(All photos will supersize when clicked, then clicked again if you want to study each stack more closely.)
Next shelf down is the pink, lavender and blue.
These photos were taken Thursday evening October 8, after I finished the Diamond Jubilee quilt. I like to have fabrics that are blenders, some that have smallish allover designs, and some that have medium designs, some with larger designs, and some giants, but generally, I like fabrics that I can do lots of things with. I don't get all too worked up about it.
Why am I showing you this? Because Jackie said "You must have a fantastic stash..." and she wondered "when you purchase fabric is it for a specific project or just because and if not for a project how much do you purchase randomly?"
|I bought these fabrics when I visited Kathy in Belfast Maine this past July.|
First, look back at the stash. I buy a lot of pure, vibrant color. I do not buy muddy values, and I can't stand the "civil war prints." Too tiny, too dull, and frankly too hard to work with. Most of what's in my stash reads as ONE color, with the obvious exception of the large prints, which I like to use as backings for my quilts. I tend not to have any of the "modern" fabrics either, because a lot of them don't know which color they are.
|The two on the right were used in the Diamonds quilt|
|These are fabrics that were given to me, but they are examples of stuff that's really hard (for me) to work with. I don't buy fabric like these.|
What I have come to recognize as my "style" is my ability to put different prints together and make them "flow" from one to the other and look good. I can do that because the fabrics I generally select lend themselves to this kind of work. They're basic, and don't fight with each other.
Then again, being trained as an Artist, I know how to make a color look good. Remember, colors are affected by the colors they are next to. So you can make a color look brighter or duller by changing its neighbors. That makes it look like you have more fabrics than you really do.
By and large, when I buy fabric, I buy half yard pieces. I might buy a fat quarter if I need a particular color and can't find yardage, but I don't generally hang out in the FQ section. If I'm making a house quilt, and I need a brown for tree trunks (for example), or I want a stone foundation, I'll check the FQ section, but that's about it.
I never buy more than one yard of ANYTHING unless I have a specific use for it. And I rarely buy backing for a quilt until the quilt top is finished. (Ask me how I know this.)
NOW... I have my share of novelties and things that I just think are irresistible, but I know full well buying them that they are not the most "flexible" things in my stash. Look closely at the yellow stack. There's a fabric in there of black and white zebras on yellow. Not exactly user friendly, but I thought they were fun. At the time I had a yellow and grey and black and white quilt in my head, but I used a lot of the grays in the Petals quilt. Oh well. They'll end up somewhere. Remember, I'll fussy cut ANYTHING to get the look I want.
|I adore "The Ghastlies" and someday I'll use them in something, but I don't know what. Stuff like this, I only buy a yard or one pattern repeat.|
I'm not going to use a lot of the fabric, but when I do, I usually get a big impact out of it, so it's worthwhile. Stuff like this, I buy a yard, not more. Generally I see a print like this, and if I can see possibilities, and I like the colors, and it isn't "cute" or "cartoony" or "corny" or "tacky" I'll buy some. Yes, I am very, very picky. (And yeah, I know I'm opinionated too.)
Generally, I don't buy fabric unless I need it. I mean, OK, you've seen my stash, so that's not a big surprise. I just made two quilts (Petals and Diamond Jubilee) where I ONLY used fabrics from the stash. Look at the top photo. There's a LOT of fabric in there. There are more quilts to be had from my stash.
One exception is WOWs, or White On Whites. When I make a quilt with a "white" background, I use WOWs. So when I see one I like, I will buy a yard, but usually I buy four or five one yard cuts of different WOWs. In this case, more is better. I like a variety of pattern and texture. Regular readers know I use them randomly and interchangeably. I think they add interest and I like the way they reflect the light differently.
ONE THING I NEVER EVER EVER EVER DO... Well, OK, two things.
1. I never buy precuts. No jelly rolls, layer cakes, charm packs or any of that crap. Never. Ever.
2. I never buy everything in a designer "line." Oh, gag me with a spoon, how dull. Much, Much, MUCH more fun and interesting to combine a fabric or two from one line with blenders, batiks, or anything else from among the thousands of fabrics at any given quilt shop.
Okay, three things. I don't buy solids either. I use blenders instead.
ANOTHER BIG LESSON...
I never buy fabric I fall in love with, unless I have a specific plan to bring it home and cut it up for a quilt I am making.
|I bought these fabrics five years ago, and only cut into the one on the lower left when I made the Diamonds quilt last week!|
Because it will sit in my stash for years before I cut into it. That's a waste of money and storage space. I keep threatening to teach a class and tell my students to bring their favorite fabrics and then make them cut it up. Does this thought make you cringe? Gotcha!
The only time I might buy something I really don't need is when I see a fabric and it's a beautiful pure color. Believe it or not a "true blue" is almost impossible to find, so when I see some, I'll buy a yard or more. As you know, colors come in and out of "style" so you can't always find what you want for sale in the shops. So I try to make sure I always have the basics.
I view my stash as my "Raw Materials." If it's in there, it's meant to be cut up. And one other thing. My stash is right out in the open. I never put fabric in a drawer, or wrap it up. For me, if I can't see it, it doesn't exist. I am not made of money, and storage space at my house is not infinite. Buying fabric I don't need, and then putting it away so I forget I have it, is a waste of money and space. I live by myself, so I don't have to worry about hiding my fabric purchases from a husband. Believe me, I know full well that I spend more money each year on fabric than I do on clothes, but then, clothes are kinda boring.
I can do what I do and make the quilts I make because my stash has a wide variety of colors with varying scales of patterns. I have them on hand. If something isn't working, I can walk over to the stash (which is right next to my design wall) and rifle through it, looking for something else.
If you don't have a wide selection of fabrics in your stash, you might settle for something less than what you need. If you've read this far, you know I don't do that. I never settle. I keep pushing. Having a good stash makes my life a lot easier in a lot of ways.
|The stash on the evening of Friday October 9th. I just had to organize it while I was working on this post.|
I've been building the stash for five years, and let me tell you one other thing. It will NEVER get bigger than what's in this bookcase. Too much can be overwhelming. Sometimes endless possibility can be endlessly frustrating. You've heard me say it before, sometimes having fewer choices forces you to be creative about what you do have. Tim Gunn says "Make it work." I'm not above cutting a shape out of the middle of a piece of fabric if I want that part of a print to do something special.
I look at my fabric not so much as what it IS, but of what it can BECOME.