The Art of Choosing: Building a Well Rounded Fabric Stash

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Art of Choosing is a series discussing fabric, color, and the fabric selection process. The purpose of this series is to arm you with the tools and knowledge to build your own color schemes for your sewing and quilting projects. You'll dive deep into your stash, organize it, and hopefully look at your fabrics in a new way.

Building a Well Rounded Fabric Stash
Finally time to do some fabric shopping! Now that we have organized our stashes and evaluated the holes, let's talk about building a well-rounded stash. First, we'll discuss what kind of prints to look for. Then I'll share some of my favorite stash builders.

Blenders

Basics, originally uploaded by jenib320.
When I'm strictly stash building, I like to grab lots of blenders. Since I have no immediate plans for these fabrics I generally stick to Tone-on-Tone & Color + White Fabrics. These prints are really versatile because you can use them with virtually anything. It's nice to have a good supply of these in your stash.

Geometric Prints vs. Organic Prints

Geometric vs. Organic, originally uploaded by jenib320.
Shopping for blenders means more than just dots and stripes. An important thing to keep in mind while fabric shopping is the print itself, in this example geometric prints versus organic prints. It's a matter of preference what you prefer, or you may find you don't have a preference at all. Personally, I think that a good mix of both helps add interest to your projects and quilts, so I like to make sure I stock up on both.

Solids

Solids, originally uploaded by jenib320.
Stash building certainly isn't all about prints. Don't forget about those solids. Depending on what kind of sewing or quilting you like to do, it can be really helpful to have a good stash of solids on hand. Mixing prints and solids is another great way to add visual interest to a project. It also gives your eye a place to rest in a busy design or color palette. If you're going to be using a lot of solids, I would suggest picking up a color card so that you can easily choose colors from home.

Solid Alternatives

Solid Alternatives, originally uploaded by jenib320.
On top solids, there are a lot of great solid-alternatives. Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen is a 100% Cotton quilting fabric printed with linen a texture. Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons, Moda Crossweaves and Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids are all woven fabrics with one color in the warp and another color in the weft. Because of this, the fabric looks different in different lights and at different angles. It makes for a really interesting effect.

Some of My Favorite Stash Builders

Joel Dewberry, originally uploaded by jenib320.
Joel Dewberry has done a great job of incorporating basics into his collections, especially in Modern Meadow and Aviary. One of my favorite stash prints is Herringbone from Modern Meadow. It's a beautiful feather-like design that comes in cheery colors as well as neutrals. I have also recently stashed a few of the Honeycomb prints from that line. Very geometric as well. Another favorite I was lucky enough to stash this past year are the Woodgrain prints from Aviary. They're Tone-on-Tone prints and a great organic print stash builder.


Sandi Henderson, originally uploaded by jenib320.
The Henna Garden prints from Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market, Meadowsweet, and Meadowsweet 2 lines are another crowd favorite and a new favorite in my stash. They're a good mix of Tone-on-Tone and Color + White candy-colored prints.


Carolyn Gavin, originally uploaded by jenib320.
I've recently stashed a few colorways of the Seed Pod print from Carolyn Gavin's Wild Thyme collection. They're simple and sweet and come in a variety of colors including reversed prints of many of the colors.


Dots, originally uploaded by jenib320.
I am an absolute sucker for dots and love to collect them in all different colors and sizes. I would love to stash Kei Honeycomb Dots in just about every color, but my budget won't allow it. Instead I've looked for alternatives. Bliss by Bonnie and Camille has a great tight dot print as well as Rainy Days and Mondays by Melimba & Beccabury. I also keep a few colors of Ta Dot by Michael Miller and Full Moon Polka Dot by Amy Butler on hand.


Creams, originally uploaded by jenib320.
I've been drawn to creamy neutrals lately, and am just building a good neutrals stash. Lately I love the dashed line print from Cosmo Cricket's Girl Friday line. I picked up this Dandelion print from Habitat by Michele D’Amore.

Fabric Stashing Tips

Mmmm, originally uploaded by jenib320.
A few things to keep in mind when shopping for fabric.

- Shopping at a local quilt shop is ideal. It allows you to see the fabrics in person, and also helps support your local economy and a small business.

- If you don't have a quilt shop in your area or they don't have what you're looking for, there are a lot of great online fabric shops. Here are a few of my favorites for buying quilting cotton: Hawthorne Threads, Pink Castle Fabrics, Fat Quarter Shop, Stash Fabrics, The Intrepid Thread.

- When I'm shopping for fabric without a purpose in mind, I generally buy fat quarters or 1/2 yards, depending on how much I like the print. I am a sucker for fat quarter bundles too.

- If I happen to find a fabric that would make a good background fabric for a quilt, I generally buy around 3 yards. 

- For quilt backings, I generally buy 5-6 yards. Check your shop's sale section! I usually keep a stash of quilt backings on hand. Many shops also carry 108" wide quilt backing fabric, so keep an eye out for that.

- For quilt binding, I generally buy 1/2 yard - 3/4 yard.

- If I'm trying to find something to match a specific print or color in my stash, I'll cut little swatches and staple them to an index card to take with me to the fabric store. This way I can easily test it with the prints and solids I find while shopping.

- If you like to make clothes or bags, get familiar with about how much yardage a typical project requires for your size. This way, if you happen upon a fabric you like, you can estimate how much to buy without having a specific project in mind.

The next post in this series is on Supplementing a Fabric Collection.

15 comments :

  1. (Are you actually encouraging us to break our StashPact11 rules... cause I need all the help in justifying fabric purchases I can!)

    I love your fabric series - excellent job!

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  2. Awesome post! I have been planning to make a fabric purchase and I think I'm going to get some of the fabrics you suggested as well as try a new shop that you mentioned. Thanks!

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  3. Very informative...I know lot's of people struggle in this area.

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  4. You showcased some really great basics! and, thanks, I had not noticed that Bliss dot. It really is a lot like Kei Honeycomb!

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  5. LOVE all those fabrics and I'm lucky enough to own many of them already. I would KILL for the entire Kei Honeycomb collection - but alas, my budget won't allow for it either :-) All I could get was a Fat 1/8th collection... hmm maybe some day. Its great to know I'm on my way to having a well rounded stash. EXCEPT for those purples... i have next to no purple! Geez.

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  6. Thanks for the simple guide on stashing! I have a fairly well rounded stash at the moment, but it's nice to plan how to buy fabric in a slightly more logical way.

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  7. Thank you so much for this fabric/color series! Great tips for someone re-newed to quilting after a long lapse.

    I did some serious shopping this AM!

    Joanna

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  8. Great post Jeni! I need to be better about these "filler" fabrics in my stash.

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  9. Great info! I'm very new to quilting and am just beginning to build a stash. My big question is how much of a fabric does one buy at a time when building their stash? 1 yard, 1/2 yard, fat quarters? Thanks for any words of wisdom on the subject! Eren0317 at hotmail dot com

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  10. The best stash is one built over years of quilting, not by suggestions given on a blog or by friends or by quilting teachers. If you are a new quilter, what you buy today may not be what you'll like in a few years because tastes change. Don't get rid of your older fabrics, as I've seen advised on one blog! I never thought about "building a stash" when I started quilting almost 25 years ago. I just bought fabric I liked when I saw it, and that's my rule to this day. The fabrics I bought years ago find their way into today's quilts, along with the fabrics purchased recently. Why not?

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  11. Another tip that is really helpful is after you have organized your stash, you'll see what colors you may be lacking or be low on. We all have our favorite colors but sometimes, when I want to work with an all over print and I have none of the colors that go with it. That's when I realized that I really lack in a few areas, especially orange and any pastels. I kept these colors in mind and when I find fabric that I really love, I will buy it specifically to expand my stash, not for a specific quilting project. I've come to find out that this one specific orange that I LOVE, I use it in everything now, and I don't like orange as a color choice. ha ha!

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  12. Another tip that is really helpful is after you have organized your stash, you'll see what colors you may be lacking or be low on. We all have our favorite colors but sometimes, when I want to work with an all over print and I have none of the colors that go with it. That's when I realized that I really lack in a few areas, especially orange and any pastels. I kept these colors in mind and when I find fabric that I really love, I will buy it specifically to expand my stash, not for a specific quilting project. I've come to find out that this one specific orange that I LOVE, I use it in everything now, and I don't like orange as a color choice. ha ha!

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  13. My question is kind of the same as Eren0317 asked. I never know how much to buy when I am buying a basic for my stash. And I've found that when I got to work on a quilt, I don't have the amount of background fabric I need even if I have everything else because you need more of the background fabric. I am just starting quilting and it would be nice to know a good/general amount to buy when buying these basics??? Enjoying reading your tips and suggestions....thanks!

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  14. Jeni, I know this is an old post, but it's still good advice. I have been reorganizing my own stash and have discovered that I keep buying the same splashy-bright multicolor prints and batiks over and over, and I don't have ANY solids or neutrals to pair them with. So I'm wondering... If I was going to stock up on some solids and neutrals to have on hand, how much should I buy of each fabric? I want to have enough so that I could pull out a solid white or gray, for instance, and have enough to use it as a background fabric for a Queen-sized star quilt or something, plus have some leftover to use for other projects. I have NO IDEA how much that is. 2 yards? 5? Do I need to start collecting entire bolts? How much do you buy?

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  15. When you see a fabric you like how much do you buy?

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Thanks for keeping this blog a positive place, I appreciate the time you're taking to leave a comment! I'll answer any questions here in the comments section!

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