Mal | Home,Organizing | Monday, April 20th, 2009

Small to large

A closeup of the “browns and creams” stack reveals some progress on incorporating my mom’s stash infusion. I had started with washing, ironing, and folding the smallest pieces — fat quarters and 1/2-yard cuts — and am now graduating to the larger pieces. You can see how they get bigger toward the top.

Fabric progress

I keep having to remind myself, with internal pep talks and late-night hand-wringing, that I am making progress on this gargantuan project. The picture below was taken two weeks ago:

The beginnings of assimilation

The larger pieces present unique challenges. I don’t need the fabric to be perfectly crease-free, but I would like it to be relatively straight before folding. Ironing and folding 3-, 4-, 8-yard cuts of fabric on my miniature ironing board in my miniature apartment feels very daunting sometimes. I try to plug along — committed to folding at least 5 pieces a day — and know that ultimately, I will reach the end.

Sewing room, disguised as kitchen

I have mentioned before that I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and am relegated to using the kitchen table for my projects. Although my mom’s fabric infusion has overtaken corners and closets throughout my entire apartment, the kitchen is where the impact is the greatest. All of my regular “working” surfaces are covered in scraps, folds, and stacks of fabric. I haven’t been able to work on any of my other projects for weeks now, and I feel it building up in me.

This made it both exhilarating and difficult to edit, share, and think about Julie’s recent guest entry. I loved to read about her process of retreating from corporate culture into her lovely blue cocoon, healing from the fast-pace and expectations of modern employment. Even just looking at the photos, as Clare mentioned in her comment, felt like good therapy. But as I come home every night and try to cook dinner around stacks of fabric, ironing boards, and baskets overflowing with scraps, I admit that I do feel a little jealousy about that amazing backyard studio.

Julie’s post ends with an echo of Virginia Woolf‘s famous words about women — creative women — needing a room of their own. I have long thought this was true and yet also harbored a secret fire of rage over this concept. I have never had a space dedicated only for creating, and probably never will. As it is, I survive in a hybrid living space — half apartment, half art studio. Sometimes this is thrilling and inspiring, others it is downright frustrating. People who come to visit me must accept the fact that the television sits on the same shelves which house the paints, that the couch faces a wall of art supplies, and that the kitchen, well… the kitchen is full of fabric.

I’ll get over it. I feel badly complaining about this windfall, since I recognize that my mom was very generous to share so much. For now, I just need to keep working at the project and encourage everyone to enter the Granny Day Giveaway to get rid of some of this stash!

PS: Julie makes such lovely creations and is instilling such a creative spirit in her daughter that it’s hard to be jealous for too long! I’ll share more thoughts about Virginia Woolf’s famous statement later.


  1. OOh so pretty! I love the teal on your walls and your crisp white cabinets. I can understand feeling of being overwhelmed.

    Comment by Liz — 20 April 2009 @ 8:56 am

  2. Wow, those stacks of fabrics look beautiful to me! I have no one to give me stacks of fabric, so I am forced to scour the bargain bins at JoAnns and to take advantage of every quilt store sale in order to build a stash. Well, you have inspired me to once again get back on track with my organization challenges. Just a little every day and projects will be finished eventually!

    Comment by Julie in WA — 20 April 2009 @ 9:57 am

  3. Hold on Mal, you will get rid of your surplus of fabric. It is only temporarily although I feel for you. I think I would go crazy with so much in my environment. So complain if you need too, get it out of your system and in a few weeks you might get the chance to exhale.

    Comment by Elizabeth — 20 April 2009 @ 11:25 am

  4. Wow what a job! Wish I could come over and give you a hand. But little by little you will work on this and then it will be done. The fabrics look beautiful by the way.

    Comment by Jocelyn — 20 April 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  5. mal–i think you’re very lucky, in a studio apartment, the ENTIRE SPACE is a CREATIVE SPACE! and what could be more decorative next to the t.v. than stacks of beautifully ironed and folded and color-coded fabrics. :-) it’s all a matter of how you think about it.


    Comment by julochka — 20 April 2009 @ 2:48 pm

  6. mal, I just finished reading your entry and feel less bad about what I just posted on Julie’s guest piece… I want to say, I feel your pain.

    While it is lovely to think in an abstract sort of way that art is everywhere (in particular, I like the idea of my two sons being exposed to it all), it is a drag when supplies flow into food, into TV-watching, into boot storage, or whatever. It is draining when the mess is left out, and it is draining to keep putting it away. I have noticed that I go in cycles… going for long periods of tolerating mountains of it (and I mean mountains — ALL over the dining room table, ALL over the kitchen table, in bins by the reading chairs, on trays near the fireplace, and in more bins by the bookshelves)… and then suddenly, I can’t stand it anymore… Then, I have to devote an entire day (or more) to putting stuff back down the cellar… THEN I go through an extended period of time (partly b/c I have a kinetic memory, and find things by their ‘place’) of not being able to find anything because it has moved… and then there is MORE frustration.

    I don’t really have any answers except that as one who doesn’t spend enough time organizing, I think that has to be built in to my ‘art time’ — I am noticing lately that when I am hunting through some of my fabric bins (I fold almost NOTHING, by the way), I make discoveries that are happy, that suggest a direction with a piece, that sometimes feel like finding long-lost friends… I guess I need to institutionalize some of that rifling… any and all suggestions welcome.

    Anyway, there is more I could say, but it’s time for dinner here!

    love your blog! keep up the good work…

    Comment by Dee — 20 April 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  7. @Julochka: What a great way to look at it! Hopefully you can tell from my post that I am trying to give myself an attitude adjustment, and your words went a long way toward helping me with that!

    Comment by Mal — 20 April 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  8. @Dee: I think that because the fabric (and all my art supplies) are so much a part of the apartment’s “decor,” I feel a great need to have everything tidy and neat. If it were hidden behind doors, I probably would just toss everything on the floor in a great pile of potential and rifle through it at will!

    Comment by Mal — 20 April 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  9. Miss Mal.

    I would Get a big box, stack some of it aside, and take some creative time for myself and come back to it… I would need a little to keep me going! I get crazy if I don’t get to do that. I would be more productive if I kept the creative juice flowing. With the emotional baggage attatched to it all, I would invite you to pick some happy pieces and make a mini free flowing, soemthing… ;-)

    Comment by V — 21 April 2009 @ 5:32 am

  10. Hey I’m likin’ this dialog. V said it all has ‘emotional baggage attached to it’. I *knew* that on some level, but never quite put it into words. Tx!
    I understand your struggle, used to sew on one corner of the kitchen table while my boys were growing, had to pick it all up – daily. Now that they’ve moved out, I have a ‘room of my own’ for creating. It still gets totally crazy, messy. Just cleared the desks this weekend; sorted, put stuff away, tossed. It was very helpful to the creative process. Then I could *focus*.
    Hang in there. :)

    Comment by Leslie — 21 April 2009 @ 8:23 am

  11. Keep going Mal, you are doing a wonderful job. Baby steps will get your everywhere.

    All those colour coded, neat piles of fabric appeal greatly to my Virgo eye. I think your little apartment can only be enhanced by this display. It’s an art installation in its own right!

    Comment by Emma — 21 April 2009 @ 9:18 am

  12. Keep going Mal, you are doing a wonderful job. Baby steps will get you everywhere.

    All those colour coded, neat piles of fabric appeal greatly to my Virgo eye. I think your little apartment can only be enhanced by this display. It’s an art installation in its own right!

    Comment by Emma — 21 April 2009 @ 9:18 am

  13. You remind me a lot of myself! There is the desire to be creative and artistic while maintaining control and order – these two characteristics do not often coexist peacefully within one person. :-) Given the choice, I would choose to be surrounded by my art supplies since they bring me so much pleasure.

    I am impressed with the progress you are making on the fabric project. I can think of nothing lovelier to display on living room shelves! Enjoy all of those beautiful fabrics – has a painter ever complained about having too many tubes of paint?

    Comment by Gigi — 21 April 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  14. i am so sad that i am a day late to enter for a stack of fabric :( those stacks are so beautiful. i can imagine what it is like to be overwhelmed from the stash. when my grandma passed away, she had a whole sewing room to be gone through (think thousands of patterns)…and we had very little time to go through it with family not cooperating….so i had to grab somewhat blindly at such an emotional time…unfortunately, i didnt end up with much usable….it is a wonderful thing you are doing to share the stash! i have enjoyed your blog and will continue to check in….and hope for more giveaways is an added bonus! (did anyone ask for white – i dont think i saw any…just a curiosity)

    Comment by elizabeth — 22 April 2009 @ 11:02 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Roy Tanck | Free SEO by Court's Internet Marketing School | Get Tranquility White WP Theme

Technorati Profile SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline