Monday, August 4, 2008

waxing nostaligic

Is that the right phrase? you know what I mean.

Recently I heard that Baer's Fabric Store in Louisville closed and it made me really sad. For those of you not from the area, this was a huge fabric store like no other. It was a 3 story warehouse of a store that had anything you needed, was family-owned and had been around for over 100 years.

The first floor had an entire wall of buttons, an island in the middle with patterns and pattern books, a sewing machine section and another section of fine fabrics for weddings and the like. I remember it fondly from both my childhood and recently.

Baer's was where my MIL bought the fabric for my wedding dress. It was only 5 years ago that I was sorting through the various lace and trimmings and comparing the colors of white and ivory for my dress. It was only last year I was pouring through those pattern books trying to find just the right bunny patter for Gabriella's quilted bunny.

The second floor was wall-to-wall quilting and other fabrics, appliques, trims, sequins -just stacks of whatever you needed. In the back was a bargain area with bins of leftover bolts of fabric to rummage through and a small hallway that lead to the back classrooms. I took 2 or 3 weeks of sewing camp there as a teen. I made Jams and a couple of canvas totes, a skirt, shirt and dress - two small quilts and a handful of hair accessories - remember the big lace 80's bows?

In high school, my friend JulieAnn and I had been taking belly-dancing lessons, and decided to perform at camp and make our costumes from scratch. To do this we had to cut-up and recovered store bought bras. We chose gold and black as our color scheme and hand sewed black interfacing and gold appliques over our white bras, adding elastic straps covered with sequins and I think what was meant to be curtain trim. We made shawls out of interfacing, fabric glue and glitter, and pants and skirt out of gold lame. Working with the lame was tricky, but it taught me a trick to use ribbon to keep things from fraying.

The third floor was upholstery fabrics, thick and rich, on bolts that reminded me of wrapping paper in the big department stores. It is one of the few places that had fabric for upholstering boats. I like to just walk through them looking at the different patterns and ideas. Last time I was in Louisville, a friend and I browsed the isles looking for fabric to make bags out of. I use 3 of her small bags for my knitting projects, and the large ones for my groceries and love them.

I made at least one more belly-dancing outfit from Baer's, and I'm sure JA has been back even more often - she kept up with it and now teaches belly dancing herself. My MIL has made 3 wedding gowns, and I know at least one Mother-of-the-groom outfit from there, and has one more daughter to go. And my friend bought a beautiful origami-bag pattern when we were there last. Now I wonder where we will all go the next time we need fabric or inspiration.

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