I am currently almost 6 months into my self-imposed challenge to go an entire year without buying any fabric. Am I crazy? Maybe a bit. But I realized that every time I bought new fabric, I tended to use it in a project. My stash, collected over years and years was going mostly unused. I hardly ever checked it when I needed a certain blue or green; it was more fun to go shopping and buy something new. You know they say that most of us wear 20 percent of our wardrobe 80 percent of the time. I think my stash was much the same. 80 percent of it was just sitting there, unused.
Around the same time that I made this realization, my husband and I became empty nesters. With both kids in college I had more time to quilt, but a little less expendable income. Making better use of my stash seemed like a perfect solution on all fronts.
A few "friends" have commented that I need to continue to buy fabric to help the economy. However, many of them are doing their part and mine, too, by buying yards and yards of gorgeous cottons on a regular basis.
Some people think I must be a tree hugging environmentalist, since I often use unconventional items in my quilts, like fabric from men’s shirts and ties, soda can pop tabs, bottle caps, old keys, etc. I’m not so much an environmentalist as I am an artist who likes to use found objects. Though I do think we all need to be responsible in conserving energy and natural resources.
Above is a quilt I recently completed, titled "Spring Break." The pattern was done using the technique I developed, as explained in my my book, Fabric Photo Play, AQS, 2005. It is made from quarter inch strips of fabric, all found in my stash.
As I go through this process, I’m sorting one color of my stash each month. As I press and refold the fabrics, I’m making new discoveries each day. I’d forgotten I had such cool fabric tucked away. Each piece is like an old friend stopping by to get reacquainted. And I’m loving these renewed friendships! These fabrics are turning up in lots of new projects.
I’m pledging to make a "stash" quilt every month this year. The above quilt is my January stash quilt. It’s amazing how many quilts there are in my stash, just waiting to be created. I can’t wait to see how they all turn out. The longer I go without buying fabric, the less desire I have. It’s become a fun challenge to turn out quilt after quilt without buying anything new.
I’m not trying to convert anyone. Go ahead and buy that fabric you love! I harbor no ill feelings towards you! Trust me, when my year is up, I’ll be the first in line at the fabric store!
To sum up, my message is very simple. Make use of what you have. Appreciate what you have. Take care of what you have. It’s not about using up your stash. It about MAKING USE OF YOUR STASH!