Acquiring Fabric {building a stash} Part 1


First of all we're going to talk about what kinds of fabrics we want in our stash.  We'll pretend that the practicalities like how and where and how much, aren't an issue.  Those will be the second part of this post.  So for now we'll pretend we have a lovely brick and mortar quilt shop just one block over, a huge online shop with every fabric imaginable on it's pages, and of course a Paypal account stocked with $1000!

The most important fabrics in your stash are your basics.

Some plain solids - I use Kona cotton but any brand will do, as long as it's 100% cotton.
A few colors that I always keep on hand are Snow (the perfect white), Natural (more of an muslin color), Aqua, (the perfect aqua), and Stone (a warm medium gray).   Of course I always have other colors on hand too, but these three I try to always keep around.

Another basic that I love is Essex Linen in Natural.  It's a cotton linen blend that is slightly heavier than other cotton.  Because of the cotton content it's super easy to work with and goes well with all my cottons.  I use it often as my background fabric in a quilt, just because I like the natural color and the texture.

Shot Cottons by Kaffe Fassett are my number one favorite solid.  I'd use them all the time except for the fact that they cost slightly more and don't have as many colors as regular solids.  They add stunning depth to any quilt because of their woven look.  The warp and weft are two different colors, so they shine slightly different when looking at them from different angles.  They are also very soft, which makes them a great choice for quilt backs!  Here's a list of my favorite colors in shot cottons.  Aqua ( a smoky blue, reminds me of light faded denim), Persimmon (absolutely the best red!  Basically the only red solid I use.), Tangerine (the best orange!) Tobacco (a golden caramel color with warm yellow undertones).


Neutral colored fabrics are also of great importance.  I always have to make  conscious effort to stash these fabrics, because they're not as exciting as the bold and bright prints.  Depending on your style though, you're likely to find yourself using these fabrics more than your fun rainbow floral prints.

I like to have a wide variety of different shades and colors, and well as different prints.  These fabrics are similiar to solids in their practicality, but they have a print which adds some interest to your quilt.  I like to have a variety of prints.  Some stripes, polka dots, old fashioned geometrics and tiny florals, modern graphic prints, text, and reproduction fabrics.  (Just a word on reproduction fabrics, which are those tiny prints that have been reprinted and inspired by fabrics from years ago.  I find a whole quilt made from these fabrics to be drab, but I love to mix a few in to my quilts.  These old fashioned collections have some great basics that look amazing when paired with the more modern prints.)


This stack above is examples of the next category that I shop for.  These are prints that are dominantly one color.  These are the most useful for creating your desired palette.  They may have two or more secondary colors in the design, but they read mostly as one color.  You will find yourself using this type of fabric alot.  Again, I like to have a variety of different types of prints in all the colors of the rainbow.


From the above category, there are two subgroups.  The four prints above are easy to categorize into color groups, but they have quite a few secondary colors.  These are great for creating blending in your quilt.  They add interest and give a softer look.


Then you have the simpler graphic fabrics like the ones shown above here.  They generally have one secondary color that creates the design.  These help keep the simple graphic look that I like.


The last official group is multicolored fabrics.  These are the ones that I tend to fall in love with first.  They jump out at you and convince you to make a quilt right now!

You must be careful not to buy only these types of fabrics though, or your quilt will be very busy, and you'll have a hard time finding fabrics that look nice together.


I squeezed in one last little unofficial category.  I'm not sure what it's called, but it's those little pieces of extra special fabric that you MUST have.  just because!  Maybe it's a rare fabric, or a Liberty Lawn floral, or a fat quarter of Heather Ross Linen.  Whatever the case, those little pieces of special fabric are used sparingly, but they are so fun and inspiring.  There's no criteria for this category, it's your own personal taste.


Soooo.... this post is plenty long and I've only covered half of my first topic!  I'm going to stop now and write the next post seperately.  I'll talk more about how I choose fabrics online, how much I buy, etc.

48 comments:

  1. Mmm, so many gorgeous fabrics here! I agree about prints that are dominantly one color being the most useful.

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  2. Aquiring fabric... my favorite part of the process!

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  3. Great post very informative for beginners like me. thank you 😃

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  4. Must resist shopping. Already bought fabric today. :) Great post!

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  5. Thank you! This helps me already!

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  6. Wow - such beautiful prints. I'm your newest follower. I came over from MeMe Rose.

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  7. Lovely and helpful post, Jolene. Mmmm... must scroll back up to enjoy another look at that fabric eye candy. ;o)

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  8. Oh how I wish I could go wild and stash tons of fabric. I get so tempted when it's buying time. It's hard to remember how useful it is to have solids stashed. It seems much easier to just run to the store and pick up the solids but I'm always afraid of my favourite prints running out.

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  9. I do tend to buy a lot of multi colored fabric. These days I try to make a conscious effort to get monochromatic fabrics.

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  10. this post is very helpful - please keep sharing - so much to learn - thanks

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  11. Mmmm...Makes me want to go buy fabric right away! Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Lovely fabrics. I hope to build up a quilting stash too

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  13. Oh gosh, so many pretty ones! I have fabric envy. Looking forward to the part about how much you usually buy. I'm still learning about quilting and worried I won't have many choices for all my one-yard impulse buys. (And yet, I'm eying more right now).

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  14. What a great break-down of fabrics! I love the bossy ones best - give me a zillion colors on one fabric and I'll be sure to love it (then build a quilt around it!)

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  15. I am so excited about this project! Thanks so much for taking the time to break it down into these steps - it will be infinitely helpful to us newbies! Chrissie x

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  16. Yes, I made a little order of low volume fabrics and some fabrics with cute prints :)

    And I would like to know, how can I store my fabrics? Which way is the best?

    Thanks a lot, Jolana

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    1. I store all my fabrics on open shelves because I like to have them readily available and I think they're pretty! If you don't have a dedicated sewing room though, you may want to store them behind closed doors. Some people store them in plastic tubs, which may be the best for preserving the quality, but I find it bulky to have to pull out the tub and take off the lid every time I want to find a fabric.

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  17. What a great post! I remember when I was first starting out, I stumbled across a post like this and it was such a HUGE help. But it also helps to refresh every once in a while :)

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  18. Great post thanks for all the info. I have not heard of kona so that's a new one for me. Looking forward to the next xo

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  19. I wish you would blog every day, you are really inspiring, i love your fabric choices, your quilts but mostly i love the sensibility you have.
    I too struggle with my sewing and guilt at indulging myself when there are so many more noble pursuits i could be doing.
    At the end of the day, when you possess the talent you have, it is truly a gift to many people that you share it with us.
    Thankyou

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  20. You have such beautiful colors in your stash!. I'm just starting out and fabric selection can be so overwhelming- I want it all! And you're right, it is hard to remember to buy those low-volume neutrals. Thanks for this post. I'm bookmarking it to help keep me sane when making my selections. Can't wait to see your next post on buying online and how much to get!

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  21. Where's the section on making sure your husband doesn't get mad at you when fabric comes in the mail several times a week? ;)

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    1. haha! That's a section I should really talk about too! In this series I'm focusing on beginners who may be needing to build a bit of a stash, but maybe I should have a warning about how easy it is to get addicted! And then how some of us have to go on 'diets' because our stash is too big.

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  22. This is so awesome! Thank you!

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  23. Thanks for the post. Very good information that I can refer back to at a later date.

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  24. I feel like fabric shopping now... Great advice on choosing the solid colours, I'm still "finding my groove" there. What's your advice on backing fabrics? Do you normally piece a back with 44" wide pieces, do you sometimes get wide backings? Use sheets?

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    1. This is a great question! Maybe I'll cover it a bit more when I get to the backing part of the quiltalong. I find that I use a lot of 44" wide pieces stitched together. That is only because wide cottons are harder to come by. I actually prefer full pieces for my larger quilts because I think a seamless back is softer for sleeping under.

      Voiles and minkee are 60" wide which works for medium sized quilts. (if you're willing to work with these slightly trickier fabrics)

      Sheets and extra wide backing are great options if you can find prints that you like. Ikea sometimes has great printed sheets.

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    2. Thanks Jolene! I think my problem too comes with the outlay of $$ when it comes to picking out a back. The top doesn't seem as spendy as it is usually spread around over several purchases and a lot of time :) Ikea sheets are great, I've done that before.

      But yes, if the manufacturers came out with coordinating backings (I know a couple of lines have them) I'd be all over that. Denyse Schmidt or Anna Maria Horner cotton in 108" wide anyone?? Yes, please!!

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  25. Such fabulous advice...thanx for sharing. Now I want/need to start adding to my stash immediately. So wonderful to be able to share my love of fabrics with all you lovely, passionate quilters...and, oh dear, I am supposed to be saving for a holiday in Greece!

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    1. Wishes from Greece! Welcome and load your luggages with fabrics! x Teje

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    2. Hello Teje, Thanks for your lovely message. I am visiting Lesvos in August...cant wait. Where about in Greece do you live? Warm wishes, Susan from Cape Town x

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  26. Beautiful - I would be in heaven with your stash! I hope you share also from where you buy. x Teje

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  27. This has really helped me. I can see that I tend to buy a lot of multicolored fabrics and then I have no idea what to do with them. Or I purchase an entire collection and like you mentioned with the 30's quilt, my quilts can be a bit drab at times. I have been quilting for nearly 20 years and this is a huge eye opener for me. Thank you, Jolene!

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    1. So happy that you found it useful!

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  28. fantastic post, Jolene. Thanks for all this useful info.

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  29. So excited about this series!! I always have to restrain myself when it comes to buying fabric... I love so many different styles it's hard to choose just one or two! Wish I could just go crazy and build a huge stash! Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

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  30. These are great tips. Thank you!

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  31. I'm way excited you're doing this series! Thanks for sharing your favorite solids, I love hearing what colors other people like to use. I bought a Kona color card not too long ago so I could make sure of the color before I bought online and it's so handy; have you ever seen a Shot Cotton color card? I can't find one anywhere. Anyway, I liked hearing your fave shot cottons, too, I'll be getting some Persimmon next time I need a red. :)

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    1. Yes, Pam at Mad About Patchwork has a Shot Cotton Color Card! Previously she had one that she handmade which is the one I have. Now she has one from the manufacturer which has every shot cotton available!

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  32. Thanks for this great post. I just wish fabric was cheaper!

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  33. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have always wondered how to begin my fabric stash, what to look for, how to collect. I may have to carry this with me on my shopping excursions!

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  34. I loved reading this post and I love your QAL idea. xo Molly::applecyder

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  35. #1 I'm kicking myself because I meant to look at shot cottons last week while I was at the quilt store and I forgot and now I'm back on a budget :(

    #2 The little weiner dog fabric in the last picture...where did you find it?

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    1. The dog fabric is by Heather Ross, I believe it's from a line of pajamas called Munki Munki. It's from quite a few years ago and is hard to find but is sometimes available on Etsy or Ebay.

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  36. Thank you for this! So helpful...and now I'm off to read the second in the series.

    And like Leslie, I'd love to know what the little dog fabric is in the last image. :)

    Thanks!
    Elizabeth
    lwghosts at yahoo dot com

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  38. Thank you for this, helpful, and something to think about as I consider my own stash..... I do realize I have some fabrics I don't like that much, maybe they need to be a separate category?

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