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About MY fabric stash

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This post may sound like I’m ranting but honestly I’m not.  I’m simply stating facts and what I believe to be true for ME.  Some readers have misunderstood the point of my getting rid of fabric instead of using it or selling it.  The post before the previous one explained why I was purging.  Just scroll down the page to read the previous posts.  This one will explain a bit more about my reasons.  No rant.  Just facts.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 041

I have too much fabric.  I have more fabric than I could possibly use in four or five lifetimes of making quilts and rugs and other things.  Most of the fabric was donated to me with the understanding that I would pass along what I couldn’t use to someone else.  I do know several people and also several groups that are always in need of fabric.  Some are art teachers, some are quilt groups that make charity quilts, and some are craft makers of other items.

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The whole point of my purge is to get my fabric stash down to an amount I’m comfortable with.  My house is very small.  I do not have a garage.  I do not have a basement.  I do not have an attic.  I do not have a storage building.  I do not have closet space for fabric.  I do not have furniture to hide it in or under.   In other words, absolutely no storage space for large quantities of fabric.

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Ten large storage tubs, five rollie carts with 6 drawers each, ten rollie carts with 3 drawers each, a drawer tower with 9 larger drawers, two large cardboard boxes and three big storage size plastic bags full of fabric is way too much for my small house.  If I had to guess then I’d guess I have about 3,000 yards of fabric in various places in my house.  Its more fabric than I can possibly use.  Even if I am a prolific quilter and rug maker, that’s still way too much for me.

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I would rather have room in my house for people instead of all that fabric.  Take a look at all the photos I’ve posted in this and the two previous posts.  Clicking on them will make them larger so you can get a really good look at the STUFF in my house.  Would you want to live this way?  I don’t. No one comes to visit me.  Why?  Because my house doesn’t have room for visitors.  There is no place for people to set.  My house is so filled with STUFF that there is no room for people.  No room for my kids.  No room for my grand kids.  No room for my great grand kids.  No room for friends.  No room for anyone.  Fabric can’t give me hugs.  Kids and grand kids can.  Fabric can’t give me friendship.  Other people can.

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Yes, I could probably sell some of the fabric and maybe, just maybe, get a dollar or two but that would mean I have to keep all of it UNTIL or IF it sells.  It would mean I have to set up some type of money exchange like ebay, etsy, paypal or amazon so people can pay me.  I’d have to spend time taking photos and putting them online.  I’d have to get a supply of suitable envelopes and boxes for mailing.  More stuff to bring into an already full house. And, a delay to making room for people.

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Ok, lets say I did keep all the extra fabric and started making lots of quilts again.  There are only so many quilts a family member will want.  After everyone has several quilts each what then?  Give the quilts to charity?  Sure.  At what cost?  I don’t mean dollars, I mean people costs.  I do plan to make quilts but its very hard for me to be creative when I can’t find the creative materials I’m looking for because its hidden in a box someplace.

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I don’t want all this fabric anymore.  I can’t possibly use it all.  Yes, I’m still going to make quilts.  Some quilts will be for charity too.  I’m still going to make rugs.  I’m still going to be sewing and crafting.  I’m just simply not letting the over abundance of STUFF control my life anymore.  I see people on the internet with hugh fabric stashes.  More power to them if that’s what makes them happy and they have room for it.  I’ve asked a few of the prolific quilters what they do with all their extra quilts?  No one has answered me yet.

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Its not just fabric I’m purging from my house.  I’m getting rid of other STUFF too.  Each day I ask myself, “What if I died today, what would my kids do with all this STUFF?”  I do know almost everything would be taken to either the thrift store or put into a dumpster.  I don’t want my kids to have to do all that.  Better to give them keepsakes now and see them enjoy it.  Better to pass along fabric and other stuff when I know someone can use it.

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There is a saying;  She who dies with the largest fabric stash, wins.  Well, I really don’t want to win that contest.  I want my extra fabric in the hands of someone who will actually put it to good use right now.  Not after I’m gone.  I guess you can say I’m downsizing.  Downsizing is what lots of seniors are doing these days.  I’m doing my downsizing while I can do it for myself and not waiting until there is a need or some reason I can’t do it myself.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

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All the STUFF around me also stops my creativity.  I feel like I’m smothering and like I can’t clean the house.  I mean really, how do you clean stacks and boxes of STUFF?  You can’t dust it like a dresser.  You can’t mop it like a floor.  You can’t paint it like a cabinet.  Its just stuff.  I want my house to have furniture to polish and open floors to wax.  I want curtains to wash and beds to be made.  I want normal PEOPLE items in my house.  I want to feel like I’m living in a home instead of like I’m living in a garage.  I want to cook a nice meal, invite people over, and know there is room for everyone.

I hope this has helped answer some of the questions and concerns from my earlier posts.  Again, its not a rant, just stating my thoughts and my reasons for a fabric purge.  I believe the best storage area for my future stash will be the fabric stores or the thrift stores.  Before I end this post let me tell you this….

The last time I checked:

cotton is still being grown;

silk worms are still spinning silk;

sheep still have coats of wool;

plastic bottles are still being recycled into cloth;

there are still manufacturers producing and there are still retailers willing to sell us gorgeous fabrics.

If any of these things cease to exist I’m quite sure you will have much bigger concerns than obtaining quilt fabric.

Setting the rules

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I am a hoarder.  There is no other way to put it.  I have a problem letting go of STUFF because I see value in absolutely everything.  I know its  going to be difficult for me to get rid of a big part of my  fabric stash.  I decided I needed to set myself some rules to prevent myself from being tempted to keep everything.  No one is standing over me saying toss this, keep that.  Its just me but I wanted guideline rules to go by.  Hmm… How many rules?  Too many rules mean lots of second thoughts.  I want simple.  Four rules seem simple enough don’t you think?  Four is easy to follow.

RULE # 1


Just like any canned or bottled food that has a “use by” or “sell by” date; fabric also has a use by date. Fashion colors change.  Decorating styles change.  Quilt patterns come and go as does the fabric used to make them.  I would not consider keeping 15 year old mayo because it might be useful someday.  I would not consider keeping 20 year old medications for fear of not being able to replace them.  So why should I consider keeping 30 year old out of style fabric?  My thinking is that if a fabric has not become part of a quilt in all those years its pretty obvious the fabric either doesn’t appeal to me or simply wouldn’t make a good quilt.  Also, it obviously didn’t appeal to the person who gave it to me because they didn’t use it either.

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RULE # 2


Take the time to iron my fabric flat.  I mean the remaining fabric after the purge.  Don’t just wad it up and stuff it into a container.  Its really hard to be creative with a container full of wadded and wrinkled fabrics.  Storing fabric flat does not necessarily mean laying horizontal.  Flat can also mean lined up like books on a shelf or in a drawer like file folders.  Flat means not wrinkled.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 008RULE # 3


This will take a bit of explaining.  I have to pare way down the type of quilts I plan to make in the near future.  I’ll worry about the distant future when it gets here.  How to explain “style” quilts.  Ok, if I’m not into civil war quilts there would be no need to keep civil war reproduction fabrics.  If I’m not interested in making tiny intricate applique pieces there is no reason to keep tiny fabrics.  It’s better to choose the type or style quilts that hold my interests right now and think about fabric for future quilts in the future.

Currently I’m fascinated by:

  • Double wedding ring quilts
  • Selvage quilts
  • String quilts
  • Necktie quilts
  • Totally scrappy quilts
  • Portrait style quilts

I plan to keep any fabric suitable for these type quilts.  I’ll keep my newest fabric and any that could be used for interesting borders, sashing, and bindings.  You see where I’m going with this?  I can’t keep everything but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep anything.

Necktie quilt tutorial 2014 031RULE # 4


If I sort fabric yardage, scraps, or precut strips by size and then each size sorted again by color it means I’ll have to come up with many more storage containers.   Grandma Mama had only two baskets of scrap fabric.  One for making quilts and one for making rugs.  Both sat near her chair by the pot belly stove.  It was her evening entertainment to listen to the radio while keeping her hands busy.  I know I’m not going to get down to only two baskets but I don’t need every conceivable size and color either.

Let me see if I can narrow my list of sizes to keep to only a few.

  • Selvage quilts – no particular size  I’ll take all these I can get my hands on in any size.
  • String quilts – no particular size  I use scraps left after cutting pieces for other quilts
  • Necktie quilts – no particular size  I don’t cut ties until I’m ready to make a quilt
  • Totally scrappy – I have about 200 patterns for scrappy quilts that use 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 inch strips
  • Double wedding ring – 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 – 4 – 11 for one style, 2 1/2 – 4 1/2 – 9 – 10 for a second style
  • Portrait type quilts – I plan to use fat quarter bundles for those IF I ever get one made

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So lets see, this narrows sorting down a bit.  I believe I could get away with 4 sizes if I combined some.  For example I could keep only 4 1/2 strips to be used for both the 4 1/2 and the 4.  I could combine the 9, 10, and 11 by saving only 11 inch strips.  Naw, that’s way too complicated.  It would require me to re-cut some strips before using.  I think I’ll stick to just the 7 pre cut strip sizes.

Well that explains the four rules I’ve set for myself.  I think these will really help me when sorting through my fabric stash.  Mostly I’m talking about the scraps only here.  My yardage fabric will be sorted by only two things.  Is it really old and would it make great sashing, borders, or binding.

Snowed in and organizing

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Our area, like so many areas, got snow and very cold temperatures.  I woke up to no water yesterday. Yes, I did have it dripping but evidently it wasn’t dripping enough.  Well crap!  No coffee water.  Then I realized ice cubes can be thawed for coffee.  I had plenty of those in the freezer.  I was not going to walk through all that snow to catch a bus to get bottled water. The snow is too dirty to use for anything except flushing a toilet.  It has black dust of some type all over it.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 013Thankfully, a neighbor braved the cold and brought me water for making coffee and I hired a neighbor kid to shovel the sidewalk.  I saw this no water thing as an opportunity.  It means no cleaning, no mopping, no canning, no washing, no cooking, and no excuses.  Yeah, it’s an opportunity to organize quilt stuff. Quilt stuff collected from machine quilting customers over the years when they were cleaning out their stashes. Quilt stuff I bought and never had the time to create something from it.  Lots and lots of quilt stuff gathering dust and taking up valuable space.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 010I hate STUFF!  STUFF is an overwhelming amount of things that crowd out other things in my life.  Not just quilt stuff but all STUFF I seem to hoard.  It overwhelms me and I feel like I’m suffocating from it.  In this one room there are 10 large storage tubs of quilting fabrics.  Some are hidden behind the rolls of stabilizers and stacks of other stuff.  I was anxious to get started and forgot to take a before photo. I also have these rollie cart drawer towers filled with more quilting stuff.  There are actually five towers with six drawers in each.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 014I have lots more fabrics in my studio.  There are several rollie carts under the quilting machine and five tubs of fabric in the studio and a bunch of my ufos too.  Gosh, I must have enough fabric for a couple of lifetimes worth of quilts. Enough fabric for hundreds of quilts.  Plus enough for hundreds of rugs and undies and a ton of other crafts.

Hmm…. where to start?  As a low income person I tend to be a hoarder.  Having little money tends to make a person hold onto things that might be too expensive to replace.  I see value in everything that might be useful later. Fabric, and even tiny scraps of fabric, draws me in because I’m a quilter and a thrifty person.  I want to save the fabrics from a landfill by creating a quilt or something.  Even tiny 1/2 inch pieces bring out my rescue mode to save them. I’ve created whole bed size quilts from tiny bits of fabric.  Here’s an example.  This is a full size quilt I made for my bed several years ago. The blocks are 5″ x 5″ and each square has 37 pieces in it.  I believe there are 117 blocks. That was a lot of teeny tiny pieces.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 018I know that I MUST rid myself of at least 95% of my accumulated fabric.  I have way too much.  The fear of letting it go has a grip on me.  What if I got rid of just the right one for my next quilt?  What if the person who gave it to me gets upset? What if the cost of fabric gets so high that I can’t buy it anymore? What if….. What if……  What if…..

Once again I go back to memories and the wisdom of my Grandma Mama, the thriftiest person I ever knew.  She made beautiful quilts without having a house full or room full or even a large plastic tub filled with fabric. Even still,  she made quilts regularly.  Well by golly, if Grandma Mama could do it so can I!

The weather is not going to be warmer for several days.  What that means is my water pipes won’t thaw.  I’ll make the best of this time by sorting and purging fabrics.  It ain’t gonna be easy letting go of them but it MUST be done.  I’ll be putting a give away post on freecycle as soon as I’m done and the weather clears up.  I’ve tried to do this time after time after time and always something stopped the process.   Even when I get rid of bunches and bunches of fabric it multiplies itself when I’m not looking.  Geeze, it seems to multiply faster than rats and mice.

Time to get off the computer and back to work.  I’ll post again about my thinking process and how my purging progression is going.

Double wedding ring quilt

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I finally got myself busy in the quilt studio and finished a quilt.  Its a double wedding ring that I pieced at least a year ago.  It was on the machine for a very long time waiting on me.  I was surprised to find that my arm didn’t hurt much.  I guess all the exercises are working.

Quilts - My own 2015 001I didn’t want to do the same designs that everyone does on double wedding ring quilts.  You know the designs?  Continuous curve or outline stitch on the rings.  Feather design on the center and so forth.  I want my stitching designs to be different.  Ok, how about I just show you.

The connecting corners got a straight line triangle design.  Click on any picture to make it  larger.

Quilts - My own 2015 003Its hard to see the stitching so here’s a look from the back.  Yellow orange thread.

Quilts - My own 2015 004How about a look at the rings and the center sections.  The rings got a feather curl design in dark green thread and the centers got a flower and leaf design in pale green thread.

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You will want to see the back of that too won’t you? Here you go.

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Next would be the four corner section in the center of the rings.  I did a freehand ribbon bow in light green thread for that area.

Quilts - My own 2015 007Take a look at the back.

Quilts - My own 2015 008Here is a look at the half sections along the outside edge of the quilt.  I did a three leaf design there.

Quilts - My own 2015 009Here it is from the back.  Its done in orange thread.

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While we are looking in that area take a look at the small border.  The border is 2 1/2 inches wide.  I used a dark rust brown color thread.

Quilts - My own 2015 011I was in the mood for experimenting so I did a swag design that allowed me to practice straight lines as well as curvy.  Here is a view from the back.

Quilts - My own 2015 012A look at the corners of the border too.

Quilts - My own 2015 013A look at the back as well.

Quilts - My own 2015 014

There are a lot of thread colors in this quilt.  Dark color thread on a light color fabric is being very brave.  It shows up absolutely every stitching mistake made.  I do know to use a matching thread color to minimize the appearance of flaws.  BUT, how am I ever going to get good at this if I don’t practice?  My goal is to be good enough that I can use colors on a white background without fear.

Quilts - My own 2015 015I think I need a lot more practice.  Hmm…. I wonder if I have another one to practice on.

Can’t focus

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I’m having a hard time getting 2015 started.  Here it is almost the middle of January and I can’t seem to get my year going.  I believe I’m just overwhelmed with the large number of  “want to do” and the “really should do” items on my lists.  Grandma Mama would have said I have too many fire pokers and no fire.  So I need to start a fire.

I read books.  Lots of books.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 003

I watched quilting DVDs.  Several of them and a few movies too.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 004I put a quilt on the machine that I started way back last spring.  I thought I would have it finished to give as a Christmas present.  Didn’t happen.  Maybe it will get finished in time for next Christmas.

Cleaning and organizing 2015 001


I fondled fabric. I cleaned.  I cooked.  I reworked some of my many lists and printed those.  I even started removing the fabric from my vintage love seat so I can reupholster it.  There are thousands of staples in it and every single one of them must be removed.  That’s a very slow process.

Upholster the couch 2015


Nothing is affecting me in a way that says “pick me, pick me” yet.  So I go through each day bouncing from one project to another.  A little of this.  A little of that.  Something will happen.  I know it will.  It always does.  I just have to wait until it happens.  This year it seems to be taking longer than usual.



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