Unpacking / Fabric thoughts

Whereas January may have been one long joyous crafting / cooking bonanza, February is about unpacking now that we’re back in our actual flat. We’ve been back about a week and a half now, still unpacking. I tell you, if, when we move next time, which will be in approximately 2 years time, you can hold me to that, if I am ever tempted to write the word ‘stuff’ on a packing box again, I might as well just chuck it all out there and then. I can tell you that I am very mindful that when I pack belongings away in whichever nook and cranny I somehow find in this flat, if the next time I touch it is to put it in another packing box when we move again, well . . .

Anyway, the new flat (and it does feel new, even though we’ve lived here for 8 years now) is lovely; the bathroom is beautiful and the kitchen, well, it’s completely changed how we use it. Previously the kitchen was so cramped only one person could be in it at a time, now, thanks to significantly reducing the amount of units and their width on one side of our galley kitchen and installing a breakfast bar, the kids eat all their meals in there (and I often join them by standing up and eating with them). It’s light, bright and airy but I’ll gush more about it when the final bits and pieces are up (umm in the kitchen it’s just the clock thinking about it) and I can take some photos and write a blog post about it.

Anyway, back to the unpacking, I was unpacking my fabric yesterday, now I know I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I have too much fabric but I think actually, from other blogs I read, that my stash isn’t that big, compared to some people’s, but I have too much fabric for this flat. I don’t know how anyone else divides their fabric but I always split my fabric into large metre+ pieces, pieces between roughly a fat quarter and a metre and scraps less than a fat quarter, I actually surprised myself yesterday that I managed to get all of my scraps into the two storage containers I’d bought for them, who’d have thought folding scraps neatly instead of just bunging them all in meant you could fit more in 😉


(Containers from Tiger – the smaller container on the right is meant to be for buttons and zips etc for current projects but is currently stuffed with ‘stuff’ from the aforementioned ‘stuff’ boxes)

When sorting through the scraps yesterday I tried my best to be at least reasonably ruthless, by throwing out any scraps that were so small I couldn’t even get a single hexagon out of and I managed to throw out quite a bit that way, but some fabric, the last few tiny bits of precious fabric that I’ve adored and have featured in so many of the projects I’ve made over the years, that was hard and I’ll admit, some stayed. It made me think though, what separates those fabrics that I regularly return to, use bits of in just about everything I make if I can find the excuse, from the fabric that sits in my stash and when I look at it now I kinda wonder why on earth did I buy it? I don’t deliberately go out and buy ‘meh’ fabric. I think online fabric shopping has a little to answer for this, you can make a pretty good judgement call on whether you’re going to like a design based on a picture but sometimes you get the real thing in the post and the actual fabric the design is printed on doesn’t feel ‘right’ or the colours aren’t quite what you expected or the design not quite the size you thought. Buying packs of random designs where all you know is the theme or the colour, is also risky and I’ll admit I have some fabric in my collection that I absolutely loathe, that has come in that way but I can’t get rid of because ‘I paid good money for it’. But then again real world fabric stores don’t offer that much choice, at least near me. And then there’s the fabric that’s been bought for something specific, maybe to make a present for someone and consequently the fabric’s in colour tones I don’t normally feel comfortable with, I have some of that to left over from various projects that way. And then there’s the ‘filler’ fabric, bought because its tones complement a fabric I do love but the filler fabric was a compromise as there wasn’t much choice and consequently I don’t like it that much. And then there’s the impulse buys, the impulses that should have been squashed or the fabric given as gifts that doesn’t always work. Oh and the fabric bought for internet challenges, where I’m having to bend my taste into someone else’s criteria (one of the reasons why I’ve stopped doing those).

So I’ve covered the ‘don’t like’ but what makes me fall in love with a fabric? Well sometimes the impulses do work, I on a whim last year bought three small pieces of screen printed fabric someone had linked to on twitter, because the design reminded me of tiles, I love that fabric and small pieces of it (only small pieces, I’m eeking this stuff out!) is appearing in so much stuff I make and I know I’ll still be clinging to the last few centimetres in my scrap basket, years from now. Then there’s fabric that is just pure fabric lust from the word go, the V&A quilt range fabric definitely falls in that category, in fact a lot of the V&A repro fabrics do that for me (but conversely some are in my meh range).Then there’s the fabric that reminds me of specific things I’ve made that were firsts and/or successes or were used to make something special for someone I love.

There is nothing like packing up your belongings, moving out and then moving back, to a flat that’s still pretty much the same but in a way different, not just because of the building work but because you’ve wiped the slate clean, used the opportunity to say forget about the layers of the years we’ve lived here before, this is how we’re going to live now. We have always been perpetually short of storage but we’d answered that problem before by just buying more and more storage and I think the answer should maybe have been more about having less stuff / being more careful about what was being bought into the house. Living in our temporary flat last month made me realise the pleasure of bare walls and bare floor space, free from that extra bookshelf or that extra storage box (actually, we have an extra bookshelf on order, not totally practicing what I preach but we have got rid of storage elsewhere, the kitchen being the big example). So, this has all made me vow to be more careful about what I bring into the flat in the future and one of those things I will be bringing into the flat in the future, I know I will, will be fabric (but in the meanwhile I am sticking to my vow to significantly reduce my current stash within the next 6 months or if I don’t, giving the fabric away). So, here’s my fabric buying aims for the future –

  • don’t buy fabric for specific projects unless I know I will use nearly all of it because although I may like the fabric for the specific project, I’m not necessarily going to want to use it for anything else
  • stick within my colour and theme comfort zones, there’s a reason why a lot of my fabric pieces do match with each other, it’s because I have favourite colours and designs, buying something because it’s ‘different’ will mean it won’t go with anything else in my collection and chances are I won’t really love it anyway
  • if my heart truly sings when I see a fabric (and I can afford it), buy it, chances are that will be a fabric I’ll get a lot of use and pleasure out of.

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