Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fabric Prospecting in the Gold Country

The Man and I took a quick trip up to the Gold Country last weekend. The ostensible reason was to attend a Western show, but we managed to squeeze in a few sewing-related stops along the way. 

For those of you not from California, the Gold Country is a slice of the foothills on the west side of the Sierra Nevada range. Over the eons gold eroded from those granite peaks and ran down streams and rivers to deposit itself at the base of the mountains, where it was discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1848. In 1849 half the country moved west to strike it rich. Highway 49 runs right through the heart of the gold rush area, where all the little towns play up the the wild west history, serving it up with fabulous food and great wine.

Santa Cruz is on the North end of the bay on the lower left.
The area is really gorgeous, especially on a perfect spring day with temps in the 70s, fruit trees blossoming and daffodils busting out like crazy.

Creek in Amador. They took $3,500,000 in gold out of the hillside right behind me.
Enough history, now for the sewing! On our way up we paid a visit to our friends, the Meekers, who run Antiques of a Mechanical Nature. Carole gave me a tour of her workroom, where she takes in homeless and neglected Singer Featherweights. She gives them a good cleaning, adjusts their innards and generally gets them humming again. She had a bunch of exotic attachments she let me play with, including the mythical zig-zag foot.
This is where the magic happens!
I got to see a white Featherweight, along with it's carrying case. And she told me about the tan Featherweight, which is the rarest of the rare.

I told The Man this machine is like the Great White Whale of sewing machines
The incoming Featherweights standing in line for Carole's attention.

Carole very sweetly gifted me a copy of the Singer Sewing Book, copyright 1949. I can hardly wait to play with this! There's a great chapter on Binding and Edge Finishes, and another on Cording, Tubing and Self-Trimming that's making my finger's itch.
 Here's a bit of one of my favorite parts from the introduction:

"Prepare yourself mentally for sewing...Approach the job with enthusiasm. You must want to make something lovely, to have the fun of putting pieces of fabric together, to make a garment, to handle the fabric with appreciation, to watch the beauty of the article grow as a result of your planning and effort. Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates. Never try to sew with the sink full of dishes or bed unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so that your mind is free to enjoy your sewing."

Boy, howdy!
Nevada City got it's name before there was a Nevada State.
We spent the night in Nevada City, where I had a chance to visit one of my favorite fabric stores ever, Backstitch. Deanna, the proprietress, is a designer and seamstress herself.

She sells some of her designs in the shop and also on Etsy. Her clothes are primarily knits and are super cute. When she has fabric she doesn't think she'll use, she sells it in the back of the shop. I always jump on a nice knit when I find one, especially at these great prices, so I stocked up good and proper.

The back wall of knit goodness. And check out the cute dress on the right!
Deanna also sells other handmade items produced in Nevada County. Her shop is light and pretty and a lot of fun to poke around in.

Me and Deanna
 The Man waited patiently while I fondled all the fabrics and picked my favorites. I drove home with the pile of loveliness you see below. And I was only $67 out of pocket. Well, actually, The Man was $67 out of pocket - is he a peach or what?
My tower of knits


  1. Oh you made my morning. A very long time ago, I was stationed in Yuba City and we would drive up to Nevada City every weekend. I LOVE that city. The fabric store looked fantastic!

    1. Doh! Meant to reply, not post another comment. That whole area is lovely. I think I must be a mountain person. So glad to have found your blog - you are a true plaid matching pro!

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