Fabric Buying

Ahh, you thought I was confessing already to having bought yards and yards of fabric?  Nope.  I’m not saying “Nope, I haven’t done that!”.  I’m simply saying “Nope, that’s not what I’m talking about today.”  You see, I do not have access to the internet while I’m away.  Where we’re staying has wi-fi but I chose to leave the notebook at home.  What’s happening in Paducah will be reported when I return home.

What I am talking about is fabric buying habits.

How do you buy fabric?  How do you choose the fabrics to buy?  What colors?  How much of each piece?  Do you buy fabric only when you have a specific project in mind?  Do you buy only when fabric is on sale?  Do you have a certain type (homespun, batik, paisley, kid print, tone on tone, etc.) that seems to dominate you stash?

Have you ever really thought much about your buying habits?  Do you use what you buy?  I know . . most of us will probably never use *everything* we’ve bought but do you find that some fabrics get used way more quickly than others?  While some may think I’m totally against buying fabric, I am not.  I want to use what I have . . not every crumb of it though.  I’m a quilter and I need a stash from which to work but I do not need more fabric than a small quilt shop.

I want to have what I need and use what I have.  The decision about how much or what type fabric to buy is personal.  What some consider excessive, others may consider meager.  Some might walk into my sewing area, look at all the fabric I’ve accumulated and not be able to put a single quilt together.  My stash works for me; hopefully your stash works for you.

What this all boils down to, in my opinion, is:  Know what works for you and buy what you know you’ll use.

Now that we have that settled . . I know what works for me and I may just have to buy something I’ll use! 🙂


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    I buy fabric a couple of different ways. There are times I go in a quilt store and just buy what I like or what grabs me when I walk by and says “Take me home!!” Then there are the times when a certain color in my stash gets low so I head off to the quilt store and get it back up to a resonable…heeheehee…level. Annnnnnnnd let us not forget the times when I am ready to start a new project. I head off to my LQS and get some fabric to get me going.
    Should I also confess the times I have the moody blues and need fabric to help me feel better??? Or certain days of the week I designate as “Needing Me Some Fabric” days?? Or just a random Monday. When I wake up and feel my sould crying out for some new fabric.
    My name is Dawn. I am a fabric-a-holic. Pray for me.

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    Boy, you ask tough questions, Judy! After eight years I still haven’t zeroed in on what I like the most, so I buy a lot of different types of fabric. It’s purely a comfort thing for me!

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    CindyC says

    I almost always buy on sale. If I pay full price, it is something that is specific for a project currently working on and I buy what I need, plus some extra if I really like the fabric. I have found that I buy more online than at quiltshops and since I love scrap quilts, I usually buy one yard each. Borders and backings are the only big pieces I buy and will shop online for the best buys. Does it ALL get used? Absolutely not! But, I shop from my stash and buy only as needed or splurge maybe twice a year to buy about 10 fabrics each time. I am also finding that I tend to get tone on tone fabrics more often than general prints. That is because I feel that I can blend them in better than the prints.

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    Linda says

    After seeing that picture I’m suffering from stash envy.
    I have a hard time paying the $9 yd. quilt shop price, but I want good quality fabric. I usually shop the “sale room” first. If all I’m interested in is color I shop places like thousandsofbolts.com or marshalldrygoods.com. Sometime for backings I’ll shop Alco if the fabric feels like a decent quality. I guess you can call me an “eclectic shopper.”
    Hope you’re having a great time at Paducah. It would be fun to go someday. My niece lives in Clarksville, TN & I sometimes wonder how she would feel about me & several friends descending on her for a few days. That’s a drivable distance from Paducah isn’t it?

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    I tend to buy fabric only when it’s a good sale on good quality these days! My stash has sufficient to make dozens more quilts without setting foot inside a store or going on-line to buy some!

    I’m pleased that so far this year, I’ve only bought 4- 3/4 yars of a floral fabric that was made in the USA (I try to support our USA manufactured fabric whenever possible) and I’ve used 165 yards for a total net use of 160.5 yards from my stash!

    I’m feeling more a sense of being responsible so that if tomorrow I wasn’t around, my family wouldn’t have to try to figure out what to do with all my stash! 😮

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    Julie H. says

    I try and buy fabrics I love. I find I drift towards beiges or other colors with beiges in them-vintage type prints. If I truly love it, I’ll buy three yards. That’s enough most of the time for a focal fabric and I’ll try and use it all up in one project or make a matching pillow/pillowcase. I am finding that often I need blues or greens or whatever color for a project and simply have just a few pieces. So sometimes I focus on building up “blues” or “greens.”

    I haven’t bought any fabric on line with the exception of a juvenile print my grandson HAD to have and wasn’t available locally. My favorite LQS went out of business a few months ago so that has sure limited my shopping. I do come home from a quilt show or a shop hop with a good supply but that’s only two or three events per year. It’s nice to get such an assortment in one day when your other purchases are fresh on your mind.

    Of course, like everyone else, I do love a good sale. Also, I occasionally pick up great pieces at yard sales. I feel more free to go outside my color fav’s when I’m only paying a buck or less and I’m careful not to get “cheap” fabric that isn’t 100% cotton or that doesn’t feel good in the hand. I do buy with specific projects in mind with the exception of building up a color that’s low.

    Most of my projects lately have been made from stash except for a few yellow fat quarters for Bears in the Farmhouse. It really needed the yellow and I didn’t have but a few. Many of my quilts have the remnants of the previous quilts in them. Some Thimbleberries pieces have shown up in 4-5 projects. When the colors are great, they sure get used in a lot of settings.

    Okay, I’m a fabric-a-holic too, but I do crank out quite a few quilts in a year.

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    Rebecca says

    I usually go shopping when I’m starting a specific project. For a workshop, I use stash. For general/impulse buying, I usually buy tone-on-tones, but small pieces. I took a color workshop with Joen Wolfrom, who suggested 1/3 yard, which gives you three colors for the price of a yard, but more of each than a measly 1/4 yard. (It’s enough to be seen!)

    In the last year or two, I had trouble finding enough backgrounds that were not WOW to participate in group projects, so very light colors that will work as backgrounds get purchased in whole yard lengths!

    I never buy backing “on spec”…only when the project is finished.

    Good question, Judy!

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    Most of my buying the last year or so has been for a specific project. I try to only buy fabric a couple of projects ahead of what I’m working on. Not for “somday”. I try not to fall in love with a fabric that has no project immediately in line. I tell myself the next time I shop they will have something I like–they always do! Having a firm date in mind really helps. I do a lot of things from stash, and most of my buying has been bigger amounts for borders/backings. Using a stash report, setting goals, yes, it has all but stopped my impulse shopping. I notice my cubes of fabric (I sort my fabric into cubes by color or by category–novelties, pastels, 30’s, blues, greens) are no longer stuffed to the tops. I have been keeping my stash neater when I look thru it more often “shopping the stash”. I have bought books with using the stash in mind! And I do most my shopping with a 50 or 60% off coupon–I am fortunate to live close to a store that sells overruns and closeouts on quilt store quality fabric. Who can resist quality fabric for less than $2.50 @yd??!! My favorite manufacturer is Red Rooster Fabrics. I just like the colors and the way their fabrics “feel”. Backgrounds–I use a lot of Kona Snow, Bone, and Cream. Consistent quality and color. Lori in SD

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    pdudgeon says

    i do most of my “fabric importing” at a major show each year where i can get both old and new lines, and then i come home and poke buttons to fill in what they didn’t have. those purchases are always with a pattern in mind. i rarely overbuy, but i will round up from 1/3 to 1/2 yard and then use the extra fabric for strips. I’d say about 90% of my buying is designated for something specific.

    I do a small percentage of speculation shopping to build my stash of
    “bit players” fabrics. those are the little bits in a quilt that add a touch of spice or zing. for now i’m concentrating on fabric with small, spaced dots. I’ve noticed that many times Moda will include such fabrics in their new lines, so it’s pretty easy to pick and choose which ones i need. On those purchases i usually get just a yard unless it is a multi dot on cream or white. In that case i’ll buy 3 yards to use as a background.

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    Evelyn says

    I really try to make the fabrics I have on hand to work for something before I even think about buying new fabric. Usually I will make a bunch of blocks and then go shopping for sashing/borders. Sometimes, to group odd fabrics together, I will make a scrappy monotone quilt (all blue, all green, all red, etc.). I will group all fall colors together, or all pastels. But, what quilter doesn’t love new fabric? I will buy 1/4 yards here and there for a little spark of new interest to me. No one else can really tell what is old and what is new fabric… but I know. It has been 4 years since I’ve been stashbusting and it is amazing how many quilts I’ve been able to make, using mostly fabric already on hand but having the quilts come out looking like I planned the colors. And believe me, I’ve been using some old, dated calicos too! But – I will not use a fabric just because I have it and I am trying to “make” something work. Sometimes you just need new fabric. Need, need, need, yes! Even my DH will tell me sometimes – why don’t you go buy some new fabric. It makes me happy! Even 1/4 yard! Can’t wait to see what you come home with!
    Cheers! Evelyn

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    Sandy says

    Wow! Judi, can I come shopping at your house? Lol.

    I tend to buy more blues/purples/pinks and beiges. Lately I have been buying more tone on tone fabrics that I think I will be able to use more easily. It seems the hard part is hauling it all out and going thru it to find the right combinations. I think I need a better storage system.

    I love paisleys, florals, dotted fabrics and stripes. I tend to buy rich colors or bright fabrics instead of pastels.


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    I mostly buy to fill in my palette for a given quilt now a days. But I always buy tone on tone yellow and orange fabrics as I love them and find them hard to find in the variety I like.

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    I usually try to limit my buying to when I have a project in mind. I find it so much easier to design my quilt and have an idea of the fabrics I want before I go to the store. Otherwise I spent valuable quilting time browsing the store because I don’t know what I want. That being said….I do also tend to buy backing fabric in bulk. I like to use plain muslin as the backs as it is simple, so when its on sale I buy several yards (usually about 10 -15 yards of it) so that I have it when I finish quilts. However, when fabric stores are having close-out sales (very sad that the store is closing) I grab as much tone-on-tone fabrics as I can since they’re typically very cheap.