Stash Reduction Project Part One – I’m not really throwing anything away.

I am making huge progress in my stash reduction process. I have an obscene amount of quilting fabric, but not a lot of yardage. It’s mostly remnants and scraps. And it’s not disorganized; the fabric is already sorted by color or style into Rubbermaid totes, and the totes are neatly labeled on both ends. I have separated all of the dressmaking and other fabrics, and those are stored in other parts of the attic, so the “quilting” area of the attic contains only cotton fabric, batting, a few file boxes of quilt class patterns and paperwork, various class supply/visual aid boxes, quilt frames, and other quilt-related stuff tools and supplies. It looks good up there, but those totes are whited sepulchers. They appear nice and clean on the outside, but in reality they are crammed so full of fabric that it’s hard to find and use the pieces I want. It’s a wadded-up mess. Every time I want to do a project, I have to dig through tangles of unusable little pieces and strips, and it’s all so stubbornly wrinkled that I have to wet it down before I can press it smooth. I want my fabric supply to be accessible and usable.

I do have a system, but I have not previously applied it to the entire stash. It’s a big project, and time-consuming, but it works for me. One box at a time, I am sorting through every bit of the fabric. Any pieces smaller than a fat quarter or odd shapes are pressed and cut into 2″ strips. If they are too small for that, I cut them into 1 1/2″ strips. Anything too small for that DOES get thrown away. The remaining fabric pieces get pressed, folded, and put back in their tub. If a larger piece is not square/rectangular, I cut off the odd ends and strip those, replacing the tidied-up larger piece in the tote.

I really do use these strips. OFTEN. It’s a very convenient system for me, because I like scrap quilts. I enjoy rummaging through the ready-to-use strips. The problem is that they multiply. In their nice dark totes, up there in the attic at night, some kind of reproductive process is happening. I currently have three 18-gallon Rubbermaid totes packed full of 2″ strips and two of 1 1/2″ strips, and they are all full.

Last winter, I sewed seven tablerunners and two baby quilts from the 1 1/2″ strip tote without making a noticeable dent in the stash. Over the years, I have made innumerable large and small quilts from these boxes, but they never get emptier. Sometimes I get low on one specific color, but sooner or later they reproduce themselves and I once again have enough to make more quilts.

I have dressmaking friends who sometimes send me big boxes of their scraps. When I am organized like this, all of their gift eventually gets used. Efficient organization and storage prevents waste.

Now if only I could apply that concept to my kitchen…

Warm Colors, Warm Wool, Warm, Warm, Warm

Winter is coming… there’s no getting around it now. The tops of the trees are just starting to glow with flaming, indescribable words. That incredible red/pink/orange/yellow color has no name. It’s just one last gift from God before all color disappears for several months. I will make my home bright, to warm it up. Winter quilts are rich in color, to compensate for the monochromatic weather. Northerners know how to spend winters. The Scandinavians use reds and blues, to warm the season. Dala horses and gnomes. Bright Nordic knits, with elaborate designs. Painted chests and tole painted everything!

It’s time to prepare.

VIP Cranston


I was seriously disappointed today to learn that Cranston is moving their fabric printing plants out of the United States. For many years, I have promoted their fabrics because they were made domestically. It’s always a good thing to provide employment locally. Their fabric has been inexpensive and of a reliable quality. Primarily, however, I endorsed the company because they were extraordinary supporters of their military employees. Reservists are protected by federal law, but Cranston exceeded those minimum requirements. As a military wife and mother, that blesses me even when it’s not my own family.

I am working on an article about fabric selection, and I called their customer service number today to ask some questions. The man on the phone didn’t speak English very clearly, he didn’t know anything about their military reservist support program, and when I got to my questions about the specific “Made in the USA” issues, I was shocked to learn that after June 30, Cranston/VIP/Quilting Treasures fabrics will no longer be printed in the Unted States. They have been printing fabrics in the Unites States since 1824.

From their website: Cranston Print Works Company is a large, diversified corporation with operations in textile consumer goods, transportation, and specialty chemicals. The textile operation began in 1824, at the very beginning of America’s Industrial Revolution, and is distinguished as the oldest textile printing operation in the United States, as well as the largest supplier of printed fabric to the home sewing market. The company’s outstanding reputation for quality, service, versatility, and manufacturing expertise is a direct credit to the employees that work here. We continue to believe that our employees are our strength, and remain committed to employee development. Cranston Print Works is an employee-owned company, wherein the ownership philosophy coupled with the company’s excellence in manufacturing, product design, sales, and marketing, create a culture which encourages achievement and innovation.

I firmly believe in the right of every private business to make their own decisions, but I am personally saddened. I am now on a quest to find new sources of affordable American-made fabric. At the beginning of this war, I made a new quilt for my bed. A very special quilt, made mostly of Cranston/VIP fabrics because I was so grateful for their military support. My husband was no longer in the Air Force, having just finished his reservist commitment, but our oldest son was in the army, stationed in Korea.


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