Tips for building your fabric stash on a budget
Happy Friday friends!!
While I know we are already a couple of weeks into the new year but I wanted to pop in today and share some tips that might help you with your quilting goals this year. Let’s talk specifically about building our fabric stash on a budget. My stash is pretty healthy and robust but I know that there are some new quilters out there who might like some help in this area.
The photo above is from a sample fabric pull I put together for a summer color palette I challenged myself with last year.
I challenged myself to find fabric from my stash to match as closely as I could to the beautiful macaroons photo above. Every one of the fabrics you see came directly from my stash. How was that possible?
Well I keep a moderate amount of useful fabrics on hand. Ready for me to pull from anytime I need. All from the comfort of my own home. With the ease and convenience of online shopping, even for fabric, why would I want to use fabric I already own when I can just buy something new?
For me it comes down to a couple of reasons.
First-I’ll be honest and say that I have PLENTY of fabric. Some really new and some not so new. All of which I spent money on because I liked it at one point or another. I must’ve liked it enough to buy it, bring it home and even fold it up and store it. That’s some serious commitment friends. All kidding aside, I am blessed to be able to afford new fabric when I want to but I try keep my life manageable and my finances under control. Spending money on new fabric every time I see something I like could quickly get out of hand. Both literally in stacks and stacks of fabric and financially in the money spent on every purchase.
Second-If you know me in real life you know that I spent a lot of time during my childhood with my paternal grandparents. Many of the character traits I consider to be integral to who I am at the core came from lessons taught by my beloved Grandma and Grandpa. My Grandfather was a WWII veteran who spent his retirement traveling the world, playing golf and then caring for my Grandmother when she became ill. Throughout my life my Grandpa was constantly sharing nuggets of wisdom with me that I still rely on to this day. In fact I could even recite the Pythagorean Theorem before 3rd grade 🙂 One of the things he was constantly telling was “use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” At the time I didn’t realize that this mindset came directly from his experiences during WWII but it was something that just stuck with me. During his retirement he had the means to purchase many things he wanted and needed but he continued to practice restraint and wisdom when it came to spending and saving money. I’m sure you’re wondering what does this have to do with quilting? Well as long as you are buying high quality, useful fabric and materials there is no reason you can’t use what you have on hand rather than rushing out to buy something new.
Lastly-I enjoy a good challenge. Seeing if I can use fabric I already have to create something I love actually brings me joy. The world seems to have gone crazy for Marie Kondo and her “tidying up” methods and joy is at the heart of what she teaches. My fabric brings me joy and using it to make a gift or something for my home increases that joy exponentially. Overall that’s a win in my book!
Now to the good stuff…How do we build our fabric stashes on a budget? Great question!!
First let’s talk about what types of fabrics are good to keep on hand. All of it. Kidding (sort of). For me I like to keep good quality basics in both solids and prints. My go to for solids is either Kona Cotton, Connecting Threads Solids or Cotton Supreme Solids.
I keep multiple colors of all of these solids on hand to match whatever project I’m working on. Solid color fabric is typically less expensive than prints and with the wide range of colors available you can definitely find something that will work for you. Many modern quilting patterns use solid fabrics so keeping some extra yardage around is a great idea. How do I do this on a budget? I watch for sales first of all. Right now Connecting Threads has a handful of solids on clearance which is a great time to stock up.
Cotton Supreme solids Fabric.com often has a buy more save more type option. Meaning the more yards you purchase the lower price per yard. This is true for many fabrics. Both Cotton Supreme and Kona solids have this option.
My local JoAnn’s carries Kona cotton so if it’s not already on sale I will often use a 40% off coupon and buy my favorite solid white in 5-8 yard increments.
This is another example of fabrics I pulled from my stash last year. You can see that it is a mixture of solids and prints. Keeping a good mix of solids on hand means I have a bunch of options to choose from when I need it. I can also “ground” or mellow a busy design by throwing in a couple of solid colors. That gorgeous salmony colored bird print could potentially be pretty crazy but the charcoal and lighter salmon solids help to calm everything down.
Let’s move on to prints shall we? What type of prints are good to keep around? First you need to think about your style. Meaning what types of projects (quilts, bags, clothing etc) do you like to make and in what style (modern, farmhouse, vintage etc) would those projects be categorized? You can also think about what are your favorite colors and patterns and whether you are supplementing a healthy stash already or starting from scratch. If you like to make quilts like I do and have a modern style with bright primary colors as your favorite then purchasing extra fabric in pastel colored hues with whimsical patterns printed on it doesn’t make a lot of sense. You would want to look for prints that match your favorite colors and would work well in modern quilting patterns. One way this could work with be to look for “blenders” or tone on tone fabrics.
A blender could best be described as a fabric that does not have one overwhelming element or pattern. Think something that could blend into the background or that has great texture. What does this look like?
Connecting Threads has a new faux linen line that is gorgeous! Any of the solids could definitely be considered a blender. Something that is a bit more interesting than a solid but nothing crazy or dramatic.
When I think of tone on tone fabric the first designer that comes to mind is Alison Glass. She is the absolute master of tone on tone prints! Tone on tone prints would typically be something that uses 2 tones of the same color. Maybe a darker and lighter tone of the same color.
Cotton + Steel has a basics line that is great to keep on hand. Just like the name implies, they are great basic prints. Some blender type and some tone on tone type. All gorgeous!
These tone on tone or blender fabrics bring more interest and drama to your fabric pull without overwhelming the palette or stealing the show. Then you can add in some fun, more crazy prints (like the birds above).
The fun, crazy prints are where I might splurge later on. I rarely buy an entire line of a fabric collection. Over the years I have found that I don’t always love every single print, so buying the whole line and not using it all is a waste. The pull to buy the whole collection when it’s first released is huge! I get it and I’ve done it, but now I try to separate out a new line and only buy what I absolutely love. Then when I pull fabrics for a new project I will add my blenders, tone on tone prints and solids. Personally I think it makes it more interesting anyway 🙂
How do I save money on the prints? Again, I watch for the sales and stock up when I find a bargain. I am a big Connecting Threads fan as I’m sure you might’ve noticed. While they don’t always have the newest “it” designers they have great basics and affordable prices. Most of their fabric is manufactured in the USA which is a big deal to me. They take pride in their staff of quilters as well as their commitment to safe working conditions and no child labor. While I am just 1 person in a huge world, I can often feel like I have no say and can make no difference. What I do have a say in is how I spend my money. I choose to spend my money and support companies with standards that match my own.
I am also a big believer in shopping local if I can. I frequent my local quilt stores and often stop in at new to me shops when I am out of town. Even if I only buy a yard or two of fabric every little bit helps the local community. Many shops have great clearance or sale sections and some even have remnant bins that are always worth looking through. I am always on the lookout for great blenders, tone on tone and low volume prints. I often purchase 1/2 yards but if I come across something amazing I will grab 2-3 yards.
At the end of the day I quilt for work and for fun so being aware of where I can save money is always a good thing! I won’t lie and say that I don’t occasionally pay full price for a print that I absolutely love, but I balance that out with saving on lower cost options when I can.
I hope this way helpful and if nothing else gave you a reason to hit up your local quilt shop 🙂 Let me know if you have any other stash building on a budget tips. I always love hearing new ideas.
Until next time friends!
This post may contain affiliate links. I will never post links for products I do not use or recommend. If you purchase items through these links I will earn a very small commission which is used to support this site.