In the Name of Friendship…

by Debra Chappell

Weather Today:  Blustery/Cold

View from the front porch:

Mood Reading:  ZZZZ’s  (actually over-slept this morning – needed 2 cups of coffee to get going!)

Last week my friend Elaine called wanting to know if I could accompany her on a little outing to pick up some fabric trim for a home project, a foot stool she was re-covering.  She wanted my “expert opinion” (which is, as we all know, the female code words for a play date) and wondered if I had time to ride along.

Elaine’s timing was impeccable as I was waiting for my new batch of chapters to edit anyway, and was looking for something to do. Knowing Elaine, I knew there’d be mischief to find in any case, so I agreed straight away.

Now lest you get the wrong impression, I’m not much of a fancy seamstress.  I can’t sew clothes or finely tailored jackets, and don’t have a proper sewing room.  I usually set up in the breakfast nook, coincidentally not too far “from the kitchen counter”!

I have been known however, to manage a window valance or two, several duvet covers, dozens of European pillow shams and more King-sized bed skirts than I care to remember.  (My days hunched over on the cold, hard tile floor cutting reams and reams of fabric are numbered however – the fistfuls of Ibuprofen necessary to get out of bed the next morning are probably causing permanent kidney damage!) But my point is — I can sew a straight line like nobody’s business.

So, with our “mission” defined and a keen sense of resolve, we set out to hunt the perfect colored piping for Elaine’s footstool. Our first stop was for coffee, which turned into a full-blown hearty breakfast at the morning hot spot in town — one must be prepared for the rigors and physical demands of the day ahead, mustn’t one?  We then drove the 45 minutes to our favorite fabric haunt and, buoyed by our 4-egg deluxe scramble and buckets of caffeine, entered the store in high spirits.

We grabbed a shopping cart and before heading to the trim section, roamed the aisles and aisles of newly arrived designer fabrics – just to stay in touch with trending colors and textures and the next new decorating craze.  I found a bolt of a fabric I’d ordered from Pottery Barn the year before, that I’d paid 3 times the price for per yard.  I’d made bathroom curtains for our cabin from it then, using the print sparingly because of its price tag. Now, how could I resist?  I threw the bolt in the cart and bought another 5 yards.  At this price, surely there was something I could do with it — you never know when you might need new place mats, café curtains or duvet cover, right?

Elaine came across a lively fabric that was perfect for some throw pillows – just to add some much needed punch to those aging armchairs in her spare bedroom. Yes, at double digits per yard, it was a bit on the expensive side. But oh the cheerful statement it would make — surely it was well worth it and who knows, it might not be here the next time we come back so…she threw the bolt in the cart and bought 2 yards, just in case.

After trolling the aisles for the better part of an hour and resisting the urge to buy 10 yards of the newly arrived outdoor patio prints to re-cover any and every outdoor cushion at home, the cabin, and every chaise lounge in between, I finally met Elaine over in the trim aisle to select the yard she needed for her foot stool project.  It took us about 3 seconds to scan the color-schemes and different trims and realize they didn’t have what we were looking for after all, and that we needed to drive across town to “the other” of our favorite haunts (darn!)

This time, not wanting to get way laid in our quest, we entered the new store and headed to the trim aisle first.  Voila!!  They had just the color Elaine needed for her footstool and it was very reasonably priced, a couple dollars a yard – so she bought several.

But then…uh-oh! On the way to the cutting counter we found a perfect­ companion fabric to go with that cheerful print she bought at the first store for throw pillows. Man, at $44 per yard it was expensive, but when Elaine pulled out her sample and we saw the stunning match, our imaginations went wild.  “If we put this fabric on each end, and add that braid over the seam” and “if we trim it all in this brilliant beaded trim” and “perhaps a few of these tassels that match perfectly…”  Well, “we” just knew she’d have a throw pillow that you’d pay hundreds for in any home décor store right? (Kinda funny how the “we” sort of insinuates itself into everything but the actual sewing and tab paying!!)

Having settled that, “we” then started browsing companion prints to go with my “Pottery Barn” print that I’d purchased – though “we” didn’t know yet what project to use it for or if it even needed a companion.  But hey, “we” were on a roll.  “We” found a terrific match and decided on about 4 yards, just to be safe.  (Safe for what, I still don’t know – haven’t yet figured out what to do with it, but “we’ll” find something I’m sure.)

Then, I got seriously inspired – since “we” were there, why not buy some new “spring” fabric for the master bedroom at the cabin?  The existing heavy mountain theme  duvet is so yesterday.  I said to Elaine, “What if ‘we’ brightened that room with this great tangerine print that just happens to be on sale?”

Of course she thought the idea was brilliant and then suggested matching valances, bed-skirt, and oh, a different print for the pleat on the bed skirt too – hmmm, maybe even a new duvet…

In the end, Elaine’s seven dollar trim cost her over a $100.00, not including gas, (but of course “we” know that she saved at least that on her to-be exquisite designer pillow) and my tab came close to…well, since my husband will likely read this I’m not saying.  We walked out of the store creatively inspired and beaming at our “savings”.

It was late in the afternoon and Elaine looked at me and said “Y’know, I’m exhausted! I could use a drink and nibble — do you have to get home?” 15 minutes later we were sharing a Margherita pizza and a designer cocktail at the trendy new riverside restaurant in town, planning our new sewing projects and crowing over our great “deals”!

When I finally got home, my husband asked how our day went and if we found Elaine’s trim.  I told him we had, that it took a bit of searching and we had to go to a couple of stores, but that we’d eventually found a match. I said we’d managed to squeeze in a bite to eat as well, in the midst of all the dashing to and fro.

He reponded, “I’m sure Elaine appreciated your company, seems like a lot of running around, sounds pretty tedious actually, I admire your loyalty.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “the things we do for our friends.”

PS: Oh, and that Tangerine “spring” inspiration for the bedroom at the cabin:

…after a several days and a few fistfuls of Advil – I still can’t move but at least it got finished!