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Pike Place fabric shop designs 'Sleep Care-Cushion Kits' for people living homeless

Do you love to sew? Do you have a stash of fabric somewhere in your closet or basement that hasn't seen the sun since the dot.com crash? Do you still have those love beads, buttons, patches and patterns that used to be called "hip?" Or maybe you've stashed away yarn remnants from your thirty-year-old son's baby blanket?

If so, you may be a "Stashaholic." No, there is no Stashaholic Anonymous, but you can join other like-minded craft aficionados by becoming a member of Our Fabric Stash.

A secret desire to become a fashion designer and learn to sew is what drew Deborah Boone to open her shop, an eco-friendly consignment fabric and crafts store in the historic Pike Place Market.

A former bank auditor and high tech professional, Boone moved to the Pacific Northwest thirty years ago from Atlanta. She found a mentor who taught her to sew, and when that mentor passed away, Boone got the idea of starting a consignment fabric store to properly preserve fabric, yarn and bead heirlooms - and pay homage to the teacher and guide who so inspired a joy of sewing. In 2009, Boone began twice-a-year fabric sales in Tacoma and Seattle, and then in 2015, she opened her flagship store in the Market.

Even more important than her love of fabric and crafts is Boone's passion for social justice, and she aimed to meld the two, immersing her store into the fabric of the community. Boone began using her inventory to undertake yearly projects, so-called Gifts of Social Justice. This past year, Our Fabric Stash's sewing project is making waterproof cushions for the homeless. These Sleep Care Cushion Kits are comprised of a waterproof outer layer of fabric, and wool fabric to be stitched inside and are used as a barrier against the wet ground. The finished cushion will be approximately 36x85.

All the materials are from Our Fabric Stash and made into a kit, with instructions, for a purchase of $24.95 each. You can sew it yourself and distribute the blanket in your own community; you can sew the cushions with your sewing group, or join a workshop at the store to put the kits together. Some purchase the kit and leave it at the store for a volunteer to construct.

The idea for the cushions came to Boone when a homeless woman wandered into her store.

"I used to work in an area with a large homeless population," said Boone. "One day a homeless woman came in, and we got to talking. I asked her what she needed. She was carrying a worn wool blanket, and she pointed to it and said what she really needed was something waterproof. When wool blankets get wet, they get very heavy. I took note of her requirements and created the kit for the cushions."

Designing these social initiatives is a way for Boone's store to engage the community and to bring awareness to important issues.

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"Prior to having these yearly projects, we used to donate leftover fabric after a sale," said Boone. "We'd give the bolts to organizations that didn't necessarily have the funds to buy material, like Girl Scout troops or fashion design schools. Once I moved into this brick and mortar store, I didn't have to disperse the materials as quickly, so I decided to use them as something to bring the community together."

All of Our Fabric Stash's materials come from individuals, designers and manufacturers.

"We don't care how small a piece of material is; we just don't want it to go into the trash," said Boone.

One project the store had begun before COVID hit was making Head Wraps, turban-style hair coverings for African American women.

"It's a way of bringing awareness to the Crown Act," Boone explained. "The Crown Act is a piece of legislation going through our state congress about discrimination against natural hair worn in the schools and the workplace. Materials to make the wraps are in our store."

With COVID the top priority these days, Boone is concentrating on masks. She has now partnered with a non-profit to produce masks for front-line workers and school-age children.

However, the Sleep Care Cushion Kits and the Hair Wraps are still available.

Our Fabric Stash has not yet reopened, but if you'd like to purchase a Sleep Care Cushion Kit or the materials for the Head Wraps, you may call Boone directly at 206.330.4196 or contact her online.

After all, COVID cannot stop winter from coming, and the homeless population still needs relief from the elements.

Looking to support other diverse local businesses like Our Fabric Stash? Seattle Refined is proud to collaborate with Intentionalist, an online guide that makes it easier for you to find and connect with diverse local businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.


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