Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Cape, A Dress, and Scarlett O'Hara

We are so fortunate at STT to have a fairly even number of readers and writers. Even if you’re not a writer, I suggest you write a memoir to leave your future relatives the story of your life. Oh how I wish my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents had done this. A couple of years ago, I decided to compile a book of my crochet patterns along with an anecdote to go with each pattern. It seemed appropriate for a crafter and writer, and though I’ll probably be seventy before I complete it, I believe my grandchildren will appreciate it one day.

Here’s the story that inspired me to make this collared cape for my granddaughter to wear over her first evening gown.

Way, way back when I was attending college, I won a scholarship from a big political organization. The award would be presented during their annual banquet, which meant I’d have to wear formal.

Everything I had was juvenile, but I couldn’t afford to buy or even rent anything suitable. With only a few days remaining until the big event, I did what any craft-minded woman would do. Made tracks to the fabric store. No big surprise, the nice fabric was expensive, and naturally, my pattern had a floor-length full skirt. Lots of yardage required.

I was about to give up and go with my juvenile evening gown, maybe dressing it up with a cape. Then as I was browsing around the store, I stumbled on the answer.

Only three or four times in my life have I found a true bargain. You know, the kind that leaves you gasping because it’s reduced by at least seventy-five percent, and is exactly what you’re looking for. The loveliest embossed fabric I’d ever seen hid at the bottom of the drapery fabric table. Shimmering blue cloth that draped beautifully. And it was so wide the entire skirt could be cut from one length. It was a true God-send to me.

I received so many compliments at the banquet—from really important people who would have been astonished that my gown was actually discount drapery fabric. I didn’t even stumble over my little speech.

That same week, the old Carol Burnett Show featured her famous skit of Carol playing Scarlett O’Hara wearing the green drapery dress, complete with rods.

As I watched the show, I realized I had something in common with Scarlett O’Hara. I made do with what was available, as she did. It doesn’t matter where the material comes from, if it serves the purpose. Since I didn’t add the drapery rod, no one would ever know how I repurposed the fabric.

Have you repurposed something to serve another function? Clothing, furniture, or whatever? Leave a comment today or any day until Jan 31 to win Amanda’s Beau by Shirley Raye Redmond.


  1. My father made me a foot stool - years ago. It's basically a box structure with comfy padding on the top of the box. It has been much loved, leading to the whole of the top coming off. With a bit of a repair and a couple of hinges I now have a storage box as well as a foot stool. I know my father would whole heartedly approve.

  2. What a neat idea, Mary, and I know it's all the more precious because you get to keep something your father made.

  3. What a lovely cape. My daughter crochets and it always amazes me how many things she can create. I don't repurpose much, unless you count crafting. I enjoy making Exploding Picture Boxes....since everyone I mention it to asks what they are, here is a link to my Pinterest board showing boxes that I've made:

    1. I've never seen anything like that before. I learned something new today. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks Elaine for reviving a memory from long ago. When I was a sophomore in Hugh school,I was honored to be chosen as a prom servant and the girls were to dress ad geisha girls. Money was tight in our household and my I found a piece of yellow brocade that was also drapery material. The dress had to be long so this extra width reduced the amount I had to purchase. My mom made the dress and I looked as good as the other prom servants.
    Later, after I was a mother, I made my 3 year old daughter a jacket and dress for Easter out of that same material. Yes, as a farm wife, I learned to repurpose many times!

    1. Sorry for the typos. Auto correct kicked in!

  5. I have a hard time with envisioning something being re-purposed. Pinterest has been such a friend of mine when it comes to seeing the possibilities.

    I love your idea of leaving a type of memoir and your idea for crochet patterns. As a kid, I always wanted my mom to give me more and more information of our family history. I even went as far as giving her a book to jot down facts as they came to her. I'm not sure she has ever cracked it open. It's not her thing I have realized. What's great, though, is my daughter is so much like me and has already given me my own book to jot such facts down. I'm loving it.