Thursday, February 2, 2012

The 21 Pillowcase Weekend

One of the many great things about the fabric haul my friend gave me was that it included yardage. Over the years, I've been the recipient of everything from upholstery samples with the display hangers still attached (those pieces made great, sturdy totebags, by the way) to thumb-sized bits of cotton. But rarely am I given a full yard of anything, among fabric "collectors" that being generally considered too valuable to part with. (I have to admit, the 10 yards of bright fuchsia cotton/poly blend I received were a little unwieldy when it came to washing and ironing, and I have never mustered the courage to ask what she intended to do with all of it, although I suppose if anyone were planning a flamingo-themed wedding, this would have made lovely tablecovers.)

Which begs the question, How big is a scrap?

For seamstresses (I was happy to see someone coin the term sewist to replace sewer, but I still prefer the original designation), anything smaller than a half-yard appears to be considered scrap. But a quilter -- especially if she appliques -- can make something with a piece no larger than a quarter. I read a clever article in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine in which the authors compared scrap sizes to cooking measurements. A tablespoon of fabric could be a yo-yo, they asserted, while a cup could perhaps craft an entire patch.

But back to yardage.

On the first Memorial Day weekend after my fabric windfall arrived, I decided to comb through the material mine to search for treasures. There were stripes and solids and polka dots. Prints adorned with cats and cows, frogs and fairies.

Spread out on the bed in the sewing room (which is sometimes actually a guest room where I get to sew), the combinations and permutations astonished me. The polka dots and frog prints simply sang next to each other. A turquoise plaid toned down a bright paisley. I might still be playing with the fabric, except I remembered a sign in my favorite quilt shop (Quiltworks in Cypress, Texas) asking for donations for the Million Pillowcase Challenge.

(Click here for more information

I was particularly moved by the fact that, in our area, pillowcases would be given to pediatric hospital patients. My son had been diagnosed with a rare disorder called Langerhans cell Histiocytosis as a toddler and although it took eight years of chemotherapy and radiation to control his disease, he was only hospitalized a few times. The idea that I could, in some small way, bring comfort to kids like him with a silly, funny, colorful, delightful pillowcase was motivation enough for me to start cutting and sewing.

And when I finally got up from the machine the next day, I had a stack of 21 finished pillowcases. The idea that someone is sleeping a little better because of my efforts, cheers me to this day.

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