It’s not easy being green!

After a weekend of driving and various social gatherings, I decided to stay home today and recuperate, rather than spending my usual Monday out. Well, it was nice to be home, but I didn’t exactly recuperate — I spent the day doing enervating foundation work, and now I’m just as tired as before!

fabric samples

Fabric samples

A ghastly proportion of the day went to cataloguing my latest stash of FabMo fabrics (which I picked up on Saturday) and preparing them for cleaning. As you might remember, I hadn’t intended to collect too many fabrics this time… yet somehow I ended up gathering even more than usual. I guess because I knew what I was looking for this time (big, sturdy pieces for making yoga totes; solids; and delicate, luxe fabrics for omiyage pouches), I was able to pass right over everything that wasn’t appropriate — leaving me more time to spend with the fabrics that interested me.

Fabric samples may be free, but preparing them is a tedious process. The vast majority of the samples are smaller than one yard; a 25″ square is considered a very big piece. Most of my pieces this time are about 12″ square, like dinner napkins. Nearly all the samples still have their showroom tags on, and these are attached with staples, adhesive, or stitches (see above photo). They might also have grommets or wires in them. These all need to be removed. To catalogue the fabrics, I cut a small swatch from each one and make a note of how big the entire sample is. I staple this to a card and hole-punch it.

Sample fabric swatch

Sample swatch from my fabric catalogue

I went through 99 samples today. Thankfully that’s all there was: just one standard-sized brown paper grocery sack full. My hands are tired from cutting, stapling, hole-punching, and staple-removing. At some point I’m going to write up a lengthy post on how Satsumabug creations are made, so I can link it in shop listings or my profile. When I do, I’ll include this preparation process in that post.

I think many people have a misconception that working with recycled materials is somehow easier than using new materials. That can be true, but in my case it is not. If I went to Jo-Ann and bought two yards of linen, I could throw that yardage into the wash and an hour or so later, I’d have clean fabric ready to use. Preparing the swatch for my catalogue would take maybe 20 seconds more. With the samples, to get the same amount of fabric, I have to individually deal with about 12-24 distinct fabrics in the way I described in the above paragraphs (given that an average bolt of fabric is about 44″ wide).

I don’t pay much money for these materials (other than a donation to FabMo), but if you believe that time is money (as I do!), you could hardly call them gratis. The prep is tiring; that can’t be denied. But I think ultimately it’s worth it. I’m doing my small part to divert usable material from landfill, and I have the privilege of working with the most beautiful, high-quality, unusual fabrics I could possibly hope for. When I look at something like this and know that I made it almost entirely from “trash,” I feel a deep, deep sense of satisfaction. We’ll show them trash!