My Minimalism Journey, Studio

Quilt Studio Archaeology and Purge, Part III (re-post)

As part of the 4th year Blog Anniversary Celebration for tierneycreates, I am re-posting the blog posts over the past 4 years that either had the most views or the most comments throughout the month of October 2017. This post had many views and the most comments of any post I had to date of this post (March 2017).

It is about my ongoing struggle to balance having the stuff I love around me, and not having too much stuff around me!


This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post: Quilt Studio Archeology and Purging, Part II.

How well do we know each other? Are we at the point that I can bare my soul and share with you my deepest secrets? Can we talk about “Fat Quarter Pathology” (and can you try not to judge…okay you can judge a little..I deserve it…)

But before I bare my fat quarter hoarding soul here’s a couple definitions so we are all on the same page:

Fat Quarter – a quarter yard of fabric cut into a rectangle that measures 18″ x 21″, commonly packaged with other fat quarters into a themed fat quarter pack.

Pathology – any deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition (

Are you ready? Alright here is my darkest fabric hoarding secret…

Fat Quarter Pathology

When I started quilting around 1999/2000 and discovered the magic of fabric shopping, I also discovered my love of little “fabric samples”. I was not into collecting scraps yet (or making many scraps as I only had a quilt or two under my belt). I was intimidated to buy a bunch of yardage when I saw a fabric collection I liked, but I did like buying a fat quarter bundle of the fabric collection that gave me a sample of many of the different fabrics in a collection.

This attraction to fat quarter bundles (usually or 6 – 8 fabrics) morphed into an attraction of fat quarters in general, including individually fat quarters. Quilt shops would display baskets of individual fat quarters and sell them in “baker’s dozens” so if you bought 12 you got 1 free.

Perhaps I only need a couple fat quarters (or likely none) but how could I turn down getting ONE free. So I would buy 12 to get the 13th free (makes sense, huh?)

Fat quarter bundles for a future project, individual fat quarters, fat quarters given to me as gifts, fat quarters won at Quilter’s Bingo, fat quarter found at thrift shops, and more, and more and more fat quarters…

I kept them organized, I kept them…IN THE CLOSET:


I knew as part of the Quilt Studio “Archaeological Dig” I needed to go beyond just looking through them in their containers, I needed to go through them, find the treasures I wanted to keep and let go of what I would never use. I always try to keep lessons from Marie Kondo’s book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in mind.

Marie Kondo says you have to actually look at and hold every single item you own in your hands and decide if it is brings you joy. Every single item.

I knew I needed to go through every fat quarter. Then I needed to create a better system to store them which encouraged me to use them, not just try to create the world’s first Fat Quarter Museum.

The big step first – go through every fat quarter – here is my secret revealed – it was all laid out in the huge pile on my floor:


I am a fat quarter hoarder!

There it is, now you know. Watch for my story on a future episode of the American TV show Hoarders (there was a UK version of this show but I forgot the name of it). I will be the one sleeping in a mattress in the corner surrounded by piles and piles of fat quarters. The Health Department will send a public health worker for an intervention…

But seriously, I was shocked at the sheer volume of the amount of fat quarters I had in my collection. I just kept accumulating them. I had purged a little in the past but obviously not enough to make a dent.

The Intervention

Similar to what you might see on a reality show about hoarding, I had to get honest with myself, deal with this pile and then find a meaningful way to organize what I kept.

Previously I organized my scraps by color (see post When all else fails, reorganize your fabric scraps) and I tend to think in colors rather than in fabric lines or fabric collections when I am working on a textile project, so I decided to organize the fat quarters I was keeping into the following groups:

  • Black, white, black & white patterns, and gray
  • Creams and fabrics where cream to light beige is the predominant color
  • Browns
  • Yellows
  • Oranges
  • Reds
  • Purples
  • Greens
  • Blues
  • Teals & Turquoises (I struggle with sorting these into blues or greens so I decided to just let them be their own group)

Interesting, the colors I had the most of in fat quarters, also reflected the colors I had the most of in my fabric yardage:

  1. Green
  2. Blue
  3. Red & Orange (tied)

I cleared out another standing storage drawer set and arranged the fat quarters in drawer set so I could easily access them. I also had to use the bottom drawer of another drawer set for the Blues.



When I dumped out the fat quarters from their previous containers, I pre-sorted them by color into piles on the floor (see photo above). When I put them away by color, I looked at EACH fat quarter and made a decision whether to keep or donate.

Here was my criteria:

  1. Do I love this fabric and do I find it visually pleasing?
  2. Is it high quality quilting cotton (when I first started quilting, I would only buy inexpensive fabric at chain craft stores)?
  3. Would I use it in a future project and is it still my style (our tastes change over the years)?

Using this criteria I was able to pull out many fat quarters for donation:


At one point I likely loved all the fat quarters shown in the donation pile above but not any longer – there is no joy for me in that pile!


Now that this project is over, I know I do not need to add any more fat quarters to my life (as I appear to have enough for several lifetimes!)

If you have followed my blog for a while you likely know a little about my minimalism journey and my quest to curate my life with only those items that bring me joy. I have removed and donated so much from my life such as household items, trinkets and kitsch and clothing (I probably own only 25% of the clothes I used to own).

The challenge with my craft supplies is that they BRING ME JOY and I think this is why I have saved this deeper dive into my crafting related supplies for last.

Another bit of Marie Kondo always in the back of my mind:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

So fat quarters I no longer love – be gone! I am not going to worry about the money lost for bringing you into my life. I hope via my local thrift shop you will find your way into some other crafter’s life who will appreciate you (or perhaps hoard you in their collection, oh no….).

Thanks for letting me share with you my true confessions and my ongoing journey to curate my life to only the things that are useful and bring me joy.

13 thoughts on “Quilt Studio Archaeology and Purge, Part III (re-post)”

  1. Oh Tierney, I hope you haven’t made that trip to the Thrift Store yet. I am always begging for fabric donations to take to Africa with me, or to use in making quilts for families in our area that are in great need of comforting with a quilt. I am in a group of wonderful ladies that meet twice a month to make these quilts that we hand over to Family Access Network, Shepherds House, and others. Hope I am not too late! Janet Storton

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I forgot Janet! This post is a repost from March 2017 so yes I already made it to the thrift store. But I am going to in the future just save stuff to give to you for your awesome projects 🙂


  2. I had the same problem with my beading supplies. So what if I could stock a bead store? I loved them all. I finally admitted to myself that if I made a new necklace every day I could only use a fraction of my ‘stuff’ before I died of old age. So I have started giving bags and boxes to a fellow beader. The hrdest was the handmade lampwork beads……5 boxes plus more in bags. I finally decided they 1. had to be very pretty or interesting, 2. very nice colors or sets, or 3. no way was I giving away Tom Boylan or John Winter beads. I only have 2 boxes left, less than 200 beads.
    The sneaky thing about beads is they are so small you don’t realize how many you have, but my 10 boxes of fabric was very noticeable

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lampwork beads! I have about 5 sets of those and no I am not currently beading, but I refused to give those up – ha (they are all your category #3) ! That is pretty awesome you were honest with yourself and pared down and shared with someone else who would use the stuff. Someday I will revisit my beading stuff and I gave beading stuff that another beader gave me when she was paring down! Thanks for your comments 🙂


  3. I’m so glad you chose to bare your dole and own up to your addiction. LOL! I think most of us would fall into the same category. The difference between you and us is that we have not admitted to it. 🙂 Until now. Oops! 😂

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    1. Ha! Of course now from reading your blog all I can think about is that beautiful teal (or is it turquoise?) fabric you used in one of your improvisational mini quilts – I want a FAT QUARTER of that color!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Doesn’t make a difference what you call it. What ever name you want to give it is fine by me. 🙂 Oops! Sorry to provide such a strong temptation. I guess you will either have to feed that hungry monster or beat it into submission. LOL!

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  4. You’re Not alone, Tierney! Thanks for the great inspiration to do the same with mine!
    Love your humor and ability to laugh at your own (our own) foibles!
    Like the image of “curating” one’s whole life and belongings.
    Your “Fat Quarter Pathology” phrase is true and hilarious. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Carolyn I really appreciate your comments. I have to laugh as who would have thought I would end up with this many fat quarters! I have two lifetimes worth of fat quarters! I too like the idea of curating – welcome to the museum of my life – ha!


  5. I always enjoy reading (and rereading!) your posts on purging. As I looked more carefully at the photos this time, I thought your taste in fabric and mine must overlap quite a bit. The beautiful tone-on-tones are useful in almost every quilt, and the (usually) subtle prints add interest. Then there are the white circles on black and black circles on white, which I would also keep!

    In my house (as I’m sure I’ve said before,) we are making slow but noticeable progress on our stuff. This week Jim took a large bag of books to the library for resale, which they use to help fund things. I have a couple more bags of things to go to thrift store. And on average more goes out than comes in. We’re in no hurry at this point, but I’ve sworn not to leave a mess for my kids, and the only way to make good on that promise is to keep at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are like “Fabric Sisters” 🙂
      Congrats on the huge bag of books to the library – others can enjoy your books and you are supporting the public library! Hey slow and noticeable works, I made the mistake of getting rid of couple things I wish I still had when I was trying to do things fast!
      Thanks for your comments 🙂

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