Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Addicted To Fabric

When I first started making quilts about 12 years ago, I bought only enough fabric for the project at hand. There were always leftover scraps, and I saved the bigger ones for possible use in the future. But that was the extent of my fabric "stash." I belong to a large guild in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and at meetings and classes I often heard other quilters talking about their stashes, and I thought I knew what they meant. Silly me!

My true stash was not born until 1998, when my daughter requested a queen-sized "charm" quilt. Each patch in a charm quilt must be a different fabric, and the pattern called for over 1600 patches! At the time I had, maybe, 25 or 30 "leftover" scraps, so I knew from the outset that the project would require some serious collecting. I started slowly, begging my quilting friends for a scrap here and a scrap there, and working out trades online. I graduated to buying 5-inch and 10-inch samples from various designer collections, and "fat quarters" from every fabric shop I passed. Each block required 32 fabrics of a particular color, in differing values, so I shopped by color and created a block each time I collected 32 fabrics. At the time I pieced and quilted entirely by hand, and the project took three years to complete. (You can see "Lisa's Charms" near the bottom of the sidebar at right.)

I consider the quilt my opus, and doubt I will ever make another large quilt by hand. But I love the finished product, and by the time it was done I had a fabric stash to die for!!! Sadly, I also had this monkey on my back, this addiction to fabric collecting. Fabric calls to me, ever so softly and seductively. It says, "I will make you happy. I will look fantastic in your quilt. Or, if you choose, I will live happily in your collection forever, until death do us part, and you can pet me whenever you want." Oh yes, it makes promises like that, and the whispers make my head spin and my heart pound, and soon I have another bagful of fabric to sneak into the quilt studio.

I will confess to you that I now have more fabric than my husband knows about. I probably, somewhere, have fabric that even I don't know about. I can't possibly live long enough to use it all. And still, it calls to me from every shop I pass, and from every fabric dealer online. I had to buy a sewing machine so I could try to use it up. Then I bought a quilting machine, for the same reason. Still, the collection grew. I started giving quilts away, and then selling them, all to feed my habit. I quilt full-time now, and still the collection grows. But I'm cutting back, I swear. I can quit whenever I want.