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The battle of the stash

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

I’m still plodding along making Whirligig blocks – lots of Flying Geese and Hourglass blocks. I seem to be using such a lot of fabric – all from my stash – and it’s incredibly satisfying. I think I actually feel virtuous. That doesn’t happen very often 🙂

However, I have noticed something very strange. Maybe this is something that you have come across too. Although I have taken yards and yards and yards of fabric out of my stash cupboard, the contents of the cupboard still look the same. I have a big pile of fabric on the floor and yet when I look at the cupboard, to be perfectly honest I can hardly see where the fabric came from and it’s starting to disconcert me a little. I’m not altogether convinced that when I fold up all the pieces I haven’t used I will be able to fit them back in again. This stash is scary…

Don’t tell me, I know. Owning a stash is one of the defining features of a quilter. It goes hand in hand with backache, dubious eyesight, hunched shoulders and that manic glint which flits across the face at the mere mention of a fabric shop within a twenty mile radius. Add a seriously depleted bank balance; wardrobes full of little squitty bits of fabric; books, books and more books and thread in every colour from magenta to lime green. It is part and parcel of who we as quilters are.

My stash is beginning to worry me – I dare not work out just how many yards there actually are lurking in the wardrobe. My goal is to use it all before I die, but I now see that somewhere along the line I have miscalculated. Even if I had the time to quilt constantly, I think I’m now fighting a losing battle. The stash is going to win. And what’s worse, I can’t even remember how it got to this state.

What if we ever have to move house? If I box it all up, Peter will realize that, even with a rudimentary knowledge of fabric pricing, this lot is probably equivalent to a kitchen extension. Guilt will out.

A while ago – probably the last time the stash scared the doodah out of me – I volunteered to make a squillion lavender bags for the church bazaar, thinking that would get things down to manageable levels. I recruited my daughters (tempted by the thrill of using a sewing machine) to make the darned things – and they worked their socks off, they really did, for days… but when I went back to the wardrobe afterwards I realized that I couldn’t even tell where the fabric had gone from.

I am filled with admiration for my quilting Canadian sister-in-law, who manages only to buy fabric for her latest project. Can you imagine? A quilter who makes beautiful quilts and who has the self-discipline not to have a stash – or only a baby stash in a cardboard box.

Of course this means that she is missing out on one of the true pleasures of the stashaholic. The day when I embark on a new quilt made using only fabrics I already possess. Is there anything better than the wonderful feeling of using up the stash? I’m right there now as I write – and it truly is heaven.

The exhilaration of finally cutting slices out of the gorgeous fabric I bought 15 years ago in New England and have saved for something really special; the snippets of glorious silks found cheap in a San Francisco fabric emporium more years ago than I will admit to; the wacky fabric I dyed myself late at night when my non-sleeping babies had finally zonked out. The fabrics which I have stroked for years and dreamed about what wonderful things I could transform them into.

What would quilting be without a stash, – indeed is it even truly possible to be a quilter without a stash?

I guess I can live with the guilt,

happy stitching!


One Response to “The battle of the stash”

  1. Chris Says:

    And the corollary to that is regardless how large the stash, you still cannot lay your hands on a specific print or type of fabric, so you go out a buy more!