Before talking about my freshly grown fear of wasting fabric, I want to give you some backstory. As some of you already know, I'm currently pregnant with my first baby. In the years leading up to this life change, I had naively assumed that I would take after the women in my family and be a champion of all things prenatal!
Based on the stories from my mother, her twin sister and my cousin, pregnancy would be second nature, birth would be no big deal, and then I would get a perfect baby! Ta-da! Easy peasy.
Well, I can tell you that at 20 weeks pregnant, I have been nauseous every single day since week 7 and life has felt many things, but not easy. Some days are better than others, but suffice to say that I am not feeling like a prenatal champion. In retrospect, maybe I'll give myself that title, but day in and day out I am getting much less done than before and I’m forced to pick and choose very carefully what quilts I’m able to make.
(I have yet to take a baby bump photo seriously...)
This new lack of time and energy has created a new fear that I had not previously experienced – the fear of wasting time and precious fabric.
This fear has actually caused me to waste lots more time and energy fretting about picking the perfect fabric combination for the perfect quilt pattern otherwise THE WORLD WILL END because who knows when I will feel well enough to sew again?? This has become life or death, people!!
If you have ever been crippled by fabric choices or the fear of wasting fabric, join with me in walking through these 6 steps to recovery. I already know that I’ll be referencing these often and for a long while…
6 Ways to Tackle Your Fear of Wasting Fabric
1. Take your time planning, but set a timer.
For some people the planning portion of quilt making is the best part. If that's you, this step is going to come naturally. I, however, can start to feel a growing sense of angst if planning takes me too long and I'll only get release once finally ironing and cutting fabric. Ahhhh….the sweet release.
Now that I have less energy and time, the quilt planning process has passed angst and taken the expressway into anxiety and second guessing. A pleasant process that once took an hour or two, can now make my head spin for days. DAYS.
By the time I have landed on a fabric pull, I’m all out of energy. Sayonara quilting! I’ve gotta take a nap.
Here’s my new plan: less planning. Rather than second guessing and spinning out of control, I am literally setting a timer on my phone and forcing myself to make a final decision before the buzzer goes off. Whether that’s rummaging in my fabric stash, shopping online or asking my Facebook group. When the timer goes off, a decision will be made.
2. Use a color/fabric combination you already know you like.
It takes just a brief glance through my closet to see my go-to fave colors. It’s OK to have a tried and true color scheme that you revisit over and over again. It’s kinda like a favorite song on the radio. Once it’s finished, don’t you wish you could just hit replay?
If I only have a small amount of time to get this quilt party started, let’s not reinvent the wheel. Let’s take a color scheme or fabric pull that we already know is amazing, and remake it with a different quilt pattern. Then you’ll have coordinating quilts! Pretty!
With this Modern Fans rainbow baby quilt, I started with a pre-made bundle and substituted a few coordinating prints. A great way to get around pairing fabrics is to visit your favorite fabric shops and see how they are already doing it!
3. Slow down when cutting.
Let’s do it right the first time. I’ve never been a measure-twice-cut-once kinda gal. It’s not my nature. The amount of times I’ve messed up cutting my own quilt patterns because I can’t be bothered to read the instructions I wrote, is shameful.
But now I’m in a new, strange stage of life where my over-sized belly doesn’t let me hunch over my quilting ruler to make quick assessments and then move on. Now I need to slow down and double check all of the grid marks before slicing.
Above is the Modern Fans quilt pattern.
Check out my favorite sewing notions!
- How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting
- The Best Sewing Table
- The Best Quality Thread: Part 1 and Part 2
- 5 Best Cutting Mats for Quilters
- Best Rotary Cutter
- The 4 Best Quilting Rulers
- The Best Iron for Sewing
- The World's Best Sewing Scissors
- Your Guide to Finding the Best Thimble
- Best Pins for Quilting
- The Best Quilt Marking Tools
- Fusible Batting Tape: Why You Need It and How to Use It.
- 8 Things You Never Knew About a Tailor's Clapper
- 5 Types & Sizes of Hand Quilting Needles
- Must-Have Quilting Tools
4. Make a test block.
If your chosen quilt pattern is block based, take a handful of scraps and make a test block. Yes, I know it’s extra time you don’t have, but this will ensure that by the time you start cutting your “real” fabric, you are familiar with the cutting instructions and also with any templates the pattern may require.
This is also the time to double check that you have printed your templates correctly. From what I've seen in my Modern Fans sew-along is that most mistakes have happened due to templates being scaled-down when printed. Thankfully a lot of sewers have caught this mistake after making a test block.
5. Release yourself to make cutting mistakes.
So you just cut all of your strips 3” wide when they were supposed to be 3 ½”. Take a breath. You’ve got a few options.
- Can you still make those strips work? Maybe just cut everything a ½” smaller or shrink everything down proportionally?
- Set those strips aside for another project and dive into your stash. If the pattern requires ¾ yd. of teal fabric, can you scrap together that same amount of teal-ish fabric? The fabric doesn't all need to be the same, just from the same color family. Scrappiness adds charm!
- Worst case scenario – you have to buy more fabric. Before getting frustrated and throwing the misbehaving fabric at your equally misbehaving cutting mat, remind yourself of these two important things: 1. Every single quilter has done this before. Every. Single. One. 2. Just because you can’t use that original fabric in this quilt, doesn’t mean it’s wasted. You’re so creative, I’m sure you’ll find a way to use it in another project. 😉
6. Remind yourself that there will be more quilts in the future.
My fellow Quiltketeers, there will be more quilts. It's fine if this one isn't your masterpiece.
I don’t know if it’s the financial investment of fabric or the time investment of all that sewing, but for some reason I can put a lot of pressure on each quilt to be THE BEST. That pressure only adds to the fear of wasting fabric!
Well I say, enough of that. I love fabric. I love sewing. I love making quilts! If I truly love all of the pieces that come together to make a quilt, isn’t it just an added bonus if the quilt turns out well?
Even though I’m currently working at 50% capacity, (OK...most days it’s more like 25%) I’m not going to stop making quilts. There will be more fabric and more quilt making in my future. So Suzy, STOP STRESSING. (That last part was for me. Unless your name is also Suzy, then I’m talking directly to you as well.)
Do you suffer from fabric wasting phobia? If yes, let this blog post be our support group. We can eat donuts, sip coffee and talk through our stresses and fear of wasting fabric.
If you have any tricks to coping, let us know in the comments!