Monday, May 17, 2010

The Stash in Four Dimensions!

ant jew  rocky shore

I had a very interesting question from Suzanne in Florida wanting to know how I organized my stash – the above picture illustrates!!  Sort of scattered..with some similar elements grouped together!    I do like to keep the bigger bits separate, especially background colours, like the blue sea , or the sky…and then I have boxes with interesting little rock like scraps! 

Thinking about it more, I realized that I organize the fabric in four dimensions – which might account for the apparent confusion!  I organize type of fabric (silk, mercerized cotton,  cotton sateen and muslin), size of the piece, texture (whether or not its patterned, or solid-ish ( I don’t like solid solids and threw them all out) colour

I am always first concerned with fiber content – do I want it to be translucent?  or do I want to hand stitch on it (impossible with the 130 count mercerized cloth)?  Size is really the next consideration…and then texture.  Patterned pieces (in my case screen printed, painted or tie-dyed) really stand out very strongly and so have to be used either a LOT (as in the piece below), (Semmerwater 54”w, 37”h)

semmerwater from slide

barton what pretty smoke full


or very in this piece:
Oh What Lovely Smoke   (36”w, 43”h)
where the sponge painted texture is only a minor part of the image.




Colour is my very last consideration – as any shape in any quilt could be any colour!  Yes to pink trees! and purple clouds, and orange chimneys and “pretty” yellow smoke!

So where does value come into this?  it’s very important, but is a later stage for me.  (Unlike the old Log Cabin quilters who always divided their fabric scraps into lights and darks…for that was their palette.)

Having got my main inspiration, decided on a sketch and shaded in the values, I then choose a colour scheme.   I generally pull out everything that is the right fabric, the right size and the right amount of texture in the colours I want.  Then I organize the chosen fabrics according to value before I start to cut and sew.

Now I realize why my chef organizes the herbs by frequency of use rather than alphabetically….hmmm!! I must take back several sarky comments!
so… are you organized?  Is there a one-dimensional approach to this?

if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth


Heather Lair said...

Hello Elizabeth,
My fabric is sorted exactly the same way! I even have a special pile of rock fabric that I have been collecting and using little bits of for years.
My shelves are badly in need of some attention these days- colors are jumbled up at the moment.
Love your posts- I read them all the time. I make art quilts and love to teach quilting as well so I always learn something here.

American Quilter's Society said...

Colors are your last consideration? Your color usage is beautiful! Great work!

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I love reading your blog and following your work. As a former student of yours--I continue to ponder the "Taos church" and how to make it more interesting to the eye. About fabric, I organize the fabrics that read as solid, according to color in seven value steps from light to dark. My multi-colored prints are organized according to predominant color only--not value, and my specialty fabrics-- silks, Asian designs, African designs, and black and whites-- are also separated out, each in their own slot. Florals, plaids and themed fabrics are also in their respective slots. Backs are separated and labeled with the yardage. It works, mostly because I know where everything is and I can pull the fabric easily. I had better stop organizing and start working!

montse llamas-arts and cats said...

Interesting consideration. As I am a recent quilter, I dont't have a big stash yet, so no need for a system at the moment. But I am already thinking about it!