Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Your Stash Weighing You Down? Sell It!

Some of the things I made last year with my  leftover stash!

Hi there, I'm Felicity and I blog over at Felicity Quilts. I'm tickled that Madame Samm agreed to let me share with you the cautionary tale of how I ended up with a stash full of fabrics I don't really like, and what I did about it.

First, some background: I started quilting in 2001. I had long admired quilts, loved to look at photos and read about antique and museum-style quilts, but didn't quilt myself. I was intimidated by what I saw and assumed I couldn't do it. My husband - bless his heart, I'm sure he rues the day - suggested I take a beginner's quilting class at my local quilt shop. I had one of those clouds-parting-sun-shining-down-angels-singing moments the very first minute of the class: "I can do this! I can make a quilt!" and I never looked back. I've made probably 100 or more quilts since then, mostly smaller lap size or baby quilts.

I started building my stash slowly, one project at a time. Then I bought a bit of fabric here and there on sale. I added to it with stuff I liked, always from the sale area at the LQS. Then in about 2003 or 2004, my husband's co-worker decided to sell her stash of books and fabric. I bought it. There was probably a good 300+ metres. Lots of florals, lots of romantic patterns. I gave away a bit right away - the non-cotton fabrics and the particularly egregious prints (preprinted holiday vests panels, etc.).

I kept the rest, and did use some. It filled out my stash bookcase nicely, that's for sure.
 The Stash minus the homespuns and flannels in the Closet of Shame. FQs in the plastic bins on top. Check out all the brown and taupes, and the big stack of  white/creams - so not "me" - what the heck was I thinking?

Do you see where this is going? I discovered the online world of quilting and modern quilting at the same time. And just like that, I fell out of love with my stash. "Stash, sweetie, it's not you, it's me...you see, we've grown apart. Actually, I've fallen in love with someone else I met online...." AWKWARD!

I began to feel guilty about adding to an already-large stash, and about not using the fabrics I had. It slowed me down and weighed on me.

Then I had an epiphany. If I didn't like it, I wasn't going to use it, period. Or I would use it but not really love the finished product. Then what the heck was the point in keeping it? I adopted a "clean sweep" mentality about that fabric. I needed to let the old go so that there was more space - physically and emotionally - for the new.

I've sold 100+ metres on Craig's List. Other quilters can't resist quilt shop quality fabric at $2.25-$2.50 a metre (my going rate). You may be thinking, "But you paid more than that! You're losing money!" Yes, that's true, but the money is spent, right? I price to sell. Why let guilt force you to keep something you know you're not going to use just because you paid money for it? There is value to me in seeing my fabric go to a home where it will be used and enjoyed, and to getting some space for fabric that's more "me." One woman who bought a bag full of fabric makes baby quilts on commission, so she needs lots of different styles of fabric on hand for her customers - perfect! Another customer was just getting into quilting and was on a budget. $40 and 20 metres of good quality fabric later, she's well on her way to building her own stash or making a quilt she really loved.

If you're going to sell on Craigslist, can I give you a few tips? 1. Don't type in all caps. 2. Do post a photo. 3. Expect people to treat it kind of like a garage sale, so price accordingly. Here's the photo that accompanied my last ad (which did disclose that one piece in the upper left corner had some gunk on part of it):

I ended up selling it to a "repeat customer" who had previously bought from me.

Finally, here's a shot of the stash as it currently is, pared down to just what's there (no more Closet of Shame!). I haven't completed the transformation yet, but it's a work in progress. I will tell you that I feel ever so much more liberated now that my stash is more to my liking. I'm no longer weighed down by fabric that's good quality but no longer my "style."

The Stash Now - fewer taupes, more blues, more brights especially orange. 

Thanks for letting me pontificate for a little while. Now go and cull your stash and get rid of dead fabric weight! I promise you'll feel a lot lighter!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is that time again...

I bet you Yawned!
pssst I did too..

Yes time to rest today,
and gosh can you believe it...
it's the end of the month..

And you know what that means? 
just saying ....

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Hello!  This is Teresa from Fabric Therapy.  Thank you Madame Samm and everyone for having me back to post again on Stash Manicure!  If you don't remember me and my "wall of stash," here's an embarrassing picture from a previous Stash Manicure post.

I always wonder what I could possibly share with all you talented ladies that you don't already know, then I stumble down to the quilt cave and something hits me out of the blue.  I always know it's going to be something about organizing and justifying/using our wonderful fabric stashes.  This time, an idea came to me as I was working on one of the many UFO's that I promised myself I would finish this year.

I needed a little inspiration on drawing/drafting some overalls for my redneck clothesline.  I like to keep plenty of inspiration around me in the form of quilt books, patterns, and favorite projects pulled/saved from my favorite quilt magazines.  I organize my books by topic on bookshelves and file the patterns and loose magazine pages in sheet pocket protectors in hanging file folders, separated into categories that seem to make sense to me.  After all, I need to be able to locate all these 'nuts' that I am squirreling away!

I also save other odd bits that might get the creative juices flowing some day...fronts of greeting cards,  pictures torn from a magazine or junk mail, a doodled drawing from an inspired moment, a photo from a quilt show, a scrap of wrapping paper, pages from quilt calendars, paint swatches, etc...and paste them into my creative journal.  This is what my funky, crazy journal looks like.


When I started pasting doodles and debris into this journal several years ago, I did not know it would get this big and extensive, so it is a little unplanned and frightening on the outside (a little??).  But, give me a stolen moment and I can spend a lifetime thumbing through it, dreaming and scheming.  It's not fancy or well planned, but it suits me.  I keep adding things to it and scribbling notes around pictures.  Sometimes I remove something I'm not crazy about anymore...more often I just glue something on top of it. 

I even started a second one, just as ugly and awkward as the first one.

Anyway, I wanted a little inspiration for the yard of my redneck house block in "All Around the Town," a past BOM by Sue Garmon.  Here are the other nine blocks that I have mostly finished.  She is much too fine a person to include a redneck house in her lovely design...that is my doing (pardon my old, pink design wall...)

I knew I had saved something that would help me out in this situation, so I went to my loose files of quilt patterns and projects saved from magazines.  I was feeling a "NEED TO FEED" from the wealth of all that saved material.

The hanging file folders were so full that I was having a hard time navigating through the drawers to find what I was looking for.  I found that each hanging file I reached for had old, outdated stuff in it that I was no longer interested in.  There were also some projects that I decided I didn't need directions for anymore.  Maybe now I don't need, for example, the detailed instructions on how to make a 9-patch block.  My skills have changed , my tastes have changed, and available quilting techniques have changed  in the almost 30 years I've been quilting. 
Wowie zowie, we don't have to make plastic templates for everything now!  We have rotary cutting, paper piecing, freezer paper, computer quilt design programs, quilting book libraries, the blogosphere!  Maybe at some point in the future, quilt projects will just make themselves, willed by our newly-learned powers of creative, crafty mind control! 
OK...maybe not.  Maybe I should just save a picture of the interesting setting or the color combination instead of the directions for some of these old, tired things and throw the rest of the pages away.  That's when I discovered that I was feeling the "URGE TO PURGE."  I turned 50 in December, and I think I'm feeling the need to reduce, reuse and refocus.

Let's face it gals, we probably can't make everything we've been saving in this lifetime!  We are going to have to be a wee bit selective.
Some of my saved project magazine pages are from the 1980's!  Some still display the magazine name and date, but with others I can tell the age due to the yellowed pages and the black and white photos...OUCH!  Wow...I've been hoarding some of this stuff for a long time!  Bad, bad cop...NO donut!

Now...what was I looking for...oh yes...a picture of overalls.  I pulled out the file folder I label "PEOPLE."  Wow...I have not been in HERE for a while...what a bunch of old stuff mixed in with a few treasures!
I found some things that I am not interested in anymore AT ALL!  That stuff can go into the recycling bin and I can reuse the sheet pocket protectors for NEW saved projects or patterns (that I will probably never get to....hmmm...oh well...at least the pages have not yellowed...yet...).  I'll save any purchased patterns I no longer want for blog give-aways (more on that later...).

Some things are easy enough for me to draft now that I've accumulated a little quilting experience...and courage, so maybe I just want to remember the setting or colors.  Those things I 'manicure' with my scissors and glue into my journal on a clean page, or an empty spot on an old page.  If I don't have time to glue them into my journal at the time, I just save them in one of my empty sheet pocket protectors (I love school/office supplies...) until I can make a a little project of it.  I think this was from a 1986 Quilt World magazine.

This was a cute clown block from Quiltmaker Magazine, but now I just want to save the block schematic.  I think I could draft a clown now, if I wanted.  I can clip a couple of things for my journal and recycle the rest.
 I found the perfect sized empty space in which to glue them.
Same with this one.

Some projects are definitely classic, oldie-but-goodie's...like this quilt from Quiltmaker.  I made this as a baby quilt for my niece and I might want to make it again some day, so I will keep it for now.  I saved all the plastic templates I made at the time (Lucy is now 15!), and they tuck nicely in the sheet pocket protector along with the pattern pages.
(I gave the quilt away over 13 years ago, before digital photography arrived in this household, so I had to take a picture of a picture from my quilt scrapbook to share it with you...sorry!)  Aren't we lucky to have digital photography now...and blogging?!
I've decided to throw away the directions for the following quilt and just save a picture.  I saved it initially because I really like the way the Irish Chain pattern was treated in the borders, just outside of the Sunbonnet Sue blocks.  I'm also a sucker for pretty hand quilting motifs, so I will glue the quilt picture in my journal and file the quilt pattern away with others in the file of the same name. 
I'm not a big fan of Sunbonnet Sue, or her boyfriend, but I have to keep some things for sentimental reasons.  My mom does not quilt...my Dad's mother was the family quilter.  Before my Mom went into assisted living and ultimately into a nursing home (where she is now), she admitted that she had always wanted to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt when she was a girl.  She was at a point in her life where she was losing function and really needed a project (this was in 1988).  I rounded up some background squares and fabric scraps.  She wanted to draft the patterns herself and make the blocks.  I was to put the top together and hand quilt it for her.  She hand appliqued and embellished the blocks and I got the quilt finished in time for her to enjoy it for a few years.  Again, another picture of a picture (with my daughter, then a baby, crawling all over it). 

Related to my pattern files, I love my "HOW TO" files, housed in two sturdy magazine files.  Every time I find a new technique, or an improved old technique, I store it in a sheet pocket protector and save it. 
You never know when you will need a "technique check" and need it quick!  Every now and then, I go through these files and discard old dated techniques.  Over the years, it has turned into a great quilting encyclopedia.  These could go into a couple of big notebooks if you wanted, but having them loose is useful and easy for me to handle.

It has been fun going through and purging my files.  I have leaner, meaner files and now I have a whole NEW list of projects to make from things I had completely forgotten I had saved away!  It was like shopping without spending any money!  And I can commit to making these new/old projects FROM MY STASH...in a many cases, I had already bought fabric for these patterns before I squirreled them away, so I am all set!!

To celebrate sharing with you on Stash Manicure this weekend, I am hosting a give-away over at my blog, Fabric Therapy.  I found five BRAND NEW PATTERNS THAT I NEVER USED (well, they were new at one time!) when doing my purge in the "PEOPLE" file.  Leave a comment here, and leave me a comment on my blog before 9:00 AM EST, Monday, January 24 to win the whole bundle of patterns plus some new fat quarters and notions!  One quilter's trash is another quilter's treasure!!  Thank you so much for reading along and good luck in organizing your creative muse!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)
( Teresa was a guest of SEW WE QUILT , 
I believe some thought this was MADAME SAMM"S stash..
I can assure you I have perhaps 3 bins of fabric total! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

What inspires you?

Did you know the price of cotton is on the rise? It won't be too long before a $2+/yard price hike hits your local quilt shop. With that in mind, you can convince your husband that maybe the bulging closet full of fabric is actually an investment!

The time has come to start using it, because the coming price tag may detour you from buying later this year. And... if you decide to buy, getting the selection just right will become that much more important.

Time to get creative! (Thank goodness we all have that stash!)
Do you struggle with fabric selection?
 Do you have a pattern that you just love, but the color doesn't quite suit you?
 Do you have a quilt that needs a little something, but you're not sure what it is?

These particular problems are what inspired this post today. I am Cori Blunt, and I am the owner of a little pattern company by the name of Chitter Chatter Designs. I design applique patterns. You may also know of me from my blog Creativity Amongst Chaos.

Being a designer, I am presented with exactly this problem for every new project I take on. I have the challenge of creating something new; new colors, new pattern, new design. I find this challenge suited to me just fine. It seems my world is full of inspiration, which I hope to share with you today. Surprisingly I am inspired by anything, and everything. Take for example this little problem....

I was designing a bumblebee for one of my quilts. I had stitched up a bee with a dark face. The problem was that you couldn't see his eyes, so I knew I had to give him a lighter face. As I sat in thought, I glanced over to my husband who was watching t.v. on the couch. Immediately it hit me.... see the similarity?

Most of the time my answers are right in front of me. It's like a word on the tip of your tongue, your quilting answers could be right there staring you in the face.

Another little problem....

I wanted some detail in my sunbonnet girl's hair. I was playing with several ideas to accomplish this when I was inspired by my daughter. Her lovely locks is what inspired me to embroider the curls in.

On this project, my color choice came from the exact thing my quilt was based on.... a fish! I wanted a quilt that would highlight the rhyme, but also appeal to a man. So, the natural beauty of a fish is just what this project needed. I took my color from a trout.

Quilting is all about color. Color can quickly change the mood and feeling of a quilt. I try to select fabric colors using one basic rule...

Buy what you LOVE!

Us women have a funny way of choosing exactly the same thing - almost every time. I buy what I love and come home only to realize I have a whole box of different fabrics in the same color. I am drawn to these colors. I especially like combining red and white.

I love the crisp, fresh look that this color combination makes. Adding green or blue just makes the red pop that much more.

I am also very inspired by the work of Ethel Hays. Her color choices and overwhelming "CUTE" factor is so inspiring. I have spent the last couple of years collecting anything and everything I can find of hers. Just love her! Her story is equally inspiring to me. I guess I just must connect with her.

So where do you find inspiration???
Right at home.

That favorite picture of yours, that children's book you love, your favorite shirt, or simply....
your family.

Most of my quilts are inspired by my mother, my first jump into this business was because of her. Here is a picture of my first quilt pattern "ANTtitude."

My mother often asks me for help on a quilt idea, or just an idea she thinks may be cute as a quilt. That sends my mind a spinnin' and has helped me to create my most popular patterns.

My advice....listen to others, listen to what they say about what you are doing. Sometimes it is not easy to hear....like when my husband called this quilt "depressing."

Changing the color would have also changed it's mood. But, to be honest, making another one is not going to happen! Had I listened to my husband, this quilt may have been more "me."

Inspiration is all around you. You only have to take notice.

Your mind has a way of complicating the simplest of things, but sitting still while taking a step back may be the only way to move forward.

Trust yourself, do what you love, because what you are doing will become the quilt your special someone-s wrap themselves up in to remind them of YOU!

Thank you Madame Samm, and to all of you here at Stash for having me!

Happy Stitching! -Hugs, Cori

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

365 NOTES, in a quilt, every DAY for a YEAR???

Yes you read it right?

Hi faithful readers of Sew We Quilt ( @Stash Manicure), I'm Mama Spark of Mama Spark's World. A great BIG thank you to Madame Samm for inviting me to share with you today. Ok, so here's the Reader's Digest condensed version of who I am. Wife of almost 28 years, mama to three wonderful children, 2 daughters and a son, scientist by day, avid quilter by night. Also herder of 5 cats and one dog. I think that about sums it up. Want to know more? Stop over and visit me. Now on to my topic.

I was a relatively new blogger in 2008 when I discovered Leanne Beasley's blog. You know her, right? Amazing Aussie designer. She had done a quilt she called the 365 Day Challenge quilt. I was intrigued. At the time, many people around the web were participating. I decided to jump in with both feet! There is a tutorial over at Leanne's blog with photos. I on the other hand have no individual pictures but you will enjoy hers, which she had given me permission to use here to show you all!!

You will be making a quilt that you write on, like a journal or your blog EVERY DAY FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR! Yes, you read that correctly every day for an entire year. I know what you're thinking. "Mama Spark, why would I want to do that?" I say why not? It was an amazing way to chronicle a year of my life. Ok, pipe down, I hear you asking, "What would I write about every day?" Whatever you want. I wrote about events of the day, or things I wanted my children to know about or current events or the weather, but what you write is totally up to you. You could just draw a picture! It was challenging but worth it when it was all finished. My eldest daughter said, "Now you have to make 2 more so we will each have a year of your life!"

Alright, "How do I do this?" I hear you ask? You are sure chatty today!! The supply list is pretty simple.

-Lots of light colored fabric scraps! You could use all one color family, or like me just mostly creams but including some pale colored fabrics for interest. If you want it to look more like an actual journal you could stay with lots of creams and off whites.
- Freezer paper.
- Permanent fabric marker(s). I used several colors, but I liked black the best.
- Rotary Cutter, ruler, and mat.
- Sewing machine with a 1/4" sewing foot
_You will need approximated 5 1/2 yards for the back of the quilt

Finished size of quilt: 64" by 93". Approximately Queen Comforter size. This assumes no borders. I chose not to add borders but you could put borders on yours if you want to.

You need to begin by cutting LOTS of 4 1/2" strips.
You can either iron the freezer paper on before you cut or you can do it as you need it to write on the squares later. I did mine later, but you could do it now and that might be easier.
Once you have your fabrics cut into 4 1/2" strips you will sub cut as follows:

160 - 4 1/2" x 3 1/2" pieces
80 - 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" pieces
80 - 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" pieces
48 - 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" pieces

I made ziploc bags labeled with each size so I could keep them straight and used post-it notes to keep track on how many I had as I was cutting, but you might have another method. I just hate counting and re-counting!
Now you will divide these into groups to sew into vertical columns as follows:

This equals one column and you will end up with 16 of these columns for the quilt.
10 - 4 1/2" x 3 1/2" pieces
5 - 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" pieces
5 - 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" pieces
3 - 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" pieces

Since there will be 16 columns, you may want to make these up and either pin the columns together or bag them so you know what you have to sew together to make all your columns the same size. You will take all the pieces for one column and sew them together randomly (using an accurate 1/4" seam allowance, of course). Best to just do random, no seam matching later when you sew your columns together! Once you have all your columns sewn you can store them any way you like. I kind of rolled mine together and put in a plastic bag for sake keeping. I would take one column out at a time to write on.

Ahh now for the fun part, the writing! Don't be afraid of your own hand writing, it will look great! Don't forget to leave a 1/4" area all around for joining the strips together. You will want to iron the freezer paper on the wrong side of one individual square to help stabilize the fabric for writing. The same piece of freezer paper can be re-used multiple times before you need to cut another one. Don't sew the columns together yet though.  It is kind of nice to have the columns by themselves to do the writing. This makes the project portable. If you happen to go out of town or something you can just pack that column and take it with you! Pretty handy huh?

Once you have 2 columns finished you can sew them together. Just keep sewing the newest column to the previously sewn together columns until you are done. I waited and did mine all at the end. It's pretty cool to see them all come together.

Now I will show you mine! Here are days 1 and 365. The beginning and the end.

Next up are some shots from the middle of the year:

Here is my finished quilt. You can see that I decided to use a flannel for the back that I thought reflected me. It has both cats and quilt blocks on it. Purrr-fect wouldn't you agree?

I am so very excited to be able to share this quilt with all of you! I had a lot of fun doing it and you will too. I often thought it might make a great gift for a new bride or for a baby shower gift. They could chronicle the first year of marriage or part of a pregnancy and the birth and part of the first year of the baby's life. It would be a great gift for someone going off to college or graduating from college and beginning a new job.

The possibilities are limited only by what you can imagine! So are you up to the challenge?

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot, if you are interested in making a 365 day challenge quilt for yourself or a loved one I have a great way to get you started. I will be hosting a giveaway over on my blog for a Moda BELLA SOLIDS Natural Layer Cake. Leave a comment here and then pop on over to Mama Spark's World and see what you need to do to enter to win! Thanks for letting me share a little bit of your day too !! If you have any questions I would be happy to help you!!