Fabric Stashing and Hoarding

I was looking for inspiration for another quilt I’m working on (yes, another) and stumbled on this nifty post about fabric hoarding. Now, I admit, I love looking at my shelves of fabric and yarn and other odds and ends. It has the ability to make me feel simply happy. I can’t sew full-time because, you know, I do have a job (even if said job is sometimes just figuring out how to get five kids through the library without international incidents) so the fabric does sit there more than I would like. I noticed in the past month or so that while planning quilts I would pull out this or that fabric and then in the end, put one back because I “didn’t want to use it”. What? The whole point of the fabric is to use it! Admittedly, some fabric is more special than others (when a nightgown I wore a lot when Pickles was a baby finally wore out, I cut it up to use for fabric – I can’t use it on just anything) but in general, it’s supposed to be useful, not ornamental.

In the course of the article, the quilter (who is a lot more experienced and accomplished than I am) talked about people hoarding fabrics because it was made by this or that designer (none of which I had heard of) and they couldn’t part with it. She mentioned one fat quarter (18″ x 22″ – one quarter of a yard of fabric) costing $40. Heavenly days. I guess if I had paid that much for a fat quarter I’d have trouble cutting it up too.

I have always looked at quilting in the original sense: using up scraps that would have otherwise been thrown out. I have no problem with quilts made from specially bought fabric (I’ve made several myself) but I can’t imagine paying that much money for cloth. The triumph for me is making a quilt from (a) material I already had, (b) material from the thrift store, (c) material from the remnants section at Walmart, (d) material from old sheets, tablecloths or curtains, or (e) material cut from non-usable clothing. I find it very satisfying to work into a scrap quilt leftover scraps of material that might have otherwise never been used or material that I am not hugely fond of. Once you put these into a quilt, the whole thing is beautiful. I keep my scraps to use for future projects, use the knit remnants in the rug I’m crocheting (one garment at a time), cut off and sort the buttons, and wind up throwing away surprisingly little.

I admire the magnificent quilts people turn out, but my favorites are the ones that obviously kept the tradition alive. You can see shirting material, dress material, flour sacks, old curtains, etc. The colors don’t match perfectly and the materials are not all of the same weight.

That fabric isn’t doing anyone any good just sitting on a shelf, gathering dust. Put it into a quilt or some other project and spread a little happiness around.

6 thoughts on “Fabric Stashing and Hoarding

  1. did my husband tell you to post that? I have so much fabric I have gotten for free from people that know I sew or for very cheap at a thrift store. I do use it all. . . eventually and I don't buy new fabric unless it is necessary to finish a project. But I also don't get rid of fabric. . . so it piles up.

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  2. Well, I guess we're twins because I could say the exact same thing. (: I am genuinely trying to USE the fabric and keep busy (keeping busy is a good thing) so I want to see more room on my shelves and more quilts on the beds.

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  3. Ah, a kindred soul indeed! I love both the thrift and the artistic challenge of using found materials and repurposing, but the sentimental and historical aspects are also very special. Doesn't it make you feel like a pioneer, quietly connected to generations of women throughout history?
    I found an old post on my blog, in a similar vein: http://teabluehouse.blogspot.com/2008/10/lets-hear-it-for-old-tyme-crafting.html

    Your quilts are so beautiful! I'm sure your family loves them too. I have been itching to make a quilt as the weather grows cooler, but have to psyche myself up to carve out the time in my busy day and set up a sewing station!

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  4. I guess I'd better give attribution to the quilts! The first quilt picture is of the piece-work part of making my “little trees in Maine” quilt. It was made almost entirely of scraps and the white was all old cotton sheeting. The next was a quilt top found in the garage by our 90 year old neighbors. They don't know who made it. I did a post including it some time ago in which I noted that it started out a twin quilt and someone very obviously added blocks on to make it a full one. I love that. The next one is a quilt top found in my grandmother's attic. We have no idea who made it except that we know Grandmother didn't. The blue and white one I made last year, both colors were old cotton sheeting. This was SO SOFT.

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  5. I love seeing your projects 'materialize' excuse the pun, ha ha! Didn't see it until typed it. Even those of us who don't sew much or at all, have some propensity to collect/save pretty fabrics. It's has to be a sensory girl thing, looks pretty, feels pretty/soft/sparkly, feathery etc, it;s all good.

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