When I was a new quilter, my husband made me a wonderful sewing table. It had a large well to fit any machine, a broad cutting surface, another broad surface behind the machine to support any project I might be machine quilting, and four roomy drawers for fabric. I was delighted, he was proud, and we both thought this would be enough space for years to come.
I colonized those broad, flat surfaces soon after the varnish hardened. The drawers filled with fabric, as did the space underneath the table, on top of the table, to the side of the table . . . but this isn’t a story about space. This is a story about color, and how those four drawers came to hold the fabrics they do.
While it probably doesn’t need to be pointed out, organizational skills are not my strongest skill. Even when I find a system that makes sense to me, keeping up with it is another matter. If I have to make up a system on my own – you don’t want to know. Let’s just say I have multiple files in both physical and digital form for the same information because I forgot I had already made a file.
When it was time to decide where to put which fabrics, I tried to think of the drawers as cabinets in the kitchen. Things I use often should be in the most convenient location. Things I use to spice up a project should be next on the convenience meter, so I didn’t forget about them. The rest could go where they fit.
I started with neutrals on top. That worked for a long time, until I decided to make a black and white quilt and began collecting said fabrics. Those are now under the sewing table in a large basket. This is what the neutral drawer looks like now:
The next drawer was reds and pinks. That worked until I discovered purple. All of a sudden my reds didn’t fit, and the pinks I bought migrated from cotton candy to lavender-infused. I moved the reds next to the blacks and whites, and left the drawer for the pinks and purples.
The third drawer was for blues and greens. Those seem to be the workhorses of my designs, along with neutrals. I am particularly fond of deep midnight blues and bitter greens to energize a quilt. This is the one drawer that has maintained its color integrity over the years.
The bottom drawer was originally my miscellaneous drawer. There weren’t many interesting yellows and oranges in the 80s and early 90s, so the drawer also held novelty prints, plaids and stripes. I suspect there are some of those left in the back corners, but ever since fabric companies started making better yellows and oranges, I’ve been on a buying binge.
The stacks of scraps on the edge of the table directly over the drawers are left over from other projects. They are too small for another complete project and too precious for me to cut up in squares for random scrap quilts.
I am a gnat’s whisker away from dedicating a couple of months to making small art quilts with my leftovers. Something in the 12″-18″ by 20″-24″ range would use up most of the scraps, and allow me to play without committing myself to an idea that should never have seen the light of day. Of course, then there’s the question of what to do with projects that are essentially the size of bread box covers, but that’s a problem for another day.