So to my mind there are two types of Too Good to Use fabric:
1) My poor skill level is not capable of executing a project worthy of the fabric.
Which is silly, of course. It's an inanimate object, and the money I earned at my real job was certainly worthy of buying it. But I'm not going to pretend there aren't any Too Good to Use fabrics of this nature in my stash.
2) The platonic ideal perfect project for this fabric has not been located in any fashion style thus far conceived by (wo)man.
This one is probably worse for me than #1. I've gotten better about cutting into good fabrics by repeating to myself until I don't quite believe it but can at least repeat it that the fabric is more expensive to me sitting in stash than it is in even a less-than-exquisite-and-haute-couture garment.
The second one is more tricky. You can't accuse yourself of low self-esteem with that one, thus bullying your low-self-esteem-and-easily-bullied self into using it. You're not opposed on principle to using the fabric. It's just a matter of finding the right project.
Thus it was with this green wool and cashmere coating I purchased from FFC in July of 2006. It wasn't quite the right fabric for me in the first place. I was rather new to the world of online fabric shopping (oh to be young and innocent again), and when I saw wool/cashmere coating for $12/yd I felt that I should buy it right away before they noticed they were selling wool/cashmere coating for $12/yd. I was legitimately in need of a new winter coat, my old one being a camel colored wool/poly blend that was on its last legs, filthy with shredded lining that surely could not last me another winter.
It arrived. It was a lovely fabric, just not *quite* my color. To match the color, I chose a lining I was so not excited about because I thought it would "match better" and "be more proper." The colors are close to my colors, but just dark enough that I find them somber and depressing. (All is not lost, Cidell saw this poly crepe in my stash and loved it, so it will go to a good home.)
I had just discovered the fitting joys of princess seams. Though I had been sewing for most of my life at that point, discovering Pattern Review profoundly affected my skills in all areas; I finally realized that I was going to have to do something about patterns not fitting rather than trying them over and over out of the envelope and being disappointed every time, so I wanted a coat with princess seams. I got Butterick 4665 and dreamed.
That winter I wore the filthy, disgusting, worn-out camel-colored poly blend coat.
The next winter (the winter we're currently experiencing) I wore the filthy, disgusting, worn-out camel-colored poly blend coat until December when I was finally grossed out enough to muslin Butterick 4665 in a wearable cordouroy with fleece lining. In the interim, I had of course sewn dozens and dozens of items of clothing I have to literally shove onto the rack of my closet, while one of the very few items of clothing of which I was in actual need remained in the flat-fold stage. The cordouroy jacket was surprisingly warm, and took me all the way down to freezing point, at which point it kind of peters out.
While I liked Butterick 4665, the sleeve cap ease is disastrous. I had a hard enough time easing cordouroy; I knew that even with my now *three* pressing hams I'd never get a good sleeve head in the wool. Also, it was a little boring.
At PR Weekend I fell in love with Vogue 8307, and even went so far as to get it for my free Vogue pattern. But then I thought that it really needed to be in a dark color and wouldn't work in my light green.
Ugh. So, at this point I had been talking myself out of making a much-needed coat for a year and a half and finally over the weekend I decided the end of the Wool Contest was the kick in the butt I needed to just MAKE the thing. Any coat would be better than none!
I looked through my designer inspiration folder and found this Giambatista Valli babydoll coat and decided to just go with that as my starting point. I could easily cut a yoke into one of the patterns I already had, but then would find myself with the same gathering/easing problem I had feared with the sleevehead. Also, this above-bust babydoll style works great in a cropped jacket, but the proportions wouldn't work in a hip-length coat.
Keeping the style in mind, I tried to figure out how to translate it to a longer coat based on the patterns I had in my home. I went through all my Burdas (I love having a BWOF collection!) and found #115 in the 8/2007 issue. I have plans to make this as a cropped jacket for a kind of silly 60s outfit but it wasn't until I saw it with new eyes that I saw its possibility for a coat.
A decision had been made. I would be paralyzed no more. While the pattern doesn't translate perfectly as a long coat in a heavy wool the point is...it's done.
That Too Good to Use Fabric? It's not so high and mighty anymore. Now it's just keeping me warm.