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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Paralyzed By The Stash!


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 about 20 months 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 by 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 We might not like those outdated shoes in 5 to 10 years...do we still want them hanging around our closets?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" 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. In 20 months 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
ps...the opinions stated in this blog are soley those of the author, and do not reflect the ideas of all quilters!

5 comments:

Lynn Dykstra said...

I agree that shopping the stash is the best on so many levels. Financial, of course, the memories of where a fabric came from, the realization even more often that I have no idea where a piece of fabric came from and have no memory of even seeing it before(!), and the challenge of using what is there. I have greatly limited my purchases too in the past few years. I never thought I would run out of a color, but have gotten to the point that my blues are not as extensive as they once were. That's ok, I have more green and brown that I need to go through for a while.
When I do buy fabric, it is to jump start a project. My red stars were looking dated until I added a few fat quarters of new reds to the mix. It may not be obvious to anyone else, but the new fabrics refreshed the project for me.
As far as controling the shirts, they have taken over my life too. I have started sorting at deconstruction. The backs sit in one pile for big pieces. The yokes get stripped up into 2" or 1 1'2 strips right away. I trade sleeves with friends. I use up fronts and traded sleeves.
Not totally successful, looking at the state of my sewing room, but it is starting to pull together.
Lynn

Carolyn said...

Bonnie, your stash organization is inspiring. Do you keep the doors on the cabinets open so that you are quilting in a rainbow? I tend to buy half yards or yards if I don't know the purpose of the fabric. Backgrounds I'll buy more of. I can see I need to organize my fabrics better...they're just piled on shelves, not organized in any fashion, which makes it challenging when I need a particular color. Thanks for sharing your insight!

JoAnn said...

Bonnie,
I swear you must be my long lost daughter. I have the same strong inclinations when it comes to buying fabric and I go through the same phases of promising myself that I positively will not make any more uncontrolled fabric purchases.......but I am going to allow myself to explore the used shirt idea, probably today. Does that mean I'm "falling off the wagon."already? JoAnn

Dawn said...

Well I'm wondering if I should show my husband your stash (but of course I don't want him to see the words that you are not shopping!)

He thinks I have too much fabric laying around - no wonder I can't do things with my stash like you can!!! :)

The rainbow of fabrics is heaven - I would just have a wonderful time playing at your house!

Froggie said...

I would love to know where you found the white cabinets that fit so perfectly under the eaves! What dimensions are they? What a tempting sight to see all those fabrics every day. I would never get anything but sewing done if I had your awesome stash!