To Save, or Not to Save? That is So NOT the Question!
In general, I'm not a collector, a hoarder, or a person who saves a lot of stuff. At least once a year I go through my closets, drawers, kitchen cabinets and anywhere else I store stuff and clean them out. The rule is if I haven't used something in the last year, it goes. I'm fairly ruthless about this. Dunno why - I guess I just don't like to have a bunch of stuff that I don't use taking up space in my life.
Of course as a quilter, I DO (should I change that word to MUST?) have a fabric stash. Don't know how big it is compared to other people's but I would say it's fairly robust. Here are two un-doctored photos of it. The plastic bins in the closet and the big blue bin are fabric. The ones on the floor are empty. The metal bins hold all my solid fabrics sorted by color. The ones on top are my Jennifer Sampou collection.(I'll address that in a moment.)
My philosophy on fabric is that I really try not to buy something unless it really sparks me OR I have an immediate use for it. I don't have too many prints, it's mostly solids, but I also love ombre' fabrics, and I keep yardage of Jennifer Sampou's Sky and Earth Reflections ombre' handy for whenever inspiration strikes. (I think to date I've made 7 or 8 quilts with them, and I know I will make more in the future as I love them. A lot.) I also have a few collections of fabrics that I consider to be interesting or unusual. I try to always shop my stash first when I have an idea, and once in a while I will make a large order of various solids to round out my solids stash, but overall, I do make an effort of some sort to not have so many fabrics that I feel overwhelmed by the amount, and I seem to know what amount works for me.
That said I do go through my fabric once or twice a year as well, donating or doing giveaways of fabrics I' haven't used or no longer find inspiring. By the way, in no way is my way a judgement on people who love fabric and have a ton of it and are always collecting more. I totally get it! Basically it's just my personality not to keep more fabric than I think (think being the key word here) I can use...Hey I'm also a finisher. I know a lot of people start lots of different projects and don't finish them for years, if ever (which again, is absolutely FINE) but that is not me - I have to finish what I start. It makes me anxious if I don't. It's simply the way I'm made.
Having gone on and on about what I DON'T save, there is one thing I do save - and for long periods of time! I keep my sketches, sketchbooks (even some of my my more interesting doodles!) Quilter's Planners (They cleverly have a lot of grid pages for ideas) and inspiration photos I take out of magazines or wherever I find them. Yes, they take up space, and no, not all of them are fabulous ideas. But hoarding these items it has proven to be beneficial many times over. Allow me to elucidate you...
When I'm feeling stuck or not particularly creative, I go through them and sometimes I find ideas from years ago that I had forgotten, never got to, that didn't seem too exciting or were beyond my skill level then that spark joy or excitement now.
This has happened to me many times over the last 20 years or so.
Gelato Pops, a recent finish, was just one of many squares I had drawn in my 2015 Quilter's planner.
But when I saw it, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted to do with the Gelato fabrics I had gotten earlier this year.
Once I found a sketch stuck in a plastic bin which led to this piece. Wish I still had the sketch - it was hastily penned in ink on the back of an outdated daily calendar page and I'm not kidding when I say the quilt is an exact likeness of the drawing, which I didn't have the skills to make at the time I drew it.
A few years later when I found it, I DID have the skills and I must say I love this piece. It turned out pretty well. So glad I saved that silly doodle.
I'm a huge Mondrian fan and I've made quite a few pieces inspired by his work. Don't know when I drew this sketch, but a few months ago I came upon it in a folder. I didn't remember drawing it at all, but could not wait to make it when I saw it. (It's the photo below)It's called (rather unoriginally) Layered Squares. Clearly it didn't really inspire me when I drew it, but if I hadn't saved the sketch all this time, it never would have been.
Are you seeing a pattern here, friends?!
I could give so many more examples, but - I think you get the picture. ;) So take the advice from someone who really doesn't like to save...stuff. Keep a notebook or a folder handy. If you have an idea, sketch it or write it down. If you see something that you really like, take a photo of it, or tear it out and put it in the folder. Keep your sketches, doodles (well, maybe the repeat doodles can go, but if it's an idea doodle that could turn into something, keep it!) Make a collection of things that excite or inspire you. Keep them and go through them every once in a while. In the end, having these things may actually turn out to be worth the space they take up.
And here's a fitting ending to this blog if ever there was one: In looking for the sketches included in this blog, I came upon a sketch I had forgotten about and yep - it's gonna be my next ombre' project. See what I mean?! It's REAL, people!