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Friday, July 17, 2015

Stash Attack!

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What is it about taking a good look into someone else’s sewing space – especially the fabric stash –that piques our interest?

Stash-Speak amongst quilters is akin to the juicy gossip that goes around the water cooler in the office, or the line at the grocery store.

“Did you hear about Louise?  She has so much fabric she could sink a battle ship!”

“REALLY!?  Doesn’t she know that enough is enough is enough?”

“Evidently not!  I heard she just signed up for the bus trip on the Row by Row experience shop hop –she is determined to visit all of the shops between Bangor, Maine and Key West, Florida!”

And so we giggle.  Because we understand.

But there is a bit of a serious come-uppence happening here, down between these basement walls that house my Quiltville studio space.

Just going through these fat quarters alone has taught me A LOT.

First of all – I love my fabric.  I honestly seriously do.  I think when we buy fabric, we are not just buying something tangible, we are buying dreams and possibilities of what this item can become.

It’s not “JUST” a piece of fabric –it’s a piece of who we are, or who we want to be.  Our individual fabric stashes are as varied as each of our personalities and interests.  No two stashes are alike!

In this beloved stash are dreams of gifts for loved-ones-to-come.   It’s something special that will mark a birth, a death, a wedding, a graduation as an important event in our lives.

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SO many overwhelming possibilities to be.

The fact of the matter is – it’s easy to accumulate fabric, nearly everywhere we go –and buying fabric, being in shops, hanging with other quilters makes us feel like “I AM A QUILTER.”  We belong.  We associate.  We relate to others of our kind.

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But when cupboards are burgeoning….with possibilities unrecognized, unrealized --

Am I a quilter,  just because I can shop?  Anyone can shop!

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I didn’t buy all of this to let it sit and age out!

I am SERIOUSLY going on a fabric diet.

I want to be able to call myself a quilter because I MAKE QUILTS.  Not because I shop.

That’s like saying “I’m a cook!”  And all I do is buy groceries that fill the fridge and no one eats them, and when things go bad, we toss them out.

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Yes, Bonnie, you have enough neutrals…stop shopping, start quilting!

I love my fabric.  But fabric alone does not make me a quilter. And no matter how much I love my fabric, buying fabric as a form of self-medication and justification -- it is never going to love me back.

 And neither does this:

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How many machines does one quilter need? 

With all of the money in the world, you could by as many priceless violins as you can afford…but owning the violins alone does not make you a musician.  You have to take the time to learn to play.

It’s easy to buy.  It’s wonderful to collect, and to have.

But to what end?

Are you in the same boat that I am?  Are you feeling this way too?

Then let’s DO SOMETHING about it!  Let’s start sewing more.  Don’t just add to the stash ---let’s see what we can DO WITH IT.

And I can say this because I am feeling grumpy that I have been at book writing nearly my entire time home this month, I feel like I’m not getting far enough, fast enough, there are some road blocks that are keeping me from making the progress I thought I would because this process is much differently laid out than it was for me with the last 5 books….it’s a different learning school and I’m struggling.

And I just REALLY REALLY REALLY want to SEW!

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But someone did the shop hop FOR me!

Thank you Connie for the wonderful license plate!  I love it – and I didn’t have to enter the quilt shop to get one!

I’m working here at my desk until about 5pm when we will head to the cabin for the weekend.  My hind end will be in my comfy chair binding two quilts until completion.  They need to be sent off next week to Colorado – all six of them.

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Block samples and step outs are kitted up.

And there went my month of July –how is yours going?


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122 comments:

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I don't have near the fabric you do but I too think a lot of the times why is all this fabric on the shelves and boxes instead of being made into quilts - I need to make more quilts to use it up!! have fun at the cabin this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean! My bins and cabinets are just bursting with fabric. I also have shelves on the lower level and another whole stash at our building where we have our offices. I do a lot of sewing, especially charity quilts...but people say all the time "You'll never live long enough to use all this fabric" lol I'm with you on this, I need to shop less and sew even more.

Karen Lieberman
vetala13@aol.com

Diana Rosenthal said...

Thank you for this post. It really hit home. I buy and buy with the intentions of making,
I'm always looking ahead of what I want to make I forget to sit and concentrate on what I am making.
The stash builds out of control. I will check myself in at the sewing room door and get control
Thanks again for a check of reality.
Diana
dianarosenthal@comcast.net

justducky65 said...

I am feeling overwhelmed for the past week with my fabric stash. A few times a year I go through a phase of thinking "why not just sell it all?!" and settle down with a few of my other hobbies. Then I step back and think about why I sew (it relaxes me), and all is well again. I just love the possibilities of the fabric choices out there. I love to pet and fold the fabric and daydream about what it could become one day.

Martha said...

Thanks Bonnie, I needed to read this. Happy quilting!

Anonymous said...

How is my July? Downsizing my mother's lifetime in a full-sized house to a 3 room apartment, helping with a new grandbaby, and quilting only in my dreams. I am exhausted, but my stash is patiently waiting. I visit for brief moments, pet it a little, and turn out the light :).
Juls in FL
mathrun1@yahoo.com

HoosierKitty said...

One "problem" with being known as a scrappy quilter is people give you little bits that I cut up and use right away. That's fun but it doesn't reduce the stash. But I don't have to worry about running out😊

Anna said...

Oh Bonnie, I don't know how you do what you do, I would be a zombie. I do appreciate all that you do for us though, you have made me look at quilts a lot different and I truly love the scrappy quilts. They are so much more comforting to me and remind me of a much simpler time.
Enjoy your weekend at the cabin!!

Anna in Tennessee
scraphappy539@comcast.net

Terry Klausmeier said...

Well said! Having just moved my studio to a new condo, I was amazed at what I had amassed, and it didn't include the machines and fabric at my home (guest room -lol) or the treadles in the storage unit. Too much time enjoying the hunt, and no time spent on unleashing my creativity! Thanks for the motivation - today is a new day; stop purchasing and start quilting again! Hugs to you!!!!

Terry

tmklaus@aol.com

WIPPYSPLACE said...

I, too, need to learn to say no! at times fabrics just seem to find their way to my home via gifting, shopping, etc...then I keep some and pass some along in the same manner....I am not doing books or anything and you still manage to use your time more wisely than I do ..and let's not throw cooking and cleaning into the mix LOL....from the look into your room and stash, I would know that I was in the room of a master scrappy quilter! were you to walk into mine, you would wanna know what I am going to do with sew much fabric ;-) !!! sometimes I just wanna trade my stash with others :-) ---that said....I am going to be sewing today....one quilt for the hubby for Christmas and another for my son's bride to be... THOSE need to be to my quilter by September :-)---THEN ---time to weed through my stash of yardage like you did with your fats :-) call me the hopeful stasher...hoping to use much by the time my time is up!!!!

pcflamingo said...

When I had to move into Assisted Living when back surgery went horribly wrong, I invited my sewing girlfriends over to my old house to go through my sewing room (which had exploded into two rooms) to cull through the fabric. I sat in my wheelchair in the garage at a card table and they brought boxes and bins of fabric to me. With a ruthless thumbs up or thumbs down, I let my charity quilting group friends take away what I knew they could use right away to make bright colorful quilts for kids in need. They filled up two mini-vans and most of the back of one pickup truck. I'm not kidding. I'm way funnier when I'm kidding.

And my apartment at the Assisted Living place (which I LOVE) is known as Pat's Sewing Room. My ironing board is perpetually set up in the kitchen. My linen closet has towels, but also my bins of batiks. My walk-in closet is full of plastic bins of various projects and types of fabric. My cutting table is set up in my bedroom and underneath is storage for more plastic bins of projects and fabric. And my sewing table is set up in the lovely bay window. I still have too much fabric, but it's more organized.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. The next time the format will be more familiar. And maybe you will be able to make suggestions. After all, no one knows what you are trying to say better than you do. But new writing styles are always a challenge (I know, I am an editor).

Stash: I spent about 8 years on quilting hiatus (I know, what was I thinking? But work was just too overwhelming). So my stash didn't continue to grow. Since I started back up just over a year ago I have bought mainly neutrals, of which I had practically none. I am out of room so have not felt the urge to buy, buy, buy. And now that I am retired (!) I also want to sew, sew, sew.

Once your current deadlines are past, the pressure will lessen. I've been following you for just over a year, and I haven't heard you talk about buying a lot of fabric, so you are on the right track. So keep on the right path. And be sure to "smell the roses" as you figure out the writing and the stash organizing. It will all work out. And know that we will be here to encourage you and cheer you on. It's a new chapter in your life. Remind folks not to "feed the quilter," and hugs to Sadie.

Donna Fisher, Tallahassee, FL

Linda Brunner said...

The pictures of your fabric stash actually made me feel better. I've been feeling the same way about all my unused fabric but my stash wouldn't fill one of your cupboards. So maybe there is hope for me in getting it actually made into something.
Enjoy your time at the cabin and de-stress while you're there.
Linda
Ldbrunner@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

This was a good wake up call blog for me..thank you Bonnie..I have so much stuff I've run out of room..all of my sewing stash, craft supplies, and things I've kept from the belongings of 5 family members who have died over the last 15 years..time to stop being sentimental, keep just what I REALLY want, and find new homes for the rest, so that it will be USED by someone, instead of just sitting in corners..my first grandbaby arrives in 6 months..I need to make room so I can sew!!!

Deanna W said...

My July has been one of ups and downs. We had to make the most difficult decision to put our ole girl Zoe(14 year old golden retriever) down. But this past weekend I had three friends come to visit for 5 days of quilting mayhem!!! I have barely settled in after they all left and I am off to another friends for the weekend. My August is going to be the busy one, something happening on every weekend!! yikes!!
Love the pics of your stash....will have to show hubby so he knows I am nowhere near that!haha
But you are correct, collecting fabric doesn't make us quilters.Creating something with all that fabric does. You are so smart!!!

Myrna said...

I'm still a relatively new quilter and I'd been in the stash building phase, but now I'm at the point that I need to use more and buy less. I've bought mostly neutrals this year and now I'm well stocked with them too(for the time being). I'm also working on whittling down the # of UFOs that need quilting/binding.

Have a great weekend at the cabin!

Julie Ewert said...

Lately I have been Cleaning , organizing, and arranging my sewing room. When we moved into the new house I was blessed with the whole upstairs. Its a finished attic so its basically all one room.I have never had all of my sewing things in one room before and in the rush to move in everything was put in without much thought. Then a coworker was helping her friend downsize her quilt room and gave me more stuff. Pretty quickly I didn't have room to work. Most of my stash has been given to me. Now that its all in one place I have come to realize I need to get busy making lots of scrap quilts just to make a dent.

Kristie said...

Several years ago I had a fairly large stash and like most people felt that they would never use it all up in their lifetime. Well...hubby lost his job in December 2009 and I had to completely sew from stash for about 5 years. Actually I am still sewing from stash but it is dwindling down fast. I was shocked at how fast it went down when I was not adding to it. Hubby went back to school at 40 and changed his career, he is now a nurse and I will slowly start adding back to my stash. After seeing how fast that my stash was used, I am now in a panic over retirement. LOL! Need to start building that stash back up for retirement in 20 years. LOL
-Kristie

PeggyB said...

Thanks for an excellent post. I think we all need reminders about stash accumulation, organization, and use which you provide in abundance. Though, you are an enabler because since seeing your work I have decided that I need multiple patterned neutrals....I have limited sewing right now as I have custody of a 2 yr old, but I did just piece your scrappy trips pattern in my early morning hours and during nap time. It was the perfect project to let me play, stress free.

SewSister said...

"–she is determined to visit all of the shops between Bangor, Maine and Key West, Florida!” I laughed out loud at my desk when I read this! Maybe that's why some of us buy too much fabric...we spend hours at an office wishing we could have more time to sew. I ran away from the office to the LQS for three yellow fat quarters on a bad day last week, and boy, did that help!
A couple of years ago, my mother and her quilting friends had the sobering task of going through the considerable fabric stash of a dear friend who has passed away a year earlier. Her dear husband said he just didn't know what to do with it. Mom then decided that she was going to use up and donate more of her stash and not put her quilting friends through that sad experience.
So I am making a yellow quilt this summer and helping make two young family members memorial quilts from their dear father's shirts, and creating I Spy Charm Packs with my quilt retreaters. Sharing is good, Bonnie! Thanks for sharing with us!

Diane Merrill said...

Bonnie I have had a reality check too. I decided to weed out some fabric that I knew I wouldn't use and a couple of sewing machines at a garage sale we had recently. I got more pleasure out of doing that then keeping them. A little neighbor girl had got a sewing machine for Christmas and she was thrilled to get bags and bags of fabric. She was giggling and went skipping down the driveway. We all know that feeling. A lady came in and saw the Modern Home machine I had and gasped. Her mom had one just like it. I thought she was going to cry. Another lady bought the Elna to make horse blankets. She was also thrilled. I know they will be used and loved. Sometimes I think the reason to collect machines is to rescue them. I wouldn't have started this if it wasn't for you and your blog. Thanks for all you do.

Gladys Der said...

Gladys Der -glader@frontier.com
Thanks for writing this message today. It makes me look at myself and how much stash I have to deal with. I yearn to sew but feel overwhelmed at managing the clutter and lack of organizing spaces.

Netti said...

I retired last January and my goal was to turn one of my bedrooms into a sewing room. That's when I had the same revelation about my fabric stash. I've been determined to make quilts with what I have and not add to the stash. I haven't been 100% successful, but I can say that I'm doing better. I learned that, if I keep my fabric too long, after time I may not like it anymore. Bonnie: if anyone makes quilts, it's you. I'm amazed at how many quilts you make!

Alice Callahan said...

Good morning Bonnie, I had to laugh at myself when I read this post. We seem to be on the same wave lengths. Yesterday my daughter and hubby went to an estate sale to pick up some furniture my daughter had purchased. She saw an old singer in a cabinet with carry case. When she got home she told me about it and sent me pics and price. I'm not a collector of machines, I have what I need and that's enough for me, but was tempted until she said $350. She said everything had to be gone by today. I said "I don't need it and don't want it". But she told the girl not to throw it out if she doesn't sell it that I'd give her $25 or $30. So I still might end up with it whether I want it or not. LOL

Kelly said...

Bonnie....your post really hit home with me!! However,you do need to cut yourself some slack .....You DO use your fabric! You DO make oodles and oodles of quilts every year!!! It's not like you only buy and never sew it up But I totally relate to feeling overwhelmed by your stash. A good friend of mine gave herself a one-year hiatus from buying fabric. At first we all kidded her like "Are you crazy??" But then it really made sense.....I did it myself for 10 months. A really tough thing when you are a teacher and going into quilts shops every week! I let myself buy something I needed to finish a project. Exactly the amount needed for a binding, etc. It was very freeing giving myself a goal and a timeframe. After that time I knew I would reconsider. Having the timeframe made it seem like a game and not a punishment!!!

Thanks for EVERYTHING you do for all of us quilters!! You ROCK lady!!!

Janice said...

You certainly made me feel much better for the amount of fabric I have. I own 2 machines. I take my featherweight to getaways and use my basic Bernina at home. My fabric cupboard is not bare by any means, but then I went on a fabric diet 3 years ago. People keep dropping off their leftovers for me because I so much like to make scraps. I bought an accu cutter to cut up small stuff and employ my two nieces for most of that. Although I left the cutter and all the dies with my friend so she can attack her massive fabric pile on the 6 days of the week I don't see her.
You are such an inspiration. I know I don't need another quilt any more than I need another inch of fabric. I love every quilt I make. I feel good about every quilt I donate to charity or give to a friend or family member. This is not so much a hobby, but my life. It's a good way to live. Every aspect of YOUR quilting is a teaching tool for the rest of us. You show us how to organize and you show us it is okay to have lots of pieces of fabric to choose from to make our creations.
Take a deep breath, make yourself a cuppa tea and get back at it. I love you to pieces.

Tracey Holzer said...

I loved this post. Your words really put all my buying into perspective and I seem to shop more than I sew. I'll need to change this. Have a great weekend, Bonnie.

Anonymous said...

I think about this all the time. How much of this fabric will I actually ever use? It can kind of be depressing. I think often of an older lady I worked with (her name was Bonnie) about 15 yrs ago when I first started stashing and planning quilts. I would tell her about sales and show her quilts in magazines I liked. One day she looked at me and said "I'm not buying another thing. I can not possibly live long enough to use what I already have". Very sobering and where I am at now, but I will buy more fabric, I know.


dwil23_33617@yahoo.com

Donna Williams

Connie said...

Yes, I've been feeling this way, too. I stopped randomly buying fabric about 3 or 4 years ago so I could focus on the fabric I have. If I do buy something, it's because it's going to help me finish a project. This has been my "year of the UFO", but got stalled a couple months ago.

I feel the same way about my vintage machines. I'm choosing which ones to keep and getting rid of the rest. Too much clutter, and they need to be loved.

Lisa Rawlings said...

Oh Bonnie...don't beat yourself up! I have NEVER seen anyone as busy as you and do as much as you do. You are amazing....Designer, Writer Quilter, Teacher, Blogger, Mom, Wife, Friend....my goodness! As I have said numerous times, you exhaust me! Always on the go and full of life and energy. Who cares if you use up all that fabric in your lifetime or not? It inspires you....and you inspire us! (The machines, may be another thing, HA!) Your creativity is awesome, and yes, you probably would never NEED to buy another piece of fabric to make a quilt, but just remember how amazing you are and how you inspire people around the world...Have a great weekend walking in your woods with Sadie!

Gena in Dallas said...

I was thinking about this very thing earlier today before reading your blog. The question I raised to myself was at what point does "collecting" become hoarding.

whimsical mama said...

Thank you Bonnie for being so unconventional! I feel like there is so much pressure to support the local quilt shops and stashing and stashing ( I too am guilty of this!) This past year I have tried to use my scraps and buy as much as I use (although I kinnda failed lol) I cut myself some slack but I feel like I am getting better! I made scrappy trips aand now tumbling along. I feel like I can breathe!!

Nann said...

Amen, Bonnie.
Thank you for your thoughtful post.
I first became acquainted with you and Quiltville on the Stashbusters list. Despite the encouragement (and guilt-inducement) of that list I have managed to acquire an enormous stash. I think that this year I have reached an equilibrium (a little in, a LOT out).
Having to move or sort any collection is cause for reflection. I had to do that this spring when we had to have the basement/studio floors replaced. All my stash was boxed in the garage for a month. When I reshelved it I realized that, yes, I like it and, yes, it does help define me.
And sew we go on.

Anonymous said...

I read your post today with total understanding! I have a lot of material that could be made into quilts, but always seem to like the current fabric designs and use those. I probably should get moving on the older stuff, huh! You inspire me!
Nancy nepesons@myfairpoint.net

Kathy said...

Too much fabric, too little time. Finished a storm at sea quilt two days ago that I started in 1983. So much fabric, so many tops ready to quilt. I do feel overwhelmed with it all. Thanks for letting us know you have the same problems. I don't do all the traveling and teaching that you do but I still don't get it done. I am thinking I am spending too much time at the computer. Looking at what everyone else has finished. Hope to finish a table runner for Christmas today. Was intended for last Christmas. Enjoy your weekend. Kathy kwqilter@aol.com

Mary Ellen said...

There are quilting bloggers who keep and post a running tally each month of how much fabric comes in and goes out of their house. Something along the lines of:

In- 1.5 yds
Out - 3.75

The idea is to be consious of what they are buying vs. using in an effort to use up what they have. Maybe we need to do this, too.

Susan said...

I have been cutting scrap fabric into usable pieces for WEEKS!. I thought I was near the end, went around the table and found a whole laundry basket waiting for me. It gets depressing. I've actually been giving fabric away. I have three rooms full of it (not the whole room, just the perimeter). I do make a number of quilts during the year, but this is ridiculous. I can barely squeeze into my sewing room and I have regular avalanches, and walk on piles of fabric to get into the room. I'm trying hard to mend my ways, but it's so much easier to MAKE a mess than it is to clean one up.

Joanne Alburger said...

Still trying to sell 1860 stone home that has all the beds decorated with pretty quilts. Day job. Barn building on weekends with hubby and knitting hand cozies on 3+ hr ride to land. Hand quilting before I find my pillow.
Thanks again for inspirations and kick in butt to "Go Sew"
joannealburger@yahoo.com

Lilac Joan said...

Someone else said what I said just last night! I am going to sell my stash. But who would buy it? Have been in a rut all summer. Unfinished housework keeps me from sewing. And wanting to sew keeps me from housework. Wish I knew how to corral my 'grasshopper' mind. I need focus and I need it now! Now I am off to buy a beautiful green and white Goldsmith vintage sewing machine. There is no hope for me so I guess I will just enjoy what I do and not guilt myself!

Joan
iamlilac@gmail.com

Elaine said...

I came to the same conclusion this year so I emailed all my family and friends who are family and told them I wanted to make each of them who wanted one a quilt. Of the replies I got, I put them in a drawing and will draw 3 or 4 a year. They choose color and style and I take it from there. I don't want to die with a room full of fabric. I want to go with a world full of quilts. I have also limited my classes to lessen the ufo issue. We must have all had this quilting epiphany at the same time-maybe it's in the thread!

Beth Strand said...

I've been feeling the same way! I love my stash but I need to use it more. I tend to buy fabric for therapy when making a few blocks could be done in the same amount of time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Alice Zeman said...

I can identify totally with what you are going through. I average (piecing) about 20 quilts a year. The problem is I have been piecing for over 30 years and my "thing" has been "When the top is done, the quilt is done." Fortunately for me, my daughter and her BFF are professional quilters. When they first began longarming, they practiced on my quilts so made a substantial dent in my UFOs. Two years ago I began learning to longarm so this year is devoted to completing UFOs. But of course I did the GIMCO challenge and sneak in some piecing. To date I have finished 12 UFOs and have in the vicinity of 30 more to go.The only fabric I have been buying for the last two years is backing occasionally. So I guess what I am trying to say is using up stash is good but UFOs are the same as stash if not completed. Alice Zeman scrapdiva2531@gmail.com.

Kate said...

nope, not gonna jump in on this one. I love love my stash. No guilt. Love every single bin of it. I'm so proud every week when I empty the trash in my sewing room cause there's only very small slivers of fabric in there - everything else is used... One day when I retire, THEN I will enjoy sewing it all up !!!!

Sherry Hoffman said...

Great post. We all feel this way at one point or another. As an only child, I had the full responsibility of my parents estate clean-out (antique bric-a-brac collections) and that was when I fully realized what I could potentially be leaving for my sons to handle. If I keep buying, I'll never be able to use all of this yardage. I now really try to only buy what I need for a project, but I do fall into buying fat quarters when I visit a shop that is new to me. And it's not just the fabric. The supplies are so enticing.

Anonymous said...

Yep, you're right - we buy fabric with hopes & dreams. I can't count the number of "imaginary" quilts I've made in my life! Far greater number than the "actual" quilts. But I also know I need to have a huge array of colors & designs in my stash, or I couldn't begin to create. I've never been one to go out shopping just for a specific project. What's on my shelves has to speak to me instead. Remember as a kid opening up a box of 48 crayons and imagining all the possibilities? Wouldn't feel the same if someone handed you 3 crayons and said here, you have to create with just these. Same with fabric...don't give me a kit with a few fabrics someone else chose. Park me in front of a big stash instead, and stand back while the colors fly! If a big stash makes me happy while I'm alive, then so be it. No, I won't live long enough to sew it all. But someone will love it just as much for me after I'm gone, I have no doubt. And there are probably quilt stores in heaven, with vivid colors, where I can start over with unlimited credit.... :)

Hedy Hahn said...

I understand where you are exactly. I cleaned out my sewing room last fall and gave away about 22 quilt tops to Project Linus (some were finished quilts). Then I sorted all my fabric. I will go through my room again and redo it again this fall. My credit card bills came in this past week and I told dear husband that I would not buy anymore fabric unless it is absolutely needed for borders. I am like you in that I want to quilt and not shop. I have a friend who is a real hoarder and I don't want to be like her with my fabric. I also will be giving/selling some of my fabric. I stopped buying sewing machines finally and will be giving 2 away soon. Just wanted you to know you are not alone !

Anonymous said...

I don't have a basement full of fabric like you do, Bonnie, but I do have two walk-in closets in my apartment and one of them is stacked floor-to-ceiling with storage cabinets full of fabric and batting. I'm 79 years old and just hope that I have enough time left to use up at least most of the fabric I have in my stash! I stopped at a quilt shop just this week and bought 4 yards of fabric so I could make myself a "seaside" themed quilt. My daughter stood at my side, slowly and sadly shaking her head and trying to understand why on earth I needed to buy more fabric. ;) I do make and donate many quilts each year for the local quilt guild I belong to though and a lot of the fabric in that closet is fabric that belongs to the guild for those quilts. Keeping you in my daily prayers for a resolution of the eye problems you've been having. (Barb Wood, Baytown, TX - barbw0308@msn.com)

Jacki Cohoon said...

My stash is enough to fill maybe 4 of your white cabinets... but to tame the monster, my stash building rules have been simple as of late: With the exception of specific yardage for a consistent background fabric, I NEVER pay more than 1/2 price, which eliminates a lot of impulse stash building. I still add to the stash to keep the stash from dwindling too but I shop only the clearance areas. I will continue to concentrate on scrappy quilts until my stash is more yardage then "part"age.

I send my love, and prayers, to you Bonnie in your quest for balance in your life. However you do it and whatever changes you make, know that you long ago caused a turning point in my life and I will be forever grateful.

Jacki, AZ
jax2127@msn.com

Cheryl Hammond said...

I think we can all relate to your dilemma. Sometimes when we cannot make time for quilting, buying fabric or a pattern can fill the gap. I had a 20-foot studio along with a 12-foot room off my studio bursting with fabric. When my husband retired early, and we made the plans to move, I started selling what fabric I could, giving away fabric to charities, and shipping boxes to friends willing to pay the shipping. I only kept the fabrics I loves, I went on a fabric diet where I bought no fabric for the past 1-1/2 years, and I've been sewing up a storm with what I have. Best decision ever!!!

Rhonda Newton said...

I've been having a similar conversation with my mother. She loves to sew but hasn't spent much time in her sewing room unless she has a deadline. I've suggested she block out an hour or so a day to sew. Looking at my own stash, I'm hoping she can make a dent in hers.

I have a quilting retreat with friends next weekend. I think I need to just set my machine up on the dining room table when I get home and start piecing a bit everyday (I also need to be okay with just making tops for the time being). I lost my sewing space to my computer when I went back to school 4 years ago. Now that I'm not working, so that I can focus on my dissertation proposal - about quilting teachers, btw - I need to also take some time to quilt!

QuiltinLibraryLady said...

I have more than enough fabric myself, but I sure would like to go shopping in your stash!! Showed the pictures to the hubby who thinks I have way too much fabric. Now he realizes I'm small potatoes!! You have lots of fabric, yes, but you make lots of quilts so don't worry about not being able to call yourself a quilter...no worries there.

Diane in Delaware said...

Hey Bonnie! I can help!!! Just fill a box with whatever fabric you like LEAST and send it to me!!! At least you will have more space to fill up when you "just can't resist" :)

I'll gladly send you a mailing address....

Genise said...

While my stash is certainly taking over my sewing room, especially as I inherited my mother’s stash after her death and she’d been sewing for over 50 years, stash is not the only problem. I was pulling out stash to start another scrappy quilt, when I ran across an old UFO that I’d forgotten about. I started to look around my sewing room and decided I needed to pull out all the UFOs and make a list. It was so daunting! I have over thirty tops alone. That doesn’t even begin to count the starts that are partially finished tops, or only blocks. No wonder my quilting has slowly been creeping out of the sewing room into other closets. I’ve decided that before I concentrate on reducing my stash, I need to finish some of these projects. So my stash will have to wait, except to make backs :-) Hoping to kill two birds with one stone.

Deb said...

I came to this realization about a year ago. The only thing I have allowed myself to buy is neutrals. I seem to use them faster, hmmm, wonder why? I have embraced your system and have used about 80 yards so far this year in completed quilts. I now find myself short on fabrics for border and I love me some non-pieced borders. I have promised myself nothing new until after the first of the year so pieced borders it is.
I had a health scare earlier this year and certainly would not want to have my family deal with all of this. I have culled my collection, donated some and sold some. Everything else is on a list as to what I want done with it.
Ooops, on here too long, let's get back to sewing!

Anonymous said...

I committed to stop buying fabric for me last year and to get more organized with what I have on hand...your system has inspired me, albeit slowly. I am collecting neutrals though from freebes, etc, as I didn't understand their benefit and use until I started following your blog. I am in love with how you use neutrals. Can you tell me where you got those gorgeous white cupboards for your fabric? I admire how you and your energy level. I agree, we need to sew more! Anne

celkalee said...

YES!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to give you my email, famarsaw@aol.com Anne

Sarah Craig said...

I have to say I started drooling when I saw that wonderful wall of sewing machines - a definite lure for me. I love old machines and have six vintage machines. I have a fabric stash too, but found a purpose for much of my beautiful fabrics over the past two years while my daughter was raising funds to adopt our 3-yr old Chinese grandson Nathanael. I made about fifteen quilts for her to auction, raffle and sell to raise funds, making a serious dent in my stash - but there is still plenty there to keep me happy and occupied!

Houseful10 said...

Feelling very out of the loop as I have less than 15 yards of fabric in my stash. (Even though
I have been sewing for 10 years). Just not there yet, guess I have something to strive for. Lol

Kathy Biggs said...


Wow, now that's a stash! :-) But as a designer, Bonnie, you really need to be able to just reach up and grab the "right" color at a moments notice. In comparison to what you have, I don't even have a stash. However, if I had the room....yep, it would be full. The only time I just purchase fabric because it's there and I can, is at a big sales or on special trips (eg. shop hops)and that is a rare occurrence. And even then, I only purchase a few pieces. Too frugal, I guess. My fabric purchases are 99% of the time for specific projects. I honestly don't have any room for storage. But that doesn't mean I don't love fabric! I pet it, dream about what it can become, and try not to drool on it too much... LOL
Right now I am working on a twin bed quilt for one of my granddaughters, then it's on to 3 more for her brothers. I will be a sewing fool for the next few weeks. And anything left over (which isn't going to be much) will go into the stash, or the "string" bags.
Thanks for all the inspiration you bestow upon us, and keeping us on our toes!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I loved this post, Bonnie. Especially your point that buying fabric doesn't make you a quilter -- it's making quilts makes you a quilter! So often, in many areas of our lives, we seem to think that we can buy a lifestyle. But we really can't. We have to actually live and do it.

My stash is way, way smaller than yours. But I've been reassessing it lately because I have more fabric than storage space. After my husband died, I went on a fabric diet for many years because of my reduced income. A few years ago I began to buy things again. Then a couple of quilt shops went out of business and I bought lots of fabric at drastically reduced prices. Suddenly, I was up to my eyebrows in fabric but with no increase in my rate of quilt making. Suddenly I realized that I'm now 63. Would I be able to use all my fabric before I die? I recently attended a stash sale put on my the husband of a quilter who had passed away. Would my kids be putting my stash on the curb someday for the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul? How much nicer for them to have a stack of quilts instead.

I think it's time to go on a fabric diet again.

(Though I have told my kids that if there's any fabric left when I die, all they have to do is to call the local quilt guild and it will disappear like magic!)

Anonymous said...

I can certainly relate to your situation. I think my problem was placing everything in bins or tubs. I had tubs for projects, but I also placed fabric that I thought would blend for the "someday" project that never came. I have spent three weekends going through fabric, scraps, precuts and fat quarters re-organizing everything. I just couldn't believe I had accumulated this much over time. I went to the comic book store and bought the acid-free cards (I filled up a frequent customer punch card as I bought pack number 7 of 100 cards each and the clerk said man, you must have a lot of fabric), and I placed everything that wasn't designated for a project and was a half-yard or larger on the cards. Now, I can see what I have and I am shopping in my basement, not the stores. I will only hit the stores if I need something to complete one of the projects I am working on. We recently had to go through my elderly mother's things to reorganize her house after an illness and I kept thinking I don't want my kid to have to do this for me. I do charity quilts along with my projects for friends and family and I am determined to start being more productive and use what I have.

Betty said...

I have cut back some on buying for stash. But I still have a hard time passing up on a "bargain". I need to remind myself of what my Home Ec teacher used to say "It's not a bargain if you don't need it". What is really overwhelming me right now is the bags of donated scraps that I can't say no to. Once others find out that I volunteer for Project Linus, they want to give me their leftovers and I appreciate them so much. I am currently working through a large donation that will be shared with others in the group. Once those are distributed to others, I hope to be able to better organize my personal stash.

Linda P said...

I truly understand about your fabric stash. I have as much , or more in my sewing room. To my defense I was cooped up in a small room and had put fabric in blue plastic totes to store. It is very easy to forget what you have and buy more when you can't see it! Now I have a large sewing room and cabinets to house my out of control stash. My quilter girlfriends spent several weeks organizing for me and now I can't believe how much I have! It really is embarrassing, but the girls call me if they need a special fabric...I usually have it. So I am helping my friends out too. I do need more time to sew, I have so many ideas and plans for quilts. My brain comes up with ideas so much faster than I can get them done!! I also love Featherweights, they are wonderful to work with and interesting to collect too... I have about a dozen of those too? I have a large collection of books and patterns as well, I want to make them all. So little time!

Lori said...

Well said and I agree with your points. I don't judge those who outsource to their LAQ but I feel the same way about the quilting. I don't seek to be a top maker. I want to be a quilter so I try my best to improve my quilting skills as I finish my own tops.

AnnaMarie Hand said...

Bonnie,
There is a lot of wisdom in your post. I still have some row by row kits from last year that I have not finished and some kits I ordered I don't know how long ago. Plus all of the fabric that I have bought I should have enough to last me the rest of my life. Thank you for your blog and all of your hard work.
Anna Marie
amhand09@frontier.com

ajsgramie said...

WOW - my dozen totes of fabric don't seem so bad anymore. I also have 3 totes of scraps which I'm trying to use first. At first I was using no new purchase unless it was to finish something but now it just has to be no new shopping period. If I sew everyday for the next year I will not use this all up. With your teaching schedule you will still have a huge stash at the age of 100. I also cut back on my machines. I'm down to 3. I'm giving up my featherweight as I find I only use it to wind bobbins for my handcrank. So I will keep my spartan hand crank, my singer treadle and my Viking D1.

Glad you were able to get it all put away.
Have a great weekend at Quiltvilla
Sue
Upstate NY

carol davis said...

You are so right to say the fabric we buy is a piece of us, representing dreams and thoughts we have. I love that thought. Time to turn dreams into reality for me!
Carol @ carol@desertbloomphotography.com

Pam in KC said...

July is going to end in yard work - a full week which is supposed to be my vacation. In the meantime it's yardwork after dinner. We are clearing the yard of the 'jungle'. My husband has been going after it for a couple of months already. I am trying my best to sit and stitch for at least 15 minutes to continue moving my quilting projects forward. As for stash building, we've been down to one income + occasional substitute pay for so long, all I buy now are the absolute essentials to finish a quilt. That's not to say my stash isn't growing. A few months ago I was given 2 boxes of "scraps" which included some yardage and by weight I figure I added well over 100 yards to the stash.

Cathy Steiner said...

Bonnie, you've shown us your stash over the years and I could have sworn it would have gone DOWN!!! The amount of quilts you do a year is beyond me so for sure I'd have thought it would go ....oh wait...I do remember some posts about "don't feed the quilter". Oh no.


We do love your stash though. Probably just as much. Are you kidding? Those winter time mystery lessons with all those wonderful fabrics splashed upon my screen. Love love love.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! It looks so much like my stash! OK maybe yours is bit bigger lol! BUT, the same industrial restaurant shelving, the same plastic shoe boxes, the vintage sewing machine collection all mirror my own. I've been organizing mine lately too. I want to be able to actually see what I have! The rule is to shop the stash first before buying more.

Christy

Melody Lutz said...

I am soooo envious of your neutrals. Going through my own stash-I realized that the neutrals are almost non existent! Why can't I shop for neutrals? Color needs to sit on something. So with that - I am going to shop (ok...reality check) buy some in your honor!

JeannieC said...

You are so eloquent.. Your words really spoke volumnes. I agree that when I look at my stash I get discouraged because I am afraid I wont get to finish all my projects or get to the wonderful quilt patterns that I want to do... Also I get down because I feel bad that I spent all that money when I already have so much... But... Fabric, sewing and quilting gives me such joy... I love seeing people's faces when I give them a quilt or have sewn something for them just because... I like the end result... I just wish I could get more done and faster! But it is so wonderful to see you put down in words how I have felt...I always enjoy reading your blog and seeing where you are going and I share in your quiet time at the cabin...Thank you

Susan In Texas said...

JeannieC is right, this was a very heartfelt, eloquent post. I totally agree with everything you said, though sometimes I like to see other people's incredible stashes because their organization is so fantastic.

My husband and I are on a clutter diet. We started "Six on Sunday" on my blog, where every Sunday we each select 6 items to pitch, donate or sell. It has been very liberating. My master closet thanks me. lol Of course, my sewing room will be last on the list to go on the "diet", and I just went on yet another batik buying binge for my Dear Jane. I now have enough batiks for three or four batik DJs. I noticed you have filled up your terrific shelving for your sewing machines. Maybe it's time to start finding new homes for one or two of your least favorites. We used to buy lots of art; now our walls are full. Now we only buy a piece of artwork if we love it much more than something we already have. Just my two cents.

Good luck with the new book. Writing is hard! Thanks for everything you do.

Penny said...

I just read your blog post about your stash and I honestly felt as if you and I were having a "heart to heart" about our stashes i.e. ~ too much fabric! I refer to my stash as my collection! You have just reinforced my thoughts I need to go back on my fabric diet and just shop my stash & sew & quilt!
Although it wasn't what you truly wanted to do I truly admire how productive you've been while at home this month. I am eager to see the show and for your book to be published and available for purchase!!

Sari said...

My stashing the stash was curbed when my husband looked at it and sighed, "you know when we're gone, the kids will just sell it all for pennies. . .". The thought of that is horrifying, so I need to make those quilts running through my head sooner rather than later!

Emily Johnson said...

Wow. A lot of us on the same page regarding our respective stashes ! After reading Bonnie's thoughts and all the comments, i have tightened my resolve about using what i have. I must stay away from the shops, as i am easily seduced by the lovlies calling to me from the bolts !! In the past month i have begun to "kit up" quilts i want to make. Using those wondrous clear plastic shoe boxes, i put the pattern into the box and then taking as much as i possibly can from fabric i own, i add to the respective boxes until it looks like there is enough to do that quilt. At some point, i sit down with box, pattern and fabric and do the math to check on yardage and if i feel the colours are working to my satisfaction. So far i have SEVEN boxes ready to go. Three are Bonnie quilts, one is a 26 block collection i won at our guild, one is a applique/pieced combo, one is for a donation quilt...and - um. I cant remeber the other one. Ahem. I have no idea how long it willtake me to complete these 7 quilts but they are ALL quilts i really want to do. I did purchase small amounts of fabric for a couple, but total cant be more than 3 meters. With that much focus lined up on ,y sewing room floor, i am hoping to start using my stash!!

Debbie W said...

Love the fabric organization on the SS carts. I too have a SS cart, but my fabric exploded into other bins, onto other selves in my sewing room closet and into the storage room! NOW, this year my New Years slogan is: Get REAL with your life! Yes, I too have gone on a fabric diet and I must say, it is FUN shopping at home. Thus far two tops have been finished; one small quilt done, and two more ready for quilting! And I am doing the Leader and Enders tumbler challenge and doing EPP from lovely scraps. Bonnie, thanks for all that you do for the Quilting Community!

Rebecca Davidson said...

Bonnie, You must be reading my mind. I've been doing a bit of reorganization of my stash and it is overwhelming me right now. The sewing room is so bad i can't even sit down to sew. I know it will get better, but can't even post a pic until I do a bit more work. Thank you for the inspiration.

Tammy Stack said...

I can. Never seem to get things finished. If I want to justify my stash to others I need to get on the ball! I'm in! Let's get sewing!

Jan said...

I am also on a fabric diet . So liberating to not buy and sew up what you have

Anonymous said...

This summer has found me with very little employment which of course means very little spending money. It is a wonderful thing for me to go to my stash and put together fabrics for a project. It is there when I need it, which is now!
Have a wonderful time at the cabin, dream up wonderful new quilts to use some of that stash!
meg in mich
emeggke@sbcglobal.net

Anonymous said...

One year I lost 52 pounds and even though I was trying hard not to, I bought 100 yards of fabric. The following year I only bought 8 yards of fabric for the whole year but I gained almost all the weight back. Sometimes ...

When my garage flooded recently fabric I had stored in cardboard boxes got wet and had to be washed, ironed enough to be folded, and put away. Even one bankers box holds A LOT of fabric and it wasn't just one box. I really wish I had bought plastic boxes, even one box per month. It would have been cheaper in the long run but I hadn't planned on storing the fabric for long. I thought I would have it all made up into finished quilts in only a few months. I truly did!!

It's amazing how long I've had some of it, being saved for a "special project" that I can't even remember. I found two pieces big enough for backings. Shopping my stash saved me enough money to pay for renting two days on a long arm machine.

The relief from using up that much fabric and finishing two UFO's... priceless.

Lu Anne

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, go sew.

It'll clear your mind and then you'll be able to write.

Sue's Stitchin' said...

I don't have the fabric stash or machines that you do, what I do have in excess are boxes and bins of projects started. I retired 2 years ago and thought I would catch up, but all I did was start more thinking I had more time. So there is no catching up - just more UFO's. I have a quilting business, so my excuse is that i spend more time working on projects for others rather than my own. I need to pick one day each week and work on my own stuff. What a treat that would be :)

Sue SA said...

Ha, ha, you have as many comments as you would if you were having a give away! Seriously though I was at the same point you were a few years ago. Although I have one machine and had a much smaller stash I decided that I needed to stop buying and start some serious sewing. So I did. I still buy fabric, but for a few years tried to just buy borders and backings, unless I really loved something and had a specific project in mind. But the biggest dent in my stash has happened because of you! I cut up all my lest loved fat quarters and made a Scrappy Trips which was sent someone burnt out in bushfires. Then I made a Scrappy Bargello and sent it to someone who was flooded out. I have since made another Scrappy Bargello, which I sewing down the binding and about to give to a family member. I have made oodles of kids quilts (my novelty collection was the biggest) and given them away to friends, family and charity. I haven't worked for nearly seven months, so my stash is now down quite low. I am running out of selection...but that's OK, cos my Mum has just woken up to the fact she has too much fabric, so I am going to start shopping in her stash to help her out! Thanks for the great free patterns - because you have really helped me bust my stash! Oh and the charity group I was with (before we moved interstate), the machines we used were all rescued from kerbside pick ups or donated. So food for thought, re your lovely machine collection - you could donate them to a group, or you could auction them online (or at a quilt show) for a good cause. I am sure lots of people would pay good money to own one of your machines.

Bees Knees Granny said...

It's true: fabric won't love you back. Also truE: "rescued" sewing machines can rescue women! In many countries women have little hope of providing for their families if their husband dies or divorces them. A vintage machine can be a lifeline for them and their children. Salvatorians ship machines and fabric to desperate people all over the world. By lifting their burdens with our donations we lighten our own burden of overabundance. Lighten up and live!

Shawna said...

Very insightful and soooooo true. With all thr summer holidays sales, lately, I've been going a touch over board buying fabric for my ideas and patterns that have caught my interest. I already started just deleting my fabric and yarns promotional emails without looking and staying away from quilt store this month. Trying to focus on the BOMs I'm behind on and making final decisions for fall birthdays and christmas. I will have to show hubby your stash, mine not quite that much,lol, but I know exactly what you mean when you see pretty fabric and all the ideas with it, feel i just gotta have.

Kim said...

Yep me too let's all go on a fabric diet and use up what we have :0)
Of course I just got home from the fabric store :0(......but I had to go pick up my
machine so I had to check out the sales.........and you know the rest of the story!

Happy Sewing

Heather said...

I recently put myself on a fabric diet and it is so hard. I have a great stash which I do use but I love going into the fabric store to see all the new things. And once I am there my willpower is nil! Lately I have been laughing at my need to use all the tiny scraps when I have yards and yards of fabrics staring me in the face. And I started using some of the special fabrics I have been hoarding, so freeing and after all I did buy it for me to play with rather than someone else once I am gone!

Mary Ann said...

My lovely daughter bought us both a trip to the UK this fall, so I put myself on a fabric diet so I will have more money when I get there. I will buy backing, as most of my stash are pieces less than 1/2 yard and batting (when I can't piece one large enough)So far this summer, I am doing the Turning Twenty BOM with all stash and the Craftsy summer BOM with buying only the background (navy) and the multicolor print. It is fun to dig thru the stash and find the just right color to go. Besides, I will de-stash again when I do your next mystery, my third.

Jennifer said...

I inherited a stash similar to yours a few years ago - filled my minivan twice and my mom's expedition back end once! It took me close to a year just to organize it all, and I have been working to use it over the last few years. Two things have really helped - 1) Stash reporting - writing down what I purchase/am given vs what I use - it was eye opening and really helps me focus on using what I have and 2) Stop going to the quilt shop sales - this one is harder and not nearly as much fun, but I have found I don't buy if I don't go, so I try to stay out of the stores as much as possible. I also spent some time this year going through stash and cutting fat quarters to donate to my guild for our annual quilt show - lots of pretty fabrics, but just not ones I will likely use, and now someone else will get the joy from them. Now, I just need to work on quilting some of those finished tops....

Hope FL said...

I put myself on fabric diet about 3 months ago. I had finally got my Billy cabinets from IKEA and they are half full after emptying my storage boxes. I get started on a project and another project has to come first. Big problem for me is when a new pattern is published I buy the pattern and guess what, you got it I purchase fabric to make the quilt...so how do I stop that? I purchase one of Bonnie's books and have to get fabric, but most of the time I can use scraps for her books...yea good reason to buy her books!
I Had shot in my shoulder for severe arthritis to get inflammation down so sewing has been grounded for at least a week, so no fabric purchases for now.

Carol Hodges said...

If only I could quilt as fast as I can shop...

Maree St Clair said...

I have recently had the sad task of packing up my mums home. Mum, my stepfather and my brother were murdered in October last year by a neighbour.
Mum wasn't a quilter although always said 'when I've got the garden sorted I'd like to give that a try' mum was ALWAYS in the garden she loved it.
Mum loves quilts made by her family though and she collected lots of things! Lots of things!
It was hard to part with her treasures! Fortunately we have a large family and most of the are now safe! She would love that!
My regret is that I had fabric set aside to make her a quilt or two.....now they stare at me as a lost opportunity! I have sorted them back into the stash and have pulled a new assortment to make an applique quilt in her honour called 'Mary Elizabeth'.
When I came home from that task I looked at my extensive collection of fabric and felt overwhelmed.....so many quilts in potential...,have to get cracking......life holds no guarantees that the people you want to make a quilt for will be there when you have the time to make it!
Love to all us crazy quilt fabric collectors and may we be crazy quilt makers!!
Maree St Clair
Australia

Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen said...

I don't have near the stash you do but I've been stash busting quite a bit between prepping for the retreat with you and Jo and Kelli and making samples for a book I'm working on. As I'm going thru the stash I had some of the same thoughts. Let's do it!!!!

cityquilter grace said...

the problem isn't stash....it's the age old problem of time....time is finite...it's deciding how to spend it to get the most reward from it....

marci357 said...

Finding a home for some of the stash is helping... making dog blankets and bed pads for the local animal shelter.... ugly stuff is being used for the stuffing. Good stuff is going to the local quilt center and we make comfort quilts. So I feel good about letting go of it. And I just took an old treadle machine off the cabinet and am shipping it off for parts, and replacing it with a new janome treadle - so at least I downsized by one machine, tho not by the cabinet :) Having a home for stuff helps :)

Shari said...

Periodically I go through my stash and donate fabric to a group that makes charity quilts.

Cathy Tomm said...

Yes I have tons of fabric and I love it all. I really do not need to shop any more except maybe some backing, batting and thread to finish tops. I have been piecing backing lots too. I did a good deed this week and I shared about 20 fabrics with a new quilter. This friend is planning an applique quilt and wanted lots of different bits so I shared all kinds of 6 by 8 or smaller scrappy bits. She left so happy.

Anonymous said...

July's not over! There are two whole weeks left!

Mabel McKee; said...

Yesterday I told my friend that my 23 (or more) file boxes full of fabric was enough and I was not going to buy any more until I have substantially whittled my stash to more manageable proportions. Today I went with her to a quilt shop about 65 miles away, and -- you guessed it!! I bought more fabric. It was the last 2-2/3 yd of a pattern that I am using in the current mystery quilt in Quiltmaker magazine, and since I want to make it larger than planned, I don't want to run out of this fabric.

Barb Bachmann said...

I went to a 92 yr old gentlman's home to look at his recently deceased wifes fabric stash. The husband's brother is helping organize and get rid of it. Well one bedroom was practically floor toceiling plastic bins of fabric, they think there are at least 100 bins. The sister-in-law said "she wasn't a quilter, she was a hoarder". What kind of legacy are we leaving our loved ones? This poor little old man is beside himself with grief from the loss of his wife, and now he has to try and get rid of her lifetime of fabric.
Do you have a "Will" or "Advanced Directive" for your fabric, patterns, thread, etc stash?
It is so hard to let go of our "stuff", so I am going to make an effort to: 1. Avoid buying more fabric....... And
2. use it up by making Project Linus quilts and donating them.

khowardquilts said...

I don't have a big stash, but I still have more than I will probably ever use. I haven't made many quilts once I finished making quilts for family members. Now it is mainly baby quilts for church. Half a grocery bag from a friend ended up being about 15 yards a few years ago. I normally only buy what I am lacking for a quilt I am making. I have received many gifts of fabric over the years. I think I need to concentrate on scrap quilts more, because you don't need to buy just the right color for those. Bonnie, maybe you need to have some local workshops and part of what the participants get besides handouts is a bit of fabric from your stash ( fq or half yard). You could have a selection of fabrics that you aren't loving so much any more, but someone else would think it is special to have something from your stash. Sometime I have gotten fabric that has been donated to our local thrift shop. For people who want to sew, but don't have much money for stash, thrift shops and yards sales are a great resource. I challenge all of you that have way too much fabric to donate some to a beginning sewer, thrift shop, or another charity group.

DebBees said...

Here is a blog that talks about shopping from your stash and a lot of good info on storage and what to keep. Love this site.
http://kimberlysquilting.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Sometimes shopping takes the place of quilting when we don't have the time to sit down and actually cut or sew the pieces, but we can pick up a few fabrics that we really like. We can figure out how we'd like to use that fabric even if we don't have time to actually do it right then - kind of visualizing our quilting?
Sharon brewersd@juno.com

spacer said...

I am in the process of moving which means I had to pack my entire stash (except what I donated to one of my local guilds). It was a real wake-up call. I've sworn off shopping for fabric (or patterns) for a long time.

quiltinspace@yahoo.com

Sharon J. Hughson said...

Hi Bonnie, do you realize you have some space left on the fat quarter shoe box shelves? Mine are pretty full. LOL You have me outdone with machines however. LOL Kiddo i go through periods of remorse about my quilting 'stuff' also. Then I just start sewing. Is the change in book publishers what is causing you so much anxt? Sew something, but by now you are at your lovely cabin and sewing away.
Sharon in NJ
sjhughson@gmail.com

Mechelle said...

I'm sure a weekend at the cabin will take away some of the guilt! And remember you are an artist, a painter can mix any color paint he needs - a quilter needs LOTS of fabrics in LOTS of different colors & shades to get the look he/she is after. Enjoy the cooler weather! Mechelle in hot Florida

Trish said...

I'm taming my stash this summer, too. We have a small house and it is overtaking the guest room to where we can't have any guests without having to move boxes and boxes and more boxes from that room into another. No more! It feels good to get it done and to get all those scraps cut so I can USE them instead of just look at them and feel overwhelmed. Thanks for your honest insights.

Kathy said...

Quilting is my plan for this summer. We're thinking about down-sizing and I have a serious stash "problem". I'll eventually need to buy an
d use whatever I need for one project at a time. Now that's work!

Becca said...

I've been on a fabric diet all year. It hasn't been easy but it needed to be done. Several people have joined the #sewmystash2015 movement. Do I still buy fabric? Yes, because I rarely buy enough fabric for a quilt backing until the top is done. Do I buy any fabric without a purpose? No. It has been going great all year. I've been making quilts and blocks and bags and participating in swaps and having just as much fun as any other time. I just don't spend money I don't need to on fabric that will sit around. Like you, I want to be remembered for the quilts I leave behind, not the fabric I leave behind.

sarah said...

I am sorry. I do not know what you are feeling and won't ask. I do know you are feeling ... something and it isn't joy. So, I will share my feeling that isn't joy. I had planned to retire with enough books, equipment and all materials necessary to work with without having to purchase anything for several years. Have done this since I discharged from the US Army. I have 2 sewing machines and one serger, in great condition. I am a seamstress first and a quilter by thrift. Meaning I bought yardage, made PJs, nightgowns, shirts, blouses and skirts in mass. On sale fabric at whatever was on the bolt on the clearance table (yep, some 20 yard bolts) went home with me. Mom provided liquids, son provided sandwiches, dad got the doughnuts and candy. Any weekend I wasn't at my second or third job was spent sewing 5 sets of something. I had a schedule. Men's PJ/robes, short for summer and long for winter, cut as many sets as the singular fabric pick allowed. Same with every other item. Different patterns but multiples. A lot of weekends. Mixed scraps were used for quilts, coasters, pillows, etc. There were other 'hobbies' of cross-stitch, crochet, knitting (even have a knitting machine) and Army organizational skills. You can do that when you live 2 decades in one house. You can control your stash by sewing 20 hours most weekends. I was trying to achieve super single mom status. I failed except for the sewing and other hobbies as my family was able to save money and my income went further. I would always have yardage and I do now, anywhere from 20 different colors and patterns of 20 yards each and twice as many 6-7 yards down to 1 yard. I would be fine for retirement. Not.

I forgot to consider illness. I assumed I would probably die of exhaustion, rather like the generations before that retired, came home, sat down and died within 5 years of the date they found the 'retirement chair'. Not.

I was 48yo when chronic crippling diagnoses began crawling over my body destroy physical capabilities. I left the hospital and found a job that wasn't so demanding of my hands and feet and legs, etc. I was on my own by then. Child an adult, parents no longer needing anything as I couldn't provide.

Everyday I went home, crawled under heating pads, adjusted all the bracing as best I could and waited.... for who knows what. There was more to come, much more.

At 50 years of age I was given my longevity card and was on SSDI in 5 months. Yep, no fighting for it, just the first check in the mail. There is very little research and no treatment and have managed to still be here 6 years later. My life expectancy was dwindling along with my eye sight, mobility and 'work' became managing to get to bed and wake up the next morning. But I had my books, my embroidery thread, yardage, patterns and my rescue/emotional support companion of 9 lb poodle and tomorrow ... if I could just wake up tomorrow morning. I had followed my company to a new state and I am blessed to belong to a church that is there for me no matter where I live.

I have managed to downsize giving more than a hundred cookbooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, patterns but not supplies. I kept the cream of the crop.... my favs. My church has provided the support in any area I have needed and I have needed a lot so, I have provided the Relief Society President with all the downsizing so that those who want but cannot afford will have new choices.

I am grateful I always had control of my actual supplies and now the ability to replace books with ebooks, movies with hulu and Netflix, a church who supports living instead of just breathing and I am grateful for you, Bonnie, you have a take-no-prisoners approach to life and you do well at it. You are honest to the bone in your own life and encourage others to do the same, even if they only think they are scraping.

I salute you, Bonnie Hunter, admire you and pray for all your endeavors to be fruitful, joyous and truly happy.

Linda Wolfe magnalenedreams@gmail.com

Leah Day said...

I was actually thinking the exact same thing this week Bonnie! Why do I need more fabric, yarn, paint, or beads? I'd rather be using these wonderful materials than shopping for more.

I shared a quote from your post in a post of my own on this topic. You can find it here: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2015/07/stop-hoarding-start-creating.html

Anonymous said...

Many times shopping for fabric has nothing to do with the fabric but the entertainment or friendship. A friend and I just did a day quilt shop hopping. We stopped for lunch, laughed and chatted. Yes we added to our fabric stash.
I am currently working on projects for the fall fair competitions in our area. I also have gifted fabric.This year I am doing the small lap and wheel chair quilts that will be donated to local nursing homes. I am also going to use some fabric up making place mates for meals on wheels, thus using some fabric that is perfectly fine, just not what I want to use in my treasured quilts. These place mats bring joy to shut ins.
I will then get back to some quilts that have the blocks ready to assemble. I enjoy the journey. I enjoy the challenge of making something use full out of pieces of fabric.
I would feel guilty if my fabric diet put people out of work. I don't buy much, just enough to keep the guilt at bay.
You are an amazing person Bonnie. So talented and so honest. Your words give us all something to think about as our days move forward at break neck speed. I also am sorting and making decisions on what to keep what to donate after my Mom passed last October. I don't want to leave things packed in boxes for my kids to have to deal with. I'm sure it will take me most of the next year to get my house organized how I want it. My sewing, in between sorting, will help to keep me sane, cheaper than a therapist.
You will feel so good to have the binding completed this weekend.
Stay cool. We are also experiencing a very hot few days in Ontario, Canada.
Elaine bearzbeemine@hotmail.com

Elizabeth said...

Oh boy, I can surely relate to this even though I have but a fraction of what you have there. In fact I just told my daughter about a new fabric shop I'd heard about not too far from her and the only response I got was .. NO. MORE. FABRIC! .. lol I told myself this same thing earlier this month. No more until I really make an effort to design and use up some of what's already here, or at the very least, make up the projects that I had already purchased all of the supplies for and just never gotten to.

Dar said...

Bonnie, I was tickled to see this post from you. I came to this same rationale sometime late last year and took a pledge to NOT BUY any fabric this year. To use what I have to finish up my many, many UFOs that I've started over the years. I'll have to say, so far it is working. I have not purchased any new fabric so far this year. I am slowly finishing up some very old UFOs too.(I have over 75) My backings are normally pieced, which takes more time and when I'm in a hurry or if it was a gift quilt, I would run out and buy a wide back. Not doing that this year!! My fabric is not exactly flying off the shelves yet, but I feel good about the challenge of making do with my old stuff and using it up. Hopefully I can keep this up the rest of the year. I also was not starting any new quilts -- but that will change in September when a certain lady is coming to town and tempting me to start a new project. Also, I have an enabler telling me I'm not normal unless I start a new one to mark the occasion of your visit!! Can't wait to see you and start a new project. Must get busy and finish up some of your other patterns!!

leanne said...

wow - all those sewing machines - awesome !! do they all work ? as you say though you only need one machine to sew LOL ! but seriously I'm amazed that you actually find any time to sew, you always seem to be travelling so that's probably why your stash doesn't seem to get smaller and if you make quilts using scraps then that's not helping either - good luck with finding the time to sew more and use that fabulous stash - love your work :)

khowardquilts said...

I came across this video and thought of those who find themselves needing to destash for what ever reason.

khowardquilts said...

I forgot the link!
http://wpt.org/SewingWithNancy/Video/nancys-corner-carole-splater-charity-sharity

Vivian said...

Bonnie, you at least have a few advantages over the rest of us: No one can ever accuse you of hoarding fabric -- they only need to look at all the many quilts you have made (I even see a few peeking out from on top of your cabinets in the picture!) then they will nod their heads sympathetically and with admiration of the stash! You are also very good about using up "the old stuff" -- I always delight when you point out the "dinosaurs" in your latest work-in-progress. Finally as a quilting teacher, book author and magazine columnist, at least some of your stash (as well as your basement work and storage space) must be tax deductible!!

It's funny, having come to quilting from sewing clothes, I knew the danger of buying "the dream" and vowed to only buy for the projects I really wanted to make. Well, of course all these years later I now know that the lure of buying for specific projects is as dangerous as general stashing!! So let's all take a vow: the new mantra is NOT "She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins" BUT "She Who Dies With The LEAST Wins"! And yes, that includes the scraps!!

Pat O said...

Took me a while to respond, because I was out BUYING FABRIC! ***sigh*** You are so right, Bonnie. I sat and stared at some very pretty 5" periwinkle blocks that have been around since American Online days, and said, "What to do with you?" I bought some aqua/turquoise fabric to add to the mix. Now, I'm SURE I have some aqua/turquoise fabric right here at home that would have fit the bill! I've been sewing since I was 7 years old, and quilting for at least 30 of those 58 years "pedal to the metal." But, you're right... I'm an addict. I need to be a QUILTER! Thanks for the push! :-)