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.

SI224A3.jpg

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.

SI224A4.jpg

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…