January 18, 2008

Economical Heirloom Sewing

Heirloom Sewing on a Budget

The most economical method of heirloom sewing is to plan your projects. Very few people (I don't know of any) sew heirloom garments for everyday wear. To most of us, these are special occasion garments for children and babies. The fabrics we use are classics, they never go out of style.

Don't Wait for a Special Occasion to Begin Planning a Project

There are a few things we can be certain of:

  • birthdays and other special occasions will occur
  • children grow
  • prices for fabrics, especially imported heirloom fabrics are sure to rise over time

By purchasing classic heirloom fabrics when they are on sale today, you will be saving a huge amount of money in the future.

For example, suppose your daughter or granddaughter is a little baby today. You can be sure (if you love to sew) that one day you will want to make her a special dress for, let's say, kindergarten graduation, a special birthday party, a portrait or photograph, etc. You get the idea. At the current rate of inflation, that future project at tomorrow's prices is going to be expensive.

A Not-So-Efficient Fabric Stash

We all have some type of fabric stash. Some are very organized. And then there are some of us whose fabric stash has taken over their sewing room. All those deals we couldn't refuse on fashion fabrics, home decor fabrics and the list goes on and on. I still have some fabric that I bought from Nancy's Notions in 1991. No kidding. (It's a beautiful jersey knit and I will make something with it, one day - ok, so you've heard that before!)

But, my fabric stash does have a lot of fashion fabric that has gone completely out of style. Another 10 years and it will be official vintage, period fabric. Let's face it, that is not efficient.

Create a Special Heirloom Sewing Stash

One of the most sensible things I ever did with sewing was to create my heirloom fabric stash. I started before Ashleigh (now 10 years old) was born. I'd buy a couple of yards of Bearissima Swiss Batiste and then a few yards of Nelona at another time. Some Swiss Flannel here and some English Netting there. I'd add French Lace and Swiss Embroideries to the stash.

At first, I wrapped the fabrics and laces in acid free tissue and kept them in the linen cabinet. When my heirloom sewing stash grew, I moved it to an acid free storage box. Now, when one of my granddaughters needs a special occasion dress I go straight to that stash, where the fabric is still as beautiful as the day I placed it in there. Plus, it has not gone out of style!

Take Advantage of Sales

To help you get started, we're going to be offering some great sales on some of our most beautiful and popular fabrics. We will announce them here.

If you see a fabric that you like that's on sale, get a few yards to start or add to your stash. Unlike the inefficient fabric stash that may go out of style, you will have endless opportunities to use your heirloom fabric in the future because it is always in style.

Sew For the Future

You will have a hard time keeping your hands out of your heirloom fabric stash. You'll want to touch it and feel it. You may see a dress in a magazine that you think would look beautiful made up in your fabric. Go ahead, get the pattern and sew it! Even if the dress you like is for an older girl and your daughter or granddaughter is still an infant, make the dress now!

When Ashleigh was just a tiny little baby I could not wait to make her a dress that I saw in an old issue of Sew Beautiful. So I didn't wait, I made it then. The dress was carefully stored away, waiting for the day she would grow into it.

For Fun - Myth Buster

Myth - A lot of people have the mistaken impression that the children or grandchildren of heirloom sewing shop owners are always dressed picture perfect and are prim and proper.

Reality Check - You wait 9 years for a child to grow into an heirloom dress and when you put it on her for her 9th birthday party, what do you think is the first thing she does? If you answered "she goes to the chicken coop" you would be right!

These are the things that make memories and I wouldn't change it for anything!

Caught on Video - In the following short video, Ashleigh is wearing the dress I made when she was a baby. The pattern is from the 1994 Spring/Summer issue of Sew Beautiful magazine. It is called"Jennifer and Rachael's Summer Dress". The fabric is the Economy Pima Swiss Batiste. It is accented with French Lace and shadow work embroidery. She is also wearing the Gold and Pearls Tiara.

So get a cup of coffee or tea and sit back and enjoy the video.

A word of caution before starting the video........this video was made for Ashleigh and it does have a music background. You may want to turn down your computer speakers before starting the video.

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