Satisfaction

It’s amazing what a different a clean, organized space makes in my emotional well-being. Here are photos of the fabric stash area before moving it. This is by no means the extent of the stash, just the largest portion of it. There were also several large wire bins overflowing with scraps and two totes of fat quarters stashed in the back room.

Before

Notice the balance ball? Never use it. Three weeks in and I haven’t used the new quilting machine. The pattern and spray starch on the floor? Never use them. Buttercup doesn’t even use the scratching post. See that enormous pile of fabric on top of the wire drawer unit? It’s so heavy that the plastic top has sagged so I can’t open the top drawer. Pitiful.

Unfortunately, things must get worse before they get better. Here’s Day 1:

During 1

During 2

During 3

It gradually got better, despite my best efforts to sabotage the cleaning blitz by hauling out the scraps and sorting them into bins. Finally, today, this is what the stash looks like:

After 1

The larger pieces are all folded uniformly, sorted by color and value, and placed neatly on the shelves. The dresser next to the bookshelf is topped by totes full of scraps, also sorted by color.

Inside the small dresser…

After 2

Are fat quarters and “large” small pieces of fabric, also sorted by color. Basically this is anything more than 6″ wide and less than 1/2 yard.

This is the length of the room from one end. There’s more space around the corner to the right at the far end.

After 3

My sewing table has a fold out section that seats another person, and an old vanity minus the mirror is adjacent to the sewing table, creating a space for 3 people to sew and chat.

Sewing Stations

Here’s where I sit:

My Sewing Desk

There’s another old vanity against the wall for a fourth person, flanked by that (completely cleaned out and reorganized) wire basket unit and two bookshelves full of quilting books and magazines.

After 4

Even my desk is clean.

Mostly.

Buttercup is happy that everyone is gone. She’s a hissy, pissy little thing, desperate to be included but defensive when someone actually approaches her. Or, you know, looks at her. Or she looks at them. Whatever. She hisses and smacks at them with her paw, claws retracted so no damage is done. I wish they could see her when she climbs over my arm at the keyboard and wedges herself onto my lap. The better part of this post was written like this:

Cat Computing 1

Cat Computing 2

Cat Computing 3

Cat Computing 4

And by the way…

Practiced

…yep, definitely feeling satisfied.

Stash this

Stash Updated

Sew, Mama, Sew! asked about our fabric collections, and you know I couldn’t let that one pass! Here are my answers to their questions.

*What do you usually sew?

I usually sew quilts – small, medium, large, bed or wall, it makes no difference. I’m currently participating in a Flickr group that swaps mini quilts and it’s a blast because it gives me the opportunity to try something new without committing the next six months to it. When I’m not sewing quilts, I’m sewing bags. I’ve fallen out of the habit, but I need a new, BIG bag to haul stuff around for work, so I’ll be digging into the home dec stash soon.

*When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy?

I’m on a fabric buying hiatus right now, but when I do buy it depends on the price of the fabric and how much I love it. For example, a local quilt shop occasionally marks their ancient fabrics as low as $2 a yard, and then I buy whatever is on the bolt for anything that I even remotely like. It’s great for quilt backs, and when it’s that cheap, it pays to stock up. For regular sales, I’ll buy 1 yard, maybe 2. If I’m paying full price, I generally only buy 1/2 yard, maybe 1 yard if I really love it.

*Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?

Back to the fabric hiatus situation – I was a major impulse shopper, often triggered by a “need” for one thing. Now that the income is limited I shop only when I absolutely can’t find something in my stash that will work. I have a monster stash, so I haven’t purchased much fabric in the last six or eight months. I’ve learned good habits – I have a gift card for a fabric store, and I’m actually having trouble using it!

*Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it?

I do not pre-wash my fabrics. When I want to sew, I want to sew NOW and if I had to wait until I washed, dried, and pressed everything, I’d never sew a stitch. If I’d started pre-washing as I bought fabric, it might have been different, but there’s no way I’m going back through my stash now. Fortunately, I don’t have any problems with bleeding, shrinking, or physical reaction to the chemicals. I throw a Shout Color Catcher in with the finished quilt and keep my fingers crossed. So far, so good.

*Do you iron it?

I do, however, iron everything. I always square up my fabric before cutting, and I need to iron it to remove the creases. Sometimes I use a little spray starch.

* How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)

I keep my fat quarters separate from the rest of the fabric, and they aren’t really sorted. The yardage is sorted by color, then within each color by the color wheel – yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red, etc. I usually give up about that time, so they aren’t sorted by value. There are a few “what the heck?!” fabrics that are grouped together because I’m not sure what color they should be with. I also keep my solids, flannels and homespuns separate from the rest of the fabric. And Christmas fabric. Of course the home dec stuff is also separate from the cotton quilting fabric. I split up fabric collections – I’m not tied to using “matchy” fabrics in the same quilt.

* Do you have any special folding techniques?

I fold my fabric right at the store, sometimes literally pulling it out of the hands of the clerk. (I always apologize and explain!) If I fold it before I bring it home, there’s a much greater chance of it being put away instead of sitting in bags on the counter, table, or quilting frame. For 1/2 to 1 1/2 yard cuts, I fold it in half the long way, then fold it to 1/2 yard, then in thirds. For larger cuts I fold it to 1 yard, then in half the long way, then to 1/2 yard, then in thirds. HOWEVER, I’m seriously considering changing it, because this method leaves a bunch of folded edges at the exposed side on my shelf, making it harder to see the print. I’d like to change it so the first fold – in half the long way – becomes the last fold. It’s just that there’s an awful lot of fabric to refold…

*How do you store your fabric?

My fat quarters are in plastic totes, as is my non-quilting fabric. I know that plastic isn’t the best way to store fabric, but it’s what I have so for now it will have to do. My yardage is on a bookshelf that my dad made – five feet wide and about 6 1/2 feet tall. And yes, it’s full. Again, not the best fabric storage, but it’s in the finished basement so it isn’t exposed to much sunlight.

* What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?

As I look at my stash, I realize that I have a ton of fun fabrics in medium tones, and nowhere near enough very light, very dark, and tone on tone fabrics. Try to buy at least one very light or very dark and one tone on tone for every medium print. Also, shop the clearance fabrics. When it’s cheap it’s easy to purchase fabrics that you don’t love. That’s a good thing, because it forces you out of your comfort zone. I have some of the most gorgeous mustard prints that I never would have paid full price for.

* When do you say enough is enough?

I should have said enough was enough a year or three ago (and I’ve only been quilting for five years). I DID say enough is enough when finances dictated that I had no choice. Rule of thumb – if you’re spending more time buying, sorting, and petting your fabric than actually sewing on it, it’s time.

* What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects?

I like scrappy quilts. I like planned quilts. I like big projects, and little projects, and swaps, and giveaways. For now, all of my projects are stash-busting projects. I have promised myself not to spend any money on fabric for at least the next two years. (Notice I said “spend any money” – if I happen to receive a gift certificate for a fabric store, I am allowed to purchase fabric.) The best stash busting project I’ve worked on recently has been my string quilt. I cut strips from dozens of different fabrics and sewed them to muslin foundation squares. After trimming them to size, I’ll put them together using white sashing.

string blocks String blocks

* Do you have a current favorite print in your stash? Let’s see it!

Asking me to pick one fabric print is like asking me to pick one favorite book. I like too many different kinds of fabrics to choose just one. Here are some of my favorites.

I like whimsy, so there are a lot of conversation prints, especially Alexander Henry.

Construction Workers Shoes and Bags Alexander Henry fabrics

And then there are the exotic prints…

cho-cho Exotic China

I’ve really been into brown and aqua or green…

Aqua Brown

Oh, who am I kidding? I love it all!

Bag Stash 1 Bag Stash 3 Bag Stash 2 Bag Stash 4

* What’s your definition of the perfect stash?

I have an exceptional stash – I know I’m fortunate. With a little more very light and very dark fabrics, I’d call my stash perfect.

It’s time…International Stash-Busting Giveaway

Okay, so I’m a little early but I’d rather be early than late. Trust me, I’m usually late. Here’s my contribution to the International Stash-Busting Giveaway: Six fat quarters (well, the green and yellow is just a little smaller than a fat quarter) of quilt shop quality fabric, thinned from my far too extensive stash. I actually have two sets of these cut, so if there are more than 100 entries, I’ll draw two names. And, knowing me, I’ll probably drop in a few more bits of fabric.

Stash Giveaway

So, the rules:
This is an international giveaway (which is part of the reason I’m posting this early – it’s already Wednesday on the other side of the world). To enter, post a comment to this blog entry and tell me your name, where you’re from and what you’d do if you won a million dollars (after you’ve done all of the practical stuff). For example, my name is Sandi, I’m from Wisconsin (USA), and I would go back to college, although I’m not sure what I’d study.

I will choose the name(s) in a random if not particularly scientific manner, and announce the winner on Thursday, February 4. Be sure to give me a way to contact you, either your e-mail or your blog.

While you’re here, look around – there’s an excellent collection of links for free patterns and other resources on the Quilting Resources page, as well as a looong list of my troubleshooting tips for frame quilters on the Frame Quilting page.

Don’t forget, there are lots more bloggers participating in this stash giveaway, so check out the list here:

EDIT: COMMENTS ARE CLOSED FOR THIS POST. I’LL ANNOUNCE THE WINNER TOMORROW. THANKS, EVERYONE!

Fabric Addiction

I’ve been quilting for about five years, although I’ve been addicted to fabric for as long as I can remember. As a child, I followed my mom down the aisles at JoAnn Fabrics, arms extended, hands trailing through the assorted textures. Every once in a while I’d squinch up my face and shake and rub my hands to get the nasty feeling of polyester off, but mostly I just floated and dreamed of all the pretty things the fabric could become.

I first seriously thought about quilting about 18 years ago, going so far as to buy fabrics that would make an interesting quilt. It was the cheap stuff, because that’s what I could afford. I still have a couple of pieces including one with a small frog print, and someday I will make my “Frog Prints” quilt. I’m collecting other froggy fabrics, not because I particularly like frogs, but because I want to make a quilt with that name. Names are oddly important to me.

Now my fabric collection has expanded – exploded, even – into a stash that I’m simultaneously embarrassed by and proud of. On the one hand, I could make enough quilts to cover every person in my most extended family several times over. On the other, I have no control. It’s a shameful thing. Truly, it’s an addiction.

This photo was taken a year ago, and it’s increased even further – I have probably 20% MORE fabric now. I have managed to control myself since The Incident, and I haven’t purchased a single piece of fabric in almost two months. I saw a great acronym for this – it’s a STABLE, or STash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy.