As I mentioned in my editor’s letter in the August TQL, Wendy Hill has no stash. When she told me that, my first impulse was to feel sorry for her. After all, I derive so much pleasure from the care and feeding of my own prodigious stash. But Wendy insists she’s fine—happy, even. Here’s how she explains this strange phenomenon, in her own words:

“I blame my genes. My Scottish grandfather, Albert Stevens, ran a construction company, building primarily brick buildings. He got his start as a very young man in San Francisco after the big 1906 earthquake. He went back to Michigan and started his company. My father used to tell me how Albert ordered the bricks. If he had more than five bricks leftover at the end of a project, he was not happy. I’ve always been that way too. If I have more than an inch of fabric leftover when I’ve finished a quilt, I am not happy!

I have intuitive leaps when it comes to my ideas, but my inner vision is very specific. I guess you’d say I’m eclectic, because my ideas are all over the place. I would never have the fabrics I’m looking for, no matter how much I had already bought. Also, most of the time for me, a fabric just is until I have an idea for how to use it. I might love a fabric on first glance and never find a way to use it. Or a fabric I didn’t give a second thought about suddenly becomes perfect after I get the idea.

I do not like having unfinished projects hanging around, and I’d hate having stacks of fabric meant for this or that quilt. That would be a burden on my mind, and that stifles my creativity.”
Are you also stashless and proud? We’d love to hear from you…Jan Magee, The Quilt Life

Wendy bought these fabrics specifically for this project. She intends to use every last inch.
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Whilst I admire her restraint, this would never work for me – I love to make scrappy quilts, so I NEED to be able to pull 14 yellows, 16 reds and 8 shades of orange from my stash. I couldn’t afford to go buy all that at once, and I wouldn’t know how much of each I needed anyway, unless I had so many calculations that all the fun would be long dead. But I guess she probably has less clutter in her studio, which must be nice!

Carolyn Weaver

I really wish I could do this I would have a much cleaner house, right now my fabric stash has taken over every room in my house and yet when I start a new project I can never seem to find the right colors and I head to the fabric store to buy more, and I have lost count of my wip’s.

I get it, thank God there is someone out there like me!! I have felt guilty for not having a stash like everyone else and now I have been set free!! ha ha

Our minds and imaginations are unique–I can see how this works for Wendy, but for me, it would be like buying ingredients for one specific recipe or creating a painter’s palette out of tubes of paint bought for the painting. I pull and stack and rearrange and audition….and, yes, usually wind up buying something to go along with what I have. It’s just different—and itn’t that just another aspect of how wonderful and rewarding quilting can be?

I have a small stash and wish I could get rid of most of it. A stash is not always a good thing – taste change – what you liked 5 years ago is not always what you still like today – but at the rate prices on fabric keep going up I guess it is a good thing to have a stash – scrap quilts can be made and at fabric prices from 5 or more years ago instead of the higher prices of today. The tiny bit of Scottish blood in me keeps me from getting rid of… Read more »

Sue Monsey

WOW! I actually envy her. There would be so much more room in my house if I didn’t have a stash. I could sew scrappy quilts from now to eternity and I would never use it all up (and I don’t have a huge stash). I don’t buy fabric just because I want it – I buy for specific projects and the rest is leftovers and/or ‘gifts’. I have gotten to the point, that the most often reason for purchasing fabric is to finish a scrappy quilt. I even started using any leftovers from quilts to make blocks for the… Read more »

Lois

My MIL never had a stash and she was very happy in her quilt making. She bought fabric for the project at hand, then worked on it until it was finished. She could never understand how I could buy fabric for future projects or entirely on speculation. My stash is not terribly large, but it does require space for storage. I still love most of what I’ve bought over the years, but often I’d rather buy for a shiny, new project rather than pull out one I’ve stashed – so I must admit some admiration for her method.

Fiona

Not only do I love my stash, which I use for all new quilts. (2 years ago when I decided to stop buy MORE fabric) but I get so much pleasure from just looking at my gorgeous fabrics every now and then on a cold or rainy day when I am home with no specific tasks to do.
I chose and bought each piece of fabric because I loved it at the time and find years later that I still love it now.

One of my “rules for quilting” is “always remain stashless.” Yet, I always buy extra fabric so I don’t run out of something, so I have leftovers. I cut the remains into 2 1/2″ strips for charity quilts or practice sandwiches. Have a stash or being stashless is usually a reflection of where we feel most peaceful about fabric. So, here’s to peaceful quilting!

Wendy needs to plan ahead, doesn’t she? You didn’t mention how far away the nearest quilt shop is from her home. I must drive more than an hour to buy quality quilting fabric and battings. That’s why it’s more sensible to keep it on hand, so I can “shop” from my own stash. Since it’s usual for me to order almost everything online, I seldom make impulse purchases. All my fabric is color-organized in one cabinet. I’m glad using-up works for Wendy; it would not work for me.

STASH…I think that is my middle name. I just went through my “fabric collections” and donated many pieces to a nearby church for making of mission quilts. There still remains a lot that I have collected over the years. Could I say that it is my “comfort zone” to be surrounded by fabric? Hmmm, just to be able to look through and combine to create a new quilted article feels wonderful. My older son calls my “stash”, my horde..He does not understand the “creative mind” that a quilter has.. Sure, I probably have a little too much but when a… Read more »

Mary

When we moved last fall I did reduce some of my stash so we would’t have to move all of it. All my halloween fabric went to a friend who’s favorite holiday is halloween. Also gave PFD fabric to two friends who would use it. Flannel went to another friend; and finally some of it went to my quilt group in Mesa for AZ Blankets for Kids.

Susan

I like my stash. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Also since I am always thinking of projects I can just go to my stash and 95% of the time everything is there, ready to go.

Barbrara

Well, Ijust had to build a stash years ago (it was almost a requirement) and now it is paying off. Our quilting ministry is reaping the rewards of my “old” stash. Can’t remember the last time I bought fabric for myself and I will not buy if I do not have a project in mind. Unfinished is an ugly word and so I have no unfinished. My rule: 2 projects in the works at a time, start nothing until one of them is finished. Why 2? Well, one of them will take me about 3 years of hand work so… Read more »

I’m not stashless yet, but I’m working towards it. Any fabric used in a quilt All goes in the quilt, which makes for some very interesting backs. In this way, the stash grows smaller, even if I have to buy some fabrics to get all the colors I need.

I like having my shelves of fabric sorted by colors and themes. It reminds me of the rich feeling of having a large box of crayons. I began building my stash while looking for fabrics for a bottle quilt. Still no bottle quilt – although I think I have enough now. I enjoy just handling the fabric and thinking about ideas. When family visit they like to visit the fabric room and look through the stash for themselves and taking what they like. I don’t mind sharing, most of the fabric has come to me second hand. I share because… Read more »

Leigh

How much stash is too much? Glad that the stashless are happy, but when I want a certain fabric and can’t find it and can’t wait for online delivery, my inspiration for quilting goes right down the drain. Therefore, I have “enough” stash to feed the monster.

An trait to be admired and something for me to strive for. Yes, a stash fills a need, but it is just wasted capitol and the money could go towards a project I am currently working on. Good Job.

Sue

I went on a “fabric diet” about 8 years ago. Now I can only make scrap quilts which are my favorites. I do have to shop for borders and backing now because everything I have is small pieces. I am fortunate to have 4 quilt shops within 20 minutes of home. One is going out of business and is having a great sale so I bought fabric to finish 4 quilts and nothing “just because I loved it”!

Sheryl

Nine years ago, my five-year-old granddaughter requested I make a copy of a quilt she’d found in a catalog. We went to the fabric store to purchase the several different color/sizes of gingham, but then went home to “Gramma’s free store” to pick out the solids for the appliqued flowers. Ah! The memories of “playing in the stash”!

Eva

I teach piecing and design classes. My students often do not bring those “transitional fabrics” that make their fabric choices work, so we often raid my extensive personal stash. Nine times out of ten we can find the perfect fabric right here… and I love sharing what I have accumulated over the years. I am not rich in money but I AM rich in fabric; and I love giving it away.

Susan

It is a good feeling, isn’t it? I give most of my quilts away keeping only a couple because I get joy from giving and know that on a cold winter’s night they will cozy up covered with one of my quilts, made with love.

Sandy

The only stash I have is from leftovers from my quilt project……why? I don’t know how much of each fabric to buy to put in a stash…can anyone help?

I’m so glad I caught this even so long after it was originally posted. While I do keep a stash (the majority of which is project focused with only about 1/4 of it considered “general stash”), my dream is to end my quilting days as close to stash free as possible. I chuckle along with everyone else at the quilt addage “She who dies with the most fabric wins”. I don’t relish the idea of my family being burdened with the task of disbursing a ton of fabric on my demise or worse that they would just throw it out!… Read more »

Beckie Cann

I am terminally ill with Gulf War Illness and no definite expiration date. I will never know my deadline for finishing “stash” or bolts of fabric, stowing sewing machines for some other fabric artisan, packing away tools and accessories for some other quilter. Rather than burden family, I stated in my “Last Will and Testament” my donation of everything in my personal “quilt shop” to Disabled American Veterans thrift shops, DAV’s alternative to raising funds through alcohol sales. DAV may in turn dedicate my machines, trims, fabrics to any quilt organization who sews for Veterans. My stash will travel far… Read more »

Betty

Whatever works for the individual is fine with me, I do not judge. My stash is beyond what the average person would consider enough, but it gives me a happy feeling to see it each day. When a new project comes up I can “audition” fabrics with abandon. There are twelve years of collecting in my sewing room, not counting the box of scraps which I really should let go. The last two days have been spent reorganizing as over the last few years the fabric has “marched” farther into the room. Jen Eskridge just did an article on her… Read more »

I found this posting quite by accident. In all of the comments, only one other person said they were also “stashless”. I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about their stash. I do have leftovers, of course I do. While I would rather have one inch leftover, when I’m working on quilts for books or entering a juried show, I buy a little extra for the “just in case” situations that come up. I keep these larger pieces in the walk in closet, sorted in ways that suit me. I also keep all those odds and ends… Read more »