Thursday, 27 December 2012

A New Resolve

There's nothing like a packing disaster to bring out the creative juices at Christmas! As designated Table Decorator, it was with great disappointment that I realised once I left the shop Saturday afternoon that I had forgotten to bring home my Christmas fabric which would be turned into napkins and bunting. So during our little unplanned stop over in Glen Innes, I went a-fabric-hunting, hoping for some inspiration for sewing machine-free decorations.

I ended up picking 6 colourful prints and getting 30cm (1/3yd) cuts of each. Then, while in the car, I cut roughly 1.5" wide strips, cut them again about 5" long, folded them in half length-ways and tied them together. I hadn't yet planned what I would use it for, and in the end it became a wreath around the candle in the centre of the table.

Then I cut roughly 5" strips from each of the colours, and then cut those into triangles.  I then employed Tim's brother Jesse to help me hand sew two triangles to each side of a ribbon to make this bunting.

I then started to sew fabric flowers together from strips like the one peaking out of the bunch below. Jesse, thinking he was copying me, grabbed the left over triangles and started sewing them into a posy. Thinking he was failing, he quickly whipped up over a dozen flowers in the time I made four! And don't they look great?

This experience of making something with little, of things not going to plan, but still working out beautifully, has confirmed an idea I've had in mind for sometime and finally decided to put it into action for next year.

The picture below is an example of my scrap stash. I have 5 other pillow cases-full like this one. It's inaccessible and uninspiring (though I have to say, I do like the photo!).

I don't know about you but I buy fabric when there's a sale, when there's something new, when I see something I could make, when I'm hormonal, when I'm angry at Tim, when I feel like treating myself, when I run out of a particular print, when I have a custom order... and the list goes on. I love it, and there are some amazing stores out there. But lately I've started to feel like I'm becoming more of a manufacturer than an artist, especially since opening my little shop.

A few months ago, I had the idea of having a 'new fabric fast'. I loved the idea of challenging myself to get through my scraps and use my stash, but I just let it sit for a while so I didn't jump in then regret it. When I was given the shop in town, I was glad I hadn't jumped in yet, but the idea has still been calling. You see, I'm longing for creative expression again. I'm longing to stretch myself. Added to this, I feel like my approach to fabric shopping hasn't actually fit in with my ideals of simplicity and kindness to the earth and others. And I'd like to use a period of time to think those through in light of my vocation.
So... (can I actually say it? Argh! It will make it so official! Do I really want this? Yes. Ok.) I'm officially announcing 2013 as the year of the {new} Fabric Fast! I'm not going to buy any new fabric for a whole year!
So what can I buy? I'm going to allow myself to buy wadding/batting, thread, thrifted (second hand) fabrics/clothes, and other notions. 

I'm hoping to think through things like cotton and the environment, sustainability and creativity, getting through my works-in-progress, and more personal things like what drives me to make, what it means to express who I am, and where I want to take it from here.
I'm still planning to make clothes, but with a more scrappy, colourful bent. And perhaps with more linen and denim? And I really want to give time to more quilts. I especially think my little space in this old high-end department store lends itself more unique, more colourful and more time-intensive projects.

So what do think? Feel free to join me! You could join in for as little or long as you like. And what do you think I should get before I start?? What would you buy if you knew you were going without new fabric for a year? Lots of little bits or a whole stack of white? And what are your tips for organising your scraps so that you're inspired to use them? Especially funny-shaped scraps leftover from clothes. Would you cut it all into patchwork-able pieces? or just sort them into colour and cut as you need? Ooh! I can't wait to start!

Happy New Year!
Jodi. xx


  1. I still think you are amazingly brave to try this while you have the shop which will demand stock... on the other hand I had no idea your scrap stash was so big, I guess I should have know but I just didn't think.
    I can't wait to see the amazing inspiring things you come up with.
    If you are having one last shopping spree you need linen obviously and I would get some solids in colours that will lend themselves to bringing scraps together. Aside from that I would be getting some of Tula Pink's Salt Water because it is a line I just wouldn't want to miss out on and would go well with some of the nautical prints you have been using from "Out to Sea".
    Can't wait to share the adventure with you, I am sure there will be some interesting things to come.
    Jodi R

  2. I tried this last year myself, but failed horribly at it. I think the only way I could do it is if I never checked my email or blogs so I wouldn't see what's out there.

    I have definitely bought less since challenging myself, and one of the ways I've done that is by buying fabric and sending it to my friends! I still get to browse and pick stuff out, which is the most fun part for me. I got all my fabric folded neatly on my cupboard shelves last year, and now they are stuffed and there are piles on the floor again, so I will give it a go once more and see if I can do better.

    I just bought a Posy Layer cake, so I can't wait until the yardage comes out because I really want to use one of the bunny prints for the back to make a springtime quilt. I love all of Aneela Hoey's designs (especially since I have three little girls and her drawings are so perfect for little girls) but I love these bunnies so so much! I am definitely getting a few yards for backing.

    Good luck on your challenge. You probably have a lot more self control than me, but if it's too difficult, maybe you could just set a spending limit each month. I have cut back and it's kind of nice to really deliberate exactly what I'm spending my money on and make wiser decisions than I have in the past.

  3. You obviously have a much bigger stash than I do but then I don't have much space and can only buy what I can fit in my 4 small boxes so I have to use what I have! I only buy fabric which is heavily discounted as I'm on a tight budget but then I only sew to suit myself and not for sale. I agree with Jodi about having a stock of solids, particularly white, black and grey. I had been stuffing my scraps in a box and it ended up overflowing and I never looked at it. I went through it recently and cut anything smaller than a fat 1/8th into either 5", 3.5" or 2" squares. Anything that was more of a strip I put aside for a string quilt and lastly anything larger than 1" square but not a square I kept aside for a crumb quilt, including leftover blocks or half square triangles etc. I sorted the different sizes into some nice containers I had and it takes up less room and is easier to see what I have. When I have time I will be ready to roll on a colourful scrappy quilt or two! Everything larger than a fat 1/8th is colour sorted into my stash so I can at least find the colours I want! Good luck with your plan!

  4. ooooo what a challenge this will be for you! I already do this to a large degree, I don't have the funds for new fabric, and so the majority of what I make is made from recycled clothes and bedding and fabric i find in charity shops and car boot sales. Sometimes people buy me new fabric and I have recently been given some wonderful scraps, then I intersperse these with my recycled stuff. I will realy look forward to seeing how you get on and hope that you will give me some new ideas xxx

  5. This will be your year to get scrappy and it's going to be SO good. Scraps are best anyways, at least for quilting. So, I would buy lots of Kona white, snow, ash, bone, and then linen and Essex yarn dyed linen and denim and black. Hmm... then make sure I have enough stripes and texts. Wait, is this supposed to decrease shopping? ;). I'm definitely not joining as part of my job is to use new fabrics, but I fully support and encourage you. This will be a good step for you, I'm sure. It'll help you connect your values with your sewing. And, it's not forever!

  6. You are brave, girl! When we moved I purged a huge chunk of my fabric but I still have bins and bins. One thing I have noticed is that I tend to get more creative when I have no other choice but to use up what I have.
    You can do it! Btw, I have really enjoyed watching your business grow leaps and bounds!

  7. You are brave, but I would love to join you. I have lots of WIPs still and plenty of fabric.
    Of course it is easy to say when there is nothing I want to buy right now since I have just ordered stuff, lol.
    I recently stocked up on homespun by the bolt in white, grey and black when Spotlight had 40% off.

  8. Amazing, awesome and brave. I buy fabric for many of those very same reasons. I agree with your reasons - I wish you well on your adventure, I am sure your personal discoveries will be inspiring.

  9. I love this - - I have only been fabric "collecting" for one year and already I feel like I should go on a fabric fast! My only question is what did you do about quilt backings? Were they all scrappy?


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx