Tuesday, May 24, 2011

rescuing fabric

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I have this thing for rescuing fabric. I really do. Boy, was I glad to hear that a few of you do, too! Well, the situation is getting dire. Maybe after my admission here, I'll be on my way to recovery.
These little blocks are a good example. I cut a bunch of my less than appealing fabrics (nothing wrong with any of these, just not my cup of tea) with my Go! Cutter. I sewed them together, randomly, and it looked HORRIBLE. The problem? I didn't add enough pretties to dilute the uglies. So what did I do? Ripped the blocks apart and set them aside for another day, until I have time to start over. Why couldn't I just toss them or pass them along to someone who could use them? They really aren't worth my time and effort.

Especially when I have so many piles....
VERY pretty piles...
of fabric just waiting for my attention.
Each of the piles in the above photo represent a project that Cheryl and I dreamed up/pulled fabrics for back in March when she came to visit. Now, these are what I should be working on!

So, I don't know why I have this need to rescue fabric. Maybe because I like the challenge of making something "meh" into something great? Because I'm frugal? Because it seems like the quilty thing to do? Because I find great satisfaction in using it all, just like our Grandmas would? Because that's just the way I'm wired? Probably a little bit of each...I don't know. But the more I think about it, the more it bugs me! I wonder if there is a 12 step program that I can admit myself to? Or maybe I need to write one. Ha!

73 comments:

Anita said...

I just can't bear to get rid of the less than desirable fabrics in my stash either. Once in awhile I do use them. But they are taking up space for all the pretty fabrics out there.

ecuakim said...

Okay, so I'm looking at those squares and I think if you made really big white blocks with these squares as the centers, then put a fun 4th of July print all around for a border, you'd have yourself a cute red/white/blue picnic blanket for the 4th! But you'd have to ditch the green and pink ones. Which wouldn't be such a bad idea... :)

Emily {Creative Chicks} said...

I have the perfect project for your "ugly" scraps. I'm doing this one, too.

http://imagingermonkey.blogspot.com/2010/10/care-for-some-scrap-vomit-aka-quilt.html

SewSara said...

i can SO relate!!! that's why i hold onto everything ... yet never use most of it.

Michelle said...

If you find a program, let me know. I am SO like that. I think it's the way I'm wired!

beth said...

I totally understand your need to rescue fabric...old fabric....ugly fabric...any fabric. I wish I understood the malady. I don't. I'm just going to "go with it" and enjoy myself! ;)

Lisa said...

I feel your pain. I covet my scrap basket more than my yardage. Does that make me a bad person or crazy? Maybe eccentric! haha. How about using the stuff you don't love on the back of a quilt that is used for picnics or the beach??? Some of my "ugliest" quilts get the most use at the beach!

Lyanna said...

Don't feel bad, I keep ugly fabric too. I have had a few times when an ugly fabric made it into a project and was perfect! It's kinda amazing how it works out sometimes. I think that you're absolutely right to 'dilute the uglies', lol.

You're piles are very pretty... precuts are soooo tempting!

Shawn said...

I know it's hard, I have been collecting for a long time!! I finally gave in and gave 6 brown grocery bags full to our local High School to use in Home Ec or Art,they loved it!

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Piles piles, lovely piles. I've got them too. Sometimes I think they are too lovely to use. Silly me.

pdudgeon said...

you know, honestly i could find a use for every single one of those fabrics. well maybe i'd have to put the pink and brown on the back of a quilt, lol,but otherwise they could easily find a useful home in my stash.

QuiltinMama said...

Sounds like me, only I rescue antique quilts that people don't seem to want anymore (what is WRONG with these people?) Found a really sweet signature quilt from the 1930s for $8! Love all those pretty piles of fabric...I have two bookshelves full (eeeek!)

rachelmp said...

I just love my scraps too, but I took a big bag to swap with my friends at a retreat last weekend and a big bag went to a childcare centre too. Those kids love their crafts!

thea said...

Admitting you have a problem is always the first step toward recovery. :) (I have no idea what the next 11 steps are.)

silversmith said...

yep.... i'm right there with ya! i have bags of ugly scraps from other people. i have bags of scraps of my own lovely fabrics. i just have lots and lots of scraps that i rescue and sometimes use...

car54 said...

I recently spent some time organizing and kind of fixing up my sewing room and in doing so I realized a lot of the reason I didn't sew as much was due to how FULL the room is of "stuff".

I went through my bins and pulled out over 5 large trash bags of fabric I feel I would not use--and donated them to our local Quilts of Valor. The ladies there sew in a local church and also make quilts for homeless families in shelters.

I know the fabric went to a group who needed it--and to a good home, and I made space for the fabric I DO want to work on. I am still very full--it is hard to believe I gave away that much and I still have a LOT of fabric.

mtnquiltr said...

I know just what you mean, I'm a fabric-holic myself! I even find myself rescuing cotton shirts from the thrift store because I hate to think of the fabric being wasted, and actually those shirts aren't so cheap...I could almost buy yardage for the same price! What to do? Quilt faster, and bury those fabrics in scrap quilts!

Life In A Pink Bunny Suit said...

Curiousity now has the better of me...what was sooo ugly that you needed to tear it apart versus finishing it with more of that fabric as a philanthropy quilt????

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

I kind of like the idea of an ugly quilt to just use a lot, but my problem is that an ugly quilt takes just as much work as a pretty one. So, there's my dilemma. Not that I get rid of the ugly fabric though.
xoxo,
Amy

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

I love to rescue fabric too. Scrappy is just too much fun.

Jane said...

It's not just fabric. I have to squeeze every last smidgen out of the toothpaste tube and cut apart bottles of lotion to make sure I get all of it out. I can't just discard anything! Sometimes I try, but it's hard.

I am Just One Mom said...

ditto, hence my blog's name.

BTW, I have a Bliss love thing going on, also... always on the lookout for bits and pieces whenever we travel.

Cara said...

Every so often I make myself purge by thinking of the young Mom with no money who is going to be thrilled to find good quality fabric at the thrift store. It isn't going to waste; it's going to a better home.

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

Ha! Sounds like we are all in the same boat !

Mary said...

I have no ugly fabric, just a lot that I used to think was pretty. Fabric has a shelf life, and it does not always age gracefully. And I need my shelves for the pretties. The others I give away.

Mary said...

The dark blue with white stars and the red strips with white stars on blue just went into string lap quilt squares I made. The quilt, when finished will be donated to veterans through a our local guild project. Check out the squares on my design wall at
Scrapsdujour.blogspot.com.
I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same way.... and.... I keep clothes that I can work into quilts, too. EEK! It started w/ me saving my twins' pretty dresses to make a memory quilt later, and then.....well.... Yeah. I have a lot of "repurposed scraps" just waiting for me to.... save? You put it very well. Your pretty piles are just SO pretty.... :)

etta said...

Ugly, mismatched fabrics make the best patchwork quilts. :)

Keri said...

You helped me finally discover my problem...all I have is "meh" fabrics! haha Some day I'll have the means to buy the pretty piles!! :)

Dara said...

I hear you- I suffer the same way. However, since we move every three years or so and the movers weigh our total contents and my husband keeps track, I do have to ourge wvery once in a while. In fact I just gave 7 large bags of fabric to Project Linus- it felt so good to give and know that so many ladies don;t have a lot of money but big hearts and cut and make quilts. It is difficult to realize that I really can't do it all... that is another title for a 12 step program!!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

You are BEYOND clever at making what could be blah look fabulous (witness your project in the previous post!)

But sometimes the best way to put something to use is to let someone else us it. (ie Don't torture yourself!)

Cut loose on those gorgeous piles of fabric waiting for you, and let go of what doesn't inspire you!

Just my two cents,

Julie

Cheryl Arkison said...

I would concentrate on the pretty piles for now. And next time I see you we'll work on those uglies too!

Char said...

I think I have the same problem, uh habit. I love working with my scraps and some of the older ones are pretty ugly! Scrap quilts are still my favorite.

Suzanne said...

Ah, I hear you! I recently went through my stash and purged a whole bunch of fabric that was not quilt-worth and stuff that I had moved and moved and moved but never used. (For example, yards of one fabric I bought when I lived in Mexico in 1993.) I felt weighed down by a lot of that. Keeping it and not using it made me feel guilty. It went in my pile and out of my pile. Keep? Save? Keep? Save? Ultimately I let it go.

The hard thing is that it takes courage to let go of what i don't need and just when I do, I find some creative soul who has been able to make something wonderful with what I considered "nothing." Then my saving cycle begins again. Yikes!

You will find YOUR balance. I know you will. In the meantime, I agree with Cheryl. :-)

Patchwork and Play said...

I have lots of less desirable fabric which I can't bear to toss out but very rarely use! Part of the problem is knowing what to do with the uglies!

Domestic Bliss(ters) said...

I'm sure you could make something beautiful out of these! Or, you could do a giveaway, I know all of your followers would love that! If you end up with something, please share!

Kari said...

I'm trying to give myself permission to get rid of things I don't love. I have the same exact issue with fabric and with clothing. I hang on to everything! It felt liberating for me to throw out a bunch of old underwear this week. LOL!

Nicole said...

If you find a solution please share....I can't even throw out shirts as I figure I will cut them up one day...

Sherry said...

when you find a 12 step program let me know I also need to go to one.

Terri said...

I have the 12 shoe box program. 12 shoe boxes full of little pieces. This meshes nicely with my shoe buying problem.

crickets said...

I just got the Go! Baby for my birthday last week and plan to do just what you did...my stash is on the older side (took time off when I had my children) and I need to do something with it. I can't wait to get started! (Looking back at these fabrics is wonderful, remembering where I purchased it, what project for which it was intended, or that it made it into...love this process!)

Adele said...

You know that old saying "one person's trash is another person's treasure". I donate all the fabric I'll never ever use to the opportunity store or to areas effected by natural disasters. Don't let it take up room on your shelves!

When we had bushfires here in Australia, I donated half of my fabric stash and thread to quilters who had lost all their supplies.

You will feel so much better once all those fabrics you won't use are gone!!

The Calico Cat said...

There is a quilt with your name written all over it - Charm! (by definition, no repeats allowed, but...) Keep cutting those "uglies" and your pretty scraps & sew them all together. An alternate plan - add in an equal amout of 1 solid & alternate it with the pretty/ugly scraps & make a checkerboard.

Quilter in the Gap said...

I am curious...why don't you cut these "uglies" out and put them in a pile. when you get a bunch do a giveaway on your blog? this means the fabric is going to a good home but not your home.

Franziska said...

I also rescue fabric I think. The seam ripper is my friend. I squeeze bits of a pattern out of the smallest fabric pieces. I piece together. That's the collector in me. :) Keep on rescueing fabrics and showing us wonderful and inspiring projects. Or send the pieces you don't like to someone (that's fine by me). Greetings!

Kristen said...

Wait, that first photo isn't what you're considering your uglies, is it? Those are very pretty uglies! You should come see mine! My cousin gave me a suitcase full of musty old cotton print fabrics from the 60s that I just can't not use, despite the horrible childhood flashbacks it gives me. But mixing them with enough pretties has made them okay.

epban said...

I can relate! I have fabric from years ago that I can't seem to let go of but it is cluttering up my sewing space (and my brain!). Maybe during this upcoming long weekend, I can let some go!

Annie said...

I have SOOOO many uglies, that I just can't part with either - I'd like to make them into something great - that's why I LOVE all your little scrappy quilts so much - keep inspiring us all. We are all tarred with the same brush.

Alice R. said...

I have this problem, too. I have ugly fabric from my mom, nother in law and from when I first began and didn't know any better. Sigh. I wish I could get rid of it because now I so want to work in bright pretties but I cannot stand waste. I'm finding the secret is cut it up SMALL and add light and bright to it. Good luck.

Jezibels ~ sproutbabysprout.blogspot.com said...

You can make a flag from those fabrics, a small quilted one to hang for Memorial Day or July 4th or Labor Day?

summerfete said...

You know if you ever need any of your stash to be rescued I'm your man!!

Clare

Theresa said...

You could always do blog giveaways of the fabric that you just don't like, you never know if someone else out there loves it or not. I'm pretty sure that one of the 12 steps is to purge...

I did find a very useful 12 step program for chocolate lovers that might work well for your addiction. It is a sign that now hangs in my kitchen to help others who come along like it has helped me.
"The Twelve-step Chocoholics Program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!"

Tamara said...

If you have kid friendly prints in your ugly stash, Quilts for Kids dot Org is looking for donations of fabric, or whip up a quilt for them and send that in too!

Deborah said...

I just finished rescuing all my grandmother's fabrics. It's been crazy washing everything and now trying to figure out what I'm going to do with it all!

Cyndi said...

I too, rescue fabric. I obsessively check pattern books that target stash "busting". I don't know about the rest of you, but I have trouble getting rid of fabric like I have trouble getting rid of books. What I have to come to terms with is that all fabric is not going to light up my creative bulb and pass it on to someone who will love it.....one of these days. :-)

Anonymous said...

you've mentioned that you are a die hard perfectionist; so maybe your confidence leaves you when you cut into new 'pretty' fabric, and when you play with scraps, the fear isn't there or as intense? New fabric has high and great expectations. Scraps brings you a suprised 'greatness'.
maybe. just saying.
a

Glynis said...

Ditto Cyndi and Deborahs comments. I keep trying to thin out books, and I think "but someone might need this someday, I could loan it to them", or the children will want this for their children.
I also took Grandmother's fabrics, even the stiff questionable ones, and I just know something useful can be done with them. I've even ... gasp... started saving my children's outgrown clothes, ones I love or ones with a stain that couldnt be passed on with dignity. Why? I have fabric? Because as children or grandchildren or great grandchildren of Americans, or of any overcomer of any nationality, our heritage is long as resourceful repurposers. And from our heritage as visionaries, we see what can be! It's a gift! :D Laugh and embrace the challenge! InJoy!

Andréa said...

I love your "uglies", and if you decide to send them to Brazil, they will be welcome! :-) What about a swap?

Andréa

www.casa-de-reboco.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Sweetie! There is nothing wrong with saving itty bitty useless bits of fabric! It is what makes us what we are....quilters! Enjoy it!!

carol said...

With the higher price of fabric coming into the shops, you'll be happy you saved every little piece of whatever you have! My friend tells me $12.99 and $13.99 a yard is not unusual lately.

Valerie said...

Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey has what I think is a super quilt idea for less-than-pretty fabrics. She initially called it "Scrap Vomit" and did a quilt-along. I think what makes the quilt work is the center solids --- they unify it quite nicely. If you just can't bear to let go, maybe give it a try??

http://imagingermonkey.blogspot.com/2010/10/care-for-some-scrap-vomit-aka-quilt.html

audreypawdrey said...

I am really bad about saving fabric I no longer like too. I am determined to use it, but maybe I should just let it go. I also have a stack of pretty fabrics that I can't wait to get to! It is hard, so good luck with whatever you decide!

Wendy said...

I know how you feel, it's not easy letting that fabric go. Start with little bit at a time. I offered some bits to my sewing group and it really felt good, it wasn't much but a start.
Good luck.

Lynne said...

Have you ever made a "blended" quilt?
I was amazed when I tried this and used pieces of fabric that I would have never given a second glance. Check out "Blended Quilts" from in the beginning by Marsha McCloskey and Sharon Yenter. Gathering fabrics that somehow bleed into one another will stretch your brain in a fun way. Good use of the oldie scraps. Otherwise donate the stuff and make room for the new! Good luck!

Needle little Balance said...

Isn´t it funny how different taste is? Your "ugly" fabrics look nice to me. I especially like the one with the little stars.

I would leave out the greenish, the pink and the blue-with-orange fabrics and the rest would be very nice together. Skandinavian. Summer.

Rachel Hauser said...

I know you're getting lots of suggestions for making it work, but I'm going to chime in with support for passing them on too. Life's too short to work on something that you won't really like. So, unless I have a vision, I try to ignore the unwanted or pass them along.

Rosa said...

Your uglies fabrics will be welcome to Spain.

Annie said...

Why not use your uglies with your friends uglies to make a charity quilt and have some fun at the same time? My quilt group pooled all our unloved fabric (cut into 5 inch squares) and made a scrap disappearing 9 patch quilt which is on its way to Japan as earthquake aid. We had a lot of fun making a quilt (top) in a day, it took 20 mins to spray baste and a couple of hpurs to quilt - (binding - a bit longer!). The most amazing thing was how good a quilt made from our uglies looked and how much we all wanted to take it home with us. We had a great time working together and we managed to make a great quilt in the process. Get together with some friends and have fun with your uglies!

Annie

quirky granola girl said...

i think you have too much love in your heart to give up on any "uglies." again, i find this trait very endearing :)

Nicola said...

Those scraps shout July 4th to me. You have the red and the blue add some white and you could make something pretty cute.

Hugs
Nic

Angela O. said...

You could make charity quilts with them for homeless shelters or something like that. They'll be beautiful to folks who don't have much and they'll appreciate the effort you put in and the warmth they'd provide. Double bonus, you get to use the fabrics AND feel good about it!

Mandy said...

Why don't you sort the ugly fabrics by colour? Then you could use them in a rainbow inspired pattern and not have to worry about the print as much as the value!!!

Carolyn said...

I have been struggling myself with the very same thing. And along with that, I'd feel like before I could use some of my "pretties", I needed to use up some of the stuff I didn't even like. I finally bit the bullet. I purged. And I purged. Some of this fabric I had had in my stash for over 15 years. If I hadn't used it by now, I probably never would. But what could I do with it, being the frugal person that I am? I called our LQS and asked who the person in the Quilt Guild was that was responsible for charity quilting. The lady that answered said that she was. LOL Well, that was convenient. Long story short, that very afternoon she came by my house and got a very large, heavy lawn and leaf bag full to the brim of my cast offs. She was so tickled and it made me feel good to know that fabric that I would NEVER EVER use would be going to something to help someone else. And guess what? There is SOOOOOO much room for me to add more "pretties". LOL