How Should I Grow My Fabric Stash?


How Much Fabric Should I Buy For My Stash - Or Should I Let My Stash Just Grow Organically? We discuss the key tips here.

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How Should I Grow My Fabric Stash?

Contessa has seen these questions many times. Consider these few simple questions to see what is right for you.

How Should I Grow My Fabric Stash?


What To Consider When Growing A Stash

  • What size projects do you like to make? If the answer is small projects like table runners, purses, pillows, or small wall hangings, half yard to 1-1/4 yard cuts should provide you with ample fabric to make your project. If you prefer to make larger projects like lap or bed-sized quilts, you will want to buy "real yardage" meaning pieces no smaller than 1-1/4 yards. Also consider if the fabric you are looking at would be the focal fabric for your quilt or just a "blender". You will want to purchase more yardage of fabrics that you would consider focal fabrics than you would need for a "blender" fabric.
  • Do you think the fabric will be used as a background, border, backing or binding, or a combination of these uses? If so, a minimum purchase of 5 yards is a good idea, just be sure you really love it because this is a large investment.
  • Do you like "scrappy" quilts or appliqué quilts? If so, consider purchasing fabric cuts of all different sizes, or even scrap bags from your favorite local quilt shops. You want to make sure of the source though when purchasing scrap bags to make sure you are purchasing quality fabric that has been in an environment that will not cause you health issues. If you purchasing from a seller other than your local quilt shop consider if you are allergic to smoke, animals, etc., asking if the fabric has been in a smoking or nonsmoking environment and whether it was stored in a "pet-friendly" home. Fabric is only a "good deal" if you are able to easily utilize it without needing to get smoke or musty smells out of the fabric or needing to wash tiny bits of fabric by hand.
  • Consider if your stash will be used as "inspiration" for purchasing yardage for a project or whether you are purchasing it to make the project itself. Sometimes you don't really need to purchase large pieces of fabrics, a small paint chip will suffice rather than a closet full of fabric. Some quilters even settle for a large box or crayons or colored pencils so that they can plan out their projects using these tools before hitting the local quilt shop (LQS) for the proper yardage. If you are "living tiny" this might be the right option for you.
  • Don't have much storage room? Don't forget precuts like "layer cakes" or "jelly rolls" to use as your stash if you don't have much room for storage. It's amazing how much of a project can be made using these simple coordinated pieces of fabric. Then you can head to the LQS for coordinating fabric for borders, a backing, or binding if necessary.
  • Growing your stash organically is another option. As quilters, we often times purchase fabric according to the pattern directions and find that we have "leftovers". This can be because we are particularly skilled in cutting to make the best use of our fabric, or because some pattern distributors require that designers add a little "extra" to the yardage to compensate for potential cutting errors. Either way, you end up with some extra fabric that you can use to start your stash or help it grow and then just let it grow a bit more with each project. Some quilters will even take the "leftovers" and turn them in to their own "jelly rolls" or "layer cakes" so that they are all ready for a future project. This can also make for a neat storage option for your stash.
  • Budget issues? Remember that your stash can also be economically helpful too. You can watch for sales on your favorite fabrics and purchase them at a savings rather than waiting until you "need" the fabric and don't have time to wait for it to go on sale. Some quilters, especially those nearing retirement, invest in fabrics on sale because they know that their quilting budget may be a bit smaller when they are no longer working outside the home, but that they may have more time for quilting. Think of it as a quilter's fabric savings account.


Remember, fabric is cheaper than therapy and many quilters get a mood boost just from petting and organizing their fabrics and dreaming of what they will become.


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Applique
The fabric on the back of a Quilt Sandwich (Top, Batting and Backing).

Same As: Lining
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it.
Jelly Rolls
Strips of precut fabrics assembled into a roll (usually 2 1/2" x 44").
A quilter's personal collection of fabrics. Buying more fabric is adding to your stash.
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Quilting Contessa is a collection of various authors around the world that have submitted articles for the QuiltingHub 'How To' quilt wiki.  These are authors that do not write enough to have their own authorship, yet provide valuable content for the site.  If you wish to submit an article, contact us on QuiltingHub.

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