Monday, August 16, 2010

Stashing Philosophy

One of the blogs I read periodically, I can't remember which one, used the term stashing philosopy.  Well, this got me thinking, "Do I have a stashing philosophy?"  I certainly have a stash!

When I began quilting, I wasn't even familiar with the term stash.  The selection of quilting cottons was much more restricted than today.  I bought what I needed for individual projects and sometimes had "leftovers."  I was not yet into the scrappy look, so though I saved my leftovers, it was not with any real use in mind.

As I got more "into" quilting, I visited more quilting fabric stores.  Any trip we made was sure to have a quilt shop or 4 or 5 along the way, near our destination, or a short detour away.  Quilt Sampler magazine and online resources were a great way to find and locate shops to visit.  And I began buying fabric just because I liked it, without a plan for its immediate use.  A fat quarter here, half a yard there, maybe even a 3 yard piece if I thought it would make a good border.  My stash was born. 

In the late 90's, a knitting/needlpoint/quilt shop in Princeton (NJ) closed their fabric department to better focus and devote more space to the knitting business.  They had a sale on their fabric, $4 per yard (a good deal around here, even back then).  I went nuts made a sizeable investment.  That was when I bought a lot of my Robyn Pandolph collection, recently used in my Christmas Day quilt top.  By this time, the closet in our guest room was devoted to my quilting hobby.  You can see the shelves in the picture above.  I also began to have a growing collection of large Rubbermaid containers that were perfect for storing folded fabric, sorted by color.  (They don't look very well sorted in the photo below.)

Whenever I start a project, I pull from stash what I can and augment with newly purchased fabric.  Sometimes, it is really newly purchased fabric, augmented with stash.  And occasionally, a quilt is near totally made from stash (like Christmas Day).  Lately, with the stash outgrowing the available space, I've tried to rein myself in some, buying more for specific projects or because I absolutely love a fabric or collection.  Remember my 30 day rule?  It has saved me from some impulse purchases and given me time to think about how I might use something before I buy it. 

But I think it is important for a quilter (or at least important for this quilter) to have a stash.  My stash allows me to work when the mood strikes.  And even when I make a quilt using primarily one fabric collectiion, my stash permits me to augment that collection in a way that makes a quilt uniquely my own, even if based on a commercial pattern.  For example, I might substitute a darker pink for the pink in the fabric collection, or add some bright green for punch and contrast.  And when the lights in the jelly roll are too light, I am sure to have something in my stash that will coordinate with the remaining fabrics and help ensure I have the required number of strips.

Keep on stashing!  If anyone grumbles, tell them Cathy on Main Street said you could do it.

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