Stash Interview ~ Alissa from Handmade by Alissa

on February 24 | in Interviews + Profiles, Sewing + Quilting Tips | by | with 49 Comments

Alissa is one of our current board members, and just helped us all sew along with her Fat Quarter Doll Quilt Project. We asked Alissa to tell us about her stash before she reorganized all of her fabric this month. Learn more about her big stash overhaul on Handmade by Alissa and see more of Alissa’s fabrics on her Flickr site. We’d love to hear about your stash too. Add a picture to the Fabric Stash & Storage pool!

SMS: First of all, what do you usually sew?
Alissa: I predominantly sew quilts and other patchwork. Pillows, table runners and so on. And the occasional purse!

SMS: When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy? (i.e. If you see something beautiful, but you don’t have a use for it right away, how much do you buy?)
Alissa: If it’s patterned fabric I’ll only buy 1 yard. That can go a long way for me in my quilts because I use a lot of solids. Solids I buy more of because I often need larger quantities for quilt backs, or sashing & borders. I go through yards and yards of off white solid fabric.

SI224A1.jpg

Alissa’s fabric, all organized.

SMS: Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
Alissa: Both! My stash isn’t big enough that I always have everything I need and inevitably when I’m in a fabric store, an impulse buy can, and often does, happen. Often my buying is due to a new line coming out that I fall in love with and simply have to have some of. So it’s not an impulse (I think it through!) but it’s also not intended for a specific project when I buy it.

SMS: Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it?
Alissa: I pre-wash my reds or unknown origin fabrics only. I used to pre-wash everything but recently switched. If I’m unsure of a fabric’s quality or origin I pre-wash, but when I buy new good quality fabrics I don’t bother. I usually wait to pre-wash until I’m going to use a fabric. Though I find that’s not smart because that makes me want to skip it and dive right in!

SMS: Do you iron it?
Alissa: If It’s pre-washed, yes. I think I’m strange in that I enjoy ironing new fabric. I like taking the time to gaze at it and think about all the pretty things it will become.

SMS: How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)
Alissa: I keep my patterns and solids separate– from there I sort by color.

SMS: Do you have any special folding techniques?
Alissa: Nope– I should be better about this. The stash can get, and is currently, quite sloppy!

SMS: How do you store your fabric?
Alissa: Not well. My stash has outgrown it’s space so it’s sitting all around my sewing room. I need to take some time and reorganize.

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Before Alissa’s big fabric reorganization.

SMS: What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?
Alissa: Pay attention to which colors you’re more drawn to and make a point of buying others now and again. I have more orange and pink than I know what to do with, but ask me to include green in something and it’s tough! Also, it takes time to learn which fabrics you’re always turning to and what you’ll never use. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to walk away from a pretty fabric, if you know in your heart of hearts that you’ll never ever use it. On the other hand, if it’s a really good deal… Ha! You can see I have fabric addictive tendencies!

SMS: When do you say enough is enough?
Alissa: When the bank account makes the decision for me!

SMS: What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects?
Alissa: I know I’m being quilt centric when I say quilts, but… quilts! Any size piece of fabric, small or large, can have it’s perfect spot in a quilt.

SI224A2.jpg

Folded and sorted, mid reorganization.

SMS: What’s your definition of the perfect stash?
Alissa: I guess I’d have to say a huge one. Much much bigger than mine. I dream of a day when I’ll really be able to make just about anything on the spot, without having to run out for another yard of this or that.

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Alissa’s current favorite stash print.

SMS: Do you have a current favorite print in your stash?
Alissa: I’d have to say that I’m IN LOVE with this Lush deer paint by numbers print right now. I am going to have to find the perfect project before it gets used! Or I’ll use tiny bits in a bunch of different projects and make it last…

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49 Responses to Stash Interview ~ Alissa from Handmade by Alissa

  1. Laura says:

    I adore that paint-by-number print!

  2. Ann-Marie says:

    great post, fun to read how others tame their stash!! :)

  3. Jenny says:

    that paint by number fabric is amazing – wish I had some in my stash!

  4. Bekhy says:

    Alissa, your post inspired me so much that I organized my stash too! I bought some plastic bins from Office Depot. Now that I know how much fabric one of those holds, I’m even more impressed by the hugeness of your stash. I prewashed most of my fabrics (mostly in an effort to make my large stash of red fabrics dye-run-free) and folded and ironed. I can proudly say that I only have 3 plastic bags of fabrics now: everything else organized neatly in clear plastic bins :). Thanks for your inspirational post (and even more on this blog).

  5. Kristi says:

    I really love seeing everyone stash picture. Mine is a little hard to show since I have them in drawers. I guess I could open the drawers and show those to you…..

  6. Baba says:

    Wow! That’s a lot of fabric! Only in my dreams would I have that much. Some day maybe.

  7. Toby says:

    i so enjoy these!

  8. Christine Bolin says:

    I pre-wash everything and found a tip on one of the sewing shows that says to clip off the corners of the fabric and that helps it not to unravel.

  9. Kate says:

    It’s so great that Alissa’s stash wasn’t perfectly organized come picture time. Thanks for the reality!

  10. Deb V says:

    You have a great stash. Good job with the reorganizing.

  11. Sachiko says:

    Yea… fabric stash…. I am out of control. Alissa is so organized. I love the post!

  12. Stacy says:

    Seeing everyone else’s stash, I’m feeling really guilty that mine is just shoved into boxes….

  13. KZ says:

    Love all your quilts!

  14. Vanessa Byers says:

    I loved that her stash is not as grand as some of the other interviews. I definately don’t have a ginormous stash with glass cabinet (although I think that’s awesome!). Thanks for the interview.

  15. Cheryl says:

    I enjoyed the interview! Thanks for the insight into the world of other sewer/crafters. It’s always interesting to see what others do. Great organizing!

  16. aneela says:

    I’m loving all these articles about fabric stash habits particularly when it comes to – to iron and pre-wash or not! very interesting. Nice stash Alissa.

  17. Peta-Jane says:

    Wish my stash was that big ! What beautiful quilts Alissa has made- particularly love Flora and Fauna.

  18. Jen V says:

    Thanks for the interview & doll quilt tute, Alissa. All this stash talk has made me pick up a few more fat quarters lately as I think about how nice it must be to have it on hand. It is so easy to make a habit out of popping in for a fat quarter of this & that. (Perhaps a bad habit?!) Anyway, I’m nowhere near these quantities but I am sewing more and more because I can dream something up and start without running to the store. Very fun.

  19. Libby says:

    I really, really, really need to organize my fabric.

  20. Helena says:

    great stash. love the paint by number too.

  21. sarah f says:

    I agree with Alissa when to stop buying fabric! I have the same reasoning in my stash building! I also dream of the day when I can make something without having to run out for more fabrics.

  22. Karen says:

    I love ironing new fabric as well! Gives me a great opportunity to catch up on my reality TV. This is a great post, and makes me want to re-fold, color sort, and all-in-all play with my stash!

  23. Sonja Greene says:

    I love organizing my fabrics…even when they do not need to be organized. ;-)
    Great Blog!

  24. Bette M. says:

    The current state of my fabric stash, is much like Alissa’s “before” picture. Since I have such an ecclectic collection, I can’t decide whether to group them by color, or prints/themes ( I like Asian and abstract prints, as well as wild color florals and retros…how do I group all of that together?????). Then there’s all the kid/baby prints…..aaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

  25. Stacey says:

    Great interview!

  26. Stacey says:

    I enjoyed reading this! Thanks!

  27. I am having so much fun building my stash. Only started a year ago so I have a long ways
    to go. I have an alteration business and have always done sewing. Just started quilting last year wow a whole new world. I love it.

  28. daniela says:

    thank you so much for alissa’s input, you guys are doing such a great job with this blog

  29. Heather says:

    all these stash interviews are making me want to get super organized. . . clear storage bins, here I come.

  30. Southern Gal says:

    I would love to have just one of those bins!

  31. suzi says:

    Wow!Looks like she has quite a stash already.

  32. Bethany says:

    Wow! Alissa did a great job of organizing her fabric! It looks so neat and pretty. Heck, it looked pretty even when it wasn’t neatly stacked!

  33. Allison says:

    You use the Ikea Samla boxes, too! I have found they are **perfect** for storing fabric and crafty supplies. They are not too big, so you can still lift them, but big enough to hold a whole project (or at least most of a project) or a sizeable number of scraps. And stackable … and clear, so you can see what you have … and inexpensive … and awesome!

  34. JaneR says:

    Thank you Alissa, for allowing us to view your private stash and giving us insights on your purchases and care of it. I’m a fan of the deer paint-by-number fabric too. Thanks SMS for this interview!

  35. Valerie says:

    Your stash makes mine look non-existent.

  36. Shellyfish says:

    Can I just have like a quarter of that stash?
    Seriously, thanks as usual – so cool to see how you cats do it!

  37. Kay says:

    Love this interview!

  38. Danielle says:

    Thanks for keeping it real! I drool over the organized spaces but I can’t keep them up myself. Maybe someday when my kids are grown and I’ve turned their bedroom into my craft space…. probably not….

  39. jodie says:

    Wow! I love to see fabric stashes!

  40. Elizabeth says:

    I love your stash and in comparisonto mine it is quite organized…hmmm…Perhaps I should get off the computer and go work on my stash.

  41. tjesa says:

    Love the stash… and the quilts you make with them, Alissa! So fresh and clean… can’t wait to try the Sparks baby quilt from your tutorial.

  42. Anya T. says:

    Great interview. Thanks.

  43. Katie says:

    Alissa’s blog is really great. I’m so impressed with all these quilts so many of these ladies are able to put together. It’s definitely inspiring!

  44. Kara says:

    Thanks again…. I love these interviews. They always want to make me buy more fabric.

  45. lesley says:

    ah, gorgeous! i am awaiting delivery of my first lush print, i can’t wait!

  46. wendy says:

    You go Alissa! Love your blog. Love your quilts!
    wendy

  47. naija says:

    hi
    So much fabric you have…so much fun you can make….I would be happy if I had any fabrics at all…dont afford to buy any

  48. Ellen Ban says:

    Love Alissa’s creations and her blog!

  49. Betsy M says:

    Good advice! Thanks.

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