From stash to schools

With my dad’s passing, my mom has decided to look through her massive stashes of “stuff” and give things away. With a career in textiles, you can imagine the treasure trove she has collected. She used to teach clothing and couturier design at different universities, for example, so over the years she has purchased many different types of fabrics and trims.

Recently, I attended a meeting at the fashion school at West Virginia University. One of the professors mentioned that the students often have difficulty creating their projects due to the cost of fabrics. That comment sparked an idea, so I went home and told my mom about the conversation. We both agreed that mom’s textile treasures could find a new home with the university. Here was a win-win situation where my mom could give her stash of 70 years of wools, velvets, and even the first thermal fabrics developed by the Navy in the 1950s plus her collection of Vogue patterns to a place where they would be loved, treasured and used.


So we set up a meeting for the dean of the school to visit my mom and see her collection. After a lot of oohs and ahs, we filled up the van with bolts and pieces of fabric, a large box of patterns which would go into the school’s pattern library, and original issues of American Fabric Magazine which contain actual fabric swatches.


My mom felt great about this project. It was a big move for her to take, but felt that instead of fabric just being placed in a plastic bag and given away to a charity, this meant that students would be able to benefit from the wealth of information that she could still offer young people. An additional outcome was that the dean asked my mom if she would consider visiting the campus and having a conversation with the students on her history working in the textile industry during the 20th century. She is considering the idea.


If you have a family member who has a fabric, trim, or textile stash, or you have a stash that you are no longer using, think about universities or school programs that could use these items to help build skills for our children and young people, helping them grow into the future.


By Doug Kreinik

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