Putting the Stash to Work

2010 is coming . . ready or not!  2010 is the year that I’m going to use my stash like you won’t believe.  If I use anywhere near my goal, my actions will be historic.  Future generations of quilters will talk about me . . the lady who used all those yards of fabric back in 2010!  OK . . maybe not but I’m giving it my best shot.  The only thing that will stop me from reaching my goal would be some unforeseen happening.  Let’s just hope there are no such happenings at our house in 2010.

From the responses to the question posed yesterday, it’s obvious that all of our stashes are different.  Some are comprised of small amounts of yardage, some are comprised of fat quarters or smaller pieces, many are comprised of a combination of all sizes of fabrics.

To effectively use our stashes, I believe we have to intimately know our stash . . know what types of fabrics are in there and what type patterns work best with our own stash.

My stash for instance, as most everyone knows, is almost totally tone on tone fabrics.  I love those! I think they’re timeless.  You can look at a Moda Marble that I bought in 1996 and it looks just like a Moda Marble I bought yesterday (but really . . I didn’t buy a Moda Marble yesterday.  I didn’t buy any fabric yesterday . . really!)  Tone on tones work for me.  Florals and plaids do not work for me . . at all!  Tone on tones may no work for you . . . that’s ok!  So long as your stash works for you, that’s all that matters.

When you see a pattern . . a free pattern on the internet, a pattern in a book, a single pattern . . that you like, what’s the first thing you think?  If you want to make that pattern, do you:

  1. Try to choose the exact same or similar fabrics so you can make your top just as shown?
  2. Go home and shop your stash to make the quilt using what you have at home, even if it means you have to tweak the pattern a bit to fit what you have at home?

My guess is if you’re thinking along the lines of option #2, you may use enough stash fabric to be in the quilt history books with me!  🙂

Here’s an example.  This is the Saratoga Lights quilt just as I showed earlier.  One navy, one gold, one red, one light background and one darker background fabric.

QuiltHere’s the same drawing where I used multiple gold, red and navy fabrics.  I still used one light background and one darker background fabric.


Hardly makes any difference in the overall look of the pattern by using a mixture of fabrics, but it makes a difference . . especially in my stash reports, if I made my stash work for me versus buying the “perfect” fabrics to work in this quilt.

In 2010, if you’re wanting to bust the stash, when you want to make any top or pillowcase or backing or whatever . . see what’s in you stash!  Be absolutely sure there’s nothng in there that will work for you before buying new fabric.

Remember . . I’m not saying we don’t want to support the quilt shops!  We want to see if we can use what we have in our stash before we buy.  What if I had everything needed to make this quilt but had nothing that would work for the darker background.  If I really wanted to make this quilt, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the 1-1/2 yards of darker background fabric needed.

Is your stash going to work for you in 2010 or is it going to sit and collect dust, and then you’re going to feel like you can’t buy fabric because you have so much fabric already?



  1. 1


    My first impulse on seeing a quilt is to figure out a different color scheme than the one used in the original quilt. I do not want to copy it, but make my own. As I love scrappy, I seldom have a problem with yardage apart from the background or sashings. However once decided on a color scheme I might go shopping to add more fat quarters for more variety.

  2. 3


    I too have decided to use my stash more. Mine isn’t nearly as extensive as your’s is however. I have hardly any “tone on tone”, but I have begun to dye and I am committed to using my handdyes. My problem is I have only fq’s, so I am going to start to dye in yardage more.

    I have a lot of Kaffe-like and batiks, so when I see a new pattern I usually start at my stash first. 2010 is gonna be fun!

    BTW–I plan to make Saratoga Lights—love your patterns, I have made several!


  3. 5


    When I fisrt started making quilts, I bought patterns or books and tried to duplicate the colors. That lasted only for a short time since I soon discovered that unless you bought a kit, you were never going to match to the picture of the quilt. And, it was more fun and challenging to come up with my own color scheme.

    I have reorganized my stash, so I know what’s in it and what areas I need to strengthen. I am moving towards buying more tone on tone, batiks and brighter values. But I sure need to use up the stash. But first the WIPs need to be tamed!

  4. 6

    Diane says

    Man, you must have cheerleader in your blood! I feel all charged up to use my stash.
    When I see a pattern my first thought is how it is pieced and can I piece it easier. Then I start looking to see if I like the colors they chose or if I can choose better. My stash is heavy in backgroud fabrics and blues, but light in green and red since I like to use those colors a lot. So if I think I want to use red or green I will go ahead and buy some pieces. If it calls for more spirited colors such as orange or lime green I know I will have to find some to buy since I have just started realizing I could use those colors without passing out. That is another thing I can thank you for! You introduced me to new colorways and I can now play around with them without feeling sick. LOL

  5. 7

    Donna in KS says

    I had already committed myself to cutting into my very large stash and slowing down on the adding. LQS owners will cry!!! I had a sewing room once; now we call it the resource room and I have do all of my playing in another room. I love my fabrics, but have recently truly enjoyed the feeling of totally using up some pieces. I generally buy 1 and a half to 3 yds; fat quarters never did interest me. I also have some pieces 7 yds and more, so sometimes even have backings w/o making a trip. Just to give you an idea, I have had a couple of shop owners call to see if I had any of a particular fabric! I consider that pretty bad, or funny…take your pick! Yes, I will use up more of that stash. Thanks for your help, Judy!

  6. 8

    Bobbie says

    Boy Howdy–here I come stash.
    Excert I’m kinda low on backgrounds and may have to buy some.
    Thanks for the inspiration!!
    Hugs, Bobbie

  7. 9


    This year of stash reporting has been a turning point for me. When I’m choosing colors/fabrics for a new quilt, I shop my stash first. I probably don’t have everything I need, so I am helping the economy and the quilt shopts, but I am using fabric from my stash first! Thank you, Judy, you are our stash-busting cheerleader! Cis-Boom-Bah, Bust That Stash!

  8. 10

    Robin says

    Ok so far I’m the minority here- when I see a picture of something i really want to try to duplicate it. I guess it’s because it was the combination of the fabrics used and the pattern that caught my eye in the first place. Also I’m in the process of building a stash so I am either buying for something I have in mind in the future or buying whatever stikes my fancy and is on sale.

  9. 11

    peggy says

    Recently I made a quilt for a friend as a “pick me up”. It ended up cheering her up, but it also cheered me up because all the fabric, including the backing, came from the stash. I shopped the stash for over an hour before I was satisfied. It also motivated me to do some extensive stashing busting next year. Can’t wait to get started.

  10. 13

    Cindy says

    How do you all store your stash to make it easier to go “shopping”?? I have several large bins, but I also have stuff that is still in bags. I was thinking that I would buy some more bins when they go on sale after Christmas. But maybe this is NOT the way to go!!

    Thanks for any ideas!

    (Judy, maybe you could blog about this topic!)

  11. 14

    Karla Whittington says

    I have my stash in bins separated by color. I have used some of the stash for patterns I like I just pull it and set it aside with the pattern. I have also bought for a special quilt which I will be working on all year. But I want to use up as much stash as I possibly can this year as my husband is beginning to gripe about all the material 🙁

  12. 15


    This is how I make quilts. I see a pattern that inspires me to rework it and make it, I always shop my stash first. And, only once or twice have I considered making a quilt the same colors as the original. When I didn’t have a stash I learned to buy fabric because I liked it and I continue to do the same now. I make quilts from what I have and then I fill in with new if I need to. I love my stash!