Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fabric, fabric on the wall, who has got the most of all?

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Are you in favour of a large stash? or do you dye or ( gulp) purchase (I just found out how much fabric COSTS now!) fabric for each new piece?

I was always a stash maker but now I’m beginning to wonder.     I can really only remember about 10% of the fabric I’ve got …and rarely do I have exactly what I have in mind as being the perfect colour for a particular shape.  Imagine a painter wanting to put a little dab of ultramarine in a picture and saying “well I’ve got pthalo, that’s close enough…it’s blue, it’s saturated, it’s dark and I bought this tube from that really fancy store and paid a lot for it – so I’ll use that!”
Yes…. sometimes that can work amazingly well because it just throws things slightly off  course and, believe me, I don’t like perfectly matched things.  I don’t even see why one needs to wear matching socks or mittens – why?  But if you’re aiming for a cool palette to show a cool mood and you throw something that jars for no reason other than that’s what you had….it’s not a good choice.

I see this happening all the time in workshops..people will say I have to use this green because it’s what I brought with me…oh yes, it is expedient and less wasteful, but is it artistically right?  And what is your goal here?  One of the problems of having a large fabric collection is that you feel you should use it.  There’s a guilt trip if you head out to buy or make more…oh yes, I know about sneaking bags in from the car, heading straight to the washing machine!!! (they don’t notice you’ve got new fabric once it’s all wet and crumpled!)  I suppose you could keep a gallon of water in the car actually and just douse and wrinkle the stuff even before you get home! But, I digress…again: what is the primary goal?

I remember years ago thinking a famous artist couldn’t be a proper quilter when she told me that she had no stash!!  “Oh” she said “I’ve a few leftovers on a small bookcase, but mainly I dye what I need for each piece.  When I have the idea for the piece, then I plan the fabric”.  I actually thought: “well she’s an artist not a quiltmaker and that explains such weird behaviour”!!  Ahh, blissful youth!

So now, I’m planning on liberating yards and yards of old fabric from the stacks in the sewing room – I want to see air at the tops of those piles, not pieces squashed in every which way.   I’ll be an artist AND a quiltmaker!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading… AND commenting!!   Elizabeth

13 comments:

Vicki W said...

I sort of come down in the middle of that. I like having a healthy stash but there have been times when it's been overwhelming. At that point I do a big purge - not everything. But I find a nice group of charity quilters and clear out room for more fabric!

ina said...

I have got a lot of stash too, as you describe, and about a year ago I decided not to buy new fabrics anymore - and still I am quilting and quilting and .........
From the fabrics I don't like anymore I have found a group of charity quilters and kindergarten is always very happy when I make room.

Anita said...

I, too, have a large stash, but my current leaning is toward living "minimally", so I'm using what I have as often as I can. Overdyeing commercial fabric saves me from running out to buy every time I need another piece in the same colorway. I'm also thinking of having a yard sale to reduce the bulk. It always gives me joy to sell something to a bargain hunter who really, really wants it.

paddysdaughter said...

I don't buy much fabric now, also having a healthy stash, but I spent yesterday - cold, wet and windy - sorting and tidying my sewing room. I feel very virtuous, and as well as now having an organised pile of fabrics, I re-acquainted myself with long forgotten pieces which had been just part of an ever increasing mess. The path is now clear to start re-creating..quilts, art, and another mess. I think it is a never ending story somehow!

Ruth Anne Olson said...

One thing about having a large stash is that you may actually have everything you need for a project. I feel very virtuous when that happens.

Jackie said...

My quilt group was working through a book of exercises on color--monochromatic, analogous, etc, and one of my constraints was to use only my stash. I learned a lot about color and a lot about myself. There are several colors I ignore almost completely! That was an interesting experience. I use commercial fabrics and have learned to buy what I like as well as complements and a variety of values. I've done well using what I have recently though I am careful--you know now what it costs--and I save fairly small bits which are difficult to see in my clever IKEA drawers. Sometimes I think I MUST have a certain hue and I go out seeking it and mostly end up using a bit of what I have--because what I think I need doesn't exist!--and it turns out well. I audition many, many pieces for everything. It's intense and I love it! Thanks for the great blog!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Too much stash is paralyzing and guilt-inducing.

Too little stash is frustrating.

Like the 3 Bears, the goal is "just right" ...

I'm doing better than I did for a while!

(Always enjoy your blog!)

慧君 said...

More haste, less speed...................................................................

Michigoose said...

OK...exactly how are you liberating your quilt stash? Inquiring minds want to know!

Deb said...

Welcome to the club - Since forever I reasoned that my feet and hands don't have eyes and don't care if they match what the partner is wearing as long as the soft & fuzzy quotient is the same.

Chris from NJ said...

I have a medium sized stash. If I can find something I can use in the stash for a quilt I will, but if I don't have what I need I have to buy it. I never just make due with what I have. Also if I have fabrics that I am not that fond of anymore I use them on the back of the quilts. Really bad things and cottons left over from making clothing I tear into rags and use around the house for cleaning.

Penny Mateer said...

In favor of a large stash or not isn't really the point. It depends upon the type of art you make and the way you work.

My quilts are created with commercial fabric it is my palette I need variety at hand so my stash is large. The challenge for me is to create within the constraints of what is manufactured commercially.

I had a teacher once who said that real artists aren't inspired by fabric, hogwash. For me fabric is a language how I piece it together is the way I convey my message.

Nancy said...

After quilting 15 years and accumulating stash that I no longer use, my goal is to get rid of 75-90% of it by the end of the year. I have already sold about 150 yards.

I have just packaged up 6 large bins of fabric to take to my guild next month for a quilters' rummage sale. We have lots of new quilters in the group. What doesn't sell, will be donated.

Please wish me luck.
Nancy