Today's short essay is a response to Kathy's question to me earlier this week as a result of my post about de-stashing the green shelf -- "I keep intending to cut up my stash that is less than a yard into strips, 5" charms and layer cake squares, so I will be more likely to use it instead of having to plow through the bulk each time I get the bug to make something. I have the wire basket system of storing fabrics, 1 color for about every 1 1/2 deep basket section. Too over whelming to dig through each project, press, and cut. I need something much more user friendly! In your opinion, would I regret cutting it all up?"
It set me to thinking and I decided to respond via today's post as it might be helpful to some others.
I had a brief romance with chopping small amounts of fabric up into "pre-cut" strips many years ago at the urging of a favorite teacher. I know this works for some quilters, but in general it didn't work for me.
And the reason it didn't work for the most part was that I was creating pre-cuts that didn't fit into my style of quiltmaking.
It turns out that her pre-cuts weren't my pre-cuts.
That being said, I do have a 2 1/2" strip stash that has been a continuous source of quilts and inspiration for over 20 years.
It began with the leftovers from this quilt -- I made enough HST's for a twin size quilt, got bored, and made a lap size instead. I was able to use up some of those HST's for block swaps in a group that I belonged to for 10 years, so soon strips were added as well.
It was the starting point for my wonderful scrappy tumbling blocks quilt (and there is a second one all pieced that I use for class demos on setting the units together).
It is my go-to source for scrappy checkerboard quilts as you saw in the Economy Star quilts I finished this winter.
That spawned the advent of this sidekick basket of 2 1/2" squares -- got a little carried away cutting squares so they need their own space.
For years, the 2 1/2" strips have lived in a shoebox with strips coming and going at a steady pace but recently I moved to a slightly larger box -- it was just gushing -- no doubt, the result of my de-stashing efforts over the past year.
As I write, I keep thinking of more and more quilts that began in this box -- there was the EPP Grandmother's Flower Garden -- all the floral hexies are from it.
When the box gets too full, I cull it for 18" long strips to use in my charity quilting group's scrappy bargello quilt tops.
My conclusion? Personally, between not finding cutting up stuff without knowing how it will be used that interesting and not wanting the pressure of trying to figure out how to use all those 5" squares, I wouldn't start cutting up too much of my stash.
One's pre-cuts need to be an inspiring starting point for them to be useful to you. Perhaps looking back through some of your recent quilts will provide some clues about what pre-cuts will be useful. With my current de-stashing, I'm modifying the "storage" of my small pieces (under 1/4 yard) because this doesn't work for me -- bits dropped into a basket in the corner.
The right hand stack is pinks and green that are very small pieces -- most 1/8 yard or less. I hope that now when I begin a quilt, it will be easier to lift out that stack and start with those pieces -- we'll see?
So how do you feel about it -- I'm sure Kathy would love to know if you "chop or not".
Share your thoughts in the comments for all of us to learn!!
You can read about my other de-stashing exploits by clicking on the "de-stashing" tag below!