top of page

Hashing Out the De-Stashing

This year I made the decision to try to use up all - well - most ( I'm not sure I could use it all up in just one year.) of my stash instead of buying new fabric. I'll allow myself to buy background fabric if needed, but I'm trying very hard to use up what I already have first. So far I'm not finding it very difficult for two reasons: One, I have a lot of fabric (Anyone surprised at that?!) and B - I love the fabric I have. Some of the stuff has been waiting for years for me to get to it, in fact.

It's all got me thinking about fabric and my design process. One thing I've been pondering is "Do I design from the fabric or from ideas?" I'm pulling some new and older designs to sort of examine this questions.

For one of my quilts from last year, called Tic Tac Toe, I had a picture of the inspiration for the design for literally years, which was those rubber mats you often find at street crossings, but other ideas got in the way of my actually making it. Then I got my Carrie Bloomston fabrics and my brain went instantly to that design - I suddenly had the perfect fabrics for the quilt and became quite keen to get started on it.

I'm sure other fabrics could easily be used for this design, but I have to admit that I really love the way this turned out, and I don't actually know if this thing would have been made when it was (It even got published in Make Modern magazine!) if I hadn't gotten those specific fabrics.

For another design, (see below) Mountain Majesty, it was the fabric that got me excited. That and the shapes - for some reason I wanted to use those fabrics to make those kind of mountain-y shapes and the rest just kind of happened. So I started from the fabric on that one.

For Constellation (below) I remember I wanted to do something sort of inspired by Mondrian. I'm not sure where the rest of the idea came from, but I had bought a bundle of gorgeous blue fabrics from Cherrywood (one of my favorite solids makers) to make a quilt called Happy (which ended up in the Modern Quilt Book!) and had a LOT of it left over and and well- yeah. It happened. Its a simple design, but it's definitely one of my favorites. I don't know how evocative of Mondrian it actually is, but whatever. It's my own interpretation and it was definitely inspired by Mondrian.

What I think is interesting is when a design and some fabric just miraculously totally happen at the same time! For example, I was paging through an art catalog one day, and I saw this delicate glass bowl. In the middle it had this woven look, and it had really narrow lines of frosted glass radiating out in different directions from it and I got an inspiration for a quilt from it. I had just been to the Houston Quilt Festival and bought some amazing fabrics from this place called DIY Delve and as I drew the quilt my mind went right to it. For the skinny lines, I added some really old stuff I had inherited from my excellent mother that has crackly silver sparkle and well, I love this quilt, which is called, naturally, Glass Bowl.

(Really wish I hadn't lost the inspiration picture for this piece. )

I wonder what would happen if I had no fabrics in my studio. If I just designed and then bought fabric for each design. I'm not sure that would be possible for me. I really think that somehow having fabrics I love all around me leads to inspiration I wouldn't have if I didn't have it. And in all honesty I don't think that's EVER going to happen.

Some fabric I simply HAVE to get and I know I'm going to use it eventually, because, well, I'm actually pretty choosy about what fabrics I buy - which one might find hard to believe given the size of my stash - but it's true! And then some fabric actually speaks to me in ideas the second I see it. If it doesn't speak to me, even if it's pretty or cool looking or all the rage, I'm not going to buy it. I also buy fabric that is really intriguing to me - stuff that has some unusual colors or designs or textures that just draw me in.

So to answer my question - I would say that I am both idea and fabric driven, but probably more idea driven most of the time. Still, sometimes fabric gives me ideas, it sort of tells me what it wants me to do with it, and sometimes I put an idea on hold until the perfect fabric comes along for me to use it. But for this year anyway, I'm kinda trying to mesh what I've got with ideas all at the same time. As I look around at my stash, I see so many fabrics that I really love that have been neglected because I've gotten some bee in my brain about another idea or whatever, so I'm re-dedicating myself to it. I'm going to get it out, get out my sketchbooks and my computer and start designing from there. We'll see where it takes me. Here is a little video of my stash:

What about you? Are you pattern driven, fabric driven, idea driven, or a little of all of it? I'd love to know, so please leave a comment or two below letting me know.

1 Comment

Great post Carrie! I'm in the same boat about using my stash. Right now I'm using fabric I'm not in love with any longer. I'm looking for quick and easy designs (of my own) for those. Once I work through that stash, I'll concentrate on other fabric and hopefully conjure up better designs. I rarely have bought fabric on a quilt by quilt basis. As long as I have a good stash of solids...I'm good to go!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page