Tangled Promises, Gowns, and Miles of Fabric

The women in my debut novel, Tangled Promises, visit the Paris fashion district. They purchased fabric for several ensembles for each of them. Gowns of the late 19th century were quite elaborate and fabric was usually produced in narrow widths. For each gown, they purchased 10 yards of fabric plus trims, buttons, and more. I searched unsuccessfully for a video of rolling out velvet fabric which is usually on a long bolt about 39″ wide. A fairly narrow fabric.

Many years ago I was teaching a Bible study on Isaiah, his vision in the temple (Isaiah 6), and our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. When my characters in Tangled Promises were shopping, the large amounts of fabric they purchased drew me to that study and a story I shared. I dug through some old, old, blog posts and found it. No need to recreate that for you. First here’s the verse that puts the attention on the amount of fabric.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. ~Isaiah 6:1

Now here’s my little story about it.

When our children were growing up, to supplement our family income, I spent many hours at the sewing machine creating custom garments for the public. Our firstborn, did not entertain herself well for very long. (How many of you have had one of those children?) This meant oftentimes holding her in my lap while I sewed, or snatching moments to sew late at night or during her very short naps — she didn’t like those either. When she was old enough to sit up and get into things, her curiosity and investigative skills happened onto a new “toy” —  grocery sacks (those brown paper ones) full of fabric scraps! My little daughter would sit on the floor where I was working and carefully dump those sacks. She would slowly inspect every single piece of fabric in those sacks as though she were looking for a rare treasure. When she finished with them, I could gather the pieces back into the sacks, and she would repeat the entire search all over again. She was thrilled with this little game, and it won me 45 minutes every afternoon of uninterrupted sewing time.

My curiosity led me to estimate just how many grocery sacks of fabric would have been required to fill the temple. After measuring the scraps, and estimating how many layers of fabric and the size of each layer to fill the temple my very unscientific calculation: 151,875 or so . . . That’s a whole lot of grocery sacks. Now my daughter had two sacks, and she went through each of them twice in 45 minutes. So, if she had 151,875 sacks, and was willing to go through each of them twice for 45 minutes, she would spend 56,953 hours or 2,373 days, or 339 weeks or 6.5 years of her life 24/7 at this. I’m sure she would discover some pretty cool things about the fabrics as she examined their intricate patterns and textures. If you will further consider that she could go through the same two sacks of scraps for a month or more before we changed out the mix — well you get the picture — this could be a lifelong, 24-hour-a-day activity and the discoveries would not be made this side of eternity.

God grew mighty large in my eyes!!!


Many 19th-century gowns had trains, not nearly as long as the Lord’s that filled the temple in Isaiah’s vision, but they required extra fabric. It’s a loose connection, but as I wrote the book this little story begged to be shared again.

Tangled Promises releases 05.21.2024.
Follow and Subscribe today so you’ll see all my writing updates.
Facebook Group – Coffee, Kuchen and Good Books
Newsletter – Inklings from my pen

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

, , , , , , , , ,