Before I decided to become a painter, I sewed clothes. A lot of them. I was about nine years old when my mother taught me to use a sewing machine. I started with simple things like pillows. Since Mother sewed for herself and my three sisters, she was more than happy that I wanted to make my own clothes, and so I did for the next thirty years.
Sewing and painting are similar endeavors. Both require a some creativity (choose fabric that fits the dress design, choose an appropriate composition for the subject), ability to handle tools (needles, scissors, machine, brushes, support and medium), and lots of problem solving, practice and patience. I learned to match plaids and stripes, make professional buttonholes, and used Vogue patterns, which at the time were some of the trendiest but most challenging dressmakers’ patterns. I was a pretty good seamstress. The last time I sewed an article of clothing may have been twenty years ago. Even after measuring carefully and altering the pattern, the pants I made did not fit, and I quit sewing for myself. It was cheaper to buy pants than the fabric and time it took to make them.
At one time I lived about a half mile from Hancock’s Fabrics and probably went there once a week. I loved looking at the possibilities in the store. All that fabric, all those notions, all those neat gadgets! It was a candy store! The clerks knew their stuff and were extremely helpful. Later, I occasionally shopped there when I needed notions or something for home decorating. I noticed the transition from dressmaking fabrics to more crafting materials. Still, it was the place I could go get something to make a window treatment or pillow.
A few weeks ago there was a story in the local newspaper about the closing of all Hancock’s stores. Apparently the news took a lot of people by surprise. My mother and I went to there and found a sad scene. There was very little left in the store for the large number of customers still shopping. The clerks were still there, helpful as always, knowing that soon they would be looking for a new job. I was worried about finding lining fabric for my window treatments.
Hancock’s Fabrics, you will be missed by many.