Monday, April 25, 2016

Meditation on fabric . . . .

I have reached the last area of the studio to repaint!  It's the fabric wall. I emptied the top shelf and tried to move the shelving units. Nope.
But when I unloaded a second shelf, I discovered that I could scoot it out from the wall and give myself enough room to work over the next two days to sand the workwork, scrub everything, and paint.
I'm so relieved that I don't have to completely unpack all 20 shelves!  About half the shelves have been culled over the past few months and I like the way I have most of it organized so undoing everything is not appealing.
 
Today, I spent 3 1/2 hours helping a friend go through her mother's quilting stash.  She might have had more fabric than me?!?  She kept all of it in translucent plastic totes with lids.  She didn't very often buy small pieces.  I would guess that 75% of the fabric was in 3 yard or more hunks.  Someone must have told her to always buy 3 yards in case you want to use it for a border . . . or 10 yards in case you use it for a backing??
 
The reason I helped was to chose some of the fabric for my charity quilting making group's stash.  My friend had first pick -- she didn't take much.
This is what I took --
I didn't think to take a picture of what was left behind but it was about six times this much -- yikes! It will be donated to another group . . . . or two.  There aren't many pictures today because I'm still working with a "hidden camera" (ha, ha) and so all my photos are coming from my phone -- at least I figured out how to get them from the phone to the computer for editing this time.  I'm so tired of learning more about my technology!?!
 
The longer we worked, the more evident it became that her mother purchased the same fabric over and over and over -- not the exact piece, but the same style, the same color way -- and her stash though large was very limited in scope.  Despite a span of 30 years of fabric buying, there was no breadth of design or color.  It was all muted, pinks and mauves primarily, florals and elaborate stripes.
 
Her mother won Best of Show within the past 10 years at our regional show with a beautiful applique quilt -- all in bright cheerful colors -- completely the opposite of almost everything in her stash.  All the UFO's were bright colors.  What was going on?
 
I think her storage method -- stacks of large translucent boxes -- kept her from being inspired to use what she loved because she couldn't see it and it was a lot of trouble to dig through stuff to find what she wanted. 
 
Quilters -- how do you store your fabric?
I get a bit of fading every now and then but I also get a lot of inspiration from having my fabric palette right out in front of me.  I do have a few of those translucent boxes but they are used to store "categories" -- Civil War, polka dots, etc. -- and it's easy to pull one for a project. 
Sometimes it must have been easier for this gal to go buy new stuff but she must have forgotten than she already owned 100 yards of beautiful border prints any of which would have done the job. 
 
My philosophy is if I can't see it, I probably won't consider using it.
So how do you store your fabric and is it keeping you from making the best use of it?
 
My 300th post is coming up at the end of this week!
I'm planning some fun so I hope you'll visit again over the weekend!
 
Happy stitching!
 
Mary Huey
 
 

21 comments:

  1. Congratulations in advance on your 300th post!!

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  2. 95% of my fabric is right in my face, on shelves in the living room (sadly I do not have a sewing room)

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    1. Right in your face -- sounds wonderful!!

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  3. It is a dilemma - you ant your fabric out in the open where you can see it and choose from a glance what you want and accessible so you can easily get it. But you want it to keep from looking messy and you want to keep it from fading, getting dirty, etc. I keep mine in plastic bins too, but I do look in the bins instead of shopping for most new projects.

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    1. Your disciple to look in the bins first is a good habit, Shasta. I should add that the open shelves are located in the least exposed to light part of the room. Interestingly, when I had the shop, we often discovered fading from the overhead fluorescent lights?

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  4. Wow! I'm not even sure my small collection of scraps can even be called a stash now. I have one tote of precuts and 2 smaller totes of fat quarters and yardage. I go through the totes regularly and try to use as much as I add. Love your shelves though! I'd be tempted to set out more into those =)

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    1. Great principle, Heather -- use as much as you add! That way you can always indulge in some new bits which gives me pause knowing how much is waiting patiently back in the studio to get it's chance to be used.

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  5. My fabric stash is in totes also and it's not very convenient for stash diving. They all have to be dragged out of the closet, opened and dug through to find what I know I have. I want to label the totes to make it easier.

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    1. My charity quilt group's stash lives at my house and it's in totes on shelves -- labeling and regularly sorting has kept it more accessible for us the past few years. We also keep the most frequently needed/used totes on the lower shelves and that helps, too.

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  6. I keep my fabrics in large Sterlite stackable drawers. They are stacked up, but each has a drawer so my stash is easy to access. I can pull the drawer out completely if I want to take it to another room (they are stacked in my walk-in closet). A banker's box stored under the bed contains my solid colours. Two smaller plastic tubs with lids are kept under a dresser, and they contain batiks and florals. A few WIPs are in tote bags.

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    1. I like the stackable drawers idea, Caro! You've kept everything easily accessible and that's the key, isn't it?

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  7. I use was an old glass fronted china cabinet we inherited from my husbands grandmother. I can still see all the fabric, but it's a little more protected from dust and dirt. All I have to do is open it up when I want to see it all. If I had a stash like yours I think I would need a few more of them! I'm loving hearing everybody's methods.

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    1. I agree, the comments are great! I don't think I would have so much if I hadn't owned a shop for 26 years.

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  8. Ahummmm. I have fabric every where. The bulk of it is on a shelving unit in my sewing room. One of my design walls is now hanging in front of it to cut down the light from the south windows. Unfortunately I have four large under the closets drawers filled with fabric which I don't look at too often. I'm cleaning out my computer room and am thinking about emptying a shelving unit there (I walk thru this room to get to my sewing area and putting some of the fabric in the drawers there. What's stopping me is I'm sure it will give my DH a heart attack to see that much more fabric appear-LOL. Do cover that fabric with plastic before you sand. Painting can be messy.

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    1. Using a design space to cover fabric area is a good idea -- good use of space, too!

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  9. I keep mine in bins as well, which is the only way to do it when the sewing room is in the basement. I have stuff sorted - sort of - by potential projects, but I think I've decided that I really just need to sort by colors and forget having coordinated quilts. I prefer a scrappy look. anyway, so what the heck, if I mix a modern fabric with a repro, if I like it, I'm the only one I have to make happy!

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    1. Breaking up potential projects is almost like going shopping for me!! Go for it!!

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  10. Sew many fabric choices. How fun is that?

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  11. I keep my fabric in Sterilite clip boxes in IKEA Expedit (now Kallax) shelves. I have my boxes labeled by color on one side. The other side has boxes for each of my current/upcoming projects: pattern, fabric, etc. I like that they are clear and easy to access when I am auditioning fabric. It makes me so happy when I cam make a whole quilt by pulling from my stash! A picture describes it better so here's a link: http://www.dejongdreamhouse.com/2013/08/diy-craft-table.html.

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  12. I have bins designated for different colored fabrics that I can see through. And when I want to be inspired, I put pieces of fabric out on my table or on my design wall - that helps me go through my fabrics pretty well. I do sometimes get ahead of my ability to use it all when I go to a show and find particularly inspiring fabrics, but so far I've always used most of what I have bought. If I go several years and don't use some fabric - I usually donate it, because clearly it doesn't inspire me.

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