The value of scraps

A couple of months ago I blogged about our periodic fabric grabs, in which the QN staff get to take home some of the sample fabric we receive from manufacturers. As I described it, occasionally we get half-yards, frequently we receive fat quarters,  but more often the pieces are smaller, meaning that we all have materials for some awesome scrap quilts.

What I neglected to describe are the fabric samples that come glued down onto cardboard folders, which is a great way to see a collection at-a-glance. Some are just attached with thin strips of light adhesive, making it easy to remove the fabric you want from the cardboard. But some are completely glued down, and when removed take a layer of paper with them.

I've been in a frugal state of mind lately, so even knowing that it would require some work to liberate the samples from their paper backings, I took home a stack of the folders and spent an evening tearing off the samples I liked (which was pretty much all of them). First I soaked them in hot water and scrubbed the paper pulp off, which still left a coating of glue. So I refilled my plastic tub, added some liquid soap, and soaked again hoping to loosen the glue. Even after soaking for a day, that glue is stubborn and requires a good amount of elbow grease to get rid of. As I was standing there, getting blisters from rubbing small pieces of oh-so-cute fabric together, my husband asked from the other room what I was working on. “I'm washing that fabric,” I said. “Oh good,” he replied dryly, “because if there's one thing we have in this house, it's a shortage of fabric.” “Yeah, I know,” I sighed, and kept scrubbing. (What I really wanted to say was, “Yes, just as we apparently have a dearth of guitars, amps, and stereo components. Simply tragic.” But I didn't.)

After about the third soak, I started to wonder, Is the fabric really that cute? [Answer: Yes, it really is.] Is it worth all this work? I felt so virtuous at first, determined not to let fabric go to waste when it could add up to a charming scrap quilt. At this point, it's more a matter of  “in for a penny, in for a pound” — I will have that fabric! Will I value it more for having worked to make it useable? Will I use it more quickly than other scraps in my collection to have some fruits for my labor? Time will tell. In the meantime, I still have a half-full tub o' scraps waiting for me when I get home.


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