The Quilter’s Stash (and Maintenance)

We quilter’s love (LOVE!) to collect fabric. For each new piece added to our stash there is a limitless list of possibilities and endeavors. Fabric is a quilter’s passion – well, next to quilting.

Every few years I cull through my insanely large stash and refold and reorganize. Since I have recently returned from vacation, I have discovered that my stash is in dire need of this activity and it took me weeks to accomplish!

The need for reorganizing is easy to understand. A properly organized stash allows you to quickly find that perfect color match for your next quilt without digging through countless yardages of fabric. (Unless you prefer to spending hours searching and petting fabric rather than sewing – to each their own!) I’m a little OCD, so, I need my stash to be organized by the color wheel. In other words all the blues are together – lightest to darkest. Same for my reds and blue-reds (a.k.a. purples). (I took a color theory class eons ago and my husband is adamant that it has ruined my color perception. I disagree of course because there are some “purples” that are more red than others and putting them in the class of just purple seems just wrong so they are my red-violets!) There should be fabric that fits into each color on the color wheel for your stash to be complete and functional. Also, organizing by the color wheel helps you realize that, when your favorite color is blue, there’s never enough blues in your stash (and never enough space for the blues)!

The reason for refolding is the same reason heirloom quilts are refolded – to reduce creasing and wear along fold line. I do this because … warning I’m about to confess to something quite profound … there are some pieces of fabric I haven’t found a use for in 12 years!!!! I blame these purchases on temporary chemical imbalances in my system at the time of purchase (hormones…evil hormones). However, I am an optimist – one day they will be used in a quilt! Also, you know how all fabric purchased is folded in half on the bolt and that nasty crease line through your beautiful 42” wide fabric? Yea, that crease line. The longer it’s there the more ironing and Best Press it takes to remove it. (BTW, Best Press is awesome!)

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Now that I’ve explained why I do this chore. I saw a Pinterest Pin on fabric storage that peaked my interest. Like most everyone, I have been disillusioned on the actual realistic functionality of most Pinterest pins. (My cucumber trellis fell over 3x one year – the trellis idea came from Pinterest.) I figured I would try this particular idea. It involved magazine backer boards. You know, it worked AND it wasn’t expensive! Below are the before and after for half my blues (yea, I really do love blue).

The blues are organized by how much red or green they have then by value. I might tweak over the next few months – or maybe actually use my fabric in a quilt (shocker!!!) so that it’s not taking up all the space available in my sew room.

It was a huge chore, but it was so worth it for my little sew room!

Have fun sewing (or organizing fabric)!

Nelum

The Dilemma with Gorgeous Large Print Fabrics

As I was laying out fabrics for my next set of mug rugs, I had set aside this beautiful blue large print fabric along with a couple of complimentary fabrics.

I go through 2 phases of fabrics selection — well most of the time – sometimes 2 phases isn’t enough! The first phase is just colors – selecting a collection of fabrics with colors that would look fabulous together. Next might be several iterations of ironing and laying out the fabrics and taking a close look at the printed designs on it. I need to answer several questions before the fabric is used.

  1. Does the fabric look good in small pieces? (Because, let’s just face the fact that, as a quilter, I cut up fabric to sew it together into a beautiful, harmonious quilt – ultimate goal is harmony in design, color, and texture.)
  2. Will the chosen quilt/block pattern do justice to the fabric?
  3. Will I need to fussy cut to attain the desired end product? If, yes, will fussy cutting add or take away from the fabric, and thusly, to the overall quilt?

For example, look at the above fabric. In its wholeness, it is quite a magnificent piece. Now, imagine it in 2″ x 2″ squares. Each square would look different. Some would have a dark blue background and others a white background. Some would have leafy, flowery curves and others straight lines and geometric shapes.

I could fussy cut it, but then I’d lose the beauty in the parts I elected not to use in the quilt.  This fabric screams to be used in a much larger design and, as a result, it was ironed, refolded and placed back into my stash – for now! 


Love of batiks

I grew up appreciating art and artists. You see, both my parents are artists though now mostly retired:  my mom with her sewing and fabric, and my dad with his ink-line drawings. My dad, when he wasn’t helping my mom with the tailoring business, would sit and draw. My parents had a huge appreciation for batiks, because it is a large art form in Sri Lanka. I remember visiting an artist in Sri Lanka that sold batik shirts. This artist used the canting method to make batiks. It is a lengthy process of hand painting designs onto a cloth with wax, dying the fabric, adding wax for the next dye color repeating this process until the batik had the desired colors and patterns.

To this day I love batiks — doesn’t matter if it’s the canting process or the stamping process. When you hold a gem up to the light, remember how it just glows? Well, batiks do that for me. The colors in batik fabrics seems to be so rich that they glow. Also, because it is dying and not printing, the color has a lot of variation, which makes batik fabrics difficult to work with in quilts, but when you get the perfect combination and layout the quilts are just magnificent!

Also, batiks have a higher thread count, largely due to the resin and dyes (more threads holds the resin or dyes better). When you buy sheets, you will notice the higher quality sheets have a higher thread count. Same rules applies to cotton quilting fabrics: higher quality means higher thread count. The higher the quality of the fabrics used in a quilt means the quilt will last longer.

Thus, you now understand my sincere love of batiks. That’s not to say I won’t use printed fabrics but I will always gravitate to my batiks…always.