Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sample book

Last spring my friendly neighbor, a former interior designer, offered me some of her old sample books. She gave me four books like the one below.

decorator fabric sample book
Initially, I was very excited. Books filled with pretty fabric? Oh, heck yeah! But upon closer inspection, I found that instead of clean and pretty samples, they were all paper backed and very securely bound. Below you can see how the back of each page looked.

paper-backed fabric samples
At this point, I was a little put off. While I couldn't throw out this treasure trove, I also didn't want to deal with getting it to a usable state. So the books have sat (in a large pile on my already messy sewing room floor) for more than a year. Until today!

As I said, these books are very securely bound. I managed to tear apart the main outer cardboard bits, only to find some hardcore staples holding it together.

evil staples
I used a berrypicker (an indispensable tool for removing upholstery staples) and pliers to remove the ten 2" long staples (six on the front, four on the back). Once I could free the individual samples, I had hoped that I would be able to easily remove the paper backing.

the paper does not want to be removed from the fabric
No such luck. What bits of paper I could remove tended to leave a nasty, sticky residue. So, I got out my rotary cutter with a pinking blade and hacked away at each page. I trimmed away all the paper bits to get usable pieces of fabric.

samples hacked to bits
The above picture shows the resulting sample book carnage. You may be horrified to hear that I just threw all of this away. But that's what I decided to do. I really just don't have any use for all these paper-backed fabric bits. And I don't have anywhere to keep them. So I'm not going to keep them. (Can you tell I feel a little guilty about this?) (But I'm still not keeping them!)

And after all that ripping, pulling, tearing, and cutting?

sample remains
Here is one book's worth of fabric bits. They range in size from about 2" x 3.5" to 4" x 6", plus one or two 6" x 8" pieces. It took about an hour of work to get one book dismantled.

So... what to do with these little bits of prettiness? I have been asking myself that very question. Here are my thoughts so far:
  • Patchwork pillows
  • Patchwork purse
  • Cute little checkbook cover (like amandajean's)
  • Nifty journal cover (like bloom's)
  • Fabulous fabric basket (like Pink Penguin's)
  • Patchwork futon cover? (because our futon could really use one)
Just thinking about the possibilities is really making me excited about these little sample bits. Two books down, two to go!


  1. grats that looked like it was a lot of work!

  2. Wow, you have a lot of patience!

  3. How disappointing. Look around on the internet to see if there is something you can make with the big pages. There has got to be someway you can use them.