Monday, February 13, 2012

a needle in the haystack

Those of us who have been quilting for some time remember the days when finding 100% cotton fabric was like looking for a needle in the haystack. I went to my first Quilt Market in Houston when there were 6 fabric companies making cotton fabric for quilters, 2 batting companies and 3 quilt magazines.

It was the lack of cotton fabric that started the fabric hoarding trend. Quilters wanted to stash away cotton fabrics in anticipation of the next cotton fabric famine. That famine may come in the future, but in the present, the here and now, there are no longer just 6 quilt fabric companies but over 100 to offer 100% cotton fabric for quilters!

In the meantime, seasoned quilters have large fabric stashes that need to be stitched into quilts and new quilters are blissfully unaware of the need to hoard cotton fabrics. They buy the fabric they need for a project, finish the project, and clean up, maybe saving the leftovers, maybe not.

I have decided to sew from my stash as much as possible. I buy new fabrics to use as a focus fabric  and for borders, but I am determined to sew down my stash. Here is a tip: one way to sew the fabrics that fall into the category "why did I buy this", is to sew them into pieced backings for quilts made with the fabrics that are still in favor. My backings are taking on a new personality with fat quarters sewn together, half yard pieces, 2 yard pieces, whatever. I try to coordinate with the top, but pieced backings are my choice.

Here is my stash, in case you were wondering what an out of control fabric stash actually looks like. The bookcases are over 4 feet wide and 8 feet high.


  1. Um, I don't know how to say this, but that's not really an out of control stash. That's just a nice selection of fabrics. I have a stash closet. Now, THAT'S out of control. But I'm a firm believer in having the materials at hand to work when you're inspired. Hate to have to make a trip to the store before I can try out an idea. And what if it doesn't work? Then you have bought fabric for a project that is going nowhere, which is definitely guild producing. I can dip into my closet and find what I need immediately. (Hm, do I sound like I'm rationalizing?)

  2. Good grief, I made a typo - "guilt producing", not "guild producing". But, come to think of it, having a large fabric stash might inspire you to start a quilt group!

  3. I read your comment as guilt producing, so I must have my own share of guilt. Actually that is just the part of my stash that was neatly folded this summer after going to a program by Lois Hallock showing us how to neaten up our stash. What I didn't photograph are all of the rubbermaid big bins filled with odd bits and pieces that aren't folded, just tossed in for some reason or other that I really can't remember now.