New Fabric, New Plan — Is It Just Me?

I have to admit, I’m always kind of baffled by a particular kind of blog post I see. They feature an array of beautiful fabrics, recently purchased with excitement and enthusiasm. That part I get! The part I don’t get as well is that many of those posts name a particular pattern the bloggers intend to follow, using said fabrics.

In other words, the blogger intends to use these fabrics to make that pattern.

We all have our own ways to make a quilt, all of them as varied and wonderful as we are.

I’ve bought specific fabrics for a specific pattern once, I think. In 2012 my local guild had a red-and-white challenge. We were to use ONE red fabric and ONE white fabric to fulfill the challenge. I designed my quilt before starting, purchased the red and the white, and commenced.

Red and White Challenge Quilt. Finished April 2012.

Otherwise, all my quilts have been all stash, a combination of stash and new fabrics, or occasionally all new fabrics purchased well before having a specific pattern. In other words, I knew the colors to use, but not yardage needed, and I probably bought several pieces that never ended up in the quilt.

In fact, buying for specific patterns is probably more efficient and more economical than my method. But since I’m usually designing as I go, either for scrappy block quilts or my ever-increasing medallions, I enjoy little surprises at every stage of construction.

Sometimes that leads to frustration, when the little surprise is that I’ve run out of a piece I really want to use NOW! But then I turn to my stash, or the stash held by local quilt shops, and substitute. To me, the variety of fabrics make the quilt interesting, both to build and to behold once it’s done.

Do you choose a pattern and then choose your fabrics? Do you choose fabrics and then choose a pattern? Or do you make your fabric selections as you go, as I usually do? Is it just me?

 

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38 thoughts on “New Fabric, New Plan — Is It Just Me?

  1. farmquilter

    Ummm…yes šŸ™‚ Sometimes I pick the fabric then the pattern, sometimes the pattern then the fabrics and sometimes I make it up as I go along! Frequently what started as option 1 or 2 ends up at 3 because I make changes! I always shop my stash first, no matter which option I’m following. I just need to get the dratted tops I have made into quilts before I go and make more tops!!! I only have about 50 waiting for their turn on the frame!

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Yes, multiple options, multiple changes! And yes stash first for me, with very few exceptions. But my stash is … difficult sometimes. And so often I need to buy to finish.

      50 tops! How will you get them done? One a week…. ? šŸ˜€

      Reply
  2. treadlemusic

    A little of both!!! Usually what happens is I’m looking in my stash for a fill-in/needed fabric and I come across other pieces that are just “screaming” for a release from the tote!!! Then I’m off to dream up a use/pattern!!!! Such fun!!!! Other times a kitted pattern calls/beckons to me in such an alluring fashion that I just canNOT resist!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Yep, me too. I have a handful of fun-and-spotty (not patriotic) reds and blues, and I pulled those the other day, along with a pale grey that seems to want to play. Not sure what they’ll do… In the meantime, they sit in a little stack on the floor. Either I’ll be inspired and make something, or they’ll be put back in stash.

      I’ve never bought a kit. Have you had good luck with them?

      Reply
      1. treadlemusic

        I have but I’ve only bought from Connecting Threads. I know several who have done block of the month types and have been happy (I never do well “keeping up”!! and they are really expensive!!!!). I just got a star quilt a couple of weeks ago (Connecting Threads) for a discount/sale price and am anxious to get it started. I think it will have to wait a bit, though!!!!

        Reply
  3. zippyquilts

    I have two typical paths for designing/choosing fabric. One is: I design a quilt then go pull from my stash to make it, buying fabric only as needed. Second is: I see a fabric I just MUST have and buy about 3 yards of it, then go home and make a design to use it. So either way! I think some of those posts are “sponsored”, thus the array of fabric.

    Reply
  4. VickiT

    I think many of us (yes, me included) will want a certain fabric SO badly that we’ll buy it when it happens to be at a price we like, and then, to justify purchasing it, we’ll then find the pattern we want to use the fabrics we just bought. Now, one those fabrics arrive and IF they are used to actually make that pattern, or if they become ‘stash’ instead because I don’t want to cut into an of it I won’t admit to. LOL

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      HA exactly. Plans change, don’t they? I guess that is the part that “baffles” me. The bloggers I mention seem SO CERTAIN that they’ll make things as said. I’m just too fickle, I guess! šŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. denmck

    I would generally find fabric I absolutely love, buy it, then go home and dream up a design. However that’s how I’ve ended up with stacks of fabric unused as yet. šŸ™‚ The good news is that when I get the itch to sew I can usually find something on my shelves. The bad news is, if I wait too long then run out of some fabric in the middle of my project, I might not be able to find more.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      It’s great to have a usable stash. Mine sometimes makes trouble, because I keep it small. But I never mind substituting (OK, yeah, sometimes I mind…) so it still works for me. šŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Karen Miller

    I buy fabrics that I like when I see them. I may not be able to find them again. When I buy a new pattern I always look at what I have at home first to see if fabrics I have will work.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Hi Karen, You’re one of the more creative quilters I know, and I know you use your stash! But if I bought all the fabrics I like, well, I’d go broke!! šŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. Karen Miller

        One of the fabrics I can’t pass up are interesting stripes. I like to use them in borders and bias binding. I’m always looking for that unusual stripes.

        Reply
  7. Kathy Aho in MInnesota

    I find a pattern I like in my books or magazines or see something online and then I go rummaging in my fabric stash to see how much of it I can dig up from my existing piles. If I am short on something I will look for that at the shops or trade with friends for it. Very rarely have I needed to do that because I also am very flexible on my fabric from several eras, scale choices and flexible too on my sense of color “strictness”. I know another quilter personally who sees a quilt on display, buy that kit only and matching thread, piece that kit, send it to a longarmer and toss all the kit scraps into a drawer —never to be used again by them. (In this case, luckily, they let their daughter use same drawer to create from) To me that is a foreign way of doing it …no personal creative choices except the thread color and the size of the panto used by the longarmer. But hey, they are having fun, quilting in the loose sense of the word, and can go that route with a smile on their face. I am afraid even if I had a kit to start with, I would change some things along the way. Haha!

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Wow, yes, I couldn’t work that way. But either way as long as she’s having fun, it’s okay with me. More beautiful quilts into the world, right? All good.

      Thanks for reading and commenting today.

      Reply
  8. orangeyoujoyful

    Since I am just starting out, I decided to buy fabric for the quilt pattern because I had no stash and the fabric that was in my house was not really speaking to me. So I went on a hunt for fat quarters that caught my eye and after several visits to the fabric shop and raiding friend’s stashes, I was satisfied with the little collection.

    In the future, I hope to have such a wonderful stash of fabric that I will be inspired with a color scheme for a pattern or vice versa.

    The same thing happens with my knitting and crochet projects. Since I don’t have much money to spend on all the beautiful yarn I see, I buy yarn with a particular pattern or piece in mind. It doesn’t always turn out the way I initially envisioned, but I am always able to find some way to use it.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      And that’s the way it is for most of us when we’re starting. If I remember your project, your colors were beautiful together, so you must have an eye for that. One nice thing about buying for projects (at least for me), there’s almost always fabric left over, so that helps build your stash.

      Reply
      1. orangeyoujoyful

        Thank you so much for the compliment! Yes I am very excited to have the beginnings of a stash.

        By the way, the chain piecing is working out wonderfully and is making the small bits much easier to sew. I hope to be finished with all of the blocks by the end of the week! šŸ™‚

        Reply
  9. KerryCan

    Okay, I’ll be the odd woman out here–I have almost no fabric stash, rarely shop for fabric, and always start with the quilt design first then go buy fabrics to fit what I have in mind. Since I work so slowly and do almost everything by hand, and because I rotate other crafts in as well, I don’t feel like I can justify buying lots of fabric “on speculation.” But, as you say, there’s room in the quilting world for all of us!

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      You may be an odd woman, but I don’t think this is proof of it! šŸ™‚ No need to hold an inventory of a lot of fabric if that’s not the way you work. My stash is small compared to many (most?) quilters. Some people would find it pretty frustrating to work with mine. But I don’t care because it works for me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  10. snarkyquilter

    To answer your questions, I go both ways. For my first few quilts I shopped for fabric with the yardage lists in hand. In recent years I’ve tended to start with the fabric as my stash matured. I’ve bought/been given lots of stuff with no particular project in mind. And then I seldom work from a pattern anymore. I may be inspired by a pattern, but I usually modify it to suit my fabrics and my whims. I do “reserve” pieces of fabric in my stash for quilts I plan to make. Right now I have a pile of fabric for a landscape quilt I’m trying to design and a small stack of hand dyed solids for a paper piecing workshop I may give.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      As you’ve shifted toward art quilts, has your fabric buying changed?

      I set aside pieces for particular plans/ideas, too. Sometimes I make them, and sometimes I disassemble the pile and put everything away.

      Reply
      1. snarkyquilter

        Well, I rarely buy fabric with a regular printed pattern outside of stripes, dots, etc. Most of my patterned stuff is blotchy and abstract. And then I’ve started dyeing and painting my own fabric so I have a bunch of that as well. Occasionally some modern fabric is irresistible but the prices generally hold me back. Yes, I’m a sucker for sales. One sort-of local fabric store likes to turn over its inventory, and so usually has a very well stocked $4/yard section.

        Reply
  11. Nann

    Fabric acquisition is one activity. Pattern selection is another. I rarely buy fabric with anything in mind other than, “I like it.” Admittedly, sometimes I have to buy border fabric and sometimes I have to buy backing fabric….but more often I have something on hand that will suit just fine.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      I occasionally buy just because I like it, but usually I do because I have something in mind. So often, though, the projects I have in mind are not how things get used! And even if I’m buying border fabric, sometimes it takes me multiple tries to get what really speaks to me. Then the unused ones go in stash and/or are used on the back!

      Reply
  12. OSuzyQuilts

    My stash was my moms stash, and it could have been a lot larger, but my dad gave away like 20 kitchen bags full of fabric, a lot of it newer stuff. I knew he was doing it, but didn’t think I wanted it all. What I do have is vintage bits and pieces, a few fat quarters, and some stuff mom started like Dresdan plates and like 29 nine patches. I have bought some fabric when I can’t find what I think will work in the stash, but a lot if times I’m finishing an already started project. It will take me a long time to get through what I have, several bins full, but I really need to go through it again and get rid of the lighter weight fabrics, and I know there is some poly cotton blends, but I can’t figure out how to tell I apart. Plus, I have a cedar chest full of my old clothes, kids clothes, grandmas aprons for scrap quilts, cause that’s what my mom and grandma did.

    Reply
    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Legacy stashes are a blessing and a challenge. Yes, do go through things and get rid of some. The “challenge” part of it will be lighter. As to telling the difference, here are 2 things you can try: 1) you can take a snip of something you think is blend. Safely light it on fire. If there is melting, it is synthetic or blend. All cotton will burn to ash similar to how paper does. 2) pinch it hard. All cotton generally creases fairly easily, while poly will resist creasing. Neither of these is a sure sign, but they might help.

      And if you can’t tell, it might not matter. The main thing to be careful of is how hot you keep your iron, since the blends can scorch/melt at hot temps. Of course cotton will, too, but it needs to be much hotter for them.

      Reply
      1. Cjhaab

        My fabric inventory, mostly purchased just because it’s pretty, is probably way too big to use up, but it is also like (though not as small) a shelf and cabinet I have full of hand made pottery. Most of it I use, but it also serves as beauty and inspiration just by being on display. When I realize my fabric does that as well, I’m not so worried about using it up.

        But I’ve also learned not to be afraid to put my favorite pieces into a quilt rather than saving them for … Something Special. Because the quilt they wind up in then becomes more special and interesting to handle, use and enjoy.

        Oh back to the original question, I would say only 10% of my fabric was acquired with a specific pattern in mind, though there is always some sort of picture in my mind of possibilities.

        Another way to tell synthetics and blends from cotton – it might be possible to smell the difference. Sometimes when you iron a blend, there is a distinct smell, not bad, that is different from cotton.

        Reply
        1. Melanie in IA Post author

          I like the philosophy of enjoying some fabrics purely for their inspiration.

          Cotton vs blend: I think different sizings have different smells. Even though I wash everything first, scent can linger. So I’m not sure that’s something I would notice.

          Reply

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