How to Build a Proper Stash, Part I

fabric fabric buying new quilter stash building

I can still remember it clearly—standing in the middle of a big box fabric store, bolts of fabric in my cart, and being COMPLETELY confused

 Isn’t it the most disappointing feeling to be buying lots of fabric, but every time you want to make a new pattern you feel like you have to go out and buy all new fabric? Or that nothing you bought matches what you already have? It’s the equivalent of a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear 😟

 I believe, firmly, that you should want to buy fabric, not need to.  Every quilter needs a well-rounded stash on hand for quick makes and last minute gifts. But when you are a new quilter, that can seem really daunting.

I know—because I have been there.

But I’m here to help. This was actually one of my goals in opening a shop—a place quilters could shop with confidence for curated, coordinated bundles and get personal service if they needed help.

This blog is part of a series on how to build a proper stash.  Because I want fabric shopping to be fun for you—not stressful.

So what do you need?  There are four categories of needs. Fabrics you need to have on hand for a well-balanced quilt. Every week, I’ll introduce a category and talk about how they help your stash and how they work in your quilts.

 I’ve even created mini bundles for the budget conscious, so you can slowly build up your stash without feeling like your breaking the bank. 

So today, the first category I want to talk about is: building a good stash of solids.

Solids are a must.  Even though I’m actually a “print” girl myself, I consider solids to be the backbone of a quilt. They add structure to a quilt and can drastically change the feel of a quilt. They are like the little black dress you keep on your closet that you can wear for one or many occasions.

Will your quilt be bold?  Will it be soft?  This can be most determined by the solids you choose to employ. Just take a look at these two pics with the same central print.  The first is modern and a bit bold while the second is sweeter and more vintage.  Both are beautiful and the only change was which colors I chose to highlight.  This is how every quilt can be so individual even when using the same pattern over and over.



But, you might be thinking:  Victoria, what colors should I buy?? That’s a great question!

I recommend keeping a few shades of your favorite quilting colors on hand. I say quilting colors, because the colors you use for quilting may be different than what you wear, for example. In my daily life, I generally wear neutrals, but I tend to make pink quilts. For that reason, I keep a few shades of pink on hand at all times.

If you don’t know what you like, using the bookmark feature on Instagram can be really handy. Whenever you see a quilt you love, bookmark it!  Pretty soon, you will see a trend begin to emerge. You may find you love peach quilts even though you hate peach otherwise. Or maybe you will find you really love jewel tones. This will help guide you. If you start to bookmark any picture of colors you like—this will help you start determining what your favorite palettes are. You can use Pinterest in the same way and start to find your personal quilt style.  As you find your style, buying colors will get easier and easier. 

Whatever you do, don't buy colors just because they are on sale or you "might" use them someday.  Treat your fabric purchases like you would buying clothes--buy quality things you will use--not stuff that will sit at the bottom of a drawer.  You can always buy that walrus print fabric for a friend's baby when they ask for a walrus quilt.  Until then, buy consciously—keeping your personal style in mind.  As a quilter, you are also an artist—showcase your own style ❤️

Another handy tip for solids is to purchase a color card or start making your own!  One of the things I love about art gallery fabrics is that they print the names of the fabric on the selvage. All you have to do is cut the selvage and pin it or glue and voila—you know have a reference guide for the perfect color match!  Don’t want to wait that long to build up a color card?  Invest in a color card for your favorite solids brand(s). I carry Art Gallery cards in my shop.

If you are a pattern tester or a quilter without access to a local quilt shop, it is worth every penny to buy one. No more guessing and buying the wrong shades online.  In the long run, it can even save you money if you aren’t buying shades you don’t need or want.

Start small with fat quarters and work your way up to yardage of the colors you find yourself going back to over and over again. Keep track of your favorite colors by writing them down so you don’t forget. You may think you will never forget that you love Ocean Fog…until you see Ocean Waves and now can’t remember which it was you bought.  Don’t ask me how I know this 😄

And if you are ready to start buying, I have solid mini bundles in the shop that are priced for less than $10 and also have solids yardage available at really great prices.   The mini bundles available now are:

Hint of Pink

Hint of Blue

Hint of Green

You can also always find solids in my shop by the collection they coordinate with.  Have a print from Art Gallery Fabrics Kismet collection and want to know what solids match?  Simply search "Kismet" and you will find all coordinating solids.  Boom--no more guessing! 🙌 Or simply search “solids” to find all the solids in stock.

I hope this helps. Join me next week for part 2--Prints!!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and let me know if you have ever looked at a bin full of fabric with nothing to make a quilt out of 😅 What are some of your tips for buying solids?

You can find me @midlife_quilter.  New quilty friends who love to laugh are always welcome! 

Until next time, happy quilting!


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