Sunday, July 24, 2011

Organizing the stash

Yes, today is the day to start organizing the stash. I have been reading about various ways to organize and I finally decided to go for it. These baskets house less than half of my stash. It is already fairly well sorted by color, except for a few special categories that I keep separately (Kaffe Fassett, Nancy Halvorsen, Batiks, Christmas, and large multi-color prints).

The problem is that within a basket I can't see everything and I have no idea how much there is of any particular fabric.

Most of the articles I read had a lot of talk about how to fold and store yardage. My stash has very little yardage and a whole lot of scraps. My friend Fay turned me on to the Bonnie Hunter method of dealing with scraps and that's when I started seeing the possibility of a real solution. Bonnie encourages you to go ahead and cut your scraps into pre-determined sizes so that when you're ready to make a scrappy quilt, your fabric is already cut and ready for you to sew. At first I was really nervous about cutting up my already small pieces of fabric, but after looking at all the quilts Bonnie has made using her scrap system, I was hooked. Check out Bonnie Hunter's web site Quiltville. Here's one little stack from the blue bin. See what I mean about all different shapes and sizes.

Can you believe this is the same fabric? I love it already.

Everything has a home and I'll know just what I have. On the cutting mat are 5" squares, 3 1/2" squares, 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" bricks, 2 1/2" squares, 2" x 3 1/2" bricks, 2" squares, 3 1/2" strips, 2 1/2" strips, and 2" strips. A strip is considered anything that is 12" or longer. In the first jar is scraps for the birds. It's the tiniest of pieces and threads from squaring up fabric or blocks. Put them outside in the spring and the birds will use them in their nest building. The birds around here will have the prettiest nests around. The second jar holds crumbs. These are tiny pieces that are too small to be cut into any standard piece, but still big enough to be sewn. The third jar holds strings, which are narrow strips and scraps used in string quilting. The last jar holds 1 1/2" squares.

I was very excited to be making my fabric stash more accessible and usable with very little waste. I was even cutting off usable selvages and putting them in a special bowl. And then I looked in the trash can.

Look at all that fabric. I am trying to be more conscientious about wasting things so this much fabric in the trash can just would not do. To rescue it, I am making a muslin pillow form. All of the scraps that are too small to sew will be thrown in the pillow form. When it is stuffed full, I'll make a scrappy pillow cover for it. Waste resolved.

Cutting up an entire stash of scraps is not a job for the faint of heart. What I've shown here represents about one tenth of my blue fabric stash. It will take a really long time to get this all done. However, I enjoyed what I've done so far. It is relaxing in the sense that as I cut a fabric, I think about what it was originally used for, who else I know that has some of the same fabric, and what else was going on when that fabric came into my stash.

As an added incentive, I asked my husband to pick out his favorite quilt on Bonnie Hunter's web site. We're trying to have a homemade Christmas this year, so a scrappy quilt just got added to my list. I guess I better get busy cutting some more scraps.

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