Sew Mama Sew‘s blog is focusing on fat quarter projects all month. They also posted a little “stash interview” meme and started an accompanying Stash & Storage Flickr group — you can play along and answer these questions about your own fabric stash. I’m having fun reading others’ interviews. Here are my responses!
What do you usually sew?
Quilts, bags/cozies, pillows, and toys. I need to sew more clothing.
When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy? (i.e. If you see something beautiful, but you don’t have a use for it right away, how much do you buy?)
A half yard to a yard.
Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
I’m probably 50-50 on that.
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?
Goodness no. I’ve been good about pre-washing when I’m preparing to make a a quilt, but otherwise, never. I like working with crisp pre-washed fabrics better, though I have yet to try spray starch. (Previous True Up Q&A post on pre-washing here)
Do you iron it?
Not until I’m about to cut it, and unless it’s really crumpled, not even then!
How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)
I have my contemporary and “working vintage” (vintage fabrics that I’m not afraid of cutting into) sorted by color. Smaller vintage scraps are sorted by pattern type (floral, geometric, novelty) and color. I have a stash of extra special vintage fabric, which is sorted only by pattern type. There’s not much reason to this system other than it’s what works best with my shelves and bins.
Do you have any special folding techniques?
I fold 45″ quilting cotton selvedge to selvedge then fold it into thirds. Then I wrap it around a 4″ rotary cutting ruler and slide it off. I’ve found this is not ideal for pieces much larger than a yard, but I’m not ready to start all over yet!
How do you store your fabric?
The contemporary stuff is in two stacked sliding wire bin sets (Antonius) from IKEA. Bigger vintage pieces are in an armoire and smaller pieces are in small plastic bins on a bookshelf. I have longer pieces (4+ yards) on hangers in the armoire. Vintage barkcloth is in storage bins in a closet. And there are haphazard stacks in the bottom of the armoire, also on the guest bed and elsewhere around the house …
What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?
- Like Hillary, I’d say cool it on the novelty prints on white backgrounds! In fact, any kind of print on white backgrounds. They have a way of taking over, and aren’t the most versatile kind of print.
- Have lots of basics on hand like solids, stripes, and plain polka dots in lots of colors.
- Mustard yellow, orange, and gray prints seem to be scarce, and they’re my favorite colors to work with, so I try to buy pieces I like in those colors just to stash them. As outlined by Maria Peagler, build a color wheel of your stash to see what you’re lacking, and try to fill those gaps.
When do you say enough is enough?
Personally, now. No surprises here, but I have too much. But I’m happy it’s all relatively organized, accessible, and recently decluttered. There’s even some room to grow, but I ought not take advantage of that fact. (Here are my previous posts on signs of a cluttered stash and how to declutter.)
What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects?
I don’t know! I don’t really sew for the purpose of reducing my fabric collection. In fact I hate using up every bit of any fabric and keep scraps of just about everything I have used and loved. If the stash needs busting, I do a round of decluttering.
Do you have a current favorite print in your stash? Let’s see it!>
Don’t we always love our most recent acquisition the best? Right now I’m nutty about these three-geometric-prints-per-bolt fabrics (even though that link only shows two) that Lisa of This and That from Japan sent to me.
What’s your definition of the perfect stash?
Aah …. my own personal wide-format digital fabric printer so I could print out anything on a whim. Everything stored on vertically on shelves so you can look at and be inspired by everything all the time and don’t have to topple stacks to get to something. A well-rounded selection of prints, including a mini-collection for each demographic for whom I regularly make gifts: grandmothers, baby boys, baby girls, lady friends, men, etc.
And as long as I’m fantasizing, I’d like instant access to every color of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons, Kona Cotton Solids, and wool felt. This will all be stored in a 22,0000 square foot renovated factory like quilter Pam RuBert’s ex-peanut butter factory. And, of course, all the fabric will be self-folding and self-ironing.