Saturday, October 23, 2010

Can you be too Organized? Not if you are ME!

Hi!  This is Teresa of Fabric Therapy back again.  I posted here back on October 6 and talked about "Shopping My Stash" and even revealed part of my hoard stash...otherwise known as "Teresa's giant wall o'stash."  I was asked if I might go into some detail about how I organize my stash and reveal even more of it.

I have to tell you that revealing my stash is a little like showing people my underwear drawer...all of it, even the ratty stuff.
I've been hoarding collecting fabric since the early 80's, and I'm not so much embarrassed at the size, but more my obsessive-compulsive organization of it.  I have tried all kinds of storage ideas over the years and what I am doing now works well for the fact that I sew in the basement, which isn't what you would call "finished."  Oh, it's cozy enough, lined with stash...but most people would want something more finished and sophisticated (with less rollie-pollies and spiders...).  I think it is Heaven.

I sort in three major categories...yardage (including fat quarters), large scraps, and wee bits. 

For yardage, I fold based on fat quarters, which are roughly 18 x 22 inches.  By this I mean I fold in half from fold to selvage, then in half again in the same direction, then in half crosswise.

I used to store fabric in really big bins, but they were just too heavy and now I use boxes by Sterilite and Art Bin.  My folded little piles fit well in them and they are readily available at Joann's, Target, and even my grocery store.  I collected them slowly, getting most of them on sale or using a coupon.   Here, I picture the container on its side.

I can get two rows of stacked fabrics in a tall bin.  I NEVER permanently label my bins because things can change so easily, and I hate removing sticky labels.  I use 3 x 5 index cards and a black marker and just insert the card on the inside of the container.

I collect heart fabrics and outgrew my first bin...I added a second one, in a smaller size and labeled it accordingly.

So that brings me to how I sort yardage.  I used to just sort by color...red in one tub, blue in another.  Then I found it inconvenient to have red reproduction fabric in with bright reds...it caused too much rummaging around in big heavy tubs.  Now I separate everything, which allows me to utilize these smaller containers.  I sort my reproduction stuff by color.

I sort my crazy brites by color.

But I also sort by categories...Cats, Dogs, Horses, Halloween, Christmas, Hearts, Animals, Butterflies & Bugs, Harvest, Black on White, White on Black, Batiks, Plaids, 30's (sub-divided into colors), Patriotic (sub-divided into neutral, red and blue), Kitchen/Food, Misc. Novelty, Misc. Flowers, Music, and some lines of fabric that I wanted to keep together.

Then I have bigger bins of general colors like these neutrals.
I separate the general greens, blues and browns into light, medium and dark.

For bigger yardage, I still fold into the same basic shape, based on how I fold fat quarters.

Then I sort my larger scraps by color and keep them mostly in Art Bin boxes with handles...this way I can grab them and go for taking to workshops or cutting parties (I LOVE scrappy quilts!).

My scrap bin categories are neutral, green, blue, red, brown/orange, black, warm brites (red, yellow, orange, pink), cool brites (blue, green, purple), reproduction, 30's, and novelties.

I do a lot of hand applique and save even the smallest scrap.  I put them in larger art bins and sort in color groups.

I also cut and save scrappy strips for log cabin and liberated piecing.

I also store ongoing projects and misc. cut scraps (squares, triangles, etc.) in labeled bins.

I love little drawer units that are meant to store hardware, etc.  They are great for tools and thread.

I have storage for tools, rulers, thread, and movies right at my fingertips.  I use found objects from garage sales and second-hand places for storage.  All the shelving units that surround the basement and hold stash (and games, toys, overflow kitchen stuff, scrapbooking stuff, seasonal decorations, etc.) are plastic, as we have had water in the basemnt before.

As this is getting really long, another time I will show you how I store books, patterns, ideas, etc.

As you do your sort, make it fit your stash.  I like being able to walk right to some container, shelf or drawer and find what I am looking for.  I keep some open bins at my feet under my sewing machine to throw scraps and fabrics that need to be washed and/or "be filed." 

 I'm a wash girl - I wash everything because I am sensitive to the chemicals and because I don't like surprises concerning shrinkage and color fastness.  I keep scraps of batting and larger yardages for backings in larger totes under the stairs.

I'm not really crazy about keeping my fabric in bins...I love pictures of other stashes where it is out on a shelf, just looking all yummy and inviting, saying, "pet me, pet me!"  But, since I sew underground in the quilt cave, it has to be so.  My husband and daughter have computers in the basement, so along with the washer and dryer, an old TV (and the cat food/cat box), I am never really alone down there.

Thank you for stopping by and enduring my stash...I try to keep things orderly and neat because I don't function well in chaos.  I appreciate your comments, your suggestions.  We all pull our creative energy from different places, different spaces.  My stash is a living, breathing, work in motion.  My buddies give me a hard time about being too organized, but I sure like being able to put my hands on something when I need it (or when I want to offer them something for their project...)!  As my blog title suggests, fabric is my therapy.

Happy sorting!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fabric Diva's TRADE ON!

I’ve seen some stashes that I’m in awe of here on Stash Management (including Teresa’s GIANT WALL O’Stash) and as you know I do not possess such a stash in the RETRO-Fabulous Sewing room. Still, I’ve managed to outgrow some of my earliest pieces & have had to send them on to a loving home. My ‘extra’ quilting fabric goes to RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) and I always keep a nice freebie pile at the house for new quilters beginning their stashes … but sometimes you need a SPECIAL FABRIC.

And the best way to get it is by bartering.

What to do when the must have orange fabric of last year leaves you uninspired? Or the giant pile of reds that prevent you from buying more fabric because they take up an entire shelf in your little sewing room?

Swap it online for the latest must have fabric that your stash is in desperate need of and you can have the room to purchase some unexpected, delicious combination(s) to go with it.

Why Trade? The barter system comes and goes in popularity but it seems to stick with fabric collectors, since it is of course, a VERY VALUABLE commodity. Let’s say for instance you MUST have some Judie Rothermel’s Aunt Grace Scrapbag Fifth & Tenth Anniversary Fabrics but her online shop is out and it’s out of print. None of your local quilt shops have any left, the fabric company that prints it (Marcus Brothers in case you’re wondering) doesn’t sell direct and you haven’t found it through any search engines. You’ve been checking for close to a month in every single second of free time and your family is beginning to worry about the signs of OCD that they heard of recently on television. Give up? OH NO, don’t give up!! If it’s a fabric you must have, find it by trading….though I’ve yet to find someone with this particular fabric…anyone? Anyone???

Be sure to post that you’re interested in trading (or purchasing, if that's the case) & what you’re offering in return. Be very specific so neither you nor your readers will be wasting precious fabric shopping time. You’d be surprised by what people are willing to send in most cases. You don’t have to offer the same type of fabric in return…in fact, you’re probably better off if you didn’t.

Unless of course you find your fabric soul mate (cue choir of angels)---in which case, the two of you could swap faves indefinitely, clapping your hands in excitement with each new package that arrives.

I buy the latest fabrics my local quilt shop has available or offer a nice selection from the stash for most trades. Other times people don’t need more fabric (can you imagine??) but might be interested in the quilting book on your shelf that has been collecting dust since you received it as a present 8 years ago. * BONUS* that’s eligible for media mail and will cost you very little to send on to its new home.

Someone else may be trying to amass blue and white combinations and will happily send you quite a bit of their repro stash that sits in a sad fabric dust cocoon in a lonely corner of their crowded studio if only you could find it in your heart to send some blue & white fat eighths from your little ‘ol stash.

A new machine quilter must have every variegated thread available and will gladly ship you a giant box of out of print fabrics her aunt just gave her in return for a dozen spools. How cool is that??

I find most trades through online quilters groups. You can easily find some by googling your particular interests. If someone knows I’m on the hunt for Nancy Mahoney blues, greens by Darlene Zimmerman & anything from Chloe’s Closet or Bev Proulx's Posies + Puppies line and their sister-in-law happens to be an avid collector of said fabric, they make a call and it all comes together rather quickly. Traders may only swap a couple of times, get more than they need for a particular project and go on with life…others are collecting indefinitely *ah hem* and will never….I mean NEVER have enough.

Trade on dear fabric divas, trade on!!

Thank you, Madame Samm for keeping us in the know.

Happy Swapping!!