If you’ve been reading the blog, you already know that our studio was flooded with the crazy rains that hit Atlanta recently. Here’s the short version:

It’s Monday afternoon. I’m standing at the back door of my basement studio, overlooking our yard, which backs up to a creek. I get better cell reception when I’m outside, and I make a quick call to cancel my sewing class for the night–it is pouring down BUCKETS of rain at this point. Everything outside, though rainy and wet, looks normal. No flood. I hang up. It’s 3:15 p.m.

At 3:40, our preschooler wakes up from her nap, and we all pile into the car to go pick up my eldest child from school–me, our three-year-old, and our one-year-old. I open the garage door and begin to pull out into the driveway. I see, to my absolute horror, that not only has the creek overflowed, but it’s come up into the yard and within a foot of the garage door. I flip out a little, and pull back into the garage, intent on making sure the studio–and the fabric–is safe and secure.

Once back inside, I throw a bag of play sand at the base of the back door to block out any water, and begin to move bolts of fabric that are close to the ground. Most of our fabrics are stored on shelves, but the lowest of these is only 3″ or so off the floor, so I move quickly to get those to higher ground. I reach down for a bolt of Joel Dewberry’s Deer Valley, and I see water begin to move across the hardwood floors. It’s coming inside.

This is where I really start to panic. My first move is to unplug all my machines: laptop, sewing machine, serger. I’m still moving fabric when I realize the water is coming in FAST. I drop what I’m doing and head to the garage, where the water is already moving up the tires on the minivan. I jump in, soaked above my ankles, and pull the van to the top of the driveway, where I put on the emergency brake before heading back inside. Like I said, I kinda panicked.

I’m on the phone with my husband, watching all this water come in our house and flood my studio, and I say, “What do I do????” He tells me, very logically, “You LEAVE. There’s nothing you can do: the water is in. Just go.” It’s wise advice, and exactly the voice of reason I needed to hear (another reason I love him so much: he’s such a good balance for me). But it breaks my heart a little to know I can’t do anything. I grab my laptop, pray for the best, and hightail it outta there with my kids.

The answer to that age-old question: What would you grab if your house was on fire? My kids and my laptop, apparently.

I pick up my eldest, and head back home, uncertain of what we’ll find. The good news is that by the time I get home about an hour later, the waters have receded: no standing water is always a good thing. The bad news is, I wasn’t able to rescue everything.

The furniture, for the most part, is toast. Part of our basement is our family room, where our kids play while I work–one of the amazing advantages to owning a cottage business. Two sofas, an Ikea chair, rug, all pretty soggy. Let’s not talk about the hardwoods and the drywall.

I had a large box of about a dozen sewing books on the floor near the back door, just in from Amazon: Anna Maria’s book, a copy of Midwest Modern, Heather Ross’ book, Amy Karol’s. Next to these was every issue from 2008 & 2009 of Burda World of Fashion. Tucked in-between were about a dozen new Vogue patterns I’d been debating on making. All were soaked.

Two rows of fabric bolts were still on lower shelves when the water came in, and were wet on the bottom, soaking the cardboard bolt they’re wrapped around.

A large box of trims–ric rac, ribbon, some silk panels my great-grandmother brought back from a trip to Asia in the 40s–had been on a lower shelf, and were wet and soggy. Some of the silks were fragile, and had dissolved inside their protective tissue paper wrapping.

My spools of thread, all sorted inside clear acrylic boxes, were swimming in an inch of water.

A box of vintage sewing patterns, in the hundreds, had washed out of the garage and was scattered across the lawn, where they lay sad and limp as my husband and our neighbors helped us begin the clean up.

Here’s the good news: about two-thirds of our fabrics were totally unaffected, which is pretty unbelievable. If you’ve seen any of the photos of the flooding from all over Atlanta, you’ll understand just how big a miracle that is all by itself. The other good news is that while another third of our inventory did get wet, almost none of it was damaged or stained–just wet. I can’t even express in words how deep my gratitude was when I realized that, and how truly thankful I still am not to have lost so many fabrics I really love. With our family safe, this wasn’t a tragedy by any stretch. Finding that our inventory was in good shape was a very nice added bonus, though.

It’s been a LONG week, but we’ve taken each bolt of wet fabric and lovingly cared for it so we can still offer it to you. Really all the wet fabrics needed was a little TLC: each one has been laundered in mild detergent, tumbled dry, and gently folded. They’re stacked in our temporary studio (which is to say, our living and dining rooms) and waiting to head home to someone who will love them. Now, if you ask me, PREWASHED & ready to cut and sew is pretty awesome, since I tend to want to get started with new fabric RIGHT NOW and don’t want to wait for the wash cycle! We think that’s a great value-add for our customers to be able to order fabric that’s ready to go the minute it gets to your door. But we also feel that since the fabric isn’t brand spankin’ new off the bolt, the right thing to do is pass on a price break to you. Marking these fabrics down and sending them on to you also helps us to control inventory over the next 4-6 weeks while we work on demolishing and reconstructing my studio and getting things back a little closer to normal.

We’ll keep making lemonade out of these lemons over here (we’re working with a contractor on plans to expand the studio by moving a wall when we rebuild, and to add a large storeroom for fabric with shelves that will be 12″ off the ground), and while we do, I sincerely hope you will, too! For real: take advantage of the sale and help us move these fabrics to new homes so we can rebuild and continue to bring you the amazing prints you love with the fantastic customer service we’ve become so proud to offer.

Thanks again to all of you who’ve taken the time to write and post on Facebook and Twitter as we work to restore our home. It’s meant a lot to me. We’re keeping it all in perspective, looking for good to come out of what seems like bad, and hoping to include you in that by passing on these sale prices to you. The sale lasts as long as these prewashed fabrics are in stock–and who knows? If prewashing is a huge hit, maybe we’ll keep it in the shop as an option for new fabrics as they come in. Just let us know if you like the idea, drop by and browse the sale section, and thanks again for the loyalty and support!

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  • Leigh
    September 28, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Wow… wow… I'm glad you and your family are fine – the city and the surrounding areas have been in my prayers!

  • nkp
    September 28, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I'm so glad to hear you and your family and your home are safe and sound. I only just came across your blog and shop this weekend, while we were in the midst of our own basement clean up following the torrential rains. We discovered the water coming in just in time and thankfully, no major damage ensued!

    I love it when I come across a wonderful business on the web and even more so when that business turns out to be local. Beehive is a favorite destination and I would love, someday, to take one of your sewing classes. I have three
    kiddos as well and I don't know how you do it all. Kudos to you!

    Off to check out the sale!

  • Su
    September 28, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I'm glad your family's safe

  • Red Fish Circle
    September 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Can you believe it is a week already, feels like a month ago, so glad you are all okay – we finally finished cleaning up our basement yesterday, threw out a lot of water logged items. Let's hope that is a once in a hundred years event.

  • Fabric Fan
    September 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Happy to hear that you and your family are okay. I can only imagine the way you must have felt when you first saw that water creeping in. And then driving away not knowing the fate of your inventory and all your other belongings! I'm impressed with the way you turned a bad situation around and found the positive in it all. It sounds like things are going to be even bigger and better than before! I'd love to have a bigger studio – I've got bolts all over the place! Wishing you luck as you get things back to normal!

    Tisha from So Fun Fabrics

  • Karen
    September 28, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    That pre-washing thing would be great for me! I live in a travel trailer, and have no washing machine to call my own–everything has to go to the laundromat. I would pay a bit extra for pre-washing if it was an option going forward.

  • Becky
    September 29, 2009 at 7:28 am

    So glad that you and your family are okay!

    I'd love to buy pre-washed if it was offered again – but not because of wicked weather!

  • kitschicat
    September 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Oh how awful! I'm so sorry that this happened to you and your family! I'm very glad that you are all unharmed, but I know it still has to be difficult to deal with the loss of some of your personal treasures, too.

    Your positive attitude in the face of adversity is just inspiring, Deborah. I wish you and your family the best in recovering from this flood and I believe your business will bounce back just great! Take care!

  • Kelli
    September 30, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Oh Deborah, I haven't done any blog reading in over a week I've been so busy with the kids in school and I just read about your flooding. I am so sorry for you, but I am glad to see that the damage was "minimal" as in not your whole house or all of your business! I'm headed over to check out the sale now. I'll just have to break my "no buying until I destash a little" deal and help you out a little! Hope things are going better now.
    [email protected]

  • jaybird
    November 17, 2009 at 6:38 am

    what a crazy story.. i'm glad you are all safe.. and i probably would have taken my laptop too.. many "material" things are replaceable.. but not the information on a laptop!

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