Tuesday, November 22, 2011
To celebrate the anniversary of PatternReview's founding, sewing meetups were held around the world last Saturday. We were lucky enough to have Nikki to organize us in DC, and we had a wonderful day together. While I got photos of some of our stops, I totally spaced on getting pictures of actual people so I've borrowed this one from SewandWrite.
We started our morning at The Textile Museum, a gem of a place near DuPont Circle. I admit that I don't come here as often as I should because I am spoiled by all the free museums available, but the Textile Museum asks only $8 as a donation and the exhibits are always top notch. The museum was very welcoming to us--they offered us coffee and tea and let us congregate in a conference room until everyone arrived.
The current exhibit on the ground floor focuses on the weaving and embroidery of central Africa, roughly in what is now the Congo. The textiles are created with threads processed from palm frond, which are fairly short. This photo shows examples of short pile embroidery, essentially tiny rug hooking. The geometric patterns, though actually flat, give an amazing impression of depth and dimensionality. These cloths, created by female relatives, were amassed by men as status symbols, and no practical use was given for them. They were generally buried with their owners.
The upstairs exhibit is on textile recycling. While I think we generally tend to think of patchwork quilting as an American art form, it is practiced the world over as a practical way to use up scraps of fabric and to repurpose worn-out textiles. The pieces on display in the museum show astounding intricacy and patience in both the tiny scraps used and in the embroidery dressing up the pieces.
Of course we had to make a stop in the gift shop on the way out! The Textile Museum has a wonderful gift shop with items ranging from affordable to aspirational. In addition to its regular stock, the offerings are coordinated with the exhibits on display, and several status cloths--of the quality shown in the museum's exhibit--are available for purchase right now. The price for these works of art is quite reasonable, in the $125 range. However, I am not in the market for art at the moment and contented myself with an adorable felted clutch made in Nepal for only $18. If you're looking for tasteful and imaginative gift options I recommend a visit (they have an online store as well).
We left the museum and headed off to lunch at Bistrot du Coin just down the street, where we enjoyed socializing, a tasty meal, and passing around our goodies for trade. Nikki also held a drawing for door prizes, and I won the PR 1000 Tips and Tricks book!
We had planned a fabric swap to be part of the event, which turned out to be quite fortuitous for me. The night before I figured I ought to go through my fabric shelves and find a few pieces to throw in the pile. Well, that morphed into me going through my entire fabric stash and considerably culling it down--to the tune of three garbage bags' worth of fabric off the shelf. I had done a big cull earlier in the year but had left some things on the understanding I'd need to sew them up reasonably soon to justify keeping them. I didn't and now they're gone!
Well, not actually gone, but moved from the sewing room the living room to await listing on Freecycle. DC area residents: if you want first dibs, just let me know. The conditions are the same as Freecycle: 1) you come pick it up, and 2) you gotta take the whole lot sight unseen.
Anyway, I didn't find takers for all the fabrics I brought to the swap, but about half of them were claimed and I felt ok claiming a few pieces on my own. The red print on the left is a Marc Jacobs cotton from Fabric.com (the sticker was still on it). Perfect for a crisp summer sheath! In the middle is a very lightweight fine cotton batiste or lawn in an aqua color. It will be perfect for lining a summer dress. The fabric on the right is a crazy stretch mesh with sparklies. It would make a very festive tank top for holiday parties.
Did the thought of those three garbage bags give me pause in buying more fabric to fill the shelves back up (and let's be clear, they are still full)? Erm, I plead the Fifth. All I know is that Exquisite Fabrics was having a moving sale, as that creepy mall in Georgetown is to be renovated, apparently. Almost everything is 50% off, with a few exceptions at 30% off. Although I have purchased various buttons, zippers, thread, and so on at Exquisite, I had never actually bought any fabric from them. I don't share much taste with the buyer, apparently. However, at 50% off I found two splurge fabrics.
The first is a bright pink wool crepe. I love my hot pink corset waist pencil skirt, but it is not bikeable. I need a substitute that I can bike in, and this is a very similar color. I love bright colors!
The second is my big splurge, a piece of Fortuny pleated fabric (not sure the content, but I doubt it's silk). The owner of Exquisite said it came from the warehouse of Mary McFadden. Coincidentally, the National Museum of Women in the Arts had an exhibit on Mary McFadden two years ago that I visited. I am going to a wedding on New Year's Eve and this fabric will be perfect, though I don't have enough to make the dress I envision in my head. :-/ I don't really want to use a contrast fabric but am cooking up some ideas.
What a lovely day we had, including fancy cake enjoyed in DuPont Circle! Thank you to Nikki for organizing, and it was so fun to meet new people. We were all pleased to get together and have plans for future events...
You can see all my photos here.