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Letter to Myself

April 18, 2005

Dear Karen,

I’ve just spent most of a weekend–and some non-trivial time each of the several days before that–reorganizing your fabric stash. I couldn’t quite finish the job to my satisfaction, but it’s in much, much better shape than the chaos you had let it slide into. Having touched and moved the majority of the pieces of fabric you own over the last several days, I have to say this: Step away from the quilt shop. Just say “No” to the vendor mall at the quilt show. Don’t even look at eQuilter or QuiltShops.com. You have enough fabric. Too much, some might say.

I’m realistic. I know that you can no more stop adding to your collection than you could stop eating–or breathing. But you have got to slow way, WAY down. The closet is full and the cupboard that was supposed to be for books and maybe, just maybe fabric for a current project or two is barely containing the overflow.

Remember when you bought fabric with an eye on what would make your stash more well-rounded, with a variety of hues and scales and visual textures? I want you to go back to that approach. Of course, there aren’t many gaps to fill. If they come out with new colors of Fairy Frost (and not those glittery ones that get sparkles on everything, either), you could get those. There are probably a few of the Lakehouse pearlescents you don’t have. Perhaps some manufacturer will come out with a new kind of gradation–those are versatile and you don’t have an overabundance of them already. There’s space for a unique batik or hand-dye, but it would have to be really special. I could even see adding some conversational or I Spy prints, but only motifs you don’t already have, which are probably going to be hard to find. So if you see that kayaking bunny you spotted in that quilt in the show in Indianapolis so many years ago, you can get that, but remember that you already have things like trick-or-treating dinosaurs and monsters riding bicycles.

Under no circumstances are you to buy any of the following: Fish prints. This includes any aquatic or amphibian life. I’m pretty sure you could make quilts for all the beds in a sea-themed boutique hotel and still have fish prints leftover. Plaids and stripes. I filled two shelves with them and I’m sure there are at least a few more examples buried in the shelves by color that I didn’t spot when I did a quick search. Florals. Your watercolor/colorwash period took care of this category for some time to come. Tropicals. You haven’t even been to Hawaii yet, so I can’t figure out why you’ve got so many prints with palm trees and hibiscus and surfers and grass huts. Trains. Any time now you could start that quilt you’re going to make with Dad’s collection of railroad patches. Yellow-green. From lime to olive, you’ve got plenty, which is odd, because this is probably your least favorite color. Overcompensating, maybe?

I know this is going to be hard for you. It’s fun to buy fabric. There are so many pretty and interesting and useful and funny fabrics available for quilters today. The manufacturers will tempt you; that’s their job. Your job now is show a little restraint. You have enough fabric on hand to make almost any project you can dream up. A plaid and floral Snail’s Trail bed quilt? No problem. A faux feedsack and sunflower lap quilt? Easy. An animal-themed baby quilt? Several times over.

I have a dream that next year at this time, your stash will actually be smaller than it is today. I know that seems crazy–a stash that not only doesn’t grow but shrinks? Perhaps that is a little wacky, but I think you can do it. I think you’ll enjoy meeting the challenge of making quilts only from fabric on hand. I think you’ll feel creative and proud and virtuous, and that will inspire you to continue on the path toward stash sanity.


Your inner coach


One year ago, I’d just made the circus baby quilt. I could make another one or more with fabrics in my stash–I bought a bunch of the main print on clearance.

Two and three years ago, there were no entries.

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