What do you usually sew?
Quilts, of course. Once in a while I’d do something home dec related, like pillowcases. I used to sew costumes, but we haven’t gone to a Halloween party in several years so I haven’t had reason to do that lately.
When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy?
That depends on how much I like it, how I useful I think it will be, how I think I’ll use it, and how much is readily available. Usually I get anywhere from a fat quarter (novelty print, something from a show vendor who didn’t bring anything bigger) to two yards (large scale print, focus fabric for a baby quilt), with most of my purchases being a half yard or a yard.
Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
Usually impulse, with an eye toward filling in holes in my stash. Sometimes I’ll buy with a project in mind, but that’s rarer and rarer as I have more in my stash.
Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it?
I don’t put fabric away until it’s been washed. This avoids surprises with bleeding/crocking/shrinkage later and gets rid of chemical finishes that might affect how a fabric will behave in a finished project.
Do you iron it?
Not until I’m ready to use it.
How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)
My main sort is by color (solids and prints separate). I store certain types of prints by category rather than color: Fairy Frost, batiks, and gradations among them.
Do you have any special folding techniques?
I fold prints are to fat quarter size (fat quarters obviously start that size), then fold the sides into the middle along the long axis, then fold in half along the short axis. I fold solids are the same way, except instead of folding the sides to the middle along the long axis, I fold into thirds along that axis, meaning my solids end up narrower than the prints. This makes the best use of the shelf space I have for my color groups.
How do you store your fabric?
On bookcases and rolling carts and built-in shelves in the guest room closet and on shelves in a bookcase (with doors, to protect the fabric from light) in the same room.
What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?
Reading and doing the exercises in Color and Cloth by Mary Coyne Penders was what set me on the path to stash greatness. I learned so much about value, scale, intensity, and other qualities from this book, and the inventory exercise really showed me where I had blind spots when it came to buying fabric.
When do you say enough is enough?
I’ve about reached that point now, as I’ve run out of space in the area I’ve allotted myself. I don’t want to buy more shelves or expand into another closet elsewhere in the house, so I’ve been much more controlled when it comes to buying new fabric lately than I was when my stash was smaller.
What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects?
I’ve tried to quilt mostly from stash for the past several years, so any proejct is stash busting. I like a scrappy look, so I can use lots of fabrics in small quantities.
Do you have a current favorite print in your stash?
My current favorites are the two most recent additions, both from Erin Michael’s Lush collection:
What’s your definition of the perfect stash?
If it pleases the quilter who owns it and hasn’t bankrupted her or him, I’d say it’s perfect. For some people, that might be one shelf, for others, an overflowing closet.
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