Friday, April 25, 2014

Let's Blog About Fabric, part two

Last week, I did my Block Lotto linky on the theme About Fabric.  You can go there or I can give you the highlights:  I like NOVELTIES, the more off beat the better & I like to use them where plenty of other people would use a nice traditional whatever.

I was in the fabric store earlier this week...yes, an actual quilt shop.  I went because I have not been in a long time & I wanted a nice outing.  Also, their café makes a lovely lemon crème cake.  People who know me in real life will understand just how sick I have been:  by the time I was done shopping I just wanted to go home; I didn't even get the lemon crème cake to take-away because I just didn't want it.

But that is not what this post is about, it really is about fabric & it really is about my love of novelties.  It is also about my never-ending, often unfulfilled quest for....

Let me back-up.  I don't make many baby quilts, but when I do I rarely stick to baby fabrics & I almost never use anything with an actual baby on it.  & the reason is most of the babies in my world are not the blonde blue-eyed bundles that seem to dominate baby fabric.  It is true that I myself was a blonde, blue-eyed bundle....I still am actually.  I am, to be frank, the whitest person plenty of people have ever met, including many many white people.  I am white.  The babies I am sewing for are more often than not not. 

The bulk of my baby quilts go to grad students who have babies currently (at the time of the birth) in my husband's research group.  The number of his white grad students who have had a baby while under his watch:  exactly none.  This is mostly because his grad students are mostly not American, never mind not white.  They are Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indian, & more & that's just right now.  Until very recently, the white students that even dated another white student were almost unknown.  You want to see the great American melting pot?  Cruise the graduate student lounge of a physics department.

Then there is my own social life.  More & more of my friends (who once upon a time WERE mostly white- you will probably not see the great American melting pot in an undergraduate English lit. & poetry program) have married people who are not.   & their kids are marrying people who are not.  & so it goes.  I have long exhausted almost all (I think all actually, but you never know what might be buried in there) my white-kids-only fabric.  I am trying to replace I with kids-of-all-colors fabric & this is the challenge:  there is not much out there.

For years I relied on the people at UNICEF; they used to have a line of fabric featuring lines of children in many different traditional costumes.  I used the last of it here.  For a long time I hoarded some ordinary yellow fabric with ordinary babies in diapers crawling around on it; what was extraordinary was that they were very clearly white, African/African-American & Asian babies.  I doled it out in the tiniest squares & still have some squirreled away.  I will happily share much more expensive fabric, discontinued, whatever...even my beloved hotdogs but you will have to pry that yellow baby fabric from me one quarter yard at a time.

Still, there absolutely is more than there used to be.  Last year I discovered some Russian nesting dolls fabric with all kinds of kids...girls.  It was a strange choice to go multi-racial (yes, yes that part of the world has been mixing a while, just nesting dolls?  They are so not multi-ethnic) & bought as much as I could carry way.  Which brings me up to my recent trip to the quilt shop. 

They had this (they don't anymore):  many ethnic mermaids.  I wish some of them had afros, but otherwise this is perfect-o as I have a mermaid obsessed white friend who will someday have a baby with a latino father & a black godmother & my only wish is I don't end up giving this quilt to a little boy!  & yes I would do that, his mother is the mermaid freak after all, but it would be nice to have some choices.

So here is my request: Dear fabric company president designer person.  Could you please think about mixing it up a bit when it comes to skin & hair in your juvenile novelties.  Anthropomorphized animals are all well & good, but ordinary people doing ordinary things would be most welcome.

//in an interesting side note, my husband has been trying to get an American student he worked with in a summer intern-type thing to come here for grad school.  The student is as American as he can be--that's right Native American.  Still not white. 

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