Want to Use Your Stash?

I’ve heard quite a few comments lately about some of you having a hard time pulling fabrics from your stash and making them work for you.  I’m always hesitant to say “Follow Me!” because most, if not all, of you are thinking that I don’t always make such great fabric choices.  But, I put together the colors I like and I’m pretty much always happy with the way it turns out.  You don’t need to try to put together colors I like or colors someone else likes unless you’re making a quilt for that person.   Please yourself!  This is our “hobby”, remember?  Quilting is how we escape from the weight of the world!  Quilt police are banned from our sewing rooms!  If you think something goes together . . put it together.  You may look at it later and wonder what you were thinking.  But, that’s how we learn.  I always say: This isn’t brain surgery! If you make an ugly quilt, no one is going to be disfigured for life!  If you put the “wrong” colors/fabrics together, what’s the worst thing that can happen?  Be bold!  Be brave!  Stop fretting over whether things go together and have fun with your stash!

There was a time when I couldn’t have made a quilt from my stash if my life had depended on it.  I might pull 3 or 4 fabrics that kinda went together; stew over them for a week or so, take them to the quilt shop and ask Betty for help.  Most of the time, I came home with completely different fabrics (and then some!) and that’s how the stash grew out of control.

I can’t say when the stash started working for me.  Please don’t say it isn’t working for me! 🙁  I’m guessing I’ve made at least 25 quilts from my stash over the past year or so.  Would I have chosen a different fabric here or there if I’d gone to the quilt shop in search of the perfect fabric?  Definitely . . but I made it work with what I had on hand.  And, that feels good!

Here’s what I’m thinking:  I have this very simple pattern.  We truly could make the whole top in one day!  We won’t . . don’t panic.  There are no half square triangles; no paper piecing — it’s so simple! And I think it’s really cute but . . I think every quilt is cute so don’t base your opinion on what I think, ok?

Are you willing to cut into your stash (small pieces . . not yards!)?  Almost randomly put it all together and see how easy it is to put the stash to work?

Here’s the deal I’ll make with you.  Trust me . . because you’re not going to see the top ahead of time.  That would make it too easy to plan where your colors should go.  If you don’t like it, just go ahead and finish the top, send it to me and I’ll quilt it, bind it and donate it to charity.  The charity will be either an orphanage in Louisiana, a QOV or a veterans’ home not too far from me.  You can send me backing, batting and binding fabric if you have it or . . you don’t have to.  But, I hope you all like your top and keep it for yourself . . unless you just want to donate it to a charitable project.

The quilt will be about 60″ x 70″.  You can easily make it bigger but I wouldn’t try making it much smaller.  This is basically what you’re going to need . . don’t go cutting anything yet:

Darks and Lights – some approximately 4″ x 6″ rectangles and some 2″ strips.

You don’t need to choose your border fabrics yet but when you do, you’ll need about:

About 1-1/4 yard for the inner border and other coordinating parts
About 11″ for a middle border
About 1 yard for the outer border
About 1/2 yard for the binding

I used a kelly green for the inner border, a yellow/gold for the middle border and purple for the outer border and binding.

Here’s some pictures of fabrics I pulled for lights:

Here’s some I pulled for darks:

See how the gold on the end of the dark pile isn’t so dark?  But it’s ok next to the peach on the right hand side of the lights or next to the pink.  It honestly isn’t going to matter so long as you don’t have a bunch of blending.

Don’t worry about getting things perfect!  Pull some fabrics, stand back and look at them and make a decision on each fabric . . stays in the dark pile; stays in the light pile or back on the shelf.

Even though I’m not doing any real planning, I wouldn’t stick this piece in there because all my other fabrics are kinda tone on tone.  If I had more of these types fabrics I wanted to use, I would add it but sticking just one oddball in there wouldn’t work so well.  You do not need to use tone on tones!  Use your stash!

The only thing I want you to pay attention to is that your lights are light and your darks are dark and you won’t have a lot of blending.  And, remember that what might be a medium next to one fabric can be considered a light next to a darker fabric.

Anyone want to try this project?  Do you promise you won’t make this hard on yourself?


  1. 1


    I’m in! Spent some time organizing my stash (again) this weekend thinking – oh would I love to use this, or that, or this, oh wait – look at this! You get the picture. When I get home from work tonite I’m gonna pull some fabrics and see what I have. Thank you – I love your blog, your life stories, and of course your quilts!

  2. 2


    This sounds like a mystery…
    I am tempted, but we all know that I probably won’t especially with the baby.
    What has me tempted is the fact that you don’t need yardage…

    time to stew over it…

  3. 3

    Stephanie says

    I’ll join in with this one, (sorry I commented on the wrong post, although I think I need to join in with the March quiltathon as well) lights and darks should be interesting. When will we start?

  4. 5


    hmm well you are calling me big time Judy-I am shocking when it comes to my stash I just don’t see things that go together,but am limited with funds for more fabric at this the current time,so a big YES -count me in I can do this I will do this yes I can-Yes I will…

  5. 7


    OK, I’m in too ! It will be a fun project to do. And no 1/2 squares. Yippee! I don’t have a lot of tone on tone, but plenty of stash ! Glenda

  6. 11

    Becky says

    Ok Judy, I’m going to try. With so many irons in my fire I didn’t try the mystery but maybe I can do this one. I am now 2 blocks behind on my BOM but I’ll go for it.

  7. 14


    I love quick scrappy quilts – will you be posting the directions here on the blog here? I’m going to be gone most of the next two weeks and March is going to be crazy busy for me but I’d love to squeeze this in when I get home.

  8. 15


    Does this pattern work well with 2 colors? Like if I used an assortment of greens and purples? For whatever reason, I don’t think in “light, medium and darks”. More like color and backgrounds. Maybe if I was using two different fabrics, I wouldn’t have a problem with sorting color value. 😀

  9. 16


    I’d love to join in on this one! It’s small, maybe I can quilt it with my machine without trying to find someone else with a long or short arm to quilt it for me. And use my stash…it’s a mystery! I love a good mystery. Thanks again for all your wonderful intuitive ideas.

  10. 17

    Mary Lea says

    I’m in Judy. I will wait till later to pull fabric so I don’t make it hard on myself and change my mine a million times.

  11. 18

    Jane says

    Taking 2 quilt tops to my longarmer today… and am looking for an easy project to use up some of my stash… this just may be the perfect project for me! Looking forward to what’s next!

  12. 19

    ann fry says

    ok, i’ll bite this is basically quilt now and love trying new patterns. have lots of
    stash and scraps to pull from.

    ann aka miz scrappy pants

  13. 20


    Me, me, me, I want to play! I’m not starting anything new, I want to play, I’m not starting anything new, I want to play……… I’m playing! 🙂

  14. 21


    This sounds like a good idea, so I am happy to join in the fun. Now if someone could just send me a few “hours” they don’t need I could get on top of all my sewing.

  15. 23


    Okay, I think I’m in–because I really need to reduce my stash and am paralyzed right now with indecision about how to start. I have several UFOs screaming to be completed and out of the way, but I’m tired of looking at some of them.

  16. 25

    Glenda in Florida says

    OK, I’m in. I need to make lots of charity quilts, and I’m hoping this is fast and easy.

  17. 26

    peggy says

    I’m joining in. This will be like having a virtual small quilt group. Our stashes are very different in our fabric choices, but mine does fall into “out of control.” I’m going to start pulling fabrics right away. Any suggestions at this point about how many of each we need?

    Thanks for a fun way to pass the time. It’s finally raining in CA, so having good indoor projects wil be good.

  18. 27


    Judy, Judy, Judy, I surely don’t need to start another quilt, but this sounds very intriquing. I may have to pull a few fabrics today and see what I might have to work with. I would also be busting some extra stash to offset the *gasp* fabric I ordered that will be delivered this week (but it was charm packs at half price!). Okay, I’m in!!!

  19. 29

    Shellie says

    I’m in. I haven’t made anything lately and it’s really starting to bug me. I haven’t been creative in ages. But I’m also terrible about finishing things so having the option of sending it on to you for finishing and donation is an added bonus.

    Thanks Judy.

  20. 30


    This sounds right up my alley! One of the problems I am having is that although my stash is fairly large, I don’t have a lot of big pieces. For years I collected smaller pieces of fabric, like quarter and half yards. Somehow the scrap quilts I am making now don’t make much of a dent. I think I’d like to try this one. And a mystery, too!

  21. 31


    I’m in and I’m not letting this equilibrium problem stop me! I love a mystery and can’t wait to have fun with this. Thank you, Judy 🙂

    ps… almost have another pair of socks done!

  22. 32


    All right, I’m in too. I don’t need another project because I’m doing your quilt along, but what the heck :-). Am I going to have to stay on task with this like the Bears in The Farmhouse or am I going to be able to slack off a bit if I get jammed up? This sounds like it might be a good project for my stash bins.

  23. 33

    Bessie Hardison says

    I’m committed to do this. I’m in such a rut these days. I need something to give me a good kick in the pants. I will pull some fabrics later today, put in a new rotary blade and oil up the ol’ featherweight. Oh yeah, pile all the stuff on my cutting table somewhere else and ignore the three UFOs pinned on the design board.

  24. 35

    Sandy says

    Please count me in, Judy. The Quilt-along hasn’t worked out for me (not enough large pieces of fabric that co-ordinate), but I sure do have lots of small bits of lights and darks. Sounds like fun!

  25. 36

    Linda Stolee says

    Judy, Judy, Judy (a la Cary Grant!), you are so good for us! You force us to face out demons and go for it! Now, if we could get you to go totally scrappy, that would be a real hoot! I made your Louisiana Stars pattern and thought, why does mine look so different from yours? Then I read your entry about not being able to go totally scrappy–I laughed and laughed–I had gone totally scrappy. I’m still pleased with the end result, it’s just different! I’ll be digging through my scraps to follow along with you!
    Lurking Linda

  26. 37


    While I don’t have a huge stash, I’ll give this a try and see what I can come up with. I have a ton of coordinating fat quarters, so maybe with using smaller pieces I’ll be able to put those in the quilt.

  27. 42


    Yes, please, I would like to participate in this project, too. It sounds like a very interesting challenge and a good learning experience on how to use stash to best advantage. Thanks Judy for planning another nice adventure for us.

  28. 44


    I’m in. I would love to get rid of some of the deadwood in my stash. This is really pushing me because I’m always trying to be so matchy matchy. I question every fabric I pull. I’ll really try to look at lights and darks without thinking about too much else.

  29. 45

    Kathy B in TN says

    I’ve never done a quilt without a pattern first – sounds like just the thing to get rid of the winter blahs. I’m in.

  30. 46

    Carol says

    Count me in, too! I certainly have plenty of stash to use up. Thanks for all you do for us and for all your inspiration!

  31. 48

    peggy says

    I don’t think my stash provides enough complimentary lights and darks, so I’m thinking more about bright and cheery prints with complimentary tone on tone sorts of complimentary brights. Yikes, there are so many possibilities! Can’t wait for the next step!

  32. 50


    What are you doing to me? I have Star BOM going, the Bears going, and now this! I’m going to *try* to pull fabrics for this. The only thing I’m worse at than pulling fabric is pulling fabric for a mystery!! Lights and darks — how hard is that? ROFLOL. Yep, I’m going to toss my inhibitions to the wind and just do it!!!!! xo

  33. 52

    Tricia says

    I’m gonna try to cut it out at least, I’m moving and not much tome to sew right now but this sounds like fun! Love, Love, Love your blog! Thank you.

  34. 53

    Christina Drury says

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I have many UFO’s but, I will work on this one! I am learning to
    pull my stash and take a chance. I love the results. I can donate it to guild if I want.
    Thank You Judy!

  35. 54


    I am in for sure! I feel like I have a stash that doesn’t work at all. I hope this quilt will lend itself to being scrappy.

  36. 55


    ooough a mystery! I think this is the first time since I’ve been reading your blog that you haven’t shared a photo first 🙂 and that’s ok. should be fun for many able to play along. BTW – is this the scrappy quilt I read about you working on on FB? 😉

    Love from Texas! ~bonnie

  37. 56

    Sharon says

    I’m in too. I spent a big part of the quilt-a-thon weekend organizing and folding and found out that I have a bunch of half yard pieces left over from other projects. This will be perfect to use them up. Sounds like fun.

  38. 63

    Norma says

    OK, Judy, you have my interest! No half square triangles….I am in. It sounds like I will be able to use existing pieces of my stash. I have a stash within a stash. I have pieces already cut ready to make scrap quilts….some strips, some squares, etc. I can easily come up with the rectangles. Please tell us more.

  39. 64

    Lynne in Hawaii says

    OK Judy, I’m ready to play:-) By piece, what size, since I have a lot of varying sizes of squares and if a 10 ” square or 8 1/2 ” square would cover it, then I can pull from those scraps rather than fat quarters and such. If it needs to be bigger pieces I can pull from there too.

  40. 65


    Oh, Judy, I just can’t resist a challenge and will play along. Sounds very interesting, and this month I am really in to easy! Too much to do….but I do need an extra quilt for a gift. I will have to check out the stash….

  41. 68

    Mary Carole says

    Count me in, too! It will only make the 4th mystery I got going this year! I wasn’t going to sign up for any! I’m looking for scraps & stash. Sign me up.

  42. 69

    Linda H says

    Like some of the others, I don’t have the TOT –mine is an ooolder stash– and not lots of yardage, but I have stash to work with…and I’m ready to play with it. You just say when!

  43. 70

    Julie says

    Me too!!!!! I’ll play. I’m having a great time with Bears in the Farmhouse! When do we start?

  44. 72

    Evelyn says

    I’m in. This was a timely message for me. I spent most of my sewing time yesterday fussing about how to set a group of sampler blocks I completed two years ago. So, yes, I will pull some lights & darks. How many?

  45. 73


    Anything to use up my stash… I’m in!

    I have a load of tiny florals that are waiting for sombody to love them, and I’m such a miser that I’d NEVER just dump them – so of into charity quilts they go. Most are “medium”, but as you pointed out… some mediums are dark next to light fabrics, and some read as light next to the darker ones. I’d guess that if the scale of the prints are about the same, they’d work… as long as the fabrics are all printed, ya think?

    Thanks for the help with “Stash Busting”, Judy.

  46. 75

    Bobbie says

    Oh Lordy, Lordy–I’ve never pulled fabric before I know what the patern is-well once our quilt club did a mystery quilt, and she just told us how much and the color way-by golly, I really liked mine-but remember-“1st. time is charm”. But I’m in and I’ll give it a go. Hugs, Bobbie

  47. 77

    Beryl Redfield says

    Of course I want to play! No matter that I’m also doing 2 other quilts…of of them your bear paw one! and yes I DO trust you!. Sounds like fun,

  48. 78

    Dawn says

    I’m in too! I don’t have alot of tone on tone fabrics, but I do have alot of stash! Thanks Judy

  49. 79

    Pam says

    I’d like to try this too. My stash is varied but looking kind of dated, I’d feel a lot better about “investing” in new stash if I used some of the old. I’m ready to try a looser, less structured approach to choosing fabrics.

  50. 80

    Kay Smith says

    Judy, I would like to join this project. We may be leaving in a couple of weeks for about a month. If I can get fabric pulled before we leave, I can take it with me and try to keep up while gone. I keep up with your blog all the time. Love it!!!!
    Kay in Forgotten Corner of Washington.

  51. 81

    Debquilts says

    Please count me in. I usually buy everything i need for a quilt at once, But I am real bad about buying a single fabric on sale that does not seem to go with anything in my stash (just cause it is pretty and on sale).

    I really need to use some of these up.



  52. 82

    Debquilts says

    Please count me in. I usually buy everything i need for a quilt at once, But I am real bad about buying a single fabric on sale that does not seem to go with anything in my stash (just cause it is pretty and on sale).

    I really need to use some of these up.



  53. 83


    Ok, count me in. I have lots of TB and Kansas Troubles I need to use, and some repros I can’t seem to let go of, lol. Actually, on second thought, I think I will use batiks, I have tons of those and my daughter wants an orange throw…so I could pull colors around that.

  54. 84


    If this is something that will work well for American Hero quilt, then I’m in! I have tons of red, blue and gold scraps, will that do?

  55. 85


    Hi Judy! I just finished cutting out all the pieces for this quilt. Can’t wait to see the finished product. I love your patterns.