Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Retirement Collection

For years now I have been telling my husband that I am collecting all my fabric and patterns for my retirement.  Since I will not be bringing home a weekly pay check, I decided that I would have to squirrel away for those days when I would have lots of time to sit around and quilt and I very patiently explained this to my husband.  This has given me a handy excuse to purchase much more than I should at any given time.  It has also provided fabric to donate to worthy charities over the years.  I have also been able to share my abundance with friends and family.  The only problem is finding places to store the fabric and making sure the fabric is cared for so it does not become unuseable.

A few years ago, my stash had grown to such proportions that I was forced to find a new way to store the fabric.  My stash had grown from having a few pieces put back in a drawer with assorted patterns and thread and other sewing "tools" to taking over the drawer and then my fabric alone filled a drawer.  Next I tried stacking it on a very deep shelf.  That shelf would hold the contents of 3 drawers and the stash kept growing!!  I kept reading articles in magazines about the perfect sewing room and seeing pictures of rooms that had lots of room for enormous amounts of fabric.  I didn't have as much fabric as they had, yet, but I really did want one of those rooms.

Then my dream came true and I actually got a wonderful room 16' x 24' for my sewing.  I had lots of room, and was even able to store some other things in my room.  I loved piecing quilt tops and I was a purist and felt every top should be hand quilted.  I just didn't have the time.  It was taking me about a year to quilt each bed sized quilt.  That is when I started thinking about a longarm quilting machine.  I started checking on prices.  This was about the same time my husband decided he wanted a bass boat.  Well I was behind him 100%.  I mean he worked hard and he deserved to have some relaxation time.  So we bought his bass boat and just a few weeks later I pitched my ideal for a quilting machine.  How could the man say no after we had just spent all that money on his hobby and I could actually make a little extra money with my hobby?  I got my machine which took up almost half of my wonderful sewing room.

My sewing room became an ocean of fabric.  It didn't all stay in the sewing room either.  There was fabric in the guest room, fabric in the living room, fabric in my bedroom, fabric in the storage room, and I don't mean just one or two pieces in each place.  I could never seem to find what I was hunting.  I would know that I had some beige fabric that I had used for another project and now when I wanted to use the rest of that fabric and not have to buy more, I simply could not find it no matter how hard I looked.  I had to have a better way to store my fabric so I could find what I wanted without spending a week and still not finding the particular piece I was hunting.

Finally at Christmas I decided, no more.  I have been deligent for years about packing away my Christmas ornaments and decorations in large plastic tubs so they would not get damaged from year to year.  Now was the time to organize my fabric just like I did my Christmas.  I took my Christmas gift cards and headed to the local Walmart and purchased plastic containers with lids.  I think I actually purchased 6 on my first trip thinking I would not have enough fabric to fill all the containers but could use the extra ones to store some of our out of season clothing.  I actually had a plan.  I love 40's fabric, Aunt Grace especially and I had purchased fabric of every different pattern I found.  I purchased a minimum of 1 yard of fabric, unless I really loved it and then I purchased 3 yards just in case I wanted to use it for a border.  Well I could fold the 1 yard pieces much like a fat quarter and they fit perfectly in those lovely containers.  Each container would hold about 40-50  1 yard pieces all nice and neat.  I arranged them in order of colors, I had blue, yellow, red, green, orange, brown, pink and right on down the line.  I believe I made about 4 trips back to the Walmart for more containers before I finished, but the end product was my fabric, gathered from the four corners of the house, was now all in one place.  And I had neatly labeled the ends of the containers with what color fabric so I now could find that elusive piece of fabric that I knew I had somewhere. 

Nothing fancy, just labels and writing with a felt tip pen. 
As you can see it has changed some over time.

The really great thing is how well they fit and I can actually
tell what the fabric is without pulling out the piece and unfolding.
Makes it easier to take the piece of cloth I am trying match and just
hover over the different color to see what goes best!

Since that first sorting many new pieces of fabric have been added and many of the old pieces are now in quilts somewhere, but I have continued using my lovely containers, with labels on the ends.  At times I have many pieces of fabric pulled from those containers as I audition them for their place in the current project, but the ones who don't make the cut are eventually put back into the containers to await their turn in a new project.

I would like to encourage each of you to decide on a way to store your extra bits and pieces of fabric unless you are one of those wonderful people who are able to have only 1 project at a time and dispose of any leftovers immediately.  If you are more like me and save and keep your scraps in hopes of one day putting all those pieces together into a wonderful quilt, then try to pick a system for storage that works for you.  At least that way if you want a particular piece of fabric that you know you have, you will be able to find that fabric without the frustration I used to experience.

Another thing that you will really need to watch out for in leaving your fabric folded or creased for very long periods of time.  These creases can become permanent and cause you to lose some of your fabric or have to cut around areas.  If you have fabric that you have stored, take it out of the drawer or container and refold in a different manner so your creased don't become permanent.  Sometimes I will actually take a container and shake out each piece and toss it in the washer on a rinse cycle and then dry and refold and put back in the container.  This keeps the fabric fresh, prevents permanent creases and your fabric won't dry rot. 

Really the same thing goes for your quilts.  They must be taken out and shaken and refolded to prevent those permanent fold marks.  When storing your quilts, please don't store them in plastic bags as this will damage your quilts causing dark brown spots and streaks through the quilt.  Storing your quilt in a pillow case works wonderfully well.  It keeps your quilt clean and neat and you won't have brown spots.  If you have fabric left over from making your quilt you may want to sew up a couple of pillow cases to match the quilt and then an extra for storage.  Putting your Christmas quilt in a Christmas pillow case makes it easy to find without pulling so many things out of the linen closet in your search. 

However you decide to store you fabric and your finished projects, make it as easy as possible for you, and pick a design created to decrease wasted time looking for a particular item.  These are just small steps to make your life easier and decrease stress and give you more time for quilting.  If you have a special way you have stored your fabric or sewing supplies, please let me know and I will pass your tips on to others to help make their lives easier.  Over half the fun comes with sharing.    I hope you have a wonderful day.

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