Sunshine Quilts

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Learning to Stash Quilt

It's easy to talk about using the stash but when it comes time to actually do it, I find that it's difficult. Why do I have such a hard time using my stash? If I were making a totally scrappy quilt, I might not have so much trouble. I want interaction here . . tell me what's wrong with me but be kind please! :) Here are some of the reasons that have run through my hard head this afternoon.

  1. This is probably the main reason - It's so much easier to run to the quilt shop and pick out fabric that matches! They have so much and with Betty's help, I can always come away knowing my quilt is going to be perfect. When I use fabric from the stash, I sometimes have to settle for second best. So, what I'm choosing from my stash may not be totally perfect, but it isn't horrendous either . . is it? And, besides, most of the time, the quilts I make don't actually have to be totally perfect. Who notices??
  2. The old standby reason - I pull a fabric to use it and then decide I like it too much to use. What if I use it and then want it and it's gone? It has happened so maybe the best thing to do is leave all the fabric in the stash and buy more?? Nope, can't do that. I'm going to use it!
  3. Probably the best reason - I make the biggest mess when I'm trying to find fabric. What I need is always on the bottom of the stack and until it gets just so awful that I can't stand it, there's fabric everywhere. I can go to the quilt shop, find the fabric I need, get it cut, come home and never make a mess. But, then I'm going to retire a pauper if I don't stop buying fabric!
So, I've convinced myself to use the stash. After all, I just bought 20 yards of the wrong fabric and I committed to Vicky to buy no fabric in August. I decided on a quilt design and I needed 3 greens, a background (you know I have plenty of that right now!) and a brown. Here are the greens I pulled. I have to choose 3 and I wanted something that kinda goes from light to dark. They're in no particular order here. After taking the picture, I found another green hiding in a corner and I think it works best for the lightest green. I'm going to use one of the wrong backgrounds fabrics and after laying out a few browns, I think I'm going to use red with the greens. I don't want it to be a holiday type quilt but I don't think it's going to look like Christmas with these fabrics. The red is on top, the background on the left and then the three greens, light to dark. They aren't what I would have chosen if I'd been to the quilt shop but I think they will work. In reality, I think the darkest green isn't as bright as it appears in the photo. And, if the quilt turns out ugly, I can always donate it to a worthy cause and make another quilt for Randy, right? The best part is the backing fabric. It's a bit greener than I thought. From the photo online, it looked more tan but it goes perfect with the greens and will be the best backing for this quilt! Maybe I can learn to be a stash quilter! Judy L.


  • Judy--I think that's funny--our leader--afraid to use stash! At least it makes me feel better. Although I have trying very hard to be better at it. But it just seems when you want to make something, you just don't have whatever you need that's quite right. And yes, I am afraid I'll run out of it and then won't have it for that something special! Duh--this IS the something special! So, I think you are afflicted with what many of us are--fabriholics! And we are collectors of fabric because we like it. After all, we wouldn't be in a stashbusters ring if we all didn't have a stash that we feel guilty about, now would we? LOL I'd say you are just fine! And your color choices are great for your quilt and perfect backing!

    By Blogger Passionate Quilter, at 7/29/2006 07:45:00 PM  

  • I do agree that when you are using fewer colors you end up having to settle for something that may be less than perfect if you are pulling only from your stash or you have to go buy a fabric that really works.

    I think it's much easier to use stash if you're using LOTS of fabrics in a very scrappy quilt - luckily those are the types of quilts I find I most want to make these days. Not surprising since my blog is title Making Scrap Quilts from Stash!

    By Blogger Mary, at 7/29/2006 07:57:00 PM  

  • I love the stars fabric! Beautiful :) And the colors look great. That dark green, do you have trouble with those not ironing out good? I used a burgandy identical and the wrinkles WOULD NOT iron out. Oh well it turned out ok :) xoxo melzie

    By Blogger Melzie, at 7/29/2006 08:08:00 PM  

  • And.....if you always used just fabric from the stash, the LQS would go out of business. We certainly don't want that to happen. There has to be a happy medium.
    Green is my favorite color - so your choices look good to me!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 7/29/2006 08:12:00 PM  

  • This combination looks good!

    My favorite excuse for shopping instead of using stash is that the stash pieces turn out to be not the right size ... so then I have to dig in AGAIN, and find yet another piece. Easier to just go purchase the right yardage, but getting harder and harder to justify with all I have here!

    By Blogger Jeanne, at 7/29/2006 08:20:00 PM  

  • I also have trouble using my stash if it's a project that only uses a few colors. Luckily I really like very scrappy quilts so it doesn't matter if the fabrics match as well. I think the fabrics you chose will work just fine together and won't it feel good to make something totally from stash.

    I've been alternateing stash quilts, scrap quilts, and UFOs lately in an attempt to lessen the quantity of all 3. Not sure I can tell any stacks are going down. Especially since I've had two major shopping sprees in the past couple weeks. So I've also joined Vicky's challenge. Good luck to both of us!

    By Blogger Nancy, at 7/29/2006 09:03:00 PM  

  • My stash is starting to grow, but I have a hard time using it. And when buying for my stash, I never know how many yards I should get. Sometimes, in a panic, I run to the fabric store. I am always second guessing my color choices. At least at the fabric store I have someone guiding me along. lol!

    By the way, I bought a new sewing machine!!! I am pretty proud of it. It is a HuskyStar and it sews like a dream. I'm thinking I need to start something tomorrow!!! I have been up half the night playing with it. Tomorrow evening I plan to post pictures. LOL!

    By Blogger deputyswife, at 7/29/2006 09:51:00 PM  

  • It is a wonderful feeling to go to your stash at 11 pm and pull fabric for a quilt and have enough to do what you want. why else would we have a stash, if not to have that freedom to shop from it when WE want to? I think you did great- so enjoy your stash doing what you built it to do-enable you to NOT leave home and make a wonderful quilt.

    By Blogger cher, at 7/29/2006 11:17:00 PM  

  • Judy, I think it's totally normal to want to hoard all those gorgeous fabrics we stash away. Afterall, we bought them because we wanted them, mostly without a particular purpose in mind, and now . . . now someone wants us to actually *use* them???

    I find that most of my fabrics will go together, because I tend to buy in certain color families. I have no excuse for not using my stash . . . except that it's in California, and I'm not!

    I tend to buy for a project . . . and buy and buy and buy. By the time I'm ready for the project, I could make 3 or more quilts from the fabric collected! So, it's time to use at least a third of it, leaving me plenty of choices!

    The colors you pulled together are perfect. They don't look at all Christmasy, but they do look like something a male would enjoy having. Love the backing!

    We all need to read Bonnie Hunter's stash article about twice a week - or at least I do!

    On the other hand, though, someday I'll be too old to drive, and no one will want to take me to the store. On that day, I can walk into my stash closet and shop to my heart's content.

    By Blogger Susan, at 7/30/2006 12:05:00 AM  

  • LOL Judy - The Ultimate To Be Or Not To Be question for quilters ;-)
    First, I think we are hoarders at heart, from generations back, and we have it in our backbone to waste not and want not.
    Our packrat genes says to hoard and hide so we are sure we have what we need on a rainy day.
    We are the first generation of quilters who can go to a shop and buy our hearts out, and we do.
    We buy in shops,we buy on the internet - we are surrounded by all these wonderful temptations all the time and we want it all - now :-)
    As a result of this buying we do not always know what we have and we do not always think we have what we need and it takes time to look through a stash for the right or good or perfect fabric for the project we have in mind - and it is so much easier to go and buy more and maybe have a lovely quilt chat as a bonus.
    We love fabric right off the bolt too.
    We are always afraid of using that special fabric we are saving for the perfect project, when it comes.
    We also always wants a taste of the new goodies - we enjoy the season's changes in the quilt shop, we love the new books, patterns, notions and fabrics.
    When I first started to seriously use from stash I felt overwhelmed, because I did not have the "perfect" fabrics - and I was in fact a bit bored by my stash, if you know what I mean. I have been seing these fabrics for ages - I loved them and still could not find the perfect use for them.
    The first wakeup call was when the very very very special fabric I have saved for so long because it was so beautiful did not sing to me anymore......
    I wish I had used it when it was my favourite - that would have been a real treat !
    At first I started this very small NoBuy for myself - a week at a time, and if I bought something I had to use at least the same amount of older fabrics before I could buy again. I also finished Ufos at the same time.
    I am lucky to have grown a love for scrap quilts, but I like them to be coordinated nevertheless. Sometimes when pulling fabrics from stash for a new project a couple of new fat quarters can make the whole project sing again and take away the feeling of making do.
    When using from stash I like to use many different fabrics, even if they are the same colour. I like that look better, and if a fabric is not just the right one it will blend in with the others.
    In my own head I feel like I am on a mission - make room for myself in my quilting life and have more fun :-)
    When I buy something new I use it when I find it beautiful. There will always come new beauties to buy, and a some of the new and beautiful mixed with the older and maybe more boring makes good quilts too.
    I have joined the challenge too, but chose to see it as a happy meeting with my stash rather than a limitiation ;-)

    By Blogger Hanne, at 7/30/2006 12:19:00 AM  

  • I'm sooo with you on number 2. I'll buy fabric and stare at it forever. The thought of cutting into it never occurs. and if you use goes...away. God, I'm ridiculous...But I've even had bad days at work of not wanting to be there that I've had a pattern picture or a couple of fat quarters in the drawer to contemplate on to get me through the day...Obnoxious I guess.

    By Blogger Screen Door, at 7/30/2006 04:15:00 AM  

  • Judy,
    I have to agree with Hanne. We are packrats at heart. Since my stash is literally all over the house until my sewing area comes together, I find it so much easier to just hop in the car. It doesn't help that the quilt shop is right around the corner from the bus barn. lol
    The fabrics you chose for Randy's quilt will sing together and provide you with the knowledge that you're busting that stash.

    By Blogger EileenKNY, at 7/30/2006 04:16:00 AM  

  • When I first started quilting I collected FQs (isn't that what a quilter is supposed to do?) I soon discovered that many of the designs I want to make require more than an FQ of a fabric. So I stopped buying FQs and now when I buy fabric I always buy at least 1 yard. That way if I want to make a quilt I'll usually have more fabric than I need.

    I don't think I've achieved scrap quilter status yet. I definitely have scraps - a cabinet full of them - but I haven't started using them for a quilt project yet.

    I have become a stash quilter though. I spent a lot of money on fabric in April and May and have started to "shop my stash" for projects.

    By Blogger Sweet P, at 7/30/2006 05:49:00 AM  

  • Ah, stashes. You notice the plural? Yes, I have multiple stashes. Fabric. Beads. Yarn. Thread. The thread is sneaky, wriggling into the stash when my back is turned. What am I going to do with all that metallic thread that can only be couched? What possessed me? Was it a case of "Ooo, pretty!" And don't get me started on the scrapbooking stuff... but I am depleting the paper by making scratch pads for gifts. So I guess I'm making some progress.

    By Blogger paula, the_quilter, at 7/30/2006 06:57:00 AM  

  • Some good food for thought in your post as well as in the comments I have just read.

    Either of those combos looks fine to me but I don't know what pattern you are using or designing. Lovely greens and reds--they are naturally opposite each other on the color wheel so it doesn't have to look Christmas-y.

    I guess I don't agonize about fabric selection because I "shop" my stash out of necessity and sheer economics.(fixed income--not working--my allowance doesn't stretch that far)

    I think your focus is making and designing quilts that can go in a book or a magazine or be entered in a quilt show. That might be part of why you don't want to just grab the first thing you see in your own mini quilt shop. That piece may "work" but there might be something that makes it "sing"

    My focus is on donation quilts for kids so I tend to use what I have on hand rather than keep searching for that elusive magic piece. People keep giving me or the quilt group things to use and I do my best to come up with something from there. Doesn't mean I won't make a Hancock's run if I need some yardage. I have to be realistic --the quilt shops are too far away to go on a whim and my credit card balance does not need to go any higher. That stops me from going hog wild and the make do kicks in.

    While I have a couple pieces in my stash that I consider untouchable for projects, I am beginning to re-examine WHY I am doing that. I keep hearing that statement that some one in the ring said "They will make more" I probably just need the go-with's and some of that stuff should be moved along or used for backing.

    Also storage space is finite--there is just not enough room in this room or this house for me to stick much more. If I buy it, then something else has to go but I follow that philosophy for everything--clothes, books, household items, etc.

    Well, that doesn't help you with your dilemma much but writing it down clarified things in MY head, LOL.

    By Blogger Linda_J, at 7/30/2006 07:05:00 AM  

  • I find it much easier to chose a pattern first and then get fabric to match the pattern. THe only way I find it easy to use stash is to make totally scrap quilts, such as using leaders and enders or string piecing. THen it doesn't have to match and you are sure not to run out. Luckily, I love scrappy so it's not a problem.

    By Blogger joyce, at 7/30/2006 07:28:00 AM  

  • I keep a photo binder with 2 inch swatches of each of my fabrics. These swatches are colored coordinated and linked directly to the bins in which they are stored. The binder has proven a huge success in matching fabrics for a project. Also, the smallest quantity of fabric I will purchase is a 1/2 meter - no fat quarters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/30/2006 07:44:00 AM  

  • I think the reasons you listed are are viable (& used by far more quilters than you know!) I also think that part of the problem is that you do not do scrappy. If you were doing a scrappy green quilt - all of the fabrics you pulled could be used as well as any other lurking in your stash... Also if you worked fromt he scrappy point of view, you would not have a chance to "put something back" in the stash becasue you did not have enough. Ne pas?

    Do you know where I can get Cajun Mustard? (I am craving a fish po boy!)

    By Blogger The Calico Cat, at 7/30/2006 07:57:00 AM  

  • Stash quilting is still difficult for me because I am still building a stash. I have managed to make a couple of quilts directly from the stash thanks to finding an aged muslin that I just love to have for backgrounds (I'm on my second bolt.)
    I fell into the new quilter syndrome of buying all fat quarters in the beginning, so it feels more like I have scraps than a stash. I took charge of those scraps earlier this spring and really whittled them down making a couple of different tops using free patterns I found on the internet. Now I'm just trying to be a smarter shopper when I buy for the stash -- no more "really cute chicken fabric" It just lays there looking cute.

    By Blogger Libby, at 7/30/2006 08:12:00 AM  

  • Judy, Judy, Judy! You listed all the reasons why I'm challenging myself in August. I've literally run out of room. Don't laugh, but I found a UFO in my underwear drawer yesterday! It would probably be easier to put my underwear in tubs and just take over that storage place for fabric, too!

    I'm real glad the word "hoard" was mentioned in the comments. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I look at my stash. In five short years, I've progressed from a beginning quilter, to a fabric collector, to a hoarder. But no more! All of that Pandolph fabric I carefully collected is going to get cut. It might not be in August, but it will be soon.

    Jeanne mentioned that she thinks in sets. I am also like that. I can't buy a couple of pieces of something. I have to get all of it. The Dimples line, for instance. I finally had to yell "STOP!" when I found myself in the middle of the night on the internet searching for the ugliest piece of orange in that line.

    The mess thing is a problem here, too. I had to make one silly block recently out of '30s fabric. It was, naturally, in the bottom wire basket in the back of a closet, and I had to move 200 pounds of fabric to get to it. Until I can come up with a way to organize that closet without poking holes in the wall, I'm stuck with that system. Or I can use up all that stuff and be done with it!

    But the thing I'm trying to get over the most is the perfect fabric/perfect match thing. On just about every occasion when I've tried to pull from stash, I ended up heading over to the FP because I didn't have he "perfect" fabric. My new thinking on that - the recipient of the quilt won't know that there MIGHT be a more perfect fabric out there than the one we used. They don't know of the infinite choices we have. They will only see what we made them, the beauty of the finished quilt. I was thinking about this also ... I used to entertain a lot back home. I always worried myself silly over having the exact drink that each guest liked. Then I gave a party where I had two choices a the bar - bloody Marys and Mimosas. That party was a hit! I started choosing two drinks for each party after that and they were resounding successes! A friend just last week mentioned to me my "famous" parties and how perfect they were. See? I didn't give them tons of choices, and it didn't matter!

    Sorry for the long reply. But this has been a subject that I've been thinking long and hard on lately. My conclusion: my Daddy's famous, "Hey, we're not building a piano here." It's a quilt - meant to be used and loved and worn out. They manufacturers will continue to produce fabric. When we run out, we can buy more!

    By Blogger Vicky, at 7/30/2006 08:35:00 AM  

  • I think they look beautiful. The problem I have is that still being a relatively new quilter..3-4 years I don't have a "stash" so to speak. I usually buy for a particular project or collection. SO If I grab something from a stack, I won't have it for the project it was meant for, so I don't. I do make quilts from my "collections" 30's fabrics, or homespuns, or batiks. But I am just starting to make a real stash that used solely for picking from later!

    By Blogger Judy, at 7/30/2006 02:18:00 PM  

  • Judy, I thought you were the one who was supposed to help inspire us to use up our stash!
    Okay, here are reasons why your reasons don't work:
    1. Usually fabric is made in sets and styles. You think it is easier to find a fabric that matches. The newer fabric doesn't really match as well as fabric made in the same timeframe. So the fabric in your stash isn't "second best". It would win the first prize. And if you didn't manage to buy the exact match, zingers are needed to make a quilt better anyway. It's okay to buy one piece of fabric to help tie your quilt together, but don't buy all the fabric for the quilt.
    2. I like it too much to use. Use it now while you still like it. Your tastes will change. Use it because you are worth using the best.
    3. I make the biggest mess when I'm trying to find fabric. No, you get to get nostalgic about fabric you did buy and get to fondle your old friends. Definitely worth the trip down memory lane.

    Yep, save your money for when you retire, and have money to buy that perfect piece of fabric that will just make your quilt a work of art.

    By Blogger Shelina, at 7/30/2006 05:27:00 PM  

  • I like your fabric selection for your new project! Good going.

    By Blogger Shelina, at 7/30/2006 05:27:00 PM  

  • Hanne hit the nail right on the head for me. I am definitely a hoarder at heart. This has become painfully obvious with the amount of *stuff* I am dealing with to move. I have a yarn collection for when I feel like knitting, a wool collection for when I feel like rugmaking, a collection of paints and wooden things for when I feel like folk painting and of course a collection of tools to go with each activity. I think I come by this honestly as my very crafty grandmother, who was always making something, had a bedroom packed floor to ceiling with orange boxes (the fruit not the color) filled with fabric and other craft items. It's so funny the things that shape our lives.

    I don't have problem 1 at all. My stash was built mostly from sale fabrics and an odd lot store nearby where name brand fabric is 2.69 - 3.29 so I love creating from my stash. It gives me a feeling of thriftiness. If I can't find the exact right fabric I go and get enough for that one and still feel I have accomplished something. Although, with that sense of accomplishment I usually feel corresponding sense of entitlement that gives me license to buy and I tend to buy MORE than I used. ;c)

    However, when it comes to number 2, I am exactly the same. I have a horrible time cutting into the fabrics I *just love*. When it is in yard form it represents so much potential, but when it is cut, if I don't just love the quilt, I have wasted it and it is gone. I may never find one I like as well again. I am trying to overcome this as I always find more I like just as well when the new collections come out. Sometimes I have even noticed some of my favorite fabric designers' lines closely resemble each other from season to season. I do find I do better when I let it age in my stash for a while so it isn't my "favorite" favorite anymore. :cD

    I think I will join Vicky's challenge for August with one exception of something I NEED to buy to finish my project from last weekend. (read all about it in a post later today) I am starting to run out of room to stash it.

    By Blogger tami, at 7/31/2006 06:58:00 AM  

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