Wednesday, September 04, 2013

working (and buying) habits

Yesterday we talked all about scraps. Today I'd like to talk about using (or more specifically buying) fabric. One of the most common questions I get asked is "how much fabric do you buy at a time?" If you know me, you know it's not going to be a short answer...it will take an entire blog post. If you want to know the answer, read on. :)

When I am working on a quilt, I would say 85-90% of the time the entire quilt comes from my stash...backing, binding and all. When do I build my stash? When I travel, mainly. I have a few favorite local fabric shops, too. When I see a good sale, I stock up. I don't buy much fabric on line at all-I much prefer to buy in person. Shopping on-line can be dangerous and my husband does enough on-line shopping for the both of us. He admitted that himself.
Most commonly I buy half yard cuts. This is a great size because it is enough to bind up to a lap size quilt. It is also easy to cut into fat quarters, which are great for swapping. I've swapped fat quarters recently with my sister and a few friends. It's a nice way to add variety to the stash without spending any more cash. Notice that most of the fabric I buy is only one color and white? I find that I gravitate to simple color schemes, which tend to last longer in the stash. That's a good thing when there is a 2 year lag time between purchasing and actually using your fabric.
These are fat eighths. I LOVE this size and wish they were more readily available. When you use scraps the size I do (tiny), yardage feels more like acreage! A fat eighth is a nice size to buy because you can get a lot of variety for your money. And variety is good! I find that these are the easiest size for me to cut into.
These are all 1 yard cuts. I bought 5 out of 6 of these in one weekend. My theory? You can never have too many red and white polka dots! They could be my weakness. Some were on sale, some were a good price, and some were so good that I didn't mind paying full price.
I've started to buy mini charms here and there. A whole variety of a fabric line in a 2 1/2" square? Sign me up!
This cute fabric was on sale but there was a minimum of a one yard cut. If you are shopping with a friend, that is a good time to split a yard, if you can agree on which fabrics to buy. Sometimes you just have to get a whole yard. Because, c'mon. Smiling carrots? Hard to pass up!
This is a full yard, and it was full price, but I could see using it for labeling quilts. I've gotten so lazy about that step, so I'm using it as motivation to start labeling them again.
These were both on sale and both fabrics are ones that I could use in a variety of quilts. Or I could see using them on quilt backs. That is when the words "I'll take the rest of the bolt" slip out.
I am buying whole fabric lines less and less. The last entire fabric line I purchase (before this one, and not in a pre-cut form) was Chicopee. That was awhile ago! This line is Briar Rose by Heather Ross. I debated for a good while about purchasing it. I was trying hard to decide if I was going to buy it just because everyone else was buying it or if I was buying it because I really wanted to buy it! (Know what I mean?) I think I'm glad I bought it, but it will probably sit untouched for a good while.
Then I had to buy additional fat eighths of this stuff. I will actually USE these, rather than hoard it like the FQs. (Oh, it kind of hurts to admit that. But it's true!)
And sometimes (not often) I buy fabric as a reward for myself. These were on sale and I purchased  them the day all 5 of us spent 7 hours shopping for school supplies. I think (I know!) I earned them! These are 1/4 yard cuts. I didn't need a ton of each print, but I liked the variety of prints and the limited color scheme. I'm anxious to cut into these!!!

There you go! Way too much info on how I buy fabric. I hope that those of you who have asked this question have found the answer helpful.

So, how much fabric do you buy at a time? I'd love to hear, if you care to share!

64 comments:

Kelly O. said...

I like yardage... I like to buy by the yard but like the price point of the fat quarter, which I often feel is too small. Like that feeling when you cut into it and use half you feel like you only have a scrap left and that makes me sad... I do have to tell myself often "you can always buy more fabric" and it's true! but I do like to buy in yards....When I buy solids however, I always buy 4 or 5 yards... especially if it's on sale... I hate running out of a solid colour partway through a project and I do use them for backings quite a bit... but that's just me. Thanks for sharing your buying habits :) it helped me to see that smaller cuts might get me more variety and that's not at all bad!

Jenny said...

Boy are we alike. I stash 1/2 yards in tone-on-tones or color+whites. I don't usually buy a whole colllection -- except nearly all Denyse Schmidt collections, which I cannot resist. And I can't keep from buying the DSQ fabrics when I can combine sales/clearances with coupons -- that's the main time when I buy backing quantity. I love to get DSQ for less than $3 a yard!

I do buy online to take advantage of sales, but like you, I tend to wait to be sure I'm not hopping onto a bandwagon. When I finally decide I really, really want certain prints, they are usually on sale; and if they're sold out everywhere, then I cry and console myself by (1) saying I didn't need it anyway, and then when that doesn't work, I (2) buy something else to make myself feel better.

P.S. I have that Bungle Jungle print but did not think to use it for labels -- great idea!

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

I enjoyed reading this post and looking at your gorgeous fabrics! I do buy online and mostly during sales, unless there's something I need! I've done an online stash club too and that was great for building my stash each month!

Moneik said...

I buy end of bolts, usually in solid/tone on tones. My weakness is batiks because they blend so well. I do not usually buy from a line unless it's to make a specific project. I typically only buy "special" fabric for a project when I am travelling and see something I can't get at my shop. I love clearance sales and stock up on backings then. I'm stick to quality fabric and for me, less is more. I'd rather have less choices, but more fabric when I need it. I work at an LQS, so I get a discount and I don't like to stock up, only get what I really want.

Mary-Kay Colman said...

I buy way too much fabric, period! Bolts of solid white and black and yardage for the rest. No fat quarters unless I need it to finish something and I don't like it to start off with. Lately, I try to only shop at sales and only buy fabric that I have a plan for, never "because I like it". My stash doesn't need building and I'm really trying to use it up before I die(hopefully not for a long time).

Irenbjor said...

I use to buy fabric as soon as a new collection came out that I happen to like..Now I am using up all my fabric and not buying any more until its all gone..Then I will begin buying only the fabric I will need for the quilt I am going to make ..One at a time..I can no longer do the painting palette
and making 10 quilts at a time thing ..I find more freedom this way. Other wise I feel "obligated" to make something even when I dont feel like it, if the fabric is staring at me...Of course I dont have a business, nor do I make quilts for sale.So that changes everything..

Char said...

I usually buy fat quarters. I only buy yardage when there's a really good sale like the sales at Connecting Threads. Then I try to buy enough for backings. I too like the mini charms and have a few now, one I know will be a table runner.

Svetlana said...

thanks for sharing. I so loved hearing how you buy your fabric. I also buy 1/2 yard cuts the most and I just bought my first ever whole collection of fabric Sugar Flower 2013. I love this collection, but I don't see myself buying whole FQ bundles any time soon.

Paula @ Sewy Stuff said...

I'm still really new to this and I feel like I am buying a lot, but I think maybe I am not really buying too much as I don't have any 'stash' and pretty much have to buy something to make something. If I keep this up I will soon have stash though! I do want to start buying a few mini-charm packs just for fun though (hey they are cheap!) LOL.

I do have a weakness for the remnant bin at Hancock's though. I keep buying stuff having no idea what it will be good for even though I like it. I keep hoping one day I'll say "if I only had a piece of .... oh wait! I do have one!"

:-)

anyadahab said...

For me it depends on what I am doing. If I am working on a project, I always get an extra half yard of whatever fabric I pick out. If I am just buying fabric because I love it, but I don't have a planned project, I will buy either 1/4 yard or 1/2 yard. That being said, if I find a great deal on a fabric I love, I will buy a yard.

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

usually 1/2 yd cuts for me to stash unless I have a project in mind. Please, please, PLEASE share with me the name of the fabric with the smiling carrots and farm equipment?? being that my family lives and works a small farm, these would make perfect pillowcases for my daughter or my husband!

Grandma Ruthie said...

Half yard cuts make sense, enough fabric for more than one project. I especially liked the tip about a basic color (like white) and another color. Does give it more lasting quality. My favorite comment is, 'I'll buy the whole bolt'. I've only done that once and that was when I had a coupon for 50%......might as well at that point.

Jessica Christensen said...

I usually like to buy the FQ stack of a certain line, but other than that I'm usually a 1/2 yard girl, unless I think I can use it as a back -- then it's 4 to 5. I loved this post. Fun topic.

leighlaurelstudios.com said...

I never buy an entire fabric line but I wound up doing so with Briar Rose, too. NO idea why but I couldn't help myself. And it's different than most everything in my stash. Maybe I just answered my own question! Thanks for sharing your stash secrets!

Lynn said...

Great post! Especially considering I just came from the fabric shop. First of all I've had my eye on that Briar Rose fabric. I may need to buy a charm pack of it, just to get it out of my system. When a new line comes out I think about it for a while and sometimes, I think about it so long, it's too late. I like using my stash, and augmenting with a bit of new fabric in quilt, sometimes, that spices up my fabrics I have on hand. I too buy dots whenever I see a good sale for stash, you can always use a cute polka dot. The main place I shop online is Connecting Threads. Especially when they have a sale, perfect for backings.

Brenda said...

I live in a decent-sized city in Canada with only a few quilt shops and one fabric chain, and a discount store. I shop when I travel, and locally when I need something. I buy almost exclusively from the sale bin. I usually buy half metre cuts, but at the discount store I have to buy a metre. I'm shopping the stash these days instead of shopping for the stash.

Heather said...

This was such an interesting post, both to read your ideas and the comments of others. Frankly I just buy way too much fabric but I always sew from my stash and have lots to choose from. And because I like so many styles I have fabrics in many different genres. These days I am buying lots of brights to add to the stash, usually in 1/2 yd cuts. Since most of my work is appliqué I also tend to buy 5 yds or more if it is a background I think I might want to use for a large appliqué project. I try not to buy too many fat quarters as usually they are quite over priced and 1/2 yd makes more sense.

Tamie said...

I have a stash but nothing compared to a lot of pictures I see online. I started out buying fat quarters because I like variety in a quilt (if one yellow is good, five would be great). I have a few yardage pieces that I picked up for a good deal to use for a backing. I have started buying 1/3 yards instead of fat quarters as their price has risen. It depends on the store. I loved your post. It is good to see how others approach stash building.

MariQuilts said...

This is certainly a question that warrents a whole blog post and maybe even more. I was asked the same thing recently and promised to write a blog post...I'm not sure I even know where to begin. I have a system that I understand but to explain it...yikes. You did a good job.

S said...

I love the idea of buying one yard minimums and splitting with a friend! Never thought to do that :) I typically buy half yards unless its a sale with one yard minimum or I know I need a certain amount to finish a quilt. If I love it like that gorgeous blue ds flower printing your bottom picture I buy a yard then come back for more and ALWAYS with those Joann coupons :) that's the only stuff I.l buy from them!

Deborah said...

Everything you've said makes great sense to me......especially the part about red and white polka dots! Very enjoyable post.

Karen said...

I hear you on fat eighths..love that size so!

pcflamingo said...

Too much is better than not enough. If I really like a fabric, I'll buy a yard. If I really like it, and it's on sale, I'll buy 2 yards. If I really like it and it's on clearance and it would be a good backing fabric, I'll buy 4-5 yards. I shop locally at reputable quilt stores (especially Island Quilter on Vashon Island in Washington State).

I will splurge on-line for batiks at Connecting Threads and for almost anything at a reasonable price at Hoffman of Paducah. They are always a safe bet.

Live a Colorful Life said...

"Acreage" made me laugh out loud. I always love a peek into your thought processes and how you do things. I'm attempting to limit my fabric buying. But the honeycomb prints in Briar Rose seem to be calling me. Maybe for a quilt back?

Pat said...

I've become a recent convert to the fat eighths - great way to get a whole fabric line. I do buy a lot on line for the simple reason there are limited options for what I like at the LQS. And I buy yards and yards at a time of Kona or Bella white. I go through that stuff like there's no tomorrow.

Sandra said...

Love your thoughts on how much fabric you purchase. When I first started quilting, I would buy quarter yards and fat quarters, then I moved up to half yards, then one yard at a time. Now I've increased the "dosage" again, often buying a couple of yards of fabrics that takes my fancy. We don't have a LQS handy, but do have access to a salvage-type-store so can get great deals. I really love batiks and quite often buy fat quarter bundles online or at quilt shows.

Chase said...

I used to buy full yardage of all the prints that i "think" i will use, but likely they get put away. Last two years, I prefer getting fat quarter bundles it is nice size for most of the prints that I would like to keep and less expense from the pocket. I love fat eighths and just like you I use more fat eighths than other sizes. Since I used to live in small town/city and online shopping was it for me and I do realized it is dangerous! :)) I wish to have sewing friend live closer, so I can slip fabrics. :) I love the red polka-dots in white fabric and you have so many different sizes of them.. :)

Mina said...

Ohhh, this is a hard question to answer. The LQS around me do not carry modern fabric so I have begun to shop more online. So, then I think about price and shipping costs. If the cost is right, I will buy what is left and use it for backings. (There are some incredible deals online!) I will buy Denyse Schmidt fabrics if its on sale with coupons. I recently fell in love with Architextures and bought half yards of the full line. I have been thinning out my stash and am now really careful about the fabric that I buy. I really go for quality and don't buy something unless I absolutely love it.

Jennifer said...

I suppose I am one of the quiet ones who doesn't usually buy designer fabric. I buy many sheets from Goodwill and other thrift stores. I usually get the flat solid sheets from Walmart. I like many, many designer fabrics! I just don't have the budget to purchase those fabrics. So I'll enjoy them through the rest of you!

Lorna McMahon said...

When I was first developing a stash, I would go for acreage when I seen a good sale. Now I just get half yard cuts of colours I know I am running short of. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. And all the lovely fabric pics!

tahoe34 said...

I love buying fabrics and admittedly buy too much. I too get caught up in the "everyone else is buying it" syndrome. I buy a lot of fabrics online. I've seen the lines in fabric stores and quite often pay much less, especially if I'm patient. Also I can find fabric online that's no longer available in the stores. I also make a conscious effort to support my LQS by purchasing thread and batting ( and fabric of course !)

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

Our buying habits are very similar. I try to buy in person and I hit the sale area. I love scrappy quilts and the last 5 or 6 quilts I have made came entirely from my stash. I love when that happens.

ChristaQuilts said...

I buy it buy the bolt, LOL! But that's only because I sell it, too.

I love when I get to the end of a bolt of a fabric. There's usually a little left that I can't sell so then I get to throw it in my stash :-)

VeeV said...

awesome reading!! i wouldn't have thought of the reasoning for some of your explanations but they were great ones.
fabrics with one colour and white...hm....who'd a thunk?? excellent!! makes the "fitting" easier...
never a dull read in your blog!!
terrific fabrics!! as always, love your blog!
xo
eva

VeeV said...

oh and to answer your question...
when i first started buying fabric, i bought WAY too much of each kind.. took forever to get rid of it.

now the most i buy (unless it's meant for backing or a particular project) is 1 meter of each fabric. and even that's a bit much at times..

xo
eva

MareMare said...

I've been buying 1/2 yard cuts lately, but if it's something I love and will be a great blender I'll buy a full yard...if it's something I love, a great blender, and a great price I'll get 1 1/2 yards or even 2 yards! I do like buying FQs, even though I now have 6 baskets of FQs...so maybe I should do more sewing and less buying. hmm. Nah.

Kay said...

I only buy in sales unless I need something in particular for a project. Often I buy fat quarters and sometimes half metres, I even admit to buying scrap packs because they are cheap and fun.

Gramma Quilter said...

I have been TRYING to use from my stash for almost a year with a FQ here and there, which I find hard to pass up if they are on sale. Having said that I just placed a big order from CT. FQ mainly and some yardage for backs. And batik FQ to add to my selection. Your book SMQ has seriously helped me use my scraps and realize the potential they have. I so love scrappy!

Carol said...

I too like buying FQ best. But I love getting a basket of scraps from a quilting friend who does not do scrape quilts. I am a afairly new quilter (since 2005) and so find your blog so helpful. I purchased your book Sunday Morning Quilts in a digital copy yesterday. I am going to make the little bags to sort scraps into. I think it is a fabulous idea. Thank you for posting such great blogs.

Tessa Marie said...

I absolutely agree with everything you said, I could have written it myself (except it wouldn't have sounded as clever!) The only thing I would add is the 2 yard cuts I buy when a fabric that I think will make a good backing is on sale. Three yards if it is a really good sale!!!

Sarah Elliott said...

My buying habits are all over the place. I still like buying the entire collection, usually in FQs or layer cakes... but I buy yards and yards of individual fabrics if I like the look of it for binding or backing. I do most of my purchasing online- not by choice but because my only options for the modern fabrics that I love is Hobby Lobby unless I want to drive 30 minutes to JoAnn...and while both places are making strides to carry higher quality fabrics, they just aren't there yet. I do purchase from indie shops whenever possible, but the nearest one is 45 minutes away and their mods selection is paltry at best. I do try to make purchases at the area LQS's when I am out of town. Since I do a lot of shopping online, I like to purchase for multiple projects at once so i can qualify for free shipping whenever possible.

Sally Ann Flecker said...

I found it very interesting when you pointed out how most of the fabric you buy is one other color and white. I've been trying to figure out how it is that your scrappy quilts are distinctively yours. I know design is one of the elements. But how--with such an array of fabrics--you could still identify Amanda Jean quilt in a line-up of scrappy quilts with no problem.

Lisa C said...

I enjoy hearing how everyone buys fabric so thanks for the time it took to write this post. I used to buy fat quarter sets and now I'm realizing I rarely like all of the fabrics in the line. I prefer now to buy 1/4 cuts (vs. fat quarters) because these are easier to use in pieced bindings or bindings for mug rugs and potholders (I turn leftover blocks immediately into potholders for gifts or the Ronald McDonald House.)

Vikki B said...

My stash is still so tiny (just over 1 shelf on my bookself), so I usually buy 1/4 yard more of fabrics I love that I am getting for a project to add. If I find something on sale I pick up 1/2 yard/m or so. I do a fair amount of online fabric shopping as I can't get a lot of the fabrics I love at the quilt shops here (and ordering it is 1/2 the price a lot of the time). If I can get it locally I try to. I also have an issue with hoarding the fat quarters!

Anne said...

Like almost everyone commenting I buy more than I need and probably have more than I will ever use. I even consider myself to have 2 stashes. One more traditional and the current more modern one. Lots and lots of fat quarters and tend to hoard them all but being in a bee where we sew from our stash is helping me get past that hoarder mentality. Buy more and more online now as it's hard to find modern locally. Just wish you could buy fat quarters individually at more online shops. Sales are definitely the way to go especially for backings. Thanks for the inside scoop on your buying methods.

phxquilt said...

I too buy way too much fabric. I'm not a fan of FQs except in emergencies. I'm an acreage person and I do buy the bolt on basic tone on tones & Bella or Kona. I prefer to buy the bolt when I have a coupon or its on sale. I try to support the LQSs but I do buy online as well mostly on sale.

Pam said...

I buy mainly online and at sale prices, mix of fat quarters to try a new colour, 1/2 yards up to a 5 yard cut. I only but layer cakes and charm packs when they are on sale and then I stock up. jelly rolls and honeybuns are out of my price range and I am happy to cut them myself. I do buy bolt ends if the price is right and when there is something screaming at me I buy whole bolts.

Josie McRazie said...

Because I don't yet have much of a stash I buy per project! I get more than what the pattern calls for so I can build a stash! I do buy my white cream black and grey by the bolt!
And I must say... red is my GO TO for binding! Is there anything else that finishes up a quilt better? I think not! LOL

Tina in Boston said...

This morning I was in a mad dash to pick fabrics for a project. I realized that I have a lot of nice fabrics that I bought because I liked not because it went with something in my stash. I quit buying fabric because I have so much but now I think I will start organizing things by what goes together not by color, as it is now. Anyone who has read my blog this spring and summer knows I have a lot of Pearl Bracelet but I need to work on some more blenders!

Tina in Boston said...

This morning I was in a mad dash to pick fabrics for a project. I realized that I have a lot of nice fabrics that I bought because I liked not because it went with something in my stash. I quit buying fabric because I have so much but now I think I will start organizing things by what goes together not by color, as it is now. Anyone who has read my blog this spring and summer knows I have a lot of Pearl Bracelet but I need to work on some more blenders!

Clair said...

I have been buying half yard cuts, a yard if I have to because it is on clearance. I also try to buy fabric that matches something I already have OR in pairs so I have something to match it. Most of the time I am collecting for a specific project for the so I don't end up with an excessive amount to store.

charlotte said...

I buy 1 or more yards when the price is good and I think it would make a great back. I buy either 1/2 yards or fat quarters when I just want it for my stash. I am getting better about that (not buying too much) even when I think I love a fabric. I have started buying charm packs a bit more when a new line comes out that I think I love from the on line pics, just to see for myself how it really looks. If I like a print or two, I will buy a half yard. I spend less on fabrics I won't end up using this way. I did buy the full line of Heather Ross' Briar Rose because...well it's Heather Ross and I did love it lots. I am not sorry about that one bit and have already started by making a quilt and I'm am trying to sew up every last scrap too. See how you have influenced me to use my scraps better and more often? :)

Susan said...

I found this post, and the comments, really interesting. I buy 1/2 or full yards of solids & near solids, but pretty much never buy more than a FQ of any pattern. I like precut packs also. I guess I just like a lot of variety in patterns, I get bored of looking at the same one and like to move on and use something new.

Artsy-Craftsy Ivy said...

Loved this post! I usually buy online because my lqs doesn't have everything I want and I love rare bits I have to get on Etsy. And I rarely get to travel. If I did like you, my stash would be very minimal, which is not a bad thing. I totally agree that buying online is a bad practice--very dangerous. I spend way too much money that way. I usually buy half yards, but I occasionally buy fat quarters and have bought fat 8ths and 16ths of specific lines for specific projects. Briar Rose and Comma are the only lines I have in full, though I have much of Collage, too. Thanks for sharing your buying habits--loved reading this.

RobinSue said...

Enjoyed reading about your fabric shopping adventures. Gave me a lot to think about - I have never bought an entire line, why buy the fabrics I don't absolutely love - however, I do buy by the yard of ones i love, 1/2 yard of ones I really like, 4 yds plus for backings (I make very large quilts) and 10 yds plus of kona white and charcoal. Like many others, I am trying to use what I own, but when I hear about a sale - the car knows the way!

jenni said...

This has been so helpful! I would love to know what you do with the mini charm packs. I've bought a few but I'm not sure what to do with them.

Sarah said...

It is fascinating to hear about other people's fabric habits! I buy fat quarters mostly buy fabric in the uk is really expensive! Still off to the states in three weeks and will do some fabric retail therapy. Any good shops in near Fort Lauderdale?

Emily said...

You and I have similar buying habits. I have so very few large scale prints in my stash that I can't even think of a single one off the top of my head. I gravitate to polka dots, stripes, and gingham, I'm a sucker for ginghams! Right now my color of choice is aqua. I have TONS of it and need to us it rather than hoard it. But I'm trying hard to branch out of my basics (and color) buying habits. Not sure how well it's working, though. :)

FlourishingPalms said...

My buying habits are very similar to yours, except I purchase about 90 percent on-line! Hate having to do that - no touchy-feeling, no seeing true colors; and I detest having to pay USPS or FedEx or UPS to ship to me - but the nearest modern fabrics options are 90 minutes away. Sometime I DO feel like I live in outer-Siberian Central Florida. That's why I recently bought 20 pieces of fabric while on a trip . Totally justifiable purchases that I can even smell, if I want! Bliss.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Loved all the info in this post (and the photos)because it's fun to see how you get such a lovely scrap stash!

MellieWo said...

I'm still working on building up a stash so I am mostly buying specifically for a project. I also don't have a lot of extra space to store fabric in. I buy on-sale FQs though and do currently have enough batik FQs for a good size quilt.

Rosa said...

Love all about this post.If I like one fabrics,I buy it and buy 0,5metres.

Carla said...

Our buying and sewing habits are very similar, Amanda. A lot of the time I buy 1/3 yard pieces when buying "in person" because I can get alittle more fabric for the same price as a FQ. I really like the little Moda Candy squares too. Great post.

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun post CrazyMom! I really enjoyed the peek into your method. I'm with you on the Briar Rose -- I bought it 'cause everyone else was buying it. The colors are SO not me and I don't really even like it that much -- except for that cute little bee. But, I'm hoping someday I'll want those weird colors in something and I'll use it. There are also great I Spy elements for a someday grandchild quilt teehee.

Sadly, I usually buy 1/2 yards -- unless I'm working on a specific project and just want different prints for it -- then I'll buy 1/4 yards. We don't have good local shops, so I buy when I travel or online. I LOVE online -- dangerous or not LOL!