Time to get stitching

This past week, I tackled my fabric hoarding collection. I sorted through all my fabric stash to refine what I’m keeping. It was an attempt to answer the big question: “What do I really need to do my art?” At times I wish I used paint instead of fabric. With paint, if I needed a blue color, I could easily mix the correct hue. With fabric, I realize I have a lot of blues, but some read more turquoise and another may look more violet. I’m stuck with the color choices I have in my collection.

If I lived near a fabric store, I could pop in and see if they have a closer color representative. Unfortunately, I don’t live near a fabric store. When I am near one, there’s this desire to collect more…because…“What if I need this color someday?”

Things were getting a bit out of control, so I decided it was time to let go. My fabrics are stored in flat plastic storage totes that I can stack in the closet. I try to keep the fabric in one layer with similar colors together (operative word here is “try.”). [Pictured is my quilter’s cottons in blue/red, brown/grey, and some of my novelty prints.] I also have several totes containing my batik collections. Looks all neat and tidy, doesn’t it? If only I took a picture while I sorted through everything, piece-by-piece. There was fabric everywhere. I made sure everything that went back into the tote was positioned “somewhat” neatly. Now I can easily see what is in the tote.

During the process, I filled a huge paper grocery bag full of fabrics I no longer “treasured.” It was a bit easier letting go of the yardage knowing that I would donate the fabric to the local schools for their art classes. It was still difficult letting some of it go, especially the novelty prints. So many of these fabrics carry memories for me. For example, the bright yellow print with the blue birds, belonged to a dear friend who past away 2 years ago. I couldn’t give that one away…but I have no idea what I’m going to use it for. For my art, I mostly use batiks and solid quilter’s cottons. Novelty prints need to be used for something else. Hmmm?

Some of the fabric went into the bag, then got pulled from the bag, then went in again. Eventually I forgot what was in the bag and decided NOT to double-check my decisions. It is time to let it go!

Now that I finished this task, I feel lighter in my creative processes. I don’t have to think about digging through the mess to find what I need. I’ll be able to take off the tote lids and easily see my choices. Are you able to let go when you feel you have too much?  For me, right now, I’m ready to start something new. I have at least 4 calls for entry on my to-do list this year. Things feel lighter and it is time to get stitching.


Learn how to use your photos to make original fabric applique ~ NanetteSewZ OnDemand Class


  1. Bravo! Tidying up art supplies is not easy. You did a good job and be forgiving to yourself if you made a few mistakes in hindsight. One day I walked into my studio and decided that I needed to feel less overwhelmed by various art-projects (painting, drawing, writing, and needle-art). I had to silence a few projects that were whispering that I failed to appreciate them. Fast forward a week later and I had a slimmed down my studio which made me very happy and added much focus to my work. Like you, I gave a few projects to an art teacher but also to a needle artist who planned to incorporate my half-finished projects into her blanket project. I couldn’t be more happy which that. I wrote an article on how to declutter an artist studio because I found out that -like you- it needs to be done because underlying changing ambitions, plus I needed more focus. We, artists, grow and develop new styles. Along with that inevitable comes a clean out of old tools, supplies, and projects.

    • Nanette says:

      I go through spurts of cleaning, fixating on one aspect of the collections. Books, yarn, drawing/paint supplies, etc. Each time it seems to free up something, like taking off a weighted jacket. I can move and focus more easily. I’m glad you feel the same. Please share where we can find the article you wrote. I think it would be interesting to learn how different people tackle the task. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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