Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the joys of throwing out stuff!

I’m the opposite of that well known animal the pack rat!  I love taking a carload of stuff to the thrift store or dump and coming back clean, fresh and empty!!  So I decided it was finally time to go through all my fabric and Get Rid of pieces I hadn’t even contemplated using in the last ten years…or longer.    I’ve been dyeing fabric since before I was even making art quilts so there was a Lot of it.  All those scraps we save because they “might come in” have now gone out!!


Several giant bags of useable stuff are headed to the thrift store.     That’s me in my blue hat, so you can see just how much there was!!  A 25 year accumulation!

And, all the muslin (why oh why did we like that stuff?) is stacked to use for quilt backs. It looks awful mixed in with other fabrics on the front, so dead and dull.  It’s wonderful for a backing because it needles so easily, plus that means I only need keep the big bits so there’s enough for back/interfacing and sleeves that all blend together. 

IMG_2977  The rest I organized by colour and type of fabric.  The muslin is gone as I said, and much of the kona, I was never very keen on the way kona cotton took the dye – it always looked a bit muddy to me.  I know other people swear by it, but there are so many variables with dyeing and maybe their variables came together more positively than mine when it came to kona.

(you always have to take your shoes off to sort fabric, havn’t you noticed?)



I like Testfabric 419 – it’s a high thread count that’s perfect for screen printing, you get nice crisp prints whether you use dye or pigment to print.  It’s great for any kind of shibori – again because the high thread count prevents so much bleeding and spreading of the dye.   The downside of 419 is that it’s hard to needle, impossible to hand stitch for arthritic old dudes like me, and even my sewing machine sounds more like a traction engine than a purring cat when it’s going through it.

The fabric I prefer for straight forward immersion dyeing, and definitely if I want to hand stitch the piece, is cotton sateen.  I just love the soft glow it gives to the colours.

Of course by the time I’d chucked out about 2/3 of my stash and sorted out the rest I realised I needed to head down to the dye studio as I was missing all kinds of colours!!  Thank goodness the “global warming hoax” has lead to temperatures well over 90 during the day and over 70 at night here in Georgia – perfect dyeing weather!!

So this morning I enjoyed petting my newly dyed sateen, picked out colours for the next quilt and organized them by value.  I don’t like to choose fabrics by colour when I’m blocking out a piece, but rather by value.  I find I can make the composition much stronger by following values…and it’s fun to see which fabrics turn up where when I randomly piece a piece from the particular value pile!


Ah…space lovely space!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!!  All comments so very gratefully received, otherwise I won’t know there’s anybody out there!!   Elizabeth


Joan said...

We're out there all right, but right now we've hastened to our studios to sort out fabric. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jackie said...

I am certainly here as well. Just finished piecing a quilt and in the process of refiling all the fabrics I'd pulled out to audition, I noticed several (actually several-several) fabrics I bought years ago for a specific project and have never used again. Maybe it's time they visited someone else! Thanks!

Deb Lacativa said...

it's a good thing it's too far for a moment's notice drive..I woulda "helped" you clean the closet, but then again the notices of my fiber addiction are posted all over town.

Nina Marie said...

First of all good for you! I love cleaning out and summer has always been the time here. We took 7 garbage bags to the Salvation army on Saturday. T spent 10.5 hours reorganizing my stash of fabrics (yes I paid her) and I love the way it looks now! I recently dyed up some 409 and it came out great - I have a bolt of Kona Twill and you're right - it comes out a bit more muddy and dull - but I like that for my nature quilts. Last year I sold off 1/3 of my stash of commercial fabrics and it paid for my room and board at QBL this year LOL!!

Nancy said...

You sound just like my sister Betty. Whenever I have to start getting rid of stuff, I just ask What would Betty Get Rid of? Answer of course, is nearly everything. Great role model.

Now I want to know from Nina-Marie, how did you sell so successfully?

Nina Marie said...

Hi Nancy - well first of all I had a ton of fabric to get rid of - I sold over 400 yds! Then I sold it super - cheapie - $2. It was a lot of work but I measured it all out and sold it at 2 garage sales (one each summer!) that I marketed to quilters. I also let every quilter I know in the area that I had it at my home in case they wanted to come look here. I even sold to some of my online friends who were looking for older commercial lines. I made the rule that it wasn't going back into my stash. I sold fabric for years 98-2001 on ebay but the way its structured now - it wouldn't have been worth it. So I added up the rest of it up and donated it to the mission ladies at our church who sew for the third world (I took the value off my taxes). It was the best thing I EVER did! Here's the blog on the first garage sale http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/2009/08/stash-sell-off.html

Nancy said...

Thanks, Nina-Marie. That helps. Nancy

karenworks said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I can relate to your feelings of pleasure at parting with fabric. I did a similar clean out recently and took boxes to my art quilt friends. It was so much fun to see them diving in for treasures...and now I get to see some of my cast offs appearing in their quilts! Really fun.
I also parted with a pile of early quilts taking those to book group and a circle of women who don't quilt. They were all appreciative and again I had the pleasure of seeing who would pick which quilt. Now when I go to meetings at their homes I see my quilts on walls or over couches. Nice to know that they are being used...and great to have more space in my studio. If I could only resist new treasures found at garage sales, I would have a larger working area.

Linda Strowbridge said...

All I can say is 'Dang, I wish I lived near that thrift store.' :-}