How I build my stash
I read this amazing blogpost by Rossie today, it’s very inspirational about how she builds her stash and how she makes the decision of what to buy because it fits her aesthetic, rather than what she “should” like. I thought this rang true with my post yesterday about how white backgrounds, rainbow quilts and general “modern” trends aren’t for me.
I want to share how I do it, and how I want to improve on my stashing in the future. We all know that I can’t go all out and stop buying entirely, and I think the purchasing side of quilting is important to keep the creative juices flowing and inject a little bit of excitement now and then, but equally we can’t buy ALL OF THE THINGS either, so here’s how I make my decisions based on my own tastes and style.
1) I bookmark the lines I like most of the prints on Pinterest. This is my board at the minute, some conventional, some unconventional stuff. I’m particularly looking forward to Basic Grey’s Persimmon (you know Basic Grey are my favourite designers right?) and Petal Pushers by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I have a feeling that when I see that line in real life though, I will probably prefer two, three or maybe four prints in a couple of colour ways, which brings me onto…
2) I have a craft supplies board on Pinterest too where I post individual fabrics for buying later alongside rulers, patterns, etc. If I only like a particular print or two of a range (such as the Birch Farm Barn Owls) or it’s a Spoonflower print, then this is where that goes.
3) Then I wait ’til I have some spare money or the range is released or the prints are now so “old” they go on sale. I tend to buy the full ranges I like as precuts or F8/FQ bundles (though I don’t do that all that often) and then FQs or half yards of the single prints.
4) If I buy a yard or more it will usually be of a print I think would make a nice skirt or pair of shorts or a shirt. I then probably won’t be bothered to make any of those things and it instead is used as bag lining or quilt backing. And that’s OK- I’ve bought that particular print because I liked it enough to wear, so I sure am going to use it one way or another!
5) The amount of fabric I stash is heavily reliant on how much I have already used. I have 200- 2 packs- comic cards I wrap the fabric round for putting on the shelves and my shelves can’t take any more than that or the fabrics get crumpled and they’re not easy to pull off the shelf and put back. Once a card of fabric has been used, then I can wrap another piece around it. This is how I store anything from 1 FQ to 2 yards. I currently have too much to go on the shelves and those pieces are in a basket waiting for cards. Problem is, Hank likes to chew the basket and these pieces end up all over the floor almost daily. It serves as a reminder to use before I buy!
6) Fabrics designated for backings are usually very cheap yardage (£3 a yard or less at Fabric Guild or Ikea) or vintage sheet finds. I’ve even been known to buy single duvet covers on eBay and cut then down the seam for backing- in fact one of my best backings was done with exactly that. I try not to get too fancy with backings; designer fabric is expensive and there’s a lot of textiles out there languishing unused and unwanted, so it’s nice to give them a practical use. I have started piecing together fabric cuts between F8 and FQ size left over from projects to expand these sheets to the right width, which helps free up stash cards too.
7) I try and stash some of every colour because I like to appliqué, I tend to need some of everything, and if anything I need good amounts of browns, greys and natural shades for animal appliqué quilts if that’s the project I’m working on. I thought I didn’t have a lot of purple, but I actually think it’s bottle green, red, mid blue, navy and mustard yellow that are most in need at the moment. I seem to have quite a few pinks, which is a bit weird since I generally don’t like pink unless it’s a cerise-y, in-your-face pink. Now I’m not in any bees or such, there’s no real need for me to have them.
8) I don’t do much in the ways of solids- I have a bolt of white so that I don’t run out mid project. I tend to buy for specific projects to make sure that I don’t end up buying the wrong tone if I run out, or I’m struggling to find the same colour (which happened with my Wallander quilt- I bought Kona Pistachio instead of Bella Pistachio and there was a huge difference). I only have a few cards of solids, too many of them are yellow. I don’t worry too much about building my solids stash at all, I find them a bit boring so concentrate on having a nice range of prints instead.
9) Prints – I like blenders and small scale prints the best because they’re useful for so many things and therefore don’t languish on the shelves. Tone on tone are my favourites and I’d like to use these instead of solids in absolutely everything if I could get away with it. I’m not a fan of too much white, especially in a print design alongside bright or deep colours (pastels can get away with it better) because the contrast between the two draws too much attention to itself in my opinion. If I am cutting them into smaller pieces, there is the concern that the white may be more predominant than the base colour. Cycle Path and Pearl Bracelets are about my limit on this (and I am thrilled that you can now get tone on tone pearl bracelets). I tend to sew with small pieces, so the scale of print and value balance of white makes a huge difference. I therefore tend not to buy many large scale prints at all, unless it will be one of those hypothetical skirts!
I also struggle with multi-coloured prints as I just don’t know what to classify them as, so these are most likely to end up in zippy pouches and the like if I find some in the stash. I tend not to buy these at all so I imagine this section will disappear altogether before long. I love watercolour-y, painterly fabrics and I buy them almost indiscriminately.
10) Until recently I cut a lot of my scraps into 2 1/2″ squares but then they were made into the Bowie quilt and I had no more. As I use a lot of browns and greys I have a lot of those scraps. My scrap drawer is full of pieces from 2 1/2 up to fat eighths. Anything smaller goes in the bin otherwise I’d have a room full! Oh, and I have a glamorous Tesco carrier bag of strings for my log cabin scrappy project. I plan to sort through these more in the future and be a bit more ruthless, perhaps taking the larger scraps and organising them together as they will be ultimately more useful. I struggle to part with some scraps as they’re the last pieces from a certain project, but if I am planning on emigrating in a couple of years, I should start getting used to the idea that I just can’t hold on to everything. Maybe a destash of some of those greens and blues especially is on the cards?
Wow, that turned out to be a longer post than I thought it would be- goes to show there really must be a more rational, detailed thought process other than, “Ooh pretty, buy it!”
Do you have specific colours, or prints, or are there any particular prints and colours you steer very clear of?
P.S. Looking through blogposts, only two-and-a-bit months ago this…
…looked like this!
WT actual F?! I don’t miss the morning pee puddles though and I am up to a 6am start now which is excellent. But OMG the CUTENESS is gone! WHich reminds me, I think I’m overdue to post again on the puppy blog.