Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Things Have Changed

Months and months ago, Elizabeth of Don't Call Me Betsy wrote a post saying farewell to fat-quarters. At the time, I didn't really get it. Now I do. But here's a bit of backstory . . .

Ages ago, as a new quilter, I purchased fabrics only as I needed them, totally according to whatever pattern I was making at the time. In short, there was no stash, and I didn't see why I needed one. To top that, I wasn't comfortable choosing a grouping of fabrics without the company and approval of my friend, Sharon. Dare I say, I quilted like this for years.

Fast-forward to three years ago when I discovered modern quilting and started blogging. I'd progressed enough to have the confidence to choose fabric by myself, but still pretty much purchased fabric project by project. I think I can honestly say I'd never purchased a fat-quarter. But things were about to change big time.

I joined a bee or two, and began participating in swaps. I started to gather fat quarters in order to build a modern stash so I had a variety to work with. It was a good thing. Really. I hopped onboard the For the Love of Solids Swap, and entered a world previously unknown. At that point, solid fat-quarters found their way into my growing stash.

So what about today? I thoroughly enjoy my closet stash. I have a good variety of color and I can reach into it and satisfy most of my fabric needs, and for bees and small projects, it's great! But. When I'm ready to bind a quilt, I've got maybe a 75% chance of finding something that will work. For a backing, the chances are much, much less. And that impedes progress.

So I'm beginning to go about things a little differently. Fat quarters are rarely the way I go these days. I more often buy 1/2 yard cuts of fabrics that might possibly becoming a binding. If I love something and want enough to 'play' with too, I'll buy a yard. When I come across a great sale, I might even grab 4-5 yards and stash a backing. So far, my luck has been pretty good that I'm able to put these finds to good use.

So I'm not saying no more pre-cuts ever; in fact there's even a fairly new fat-eighth bundle that I'll mix in with a collection I already have. But in general, I'm cutting back on the small cuts. And overall, things have definitely changed. Five years ago, I could not have imagined that I would have a roll of batting in my closet. I keep my favorite basic solids on hand at all times, in quantities that allow for some creativity. I guess we all need to find what works for us and indeed, it's a process. I feel like I'm adjusting to a new stride. What about you? What works and what doesn't? Inquiring minds want to know.

40 comments:

  1. Well here is anotherone that is going in the same direction. I still pick up the odd small pieces (here its mainly 30cm cuts). But mainly, if I find a fabric I like in the precut section, I ask if its available from the bolt so I can get a half meter or 1 meter cut of it instead, depending on what I think I will use it for.

    I havent gone so far to get a bolt of batting YET, but the thought has crossed my mind more than once. Not sure I can fit it into my current sewing space though so trying to hold off for a bit longer. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I gave up on fat quarters a couple years ago. Once in a while I will still take the plunge on a bundle, but these days I'm much more likely to cherry pick through a new collection of fabric and buy 1/2 to 1 yard pieces. And these days I tend to buy white, cream and black solids by the bolt.

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  3. I like fat quarters simply because yout can just get a little but I agree I tend to get half yards for machine quilting. Fat quarters and eighths are great for hand projects, which I always have on the go!

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  4. For a while I loved Fat Quarters - in order to get a bit of the whole 'set' in a fabric line, but found them too small for many projects. I now try to choose my favorites in half yards or 1 yard lengths.

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  5. I actually prefer FQ's to large cuts of fabric. I like my quilts to be a little "scrappier" and using various FQ's in the same color way help with that. I usually take the same approach with my bindings, using up left over pieces from the quilt top and coordinating prints to make a scrappy binding. I find that I can bind a whole baby quilt from one FQ cut into bias strips so no problems there.

    I do make a point of stashing some larger pieces for backings but usually I like to purchase something specific for each project.

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  6. I love photos of stash fabrics, so organized and neat! I find lately I am buying more 1/2 yards and yard cuts too, but I am still a sucker for the fat eighth and fat quarter! I just love fabric too much!

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  7. It's funny how we progress as a quilter. As a former "sew-er", I had a love of fabric, but buying just to have fabric available was a new concept. I still love a good charm pack, and I just bought my first "fat quarter bundle"...but when I find a fabric I like, I generally go for a yard at this point, and hope I've bought enough for "whatever"!

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  8. I just cant afford to pay $3 a FQ for something I can get for less than $9 a yard. Unless a bundle is an amazing deal, I just can't justify it when buying yardage is SO much cheaper.

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  9. I still buy bundles, but rarely at full price. Like you, I'm a 1/2 or whole yard gal and often splurge for backings when the price is right! My limiting factor is space these days, and lack of organization!

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  10. Same here! Over the last few months I've moved to 1/2 or whole yards, and now only buy when I need a specific backing. I've got lots of scrappy plans for my FQ stash, though... :)

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  11. I buy FQ bundles when I really love a range and especially if I can get the fabric on offer. I then like to focus on the few favourites I have in the range in question and buy yardage. Because I tend to design most of my own project rather than follow the designs of others this strategy works for me because I tend to work with what I have to hand rather than trying to fit what I have to a pattern. It's horses for courses really - what works really depends on your sewing style.

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  12. When I first started following blogs, and became enthralled with all the wonderful quilts that were produced, it was evident that these people has access to a VARIETY of fabrics. "How did they do that?" I wondered. So, like you, I began collecting fat quarters. I still have most of them. Sigh. But the good thing is, if I need a particular color, chances are I have one!

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  13. Prints: I'm a sucker for a bundle -- FQ or 1/2 yard. If I'm ok with it, I buy a FQ. If I like it I buy a 1/2 yd cut. If I think I really like it or it looks like something I'd use a lot, 2yd cut. If I'm crazy-gaga over it 4 yds.

    Solids: I start at 1 yard cuts and go up to a bolt for a good basic.

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  14. Yesterday I needed to contribute two FQs to a group project and I didn't really have any. I mostly buy half and whole metre cuts, especially since the bargain bin at my fabric store has lots of $6 bolts, but you have to buy a metre. I prefer wof because of the sort of projects I do.

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  15. You are so 'right on'! I have a couple of fat quarter bundles - I'm going to use one to make a dresden plate quilt - but don't have a clue what to do with my other. What I really get flustered with is the jelly rolls.
    I've got a few hanging around and will someday figure out what to do with them. But I do love charm packs to make baby quilts from. Also add 2 yards of fabrics - make a big star out of one and binding and use the other yard for the background of the star and the border and you have a really nice baby quilt.
    I always enjoy reading your blog.

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  16. I'm with you - I still have FQ I bought a year and a half ago when I first started sewing. I can see why profilic quilters would need that stash but I'm still quite a novice. Now that I'm coming into my own for fabric choices I tend to buy half yard prints and yard solids with the occasional print I'm afraid of going OOP.

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  17. Yes x 1000. I buy half yards almost ALWAYS now. And I'm still using them up!

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  18. Oh dear.....before you know it, the words "I'll take the whole bolt" will be coming out of your mouth. That would be a good thing, then I won't be the only one with the reputation for saying that!!

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  19. It's so funny, I only started quilting last year and started off like you only buying fabric for a specific project but when I started to look for inspiration online I found blogs and saw everybody's stash and I wanted one too. I like having my own little "shop" but a lot of people's stash were made of fat quarter which is great because then you could have more variety. For me if I buy something I want it to last me a long time. I very seldom do half a yard and often finding myself get at least 1 yard of everything because I don't want to run out of something or be able to use it more then once. I think that's also why my scrap bucket is minimal because even when I use a fabic I tend to have enough for more projects. I know you can make a lot with fat quarter worth of fabric but it's always better to have extra:)

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  20. I have been quilting almost three years. I am just now building up a stash by color. I prefer 1/4 yards for a couple of reasons. I generally turn the scraps from a quilt immediately into potholders or mug rugs for gifts. A WOF is perfect for binding the mug rugs or potholders but a fat quarter needs two cuts and therefore two seams. In my area (Texas) fat quarters are more expensive than 1/4 yards also. For quilts I wait until I'm finished or have the quilt started to buy backing so I buy binding at the same time. Thanks for blogging. I really enjoy your style.

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  21. I buy fabric per project so whatever "stash" I have is really actually scraps from projects. Some are larger pieces, but still I would say that 90% of what I have is leftovers. I don't really buy fabric to stash, or even "just because". I used to knit a lot and I would buy and use yarn in the same way. I think it's just my crafting style and I manage to make it work. I'm also really thrifty, and have very little in the way of access to modern fabric locally, AND am very short on space so that probably plays into it as well.

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  22. I have problems with small cuts of fabric. I feel like I can't use fat quarters because there's not enough. Or I'll use just a bit for bee blocks. I feel like there's not enough for large projects. I feel more free to use them if they are 1/3, 1/2 or yard cuts. Half yard cuts also work well for bag linings. If I'm thinking I might use them for clothes, a skirt, or for a few projects I get a yard and a half. If I want fabric for a dress I get minimum 3 yards. 3 is also nice as the center panel of a backing. I can have that as the middle and fill around it with smaller pieces or scraps.

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  23. I buy what I can afford! With quilting fabric costing at least $22 a meter in Australia I wish I could buy half a meter at a time. It's usually much less than that-20cm (8") would cost the same as half a yard in your part of the world! Ugh!

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  24. Music to my ears. I too tend not to buy smaller cuts and purchase 1/2 yards and more. (I still have a jelly roll that's 3 years old just looking to be part of a project). The roll of batting and full bolts of solids (especially grays and off white) teeter precariously on shelves. BUT, I know I always have something on hand that I can work with if inspiration strikes!

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  25. I know what you are talking about. I started that way with charms but ended up wanting more fabric than just 5". Then fat quarters, but again, often wanted more. But through it all, I always used the coupon at Joann's for 40/50% off and would by 2 yards.. often that was like buy one get one free. That way I have want I need for often multiple projects and a few scraps at the end!

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  26. I'll be the freak that stands up and says she likes FQs then ;o)

    I've been in a number of stash bees since I started quilting 2 1/2 years ago, and am in 3 at the moment. I did the stash stack club at Pink Castle for a year deliberately to build up my FQ stash so that I could cater to my bees in colours and things that wouldn't necessarily be to my taste. It works perfectly for me.

    I will say though that my only fabric buying options are online, so if I am buying specific prints I'm forced down the route of 1/2 yd or more simply because that's how they're sold. 90% of my over FQ stash is reserved for bag making (solids aside), and I buy those in 1/2 or full yds depending on the project I think they'd be suited for. I admit to minor heart failure when I cut into the remaining 10% for a teeny bit for a bee block, or even a scrappy project for me, 'cos I'm wasting a big bit that could be used for... err... yes well, it's an irrational fear ;o)

    I buy binding and backing fabrics (even potential ones with no project in mind!) in sales and keep them separate.

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  27. Interesting. 5 or 6 years ago I wouldn't buy less than a yard or two and hoard up on backings. FQs have always been a fav. Now I buy FQ bundles and split with a Kwilty friend. Backings...I just pull and pull and pull from all that stash till I have so ethic g that works as a pieced back. Really though I buy whatever moves me at the time. And look out sale area!!!! yikes.

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  28. Never been a fan of fat quarters. I did win a fat quarter basket last year and it has been grueling trying to figure out what to do with them! I finally designed a tote bag that uses exactly 2 fat quarters...I've made about 150 of them and have donated them to my local animal shelter to use as adoption bags! I prefer half yard or more cuts as well.

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  29. Have tons of fat quarters/bundles that I bought when I first started quilting. Fun for small projects and baby quilts but now I buy yardage. I do buy by the bolt of white, black, grey.

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  30. I just want to buy bolts, I dream of having a fabric store. But the truth is that I tend to buy fat quarters and then buy more of the prints I especially love once I see them in person.

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  31. This sounds a lot like my method as well. I do buy quite a few 1/4 yard, I prefer that cut to a fat quarter, but if it is something that I think I could use in more than one project or that would make a nice binding I buy a half yard. I have a whole cupboard full of quilt backing fabric, I don't really like making pieced backs.

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  32. Your stash looks lovely Debbie. I too buy at sales for backing and often for future baby quilts. Love my stash : )

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  34. I was never a fat quarter person! I didn't really understand what a fat quarter was for a long time! shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! :) But I always buy 1/2 yard or more!

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  35. Too funny! I used to buy a yard of this or that when I'd find something that I liked. Then I started admiring your restraint in only buying what you needed for a project, so I switched. In the last year or so I've gone FQ crazy (it's an illness). I can see the limitations of those small pieces though, so I'm sure the half to full yards will soon be making a comeback in my stash collecting habits.

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  36. So interesting to look through the comments to see what everyone's thinking of fat quarters these days! I'm still off the fat quarter bandwagon, buying half-yards and yards mostly, with the exception of super pricey fabrics like Liberty and Oakshotts, and it works well for me. I can shop from my stash without having to worry about if there's "enough" of most of my fabrics, because I buy more than enough ;)

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  37. I'm a new quilter & I love buying charm packs & jelly rolls as it cuts down on cutting. I can grap a few squares & start sewing without hours of cutting first. I've bought quite a few fat quartets too. I guess the advantage is being able to try more fabrics without buying large amounts.

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  38. This brought a smile to my face Debbie. I too started with fat quarters years ago and then moved on to half and full yards. I do stock up on backing when there's a sale. Funny thing is now I'm back to buying more fat quarters again. Partly due to budget, partly to round out the colors I don't have. Regardless of how much of something I have it's still hard to cut into it sometimes.

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  39. This was interesting reading, Debbie..your ideas as well as the comments. I love scrap quilts so have lots of stash, just like you. The comments of what to do with a FQ are perplexing to me since I think the more types of fabric in a quilt the better! LOL With the price of fabric going up and up, I have switched from FQs to buying 1/3 yd or 1/2 yd cuts. Since variety is the spice of life to me, I'd rather have less of 3 fabrics than one yard of just one most of the time! Sometimes I buy 1+ yard if I think it would make a cute little dress for a granddaughter! All in all, shopping my stash is how I generally create a quilt.

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  40. I have grown my stash in the same way and I'm in the same position as you are

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