Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Throttling My Excess

Today I culled fabric from my fabric closet.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is only one of my three fabric closets. This closet houses garment cottons and blends, not to be confused with the closet for fine silks and suiting fabric, or the linen closet overflowing with knits.

The cotton closet is the least visited. My first fabric closet love is the silk closet. I spend hours and hours in the silk closet. I fondle the pieces, admire the colors, or rearrange the contents as an excuse to touch each luscious yard. Though I seldom sew knits, I seem to visit the knits closet fairly often. The poor cotton closet seldom gets more than a brief nod as I toss a wad of fabric on a shelf or drop more fabric on the floor.

Well, no more! No more piles on the floor, and no more wads of fabric on the shelves.  Everything is neatly folded and categorized. I would be proud to host visitors in this closet.
And… I’ve honed down my stash. There are four thrift store bound bags in the front hall and our trashcan is two bags heavier.

Sorting was different this time. In the past, when I sorted fabrics, my routine was simple. I would pick up something and ask myself, "Is this beautiful? Is it valuable to me? Would it be hard to replace” If the answers were yes, the fabric reclaimed its place on the shelf.

But I’ve added new questions, "How many fabrics do I have that are more appealing to sew before I would pull this one out of the closet?”  and “Is there any chance I could all of those (and get to this one) before I die?"

As you can imagine, these questions are a fast path to paring down.

I actually loved spending time in the closet (the fabric closet – get your mind back on track.) For one thing, I found fabrics I couldn’t remember buying.  It’s not that I have a perfect memory. I often forget my husband’s name and it’s not unusual to for me to stumble over my son’s moniker but I have never forgotten a piece of fabric. I know my fabric I know where and when I bought each and every piece; I know the content and how much I paid. But… there was fabric in that closet I’ve never seen before. Could it be breeding?

And there are fabrics I remember, but can’t figure out why I would buy them. For instance, the 10 yards of deep wine (almost brown) silk broadcloth. 10 yards, really? Or the cotton that’s almost exactly the same color. Nine yards of that one. I could re-cover every chair in the house with those.

Now that I’ve rearranged, I have a gray section. Oh, the fabrics are luscious, sweet cottons, a pale gray tweed, three coordinating gray and white prints, even a silvery gray knit that had to be in this closet to be with its color mates. The section shimmers richly. But, I look terrible in gray. OK, maybe I need a piece or two to round out my samples, but a whole section?

And I have obviously done a good job of purchasing white fabric for testing embroidery designs. I was unfolding each piece and measuring, but at 40 yards I stopped counting. I’m stocked for the rest of my life and several other people’s as well.

After going through this closet, I’m glad that stretch jeans are “in'”. I won a Jalie jeans pattern and am looking forward to trying it. Luckily, I have enough stretch denim to make six or eight pairs of jeans and still leave enough for my fitting muslin.

In general, I have changed my attitude towards my stash. I want to use it, and use the best. Why not? What am I waiting for, till I’m 90 and tottering around, looking for fabric?  A few weeks ago I went wild and crazy and used some 4-ply silk for a luscious, flowing summer dress. The silk drapes beautifully, a nice heavy fabric with a perfect hand.  This sold me. The next time I sew I’m going to use my best fabric. That’s another reason to weed out the least desirable fabrics in my stash.