I’m not really throwing anything away. Stash Reduction Project Part 1

I am making huge progress in my stash reduction process. I have an obscene amount of quilting fabric, but not a lot of yardage but mostly remnants and scraps. And it’s not disorganized; the fabric is already sorted by color or style into Rubbermaid totes, and the totes are neatly labeled on both ends. I have separated all of the dressmaking and other fabrics and store those totes in other parts of the attic, so the “quilting” area of the attic contains only cotton fabric, batting, a few file boxes of quilt class patterns and paperwork, various class supply/visual aid boxes, quilt frames, and other quilt-related stuff tools and supplies. It looks good up there, but those totes are whited sepulchers. They appear nice and clean on the outside, but in reality they are crammed so full of fabric that it’s hard to find and use the pieces I want. It’s a wadded-up mess. Every time I want to do a project, I have to dig through tangles of unusable little pieces and strips, and it’s all so stubbornly wrinkled that I have to wet it down before I can press it smooth. I want my fabric supply to be accessible and usable.

I do have a system, but I have not previously applied it to the entire stash. It’s a big project, and time-consuming, but it works for me. One box at a time, I am sorting through every bit of the fabric. Any pieces smaller than a fat quarter or odd shapes are pressed and cut into 2″ strips. If they are too small for that, I cut them into 1 1/2″ strips. Anything too small for that DOES get thrown away. The remaining fabric pieces get pressed, folded, and put back in their tub. If a larger piece is not square/rectangular, I cut off the odd ends and strip those, replacing the tidied-up larger piece in the tote.

I really do use these strips. OFTEN. It’s a very convenient system for me, because I like scrap quilts. I enjoy rummaging through the ready-to-use strips. The problem is that they multiply. In their nice dark totes, up there in the attic at night, some kind of reproductive process is happening. I currently have two 18-gallon Rubbermaid totes packed full of 2″ strips and one of 1 1/2″ strips, and I need more NOW.

A few months ago, I sewed seven tablerunners and two baby quilts from the 1 1/2″ strip tote without making a noticable dent in the stash. Over the years, I have made innumerable large and small quilts from these boxes, but they never get emptier. Sometimes I get low on one specific color, but sooner or later they reproduce themselves and I once again have enough to make more quilts.

I have dressmaking friends who sometimes send me big boxes of their scraps. When I am organized like this, all of their gift eventually gets used. Efficient organization and storage prevents waste.

Now if only I could apply that concept to my kitchen…

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