Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Building A Fabric Stash

Hello! Today's topic is one for all quilters, whether seasoned or new: Building a fabric stash. While some projects call for a special order or trip to the store, it's nice to be able to start (and even finish) a quilt with pieces from your stash. Today we'll talk about what types of fabrics are must-haves for your quilting stash.
Of course, all quilters are unique and have their own sense of style, so you may 

want more or less of some of these fabric types; purchase more of the basics you love and less of the styles you know you won't use as much. Also, it's a good idea to take a conservative look at the storage you have available and tailor your stash to how much you can easily access and use.


Pre-cut fabrics are a great way to begin or add-to a fabric stash. The most common pre-cut fabric sets include:
  • Charm packs--packs of 5" x 5" squares
  • Mini Charm packs--packs of 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares
  • Jelly rolls--strip sets of 2 1/2" x Width of Fabric Strips
  • Layer Cakes--packs of 10" x 10" squares
  • Fat Quarter bundles--packs of 18" x 22" fabric rectangles
  • Fat Eighth bundles--packs of 9" x 22" fabric rectangles 
Since pre-cuts come with at least one piece of each fabric found in a collection, they are a great way to get every print without spending a lot of money buying yardage of each individual prints.


Choose solids you love, and try to use them in all of your projects. For example, I have two go-to light backgrounds (Moda Bella 9900-97 for a creamy white background and Moda Bella 9900-60 for a more ivory-toned background). When I need a darker background I like to use Moda Mochi Linen and Moda Cross-Weave in black or grey. I like to buy the solids I love by the bolt and also keep scraps from those bolts in a plastic drawer. I'm often able to piece small projects just from my solids scrap bin.

Low-Volume and Background Prints

Collect a variety of text prints, light-colored tone-on-tone fabrics and softly colored prints to use for backgrounds. It's amazing how much just a little bit of texture from these types of fabrics will add to your quilt. My scrappy background low-volume quilts are some of my favorites, and I'm also in love with quilts pieced primarily with these types of fabrics! Fat quarters or half-yards/yards of low-volume prints you especially love are a must for every fabric stash!

Novelty and Holiday Fabrics

There is just something about novelty fabrics and prints...apples, kitchens, houses, sewing themed fabrics--I love them all! And I shouldn't even get started on holiday fabrics...I don't think there has ever been a Christmas collection I haven't loved!

Be sure to collect novely and holiday-themed fabrics you love, but if you find you're not using them in your projects then be sure to limit these types of fabrics.

I have a lot of ideas for using novelty and holiday fabrics you can read in this post.

Essential Print Fabrics for your Stash

There are a few different kinds of print fabrics you'll want to be sure to have in your stash including:
  • Polka Dots
  • Checks and Ginghams
  • Plaids 
  • Geometrics
  • Stripes
  • Florals

Just a few notes on the fabric types listed above:  I've never met a polka dot I didn't like, and I believe I use them in most every quilt. Polka dots are even wonderful for backgrounds as shown in the low-volume polka dot print above!

Ginghams and checks add a classic touch to quilt projects. They are wonderful for piecing and are especially fun as bindings whether cut on the straight of grain or the bias.  These fabrics can be found in large-scale or in smaller scale which are easier to use.

Plaids and geometric prints also add a lot of interest to quilts. As with the checks and ginghams, these prints come in a variety of sizes.

Stripes and fabrics that function as stripes (like the scallop prints above) are another essential for a fabric stash. Stripe fabrics cut on the bias make extra fun bindings!

Floral prints can add a touch of softness to a quilt if they are small and dainty, and large bold, bright floral fabrics can instantly make a quilt look modern. I love florals!

I find it interesting that the new Moda Essentially Yours collection is such a great basics group: polka dots in different sizes, gingham, and stripes are truly staples in the fabric collector's world!

Finally...I have some earlier posts on this topic you might be interested in...find more details and tips on stash fabrics in the posts below:

More ideas on background fabrics

More ideas on using novelty print fabrics 

More ideas on print fabrics 

I hope you have enjoyed this post...thanks so much for stopping by!


Kris Quilts said...

Great Post! I struggle with low volume fabrics, likely because I have so few. I never feel like I have enough to make a project. I'm working on that, though. I also find it hard to incorporate novelty fabrics. Maybe they just aren't for me. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Hildy said...

I love your posts and you can find all these fabric types in my stash. But don't think that will stop me from buying more fabrics;-)

the Miles Family said...

I really like the polka dot you mentioned as a low volume print (the one with two sizes of beige polka dots). I'm hoping you can tell me what fabric line it is.

Julie in WA said...

Thanks for this helpful post!

As a quilter on a limited budget, I have built a huge stash by visiting estate sales. The fabrics are not the latest prints, but I have amassed a great collection of blender fabrics that I employ in modern quilts, successfully mixing the old with the new. I also cut my own precuts, making it easy to put a last minute quilt together!

Terry Helms said...

I have a question on how to order fabric by the bolt. Do you have your local quilt shop place on order for you, or can anyone order a bolt on-line? My background fabric almost always ends up scrappy because I run out of the solids so quickly. Having a bolt would help tremendously. I will do a web search, but thought you may have a suggestion. Thank you.

Rosemary B❤️ said...

wonderful Post.
I have a great stash, I just need to cut and iron it.
Buying the newest cutest fabrics is my only weakness

Patricia Shirani said...

Sherri, I love this post, so helpful to newer quilters such as myself. You really spent a lot of time setting up your photos and they are lovely. Thank you!

margaret said...

lots of good advice here I am bad tend to buy rashly when something catches my eye have a massive stash must stop buying

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