If you ask most quilters if they have a fabric stash, the answer is yes. However if you ask the same quilters how often do they actually use their stashes when making quilts the answer is seldom. I have found by asking fellow quilters that they LOVE to purchase fabric, they get excited over the possibilities, the fabrics that just had to come home with them had (at the time that they bought them). However once the fabric comes home it usually gets "STASHED" and forgotten. Then the next time they venture out to the quilt shops they will just have to have something else that catches their eye and this cycle keeps repeating itself over and over until you try to set foot in your sewing area to actually work on something and well you can't find any horizontal surface let alone much floor space to move around so you get frustrated and walk away closing the door behind you. Or you tell your spouse that you are going out to the quilt shop to pick up some things and they ask..."why not just use what you already have?" Does any of this sound familiar? If so, then keep on reading :0)
Does any of these pics look like what you have in your sewing area? This is what would build up around my sewing room after I bought fabric, was gifted fabric scraps or what was left after I made a quilt. All of this fabric is just as good as what you bring home from the quilt shops....just in odd sizes and shapes. Believe it or not, but there are a lot of people out there that don't ever use this stuff in future projects. When asked why, they will tell you that it's too much trouble to weed through this stuff in order to find what they need and use. What do they do with it then? Well some will just let it pile up, some will throw it out, some will put this in pillow cases, sew up the ends and donate the scraps as pet beds at the shelters! If you ask me...that would be some very expensive pet beds considering what the cost of fabric is these days. In the US fabric bought new off the bolt averages anywhere from $8.00- $14.00 a yd depending on where you buy it. Some places will offer the occasional sale here or there but when they do...it's usually on stuff you don't want or doesn't excite your creativity.
Over the years I have blogged about how I store my stash, it works for me and it lets me use everything with out very much waste (and by waste I mean those dog ears that get snipped off the quilt unit). What I am about to show you in the following pics did not happen over night, it has been building over the past several years and the more I stick to it the more efficient it ends up being. For detailed blog posts on the scrap user system I use, and what sizes I keep click Here, and Here.
And these containers hold my crumbs. One for neutrals and one for colors. I use these for paper piecing small block units.
About once a year I will have enough left over scraps from quilt projects done that year in which I will need to cut the scraps into my "go to" user friendly sizes described in the above past blog posts. To help the process be a little less chaotic I will divide up the freshly cut down strips and pieces and place them into "holding" bags. When all the scraps have been cut down I will sort them into their proper sizes then sort by the 12 color families, then place them in their containers until they get used up. And for those that are wondering...yes I do use my stash. Stay tuned for part 2 of "Building a (useable) Fabric Stash"