Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Fabric Diet

I know I’ve said it in the past, but it’s time I get serious about shedding some weight from my fabric stash. It’s not about the expense or the storage—although either would be good reason to trim my hoard—it’s how all that fabric, already purchased and waiting to be used, affects my creativity.

More and more, I find myself choosing projects or assembling fabric pulls to use up the fabric I have. It’s hard to justify buying the fabric I want to use for a particular project when I already have enough on hand to make many (many) quilts. (I discuss this briefly in my interview for the Creativity Project.) There are even times I think that I quilt to support my fabric-buying habit. I think it should be the other way around.

If my situation resonates with you, can I suggest ways to trim down the fabric you already have and prevent yourself from buying more?

1. Get rid of what you know you won’t use. There’s something helpful and productive about purging what you no longer love or what’s no longer your style. That subpar fabric can affect how you see all the other good and usable stuff in your stash. Any castoffs can be offered to friends, donated to charity, or put up on Instagram or Facebook and sent to a new home. This past February, I gave some of my unwanted fabric to my guild’s annual yard sale. (I wrote about last year’s sale here.)

2. Start with your stash when planning a project. It’s easy to home in on a new quilt design and immediately think that a trip to the quilt shop is in order. When I start playing around with my stash, though, I’m amazed by the potential. Sure, I may need to augment a fabric pull with a new solid or two, but the bulk of many quilt tops can be found in my stash. Precuts and bundles are especially easy to use up—they’re made to coordinate and require fewer new purchases.

I've started this Modern Medallion quilt, by Lynne Goldsworthy, with precuts
from my stash.

3. Buy what you need when you need it. When embarking on a new project, only buy what that project requires after you’ve confirmed that you don’t have a suitable substitute in your stash. I prefer to buy local when possible so I don’t have to order minimum cuts—which are sometimes a full yard!—from an online retailer. Some more advice on this front: Don’t buy too far in advance. If you’re like me, your to-do list will likely change and you’ll find yourself with fabric cuts you no longer need. Also, be wary of free shipping deals online. Sometimes, it’s better to pay five bucks shipping than add unneeded fabric to your shopping cart just to avoid shipping charges.

4. Identify your weakness(es). How are you likely to blow this fabric diet? Are you a social fabric buyer, someone who heads out with friends for some fabric shopping and lunch on a Saturday morning? Then invite your friends to your house to sew instead. Do you find yourself perusing #thegreatfabricdestash posts on Instagram or getting sucked into browsing fabric sales online? Then unfollow the necessary people or shops, and unsubscribe to retailers’ email lists. (All of these will welcome you back when you’re ready, I promise!)

Fabric on sale—especially if it’s by Denyse Schmidt, Amy Butler, or Anna Maria
Horner—is one of my weaknesses!

5. Give yourself some wiggle room. It’s hard to be good all the time. Decide on some healthy parameters for shopping at fabric stores. If you’re going on a quilt retreat and fabric shopping is on the agenda, determine up front how much you’ll spend shopping. If you’re dieting for a nonfinancial reason, try splurging on something other than fabric, like a fabric-cutting machine, quilting services, or high-quality thread.

A few months ago, I went fabric shopping with my mom and sister. It may have been the first time we did that (admittedly, my mom and I shopped, and my sister spent the time on her phone, researching Sesame Street Live!). I decided before we entered a store that I could buy a backing or two for some projects on the horizon. I scored Amy Butler fabric and Anna Maria Horner fabric for $3 a yard and used one of the cuts, pictured below, immediately. I got to have fun with my family and enjoy the thrill of some good fabric scores!

I bought this floral print from Anna Maria Horner when shopping
with my mom and sister. I paid $3 a yard!

Does the size of your stash affect you? Is it time to start a fabric diet? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to cheer you on!

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