Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thrifty Acres: Fabric Sample Books

Hello! There's an interior design business on one of our downtown blocks, and it participates in the downtown's summer sidewalk sales. More often than not, the shop sells discontinued fabric sample books during this event. I scooped up five large sample books at this year's sidewalk sale, which set me back all of $2.50 total.

Spent some time over the weekend deconstructing these books. Typically, the assembly is a heavy cardboard back, a heavy cardboard front flap, and fabric samples stapled in between these pieces. To take apart these books, I pulled the front flaps up as much as I could, which exposed the heavy-duty staples. I pried the staples out by inserting the tip of a screwdriver underneath them, then pulled up on the screwdriver to lift them up. I could have used pliers if the staples had been especially stubborn, but I didn't need to. 

Then it was simply a matter of pulling the fabric samples apart and sorting them by color. Here's some of what I got:

And a few close-ups:

These are decent-sized pieces; they range from 23"x16" to 17"x17" to 11 1/2"x17". I have a home decor project in mind for these fabrics, and what's left over can be turned into cloth napkins, placemats and whatever else I may think of. 

These decorating fabrics were all very expensive if bought the usual way - the prices in the back of the books ranged from 85 dollars/yard to over 200 dollars/yard.  Yow! 

Since these fabric pieces are samples, not every inch is usable - there's paper labels adhered to a small portion of the backs. Some of these labels are wide enough that I just cut them away and turn them into bookmarks, like this one:

Very simple to do!

My sample books came from two different home decor fabric houses, but both sets came with more than just fabrics:

Above, one group of books had some of the fabrics printed onto off-white card stock. Sizes range from 11 1/2"x13" to 5 1/2"x6 1/4"to 3 1/2"x6 1/4". All the pieces are blank on the other side, so these could be cut down to make into cards or gift enclosure cards. 

The designs are quite pretty too:

The butterfly design is printed on one of the largest pieces. It would look nice cut down to fit in a small frame. 

Instead of printed paper versions of the fabrics, the other company chose to include large glossy pages showing its fabrics in use as pillows, curtains and upholstery. (I shudder to think how much curtains or a sofa would cost if using some of that $200/yard fabric!). 

I've begun to use some of these pages to make envelopes:

I've seen directions for making envelopes that call for taking apart a commercial envelope and tracing around it for a template. However, I've always used this kit:

I purchased it back in the early 1990's, when most folks didn't have email and texting wasn't heard of. Letters were still a common form of communication. My late mother used to enjoy getting them from me, sent in my handmade envelopes. She kept every letter and every handmade envelope in a basket in her living room.
Alas, with the advent of the Internet and cellphones, I don't write letters as much as I used to, but still can't resist using The Envelope Mill kit to make pretty envelopes like the one above.

Pretty fabrics, pretty papers, and all at a low, low price - I'm certainly glad we have an interior design business that participates in the town's sidewalk sales! 

Your town's sidewalk sales may very well not include fabric sample books. However, I've occasionally seen them at thrift stores and garage sales. I don't know if asking interior design firms about discontinued sample books would yield anything, but it couldn't hurt to try.


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