Fabric Fast

I’ve been trying for a while now to talk about this fabric fast that I’m doing this year (first half of, anyway… we’ll see about the rest), but I keep crapping out a couple paragraphs in. Here was the most recent attempt:

I was in my sewing room trying to clean up the space a little because I’m going to have to sleep in there over Christmas (my family – parents, younger sister, and Grandma – are coming up for a week) and I was shovelling fabric by the armload into available nooks and crannies on the shelving unit I never wanted to out-grow when I finally felt relief, instead of a vague sense of terror, about my fabric fast next year.

I’ve said it before, but let me say it again: I have too much stuff. I have too much fabric. I have too many projects in progress. I have too many future projects. There’s just too much.

It seems like enough to say that, but there are so many reasons beyond the STUFF that make me want to fabric fast, and every time I sit down to write those out, I run into problems. I’ve talked about it so many times in so many places (every other blog where someone talked about doing a fast or why they won’t do a fast) that I can’t seem to sort it all out in my head any more. It’s… you know,… because… Reasons.

Here’s one very practical one: I may have to move soon, and likely into a much smaller place, where I will almost certainly no longer have a sewing room.
Here’s a head-casey one: I shop when I’m stressed or depressed and I hate that about myself and the shopping makes me more stressed/depressed, which starts the cycle all over.

Here’s a rage against consumer culture one: I hate that I somehow feel pressured to buy things now because What If I Can’t Find It Again When I Need It. (Here’s a true fact about the current quilting world: the number of designers and fabric lines that appeal to current day sewists is expanding, not contracting. THERE WILL BE MORE AND OTHER BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Do I need this beautiful raspberry print today? Probably not because three years from now, there will be five beautiful raspberry prints. Or perhaps I won’t like raspberry any more anyway, but there will be fifty beautiful *insert colour of choice* prints. If I’m not planning to use it now, why am I worrying about not being able to find it later? I’ll find something different later and I might even like it better.)

These aren’t all the reasons I’m fabric fasting, but I think they’re enough to be getting on with.


Making Rebecca Lynne and Jess at The Elven Garden came up with this idea of Fabricholics Anonymous, for which they’ve created the following list of goals and rules:

– To use the Stash I already have!
– Finish UFOs without distraction by shifting to other new beautiful fabric
– Stop the insanity of constantly buying the latest and greatest fabric
– Save the $$ I spend on stashing
– Destash the fabrics that I realize I am never going to use

1) No fabric purchases for 6 months beginning January 1, 2014
2) At 6 months re-evaluate status and decide whether to keep going for full year – evaluation July 1, 2014
3) Create a UFO list and complete them!
4) Exceptions:
Backing: purchasing a backing to finish a quilt top is permissible. However, attempting to use fabric in your possession for a backing is preferable.
Books and Magazine purchases are allowed as they are not fabric. Notions acceptable too.
Swap Mama Fabric: if hosting a swap you are permitted to by fabric to execute swap duties, but you may not join a swap simply for the sake of being able to buy fabric!
Quilts for Publication: if you are making a quilt for a publication and need certain fabric to execute it correctly then that is a major exception – who can blame you?

Here are my exceptions:
1. Backings, borders, and solid white fabric if necessary. Also, I have a $75 gift card for Mad About Patchwork, which I want to save until I start feeling a bit wibbly about the whole fasting thing. (Rules for using that? I can’t spend more than the card plus the cost of shipping/tax.) Also notions are allowed, but only necessary items like thread or needles, not items used in the creation of new projects, like zippers for zip pouches or whatever. I want to finish/use up, not start/add to the collection.
2. No magazines or books: I don’t use the ones I have. Also, no more Craftsy classes: I don’t use the ones I have.
3. No joining swaps if it means buying fabric. (I can make an exception if necessary for my only bee, Stash Bee (I’m in Hive 12), but I have a pretty extensive stash, so there should be no issue there. And I should try to swap for fabric, rather than purchasing fabric, if necessary.)
4. Quilts for publications or teaching classes is not an issue.

As for the UFO/WIP list, that’s a tough one. I have a very incomplete list on a permanent page, but I’m going to try to make a list based on what’s in my Flickr acct. This might get hella long. Forewarned is forearmed. (Honestly, I won’t mind if you just close this down here. It’s going to get embarrassing.)

In Progress (Includes Embroidery WIPs, at the bottom)
Catvent quilt top — blocks in progress
Sunshine cushion cover — top finished, needs to be quilted and then sewn together
Confetti Go Lucky quilt — needs to be basted, quilted, bound
Pushme Pullme quilt — needs to be basted, quilted, bound
Churn Dash quilt — needs more blocks made
Doctor Who quilt — need to finish borders
2 Trip Around the World baby quilts (one, two) — tops finished except borders, will be donated as tops to a Linus charity (I have no backing, so don’t intend to finish them) — borders complete and tops sent away
Mendocino Posh Tot quilt — needs to be basted, quilted, bound
Checkerboard quilt — need to baste, quilt, bind
First Quilt Ever! — baste, quilt, bind
Curio quilt — finish blocks & top
Mendocino Mod Times quilt — finish top
Christmas quilt?? — Do…. something with these blocks
Pink Bento Box quilt (Meant to be a charity thing for my work) — finish blocks, top, etc.
The Poppy quilt — Baste, quilt, bind
Eva’s Paintbox quilt — Finish blocks
Amy Butler Pink Pink Pink BOM — finish blocks
Oranges and Browns BOM — finish blocks (assuming I still have this one? Might have given the blocks away…)
Stupendously Ugly BOM — burn and salt the earth
Sunlight and Shadows quilt — ugh, piece top, etc.
Green Amy Butler QAYG quilt — finish quilting blocks, piece together
Blue and Orange Big Block quilt — baste, quilt, bind
Random Blue Blocks quilt (do I still have these?) — create a top, etc.
Hated Houses wall-hanging (something started for my mom before I bought my sewing machine — ie. it’s all hand-pieced so far) — salvage into a small wall-hanging
Plume quilt — baste, quilt, bind
– Christmas table runner (No photo) — Meant to be a gift, can’t recall where I was at in the creation of it
Saturday Surprise Sampler — finish top, etc.
Blue and Brown Improv Block quilt — need to piece remaining blocks, etc.
2012 Modern BOM from Sew Mama Sew (couldn’t find a picture of the finished top) – baste, quilt, bind
Summer stitching club wall-hanging — need to finish embroidery, cut out backing fabric, etc.
Stitch Sampler Along — need to finish embroidery, piece mini quilt, etc.
Tulip Slip cushion — need to do appliquΓ© and create cushion
Daisy Chain embroidery — need to finish stitching
Nesting Place embroidery — need to finish stitching, build needlecase, etc.
Molly Mutante wall-hanging — embroidery done, need to do everything else

Haven’t Started/Wish List (Includes embroidery projects, at the bottom)
Bear Paw quilt repair — at the request of my sister, she doesn’t care how I repair it or with what
– Sunburst table topper — have kit
– Cori Dantini mini-quilts — have fabric
– Birdie Sling bag — have fabric
– Quilt for my Dad — no particular plan, just to use Parson Grey fabric
– Hourglass quilt for my sister — have fabric
Acacia quilt (Craftsy class quilt) — have fabric
– Valori Wells Hexagon quilt (Rosalie) — have kit
– Ugly Welcome Wall-hanging (for my mother, her request) — have fabric
– Oh Canada quilt — uses scraps + white
– Embroidered wool wall-hanging — have wool and pattern
– Gypsy Wife quilt — have fabric
– Bird of Paradise wall-hanging – have kit
– City Quilts purple quilt — have kit
– Pale Blue and White Quilt — have kit
– Reunion quilt — have kit (Is it Reunion? I forget now…)
– Tufted Tweets reflection quilt — have fabric
– Matryoshka doll ornaments — have felt, need to make two for my cousin and her husband
– Varga girl mini
– Talliaferro crewel embroidery — have kit
– Mellerstain parrots embroidery — have kit
– Crewel Twists embroidery — have kit
– Little Garden embroidery sampler — have kit

Did I say this would be long? It was long. Did I say it would be embarrassing? It’s embarrassing. I really need some Off-The-Puter Quilty Friends who would slap me round the face if I ever start talking about starting something new. (Also, I feel the need to disclaim and say that these are projects leading back 10 years. It’s not like I’ve generated all these unfinished things in the last year or two.)(Still, it’s embarrassing either way.)


30 thoughts on “Fabric Fast”

  1. Holy UFOs, WIPgirl! I love the vengeful, descriptive names you’ve come up with.

    I hope the fabric fast works wonders for you. I’ve been fasting for about a year now. Involuntarily at first (moving, no local fabric shop, no money anyway) – but it’s quite freeing in the end. You don’t have to worry about hunting down the Perfect Print – you just use what you’ve got because you have to!

    Plus, I just ordered backings for the 2 fandom quilts and lemme tell ya, the feeling of buying fabric after a year of fasting is glorious!

    1. Haha.. yeah, there are a few that I really, really don’t like. I don’t know why it’s so hard, but I think I should just ball some of them up and throw them away. (Like the Stupendously Ugly BOM. I mean, honestly. Stupendously Ugly. Does that sound like I thing I ever want to finish?)

      The only thing that vaguely concerns me about the fabric fast is suddenly having free reign at the end of it and then going NUTSNUTSNUTS. I’m hoping that I’ll learn a bit (a lot?) about making use of what I’ve got, and then maybe I won’t be quite so quick to jump on everything I like that comes out. I don’t actually wish it on myself, but sometimes I wish I had actual money issues because I’m very good at not spending money when I can’t afford it, but I can afford it, so, you know. I’m trying to remind myself that if I’m not buying fabric, I can save that money and possibly buy myself a better sewing machine.

  2. Your WIP list is totally nothing to be ashamed of! I think most of us go through phases of being totally in love with a project, and sometimes, we just need to set it aside for a little while when the luster has worn off. I’ve got several projects like that myself. I really should do a full list on my own blog, to keep myself accountable, and to remind myself to return to things. I have stuff that’s been in progress for two or three years now.

    That said, I’m joining in on the fabric fast – I’ve outgrown my storage space, and really should focus on using what I have. I, too, fell into the trap of buying to alleviate depression and raise my mood, so I completely understand! I may not be able to be an Off-The-Puter Quilty Friend to help keep you in line, but I’m more than happy to be an online cheerleader!

    1. I go through constant phases of getting bored by my projects – I’m very easily distractable πŸ˜€ I’m working on it though… most of the new things I started in 2013, I did actually finish, which is more than I can say more almost any other year since I first started sewing. My oldest project is around the 10 year mark – also my first project! – so I should really try to finish it up. I have a tendency with quilts to put them off until I’m “better” at quilting, but I’ll never get better if I don’t actually do it, right?

      Online cheerleaders are certainly better than no cheerleaders! That’s one of the things I really love about the whole blogosphere – there’s lot of room for people to cheer you on both in your fabric purchases (lord knows I’ve encouraged people to buy more than a few times…) and in your attempts not to keep buying πŸ˜€

  3. I would like to join you I too have way more fabric than I will use up any time soon. I have it squirreled way in so many places that twice in the last couple of days I haven’t been able to pull what I was looking for. How can I not find a bundle of 15 Kona fat quarters. Obviously I have a problem. FOCUS is my word for 2014. Focus on my Power of Ten and no fabric or other purchases until our quilt show except where a last resort to complete a project.

    1. I had this idea last year that my resolution should be to do more of the things that are good for me and less of the things that are bad. I think it’s a worthwhile thing to come back to, but maybe I need to remind myself of that know and then through the year because it’s easy to lose sight of good thoughts like that. Focus is a good word for me too, because I’m not a very focussed person at all!

      Can I ask what Power of Ten is?

  4. I have been on a fabric fast since early 2012 and i am seeing some indent in my stash… Also if you have a ufo you don’t like use the blocks or even sections to make smaller projects, zip bags, lunch bags, chair cushions it is quite freeing to give youself permission to change what you were gonna do into something done…

    1. I have thought about trying to re-purpose some of the uglies, but at least one of them is so ugly I can’t really foresee that happening! I guess we’ll see… I should really fish them out of wherever they’re all stashed and re-evaluate them properly.

      I hope the fabric fast will help cut down on some of my stash – I’m trying to keep all my fabric contained to one shelving unit, but it’s outgrown the space, so I’d like at least to get it back down to the more manageable amount! Are you going to continue you your fabric fast? Two years is a long time!

  5. That is an impressive list! I did mine and came up with 32 things. I have started crossing them off though, so I’m happy. I vote that if you don’t love it, get rid of it. I mean if you don’t want to do a stumpendiously ugly quilt, are you ever going to actually get to it? Get rid of it! I am trying to remember that I’m doing this for love. So if I’m not loving it, I’m not making it!
    Good luck with the fast!
    E xx

    1. I really ought to get started on some things – I even have the weekend off, so I’ve got time to work on it – but I can’t seem to talk myself into doing anything. There’s a really heavy, unpleasant mood in my house right now and it just makes me want to climb in bed and hide from it all. Or go shopping, because clearly THAT will solve all my problems (and my housemates, obviously).

      I agree about getting rid of unwanted things – I just can’t seem to talk myself into just throwing them away. Maybe I should offer up my uglies on my blog/flickr and if someone actually wants them, I could get give them away guilt-free, otherwise… then just throw them out. Hard as it is to contemplate the waste.

  6. I couldn’t deal with fasting so I’m just going try and be pickier with what I buy instead. There are a bunch of collections coming out that I really want, so when yardage is available I’m just going to pick some cuts of the few prints that I like rather than grabbing everything. And since some colour sin my stash are lower than others (a whole drawer of blue but only 1/3 drawer of yellow), when I do buy I want to try and buildup the colours I’m lacking on rather than the ones I have 34435667 of; without buying extra blenders to just fill them in (I love the new Sphere line, which has a lot of blues, so when yardage is available I’ll grab the prints I liek in the yellow/white/grey colourways instead of the blues as I “need” those colours more!).

    I also shop when stressed/depressed but I’ve taken to just filling up my cart and leaving it and going back to it a bit later. I tend to delete bits out of it then!

    Good luck on surviving πŸ˜‰

    1. I’m hoping that six months of fasting will lead to the rest of forever being more picky about what I buy. We’ll see what happens though πŸ˜€ Fasting is definitely not for everybody, anyway. Sphere is pretty awesome, though, isn’t it? I like it as a whole or broken up into bits. That one might hurt a little not to buy, but I guess I’ll probably get over it.

  7. Wow- that’s quite the list of to do’s. I’ve already had to buy fabric for the Hive 12 block (I’m not a Kona White girl) -thank goodness for JoAnn coupons.

    1. Yeah, it’s kind of insane. I get bored, sometimes πŸ˜€ (Also, I love to start things, but obviously I need to be better at coming back to things.)

      I have solid white, I’m not sure if it’s Kona, but it’s solid bright white and it’s good quality, so I’m going with that one. I rarely use solid white either though. It’s not really had a place in much of what I’ve made, which is interesting. I like a lot of quilts I see done with a lot of white, but it clearly doesn’t inspire me much.

  8. Were you channelling me when you wrote this??!! I feel all of the sentiments you’ve expressed, but haven’t reached the stage of being able to stop buying yet……..will I ever?? Wishing you every success for your fabric fast – I’m here if you need some moral support!!! You do know, don’t you, that you DO NOT have to finish every quilt you make. There are places like women’s prisons and refuges and quilt groups who will take partially made quilts, finish them, then use or donate them. It’s such a relief to get rid of those projects that you don’t want to complete And know they’re going to a good cause.

    1. I have considering donating at least a couple of them (and I’ve donated a few in the past, unfinished projects I mean, to places that’ll finish them up before donating them), but I think I sort of feel like these are too ugly to be donated, you know? At least one or two of them are, anyway πŸ˜€ I suppose it takes all sorts, but it’s hard to imagine anyone actually *liking* these things.

      I think it’s going to be harder than I’m imagining to fabric fast – I already keep thinking of things I could do if I bought a little of Thing X, and then have to remind myself that I don’t really need it or even want it badly enough to break my fast inside of a week πŸ˜€ I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it the whole six months, but I do hope I will!

  9. I like you UFO/WIP list – and your rationalization for joining the Fabric Fast. Just reading this post makes me feel like we could get in trouble together! =)

    1. Looking at your studio/stash (and knowing plenty about mine :D), I think we both can get into enough trouble on our own… I shudder to think what could happen in combination πŸ˜‰

  10. I’m following your experiment with great interest. I have to move this spring as well and I’m worried about how much room my stash will take in storage during the move. I admire how forthright you’ve been about why you decided to embark on this fabric fast. Count me among your online support group.

    1. Thank you, Jane! Nothing like space concerns to get me thinking about STUFF and how much it seems to take over when I’m not even looking. It’s maybe looking like I’m not moving (for now), so that’ll let me put off at least some of the most serious contemplation about beating back the tides of fabric πŸ™‚ (But I’m still not buying more…)

  11. “THERE WILL BE MORE AND OTHER BEAUTIFUL THINGS.” And repeat. It took me a couple of years to watch the fabric lines cycle and see a few collections come out from the same designers to realize this. My life WILL be complete even if I miss a few favourite fabrics. At least, that’s what I’m TELLING myself! Haha!

    1. It’s definitely harder with some lines than with others, isn’t it? But realistically, I’ll probably live quite happily without ever acquiring Zen Chic’s Sphere*… even if I don’t like that thought very much right now πŸ˜€ (And maybe in 6 months it’ll be on sale…) (*Inserting the fabric line of your choice, of course… :D)

  12. I love your thoughts about the availability of fabric – not just as a fabric fast idea but as a fabric USE idea. I try so hard to force myself to use the fabric I have, knowing that my excitement for it will fade the longer I have it. It’s so sad when I hear about people hoarding fabric only to not love it anymore when the colors and prints start to feel outdated.

    1. I haven’t had too much of that happen yet, which is a good thing… I’d hate it if I wound up not liking the things I loved so much to begin with. (I’ve had it happen with a few things, but largely busier, louder prints, rather than any of my blender type fabrics.)

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