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