January 8, 2016

Reality Check . . . Starting with a Clean Slate

2015 was a year of purging at my house and while I still have a ways to go I got a good start. It feels sooo good to simplify and actually have less.

However having less in my studio is entirely another matter. I've been quilting for nearly 20 years so there's a lot of fabric in my stash. Too much. Much too much. It's been quite a reality check to acknowledge just how much fabric I own. And I'm finding it hard to let go.

During December, I scheduled in time to go through my stash with the intention of sorting, reorganizing, and purging. In an attempt to regain control, I spent time clearing things I knew I wouldn't use and it was much harder than I imagined. The frugal side of me kept saying, "but I could make a charity quilt or some placemats or or or . . . "   You get the picture. Bet you've even had the same experience.

These are just 2 of 4 tubs of floral fabrics. I love flowers. Would I buy these now? Probably not. Can I part with them? Not yet. I'm hoping to make a scrappy trip quilt and perhaps one or two other quilts with them. Then maybe I'll be able to let go of what's left.

Below are mostly realistic leafy prints and fruit/veggie prints. Can't part with these yet either. I'm using a lot of the leafy prints in this quilt. And I'm thinking napkins and/or placements with the fruit/veggie prints will go nicely with my fruit/veggie dishes.

In the end, I managed to fill a couple of boxes with fabric. Not as much as I had hoped but at least it's a start. Some I will sell at a local resale shop that buys by the pound. Other stuff I'm giving away.

I also spent time ironing and refolding pieces so they would fit into the cubbies or cabinets I use for storage. Over time I had shoved a lot of stuff in here and there and it didn't fit. The edges were being smashed. Not good for the fabric. It might seem like a waste of time to iron and refold but I actually found the process very therapeutic.

In some cases, opening up a bigger cut and seeing the entire piece was totally inspiring. When you only see a little edge you can forget how beautiful the fabric really is.

I found new groupings that got me excited. I even took quick photos of some of them for future quilts.

Sadly, I also found a piece here and there that had faded along the fold lines. No rhyme or reason. They weren't in direct light. They weren't all stored in the same location. Thankfully this didn't happen too much.

The biggest benefit to handling most of my fabric was the conviction it gave me to use it. That's why I bought it in the first place, right? All that handling also strengthened my conviction not to buy anymore in 2016. I simply do not need another piece of fabric added to my stash. With the money I save from not buying more fabric I'll be able to send more quilts out to be quilted. That means more finished projects and that's a very very good thing.   : )

So today I am formally putting it out there that one of my 2016 goals is to use my stash. To make those quilts I've had in mind for ages using as much of this glorious stash as I can.

Granted I have more ideas and more fabric than I have time to make in a single year but at least I can make a dedicated start.

I have unsubscribed to most online shops. Not because I don't love what they offer, but simply because I don't need the temptation.

I vow to only buy the occasional fabric absolutely necessary to complete a project. Binding, backing, or enough yardage to make a design work. I know myself well enough to admit that I won't be satisfied with a binding or backing that isn't just right. But I will always try to find it in the stash first.

What's the condition of your stash? Overflowing or under control? Full of what you love or things you're clinging to from another time?

When making decisions about what to keep, I tried to come back to the question of whether keeping it was worth my time and effort. Am I keeping it out of guilt over spending money on something I haven't used? Yes. Does it still inspire me? Sort of. Is it really where my heart is? Not really.

When I step back and think about where I really want to go with my quilting, a lot of the older stash simply has no part to play. The time it would take to use it would be time I could spend making all those ideas that are filling my brain and inspiring me.

But for now, I'll settle for baby steps. The things I want to use are right here in front of me. All organized. Awaiting the projects they are meant to become.

Here's my newly cleaned stash . . . I'm ready to go.
Just need my sewing machine. It's out being serviced.

Wishing you happy times in your sewing room playing with your stash.