Monday, March 19, 2012

Obsessions: My Obsession with Fabric

Written by Patricia Kiyono

Growing up, I wore a lot of homemade clothes. My family didn't have a lot of money, but my mom knew how to sew (Grandma was a kimono maker by trade) and Dad bought her a Singer sewing machine soon after we moved to America. When times were really tough, Mom made my blouses out of Dad's worn out dress shirts. But when she had extra money we would go to the fabric store and pick out material for a new dress. I loved those times. She taught me how to check the fabric for quality.

By the time I got to junior high school, our financial situation had improved and my wardrobe included items purchased at the department store. But for special occasions like Easter and Christmas, and later on Homecoming and Prom, we went to the fabric store and picked out the most beautiful shiny fabrics. I felt like a princess in my gowns. It seemed there was always a sewing project on mom's sewing machine cabinet.

So I guess it was natural that I learned to sew and create things out of fabric. It wasn't as much from financial need, since I worked full time. But I enjoyed it, and I made Halloween costumes for my own daughters, as well as dress-up clothes. For a short time I had a crafting business and my machine hummed at all hours of the night. It got so that the clerks at JoAnn Fabrics knew me by name because I was there every week. Of course, being a busy working mom I often had more projects than time, so some of the material piled up.

Now that I'm retired I have more time to sew, sort of. Every week I spend time sewing with ladies at my church. We create "comfort quilts" which are distributed by the parish nurse to people who need them. I'm still surrounded by fabric because I often work on quilt tops in between the quilting days. My sewing table is piled high with quilt pieces waiting to be pieced together, and the floor around it is covered with pieces of other projects – scarves, tote bags, stuffed toys. I'm still guilty of collecting more fabric than I could hope to sew.

The strange thing is I don't have to purchase much fabric any more. The quilting group gets lots of fabric donations every week. But not everything can be made into quilts, so after we separate what we can use, we bid on the rest. I don't take EVERYTHING home, but it seems like I've brought home a lot. I can't bear to see good fabric thrown out, so if no one else takes it, I often do. If it's in good shape, I figure I can find a use for it, somehow, sometime. Canvas and burlap can be made into sturdy tote bags. Flannel makes wonderful pajamas for the grandkids. Stretchy knit fabrics are a bit more tricky, but I've used some to make seat covers for my daughter's car, exercise pants, and burp cloths for baby gifts. I brought home some pretty lacy stuff and made curtains for the basement windows. But some of it has been sitting in the stash for a while because I haven't quite figured out what to do with it.

Every once in a while my husband or one of my daughters will make a comment about clearing out all the fabric and burning it. That's my cue for spending a lot of time at my machine so I can use it up. And what I can't get to right away goes into a hiding place. No, I'm not telling you where it is. My family might find out and then I'll have to find a new one!

Price: $1.99

Buy it HERE.

Aegean Intrigue blurb:

Someone has been stealing priceless Greek artifacts and it's Alex Leonidis' job to uncover the thief. His prime suspect is beautiful archaeological graduate student, Francie Vasileiou. His plan is to join in an archaeological dig and catch her in the act. All he has to do is keep his mind on his job, and not on the way his lovely suspect warms his heart. He's learned the hard way not to trust fragile-looking women who seem to need his help.

Francie wants to get her PhD and become an archaeologist, like her famous father. The sudden invitation to participate in a dig on the beautiful Greek island of Paros is a wonderful opportunity. She has no time for distractions like Alex, the handsome Project Director. Experience has taught her to stay clear of handsome, charismatic Greek men.

On the shores of the Aegean Sea, Alex and Francie work together, searching for treasures from Greece's past. While pursuing their goals, they discover some of the truths they had believed to be carved in stone may have been flawed.


He was staring at her again.

She knew it, despite his outward lack of interest. His long, lean frame was draped casually on the wooden chair in the outdoor section of the Appolon Grill. Dark shades covered his eyes, but the jet-black eyebrows above them rose and tilted her way every time she moved. Unlike locals, who occasionally threw friendly greetings her way, this man stayed in his seat and silently watched her.

Francie Vasileiou bent her head and focused her attention on the textbook in front of her. Inwardly, she was flattered by his interest. But she reminded herself she was here in Athens to further her education, not to find a man. She sipped her water and

struggled to ignore him and concentrate on the words on the page.

The warm breeze calmed her nerves as she sat at her usual table in the back corner of the restaurant. Most tourists preferred to sit at the outer edges of the seating area with a view of Mount Olympus and the spectacular sunset. But here, next to the kitchen, she wasn’t distracted by the conversation and the view. The light from the kitchen allowed her to continue reading until Kostos closed down for the night.

Her job here at the restaurant was perfect. She worked enough hours so she could pay her living expenses, and when she wasn’t cooking or waitressing, Kostos allowed her to use one of his tables for studying. Even with the commotion from the kitchen and the restaurant patrons’ conversations, this setting was much better for concentrating than the noisy apartment building where she lived.

It took some effort, but finally the words on the page became concrete ideas, and she was transported back in time to the world of ancient Greece, to the time of the patricians. The structures on the Acropolis were not ruins but proud, gleaming works of art. Toga-draped people walked the dusty streets, while the less fortunate hawked their wares from makeshift stalls.


  1. Patty, it's awesome that you know how to sew. It's a skill I wish I would have acquired! I'm putting your book on my TBR list! It's sounds like a great read! I'm hoping I'll find time over the summer to enjoy it!

  2. Patricia, I love your stories of your family. They're always so warm and real. And they often reflect things from my own childhood. I'm also a fabric nut, love to quilt and make wonderful crafts and still have a ton of fabric in the attic that my husband complains about when he has to shuffle things around up there. Thanks for sharing about such simple things which are truly the 'fabric' of our lives.

  3. Lovely post, Patty. Your 'obsession' makes you sound like a warm cozy person. I bet your books are too!

  4. Yes, her books are warm and cozy like her -- and I love your "obsession" of fabric! I used to sew as well, but am totally out of the habit. Now I know what to do with the fabric piled up in MY room! ;-D

  5. My mom made a lot of our clothes growing up too, Patricia! She also taught us 3 girls to sew, a skill I am glad to have to this day, although I hate to sew, lol. But, it is invaluable and I think every young lady should know how the basics.

  6. Lovely excerpt, and that sounds like such an interesting story. Did you have to do a lot of research into the field of archaeology to write the book? I've always been fascinated by it and have considered writing a story around the topic, too.

    BTW, growing up in the islands, many women sewed. My mother used to buy our school uniform skirts from a woman who sewed them for us. I sewed for awhile (my father bought my a Singer sewing machine when I was in high school), but then I dropped it after high school. I never picked it up again. Sometimes I regret not keeping up with it because I could have gotten really good at it.

    1. Thanks so much, Delaney! Yes, I had to do a lot of reading, and I had a friend who dabbles at it. When I was in Greece I picked up a few books about the ruins on the Acropolis that had some great information, too.

      I didn't know you were from the islands! There certainly is a lot of sewing talent there. Not to mention great weather, except during the rains.

  7. Patty--I love fabric too. I sew a little, but I try to stay away from the fabric store because when I'm there I want it all!

  8. Thanks for sharing, Patty, I agree with the others, it sounds warm and welcoming.

  9. I've so admired women who can sew like this. It's always been so hard for me to find a desire to do it that it just slam pisses me off. But we all have our talents and obviously this is yours.

  10. I wish I could sew! The only thing I was able to do was sew my patches on my military uniform when I was in the army! But I did have people my mom knew make my homecoming dresses/prom dress and they turned out lovely.

  11. Patty, I don't know how you find time to do all that you do. You are amazing!

  12. I love your posts about fabric. Like you, I have enough fabric for projects well into the next decade. I so enjoy hearing about how your using up that fabric.

    Love your books, too. You are so talented.

  13. My mom made all our clothes when we were growing up and I made all my boys' clothes when they were little and I still make a lot of my own. There's something so comforting about about the sound of the sewing machine humming along.

    I need to add this book to my Kindle asap! :D

  14. Hi Patricia,

    I am surprised that you found the time to write a book with all your other activities and hobbies.

    I can knit and crochet, but alas, my sewing skills are non-existent. If a button needs replacing that's a major event and there is always the thought niggling in the back of my mind "do I need to be doing this, or can I just go out and replace the garment!"

    I tend to spend some of my free time crocheting blankets, which are then sold in the charity shop where I volunteer.

    That's when I am not busy blogging and reading.

    I have added your book to my wish list and wish you every success with both this and your other novels.

    Thanks for such an interesting post, I loved it.