Fabric Swap – Meetup!

Fabric Swap - Bay Area Sewists meetup group
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

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.

bike 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.

Looking at the selections - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

We had so much fabric to choose from! Everything from silk and wool…

silk fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

to knits and cotton wovens…

knit fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

… 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. 😉

Mystery fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

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.)

photo by Michael Portuesi
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

The happy winner of the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress was Jeanne! Thank you Christine for donating your latest pattern!

Jeanne won the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress - Bay Area Sewists

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.

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap meetup

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…

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists fabric swap

…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!)

Burda 6990 - knit top

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!

fabric from Bay Area Sewists fabric 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.

hem facing tape, interfacing - Stonemountain & Daughter 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.

Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly

Bay Area Sewists Meetup – Fabric Swap

The Bay Area Sewists Meetup group had a fun fabric swap last Saturday! I’m the organizer for this group. More than 30 people came to the swap – our biggest turnout so far this year – and they brought some great fabric to share. The meetup took place at the Berkeley Public Library.

Here’s a group photo I took with my phone at the end – some members has already left by then so this isn’t everyone. We all had a great time.

Bay Area Sewists meetup - fabric swap - 26 July 2014

We had four rounds where members got to choose one fabric each – provided they brought four pieces of fabric. 😉 And one member brought some very nice fabric of hers that she was selling – Liberty, wool crepe, etc. This library has great tables with wheels, which makes it really easy to set up for a fabric swap.

Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap - 26 July 2014

We had plenty of cotton wovens – flannel, plaids, prints, and solids.

Fabric swap - cotton wovens - Bay Area Sewists

Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap - cotton wovens

Fabric swap - cotton wovens - Bay Area Sewists

And many synthetics – rayon, poly, nylon…

Bay Area Sewists - Fabric swap - Synthetic fabric

We also had a table with silk, wool and linen! And one member even brought a box of sewing patterns for folks to take – it was a mix of vintage, costumes, and random patterns. Thank you!

Bay Area Sewists - sewing patterns

After we were done swapping, we held the pattern drawing for Cake Patterns popular Espresso Leggings. Thank you, Steph for donating your great pattern! And here’s Hillary who won the drawing, posing with her new pattern and the fabric she got at our swap.

Cake Patterns - Espresso Legging pattern giveaway winner - Bay Area Sewists

After the swap was over (leftovers go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland), we put away the tables and put out chairs in a big circle and everyone talked about what they would do with their new-found fabric. This is just one-quarter of the circle of chairs.

Bay Area Sewists Fabric discussion

Meg was happy to get this sheer fabric so she could get some practice sewing it.

Bay Area Sewists Discussion of fabric

Charlotte was thrilled to get this fabric – printed with little kimonos, which she envisions using to make her first quilt.

Bay Area Sewists - discussion of fabric

I got these two fabrics – a yard of this pretty organic cotton with airplanes, bicycles, and buses printed on it. I’m thinking of making a tote bag for a trip in August. I also got this iridescent scrap of silk – likely to be a scarf or perhaps a piece of fabric to practice sewing. I have some silk chiffon I bought more than a year ago but I haven’t sewed it yet because I’m a little scared to cut it. Maybe this piece will be good practice for me.

Fabric from swap - Bay Area Sewists

And I got these two patterns – Butterick historical hats and this vintage Simplicity patterns of vintage dresses. As soon as I saw the hat pattern, I immediately thought of Leila of Three Dresses, who makes a lot of period costumes that she wears to events – like a steampunk weekend.

Sewing patterns - fabric swap - Bay Area Sewists - csews.com

Have you ever been to a fabric swap? Did you make anything from the fabric you got?

Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly

Organizing a Fabric Swap

Fabric swap - cotton wovens

In March I organized my first fabric swap for the Bay Area Sewists, a meetup group originally founded by Meg of Made By Meg. I took over as organizer of the group in January and we had our first meetup in February, a pattern swap at the Berkeley Public Library’s Community Meeting Room. You can read about that here. (If you’re a resident of the city, your group or organization can use the library’s meeting room space for free.)

I thought I’d share a couple of things I learned about putting together a fabric swap. Once you have a venue (make sure there are plenty of tables!), tell folks to organize their fabric beforehand. I initially told people to sort by type of fabric (cotton, knits, home dec, etc.) and be sure to bring pieces that are at least 1/2 yard so people would have enough to make something. I said that any leftover fabric would be donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.

A few weeks later one member sent me an email, asking  if there was a reason that the un-swapped fabric would be donated. She asked, “Is it just logistics? If we had the option to take home the fabric that is not swapped, I think it would be a real incentive to bring more fabric pieces, and also bring larger fabric yardage. That way we would have a lot more options to trade with, and it would be a true swap.”

This was an excellent point. So I updated the meetup description and asked members to note the yardage and type of fabric on a piece of paper and to put their name on it if they wanted it back. Not everyone got this updated message but all the fabric was sorted. I also brought a tape measure, masking tapes and a sharpie so folks could label their fabric in case they hadn’t done so beforehand.

The day before I wrote out labels for all the tables on sheets of copy paper: cotton, knits, wool, linen, silk, home dec, rayon, polyester, and mystery fabric. Meg arrived early to help with setting up the room. The tables are all on wheels, which made it easy to place around the perimeter of the room.

Cotton wovens took up more than two tables worth of space. There was a surprising amount of home dec fabric, some of which were smaller pieces but they could be used for bags and small items.

Fabric swap - home dec fabric

At the actual event, I told members we would follow the same procedure at the pattern swap: Each person has an opportunity to pick one fabric per “round.” Then I asked if they wanted to keep track of yardage or just have rounds like we did for the pattern swap. Most members just wanted to pick fabric and not worry about yardage.

The only difference  from the pattern swap was that I decided to play a song on my iPhone per round. We didn’t have any music during the pattern swap.

When I saw that everyone had picked their first fabric, I picked a different song and shouted out, “You can pick your second fabric!” I can’t recall which songs I played but the artists were Raphael Saadiq, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. I was mostly picking fast tunes with a strong beat.

All the “mystery” fabric – fiber content unknown was put in one corner of the room, which I dubbed “mystery fabric corner.” It had all kinds of synthetic, poly, shiny and loopy fabric.

Fabric swap - mystery fabric corner

Everyone brought fabric so everyone picked something in the first round. If someone arrived who didn’t bring any fabric, then I would have had them wait at least three rounds before they could join in. After four rounds, I told folks they could take whatever they wanted. When we hold meetings at the Berkeley Public Library, the meetings must be open to the general public.

We held a drawing for Sewaholic‘s new pattern – the Gabriola skirt, which was won by Liz! Thank you Tasia for donating your lovely pattern for our giveaway!

Sewaholic Gabriola skirt pattern

We drew up a circle of chairs, sat down, and everyone showed off their new stash and told about what plans they had for the fabric. In this photo Daiyo (@bydaiyami on Twitter) is going over her stash. I think she went home with more fabric than she brought! I brought about five pieces of fabric and took two home – one printed mystery fabric, which I think was cotton and a berry-colored bit of wool crepe (yes, I was really limiting myself because I didn’t really want to add a lot to my existing stash at home).

Fabric scored at fabric swap

Meg took a great group photo using the timer on her camera. I’m the one wearing a hat, standing behind Meg on the left. Here’s the caption info I took from Meg’s great post about this Meetup:  Front row – Meg, Ali, Jessica, Megan, Cassandra, Liz; Back row: Me, Sara, JanaLoran, Sarah, Leah, Daiyo, Kelina, Allison, Veronica

Group photo - Bay Area Sewists

Everyone pitched in to clean up and the room was put all the tables back in place in about 10 minutes. And a member with a car offered to drop off the leftover fabrics to the East Bay Depot. Bay Area Sewists members are great!

Have you attended or organized a fabric swap? What was that experience like? I’d like to know how other people put theirs together.

Our next meetup, “Show and Tell, WIPs, Tour Lacis and a Pattern Giveaway,” is on Saturday, April 19 at Lacis in Berkeley. We’ll be holding a drawing for Bluegingerdoll’s latest pattern – The Winifred Dress. Thank you, Abby for donating your pattern! It’s free to join Bay Area Sewists. You can RSVP to this meetup here.
Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly