I will have to live until I am at least 318 years old, I guess. That is, if I am going to use up all the fabric I have accumulated over the years.
One day I made the mistake of watching a YouTube video about how to figure out if you have stock piled too much fabric (as if there is such a thing). First it showed how much fabric it takes to make a single bed quilt. Then it showed how to figure out how long it takes you to make the quilt. Then you measure the fabric stacks you have and multiply it by the number of quilts it can make and then multiply that by the time it takes and you get the results of how much time you will need to use all of your fabrics. I am horrible at math usually, but after much work, I figured out how much sewing time I’m going to need to completely use my stash. Whether I have the exact number of years figured correctly or not, one thing I’m sure of is that I won’t have time to die.
We quilters and sewers present a unique hoarder situation. We don’t accumulate a variety of things and we may even keep our houses in order.
But when it comes to fabrics, we can hardly part with them. We save the ones we love the most because we like to look at them, sort them, and imagine them in a variety of situations. We also have ideas that come to us much more rapidly than our sewing machines can sew.
I know I’m not the only one with a fabric hoarding disorder. I’ve seen other women with threads caught on their clothes in the grocery store. I’ve watched women put their fabrics into the corners of the trunks of their cars and only bring in a little at a time so as not to be detected by spouses. I’ve seen grown women cry when they have heard about someone cleaning out an estate and throwing all the leftover fabric mom had left behind into the dumpster. (I am hoping that is just a myth though, like the Lockness Monster or Bigfoot.)
I’ve seen sewers lusting after the fabric in someone’s sundress as they wear it and the sewer thinks, “I can get about 30 bias strips out of that dress if I cut carefully.”
The words “nine patch,” “grandmother’s garden,” “log cabin,” might be just random phrases to the non-sewer but to a quilter, visions of future projects jolt into the mind’s eye and we long for a sewing machine to be in front of us when we hear them.
Fabric hoarders have a very difficult time throwing scraps of fabric. Even tiny ones. We take leftover fabrics, cut them into recognizable shapes with the pieces that we can. Then those leftovers are used in “crazy quilt” squares.
Then the scraps from crazy quilt squares are kept in a Ziplock bag to be used as “crumbles” and some of us just keep an empty bag to keep the scraps from crumbles, but that is kind of silly because there is nothing left to use after crumbles. There are just imaginary pieces left.
I’m not saying this is an illness. It is more of a passion.
Quilters are rarely friends with people who say they are bored or have nothing to do. It’s not that we don’t like those people. We just can’t even imagine being bored because if we have five minutes, we want to be doing something with thread, fabric, or quilting books and magazines. There is never enough time in the day.
I read recently that some people manage their fabric addictions by donating fabric to worthy causes. My eyes would be so swollen from crying at saying good-bye that I couldn’t see to drive to the drop-off place.
Some people, I’ve heard, belong to a fabric exchange where they swap out pieces they haven’t used with people who are looking to exchange some of their fabrics. It sounds like a waste of time. You could have been quilting instead of sorting and making contact with others.
Maybe I think I’m stalling death by buying more fabric. Maybe I think if there are projects to finish, the grim reaper will just pass me by. Maybe I think I won’t be found by the bone collector if I’m hidden under 23 yards of gingham.
In 318 years, I may have to rethink my approach to fabric collecting.