Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chicken or the Egg?

Last week I attended my guild's monthly meeting. You may recall that I recently cleaned out the Sweat Shop and gave away and sold a lot of "stuff" I didn't think I'd ever get around to using. At one point in the process, I was starting to feel like that neighbor with ten zucchini plants in August--how could I possibly get rid of all this stuff? Who would take it? Right about then, two things happened: (1) Bonnie Hunter had a "garage sale" with links from her blog to everyone who had stuff to sell (there are still some "garage sale" things left in my Etsy shop if anyone's interested) and (2) a couple of you mentioned that guilds often have "free" tables; a prime place to donate anything unwanted. Hallelujah!

By the time my guild's meeting rolled around, I had two large-ish paper bags about 2/3rds filled with fabric. I planned to take it all to the meeting, but I got cold feet and only took a bit over half of it. Because, after all, I didn't want to bring more fabric than people could possibly absorb at one time. How sad would a pile of orphan fabric be to find itself left on the table at the end of the night?

That night, I arrived at the guild hall about 20 minutes before the meeting. There were a number of ladies milling about the various tables, including the free table; in fact, I found it hard to get close enough to the table to unload my bag o'fabric. I waited a few minutes for an opening but everyone remained planted around the table. Finally I resorted to grabbing fabric out of the bag, one handful at a time, and snaking my hand between the closely packed women to drop each handful of fabric on the table. With each handful, I'd move along to the next little opening and repeat the process, over and over again until my bag was empty. Then I stood back to see if my discards would be adopted or left behind.

A few minutes later, when a small gap occurred and a line of sight opened up, I was amazed to see that the table was completely bare of fabric. A school of piranhas could not have done a better job stripping a leg of beef.

Now I'm not suggesting my giveaway fabric was ugly, but none of it was anything I'd get excited about--obviously, since I was giving it away. I started wondering whether these women simply saw fabric and grabbed it, no matter what it looked like, or whether what they took was something they truly wanted/needed/LIKED! It also made me think about things like greed versus sharing. And I know the economy has been hard for people the last few years, but I also know that some of the people who are always at the head of the "free" line are people whose pocketbooks aren't hurting one bit. Then again, I'm charitable enough to believe that some of the fabric will likely end up in projects donated to those among us who will find a great deal of comfort in whatever they receive. Besides, who am I to judge? I'm the person with no self control, who is so self-indulgent, she wastefully buys much more than she needs. No stones thrown from these hands!

But then I also wondered how many of us FIRST have a passion for fabric that makes us turn to quilting as a REASON to buy fabric, and how many of us FIRST develop a passion for quilting that leads us to buy the fabric. Which came first for you? Do you know?

As far back as I can really remember, I've loved fabric--the textures, the colors, and the designs. I tried making clothing one or two times in my life but I didn't really like the results that much. AND I was still sane enough back then to realize I didn't need more fabric than I'd ever be able to use, so I pushed my desire for fabric to the end of my potential addiction list. When I realized quilting could be more creative and artistic than sewing together four-patches made from old, discarded clothing, the fabric and quilting addiction jumped to the top of the list again and my sanity fled out the door.

At any rate, I still have about half a bag of fabric left to bring to the next guild meeting. I'm not sure how I'll do it next time, but I think I'll try something different. Maybe I'll get there earlier or wait until the meeting has begun before getting the fabric onto the free table. Maybe I'll give it to the community service people. Maybe I'll donate it to one of the other tables. I guess I'll have to give it some thought. I'll let you know if that last half bag of fabric leads to any other fabric psychology revelations.

17 comments:

mereth said...

Definitely the love of fabric came first for my sister and I. When we were about 5 or 6 we begged so hard for fabric that our mum let us choose some for our birthday. We each bought two half yards and shared it with each other so we had four pretty pieces to make doll's clothes with, instead of scraps from Mum's dressmaking. Our grandmother and great grandmother were professional dressmakers, so it's in our blood I suppose....

Quiet Quilter said...

I love fabric..But which came first, quilting or fabric? Can't tell for sure..I think the quilting bug. It has helped me look at fabric differently than if I were looking at clothes to wear, or curtains to buy. KInd of a mix and match attitude.

krislovesfabric said...

My husband had to teach me to use the sewing machine (yay for his Mom who took the time to teach him when he was a boy!) so for me quilting came first when I was pregnant with my son. The fabric stash came almost immediately after(is it wrong to just enjoy petting it?). I have to remind myself that it's ok to admire a quilt/quilt pattern and not feel the urge to assemble the supplies to make one. I am trying hard to work "finishes" in this year instead of just starts and buys! All these cute BOMs are making that goal hard for me! My larger guild "free table" is a similar free-for-all to what you described, and I have given to it but save the bigger donations for the smaller philanthropy group I belong to...would like to make more donations of complete quilts which works into my aforementioned goal.

Judy in Michigan said...

I think the next bag should go to the community service group. If they can't use it, they will put it on the free table.

You may be surprised at the women who took the fabric - the fabric might end up in their garage sales$$. Hope not.

Tiffaney said...

I have to admit I had an aha moment like this not long ago.

I found myself entering into every giveaway just because it was free stuff or taking ta freebie just because. Then I realized that just because it is free doesn't mean it belongs in my life. Cutting the extra clutter has brought more order and peace into my life. That is worth so much more then something free.

sunny said...

I have recently found myself NOT entering giveaways if I don't like the fabric. I just don't need more 'stuff' that I won't use. I have adopted a friend's quote "I don't buy fabric because I like to quilt, I quilt because I like to buy fabric."

Dresden Quilter said...

For me, the love of quilting came first, and then the love of fabric. I crocheted and knit blankets first, then saw quilts and fell in love. Having so many fabric options available online has made me fall in love with fabric too.

Josie McRazie said...

I love fabric!! But can I tell you we have a 'free' table at my guild meeting and I can never quite bring myself to go over there. I know that is what it is for, but because I have nothing yet to donate I feel bad taking anything!

Anonymous said...

I love fabric, too. I used to make most of my clothing, but just begin quilting about 8 years ago. My grandmother was a beautiful quilter and tried to get me interested. I loved going through her fabric basket, cut the fabric, but hated sewing it back together. As for the free pile, I would go look it over, but you have to share. Always leave something for someone else.

Shelia

Miss Jean said...

I like the idea of giving the next bag of fabric to the community service group.

Kay said...

I have loved fabric as long as I can remember. I need to weed through mine too & take it to a guild meeting. I did that a couple of years ago, but it's time to do again.

Anna said...

I loved reading todays blog. lots of food for thought. I tend to unload with joy...like you I'm a "little" self indulgent...lol

Stevens Family said...

The love of a quilt came first for me. I tend to mostly buy fabric in exact amounts for just what I need. But of course, I have shelves of fabric that I just love and can't figure out how I'm going to make them into a quilt.
I first fell in love with the idea that my loved ones could be kept warm under something I created with my own two hands. And then it came to a different stage where a quilt is kind of like a puzzle to me. I love that you can take this seemingly plain piece of fabric, cut it up, sew it back together and create an endless array of possibilities. Quilting is how I tune out the world and relax for a peaceful moment.

AnnieO said...

Fabric pirahnas, eh? Too funny!

I've loved fabric for as long as I can remember. My Grandma used to make clothes for my sister and me and I treasure the memories of those outfits. I started machine sewing at age 11 and never stopped. Quilting was something I always wanted to do but did not take up in earnest until the late 1990's. I recently realized that my favorite sections of the department store--the linen/bedding/towel sections--are because it is all FABRIC. Not sure why it took so long to connect that up in my brain.

quiltmom said...

I have sewn things for a long time - especially as a teenager because I was quite pear shaped and could never find any clothes that fit. As I have grown rounder and more balanced??? LOL so I can buy more easily off the rack.
I love fabric- the colors, the textures and just petting it too.
Like others, I enter only those giveaways where I might use it if I won it- Like everybody else it is fun to win something new.
Interesting post Kim-
Regards,
Anna

Heckety said...

This is a great post, thought-provoking, and also also a bit along the lines of 'yeh I've wondered that too but never said it out loud!!'
I was addicted to the patchworking first definately because it was years before I realised that some folk bought fabric for patchwork! I thought it wasn't patchwork unless it was made from scraps! But I still loved fabric, and I still love receiving a bag of dressmaking scraps!!

Jen said...

I love quilting, and have to remind myself that often! I struggle with fabric, always second guessing my choices and the size of my stash. Sometimes I think it needs to be bigger and sometimes I think I bought all the wrong pieces and need to start again. I try to keep my stash reigned in, but sometimes I forget.