There is a small but mighty fabric store in Boulder named Elfriede’s Fine Fabrics, after the owner. My first trip to Elfriede’s came not long after it opened upstairs in a building just off Pearl Street in Boulder. I marveled at the exquisite fabrics, wishing that my sewing skills were up to the level of the material. I left with empty hands.
Years later I ventured in again, this time in search of just the right fabric to complement the needlepoint of the Lascaux cave I had just completed. I was making a vest and needed fabric for the back and the lining. The front panels would be the needlepoint. Elfriede and I searched high and low. We found a beautiful Thai silk for the lining, but the fabric for the back eluded us. Then inspiration struck, and Elfriede brought out the most gorgeous golden cashmere she had been saving to make her husband a vest. It was perfect! And the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased . . . until recently.
I’m no longer scared to venture into Elfriede’s. The first thing you see is beautiful quilting cottons. Look a little closer and you will find Liberty cotton lawns, beautiful burnouts, and rayon knits to die for. But head straight to the back and you are in silk heaven. And it was there that I found just the right fabric for a small magpie.
The second artwork for A Shortgrass Revival at the Arsenal is a mule deer with a magpie hitchhiker. The mule deer came together with only one hitch. When I was creating the pattern, I inadvertently made the leg farthest from the viewer way too fat and long. Again it was another set of eyes, my hubby’s this time, that spotted the problem.
I have a nice stash of silks that I use mostly for eyes. There was nothing in that cache that screamed magpie to me. So I was off to Elfriede’s for a couple of quarter-yard cuts of shiny blacks or teal/blues.
The drawback of using fabric as your palette is you have to rely on the visual mixing of colors. So what might look like the perfect fabric by itself can change dramatically when placed with other fabrics in the artwork. Not wanting to make multiple trips across town when the fabric color I selected in the store turned out to be not quite right, I decided to just buy a quarter-yard of anything that had possibilities. Except for the one silk that was over $50 a yard, of which I bought an eighth of a yard.
When I left Elfriede’s this time it was my pocketbook that was empty, not my hands. I hurried home with a small pile of beautiful fabrics, so much more than I needed for the magpie. In fact there is enough for a whole tiding of magpies.
And, yet again, Elfriede’s had the perfect fabric for my project.