The Perfect Fabric Stash

Is there such a thing as the perfect stash?

I think the perfect stash is one from which we can make quilt after quilt without running short on any particular color/fabric.  I also think that in order to be a good stash quilter, one must be a bit flexible.  I’m working on a top now and I had in my mind the perfect green for the border.  Not lime, not dark, not too bright.  I knew exactly what I wanted but I didn’t have it.  I am substituting another green and it will be fine.  But, a few years ago, I would have gone to the quilt shop and found that perfect green.

Would your perfect stash be the same as my perfect stash?

Nope!  Mine would have all tone on tone fabrics with a few stripes and some wild, happy prints . . just because they make me smile.  I feel pretty lucky that I love tone on tones.  They never look old.  They don’t go out of style or look like last year’s model (or the most desired fabric from 1995).  They’re classic!  I can order online and if what I get isn’t exactly the shade I was expecting it to be, that’s ok . . it will go with something one of these days.

What if you’re a fairly new quilter or for some reason, don’t have a stash?

It’s ok.  Don’t worry . . it really isn’t about the size of your stash!  Many of us had a problem with buying a bit too much fabric for year after year and we’ve ended up with an obscene stash.  I’m not talking about my own stash but there’s one friend . . out in CA . . who probably has the biggest stash in the whole world.  Vicky, that would be you!  It’s not a crime to have a large stash, nor is it something to be ashamed of if you don’t.

My stash feels pretty close to perfect.  Of course, it’s fabrics I chose and I know what I like to use.  Vicky was mentioning on her blog the other day about a lack of yellow fabric.  It seems that yellow is or at one time was a hard color to find.  So, for a while I’ve been buying yellow.  I think I’m ok on yellows for a while.

The color I’m lacking in my stash is purple.  Lately I’ve looked for purples and haven’t had a lot of luck finding purples.  There are so many shades of purple . . blue, red, gray.  I suppose that can be said for any color but just a true purple . . I have a hard time finding those.

Using my stash and not adding to it seems to be a personal challenge and I’m not having any trouble using my favorite fabrics and I haven’t been drooling at the online shops.  Maybe I’m cured??  Let’s talk about it after my trip to Paducah!


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    I thought I was cured, but I was folding over pages in the Keepsake catalog & browsing the Hancock’s e-mail just this morning. I guess my test will be at Mid-Atlantic next week. (Where I have a gift certificate for one vendor.)

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    Evelyn says

    My perfect stash will be to use up my stash! Which I have been working very faithfully on for the past 3 years. I have been pretty good about buying only backgrounds, borders and backings with some additional purchases here and there. So far this year for quilting fabric I have only purchased 1 fat quarter – which was for someone else. It will be a happy day for me when I want to make a quilt and realize that I don’t have enough fabric that goes together. That to me will be a big success!! You are right about tone-on-tones though – they endure! My fabric looks very dated to me, but I keep at it and love the finished quilts. You have a great working stash and are always making beautiful quilts, really. But I move so much, I would hate to think about moving all your fabric!!! Cheers! Evelyn

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    I LOVE your yellow stash….in fact, i see some stuff in there that I have or used to have—did you sneak over here? hehehe…do I need to make my stash look as neat as yours? about 6 months ago, I was lucky enough to get everything folded nice and neat, not by color. I htink I might need more room to do that!. Sometimes I find myself planning out what I am going to do, late at night—so going right to my stash for items is a real, I believe a good sized stash is a great and I probably can never have too much fabric….unless I have to start stashing in the garage!! *~*CAROLE*~*

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    I absolutely love tone on tones! You’re right about everyone having a different opinion on what is perfect for them. It is one of the things I love about quilting. A room full of people can make the same quilt out of their stash and each and every one will be different. I just gets my mind working on all the possiblities. Our stash is such a personal thing and should be. I don’t use a lot of novelty prints in my quilts but then someone else may use them all the time. Keeps life interesting! 🙂

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    Most of my stash is leftover prints from making my daughter’s clothing for many years. My goal this year is to add tone on tones as I am able. I am very much the bargain shopper so the stash building is slow. I live in an area with a very small quilt shop and it is an hour and a half to a larger shop, hence the desire to build a good stash with a variety of blending type fabrics.


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    ROFLOL. I’m so busted!!! LOL. Seriously, though, except for my patriotics and perhaps the Robyn Pandolph collection, I’m not really attached to much else I have. I love the Moda fabrics, the florals and go-with collections, but those are not nearly as usable as your stash when trying to pull for a quilt. I wish I had had your guidance when I first became determined to build a stash!!

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    Yup! You have enough yellows (grin)
    I have different stashes, one of stripes, one of marbles, one of handyes, repro, 30’s, ultra brights etc etc
    I love mine but has taken 30 years to get to this stage. A little bit at a time (and a little bit more sometimes….)

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    Funny, yellow is seriously lacking from my stash too. I needed some for a present for my niece, and had to “steal” it from another project. Now, I’m regretting that decision as I don’t think I have enough… ahh, but a friend bought some too, so maybe I’ll go raid her stash… I’m sure she’ll understand. hehe

    I have lots of fat quarters, but not so good at large yardage pieces, aside from black and tone on tone cream. I usually buy those as needed for a particular project.

    I love my stash and with two fat quarter packs and a layer cake ordered this week, it’ll grow even more. 😉

    I’ll be quilting along for part of this weekend, but can’t post what I’m working on as it’s a present for my niece’s birthday next week. Will email you a picture 🙂

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    My perfect stash would be lots of tone on tones, and none of DH’s wild prints! I do need more purple because, as you say, it’s hard to find. What does Vince think of your self-control thus far this year?

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    You have alot of yellow……..over the years quilters have been afraid of using yellow because it is a tough color to play with. Your right about the purples also……red-purple doesn’t like to “play” very well with blue/purple.

    For me my stash, is mostly leftovers from other projects, when I used to sew alot of shop samples (one year I sewed 38 samples for a shop), I got to keep the leftovers………there are some pattern designers that really over-estimate the yardage required and that was something I had to keep track of to make sure we didn’t overstock the kit…… that’s how 95% of my stash was acquired……they do work well together when making a scrap quilt………..but for me to do a planned scheme with limited fabrics from my stash, I don’t have enough yardage of each fabric.

    I have never been one to just go out and buy fabric without a quilt plan in mind. I’m not sure how to even buy fabric just to put into a stash. Maybe someday, I’ll just go shopping and buy whatever strikes my fancy……….I would have a tough time doing that as that’s not how my brain works.

    Karen L

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    June Piper-Brandon says

    I have some lovely purples!! I’ll trade!! That way neither one of us has to add to our stashes!!!

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    My stash seemed to accumulate when I wasn’t looking. Actually, I wasn’t paying attention. After watching your Stash Busting last year, and joining in this year, I AM paying attention! I like having a stash, I’m just trying to make it do a better job for me. Judy, your on-line projects are helping me shape up my stash by getting rid of fabric that is doomed to be part of an estate sale if I don’t actively engage in stash shopping. On the flip side, I am buying more semi-solids and reads-as-solids when I come across a sale. I used to buy the stars of the show; now I’m buying the supporting cast.

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    My stash has been changing over the years – I used to buy “collections” because it may not available at the store the next time I visited. And since I did not have a quilt in mind, I would get 1 yard of certain colors and 3 yards of others for backing. The numbers creeped up from 1 to 2-3 and 3 to 5-6.

    Since then, I have concentrated on getting more solids, neutrals or tone on tones. I figured that if the basics are there, I can always get the prints for the accents, borders or backing. I am also following a friend’s process of using the left-over blocks and fabrics from the front to add interest to the back and decrease the amount of yardage needed for the backing.

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    Wouldn’t it be neat if we could have a giant database and include all our fabrics then we could go in and find who had that perfect fabric we NEED in their stash and we could trade with them. I bet we could do some stashbusting THAT way. We would not be visiting a quilt store except for new collections. Never just “for that right” fabric that we might need.

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    I don’t think there is such a thing as The Perfect Stash. Like you said you can visualize the perfect green and then you look in the stash and it’s not there. I like the idea of tone on tones but with a few prints thrown in. I find I tend to buy too much pink lately and I really don’t need any pink. I go through phases where I’ll just buy a certain colour and then not have the right shade in my stash so I go buy more. I certainly am learning to make do with what I have but I did buy some printed fabric on the weekend. More about that later.

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    My stash really is small compared to yours — I think I need more yardage! I like the challenge of working from stash and while sometimes I run into a problem not having fabric for a border — I like making quilts without borders too so I usually make do.

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    Glenda in Florida says

    I love what I call “mottley solids”, and have purchased them in huge quantities at times. And, my stash of purple is quite large, though my sister who wants a purple quilt doesn’t like some of them–she is fussier than me about the definition of purple–not too blue, and certainly not too red.

    The color I find hardest to acquire is orange. I need lots of it every year for our guild’s Kumquat Challenge. I’ve noticed that I must buy orange every time I see it, or there won’t be enough to make a scrappy orange quilt when needed. With a nice collection of orange, and a bit of lime green to make it pop, I can entertain myself for hours in my sewing room.

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    A perfect stash? Is that attainable? I think not because whatever I want to make one year, I want to make somethin’ else the next! So it is ever evolving and I enjoy that. My hardest thing to collect is lights–I love mediums and darks and know that lights are what make those colors sing in a quilt but it is really difficult for me to look at that section (too boring!) of a quilt shop. I tend to find a pattern and then shop for that, using lots of different shades of the same color since my idea of a perfect quilt is one that is scrappy!

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    Well my stash isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it, mostly thanks to you! Before, I used to always buy 1 yard cuts, but never had enough of anything. You posted once that you typically buy in 3 yard cuts, and I’ve been doing the same ever since 🙂

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    pdudgeon says

    the perfect stash?
    i think my perfect stash will be at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. yes, i’m going next week too, and i will be doing my darndest to bring home as much of that perfect stash as possible. LOL