Thursday, August 14, 2008

To stash or not to stash?

That's a question indeed! I know most of us have a bunch of fabric in some state of organization in a closet, box, bag, or pile somewhere. And we probably add to it regularly. But when you pull out this stash of fabric to select pieces for a project, does it have what you need?

Sadly, I must say mine doesn't always. Through the years I have collected both large and small cuts of many fabrics, as leftovers from former projects or purchased to augment my selection. I seldom buy large portions of any one fabric unless it is for a specific purpose. Money and storage capacity are the limiting factors. So, when a pattern requires more than a yard or so cut, I may not have enough of any one fabric to fulfill the demand.

I also seem to never have exactly the colors in need. Tonight I pulled fabrics for the Golden Autumn pattern from the current issue of McCall's Quilting magazine. The border and blocks called for 1 7/8 yards of a green texture print. Unfortunately, the only green I had in near that quantity is rather too light a shade to complement the remaining selections. So, I will probably visit my local quilt shop with fabric samples in hand to select a better option.

If I were to start a truly scrappy quilt design I would probably have many, many possible fabrics to use. However, when I approach my stash closet with a particular planned design in mind, almost always I find that I am lacking in at least one of the required colors or patterns. This is true whether I've been frequenting the shops or not. I find that when faced with the bounty in the average quilt shop, I can never remember the particular weaknesses in my collection to supplement the selection so this doesn't happen. I may be seduced by a new fabric line, but I can't guarantee that my reaction may be subconsciously provoked by its similarity to other fabrics that I have known and favored in the past - maybe I just repeat my selections without expanding the options. No matter how imaginative I am in selecting augmentations for my stash they always fall short.

So, is it even wise to keep a stash at all? Why not purchase fabric as required - it would certainly save closet space! That's a question I don't have an answer for. For every project that began with a design idea or a store display quilt or a magazine photograph, there is the quilt that came into being because a fabric called to you to be coordinated and cut and combined into a thing of beauty. And sometimes those very vocal fabrics have been living in your stash closet, waiting patiently until they spoke just the right words to your creative side.

So I put it to you - to stash or not to stash?

15 comments:

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I've never had a stash - for just the reasons you mention - plus I am probably just too cheap to buy something and just have it sitting around not doing anything. I have some fabrics left over from projects, but none are very big and I'd probably not have enough for even a scrappy quilt. I know many quilters that have stashes and use from them - but I know just as many who have stashes and declare they can't find what they need - or can't bear to cut into a fabric in their stash - so I don't see that as being too useful.

I buy fabric for a project - make the project from start to finish and then buy more fabric. Just my quirky way of quilting I guess.

Enjoyed your blog a lot.

Suzan said...

I will admit to a having a stash "problem". I can usually find the basics in my stash to make a quilt but nearly always end up purchasing additional fabric to make a quilt. I think fabric stash is really more about loving fabric. I often buy with a project in mind but I also buy when I see something that simply "speaks" to me. When I have guilt feelings about the stash, I make a quilt using a chunk of my reserve and feel pretty good about it. Usually good enough to go buy more!

The Calico Cat said...

I think it completely depends on the type of quilter that you are...

But I prefer super scrappy - so I am drawn to patterns that work that way like charm quilts. Or blocks where you can have a large variety of fabrics - like card tricks - if you make a card tricks quilt that has 12 blocks - each of those blocks has the potential of using at least 4 different prints - 5 if you go scrappy with the background too - 48 to 60 different small pieces of fabric can go into that quilt - imagine if you made it big enough to fit a queen sized bed... if you want that to be all blues - then you might need a stash... (Going to the store to buy 48 different blues is daunting to say the least.)

Also I am into Japanese Taupes, they are not available everwhere & they are the kind of thing where if you want "X" you need to get it when you see it. (Last year "X" was light, this year very dark - I also grab up reds, purples, greens, & blues - taupes tend to be brown, cream or gray - so the others are only out for brief moments in time...)

I also like cats - I used to buy a piece of every cat print that I saw... (I have made 2 cat charm quilts that each have more that 2000 different cat prints & I plan to make another when my jumbo charm template comes in.) If that is not for you, then a stash is not a good idea. (I also like I SPY quilts & sometimes novelties are abundant - other times, not so much, or at times food prints are available, other times you can only find sports stuff.)

If you on the other hand are drawn to quilts that use a focus fabric & several go-withs, then a stash might not be wise for you...

The Calico Cat said...

One more thought from someone who has already hijacked this poast...

I would not necessarily be able to afford shopping for one quilt at a time. Especially when you need 2 yards of this, 3 yards of that, etc. Especially right now while I am saving for baby... & because I still want to have my quilts professionally finished by a long armer...

a 1/2 yard here & there on the other hand - I can somehow manage most of the time.

Joyce said...

Even if you don't buy for the stash, you will still end up with stash because there are always left-overs. That's where a lot of my stash comes from. I like doing scrappy so I love having a stash. When I sew a quilt from a pattern, I buy new fabric.

Betty J in OKC said...

I'm one that likes to start quilts after the shops have closed for the day/weekend. I *love* my stash because if I have a theme/color, then I can pull out a dozen or so pieces of that theme/color. I also pre-cut pieces for I-Spy quilts and have been known to assemble a twin-sized top in one afternoon, with simple sashing. I like easy, fast quilts so I can enjoy the process. That's why I have an XL stash in my tiny house.

Lisa D. said...

Interesting discussion. I love fabric and I love scrappy quilts, so I can't imagine not having a large stash. I like the flexibility of being able to use something I already have, and my stash is pretty well-rounded enough that I can usually find what I am looking for within it.

Kay said...

I seldom use a pattern as such, so I don't exactly know what I need in advance. I start with an idea about color (usually) or design, and then pick from my stash. I often have to buy something too, but I don't see anything wrong with that. I haven't bought much recently, because my stash is big enough. And since I don't like trendy anyway, this is fine with me.

mamaspark said...

I have a pretty large stash and yes, I pull from it all the time. In fact I rarely *have to* buy a fabric to finish a quilt, although I do buy when I see something I think I may need later. I have found that the colors I gravitate toward are often not in the shops when I want to use them in a quilt.

Joan said...

You know I have a large stash and honestly, there are times I wish I didn't! I get so tied up in trying to find "just the right fabric" in my stash, and it's never there! I hate buying more fabric when I have such a large stash, yet what I have is never what I need! If I had a "do over" I'd be stash free and buying fabric one quilt at a time!

Sherry said...

I have a stash. . . mainly because I bought fabrics to make projects & then got sidetracked on other projects (which required fabric to be purchased). . oh & then there was the time that I didn't buy enough fabric to make the project I had decided on & when I went back to the store not even a week later it was as if the fabric had never existed! So that caused me to start buying fabric that I liked just because it might not be there when I wanted it.

Now I'm inundated with a stash of fabrics that I love. . . but no time to work on projects because I got married & he likes to do things outside the home!!!

In peace & pieces,

Sherry

The Calico Cat said...

One more comment in favor of stashes...

If you like "peach" "teal" "Dusty Rose" or "Wedgwood blue" to name a few - you have to buy them when they are available, because not unlike clothing, fabric colors follow trends...

Jacquie said...

i'm new to this whole stash thing and as budget allows i'm building. i think i would spend most of my life in the quilt shop if i didn't have a stash...i am forever auditioning fabrics, pulling combos i like, putting them away, pulling one and becoming inspired and then finding others. I add and change fabric as i work on a quilt...again i'd need to be in a quilt store all the time.

Catherine said...

I tend to do scrap quilts, so a stash is really important for me. I tend to grab FQ's or half yards of prints/colours I like and then just shop my stash when starting a new project.
I think having a stash of fabric is also really important when thinking about a quilt -- sometimes a fabric design or colour will really spark a new idea for a project.

The Calico Quilter said...

Thanks for all the responses - you gave me much to think about. I love hearing other quilters' opinions.