Fabric: Collector, Addict, Hoarder?


I subscribed to a fabric-of-the-month club ten years before I started quilting. I didn’t do anything with it, but I loved the look and feel of the florals. A dozen years later, these fabrics have been moved cross-country and are still in special plastic fat quarter bags in my sewing room. Except now they are outdated and I think they are ugly.

I spent this past weekend organizing my sewing room. I have a LOT of fabric and a LOT of patterns. What I don’t have is a LOT of space. My sewing room was originally our home dining room. It now functions as a place to sew and use my computer, as well as a dumping ground for books, stuff to be filed, and — if we are having company — dog walking paraphernalia and the entire shoe collection from the front hall. I admit that the thought occurred to me that I don’t need any more fabric. Yikes!

I like to think of myself as a collector. The dictionary defines collectors as “a person who makes a collection, as of stamps.” This is a great definition. I bet nobody goes up to a stamp collector and says, “What are you going to use those for?” They understand that collecting stamps, for them, is a way to feel good.

I also think that there’s an element of addiction in my purchases. Not the dictionary definition of “a person who is devoted to something a jazz addict” kind. More the — “I feel bad and buying fabric is an action that will make me feel wonderful.”  In a lot of ways, I think the fabric-buying high is comparable to other possibly addictive behaviors like gambling or eating an entire carton of ice cream. Even after I concluded, on Sunday, that I didn’t need to buy any more fabric for the rest of my life — I was reading through the equilter.com fabric site and considering buying some of their new offerings. Geez that resolution didn’t last long; sorta like with most addicts.

Hoarder is the word that scares me. I can picture my home filled with fabric, with only narrow pathways to move from room to room. The dictionary definition of hoarder is “a person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use.” Well, many of my fabrics are in my “tomorrow” stash. I have many friends who talk about saving fabric for their retirement projects. Gulp. That makes me a hoarder as well.

Here’s the problem as I see it — fabric changes. The “gotta have it” fabric from last year pales in comparison to the “gotta have it” fabric just released at Quilt Market. Personal tastes and colors change. Your skill level improves. Your stage of life changes from mother to empty-nester to retiree with grandchildren, and your stash should reflect your sewing projects and stage in life. Whereas I have no problem throwing out a pair of pants that is out of style or does not fit, I can’t get rid of fabric that meets the same criteria.

So why haven’t I given away the ugly, no-longer-my-taste, fat-quarter-of-the-month  fabric in my stash? That, my friends, is a great question.


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