The ‘Stash’

We all like to chat about our “Stash”. Which makes me giggle a bit since it’s a nickname for “mustache”. But we are quilters, and our Stash is our fabric stash.

Recently, a reader asked me to talk about my Stash. How big is it? What do I look for when shopping for the stash rather than a specific project?

First, I must say that what I buy to squirrel away has changed quite a bit over the past 7 years since I retired. I love big prints and I love intense colors and my early stash purchases tended to be fabrics that I loved in intense colors and large scale prints. They were fun to have around, but didn’t work well with anything in particular as I shy away from “basic” colors like white, cream, tans, browns, grays and black. And because I like intense colors, there were few “blenders” or accent colors in my stash to compliment my intense or big prints.

Second, I began doing applique and quickly discovered that applique stash is not the same as piecework stash. Applique uses more fabrics/color in a piece and in much smaller amounts. Now I tend to buy “stash” for applique only and to buy yardage for specific piecework projects (which usually has some leftover chunks). If I find a component for a larger project that I am particularly fond of, and that will coordinate with a variety of things, then I buy a yard or so extra for stash.

For example, this eggshell colored background is the background for my Summer Haze quilt. I bought an extra 1 1/2 yd for the stash. This could be a background for future applique wall hanging, or it could be an accent color in a piecework pattern.

Things I keep on the radar for “stash”:

Moda Grunge in favorites, aqua or purple, and in good basics like off white or taupe. I love grunge metallics, too. How much do I buy? 3 yards, which is enough for a typical applique project background or for sashing/borders for a piecework quilt. Grunge adds interest and has a nice stable weave for applique. If I find a batik or print I love, I will look for some coordinating grunge at the same time.

My grunge stash…blues, aquas, grey, taupe, off white and some smaller left over chunks from previous projects. I also have a bolt with several yards of deep aqua grunge.

Layer Cakes (10″ squares) of batiks or white/off white low volume prints. (Especially on sale!) Layer cakes are great for cutting HSTs as a 10″ square can quickly be turned into a pile of 4″ or 6″ HSTs. They also are great for applique, giving maximum variation of a color or theme in a size that works well for applique cut outs.

Part of my layer cake stash in my favorite colors in batiks and a Stonehenge collection. I also have them in plain white and additional purples.

Batiks in my favorite colors or in a good “blender” with a low volume or tonal small to medium scale print. I prefer batiks for both piecework and applique. They tend to have a denser thread count than regular quilting prints and can be used for either raw edge or turned edge applique as well as piecework. I buy 2 or 3 new green batiks every year in different shades/tones for applique stems and leaves in 1/4 to 3/4 yd increments. For other colors, I buy 1/4 to 2 yards depending on the color, my whim of the moment and how much I love it. But I am strict and it has to be really fabulous to buy more than 1/2 yd. Some of the yardage here was bought before I made that rule…

Batik stash: the greens, the pinks and the gold/brown/blacks.
Blue and purple batiks. Some are newer; some I have had for years. Yardage and some fat quarters.

Medium tones in batiks or blenders, which I buy in 1/4 or 1/2 yd increments. I love the deep and brights so much that I can “forget” that they need a lighter fabric to make them pop and sing. I have to force myself to buy yellow/gold, so now I buy one or two fat quarters or 1/4 yd sections a year to have some handy.

This is an eclectic collection. I have my “naturals”…wood, basket, rock look fabrics for applique, there is a collection of coffee themed fabric that I have yet to use, some leftovers from old projects and some basic off white yardage. In the bottom cube are my bird fabrics with different scales and styles of birds that I like to add to applique, and some unusual prints that have been hanging around for a while.
My applique “buckets” with cutout applique pieces with media that didn’t get used, but might! And the bucket with larger scraps for applique work.
My fat quarter collection. Real fat quarters and larger scraps about fat quarter size. I go through this once a year or so to keep it relatively neat and winnow it.
Christmas fabric stash: a layer cake and a small collection of yardages. I make Christmas trees, runners and stockings with this stash.

Things in my stash that are sitting unused. I love them, but they are languishing.

Some older yardage purchases that are languishing in my stash. I made a quilt using a lot of the lavender fabric several years ago, but I still have plenty more! I love the other two, but haven’t found the right projects for them.

What do I do with older fabrics that haven’t budged and that no longer speak to me? Some go to other quilters that do quilting for charity or I put them on my neighborhood “Buy Nothing” group to give away. I will confess that I do not keep a lot of scraps; I am not a fan of making scrappy quilts so I pass along anything larger than a fat quarter size.

Happy quilting to all!



  1. Hi that is way to tidy for a stash lol
    But you have a great all-round selection of colours and fabric might just have to sort mine again it has been a while happy sewing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thank you so much Lennea! i’m going to have to re-read this a few times and then take a good look at my stash, and decide where i’m going with it. it is especially helpful to read y our comment about stash for applique being different than stash for piecing. since hotyh, i’ve become addicted to applique and i have noticed that i use my fabric differently, but i thought it was just a mistake i was making!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a mistake! Applique stash is really different! Queen’s Garden got me hooked. I also had to switch to smaller prints for applique, unless it is a border. Glad you enjoyed the blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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