Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Paralyzed By The Stash?

Paralyzed By The Stash?!
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To buy or not to buy, and if I do, how much?

I've been asked this question A LOT ...."If I'm just stashing, what sizes of cuts are most useable?" And the other reasoning I hear is "It was such a great price, I couldn't let this sale pass me by, but I wasn't sure how much to get......"

After 25+ years of fabric collecting and quilting, I've been pretty much "no buy" for well over 2 years now! (With the exception of the plaid shirts fetish I acquired for the thrift shops!) I have SO much fabric still that I only buy when I ABSOLUTELY need something to finish a project.

Shopping the stash is the best idea. I always go there first, but sometimes you need something else. (I haven't been shirt shopping in about 8 months...I've even banned myself from THAT!) I decided that I didn't care how good the deal was, that the fabric could "live" at the store until I absolutely had to go buy it for an "immediately needed now" crisis. This has worked for me.

It helped just knowing that if I needed backing, binding, borders, sashings, background, and even some 'go-withs' that I could go to the store and get it if I absolutely could NOT find anything in my stash that would work. This is an utmost show of FAITH! *LOL* How many of us buy 12 pairs of tennis shoes, just because they are on sale, at a great price, and we want enough to stock up? We might not like those outdated shoes in 5 to 10 years...do we still want them hanging around our closets?

It was hard turning down those sale prices. The first few months of NO BUYING was excruciating. I felt like I needed a 12 step program! I had to remove myself from email notifications from online stores that were exclaiming things like "NEW SALE BINS!" "FREE SHIPPING" And what about those 40% off coupons? AUUUGH! I live within 2 hours drive from the infamous Mary Jo's in Gastonia NC. It's a fabric Mecca, but I dare not go! And if I do need to go, I know the fabric, or at least some fabric that will work.....will be there (and most likely be on sale) and it can just LIVE THERE until I need it!

In the mean time, I now spend the time that I would spend shopping, actually quilting and working on my projects. I still feel like I've barely made a dent in my stash. That is when I really realized how over whelming this stash really is! It took a long time to get over the jitters I'd get when driving past the quilt shop and not pulling into the parking lot...but it got easier. I don't miss it now.

When I was buying...if there was a fabric I liked but didn't know what I wanted it for, and the price was good, I'd buy a yard easy. 2 yards if I wanted it for a border....5 to 6 yds if I thought I might use it for a back, but really if you don't KNOW what project it is going in, how much do you know to buy? I suppose we could rationalize and think that eventually we might need EVERYTHING for a back and buy 6 to 8 yards of everything because it is a good price and we might need it some day and we don't ever want to run short because we might not find that fabric ever again. *LOL* This is how I got into the situation I'm in!

I didn't ever really become a fat quarter shopper either, because I always thought those were not going to be ENOUGH of any one fabric to do what I needed. That's where the "buy at least a yard" thing came in.

If you want to indulge, look at the projects you have going on and see if there is anything you need to complete them. I don't plan for too many "in the future some day I want to make" projects any more because my mind will change a dozen times (if not more) by then. I only buy for the "here and now" and things I am going to make immediately! That way you get the shopping fix, and the completion fix all in the same dose! And the things you use here and now have scraps that work into the scrap stash bins for later, which is good too. Sometimes running out of something and forcing yourself to make a substitution from your stash, alter your lay out a bit can break you out of the "gotta make it just like the one in the book" syndrome and you'll really be suprized at your own results, and the new interest it gives to the quilt.

If your stash is whittled down to the point where you are lacking in any certain color you can concentrate on that color. Maybe you've used quite a bit of your blues and there isn't as much of a working variety there. One thing I would do is round stuff out in a general way if I needed to. Backgrounds are something that I need to not let diminish too much because then there is nothing to work with to help use up the other fabrics that I've already got.

I guess I have had to let the fear of the world running out of fabric leave me. I felt like I was Chicken Little, but instead of "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" it was more...."if they stop making this I'll never have enough to make the quilts I want, and once it's gone it's gone, so I must hoard hoard hoard" and it got to the point where my stash had paralyzed me. You know what? Quilting is a multi-billion dollar enterprise....the fabric is NOT all of a sudden going to stop being printed and dry up! I have faith in the fabric manufacturers that they will keep printing fabrics...maybe different fabrics...so yes it's important to have what you need to finish projects you've started...but you can't buy ahead for every project you ever want to make in your life.

How many of us feel like we have stocked our quilting rooms and closets like people stocked their bomb shelters in the 50's?? Just in case we have to live in there for the next 40 years, we better have enough fabric to quilt for that long..*giggle*

So, this probably doesn't answer your questions on how much to buy of what! But no matter what you buy, it's either going to be not enough, too much, or it won't match what you need it to! (I'd still go for 1 to 2 yard cuts if the price was really good and it was something I was needing for borders...3 yards if I was going to need it for sashing and binding...)And repeat after me: "It can LIVE at the store until I really need it to finish a project I already know about!"

Bonnie

P.S. The opinions stated are soley those of the author, and do not reflect the opinions of all quilters!

Folding that Fabric!

I recieved an email from Ewalda asking: "Do you have anywhere on your web site how you folded your fabric? It's awesome!"

What I do....is take the fabric...and fold it selvege to selvege..the way it comes off the bolt at the store. Bring the folded edge to the two raw edges so it is in half again, and do it once more so the length of fabric is only about 6" wide.

Measure the depth of your shelf and subtract an inch or two. This is the measurement that you are going to use to fold your fabric into "mini bolts". With my cabinets, I fold my fabric over at the 15" measurement. I just lay a yardstick on the table, find where 15" is, measuring that from the left end of the folded fabric piece towards the center of the length. Begin to fold over and over and over at that measurement until the fabric is in one small bundle.

It doesn't matter how many yards are in the piece. The fabric "mini bolts" will end up being the same depth and width on your shelf, even if longer pieces of yardage are thicker. You can still see by looking at the stacked fabric, just exactly what you have on your shelf. All raw edges go towards the back of the shelf so all you are looking at is neatly folded fabric! It is really easy to pull ONE stack out, get the fabric you want out of the stack, and slide the stack back in place. Try it!

I do this for pieces 1/2 yard and up. Anything smaller gets folded in with the FQ's in my drawers.

2 comments:

luv2sew said...

Bonnie,
I see a list of the guilds that you will be attending. that is fantastic, but can anyonego to these meetings? I am thinking of one close to me. Thanks for your patterns I love scrappys
Darlene
bdhutchins@gmail.com

Farmer Susan said...

Thank you for the stash info. I need to go cold-turkey on fabric AND yarn. You give me hope I will one day see the back of the closet.