Saturday, December 14, 2019


I really do have the BEST friends in the entire world! OR - they are totally crazy - just like me.

Yesterday was our scheduled Community Projects day. There were six of us. I had things mostly prepped for them when they arrived. You just have to be flexible on days like this because you just don't know what's going to happen. Machines were set up and everyone was given a job when they arrived. They had choices of course!

At the end of the day, I was filled with so much joy and satisfaction - I CANNOT wait to do this again!! In the meantime, I've got a lot of work cut out for me. But let's take a look - it was a brilliant day!

I just want to reiterate something - I would hazard a guess that there's a few of us out there with a wee bit of a fabric stash. What to do with it? Sell it? Give it away? Donate it? Who wants it? I certainly do NOT want to saddle anyone with my stash. It's fairly extensive at the moment and it would be an intimidating process for anyone to tackle. It scares the heck out of me.

It took me 20 years to accumulate that stash and I'm hoping it'll take 10 years to get rid of it! But I'm not going to give it away or sell it or donate it. I WANT TO HAVE FUN with it. I'm looking at that stash as my investment in FUN. Not only was it fun to travel around and shop for those fabrics, but I want it to be a joy to use it up. In essence, I'm doubling my money's worth - having fun acquiring and having fun using it up.

Remember that some of the stuff we're working with was donated - I think two large boxes of brand new fat quarters, some yardages and other things that got acquired along the way. A lot of it came from my stash. Things that I am prepared to let go (right now - more will be on the way when needed).

So let's have a look.

While I waited for the group to arrive, I started going through those four giant plastic containers to sort the fabrics. There was Minky, plush, Fireside Fleece, regular fleece, and some flannel. I kept the Minky, the plush and the Fireside fleece. That filled one giant clear tub and a smaller blue one. Those two went back into storage for the backing of some of my upcoming quilts. The rest went into the working pile for the day. 

I also found some ribbing!!! I now have black ribbing for my grey sweatpants. I'm good with that! It's now sitting with the fabric for my sweatpants.

Ribbing for the sweatpants

I snapped some pictures as they were working. Lynn was zipping between the serger (to join backings) and the sewing machine to make bindings. Here's she's serging away. This is her second time on the serger and I think she's doing pretty well with it!!!

Lynn serging backings together

Helen Anne (who really is the mastermind behind the organization) was busy measuring out backings and bindings. And then when that was done - she moved onto making kits.

Helen Anne - measuring for backings and binding

Rose was busy all day binding quilts by machine. She got three of them done. That's all I had prepped, but they are now done. Two will be donated to Quilts of Valour and the third one (along with one that we finished last month) will go to Project Linus.

Rose binding quilts

Liz was making bindings and also helped out with the backings. She and Lynn were trading off on the serger. We even managed to get a bias binding done during the day.

Liz making bindings

Diane went through those giant tubs of fleece and measured all the pieces to make it easier to work with. She also ended up cutting fabric and helping make the kits. Oh boy -- there were pieces of fleece with dates on them (the ticket when they were purchased).  2003 and 2004. Yikes - that's insane!!!

Diane measuring the fleece bits

And my job? I did nothing! Just kidding - I did a lot of the cutting for the binding strips and the backings and dug through my own stash if we were missing something.

We had quite a few finished quilt tops come in - we lost count after 20, but I'm going to guess that there were 23 or 24 quilt tops that needed backing and bindings. Well, not all of them needed bindings as some of the tops came in with the binding already made. At the end of the day, this is what we ended up with.

This tub filled with quilts ready to be quilted, plus the ones sitting on top. Keep in mind that some of them have HUGE pieces of fleece with them. We'll size it down when the quilting happens. And that will result in more fleece for the next round of backings.

Moved to the "to be quilted pile"

And one more tub is in the "to be quilted" pile. Yep - we emptied two of those giant tubs of fleece and filled them with quilts ready to be quilted. The third tub is back in storage with the remaining fleece and flannel that didn't get used yesterday.

More quilts to be quilted

It was hilarious at times - many of us were working on the same quilt. One person might be making the backing and someone else was sewing the binding. Hmmm - which quilt does this belong to? But we got it figured out and everything got matched up in the end.

Then Helen Anne moved onto making kits. By the end of the day, these two tubs were filled with kits and I think that at least 4 if not 5 kits went out the door with the sewists who were here. Some of those kits are interesting. Some are patterns, some are improv, some are - well - it's doing what you want with the fabrics. I can't wait to see them come back. It's a great opportunity to learn something new.

Two tubs filled with kits
Since we started this endeavor several months back, we've been trying to empty some bins. But it never happened. Well, yesterday - besides emptying the two bins of fleece (actually - we probably only really emptied one when the excess bits get trimmed off the quilts), but we emptied TWO bins that were filled with fabrics. Helen Anne was determined to assign ALL the fabrics as she was getting tired of going through it yet again. As a result - we have these two empty bins!!

Two empty bins!!!

All the "yardage" that remained from the tubs we started off with are now in this small container.

The remaining "yardage"

It's mostly fat quarters or pieces about that size. Once we get the cut off pieces from the backings, then we can marry that up when the next round of quilt kit making happens - which will likely be in February.

And we have a basket of scraps. Actually, there are two more baskets of scraps to be dealt with. What are we going to do? Well - at the January Community Projects day (January 17 - a Friday - in case you are interested) - we're going to be sewing string blocks. I'm going to take the three baskets and spread the scraps in the middle of the tables. I'll have foundation squares cut from some of the sheets that were donated to make pet mats. I have loads of stuff to make the pat mat bags and this is a good way to use up some of the sheets. They are currently in the dryer as I type. Then they need to be cut into 9" squares. I have the backing of a quilt that I can't use for anything good and that'll also be cut up for the foundation squares. NOTHING is going to waste around here. I'm thrilled beyond words! 

A scrap basket for next time
 I picked out a few things to work on - I have two panels to make into small quilts, some labels (on the left), a fabric book, and we found more fabric to make pillowcases (that's also in the dryer at the moment) and we found a bunch of Christmas fabric suitable to make stitch n flip placemats. Instead of taking a kit, that's my homework - to deal with all that.

My homework for next time

Take a look at that middle fabric on the bottom. It has the pink ribbon symbol for Breast Cancer on it. What the heck should we do with it? We also have TWO quilts with the pink ribbon symbol on the fabric. While it seemed like a good idea to buy it - who wants it? I checked with Ryan's Case for Smiles and they don't want it. I didn't' think they would which is why I asked. If anyone has a use for it - it's yours! Or let us know so we can do something with it.

Oh - here's the one giant tub filled with the Minky and plush. This is mine (for the moment).

My tub filled with Minky and plush
Most of this went back into storage. The two pieces of flannel on top went into the large tub on the bottom. The huge bag and the blue tub are filled with fleece bits. Oh boy - what to do with fleece bits?

Back into storage for the next round

Here's the storage area for the community projects stuff. The large tub on the bottom and the blue tub on the right are my Minky and plush. The rest of it is to be used up! But we're making HUGE progress - I'm beyond myself with excitement. I'm so fired up - I can barely sleep or eat! It's ridiculous, but I'm loving every minute of this process and I couldn't have found a better use for my stash. Notice how much floor space is around those tubs and it's all super neat and tidy!! The two boxes of kits are on the top left.

The community projects storage area
After everyone left, I decided to start cutting the fleece bits. I'll cut 6 ½" squares and then I'll see what's left.

It was a wee bit of a trip down memory lane. I found there three squares that I had embroidered. It must have been shortly after I got my embroidery machine - over TWENTY years ago. That water-soluble stabilizer on top was so dried out, it was brittle and basically disintegrated. But they got trimmed down and rinsed to remove the stabilizer.

Three polar bear blocks from years ago
 Now the blocks are trimmed and ready to be used.

Polar bear blocks are done
Then I found this green fleece. Oh my god!!! I made M a pea pod costume for Halloween when she was a baby! This was a leftover bit. Well - it's cut up now.

Leftover fleece from a pea pod Halloween costumer
And what was I thinking with these two pieces of fleece??? Obviously, I was going to make a fringe or tie them together or something. But the two pieces weren't that large. Oh well - they are also cut up now.

A fringe????
In the end, I went through that large plastic bag before it went back into storage. I cut 6 ½" squares from pieces that were large enough. Oh boy - the scrap box is now overflowing.

The scrap box is overflowing yet again
And the cutting mat is a mess. It looks a wee bit better now as I'm finished cutting fleece for the moment. And I used my green scrub pad to get rid of some of that fleece. It sure makes a mess and did you note that I cut that on my OLD cutting mat. Not the good one.

The cutting mat is a mess
Remember those two empty tubs? Well, one of them is now holding the 6 ½" squares of fleece that I cut.

6 1/2" squares of fleece

The other is holding the small bits. Some of those smaller bits could be sewn together to get squares. Does anyone know of something else to do with it? I'm thinking if someone does applique with fleece, this would be a treasure trove. There's still that big blue tub of fleece bits to sort through and cut. But that's for another day. You can't imagine how good it feels to get this under control. It's not finished, but I know exactly what's there and how to deal with it. Previously, those four tubs sat in the stash room and were totally ignored. Now, there's a good chance that they'll all be empty soon.

Bits of fleece - perfect for applique????

Oh - I piled up all my homework in this orange basket which I also found yesterday. If I schedule ONE day to work on this - I bet I can get most of it cleaned up! I have until January 17, but I don't want to leave it until the last minute. OK - done. I just booked a date on my calendar (next Sunday - December 22) that's a Community Project sewing day just for me. If anyone wants to come and sew that day (preferably on Community Project stuff), you're more than welcome. Come out and take a kit. You don't even have to finish the kit - just do some sewing and have some fun!

My basket of Community Projects stuff to work on
Here are the prints that we found for our pillowcase making marathon. I just heard the dryer shut off so I should rescue everything before it sits and gets wrinkled.

More fabric for pillowcases

I'll chat more about that later, but I've decided to devote ONE sewing day per year for Ryan's Case for Smiles. That's December 1, 2020. The goal - to donate 200 pillowcases that day! So if you have fabric that you think you might want to get rid of (and it's appropriate, e-mail me - I won't take random donations). And if you want to make the pillowcases at home and donate them - that's fine too. Just make sure you follow the rules. More on that another day.

As if that wasn't enough exciting yesterday, I hit the long arm after the group left. By the way, our brains were all intact when we were finished. The work was spread amongst 6 people and it was a super fun day!!  I can't thank Helen Anne, Lynn, Rose, Diane and Liz enough for helping out! And a huge thank you to anyone who took a kit and sewed it at home.

Anyway - I got this customer quilt done!!!!

Customer quilt - DONE

 I was on a roll and I was looking at that pile of quilts to be quilted so I put this small one (Community Projects) on the long arm and it's done as well. That was partly because Rose asked if there would be any quilts to bind on Sunday at the Sit n Sew. I said I'd see what I could do. Then I realized that this one is flannel and those ones are tricky. But I'm sure she'll do just fine!!!

Community Projects quilt - DONE

Then it was time to rejig the room once again in time for Sit n Sew on Sunday. Most of the people coming have already claimed their spots. I need to move two machines off these tables before Sunday morning. But not before I use them later today. The next customer quilt is on the long arm and ready to go later today. 

Studio B is mostly set up for Sunday Sit n Sew

Working in Studio B is now like dancing. There's so much space and things are in the right place, it's so efficient to move around and get things done. I'm in total glory!!!

So the moral of this LONG story is - think about your stash. You can't take it with you and it's one thing to laugh about it. But we need to get darn right serious about stash reduction. Think about how you would feel if your best friend's husband called you to deal with a crazy stash because your "friend", the quilter has passed away. It would be overwhelming, exhausting and most of it would go in the dumpster or someone else would be saddled with the problem.

Get MORE fun out of your stash by using it up NOW while you can enjoy it! Find creative ways to make that happen. I just love that everyone has pitched in to help with the stash reduction. Now, this isn't just about me getting rid of my stash - anyone who helps out (even those who have so generously sewn kits) can donate stuff (IF APPROPRIATE) to this cause. It's not a requirement, but they have a choice. The idea is to become more responsible about the amount of stuff that we own. I'm appalled at what I let happen, but this is making me feel better every day about it. I'm so excited!!!!

On that happy note, I'm out of here.

Have a super day!!!!



  1. Yea on your reduce the stash campaign! I too am focused on that even though I'm just 58. I decided earlier this year to "attack a stack". (My stash is organized on open visible shelving I designed/built in the closets-doors off). I got through 1 stack just leaving 3 large pieces of wide backing. I have moved other backing pieces there so it's filled again opening up another space. I then started on stack 2-and the final pieces are cut for 2 charity quilts, placed in my project bag for a New Year's sewing retreat.

    It's good to have a plan of "attack" :-) Cheers to 2020 sewing goals!

    1. Elle -- that's awesome. What are you doing with the stuff you take out?? Donating it? or making it into charity quilts? A plan of "attack" is exactly what is needed!

  2. My mother uses at least one piece of fabric with pink ribbons in every quilt she makes. And she did that long before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. She made a quilt for me to take to my treatments that had 17 different pink ribbon fabrics! So, my suggestion is that you see if anyone does quilts for patients with breast cancer.

    As for scraps of polar fleece, schools may want those for art projects. I gift fabric scraps to several teachers for their students to use when making a collage project.

    You are encouraging many of your readers to do something about their stash. I recently met another sewist who was talking about having to give up her scraps when she moved to our state. I made arrangements to visit her and took three bags full of scraps. While we visited, she looked at every piece and commented on what she would do with that fabric. She commented that we had similar tastes, as some of the pieces were the same as she had given up! Made my day to be able to make someone so happy!