How to Build a Proper Stash, Part 3

Hello, my fellow quilters!

Today we get to the exciting part of stash building--how do you elevate your stash to get that professional, "oh-I-just-threw-this-together-from-my-stash" look?

I remember when I was a new quilter and I would look on with a touch of envy when quilters on Instagram would casually flaunt their coordinated pulls all "from their stash."  Meanwhile,I would look at my bins and felt it was every kind of fabric under the sun, yet I couldn't put even four colors together.  For me, the secret ended up being....blenders.

I said last week that prints are my favorite, but I have to say, it really is a toss up between prints and blenders.  Blenders are any fabric with tone on tone prints, very small prints or a print that is close enough together that it literally sort of "blends" when seen from far away.  So why are blenders so important?

In my humble opinion, it is because blenders do exactly what they say...they help blend the print to the solids in your quilt.  They provide visual texture to your quilt in a way that nothing else does. 

Texture is really important and can be achieved through actual physical texture (think linens and wovens—which are amazing) or with visual texture--blenders. 

Because textured, woven fabrics are different to sew with, blenders do the job and are the same style fabric you are already familiar with.  This makes them an easy place to start--especially if you are a new quilter.

I decided to make blenders part 3 of this series, because I think it is easiest to pick blenders once you have your prints or solids already.  You can always go on a little blender shopping spree, of course. Most fabric vendors have a line of blenders—the same print in a wide range of colors.  A good example of this would be the Decostitch Elements Collection from Art Gallery Fabrics--which is one of my favorites.

But if you are on a budget or really want to focus your fabric spending, I would recommend purchasing your blenders with your prints so you know that you have some coordinating sets ready to go.

However, once you find a blender collection you like, don’t be afraid to buy it in 4-5 different colors that coordinate with your stash.  Also, try to keep a yard to a yard and a half on hand so you don’t need to run out and buy more every time a new quilt pattern catches your eye.  

Blenders are also great for scrappy quilt patterns or any pattern with small piecing.  They can even sometimes substitute as a solid, yet add a depth to your quilts. Next time you are thinking of using a solid, ask yourself, is there a blender that could work here?  You will be amazed how often the blender is the right answer.  

So, as you can see, blenders are a very important supporting character in your quilt.  They add some softness with their transitions and add visual interest.  My most important tip about blenders is to have them.  Don't skip out on these subtle prints and micro prints.  They may not be as flashy as their full print cousins, but they are equally important.

In other words, don't be like I used to be and run past all the little polka dots and tone on tone fabrics (when I was a new quilter I was like *yawn* and I would head straight for the flashy prints 😅) Now I know better. These little blenders will become your new fabric BFF.

For your convenience, you can search "blenders" in my shop to find some wonderful blender prints. 

Thank you again for reading!  Next week, we will talk about the final "must have" in your stash--low volumes.  After that, you will be graduates of the Midlife Quilter Proper Stash Building series and ready to be the ones on IG saying, "I decided to join this quilt along and just pulled this gorgeous bundle from my stash." 

Until next time, happy quilting!  And be sure to follow me on Instagram @midlife_quilter for all the latest news and bundles in the shop!


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