My fabric stash and I recently had a chat about the Meaning of Life. It was impromptu–all right, it was an intervention. She cornered me in my den and threatened me with death by asphyxiation under a mountain of cotton.
She is not enormous by First World standards, which is to say that if it were all sewn up, I could clothe an extended family, but not a village. Still, when seen in those terms, it is clearly excessive.
Stash: Please tell me you are not adding to me today.
Me: What? No, no … just these two fat quarters for that quilt I’m planning, and this metre of cream bamboo jersey Frances has been asking for.
Stash. You are adding to me today.
Me: Well, ok, but such a small purchase hardly counts.
Stash: Look at me.
Me: I am looking at you. I’m trying to find a place to put these.
Stash: Get your hands off me, back up a few paces, and look.
The three large storage bins in the closet were full: of scraps for muslins, large pieces of specialty fabrics like faux fur and chennille, and various kinds of battings. The three hanging storage units were also full: of quilting cottons, shirtings, wools, corduroy, silks. Pieces of suede and leather covered the top of the dresser. The green storage bin for Christmas fabrics was not entirely full, but close. The closet shelf was stacked with linings.
The spare office chair was piled high with impulse summer purchases. And worse, the floor–Dear Readers, the floor had three large fabric piles; pieces that there was no closet, bin or chair room for.
Me: Well, I admit that this is a little bigger than it needs to be.
Stash: A little?
Me: But I have plans for all of it. It’ll all get used.
Stash: I’m sure by sometime in 2043, most of it will have been used for something. But you have pieces of fabric in me that you have been keeping for particular projects for fifteen years.
Me: I’ll get to it!
It sighed. I swear to god. Large piles of fabric can be remarkably expressive when they want to be.
Stash: Listen–you have a problem. It’s like you’re a dragon or something …
Me: This will be interesting.
Stash: … only you hoard fabric instead of gold and gems. Like one of those survivalists who turns their bank accounts into gold bars, only you’re fixated on fabric. If the global economy collapses next year, at least you and your daughter will be well-clothed! Or like you are anticipating the zombie apocalypse and you think you are going to beat them off with homemade shirts. The world is going to hell, but that’s all right, because you’re equipped to construct a 20-foot-high wall of security blankets.
Me: Are you done?
Stash. Yes. I am done. I am DONE. Done with endless growth at the expense of other goals and priorities. Where the hell are you going to put your daughter’s new desk with this mess? Hmm? And you want to add more?
Me: I think you’re catastrophizing a little bit.
Stash: You have no need for new clothes and enough clothing fabric to construct an entire new wardrobe for all four seasons. You’ve needed to replace your bicycle for three years, but you can’t because your money ends up all being invested in the fibres market.
Me: I see your point. A stash diet may be in order.
Stash: This goes beyond the need for a minor diet. It’s time to stop. Just stop.
Me, meekly: Until when?
Stash: Until I can fit comfortably in the closet with room to add new fabrics.
Me: But what if there’s a really good sale and I …
So here we are. I’m a little frightened of what she might do to me if I fail to comply.
I pulled enough fabric out of the stash to get rid of the floor piles, and moved it down to the dining table. I then started a list of things that could be made out of it:
- Heavy-duty tote bags (at least two, pictured above)
- Outdoor seating cushions
- Book tote bags (at least one)
- Mid-weight patchwork tote bags (at least two, pictured below)
- Approximately 8 appliqued tea towels (some pictured above)
- Quilted coasters in a quantity yet to be specified but sure to be terrifying (12 so far, pictured above)
- Regular coasters, in potentially an even greater quantity
- A dish cloth
- Little stuffed christmas trees (not that I need more xmas decorations–but anyway)
- At least one tea cozy, and probably more (pictured below)
- Zippered pouches
- Storage boxes/baskets
- Patchwork and applique cushion covers (at least two)
- Yet Another Button Up Shirt
- Yet Another Drapey Jersey Shirt (you haven’t seen the first one yet, but just take my word for it)
- Fleece pants muslin for Frances
- Potentially some dolls or stuffed toys
I’ve been cutting, sewing and pressing furiously. The stack of in-progress and completed projects is growing. The purge pile, alas, has yet to appear noticeably smaller, and there is a substantial pile of fabric still to be put into a project. It is rather depressing as well as embarrassing. How the hell did it get this out of control?
So questions for you, to further impose of those of you kind enough to have actually read this whole thing:
1. Do you any of you know of any legitimate organizations with legitimate needs for these? I’m not a big fan of the “let’s give our garbage to Deserving Unfortunates and pretend it’s charity” trend. It’s crazy making for me when people try to foist their crap on me and act like they’re doing me a favour, and I can’t imagine that this would be different if I were poor. (Do you want this elliptical machine? It’s totally fine except a ball bearing broke. You’d have to get it fixed. I know you already have an elliptical machine that is better than this one and that works, but still, I think this would be a really great deal for you! No? How about this broken TV?) Please believe me when I say that sick children do not want a handmade teddy bear from a stranger, hospitalized children do not feel better when they put their heads on pillowcases made from quilting cotton, and third-world children probably do not need garish and overly-flounced party dresses made by a well-intentioned lady with an overgrown fabric stash. In all these cases, cash donations to relevant organizations are much more welcome and actually helpful to the populations in question.
However, if anyone knows of people actually asking for relevant donations, I’d be happy to do so. (By which I mean, just to be 100% clear, not organizations that are asking for these donations without having consulted with the target populations to get their input on what would be really useful and helpful, but organizations where the targeted population has, of their own accord, asked for the items in question.) (In other words, I don’t want to transform my stash problem into someone else’s problem.)
2. Are there project types I’m overlooking? I can only make so many tote bags and coasters. I mean, I could make hundreds if I had to, but what on earth am I going to do with them all?
3. No, I am not going to sell them.
4. However if any of this sounds like something any of you might like, and you don’t live too far away, I’d happily give you one (or more). And if you actually want part of my godforsaken (and mouthy) stash, that might be arranged. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. It has opinions.