State of the Stash, October Birthday

The Stashbusters Yahoo group, of which I’m a member, has a long-standing tradition. During a member’s birthday month, she is expected to give a report on the “state of the stash.” The primary goal of the group is to encourage members to avoid unneeded fabric accumulation, and to use what they have. The stash report helps members be accountable for their progress toward their own goals.

My personal goals don’t include stash reduction, simply because I have a relatively small stash. But I shop my stash first, because I enjoy the challenge of starting with what I already have. Only then do I hit the stores, and usually with colors or patterns in mind to fill the gaps. Also, this year I’ve been transitioning my stash to brighter, happier colors and have made buys with that intention.

Stash lives in the upper part of the armoire, sorted by color into plastic bins. Besides the color bins, there are a couple of others with oddments in them, like over-sized pieces that might become backing, and a couple of themed sets of fabrics.

In the bottom of the armoire are other odd things, including some upholstery fabric, an old embroidery project, and a few flannel chunks. I don’t like sewing with flannel, but it is useful now and then, so I keep it.

I don’t keep track of how much I purchase or how much I use, as some Stashbusters do. But it all fits in there, sometimes with room to spare and sometimes not.

Besides the stash in the armoire, I have two drawer bins under my cutting table, and a smaller bin next to the table. They are the plastic units that have three drawers, which you can find at the big discount stores. They’re on wheels, making it easy to pull them out to find rulers dropped behind them, to vacuum or clean out the spider webbing, or that kind of thing.

In the two larger bins are two drawers with scraps. One drawer is random scraps; the other has cut squares and leftovers from binding. I don’t save all binding ends, but if they’re large enough, I do. I’ve made a few scrappy bindings this way. Random scraps get used, too. It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a scrap quilt, though. That seems to be the best way to get the good out of them.

Another drawer holds bags of various sizes. Most of them are zip bags, but a few nicer paper bags get in there, too. I don’t keep projects in bags, but I do transport them and other things in the bags. The other three drawers hold “current” projects and a few orphan blocks.

The small drawer bin also has three drawers. My UFOs live here. I really only have three UFOs. They are sets of place mats intended for my daughters, which only need binding; the arms for a 6-pointed star, for which I have a plan; and some blocks colored with crayons that family members made while on vacation four years ago.

Confession: I like having everything neatly put away, fabrics in their own bins, and behind closed doors. But right now, I have fabrics for at least NINE projects out, scattered on the floor. The projects are medallion samples for the Medallion Sew-Along. And to keep them straight and to stay busy with them, I just left the piles out. My plan is to push through, finishing at least one top a week until the end of the year. That will take care of the medallion backlog.

I am blessed with a lot of space, with my stash, books, the long-arm, and cutting table in one room. My sewing machine and ironing board live right outside the door in the family room. Here are a couple more pictures:

This is my sewing space when first installed. Right now I don’t have the bulletin board behind the machine, and I have a newer, nicer machine, also. The ironing board lives to the left of the surface, convenient for pressing while I sew. The Ott goose-neck desk lamp and the sconces on either side provide great work light. The boom box is moved, and in general my space is a mess. 😦 I don’t like messy work space…

You’ve seen my bookcase before. This photo shows the shelves, a total of about 48″ of shelf space. Books are like everything else: I don’t want my stuff to own me. When I get a book (and usually they are NOT new, but new to me), I put my name inside the cover. Freebie address stickers that my insurance company or alma mater send work great for that. And when I remember, I also enter the book into the spreadsheet I keep. For insurance purposes, if you have a loss and want to make a claim, you must know what you are claiming! It’s good to catalog the books. There are a lot of bucks invested in them.

My long-arm is a Nolting 24″ with stitch-regulator. Nolting is based a few miles from here, and I like knowing that if I need service, I can get it easily. They are wonderful people to work with. Some machines may be fancier — certainly some look fancier! — but I only quilt for myself, and I’ve been quite happy with it for my simple needs.

While I don’t track my stash usage, I don’t accumulate fabric overall. Some times I use more, and some times I buy more. But as I said about the books, I try to own my stuff, instead of letting it own me.


16 thoughts on “State of the Stash, October Birthday

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      I use it. And what I decide I won’t use — and there are some — I give to the guild’s service projects, or to another member of my small group, or even the Mennonite relief thrift store. Someone uses it.

  1. Kathy Aho in MInnesota

    Wonderful space and like you, I prefer somewhat tidy and focused work spaces. Too distracting for me otherwise. Nice Nolting there too. Maybe “someday” I will be able to get one. You go girl! Keep using that stash up! It blesses someone one it is made up into a quilt! Very inspiring.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Thanks, Kathy! I like it tidy, and usually (even now) it’s in good enough shape that most everything could be put away in short order.

      Thanks for coming by today.

  2. pamelajeannestudio

    I wish I could have you here to organize MY stash. It’s been accumulating for over 30 years, yet only recently did I admit to myself that just just might NOT use it up before I die! Recently, I counted 32 drawers, boxes and bins of fabric in one room alone! If it was nicely organized by color, then it would at least be useable. But it’s not. Another thing to go on my long To Do list!

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      That sounds like too big of a project to do as all one project! It could be easier to see it as 32 (or more) small jobs.

      And yes, there’s always plenty for the To Do list!

      Thanks for reading and commenting today.

  3. Deb@asimplelifequilts

    Great sewing spaces! I came over from Stashbusters to take a peek… I also like things stored behind closed doors. I prefer my design wall to be my only distraction. Good for you in keeping on top of projects and your stash!


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