With our unseasonably warm weather at the end of the month, I find myself scrubbing the kitchen floor, cleaning the shower curtain, doing windows, picking up clutter and cleaning spots on the carpet. (We have a cat.) Most importantly, I dusted off my dresser and took the time to tidy it and put my jewelry and hair supplies in their proper places. Seeing as how my dresser top is never a priority because it affects no one but me, I’m most proud of this little accomplishment. Now I just have a jewelry box, an assortment of little handmade boxes, a plant, a few rocks, and a little statue I made years ago.
I also need to sort my fabric stash, and this is a bigger challenge. Last year, I adopted the “only handle it once” rule around the house. This works immensely well for things like dirty dishes, the mail, and all the small wayward items that otherwise accumulate. My problem; I have not figured out how to apply it to my fabric stash. The fabric lives (theoretically) on shelves in the basement. It’s sorted into bins by color or theme: red/pink, yellow/orange, floral, animals, etc. When I start a project, I dig through it and dump everything I might want into a box or bag and cart it upstairs. When I’m done with the project, the leftovers invariably sit in a corner of the living room. Eventually I get around to taking the bag back to the basement, but I never get around to putting everything back into the bins. Why would I want to spend time cleaning my stash when there are new quilts begging to be started? Since I use a tremendous variety of fabric in every quilt, this becomes a problem. The next time I start a project, I have to go looking through all the bags of lost leftovers, as well as the usual bins, to find what I’m looking for. Often, I find fabric I’d forgotten I had, which is wonderful, as it’s rather like finding treasure and there is always something I can use that will enrich the next project. But the treasure hunt itself is time consuming.
Last year I even began to recycle as many of my tiny bits of fabric as I could. Of course, most quilters would just throw away snippets of fabric that are less than one inch on a side, thread tails, small lengths of yarn or lace, etc. I don’t believe in stashing everything just because I might use it someday, so I am not a hoarder. (True hoarders drive me nutz.) But, I do save things that I know I’ll use. So, I’ve begun to use all my snippets as a collaged background layer in my quilts, on top of which I add birds or wildflowers. I’m delighted with the effect! The collage process is very freeing and relaxing after working on more structured projects, and the subtle complexity of the resulting background greatly enriches the finished work. And, I’m slowly reducing my number of bags of tiny leftovers. However, the bags and boxes of larger fabric pieces continue to be a problem. It’s one I’m determined to master this year, and I’ll keep everyone posted when I finally succeed.