A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
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
FABRIC HAS A SHELF LIFE
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.
RULE # 2
IRON EVERYTHING FLAT AND STORE IT FLAT
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.
SAVE FABRIC FOR SPECIFIC STYLE QUILTS ONLY
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:
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.
SORT BY SIZE ONLY, NOT BY COLOR
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.
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.