To stash or not to stash – that is the question

When I first started quilting I soon realised that I needed to learn a new language – sandwiches, backing, stash, blocks etc all took on a new meaning.

I also became aware that many quilters took great pride in their stash, almost to the extent that it was a competitive sport.  Initially I enthusiastically started buying fabric that caught my eye without having any plan for what to do with it.  As I started making quilts I quickly realised that whilst I might like a fabric, it would not necessarily suit my quilting style which tends to be modern and abstract, and based on my designs.  As a result some of those first fabric purchases were given away or swapped.

I live in an apartment already filled with books and other possessions so my ability to store huge amounts of fabric is limited. I have found that I prefer to buy fabric when I have a specific project in mind.  I do buy lots of solids, as I always use them in my quilts, but tend to buy prints only if I really love them and can also envisage what I might do with them.

One thing about stash discussions that has always irked me is the “humour” about hiding fabric or not admitting to the cost of fabric purchases which seems to permeate blogs and sites like Pinterest.  Admittedly I’m single and have no need to explain myself to anyone, and didn’t even when I had a partner, but I have never seen why grown women feel the need to do this, or to find it amusing. It seems to me that in doing so they are devaluing their skill and creativity which is involved in quilting.2014-11-26 15.53.45Recently when I was searching online for a scholarly article about quilt collections I came across the journal TEXTILE – The Journal of Cloth and Culture and a 2006 article Hiding the (Fabric) Stash: Collecting, Hoarding, and Hiding Strategies of Contemporary Quilters by Marybeth C. Stalp which explores some of these issues.  I was intrigued to discover that hiding and hoarding fabric had been the subject of academic research!

The article is an interesting read. Stalp maintains that quilters are in a unique situation as they are both collectors, and participants, in a serious leisure activity. She suggests that “fabric hoarding” stems from the perceived lack of support quilters receive from outsiders, families and friends. Because of this they feel that they must squeeze in their leisure practices amongst other family and work responsibilities. In her view this is akin to illicit drug users, with quilters engaging in secretly hoarding and hiding fabric to keep their families from knowing the extent to which they are involved in this leisure activity. She suggests that such women may carry a deviant stigma by engaging in secret practices because, in a contemporary life, quilting is a luxury and is not always legitimated as an activity worthy of the time, space and resources which are usually afforded to non-utilitarian collectors and hobbyists.

My take on this is that the longer these practices continue they are self-perpetuating – if we are not upfront and proud of what we do, we can’t expect it to be given the recognition it deserves.

I also wonder how much the impact of the internet and an active blogging community may have changed perceptions since the article was written in 2006.  Perhaps now these activities are less secret because there is an interested audience and a wider community that respects the skill and creativity involved.

I’d love to know your thoughts – are you a hoarder and a hider, if so why?


Cool cats

Sydney has been experiencing extremely hot temperatures the past few days and it isn’t even summer yet.  Yesterday was terrible with some parts of the city reaching 45″C.  Luckily it was not as bad where I live close to the ocean.

Not good for humans, but also not good for those who have fur coats!  “The boys” were feeling it and tried a number of ways to keep cool. In the afternoon a sea breeze came through and I opened the doors to my balcony to get some air.

Cosmo decided that a headstand to expose the really furry part of his tummy to the breeze was the best thing to do and Pepe made sure he was safe!

Cool CosmoI was cleaning my bedroom, hence the quilt on the couch which they thought was very comfy and just the place for a catnap.Cosmo catnap Catnapping


More progress and colour conundrums

All seven of the group quilt blocks are now complete, although I might do a couple of extras. The brief was to create the seven blocks with “orange”  fabric and which moved from dark (high saturation) to light (low saturation) up the column.

After pulling out all my orange fabrics this led me to ponder the names we give to colours. Because I love bright colours many of my orange based fabrics have the same intensity, so I have been struggling to find seven different shades of orange.  Do peach, apricot, copper and coral count as an “orange” fabric, I wonder?  I guess the answer is “it depends” on how each individual thinks about and describes colour.

I was going to make a couple of blocks at the coral end of the spectrum, but they looked washed out next to the bright blocks.

These are the last four blocks from top to bottom:

No 74, No 6, No 14 and No 5 (Tula Pink – Modern Quilt Blocks)

No 74No 6No 14No5Here are the seven blocks – I don’t think I achieved the high to low very well, but I didn’t want to buy extra fabric just to do a 6.5″ block.  I might do a couple of coral ones just in case. Did  I meet the brief?

SMQG BLOCKSDoes your way of describing colour correspond to how others describe it?

One thing I learnt from this is that I don’t like cutting up and piecing small pieces of fabric! Plus I have just realised from looking at this picture that I pieced the bottom block incorrectly!!! Back to the sewing machine tonight.

Making progress

I’ve had a productive week-end ticking off some things on the to-do list. A trip to IKEA for some more containers to keep my stash and scraps under control. Photos will follow when this is closer to completion. A clean-up of the plants on my balcony and a general spring clean PLUS almost all the Christmas gift shopping done! I’m feeling quite virtuous tonight!

I also started one of my sewing projects which needs to be completed by the end of November, sewing seven blocks for the group quilt for the Sydney Modern Quilt Group. We do a group quilt each year and then raffle it to raise funds for a worthy cause benefiting women in need.

We have started early this time and hope to have all blocks done by December ready for assembly early next year. Our project this time is a quilt made from blocks from the latest Tula Pink book  City Sampler  – 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. 

We are doing columns of blocks in gradated rainbow colours. I’m doing the orange blocks – no surprises there!

So far I’ve completed:Tula 61

No 61

Tula 23No 23 above and No 17 below.

Tula 17