I haven’t always had a huge stash of quilting fabric. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have any quilting fabric at all when I set out to make my first quilt almost twenty years ago. I wanted to make a baby quilt for my best friend who was eagerly waiting to bring her baby girl home. I distinctly remembering going to the local fabric store, thumbing through my crisp new copy of Eleanor Burns’ Log Cabin Quilt in a Day and buying exactly the amount of fabric indicated.
The quilt was a success, so I decided to make another Log Cabin quilt for my mother. This time, I could not choose between all the fabrics that I liked, so I bought a few “extra”. “If I don’t end up using them for this quilt, I’ll use them for something else”, I reasoned. That’s when the real trouble started. As a busy working mom, I didn’t get to the fabric store very often so on the special occasion that I did, I tended to “stock up”. After all, I didn’t know when the next time I could get to the fabric store would be. It could be weeks or months!
Once at the fabric store, I had many amazing ideas inspired by all the beautiful fabrics. These potential projects just prompted me to buy even more. Having a huge house at the time, with equally huge closets, proved to be a real moral hazard. I didn’t see the problem sneaking up on me. It wasn’t until years later when I moved three times within the span of a few years that I realized I had a serious fabric problem. Packing it up and hauling it from place to place was not only difficult, but it was downright embarrassing. “Why do I have so much fabric?”, I asked myself over and over. It takes a lot of space to store it, it takes time and effort to maintain it – keeping it clean, organized, bug-free etc., and having a lot of it makes you feel really really guilty about buying more. Giving fabric away or selling it is impossibly difficult because after having it for so long, getting rid of it is not only depriving you of the fabric itself, but it also means saying goodbye to the idea of whatever you had planned to make with it. It would have been better to never have bonded with the fabric in the first place.
So, gentle quilters, heed my warnings. Next time you see that fabric that is just too beautiful to leave in the shop, unless you have a specific and immediate use for it, don’t buy it. Pick it up, admire it, maybe even carry it around the shop for a short while, but then – ever so lovingly- set it back down and step away. Then go home and chose something from your stash instead. Your closets will thank you later.