Stash or No stash

No people I am not speaking of “stash” as in the green three-leaf clover that is not legal in the state of Pennsylvania.  I am referring to a large stash of “fabric”. I am curious to hear if my peers  have a large fabric stash.  I often meander into a fabric shop and encounter an abounding amount of fabrics that I am drawn to, but refrain from purchasing.  Of course my refusal to buy in quantity has me later kicking myself when it becomes evident that one of those “passed over” materials would have been the soul mate for a specific project.  To make matters even worse when I take the time to venture back to the shop and invest in the cloth, it quickly becomes apparent that it has been confiscated by a wiser customer.  I find myself slowly exiting the store feeling totally deflated.  I believe I suffer from FCS (fabric commitment syndrome).  Standing amidst all those beautiful patterns, and colors, gives me cold feet.  I can’t seem to allow myself to be devoted to more than one piece of material.  I suppose my relationship with fabric has me being a monogamous quilter.

I only browse for fabric when I have an upcoming project and it’s time to redeem the precise cloth for the design that is whirling around in my mind.  Since I don’t accumulate fabric, I have but a very small stash to draw upon.  This lack of resources often leads to a little bit of design challenges.  Obstacles aren’t necessarily a bad thing but not possessing the quantity of fabric required for a design most definitely is!

When Hula Hibiscus was being constructed, thanks to Ronda K Scott, the challenge presented was to produce this piece from our “stash” alone.  WHAT??? I about fell on the floor.  I don’t even know if you can consider my collection a “stash” as it’s so pitiful!

Final reveal

No I wasn’t lying, it is very small, tiny, minuscule.  So lets turn this topic away from me and out to the public.  Do you have a large stash, or are you like me and need to find the closest FCS program?


51 thoughts on “Stash or No stash

  1. I have a stash large enough to open a small fabric shop!!! I’m definitely a SABLE, but I’m working on not buying more and using up what I have!!! I figure I need another 60 productive years to use it all 🙂

  2. I have a large stash and find it hard to cut any of it. Lately, though, I have been trying hard to actually use what I have. I love seeing fabrics that I have fallen in love with in my projects. I am a recovering fabric hoarder.

  3. I have no problem with committing to fabric. I hate to not have something when I’m in my creative zone. Love “petting” and bringing home fabric(s)!!


  5. I have to admit it, I do buy fabric- a guilty pleasure, my vice. When I see beautiful fabric, I buy it under the assumption that I will (eventually) find the right project to use it in. But so often, because it is so beautiful, I am afraid to cut into it. Crazy, yes?

  6. Yes, I have a stash. Lol. The movers estimated a ton of fabric and they under estimated. I love being able to go to my fabric and pull all I need for a project in the middle of the night. I’m not dependent on the current colors or designs that can be found in stores and I still have some of my mother’s treasured fabrics…

  7. My stash is humongous. Should I die tomorrow some lucky quilter is sure to hit the jackpot. Only recently do I design quilts with a few fabrics. Typically I will need at least 20 to build a quilt, and often more. It takes time to build a quilt with several fabrics. Right now I’m building a jungle quilt. It started with batiks of animals. I needed more animals, and of course all the companion fabrics, and I have something pictured in my head for the border. I have purchased probably 40 fabrics. But as I add fabrics, I will drop some. At some point, I’ll feel like the fabric pallet is complete. All those fabrics that didn’t make the cut go in my stash. More recently I am enjoying whole cloth quilts. Well guess what? None of my stash pieces are large enough. So, I have to shop for those fabrics as well. I don’t feel bad about my fabric stash, but I do feel like I need to cut into some of those, and there are too many to get that done! I always start off a project by shopping in my own home, and I have to say, that’s pretty nice.

  8. My fabric stash was so large that when we moved from CA to OR in 2005, it took up a large portion of the garage at the new place. I tried moving all those bins into the house after we were settled. OR has too wet of a climate to store fabric in a garage, even an insulated one. Fabric bins under every bed, filled every closet, shelf, etc. I didn’t have the storage space of our CA house. I finally had to move most of it back to the garage. After a couple more years, it became apparent that life isn’t long enough to use up all that fabric. I am active in our local quilting guild. I gave my stash (not every piece of fabric) to my church. We had a huge fabric sale. The guild ladies all came in droves. My $50 – 100 K stash brought in almost $7 K. I still have enough fabric set up in quilt kits to keep be busy for several lifetimes. So our church is having another fabric sale in the spring, this time with my sister’s stash (she too is a fabric-aholic) plus more of my beloved kitted fabrics. I expect our church to reap another windfall. It’s an expensive lesson. I don’t think there’s any advantage to having all that fabric on hand. I think it’s better to supply your current project, finish that, and then go from there. Long story. Lesson learned.

  9. I TOTALLY envy your ability to refrain from buying fabric!! I wish I had that gift. I have a large stash and sometimes it is stifling! I’ve reorganized a number of times, but honestly couldn’t tell you what all I have. So, you just keep being you and don’t buy into the idea of having to have a fabric stash!

  10. quiltnnut…My “name” says it all. ha. actually I have tried to keep from buying something just because I like it. I don’t have a huge craft room. If i buy it, I intend to use it for a specific project. Being an appliquer, you can’t have enough “stash” as there’s always a color that is not quite perfect.ha. So, once in while I do buy on impulse. ha.

  11. The amount of fabric you have on hand would not be enough for me to draw on if I wanted to make a quilt. However, there is the other side of the equation where you have to live to be 150 and still have all your senses working in order to use all the fabric you have accumulated. As in most things in life, moderation is the key. Unfortunately, while I know that intellectually, emotionally I am drawn to all that color and design and want it for my own and know that as soon as I get it home I am going to make something with it right away! LOL So, like a lot a people that have been quilting for more than 25 years, I have a lot of fabric. I try to stay out of quilt shops now and use my stash which is sad. And, I worry about the financial well-being of quilt shops because I hear similar remarks from a great number of other quilters.

  12. My stash is an avalanche waiting tho happen. However, this year, I committed to “no new fabric” and also joined a “UFO Challenge” group. I was doing pretty good until a friend was selling his mother’s (deceased) stash. As the song says “simply irresistible”.
    My first goal next year is to assess “what will I REALLY use?”, then sell everything else.

  13. The best reason to have a “holiday stash ” is because every year the fabric may not be as pretty, unique, etc., but within reason and depending on who you quilt for. I am using my stash simply because fabric is to costly now to sit on it.

  14. Oh so slowly, I am putting what I have into kits, saving a few larger pieces for backs. I also have to decide which fashion fabrics I will really use for clothes. I just enrolled in a sloper class with Craftsy. We are talking 2 large suitcases, 4 large plastic tubs, a six foot high double door cabinet, and a 6 ft. shelf stacked with UFOs for total fabrics. God I love to feel a new piece of fabulous fabric. I know we need to support our local shops, but I need to stop.

  15. When I was working full time, I build up a huge fabric stash that I organized by color. Now that I am retired and on a fixed income, I am so thankful I have my stash. When I am ready for a new project I shop my stash first, then I buy only what I need to complement what I have found in my stash. Of course all backs are pieced from what I have in my stash.

  16. I don’t have a super large stash but I do have a funny story about one of my students. Mrs X (protecting her identity of course) always got the mail, paid the bills. She went on an extended visit to family and while there got a call from Mr X inquiring why they had gotten a rent bill for a storage unit?? Mrs X had to confess that she had been renting a storage unit for 5 years so Mr X would not know how much fabric she had accumulated!! Another of my students has a storage unit in her yard to store her fabric. She has a rocker there as well so she can sit and admire her purchases.

    • I showed your story about Mrs. X to my husband to prove that my own stash is hardly noticeable in comparison: only one small closet (recently weeded out and neatly organized), one seriously overflowing bin of batiks, and two small drawers of fat quarters. He still says it is more than I can reasonably expect to use in my lifetime. I took that as a personal challenge.

  17. I have one bedroom with large walk-in closet dedicated to fabric……yes, I have enough fabric to open a small shop, and, of course I needed every yard of it!😃

  18. I’m similar to you Lisa. I do shop in quilt shops and online. I watch the new fabrics coming out and if it’s something I love I may purchase some but more often I walk out without any! And I go back and most times it’s gone. I do have a stash and try to use it first. But each time I look and touch new fabric I have a hard time buying unless I have a project in mind. I really am trying to use my stash up before buying anything new. We are moving this week and I am having to downsize my sewing space so all the more reason not to buy.

  19. My stash consists of a 4 over 4 dresser, a cardboard box, and a tote of fabric. As I sew through a project, no matter the size of my stash, I always seem to make a trip to get yardage for backing, or match a solid to what I have already. No matter how much I have, it seems to be missing EXACTLY what I need for the project to look best and satisfy my internal quilt police.

  20. Lisa, when I click comment, it goes your blog, but there is no place for me to leave a comment on that blog. The only comment is at a the bottom on Oct 17th.

    Keep your stash small. I am a fabricholic and have way too much. Now I must get to sewing those 50 projects now that I am retired.

    Judith Washburn 832-724-6335


    • Lisa thanks for your reply! Looking at your stash and reading all the stories, made me realize – My small closet, well organized, has too much fabric. While working I stashed for retirment. Now that I am retired, I sew 3-4 days a week. I hope to reduce my stash before we move next year. Being a former quilt shop manager, I have fabrics I hope to use one day. No purchases for a long time if ever. I see a Garage Sale in the future.

  21. Ah, fabric is my vice! It all began when I was about a year old, playing in my grandmother’s scraps. I have a huge stash, and I do shop my collection for projects. Problems cutting into anything? Not anymore! When I retire in a few years, I’m sure I will especially appreciate all that cloth.

  22. I have two large cabinets & a guest bedroom closet full of totes filled with fabric! I’m not sure I’ll ever use it all! Our quilters group has an “understanding” that we come over and clean out the stash if something happens to one of us (before the husbands find it!)

  23. I have, what I consider to be, a ridiculous stash. However, most of my friends’ put mine to shame. We all consider it our retirement investment. I no longer quilt for others (you congratulated me at MQX in April) and I have been getting sooo much done. I am grateful I invested in fabric when it was below 6.00 a yard. I love 30’s and civil war and tone on tone fabrics. These don’t go out of style and give me the ability to make what makes my heart sing. I do buy for new passions, but I bought what I love and that doesn’t go out of style.

  24. I have a large stash. I try not to go to fabric stores as the two year old in me tends to take over. I have about six quilts I want to do that I am allowed to buy fabric for. And dots. Polka dots are like celery, they don’t count as fabric calories. I allow myself to buy them while they are in style. Of course the six quilts don’t include the twenty other quilts I want to make and have fabric for. Most of it lives in my bedroom closet. Which means I own four pairs of pants and a dozen shirts. The rest is fabric. Oh, and the 30 yards of Batik that was on sale for two dollars a yard a few years ago. That fits under my bed. And the 4 big plastic bins in the garage.

  25. I love my stash, organized by color, a shelving unit 7′ x 16′. I know fabrics are heavy, but I do not think I have a ton (2200 lbs), but I do have a “ton”. So convenient. I do go through it every couple of years and donate what I wonder why I bought in the first place.

  26. I have what I consider an ‘adequate’ stash, at least a 100 times larger than yours. I have more fabric laying on my cutting table for the current quilt I’m working on, than you have in your stash, . Unless I’m on vacation, I’m quilting, every day, all day. I make a lot of ‘controlled’ scrappy quilts and love having my stash to pull from. I mainly quilt for charity, both Project Linus and Quilts of Valor. I’ve made 37 large charity quilts this year, all from my stash. But that’s not to say I haven’t continued to add to it. I brought home 263 yards, a couple months ago, for $93, quilt shop quality fabrics. I can’t resist a bargain. My husband and granddaughter are my biggest problems, as they want to keep every quilt I make. A lot of my quilts are original designs, they say I can’t give them away. The answer, for every five quilts I give away, one of them gets a new quilt. So far this year, granddaughter 7, hubby, zero! She’s 8, lives in the states while I currently live in Europe, so when I show her my latest quilt, her response is always, ‘Grandma, that’s so cool, will you make me one too.” Every single weekend, on FaceTime, she asks about the ‘Elephant quilt’ she saw nine months ago. That one, I’m kind of stumped on, as she has specific requirements. She’s like the elephant, never forgets. She has a great eye for design and color, often gives me new ‘ideas’ and suggestions. She will end up being a quilter and will inherit my stash. The only time I’m embarrassed about my stash is when we move, which is every 2-3 years. Only then, I see it all packed up in tubs and think, WOW, that is a lot of fabric.

  27. Oh, boy… I have only been quilting for 5 years, and was concerned about not having a stash then. Every class I took through my guild said just go into your stash bla bla bla. Now, I have plenty! I have probably 50 self made kits under the bed in my “computer ” room, the closet is full of mostly ufo”s, and a to the ceiling fabric shelving unit from Ikea is full. My sewing room has all my all quarters and the closet has garment fabric-lots.I did just donate about 12 large trash bags of garment fabric to one of the local home ec teachers, so now my garage is only half shelf lined with fabric! When I start to feel quilty, I tell myself I have 25-33 years left to sew it all! I stocked up when I was working but now am happy since I am disabled and can’t afford to buy a lot. I only buy for something specific now, but I love to just admire and pet my fabric. It’s all colorized and easy to shop! No guilt!!!

  28. My stash makes yours seem miniscule! I have fabric for 5 or so quilts that are in my pipeline….my stash will help me in my retirement when my budget will be tighter….

  29. As I said above in reply to Elizabeth, I bought generously in my working days. Mostly it was planned buying, though not for specific projects. My intent is to keep a palette of colors and values on hand. Occasionally I inventory to see what color/value is low. then when I shop, I aim to fill that gap.

  30. I’m so sorry! I’ll gladly share my stash that has been growing for over 40 years and consumes my studio above a two bay shop. I have so much fabric that I had to remove the cardboard from the bolts to get most of it to fit in my two closets and seven bookcases. This does not include the 100 gallon rolling bins in my storage area. My daughter said I can’t die, now 73, until it is all quilted to which I stayed I would have to live to 240 to manage that feat.

  31. My ‘stash’ fits on 2 shelves in a small cabinet, much like yours. I was recently told that what I have can’t even be considered a stash. 🙂 I do find it challenging sometimes when I’m in a creative headspace and don’t have the right fabrics. But I’m overwhelmed in a fabric store and more often than not walk away empty handed… I guess I need to find a local chapter for FCS…..

  32. My stash is huge. I do use it. But right now I am trying to finish my over 100 quilt tops and the other sets of quilt blocks, at least 75 full quilts worth.

  33. Haha! I have a whole room full of fabric…waaay too much.
    I remember a story about a quilter in Santa Barbara: The woman had a garage converted to a quilting studio. Of course, it was full of fabric! Her husband never came into the studio, but one day he did make an appearance. He stopped shocked at the door, and exclaimed, “Look at all that fabric! You must have at least $250.00 worth!”

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