I’ve built my current fabric stash over the last five years, starting with nothing and gradually adding pieces to the collection.
I started out only buying fabric that I needed for a specific project but as I grew more in love with scrap quilting I started buying fabric just because I liked the color, or the movement it created in a project.
Disclaimer: I am not a fabric collector. I use my stash and pull items from it if I have a project in mind, before purchasing more.
That being said, I also know the economic impact that quilting has on a person. Quilters are, as a whole, the most generous group of people that I have ever met. I very rarely meet anyone who pieces quilts for profit. The quilts we make tend to be used by us or, more often, given to family and friends.
So, since most of my quilts are given away, I try to keep my up-front costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality. I shop SALES. I can count on two hands how many times I’ve purchased quilting fabric at actual retail price. We do have a small quilt shop where I live, however it recently changed hands and now they have very little selection at highly inflated (think tourist-trap) prices.
So, I take a drive and visit the nearest reasonably priced quilt shop, or Joann Fabrics. I know that some people disagree with shopping at Joanns, but I am a public service worker by trade, I get what I can afford.
Joanns has great seasonal or promotional sales, and I am often able to find coupons to go along with them. Recently I was paying as low as $4 per yard of good quality quilting cotton off the bolt! I also like to hit up the $.99 fat quarter sales when I can.
I tend to purchase fabric in 1/2 yard or smaller increments. My total purchases equal several yard but I want VARIETY. I feel bad when I take 20 bolts of fabric to the cutting counter on a busy day, so if I can snag a few fat quarters instead, I will.
I store my yardage in a metal cabinet that my husband picked up for free somewhere.
You will notice that its not a huge collection, and its not folded neatly or on comic boards. This stash is USED, I pull fabrics from it almost daily for one thing or another. It is also a functional size. If I ran out of money I could make several quilts from this without purchasing more fabric. There is plenty of variety to keep me happy for a long time.
I organize these two shelves by color group. You can see my stack of neutrals on the bottom shelf is much taller than the others. I cant leave a fabric store without some neutrals!
I also keep a couple drawers of fat quarters handy. This is an easy way to add variety or to finish out a project if you are a little short of something.
When I pull fabric for a project I know what size of unit I’ll be cutting things into and I often cut more than I need for one project. When I am finished with the project, instead of throwing away the leftover strips, squares, or other shape, I throw them into pre-sorted bins.
Recently I was using 2 1/2″ squares for a project and ended up with a whole pile of extras. Into a bin they went.
Now the next time I need 2 1/2″ squares I have some handy. OR, if I have a last minute project (such as a baby quilt I waited to long to start), I can used these to whip up a simple pattern and don’t need to spend time cutting.
The takeaway from this post is not to brag about my stash, or to lament that I don’t have enough fabric (what is “enough” fabric anyway?), its simply to encourage you to stock what you want to use, and use what you stock!
How do you stash fabric? Per project? Do you store your fabric differently? Does it get used? Let me know in the comments.
The Quilt Police