Friday, July 30, 2010

Mark your calendars for a Sew-in

Greetings Everyone! 

HeartStrings Sew-in information below!

I have a tentative date set for Saturday October 23rd from 9:15 am to 5:45 pm at the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont, Nebraska.  This is the same location of the past Nebraska sew-ins.  It should be good weather, with that being said, it should be warm during the day and freezing at night.  For those who want to stay in the area, there are some fine local motels available, just ask me off list. 

Since this is the first sew-in that we are having in the fall, the emphasis of this will be tying quilts for immediate use at the local homeless shelters.  I have tops that are done and will work for this project.  The good news is, you can leave your sewing machines at home.  I will have a machine that will be free to use to attach binding by machine.  I may bring two machines. 

For supplies for this sew-in, it would be great if you could help provide backings and batting.  Backings would need to be 70 inches x 90 inches so they are large enough to self bind, by rolling the backing to the front.  Cotton or cotton blend fabrics would be fine for this since they are not being quilted, but are being tied.  Batting's need to be the same size of the top.  What I have used in the past is old blankets and mattress pads (these need to be king size).  I also use regular batting scraps that have been zig-zaged together by machine.  You will also need to bring a small sewing box, that would include pins, and scissors for your use.  I will also have some available.  This should be fun to pack for, since you won't need your machine. 

I will  have lots of sharp darning needles and crochet thread and or wool yarn for the tying.  If any one has any questions, please ask, and please don't forget to mark your calendars for Saturday October 23rd. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Questions Answered Regarding Stash Reduction

A lot of people either through private e-mails or comments have asked how I have come to the conclusion of giving away my fabric.  Before I talk about that, I want to talk about how one begins to amass this amount of fabric to begin with. 

I started quilting when I was a kid.  I had people giving me fabric all the time.  My grandmother helped, and so did other people.  They just kept giving me more and more fabric.  I then started buying good quality fabric when it was on sale.  And sale fabrics can cause a large problem, just because a good fabric is on sale, doesn't mean one needs to purchase it.  Sadly no one ever told me this.  I would buy fabric almost anywhere, and all the time.  I just kept folding it and putting it away, and moving and sorting. 

I came to the realization this year that I was so overwhelmed with the amount of fabric that I needed to something about it.  It came to the point that I was actually going to the store to buy more fabric, just because I didn't want to attempt to look in my own stash for what I needed.  And I know that I probably had what I needed in my stash! 

There is a point that what you paid for the fabric has no course of action in how you are going to be discarding the fabric.  How I decided what I wanted to keep was a bit of a challenge, I had decided to create a criteria on what I needed to or wanted to save.

The first thing I did was look at the tops and sets of blocks that were waiting to be finished.   I kept all fabric, that would be needed to finish this tops and blocks into finished quilts.  This means lots of sorting, and finding backing for the tops.  The block sets need further planing, such as the set, the borders, and then you can determine the backing for the block sets.  That being said, all of those fabrics were placed in the keep pile.

Since I have a large amount of tops, and block sets, this was actually a lot of fabric. 

The next criteria was that I would keep fabric that I couldn't part with.  Amazingly, this bunch of fabric, included no new fabric, and was mostly vintage fabric that was given to me by family and friends.  Some of this fabric will never be used, but its just a tactile memory. 

Next, I looked and decided what quilts do I want or plan on making in the future.  I pulled and kept fabric for these quilts.  Luckily this only amounted to about a hundred yards.

I also kept all neutrals.  And neutrals to me, mean several different colors.  I use lots of yellow and red as a neutral in scrap quilts, and navy blue follows closely as well.  I also kept all muslin, and wide backings.  Once I had these sorted, I then sorted them again, and discarded any white on whites or the like, I just don't like the effect they have on the quilts that I made.

Since I had lots and lots of vintage and antique fabrics, I had to develop a plan for them.  It was my intent to donate anything that was pre 1950 to a local university for study.  Especially since I had lots of fabrics from the civil war era to the present.  Most of it was unwashed and had been store properly and was still very bright.    This was also the time, that I decided I wanted to keep all of my fabric.  But I quickly realized that this was not going to be possible.  So because of this, I kept two 6 inch squares of every fabric that I would be giving away. 

The reason for this is I wanted to make some charm quilts where every piece was different, and I also wanted to have a piece of every fabric that I owned.  I placed on set in archival boxes organized by the era of the fabric.

Once that was done, I had to decide what to do with all the fabric I didn't want to keep.  Its important at this time to understand that my stash had taken over the entire house.   I had rooms full of fabric, and I have actually broken pieces of furniture because there was to much weight from fabric.  If my fabric collection was breaking the shelves, wooden mind you, what could the damage of all the combined weight cause on the structure of the house I was living in? 

So the great giveaway begins.  I knew that the local Lutheran Church made quilts for relief, as did many other church groups.  However, most of the churches that I contacted wanted only new fabric yardage.  They also didn't want to come pick it up for several weeks, which was just not going to work.  The Lutheran Church was the only group that openly said yes, and were over to pick it up the next day.  They received the most fabric.  And were very happy to receive it.

I also posted on my local freecycle group, and another church group contacted me, and they received a large amount of fabric as well.  Also through freecycle, a group that makes quilts for Mason Homes for Children, drove over three hours to pick up 50 copy paper boxes of fabric.  All these boxes held were pieces that were smaller than a yard, most were quarter and half yard pieces. 

A friend picked up 200 yards to be sent to a 4 H sewing group, that has basically no budget what so ever.

And by large, the most fabric went to the university that collects, and documents historical fabric.  They also took many antique quilt block samples, and instructions.  It was great know that all the stuff I wanted to get rid of was going to places that it was going to be used.  Its also important to know, that about 1/3 of my stash went to fabric recycling.  This is a company that grinds the fabric up and uses it for other things.  I took lots of polyester and blends there.

Was this a large undertaking?  Yes!  If I had that same amount of fabric, would I do it again?  Yes!  The important thing to remember that YOU as an individual must be willing to overlook many things in this process.  For me this was many months in the making.  Just not a spur of the moment choice.  It was something that I followed through on, and me being happy out weighs the actual amount of money that was invested.  I am happy and no amount of money can buy me this. 

Now, people wonder how much fabric I have now, and if I do still buy fabric.  I have about 3,500 yards of fabric.  That sounds like a lot of fabric, but considering how much fabric I had, this is about 1/4 to 1/3.  That makes me happy!  I still buy fabric, I live antique looking scrap quilts, so I still buy vintage fabric if I see it, but only if it makes my heart sing.  If I buy new fabric, its usually muslin, or patriotic colors for Quilts of Valor.

I also still buy batting, thread, and lots of needles.  I also still quilt for charity, and buy things for that.  At the moment I am very happy where I am with my fabric. 

But its important to remember that whatever works for me may not work for you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What have I been up too....and Stash Report.

well sewing of course!  I have been hand piecing, because that's the way I roll.  I have 42 of these crown blocks made.  I just need to decide if I want to set them block to block, or put some sort of sashing between them.  They are large size blocks and measure 12 inches finished.  I love polka dots and solids, and so did my grandmother, so these are made in homage to  her!

The next picture shows some fantastic quilt blocks I found out and about for a buck.  There is 18 of them.  They are great!  Since they appear to be shoes and roses, I think they could be from the late 40's to the mid 50's.  I think of those woman's shoe plant holders from the same era.  I will have to do some awesomeness with these,  I need to find a awesome layout!

Now that I am all cleaned out, and got things settled, and am happy with my stash at this point, I think its fair to start over in a new stash report. 

Also while out and about, I have only been buying things I need.  i.e. batting, backing, etc.  But sometimes I still have the urge to buy vintage fabric, especially if its 50's era modern fabric.  Which I did buy some at a local estate sale.  But I even left some and only bought what I love.

Stash Report:  Starting Over...

Used to Date            5.0 yards
Bought to Date         2.0 yards

And since I still have lots of fabric, I am going to be only keeping track of used and bought.