Fabric Stash Balance

I hear the horror stories all the time.

“I had to get a storage unit for my fabric.” “We have a separate little house for our sewing room and stash.” “My sewing room is mostly fabric.” “I wish I had not bought so much fabric in my younger days.” “We converted the garage into my sewing space so there would be room for the fabric.”

These warnings have come from older quilters, who, like me, found new fabric they liked often. For the most part, it’s very good advice, or a horrible warning, whichever way you’d like to look at it! I’ve found that sticking to a small stash is healthy and good for me personally as a maker. When I overbuy, I tend to make fabric mistakes, and then have things that languish in my stash. It’s cyclical, too. When I buy fabric that doesn’t really suit me, then don’t use it, there it will sit causing me guilt for buying new fabric! So, after about 23 years of experience, here is my limited scope of stash advice.

*Buy for the current project! If most of your buying is for “current project only”, or if you go six months to a year without buying new, you’ll have the chance to finish quilts, but also go on a fabric diet!

*Buy good basics. When you’re buying fabric, and you have either come across a sale too good to resist or just *need* it, try to come home with basics.

*Buy backing on sale. There are rare moments when I can find good quilt shop fabric on sale for less than $6 a yard. Those are the times when I am most certainly looking for backing fabrics.

*Buy only your favorite. I don’t usually buy an entire line of fabrics. I often buy just the one fabric from the line that is my very favorite! It saves me fabric cash, and space in my closet!

*Organize what you have instead of shopping! If I am having a fabric shopping urge that is hard to resist, I will often go in my closet and organize what I already own. This gives me a fresh perspective on what is already there that I might need. It reminds me of projects that I want to make, and possibilities of all the lovelies therein!

*Identify holes in your rainbow of fabrics. I organize my closet mostly by color, which means that when I organize, I can see which colors are running low. I’m often low on unglamourous fabrics, like solids and backing. And I buy floral prints almost every time I shop. When you understand your stash, you can make good decisions about what is needed, or conversely, what will match well!

*Don’t outpace your sewing. Last year was not a fast paced sewing year for me. I had other things happening, and not enough time for everything! (Sewing takes backseat sometimes!) I should not be buying fabrics much until I use some of what I already own. Buying to complete a project is awesome, but buying just to stash when the shelves are full, well, that’s not cool.

*Mind your space. I fill my shelves, and theoretically, don’t overflow them. In theory, I should have the same amount of fabric as there is space for said fabric. My closet doesn’t look like this right now, which means I need to cut back on buying new things for a while, and sew a little bit more! Oh darn!

*Go to the quilt store a little less often. I enjoy a local quilt shop. I loved the one in my last town, and went there often enough to be known by name! I find myself not going to my local store quite as often, because I need a little less fabric than I did last year! This advice also applies to online quilt shops. If you don’t go there, you won’t see the latest and greatest. And you’ll have more time for projects! =}



2 thoughts on “Fabric Stash Balance

  1. Go to the quilt store a little less often?? What’s the fun in that? My husband is the “heavy” quilter and when I need fabric, I head for “his” stash. I’ll find myself following him around when he throws out his scraps. Always something good to pick up on.
    He’ll buy fabric 5 to 10 yard at a time if he sees something that catches his eye. It’ll go into a few quilts over time. Good border prints.
    We both quilt but he does the most. Mine are all be hand and can take up to a year to finish. His are all machine done and he’ll knock one out in a day or two. He has an eye for color and design and most of his quilts end up on display at the local fabric shop. Most folks are surprised that a “man” quilts. He has gained LOTS of respect from the quilt ladies. As far as a stash, I think we need a bigger house.


  2. This is all great advice! I’m trying to build a small fabric stash, but do it in a constructive way that doesn’t become overwhelming (or full of mistake fabrics). I think the key is what you say, to stick to basics and only buy a little at a time or for a current project.


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