Monday, December 10, 2007

The Stash Saga: Part Two



Yes, the braided rugs ate the sheeting stash, but then followed a time of gathering cotton fabrics, from op-shops, from friends, from second-hand stores,garage sales, wherever it could be found. 'Cheap' was the key-word, but 'free' sounded even better. It's amazing the number of people who would offer me dressmaking scraps or unwanted yardage, sometimes complete strangers who had heard that I 'did patchwork' and would send bundles via mutual friends.



Keryn may have exercised some restraint, but if fabric needed a home, I was there! Let me worry about the quality, amount, fibre content etc when I had it home in my sewing room! I did discard the most unlovely bits, and the poly, but even the cheap chinese cotton fabric, so thin and nasty, found a new place in my 'rug' stash. It was cut into 4" strips straight away and rolled up ready for braiding, so I didn't bother to feel guilty about THAT!



Eventually however, I began to actually buy decent amounts of nice patchwork fabric, and then the ugly cheap stuff wasn't looking quite so attractive or desirable. I was still obsessed with using it though, and struggled on trying to get rid of it until I made this top. During the making of it, I realised that I was deliberately only using stuff that I didn't like, that I wanted to get rid of. I decided that this wasn't motivation enough to make a quilt; that like the sheeting, I was putting the same amount of time and effort into something I would never love, as I would into a quilt of new beautiful fabric.



Yes, the finished quilt turned out ok, it used up lots of the ghastly fabrics and doesn't look as bad as the individual bits. Matthew has used it for years and I washed it in the machine for this photo and it came up fine. But, from then on I wanted to make quilts that I loved, that I had a vision for, that would fill me with enthusiasm.



I think I would be worried if I was still collecting fabric without any form of discernment, as I once did. But I can see that my attitude to fabric has changed dramatically over the years, and my collecting habits have evolved with it. I don't feel guilty or worrried about the amount I have, and certainly wouldn't go 'no-buy' in the foreseeable future. I love just about everything I have now, and the scraps that people still gift to me are more about the excitement of the new and using resources wisely than any need for more material.


I've enjoyed examining the motives for the Stash, and realised that fabric exercised considerable fascination for us almost from our first conscious memories. I can remember clearly examining the patterned fabric of curtains, of the cotton playsuits Mum made us, the textures of upholstery and rugs when I was no more than 18 months old. So it's no wonder the love has stayed with us.



When we were children our Mum sewed most of our clothes, and the bottom drawer in her huge cedar dressing chest was always filled with material. We loved nothing better than to rummage through this with her, all of us kneeling on the floor around the open drawer, planning what each piece of fabric could be. Sometimes if we begged hard enough we could even wheedle some remnants away from her. All the large lengths were folded up into important parcels, mostly still in their paper wrapping from the store,but once a fabric was cut into the leftovers were rolled into a neat little bundle and tied with thin strings of selvedge.

These are two of those little bundles, the gold was something Dad bought home from the manchester store where he worked and the brown flannellette was the remnants of a shirt I made in high school during the '70's. I guess I'll never use the gold fabric now, because Mum's hands tied that bow, and I'm so sentimental I don't think I could bear to undo it. So these will remain in what Keryn and I call the 'Archival' stash, which is material that is kept for an historic or significant reason, and will probably never be used. My great-grandmother Hannah's black dress fabric is in there, and other things too precious to contemplate cutting up. So the stash is about preservation too.

4 comments:

meggie December 11, 2007  

Really enjoying your posts about the stash.
I have a piece of old fabric that my grandmother bought, & I cant bear to cut it up, or use it, but I just love it. I must take a pic.
My mother kept fabric rolled up like that, & neatly tied too. I found scraps from clothes i had made when I was a teenager. After she died, I have kept the bundles too.

Jenni @ Fairybread December 11, 2007  

I bought some pretty average fabric when I started quilting - before that I didn't really have a stash. Now if I find something that I really don't like I will try to sell it on ebay. You'd be amazed what some people will buy.

Jeanne December 12, 2007  

I love the scene of you and your siblings around the cedar with your mom rummaging through the fabrics. What a wonderful memory that is and wouldn't that look neat depicted in a quilt?

Kyra December 29, 2007  

Love the organization of your fabric stash! I have a lot to do to get as organized.

Best,
Kyra
www.BlackThreads.blogspot.com

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