In January I vowed not to buy any new fabrics for a year, but work my way through my stash while occasionally allowing myself to buy second hand fabric at charity shops or Tradera (Swedish eBay). Now that we are half way through the year, it is time for an update. Although I still find myself browsing online fabric stores when I am really bored and even went inside a brick-and-mortar shop once or twice – looking for notions of course – l managed to resist the urge to buy anything new. To be honest, nothing really appealed to me, but if I had come across a good bargain I might very well have given in. I am not that disciplined!
Visiting thrift stores is one of my biggest hobbies and they are not particularly rare around where we live. Many opportunities to buy pre-owned fabric, one might think. The year, however, started off very slowly. Firstly, the prices at many thrift stores here in Malmö are relatively high. Sometimes the prices are almost at the same level as what one would pay for new fabrics when they are on sale. Of course, from an environmental and ethical point of view this should not matter much, in particular when the profits go to charity. In addition, I think that I get better value for money by buying second-hand fabrics, as they are often of better quality than cheap new fabric and can have more special prints and textures.
The second reason for not buying that much fabric is that I have focussed on what is missing in my stash instead of buying whatever is cheap or looks nice. Currently, I am on the lookout for good pants fabrics, which are harder to find second-hand than one might think. Lately, I have also become interested in flowy styles of the 30s and early 40s, which require drapey fabrics, something in which my stash is lacking. It has also helped to no longer buy small pieces of fabric no matter how cute or special the print is.
The last three pieces of fabrics were auctions at Tradera. The printed cotton seersucker is my most expensive fabric purchase of the year. It cost 125 Sek (c. 13 Euro) (excluding postage). I think I may have had some mental block about spending more than a couple of Euro on second-hand fabric, while I would easily spend a multitude of that on new fabrics. However, I cherish the vintage fabrics in my stash much more. Even if I might never end up using them, I just love going through them, looking at the patterns and feeling their textures. In comparison with, for instance, Etsy, prices at Tradera tend to be very reasonable, by the way.
According to the seller, the seersucker was part of the inventory of a fabric store that closed down a long time ago. Many other unique fabrics were auctioned off at the same time and I still regret not bidding on a beautiful white feather print set against a black background. I did, however, respond fast enough to snap up this paisley print. You can never go wrong with paisley, in my opinion.
If I would have to pick a favorite, it would be this drapey viscose (rayon) fabric with a fascinating pattern. I am not entirely sure what the print represents, but that is part of its charm. The organic shapes outlined in black remind me of amoebae floating around in water, while the coloured forms could be waterplants and specks of sun reflecting in the water’s surface. The black, round shapes look a bit like fingerprints or tree rings. Such a fun pattern! According to the seller, the fabric dates back to the fifties. My mum, who is born in 1945 and is the youngest of 9, told me her oldest sisters would wear dresses made out of this type of fabric.
So far, I have bought 10 pieces of fabric in 2016, spending a total of 560 Sek (almost 60 Euro). Not pictured are 3m of black wool gabardine, 2m of viscose lining and 2m of rust-coloured jersey. The last one is the only piece of I regret buying. I did not realize until I came home from the thrift store that there were a couple of big holes along the foldline. I am still very happy with all my other purchases, though, and that was part of the reason for this fabric diet; only buying fabric that I love!