Building your fabric stash can be a daunting and overwhelming task.  I know that we as sewers and quilters have quite the collection of fabrics already but do we have the right type of fabric in our stash that can be easily pulled and used for a particular project?  I wanted to share some simple ideas and questions to ask yourself the next time you are at the fabric shop and wanting to buy some fabric to build up your stash.

What color of fabric do I need or want? 
We all have a color we are drawn too, for example, I love anything in the aqua/blue/teal colorway and when I am shopping for fabric I have no problem picking out fabrics in those colors.

This is a current picture of my aqua/blue/teal stash overflowing in quite a messy way!
So think about colors you are not drawn to and force yourself to pick up a couple of pieces in those colors each time you are at the fabric shop.  For example, I'm not a big lover of purples and reds so I try to buy at least one piece in those colors each time.  My purple stash is slowly growing and I'm still working on my reds.

Do I have a good collection of all colors of fabric?

If you think about the color wheel, ask yourself if you have a good balance and mix of all colors in the color wheel.  You have your primary and secondary colors.

 These are the basic colors in the color wheel.  There is also the tertiary colors, colors produced by mixing two secondary colors together.

Shopping for all shades of colors can be overwhelming, so one idea is to start with your primary and secondary colors and once you've mastered that then move onto the tertiary colors or of course do it all at one time and little bits at a time.  It takes time building up your stash.  
Do I have a good collection of fabrics for background quilt fabric?

Background fabric can either be very simple or more complex.  Most quilt patterns call for yardage for background fabric but if you would like to explore the idea of having more scrappy backgrounds than you will want to build your low/medium volume stash.  

These fabrics can be a little boring and aren't as exciting as your colored fabrics but if you pick up just a couple each time you are fabric shopping then you will be very pleased when it comes time to make that all scrappy quilt including a fun scrappy background! 
Now that we have talked about building your fabric stash in color and background fabric lets talk about the print of the fabric. 
Do I have the right fabric prints for my stash?

This can be an overwhelming thing when we are at the fabric store or shopping for fabric online and have so many fabrics to choose from.  One thing to think about is this if the fabric has a defined color scheme, that can sometimes be more difficult to use in a quilt or project.  Those fabrics are usually good for a particular quilt or project in mind and not necessarily good for building your stash. 

Although these fabrics are beautiful they aren't my "go to" fabrics when I'm in the middle of a project. 
Try looking for fabrics that have 2-3 shades of color likeness within the print.  For example a red/pink print could be used as a red or pink within my project.  Here are some examples of these type of prints. 

These fabrics can be easily pulled for a project and blend in nicely.   Another thing to think about is the size of print and making sure you have a good mix of small/medium/large print.

How much should I buy of one print for my fabric stash?

I'm sure there are many different opinions and ideas on this but I like to buy 1/2 yard cuts.  I've been doing this for years and like that I can use the fabric a few times before running out and that I don't get tired of using it.  
We would love to hear from you and your thoughts and ideas on how you build up your fabric stash! Mine is a work in progress and I loved sharing my thoughts on this subject today!

April 26, 2017 by Jenny


Becky Schultz

Becky Schultz said:

Great article and lots of wonderful advice. I will try to purchase purples, too (not my fave). All other colors are welcome to find their new home in my stash any time. Keep up the good work with these articles, I really look forward to reading them when they are posted :D

A Quilter

A Quilter said:

If you don’t mind my pointing it out, your stash seems to have a lot of florals and geometrics. That looks like what you’re drawn to buying. I had a hard time at first buying anything other than florals. But then I realized I needed things like tone-on-tone, all-over prints in small sizes, and non-geometric blenders (think “Fossil Fern” line). I’ve been building my stash for 25 years, so the fine-tuning is pretty much over and the gaps are all filled in. The last color I worked on was red-purple, which was not easy to find. I keep my stash very much separated by colors on the color wheel, and by light to dark within each of those colors. So I can always spot at a glance what tint, tone, or shade I’m low on. Since I often make scrappy things or small projects, I agree with you that 1/2 yard is a good amount for beginners to buy. More, if you need backing or borders or many pieces from the same fabric.


Kathy said:

Just curious to know why quilters build a stash? I hate have left over fabric, and intentionally buy only
what I need for a specific project I’m working on. I’m new to quilting so I don’t understand the need to have a stash. I appreciate your comments- now go!


Linda said:

Why a stash? I have a stash because I like to use a lot of different fabrics in a quilt and rarely use a collection designed by one designer. It would be hard to buy all the little cuts I use for each quilt. That being said – I am careful to not get sucked into the aggressive marketing that exists in quilting industries – So do what works for you.

Leave a comment