Quilting Fabric and Pins

What Exactly Is “Stash Guilt?”

Lately I’ve been working on minimizing my fabric purchases, the fabric stash phenomenon has been a very present thing in my craft room. I think over the years my stash has taken to the Storage Corollary of the Peter Principle: The amount of stored goods will expand over time to fill the available space. So to try and fight that I’ve decided to make scrap quilts, and try and use up all of the fabric I already have. I can make a bunch of quilts incorporating the smaller pieces that I can never seem to get rid of, giving them a second life and ridding me of the guilt I would have throwing them away. The problem I always end up having with scrap quilts is they still need a unifying factor, maybe value placement or because you need more of one type of fabric. When you’re trying to only work from your fabric stash you save the bigger pieces for your back side. They are usually the easiest, as they don’t really need to match rather than just sort of blend with the top side. Smaller pieces disappear quickly, and become chunks that aren’t as easy to find a place for. Eventually it all becomes teeny tiny pieces, which could maybe be used for postage stamp quilts, so I’ll probably still keep them.

The problem is, I love buying fabric. On sale, not on sale. For a project, or just because. But what quilter doesn’t? Fabric with writing or characters is a must. I’ve been collecting it for what feels like forever, but now it’s readily available. Any quilter would say that my latest purchase was justified, it was only 17 half yard cuts of light fabric with writing on it! Gray really became popular back in the 80s, and was my favorite color. And while gray was only “the” color for a period of time, my travelling friends would bring me back gray prints from the many quilt shops they stopped at on their travels. Even though I can order virtually any print in gray these days, how can I possibly say no? So my problem isn’t just that I love buying fabric, it’s that I can’t deny fabric.

I worked in quilt shops for 25 years, and taught quilting classes for even longer than that. Being in that environment gave me the opportunity to watch a lot of quilters and check out their buying behaviors. In all of my years, I only came across one single quilter who bought fabric for her specific project and nothing more. She bought what she needed for her project, made her quilt, and then bought fabric for her next one. She didn’t have a stash. WHAT?! What this showed me was what I knew already. That fabric stashes are the norm. But no matter how much I tell myself that my fabric hoarding is normal, and recite to myself of all of the reasons I can’t get rid of any of it, I will still get all of the stash guilt. I’m working so hard to operate fully out of my existing fabric, and making plenty of quilts in the meantime. But maybe I should check the fabric store to see what they have, window shopping never hurt, right?

Besides, what did that one quilter do with all of her leftover fabric anyway? Who would throw away perfectly good fabric? Maybe she gave them to a friend? I bet she has a secret stash that no one knows about. Maybe she’s making a quilt in secret, a secret scrap quilt.

I think the hardest part about solely trying to work out of your own stash is that sometimes you just don’t have enough fabric. At least, not enough of the right kind of fabric. It’s one of the reasons I love bundles and kits. If I have a scrap quilt that I’m working on that has a need for more than what I have available, I can buy bundles that have the colors, themes, or patterns that I’m working towards without going too crazy or adding too much more to my existing fabric collection.

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