Tuesday, April 3, 2012

FabMo and Lined Zipper Pouches Galore

I've been a bit quiet of late, but I've also been busy at work, including a few 10-12 hours days, leaving me with minimal energy for sewing or blogging. But last weekend I took a class that spurred a little creative (and may I say, obsessive) binge.

You may remember when I blogged about Scrap in San Francisco recently. They are a place where organizations and manufacturers donate materials of all kinds that they have no use for. It keeps lots of material out of the landfill and provides supplies for teachers, artists, and creative people of all ilk. They do have some fabric, but that is not their focus.

Enter FabMo. FabMo provides the same sort of function, in Mountain View (on the peninsula south of San Francisco, about 40 minutes in light traffic) and they specialize in fabric. Local manufacturers, decorators, and individuals with unwanted stash, donate fabrics to FabMo, and contributions range from samples and sample books, to giant bolts of fabrics, and everything in between. (And, to be accurate, they also have other supplies available, such as trims, zippers, and ceramic tiles, but fabrics are the main focus.)

They give these fabrics away, though you do, of course, pay a donation to help cover the costs of overhead. Unlike Scrap, which has daily hours and a much larger facility, FabMo opens about once a month for a distribution and you register for a 45-minute slot. They replenish the fabrics continually during that time, so it's not an issue of first-come first served gets the best stuff.

I have heard of FabMo for years from my sewing friends but had never gone down there to check it out. (I can be a bit slow about such things.) Many of the fabrics they receive are home dec (I have a friend who has reupholstered most of her living room using FabMo fabrics) and I don't "do" home dec, except for the occasional tote bag. The fabrics run the gamut, and include synthetics of all types, silks, linens, and wools.

FabMo also offers classes. A sewing pal, Luanne Seymour, teaches three of those classes. Some of my sewing friends have taken her workshops and I occasionally attend a show-and-tell where their projects have been shown, so I know she teaches a quality product.

Sue mentioned to me that Luanne had a lined zippered bag class coming up, so I decided to make my first trek to FabMo. I am SO glad I did! In her class, you start with a pre-made kit provided by Luanne (or you might spend hours pulling fabrics from the bins and not accomplishing anything). After completing our first bag, we pulled fabrics for another bag, though I didn't get started on the construction until I got home.

Luanne demonstrates how to insert the zipper.

Not many people know this, but I used to be an obsessive quilter. (That was before my digital camera, so I don't know where the pictures of my quilts are.) So, for me, the fun was in the piecing of the bags. Many of the most luscious fabrics that called to me were quite small, samples with paper adhered to them and, after you cut the paper away (Luanne has tried all sorts of techniques and was not able to dissolve the heavy duty glue they use), they were smaller still. Some of my smallest pieces, for example, being around 1.5" by 4". So piecing was necessary if I wanted to use these great textiles. I made one bag in class and then three more at home. You can see, from my second bag to my fourth bag, that the piecing becomes more involved. This is because my fabric scraps were getting smaller, but I love the effect.

Sue is ready to put her bag together!


Auditioning fabrics for the second bag, including fabrics from home. My pile is on the right and Sue's on the left. We like similar colors. ;) You can see I brought my Janome Gem (far right). My Bernina 930 (pre-computerized) died and is being serviced, but I love my little Janome!

My bag, sitting on fabrics for bag #2.

I no longer have enough fabric to make more bags and am too spoiled to use mundane fabrics. But it's just as well because I have other things to sew. However, I am signed up for Luanne's tote bag class in May. :)

While we were there, we met the founders of FabMo, Hannah and Jonathan Cranch, whom I refer to as Mr. and Ms. FabMo. Jonathan talked about the 40 tons of material they keep out of the landfill each year - the statistics are quite impressive. They also participate in community events. While we were there, I saw Hannah cutting 1/2" strips of fabrics (using scissors!!!) for an upcoming Earth Day event in which they are participating. Thousands of youngsters are expected to attend this event and the FabMo booth will offer a weaving project. They are cutting 50 pounds of fabric strips in preparation for the event. With scissors. My hands and wrists hurt just thinking about it.

Luanne's version of the zippered bag is fully lined. Both ends of the zipper are covered (a very nice detail), and the bag features a bottom so that it stands up. If you are local, I really recommend Luanne's classes (and probably all of the FabMo classes). It's not just the great instruction (Luanne is a wonderfully generous, relaxed, and thoughtful teacher), but also the camaraderie of the group (I knew several people attending) and the luscious fabrics. But if you aren't local, I found some online tutorials for you. There are many more if you google for them, but these look nice. Let me know in the comments section if you have other good ones to share.

Bag #4: pieced outside

Bag #4: pieced lining

Bags 1 through 4, side 1. I made them in the order displayed, with the first one at the top left and the last one at the bottom right.

Bags 1 through 4, side 2.

The inside of Bag 4. I pieced the lining. You can see how the zipper ends are covered.

Bored mama, sitting in a dark-ish room and waiting for DD1 to call back on Facetime. ;)