Last Saturday I organized the Bay Area Sewists Fabric Swap Meetup. It was our biggest fabric swap – about 50 or so people came. This was the third fabric swap I’d organized for the group, and the first one where we also had tables for fabric scraps. At one point we had 70 RSVPs(!) and I confess that made me a bit nervous. But I knew that there would be last-minute cancellations and by the meetup day we had 60 RSVPs, which seemed slightly more manageable.
We hold our large meetups in the Community Meeting Room at the Berkeley Public Library. As a citizen of Berkeley, I can reserve this great space for free. It has cool tables with wheels and plenty of chairs. By the time security unlocked the room, it was about 10:15 am and a few members were already starting to arrive. Yikes.
Thank you Ali and Michael (I’m using many of his photos in this post) for your help with getting the tables in place! Other members pitched in as well but I can’t remember because I was in a flurry of preparation. Thank you all for your help! And thanks to Lindsay for setting out the name tags. (Ali is on Instagram @sewmsboncha; Michael blogs at Line of Selvage; and Lindsay blogs at Baking, Making, and Crafting. You can read Michael’s post about our meetup here.)
I have a general process for our fabric swaps. We have four rounds of choosing fabric (one piece of fabric per round) and then one more round that lets anyone can pick anything they want (no limits). You can only participate in the first four rounds if you brought four pieces of fabric (or at least 1/2 yard of scraps). Plus, you get one entry in the pattern drawing per piece of fabric you bring.
Each round lasts the length of a song. I play a song on my phone and when a song is over, the next round of choosing begins. We use the same process for our pattern swaps and I began noticing that it was getting harder and harder for people to hear me say “Round 2! Round 2 is starting!” because this is a very chatty group. I don’t like to shout so last week I got this bicycle horn.
It’s kind of obnoxious – think circus clowns. HONK! HONK! Heheh. But it does get everyone’s attention. I honked once to begin round 1, twice times for round 2, etc. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until the end. I was running around collecting dues, explaining where to put fabric, etc. Luckily, Michael took many photos during the first half of the meetup. As you can see, members brought a LOT of fabric. I asked members to label their fabric with yardage and type of fabric info – most nearly everyone did so in advance and some when they arrived.
We had so much fabric to choose from! Everything from silk and wool…
to knits and cotton wovens…
… to mystery fabric! I created this category because after the first fabric swap I realized that there will always be fabric that has unknown origins. Thus “Mystery Fabric” became a label. 😉
We didn’t really have much leftover to donate to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Thank you Jill and the other members who volunteered to drop off the leftovers!
After the fabric swap was over, it was time for the pattern drawing. (Yes, I’m wearing my first Chardon Skirt, and no, I’m not looking at the names in the bag as I picked the winner.)
The happy winner of the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress was Jeanne! Thank you Christine for donating your latest pattern!
We also had a lovely surprise when member of the Walnut Creek Chapter of the American Sewing Guild brought a few books and a thread catcher to give away. So I drew names again for a book on shirtmaking, a book on batik and other dyeing techniques, a book on color and the thread catcher – a handy thing that you can put near your sewing machine and toss your thread bits.
After the drawings were over, we broke up into small groups and discussed our various plans for our fabric.
Here are a few of the folks in my group. Daphne (in the brown boots) is wearing a top she made from Burda 6990. She said it was really easy to make – only four pieces…
…and she actually had the pattern with her so I took a photo of it so I could buy it at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. (Bay Area Sewists members get a 20 percent discount there on meetup days! Thank you Stonemountain!)
Here’s what I got at the fabric swap: 2.5 yards of this cool home dec zebra cotton print and some orange knit fabric. The print could be a skirt (another Chardon?) or maybe I’ll use it to experiment with a pattern for my ideal tote bag, which I want to make from the cool oil cloth I got at Britex Fabrics last fall. You can see a photo of the oilcloth in My Sewcation post. The knit fabric will be muslin number 2 for the wool jersey dress I want to make (also mentioned in My Sewcation). I brought three pieces of fabric and several scraps to share. Two of fabric pieces were somewhere between 1/2 yard and 3/4 yard and another piece was 1.5 yards or so. So I actually came home with more fabric that I left with. Hmmmm. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
Thank you to all the members who brought fabric to the swap!
Afterwards some members went to get lunch and others headed to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric to shop. I went to the store and bought the Burda pattern 6990, some sew-in woven interfacing, and a couple packages of hem tape. After making my first Chardon skirt, I really like the technique of using hem tape to finish a skirt hem. I’ll use this for my third Chardon skirt, using a Dutch wax print I got at Britex Fabrics.
Have you participated in any fabric swaps? Did you make anything with what you got at the swap? So far I’ve made one thing using fabric from a swap. The sleeves and front piece of my tunic top from a French sewing book are from fabric I got at a swap earlier this year.