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Readers Respond: Tell us your best fabric stash-building tips

Responses: 51


From the article: How to Build a Fabric Stash
We quilters are well-known fabric-hoarders, and it isn't unusual for us to will our fabrics to someone we know will make good use of them.

How about you -- do you stock-up on fabric for future projects, just to make sure you have what you need on hand? If the answer is yes, tell us your best stash-building tips. Do you focus on certain colors, or make sure your stash includes a wide variety? How about types of fabric -- do you check out your favorite brands or styles first? And color value, how do value and color fit in to your choices? Tell us how you build your stash.

How do you collect fabric

When I was still working and was able to spend money on fabric, I would look for sales and buy an arm full. The sale price seemed to be $2 dollars a yard at that time. I bought a wide range of colors. When I retired it was very easy to select fabrics to make all of the quilts I wanted. If I needed to buy an additional fabric, the cost was within the budget. Fabric fashions do change , however just adding one or two new fabrics helps to modernize your quilt. I love digging into my stash each time I need to make a quilt. My only regret is that I have an overstock of Christmas prints. Some are fine used in other quilts but for me it would have been better to buy seasonal fabric as needed. My quilts are very economical and I can still add to my stock when there it a good sale. I just realized that time passes so fast and some of my fabrics are of the vintage variety.
—Guest Phyllis


I have scraps from days of yore that have been in my trunk for years so i decided to get them put to use. I used up my old 100% polyester scraps from garments for lap robes and donated them to the senior care facility. The men like those as they're darker colors. I use up the poly/cotton blends with flowers and brighter colors for the ladies..I use only cotton fabric for quilting and my stash is quite large.I'm getting on in years and have been trying to decide what to do with all of it when I expire. But for now, I just look at all the pretty pieces and plan on what to make with them. Quilting has been my activity of choice for years and I'm so happy for that. All my family members now have one of my creations which they view as treasures.
—Guest Carol

Haunting Thrift Shops

I look through the linens in some thrift stores and find interesting pieces. At the Good Will all yellow tag dresses are on sale for 39 cents Sunday and Monday. At St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift Shop, a lady heard me asking at the desk if they had any material for sale. She said if I would be there the following Monday at 10:00, she would bring me her material as she wanted to get it out of her garage. so I got 4 nice pieces I didn't have to pay for. We have another Thrift Shop I haven't made it to yet Plus I buy fabric from the Forum if it goes with one of my ideas.

I am quite certain...

that the person that dies with the most fabric wins. That is an undisputed fact. Now aren't we all working toward that goal? I am really enjoying everyones ideas here. I fold my fabric quarters into neat 4x4 squares and "file" them by color in short clear boxes. My larger pieces of fabric are filed in large plastic containers (I have 8 of these) and sorted by fabric type: flannels, denims (I have a lot of these!) cottons, more cottons, frumpy fabrics and seasonal themes, and more cottons :-)
—Guest Rosemary Bolton

Storing your stash

I have been collecting 1/4 -1/2 yd pieces for quite a while now, and to keep each color together I use a 9X12 piece of cardboard cut from old boxes. I wrap each color around the cardboard with the folded edge out. I stack them on my shelf in my closet and find that I can see at a glance what I have stored.
—Guest Jaci Speed

Building a Fabric Stash

I have collected fabric for a long time, usually buying one or two yards if it is something I like. When my mother in-law passed away, I had the chance to add from her huge collect, pieces I didn't think I would use but have since found how nice it is having material that is someone else's taste and I wouldn't have bought but still like the patterns or colors. I have finished several quilts adding her fabric in blocks or as backing. The material I knew I wouldn't use like silks, polys, and such, I donated to a quilting guild that does quilts for cancer patients. Nothing was wasted. I very seldom purchase material now since I do want to use what I have but it is hard to resist picking up a yard here and there sometimes.
—Guest Janet Kline

My stash was not intentional....

I never wanted a stash and intended to use all leftovers in the backing and binding. Alas, I brought 'extra' fabric when there was a closing down sale, a smoke damaged sale and a sale of end of bolt. All of a sudden there was a stash!! I have also inherited fabric from 3 sources lots of scraps and I can always find a bit for appliqué
—Guest Angela Van Der Linden

fabric stash

My sister works in an Op Shop. She occasionally brings around pieces of fabric that cannot sell in the shop. Over the years the stash seems to have taken over the dining room.. My plan is to sew through the many boxes of fabric. That's the theory anyway. b.
—Guest bonney95

used denim stash

I have quilting cotton stash too but the largest volume of my stash is used denim. Once I started making quilts, bags, and totes from denim, donations flooded in. I added with Salvation Army jeans at $1 for a plastic bag full from stained, broken zipper or small tear jeans they couldn't sell for wearables. Got 14 pairs for $3 once. I wash, cut off waist bands, pockets, worn areas, and sort by light, medium and dark blue and colours. Just made a door mat from the stash.
—Guest lhendry

shop when fabric is on sale

I justify buying fabric when I can say I got it on sale. For example, after a holiday such as Christmas I wait until the shops reduce their holiday fabric and purchase for next Christmas. When the quilt shops have shop hop sales or anniversary sales I tend to buy background and blender fabrics. I keep all my fabric on shelves sorted by colour or future projects. It is all out in the open to inspire me. I have my fat quarters sorted by colour and they are in wire baskets that hook under the shelving so I have everything at my fingertips. I keep all my scraps ( sorted by colour) in a shelving system that lets me just pull out the bin for what ever colour I am looking for before I cut my fat quarters. I enjoy making scrap quilts so a variety is key.
—Guest susan brennand

sharing my stash

Putting my stash out where I could see it every day was the best thing I ever did. I built a shelf along my entire room UP twenty inches from the top of the ceiling--keeping it out of the way, but allowing me to 'see' what I have. I bought corregated board and cut them 6" X 12", wrapping the fabric. I use a very sturdy three step ladder to reach what I need. THEN when my quilting friends are working on a project I invite them to come "shop". If any of you are like me, I would not miss a fat quarter or half yard of any of my beautiful fabric and I am helping fellow quilters.
—Guest Brenda

I'm crazy about my stash!

Frequently I take a break from everything and close myself in my quilting room and just go through as much of my fabric as I can on that particular day. Next time I start where I left off and keep going through it. While I'm stroking it, I refold it. I keep mine in large Rubbermaid bins, so it NEEDS to be refolded from time to time. I just love my stash! Even if I never made quilts, I think I'd still keep a stash. It's like an antidepressant for me. I keep my fat quarters in see through Sterlite boxes the size of shoe boxes. They are folded the way the quilt stores fold them, nice and tidy. I categorize them by color and shades of color. I love fat quarters too. I'm not buying much new fabric lately because I'm trying to "shop my stash." So far it's working pretty well. On the other hand, I recently found that I was suffering from a lack of blacks, and black and white in prints. So, I DO want to get a bit more of these.
—Guest Bev H.

Lots of fabric

You don't really want to know. I have enough fabric for all in the Us. I get it for my "projects." I do work for others and they pay in fabric, and I buy a yard at a time for "something."
—Guest Deanna Currie

Fabric stash

I have read some of the comments and I feel sorry for the people who live in countries that don't have nice shops with quilting fabric. In USA we are blessed and I wish I was rich enough to send them some of my stash. Like most I have fabric I will probably never use. I started out buying used clothes and friends gave me there old stuff. I then went to a class in a fabric shop and that was all it took. I call the fabric store may happy place I love looking at all the colors . I like to find the pattern here or on the internet then I pick my colors. I never buy a pattern I have used magazine patterns most I get them right here at About.com . I colected a lot of small 1/4 -1/2 yd pieces but I now pick out the pattern and buy the material .I use my stach when I can and have been making a lot of scrap quilts. Happy Quilting.
—Guest Sharon

Tips for stashing

I have found that my eyes are my best tool or having a particular pattern in mind. I always rummage through the odds and ends pieces at JoAnn's. I have found that when I buy fabric, I write on the selvedge how much it is, and where I bought it in case I need to go back for more. I have a variety of tastes- usually I can pull about 5 different quilts together just from buying colors that appeal to me or what combos I think go together- blue & yellow, pink & green, purple & teal, black/white/red, etc. I organize by themproject- all outdoorsey stuff together, geometrics, baby girl, baby boy, unisex (I love making baby quilts). Things that I buy with a theme I store together to see if I have what I want to make the project. I have drawers that I put all of my ironed & sometimes starched fabrics in because I hate to have to do it twice before I even start something. Anything that I can't make into at least a 1inch square, I toss. Don't skimp on quality. Your time is worth every penny.
—Guest teena

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