at the last minute I tried a misty green and I liked it better.

For my birthday last month my sewing group,
the Sewhatevers, were at my command for a morning.
I asked them to make as many blocks as we could for
a mini-quilt for our guild charity auction.

We quit at noon and got 25 blocks done.

Here's the free pattern to make our 33-1/2" square quilt:
Fabric Required
1 Jelly Roll of pre-cut 2-1/2" strips
1/2 yard of a misty green print for the background. We used a compatible green print from an earlier Morris repro line. Or try a Moda Bella Solid #9900-35 Sage.
Border: 3/4 Yard

Oswin in Fog Green
from Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey
Moda #8266-16

For the border we used 3/4 yard of this large print--which actually has a diagonal directionality, but when you cut across the width of fabric you get an interesting swag look. I cut across the middle of the large flower and the small ones will wind up under the binding. (You will have to wait till October 2013 to get the yardage for Oswin, however.)

We based the pattern size on the precuts for B, so blocks finish to 5-1/2"

Cutting a 5-1/2" Block
Here are the rotary cutting instructions from BlockBase

A - Cut squares 4-1/8" of the background color. Cut into 4 triangles with two cuts.

B - Cut strips to 2-1/2" x 5-1/4". You'll trim these later. We alternated 2 darks and 2 lights.


Piece A to a B.

Think diagonally and rotate around clockwise.

Trim to 6" when finished

It's easy once you figure it out, although things can go wrong.


Note: the banished block on the right is backwards.

The finished top is 33-1/2" square.
The border finishes to 3"

We got it all worked out, however, and bordered. 

Cutting the Mitered Border:
Cut 4 strips 3-1/2" across the width of fabric.
Fussy cut so all are the same.

Here's an EQ7 plan
for 25 blocks.
You could make 49 blocks (7 x 7) and using the same border
wind up with a 50" square quilt.

I had some antique examples of the Twin Sisters block in my photo files.
This top from about 1900 was my inspiration.

Here's one from the 1940s or '50s.

And note that she alternated left-hand blocks and right-hand blocks
and got a kind of a trellis look.

Here's one from the Quilt Index. All dark arms,except for the top left, which may have faded.
This shading and the sashing gives a whole different effect.

See more about Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey here at Moda:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vicki Welsh Fabric Give-Away

Lura's Choice
By Vicki Welsh
Grandmother's Choice sampler
blocks in her hand-dyed shibori style fabrics

Kansas Sunflower
Shibori Style
by Vicki Welsh

It's Vicki Welsh day today on my blogs. To celebrate the END of my Grandmother's Choice block-of-the-week---49 weeks/49 blocks---we GAVE AWAY a package of Vicki's hand-dyed fabrics. Jan was the winner.

Carrie Nation
by Vicki Welsh

If you follow the Grandmother's Choice Flickr page you will have noticed Vicki's fussy-cut and  hand-dyed versions of the blocks celebrating the fight for Women's Rights. She did two blocks, one in her Symmetry/Kaleidoscope style and the other in her Shibori/ hand-dyed style.

by Vicki Welsh
Vicki writes:
"While working on them I figured out that each one really reflected the personality of my grandmothers."

To see Vicki's other version of the Grandmother's Choice blocks, named for her Grandmother Jackie, click here:

"The Grandmother’s Choice project was one the first block-of-the-week projects that I’ve ever done. I couldn’t wait for Saturday for my history lesson and new block. I have two passions with quilting so I’ve made 2 sets of blocks. One is done in a kaleidoscope fashion (inspired by Paula Nadelstern) and the other is done in all hand- dyed fabrics. My friend, Becky (the pattern tester), incorporated many of my hand dyed fabrics in her quilt as well."

Kansas Sunflower by Becky Brown

Here's Vicki's EQ7 sketch for the layout for 30 blocks.
She's making a twin-sized quilt. Her inspiration
was Cheryl Kotecki's layout.

Cheryl has finished her top using Vicki's hand-dyed fabrics.

To see Vicki's general instructions for Lura's Choice, named after one of her grandmothers, click here:

Mother's Delight
by Vicki Welsh

"I am primarily a traditional quilter and I love the look of hand dyed fabrics in my projects whether the quilt is totally hand dyed fabric or, like Becky’s, the hand dyes are blended with commercial fabrics."

Kansas Troubles
by Vicki Welsh

Vicki notes that some people avoid hand-dyed fabrics because they have a reputation for not being colorfast. 

"I’m trying to fix that reputation and make people more comfortable using them.My fabrics are processed to remove all of the excess dye and you can use them in your quilts as confidently as you do commercially printed fabrics."

Here's the prize package (worth $101!) that Jan won: An assortment of hand dyed fabrics along with 10 yards of Mistyfuse fusible web and a Mistyfuse Goddess Sheet.The fabrics included are a Leafy Greens Stash Pack (10 fat eighths), a 4-step Shades Pack in the popular color Sepia and 2 half-yard Gradients (Emerald City and Traditions).

THE WINNER: Jan at the Accidental Cookhttp://hardtimeskitchen.blogspot.com/

Here's what she says about herself on her blog

"I am an eclectic artist interested in most all forms of artistic expression. I am a quilter, painter, and mixed media artist as well as a cook and writer. Since I am retired, we live in a tiny farming community of 500 people. The closest McDonald's is 32 miles away so we don't live on fast food. To me, fast food is dinner in 30 minutes! I am lucky to have lots of locally grown produce in season. Hopefully you will enjoy my recipes, with occasional artwork and quilts."

I'll email her and get her street address. 

Thanks to Vicki for providing a prize and much inspiration. Thanks to you guys for entering!
See the Grandmother's Choice blog here:
In the right hand column is a photo of a photographer. Click on her to see our Flickr page.

Some web sites for Vicki:
Flickr Photostream:
Blog: http://vickiwelsh.typepad.com/field_trips_in_fiber/ (with lots of tutorials)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Free Civil War Jubilee Label

I've been designing quilt labels for my various reproduction fabrics for Moda.
Here's a free printable label for quilts made from my Civil War Jubilee collection, which was shipped to shops in July. The line celebrates this year's 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Civil War Jubilee

You can print this label out yourself on pre-treated cotton with an ink-jet printer.
It's 7" wide so there is a lot of space to add your name, the date and other information about your quilt.
Shops might want to print these out and offer them as premiums to customers who buy fat quarter packs.

Plaid Squared by Sarah
So if you are making a project out of Civil War Jubilee like
Sarah did above (I found this on Chattanooga Quilts FaceBook page)
you will want to print a label.

My inspiration was this lithograph of the 
Emancipation Proclamation from
the collection of the Library of Congress.

Click on the picture at the top of the page and save it to a Word file or as a JPG. Print it out 7" wide. You could also print it smaller if you didn't have as much to say.

Here's a link to an Acrobat Workspaces PDF:

Another label option for this collection is the Steel-Pen Drawing of Abraham Lincoln I posted a few weeks ago. Click here:

Find printable fabrics at Electric Quilt by clicking here:

The Library of Congress has many images related to the Emancipation Proclamation. Type in the single word Emancipation on their search page and find many copy-right-free images you could print for a quilt.