Lara from thornberry just shared her Crochet Project Roll Tutorial with us. We asked her to tell us a bit about her fabric stash. In addition to today’s interview, Lara also plays along with Sunday Stash; she writes, “Every Sunday we show one or two of our stash fabrics on our blogs.” Regular posts about Lara’s recent “stash increases” are under the “fabric stash” category on thornberry, and a stash set in her Flickr stream.

SMS: First of all, what do you usually sew?
Lara: I sew a few different things, but the constants would be children’s clothing (mostly for girls), bags, women’s clothing, and I have just started quilting.

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?)
Lara: I usually buy fabric in metreage, possibly because I have primarily sewn garments. I tend to buy at least two metres, often three or more. Now that I’m sewing more bags and have started quilts, I am learning to buy smaller quantities. I’ve recently grown fond of the fat quarter, but metre or half metre cuts are more common for craft.

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Half yards in the stash.

SMS: Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
Lara: Both! If I see something that I really love and can visualise what I could make with it, I buy it. I tend to have plenty of prints sitting in my stash, so am more likely to go out looking for coordinating plains. I spend a lot of time window-shopping (and actually shopping) for fabric on the internet.

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Some of Lara’s stash.

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?
Lara: I am a pre-washer. I pre-wash the same way I intend to wash the finished project. I’m more concerned about colour running than shrinkage, although it’s handy to reduce the risk of both. I generally wash fabric as soon as I have bought it, so everything in my stash is washed, pressed and ready to sew. I suspect that my tendency to pre-wash is due to my background in garment sewing. Apparently pre-washing isn’t necessary if you are using good quality quilting fabrics, but it will be a difficult habit for me to break.

SMS: Do you iron it?
Lara: I do iron my fabrics once they are pre-washed. I like things to be nice and neat – it makes folding simpler and once again it means that fabric is all ready to use when inspiration strikes.

SMS: How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)
Lara: Most of my fabric is sorted according to intended use (dress fabrics in one area, craft fabrics in another, although there is some cross-over) and then according to fabric type/weight. I group similar fabrics together, so those from a collection are generally with one another. I also group fabrics intended for one project together. Colour is one of the last categories I use to sort my fabric. My sorting method changes and evolves depending on what is in the stash.

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Vintage sheet fat quarters.

SMS: Do you have any special folding techniques?
Lara: My folding technique is whatever will make the fabric fit on the shelf! I prefer to have the selvedge and edges of fabric folded into the middle though.

SMS: How do you store your fabric?
Lara: I am lucky enough to have a craft room with purpose-built shelving and drawers to hold my fabric and sewing supplies. The fabrics are all folded and stacked on shelves, very easy to see. Sliding doors keep the fabrics protected from light. I have discovered that the more shelves you have, the more fabric you accumulate…

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The craft cupboards.

SMS: What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?
Lara: I’m not sure that my stash is well-rounded. It is certainly sizable, but is missing plain and tonal fabrics. Most fabrics seem to be a bright print – that is obviously what I am drawn to! I think that if you buy what you love, your stash will work for you and reflect your personality. That said, be practical too. Plain drill, denim, linen and cotton work well in many projects. But once again, buy the colours that you love. Also, a fabric stash isn’t complete without plenty of notions – you do need buttons, zips, ribbons, laces, threads, elastic, bag-making supplies, interfacing and fusible wadding.

SMS: When do you say enough is enough?
Lara: I am trying to tell myself that enough is enough at the moment because the shelves are full to bursting! Although I have bought plenty of the fabrics in it myself, I have inherited a substantial amount from friends.

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Lara’s favorite fabrics: Amy Butler August Fields fabric.

SMS: What are some of your favourite stash-busting projects?
Lara: Clothing, particularly for the kids! Bags are fantastic – big ones that use plenty of fabric and a variety of techniques, or small ones that highlight precious pieces. And of course, eventually quilts will be a great stash-buster for me (although my newfound interest in quilting has actually been a stash-increaser).

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Lara’s favorite fabrics: Selections from the Heather Bailey Freshcut collection.

SMS: What’s your definition of the perfect stash?
Lara: The perfect stash would have everything you need for any project without having to go to the shops! Thread of every type and colour, plenty of coordinating plain fabrics and tonal prints, and loads of bright prints! My stash isn’t too far off, but I still rarely manage to sew a project from start to finish without having to buy some sort of supplies.