I have what I would consider to be a reasonable stash of fabric. Quite reasonable, actually, considering the number of years I’ve been quilting, and the occasional uncontrolled fiber-bender I’ve been known to go on. I’ve even purged on occasion – most recently when I moved into my sewing room a couple (few?) years ago.
I have beautiful fabrics in my stash (or they wouldn’t be there, trust me on this). But some of them I’ve been looking at for a LONG time. A few, truthfully, were never meant to become part of the patchwork. Focal fabrics, the kind you build an entire quilt scheme around, but set aside when it comes time to cut & sew. Others, equally special, never found a pattern, or coordinating fabrics, or a project I could connect to. And then a strange thing happened on the way to the sewing machine…..
My tastes have changed, along with my tools & skills. And the fabrics now? Inspiring in ways I never imagined. The patterns? From clean and simple to glorious and unrestrained. I was here the whole time, and if it’s this amazing to me, I can only guess what it must be like for a new quilter.
So here’s my plan:
- Pull it ALL out. It’s in several tidy stacks, but it’s also in boxes and project bags. I need to spread it out and look at it. I have collections (sometimes just fat quarters, but sometimes 1/2 or full yards of coordinating fabrics). I have basics. I have fabrics left over from other projects. Not scraps, really, although I do have a bit of that, too.
- Think big AND small. Once I had my mid-arm machine, my quilts got big. Really big. But I need table runners and cloth napkins and tote bags and….all kinds of things that a small set of fat quarters is perfect for. So it makes sense to me to sort the quilt fabrics from the craft fabrics.
- Research scrap quilts. Lately, every quilt I make has lots of fabrics in it. 20 to 40 or more fabrics, that make the quilt sing. But every one has been planned. I want one fabulous scrap quilt. A Value Quilt, to hang on the wall behind my quilting machine and remind me why I love to do this.
- Sort, photograph and document the fabrics and pattern ideas. I don’t seem to struggle with inspiration unless I’m staring at a pile of fabric and the pressure is on. Most of the time, I have ideas flying all over the place. I just don’t capture them in ways that are helpful. I’m not saying make a career out of this part, but if I’m going to finish even half the quilts I want to make in this lifetime, I should figure out what they are.
Sound reasonable? Oh, just one more thing: Let it go. If it doesn’t inspire me, it likely won’t ever again. Actually the easiest part for me. I’m just like that.