I’ve been working hard on minimizing my fabric purchases lately, and it’s pretty obvious that my fabric stash has subscribed to the Storage Corollary of the Peter Principle. The principle says that the amount of stored goods will expand to fill any available space over time. Needless to say, the fabric stash has been on my mind. My solution to my fabric hoarding problem has been to try and make scrap quilts using as much of the prints from my stash as possible. It makes me feel better since I’m not being wasteful by throwing away perfectly good fabric. The hard part to scrap quilts though is that most of the time they are lacking one thing, a unifying factor. If you’re solely working from your stash you might be limited on what you have to work with. The bigger pieces you reserve for back sides, and they are easy to work with as they don’t need to necessarily match the top sides. They just need to blend. The most difficult pieces are the smaller ones. The ones that slowly become less adaptable as they are cut away over time. But those I could probably keep and use for a postage stamp quilt, maybe?
The problem is, I love fabric. Buying it. Collecting it. The moment I step foot into a quilt shop it seems I forget about the closets and cupboards of fabric I already have and get lost in the beauty of it all. That, and all of the gifted fabric from friends over the years. Back in the 80s when gray became popular, it was my favorite color, and my friends knew it. They would graciously bring me almost any gray pattern they could find at any fabric store they might have stopped at on their travels. Even though I could purchase almost any print in gray online now, who am I to turn away a gift from a friend? Rude! Us quilting people have to stick together. We are all probably just as responsible for each others fabric stashes as we are our own.
I’ve taught quilting classes for a long time, and for about 25 years I worked in quilt shops. It gave me a lot of time to observe other quilters and watch their buying behaviors. In all of my years in that environment, I only met one quilter who did not have a stash of her own. She would plan out a project, purchase only the fabric necessary, finish it and then move on to the next project. It was so strange to me. I guess that means that the fabric stash is normal, that MY fabric stash is normal. But it’s still hard for me to shake the guilt that is my hoarding. I try to justify my purchases by planning out projects for my pile of scraps, but the guilt is still ever present. I should probably clear my head, I know! I’ll go to the fabric store!
But in all seriousness, what did that one quilter do with her extra fabric? She didn’t throw it away, did she? She must have given it to a friend to add to their fabric stash.
Quilting patterns are a great way to bring your fabric stash together to make the perfect scrap quilt. There is no reason why random scraps can’t make something beautiful. I would start by making an inventory of your stash, maybe separating it by colors or themes. Then check out the many awesome quilting patterns. Do you have lots of purples, oranges, greens? Maybe make an awesome Halloween themed quilt! Do you have plenty of yellow, red, and blue? Perhaps a nautical quilt is in your future. Although, sometimes no theme is the best theme for scrap quilts. Patterns such as Dresden, Fading Geese, or Zen Garden can incorporate many different colors and patterns without things having to be too matchy-matchy. They will still look great and fun, and will use up a lot of those smaller pieces that you might not be able to use elsewhere. Plus, it frees up space so that you can, you know, get some more fabric!