Friday, 17 July 2009

Stash Strategy.

This post has been written especially for LauraJ who wanted me to share my fabric shopping strategy. She asked me eons ago but I have only just got around to this.

The first thing I should say is that I'm not sure 'strategy' is the word…..I'd say it's more like 'smash and grab' at times!!

I hope no-one minds, but I have used the questions that came from Sew Mama Sew ‘Tell us about your stash’ event back in February.

What do you usually sew?

My favourite things to make are quilts – either machine pieced or hand pieced.
I also make bags, purses, clothes and other bits of nonsense

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?)

I never usually have a use for fabric right away. I buy for my stash.
When i first started quilting I used to buy fat quarter packs, mainly so i could increase the variety of fabrics I had. These days i pick the ones i like out of a range and buy a bit more of them as I know now which fabrics will get used, and which won't.
As I am in the UK I generally can’t get the nice fabrics here at a reasonable price,
I buy my fabric online from the US and more often than not buy 1/2 yard of each fabric. I buy fabric for backings locally when I need them.

Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?

I generally buy on impulse. I decide that I need a fabric fix, go to my favourite sites and pick some gorgeous stuff, or when a new range comes out and I want to bag myself some. I tend to only buy what I know I’ll use which is usually small prints and geometric patterns. I have a tendency to make quilts will small pieces and large prints get lost.

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?

I LOVE washing my fabrics and do it immediately. I machine wash them in with my clothes and tend to tumble dry them – I find that the pieces get a bit distorted by hanging them on the washing line. I also like to dry them to get the maximum shrinkage so I don’t have to worry about being able to machine wash my quilts.

Do you iron it?

Hate ironing with a passion but LOVE to stand and iron all my new fabrics. I iron them and cut off the selvedges (I have serious selvedge love!) It’s one of my favourite things to do as I love how they look when they are folded and stacked.

How do you sort it? (Colour, print size, collection, etc.)

I used to sort by collection but I now sort by colour as I find it easy to find what I’m looking for.

Do you have any special folding techniques?

I had my own (flawed) method that was ok if the pieces were 1/2 or a full yard but once the pieces had been cut into, the size of the folded pieces went to pot.
I am in the process of re-folding it using the Happy Zombie Fabric Folding method as i go along, but at some point I will drag it all off the shelves and refold it.

How do you store your fabric?

On Ikea Expedit shelving (or the floor, or the sofa arm, or in a washing basket at the bottom of the stairs.)

What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?

Figure out what kind of things you are likely to use and stick to those when buying fabric! I now try and only buy what I know I’ll use which is usually small prints and geometric patterns. I have a tendency to make quilts will small pieces and large prints get lost.

Fabrics I use lots of:
Small prints
Medium to light colours/tones
Prints with a maximum of 3 colours in them.
White on beige
Unbleached calico

Fabrics I know I don’t use very often:
Large prints
Dark/murky colours
Fabrics with dark backgrounds even if the patterns are light coloured

When do you say enough is enough?

My (self imposed) limit is when the shelves allocated to quilting fabric are full and scrap drawers won’t close, but don’t think I’ll reach my max as my stash is actually going down at the moment.

What are some of your favourite stash-busting projects?

I have worked hard to get my scraps down (from 2 large drawers to a 1 drawer).
I have been making strippy scrap quilt blocks and mixing the fabrics I’m less keen on in with the good stuff. It's amazing that some of the fabrics look WAY less ugly now!
Also, When I am cutting out for a quilt and end up with a piece 2” wide or less, I cut it up at into 1” strips and throw it into a freezer bag with other strips of the same colour. That means that I am not adding too much back into the scrap drawer and makes it much easier to put another block together when I have a bit of spare time.

What’s your definition of the perfect stash?

I think my stash is perfect as I love just about everything that’s in there.

Do you have a current favourite print in your stash?

My all time favourite fabric is Heather Baileys Freshcut range and i adore most of those prints. When I heard it was going to be discontinued it almost sent me into a major panic buying frenzy, but I have resisted as I already have 2 large quilts, 2 small quilts and all sorts of other bits made from it. I figured it was to be brave and let go!!!
I've grown quite attached quite attached to my American Jane and Katie Jump Rope fabrics and i have a pile of Lecien My Folklore fabrics that i'm not sure i'm ever going to be able to cut into!!