Aug 2, 2015

you know you have too much fabric when.....

My favorite fun fact from the big quilt industry survey is this: The average American quilter has $6,000 worth of fabric in her stash! I always thought that was amusing and interesting, but certainly did not apply to me.

Well, as some of you know, I recently remodeled my studio. Which was great. And in the process I unpacked ALL of the fabric that has been stored in one closet or another for years, some of its been there for 10 years or more! I emptied every single closet shelf. "Discovering" how much fabric I actually have was not so great. The pretty fabric you see in the red shelves, all folded so lovingly... this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here's the rest of the story...

Recently, I started working on a new art quilt. Its a large red cardinal applique on black wool. As I started working on it (this was BEFORE my new studio, by the way) I stood in my closet and could not find any red fabric that I liked. So, of course, I drove to the quilt store and bought several new fat quarters. And this scenario has surely been repeated hundreds of times over the last decade. I think you know exactly what I mean, right?

As I bought new fabric, I put it in the closet and I shoved the old fabric to the back. Pretty soon, it was a big unorganized mess. But I kept buying more. And now that I have it all out where I can actually see it, I realize that that $6,000 stat is way more true that I want to admit.  Wow. I could make 2 or 3 trips to Japan for $6,000! As I'm fond of saying... holy cow! (Actually, I have 'other' sayings but those words are not nice to publish...)

I have been thinking about the need to buy - and the stash we collect - a lot lately.

A week or so ago, I read a really interesting blog post by Leah Day. Her post Stop Hoarding, Start Creating discusses our need to hoard tools, fabric, stuff... and how sometimes we'd rather go shopping than spend time creating. I believe there is some truth to that. I also think a lot of the problem is poor organization... and in my case, I attribute that to lack of space, and frankly, being too ambivalent to organize my stash. I'd go shopping because it was easier. The stacks at the quilt store are all so neat and clean.

So now I have a mission! And a plan.

I'm going to use my stash. Really use it. Sound crazy?

For starters, I'm going to making easy, quick, improv pieced traditional quilts to give to my family for Christmas. I can already see one in blue, one in earth tones, a green one, one (or maybe two home spuns - "what was I thinking?") and one in red. Yes, sadly, the woman who went to the store last month to buy more red fat quarters has enough red fabric in her stash to piece an entire quilt. Probably enough to piece the entire backing in red too!

I am going to just start cutting and piecing and see what happens. When I finish the quilts, I will stack them up at Christmas and let each family pick one quilt. To do this right I will need at least 8 quilts! I think I'm up to the task.

Stay tuned. And sorry quilt retail stores. One of your best customers is calling it quits.... For now.


  1. First, I cannot get enough of those red shelves. I have said it over and over, how I need to use what I have! Use it or lose it (neither happens)! I wish you luck on those eight quilts, I know you will do it too! With a new space, determination and the holidays'll find a way!

  2. Your plan sounds fantastic!! I hope you post pictures in progress. Improv is one style of quilting I have not yet wrapped my brain around, but I would love to see how it's done. Your shelves are gorgeous!!

  3. Good luck with the fabric organizing and using up! Maybe you'll feel really productive when you sew up a bunch of that fabric!

  4. What a beautiful studio you have. It inspires me to consider remodeling our third floor. Good plan to use up that fabric. If your son's at college, he has roommates. Don't forget to gift them. ;-)