Small distractions

I need to do something with the scraps box, which fills up all on its own. This is mainly because of my zero waste policy, where no scrap is too small to be discarded. Fabric takes time and resources for its manufacture and isn’t supposed to be disposable.

the scraps box is overflowing again

The only new fabric I buy these days is silk, because old silk is often too fragile to be useful. Decorative, yes, but not useable in a meaningful way. I only buy a small amount, less than a metre, once a year. The rest of my fabrics are cut up from clothes or sheets, or they are bits of vintage linens that I dye myself. I genuinely don’t know where all the scraps come from. I don’t even like calling them scraps, because they are all treasure really.

What tends to happen when I notice the scraps box overflowing is that I stop what I’m doing and try to ‘do something’ with the scraps. If I reflect on that, I can see that I end up making something because I need to use ‘X’, which distracts me from making the thing I really want to make. There’s nothing wrong with thinking ‘what can I make with X’ but if it’s not the thing I need to make, then it becomes a source of mental clutter because I fret about having something and not using it. It’s also a source of anxiety because it prevents me getting near the thing I really need to do. If the stitch journal has taught me anything so far, it is only reinforcing how quickly time passes, and how little of it there seems to be.

unknown object in progress, layering treasures from the scraps box

I am collecting and layering treasures from the scraps box, and in itself that is quite enjoyable, but this isn’t really what I want to be doing right now. I’ve been working on a series I’m calling ‘Survivors’, made from layered bits of ragged, frayed antique fabrics and lace. For various reasons (and the sampler book was a major distraction that lasted a few months) I can’t get to it without climbing over about a million other things in progress. It is getting to the point where I can’t think straight. I also have a lot of fabric that is waiting to be dyed, and nowhere to put it because all the space is full.

At some point I want to give up the day job altogether and see if I can support myself as a maker. Even writing the sentence sends my cautious brain into terrified meltdown. I remember what it was like to have no regular income, and it wasn’t fun.

more scraps, mostly thin strips and frayed edges

I guess the obvious answer is to go through my collection and let go of the things I am unlikely to use. I am hanging on to various types of fabric that I don’t or probably won’t use, because it’s possible that one day I might run workshops and some of these bits would be interesting in a mixed media or experimental setting. I’m starting to feel that ‘one day’ and ‘might’ aren’t that helpful and I just need to live in the present and do what I need to do now, because there is only one of me and I only have one pair of hands. I don’t have the storage space for everything, and I need a lot less than I think I do.

What with the day job taking up most of my working week, this will take a while to work through. But I think there may be a shop update looming in a couple of weeks or so.

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

9 thoughts on “Small distractions”

  1. your “unknown object in progress” of collaged scraps looks like a very good solution … and I’m sure you’ve already considered random seaming of scraps along common edges or appliqueing the scraps onto a light base in order to build crazy quilt blocks

    but knowing of your interest in historic sewing books, I also seem to recall a late 19th/early 20th century book that advised keeping a “patch box” (I think that was the term) … the idea being one would make patches of a consistent size (1 inch perhaps) from any and all offcuts as they occur … then sewing the patches into blocks whenever enough had accumulated to do so … a very appealing idea, but I have yet to be that diligent

    1. Yes, I used to do something very similar to the patch box but somehow got out of the habit. I will sift through everything when I have time and see what I really need. I have started piecing some of the strips so we will see where that goes.

  2. I can relate! I’ve been trying to use what I already have for awhile now, and use what I’ve always thought should be saved for something thing special… no time like the present!

    1. Yes, indeed. Some of the things I’ve been saving for something special have been with me for about 20 years. It’s all special, in its own way. Welcome to the blog, by the way 😊 and thank you for being here.

  3. Goodness, all this sounds very much me at the moment. Just can’t get the head clear at the moment. Here’s hoping we both work out how to get ourselves straight soon!

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