In an effort to really get all of my sewing stuff squozen (yes, I understand that’s not actually a word; but it should be) into my little sewing closet; I’ve decided to take quite a historically different and ground-breaking approach to the management of my fabric stash. I’ve acknowledged that I may well never use some of my fabric and that it really doesn’t need to stick around any longer. Gasp! I know. You may be thinking something along the lines of: “Are you mad?” “Isn’t that the point of a fabric stash? – taking up tons of space for no reason at all!?” “What are you going to pet, admire, refold, and shuffle around when the mood strikes?” Well, I would say to you firstly; yes, all those thoughts are valid; however, I have come to realize with a bit of experimentation, that my actual joy and creativity are being strangled by keeping extra stuff around. And specifically, my sewing energy is being smothered under too much fabric. With this in mind, I decided to not just “reorganize” my fabric this time, but to make a plan to get my collection to a meaningful, inspiring, and much smaller size.
My intention is to use it more than anything. I certainly did not start this process with the intention of chucking perfectly good fabric out the door for the neighbor cats to sleep on (I’m pretty sure that’s a dangling participle, but it’s too late to think too much about grammar; also, I could be completely wrong because I’m no expert). So, this is what I’ve done.
I sorted my fabric by cut size. I like scrappy stuff and lots of color and contrast so this makes it better for me when I’m doing projects. Ultimately, size is what I’m after, not anything matchy-matchy. I didn’t want to go crazy with too many cut size categories though. After much thought (about 30 seconds of actual thought and planning – long enough to clear off the couch and find a Sharpie to label the piles), I decided on these 10 categories – which sounds like a lot:
1.) 1-yard or larger
2.) half yards
3.) fat quarters
4.) fat eighths
5.) 2 1/2″ strips
6.) 1″ strips
7.) specialty & precuts
8.) too small to categorize effectively a.k.a. “scraps”
9.) stringy bits and selvedges
10.) to get rid of
I like to think that every little bit of fabric can be used so I’m categorizing with that in mind. The first four categories are pretty self explanatory. The 2 1/2″ strips are because they work for many scrappy quilt patterns, plus they make great binding for whatever. And…I totally want to make a bargello quilt with them!
The 1″ strips are for a quilt-along/throw-down/competition that my mom and I are doing completely by ourselves and we totally made it up.
I’ve separated them into darkish and lightish baskets so they’re easy to grab when I’m making the blocks. I think they’re “church steps” and I’m kind of trying to do lightish opposite lightish and darkish opposite darkish on each block. I’m discovering that most of my fabric is mediumish so I’m not sure the final result will show much contrast, but we may never know because I think I have to make something like 272 of these six inch blocks to achieve the size I want. I may need to collect donations of tea and chocolate to get through that. I’ve never even come close to a king-size quilt. Something tells me not to be surprised if it turns out to be a slight rhombus as opposed to an actual rectangle because there is no way (NO way) that thing will square up for me in the end.
The ninth category is because I have some kind of crazy wasting issue as if I’d personally experienced the Great Depression (I’m referring to the 1930’s, not present day)… I’m thinking of what to do with the stringy bits. I’m actually entertaining the idea of connecting them all and crocheting a rag rug with it. That sounds like a huge terrible mess now that I see it in print. It may happen one of these days when I’m feeling especially little house on the prairie-esque. We’ll see. Oh, and I almost forgot! There are now threadcycle collection sites around town so if I don’t end up using it, I won’t feel bad about dumping it since it won’t be going into the garbage. It may actually get recycled into something awesome…or it will end up on a barge to China, or burned in a huge heap on an island somewhere, or in Burien. Who really knows? Honestly, I should just label that category “garbage” and get it over with…
Category number ten represents my great mental achievement of letting go. I’m going to sell the fabric that is desirable online (in fact I’ve already succeeded in selling quite a bit – yay!).
And, if you’re thinking that I’m ultimately just shuffling my existing stash around; you would normally be correct. This time, however; I’m actually taking 90% of all the fabric in the first four categories (which is most of my fabric) to my after school sewing class where the kids will be using it to complete projects.
My quilts in progress went into baskets (if they could fit).
And then everything went neatly on the shelves…for the most part…
…and I’ve never felt more like sewing! Plus, I can even see my sewing machine and find my scissors, which is helpful!!