Thursday, August 18, 2022

"Sixty cents a yard for MUSLIN?"


Happy Thursday!

As most of you know, I write most of my blog posts well in advance of the date they are published.  The one exception is Flower Friday.  It seems inevitable that occasionally I would find another blogger writing about the same thing I do.  That happened this week.  Today's post was supposed to be about cotton shortages during and after World War 2.  

Barbara Brackman beat me to the punch.  Her article was published this past Monday.  Now it isn't like I'm psychically linked to Barbara.  I suspect she has been studying the world wide drought and the impact on not only our food but on cotton production.    Anyway, her post is better than I could have written.  It is here if you want to read it.  I suggest you do.

So I decided to write about something other than cotton today but the universe intervened.   Quilter Mark Lipinski posted a video from a 1957 movie called Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend.  He was nostalgic about shopping for fabric in the 1970s.  

All day, I kept hearing in my head, one line from the movie clip he shared: "Sixty cents a yard for muslin?"  

Here's the scene:  Two mature women are in a general store.  The proprietor (who looks shady) asks the ladies what they like.  They tell him they want bleached muslin. The proprietor hands them a bolt and says, "here you go ma'am.  Sixty cents a yard."  The woman is shocked:  "Sixty cents a yard for muslin?"  The bad guy tries to convince the women that it is the "best price this side of St. Louis."  But the women are irate:

"I'd have got a better grade at Elam King's for 40 cents a yard!"  The women leave in a huff.  😁😁

So kudos to Hollywood for knowing that there are different qualities (grades) of muslin.  Any self-respecting sewist who watched this movie at the time would know this proprietor was a bad guy.  SIXTY CENTS A YARD FOR MUSLIN?   Bleached muslin wasn't that price when the movie was made in 1957:

Unfortunately this movie is supposed to capture the time frame for the Old West.   Prices of bleached muslin in 1890:


If quilting is therapeutic to you, then the status of cotton is something that I hope you will be interested in.  I'm not leading a charge for you to buy bolts of fabric, but you might want to consider the status of the 2022 cotton crop. 

The three major cotton producers are (in order): India, China, and the U.S. trails behind third.  Drought is particularly impacting U.S. cotton crops.  In July, the USDA predicted that three of every 10 acres of cotton will be abandoned due to weather challenges. 🧵🧵🧵 Interesting tidbit I read:  Cotton is not a water intensive plant.  It actually thrives in dry and hot conditions (see this great article).   Still the high heat is inhibiting pollinators and it appears that each of the largest producing cotton countries are facing weather related challenges.

Will prices rise?  It's hard to say.  Earlier in the year, economists predicted that the price of cotton might fall due to lack of demand.  Still, it seems likely to me that cotton prices will go up this year due to a variety of economic factors that no one can control (weather, recession, etc.).

I do suggest looking through your stash for fabric you may need to complete projects.  

That brings me to my next question:  do you have staples in your stash that you need regularly?  This might be the time to consider what you will be using in the coming year.

My staples are three things:  Kona White cotton, Kona Black cotton, and Aurifil thread (in white, grey, and dark grey).  The Aurifil I learned from you years ago (and thank you very much), when I requested information on thread that doesn't gunk up my machine.

A few months ago, Linda had suggested that this should be scrap summer.  I've been using up scraps like crazy and also taking note of what I have in my stash.  I had forgotten that I had a few hundred (not exaggerating) juvenile four-patches.  I divided the blocks into three categories: gender neutral, more feminine, more masculine.  

If I alternate these blocks with a bleached muslin, I should have enough to make a substantial dent on my list of quilts for the children.  I'm thinking of ways I can make my stash go further and if you have any ideas, please share them with the rest of us!

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and I would love to learn what is growing in your garden.

Have a safe and happy day!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michele, Saturday morning here and a hot one. Great time to do some reading and as always enjoying this informative post of yours in particular. I am always short on whites/ neutrals and blenders. I think we need to stock up; prices always rise it seems. Though saying that, gas prices have dropped and even house prices here have gone down. I like muslin and buy it when I can find it...I do like it for wall hanging backings esp. if the appliqued stuff has gotten kind of heavy. Thanks once again for a wonderful post and hope you have a great weekend!