Cotton. The fabric of our lives. That’s what the ad says. My sewing room says otherwise. I had decided that the room needed yellow walls. But before I could paint, I had to clean. After weeks of mental preparation I was finally ready. I gathered plastic garbage bags, a mug of coffee, and classic rock tapes and descended the steps to my sewing room.
The first task was sorting through the fabric I had stashed away, just in case. As in—just in case you have to clothe the population of a small town from materials on hand. The preliminary sort produced three piles: projects I intended to make, pieces for the quilt ladies, and I’m-not-sure.
Then came the hard work: reducing the size of the stash. The first pile was small and done quickly. Pile two was not small but went fast, too. Pile three was neither small nor fast. Which of the pieces of cloth heaped around me could I shed? The green and blue patterned wool I bought in Wales? Granted, that was 1971. I wanted it for a miniskirt to wear with knee high leather boots and a poor boy turtleneck I’d bought in London that fall. Since then, time and my young figure have slipped away from me.
The purple Ultra-Suede I bought with Margaret? It was expensive. I’ve always been afraid to cut it but I can still envision a vest. The extra ten yards of lace from Meg’s wedding? I didn’t want to run out when I was making pew markers. There was half a silk skirt—the first project Becky and I did together. We got to be friends faster than we could sew. And loose woven wool with a man’s vest pattern tucked into the folds. Elizabeth’s boyfriend. What was his name?
I found what I needed for the crazy quilt pillow top I was making as the ring bearer’s pillow in a daughter’s upcoming wedding. I also found a swatch of embroidery on banana cloth cut from a shirt my husband had worn when he lived in the Philippines, embroidered linen, a handkerchief, and spidery lace once owned by grandmothers, and the sash from a sister’s tea dress.
I stroked and rearranged pile three several times before I gave up and decided to store it in the garage while I painted my sewing room.
“The fabric of my life isn’t cotton,” I thought. “It’s wool and Ultra-Suede, silk, lace, banana cloth, linen. Cotton’s there someplace but so’s polyester.”
The fabric of my life isn’t one fiber or one strand. Like the ring bearer’s pillow, my life is pieced from different fabrics, oddly shaped, unmatched—held together by thread and careful stitching.