My BFF Sally was here at the end of summer (after the plays were over) and we talked about an Asian shirt she’d made, one i wanted to do too (it had originally been my pattern). I had Richie go down to the basement and bring up my two tubs of Asian Fabrics, and Sally was incensed that I took such bad care of them. We were still looking for another one, so I told her to go down into the basement and look. She came back up with a mission – I had so much fabric simple maundering on the shelves that it was criminal. She suggested Richie load it all up, carry it over to her barn (which is actually a remodeled living area). There we could go through with it, I could give stuff away or have a massive yard sale, and then turn on my kids’ rooms into a sewing room that wasn’t dark and dank.
And so we did.
Richie has a full size pickup, with a full-size bed (for people who don’t know pickups, a lot of them are short-beds, making them easier to park, etc). Richie filled the truck three times with my fabric, worse than even I had thought, and then Sally and I got to work. We went through tub after tub, sorting the stuff first by what I was willing to give Sally (A lot) and stuff for the supposed craft yard sale). Once we did that, we started going through all the quilting fabrics, dividing them by color/motif/etc. I have Asian, Asian Blues, Christmas panels, Christmas reds, Christmas Greens, Christmas blues (I have way too much Christmas fabric, and I gave away a ton, plus made four Christmas quilts already). Baby fabrics, animal fabrics, geometrics, homespuns, northwoods, batiks, flannels, Asian panels, magic, Laurel Burch, 30s fabric … and of course every color under the sun. And that was just the quilting fabric. I gave Sally almost all my flannels, almost all my Batiks (I’m one of the few quilters who isn’t batik-mad. I like them, of course, but I tend to me seduced by Asian and novelty fabrics).
But I had two huge tubs of fleece (I’ve making a ruin from a vogue pattern pretty soon- dead simple and really warm). I large tub of knits. A container of fabrics I bought t G Street Fabrics twenty years ago with Kathy Seidel (I have fabrics that are more than 40 years old). I have wools, and heavy weight cottons and denim. And then there are the doll clothes fabric, and my head reels. Not to mention three large tubs full of UFOs and Brainstorms (bunches of coordinating fabrics that I haven’t figured out what to do with).
We brought my stuff back in one truck load, so that was real progress.
So – I have Asian fabrics and colors against the back wall, UFOs and colors on the side wall, Christmas and novelties on one front wall, apparel and doll clothes on the other shelf (I’m reusing the plastic shelves from the basement to hold all this stuff.)
I’m out of space. I really gave away at least half my stuff, and I’ve still got too much. The thing is, I was very self-indulgent when it came to fabric. If I liked it I bought it – there were prices on stuff I gave to Sally that horrified me, and I’m guessing it was at least $2k worth, possibly more.
Now I’ve got container after container of notions, threads, laces, elastic, etc. I figure I’ll consolidate the tubs into two or three, plop myself on the bed upstairs, stream something on the tv (nothing with subtitles) and sort through them. Obviously I’ve got more than enough containers – I’m going to have lots left over.
And in all this stuff I still have tons that I could give away, that I’m holding on to for no particular reason. Gotta make myself do that too.
The problem with drowning in fabric is that the chaos pretty much smothers your creativity. If everywhere you look there are bursts of disorganized color you look at it and sigh. Breaking all of it down, culling through it, suddenly makes creativity possible again.
As for the yard sale, we gave that up fairly early as Sally couldn’t resist more and more of the fabric I was giving up. At that point I was going to figure out some kind of craft swap, but the pile kept dwindling. I gave seven tubs of stuff to my theater organization for costumes, plus two grocery bags of costume partners, and then someone working for Sally took the rest: a young woman who cleans houses and works like crazy just to make it, who had lots of friends in a similar situation, and that’s just where I wanted the stuff to go. So I was saved the trouble of a yard sale or a swap and got the stuff to the right kind of place.
Next, I thought I’d give all my scrapbooking to the elementary school.
I’m keeping track of all the UFOs (three quilt tops, at least, to baste and quilt, and soooooo many others projects. Maybe I should learn to do spreadsheets.
But it’s been quite wonderful, to finally remember what I’ve got.
I did lose stuff that I really loved. I gave Sally almost everything she wanted (it’s possible that she ended up with more than me) but there were a couple of projects that I wasn’t ready to let go of. I let her take them with the proviso that I would take them back if she didn’t use them, but when she got all the stuff back to Ann Arbor everything got separated and integrated into color piles, and I feel a little mournful about them. But I had too much, and even if I lost stuff I really wanted (did you ever notice I have trouble NOT sharing? A lot of people can’t share – I’m the other way. I have a hard time holding on to things I love). Anyway, even if I lost stuff I have enough to keep me busy even if I live to 120. So it’s all good.
At this point, once I finish up the stragglers (the notions and thread and catologuing the rest of the UFOS) I can face the sewing room with joy once more. I’m a Taurus – I adore fabric (and China, and silver, and linens, and …at least my Scorpio rising keeps me under control). And I went to a quilt show last week and barely glanced at the vendors, which is often the main reason I go. I haven’t bought much fabric in years – now I can stop living in the past with my quilting and start moving forward.