Are you looking for the best tips for building your fabric stash?
Once you get into the world of sewing, there is no money left over for anything else… trust me. So with this in mind, it is hard to build up a stash and steady supply of fabric without spending a fortune and buying wisely.
I love buying fabric as much as the next sewist but I also like to keep in mind certain things when I am doing so. It is easy to get carried away and use up your sewing budget on fabrics and sometimes you get home and have no idea what you plan to make with it.
With this in mind, I created this guide on how to build up your fabric stash slowly and surely without having to spend a fortune and use up all your budget. This is super helpful if you are new to sewing and are looking to create a comfy fabric stash without having too much of a financial burden.
1. Look At Getting Quantities
When looking at buying fabrics look at buying quantities. When you find a fabric remember what you would be making with it such as a quilt, dress or home furnishings.
I often buy more of a fabric if I really like it and I am using it for making clothes or a quilt. If you are looking at dress fabrics look at buying 3m + for a dress or tops. Maxi dresses, jumpsuits and trousers may require more such as 5m.
If you are looking at using the fabrics for quilting you can buy more than your needed amounts to give yourself plenty to work with.
2. Look For Bargains
Before highstreet stores and craft stores were the IN thing everyone would nip to their local market and buy from there. My local city centre Leeds still has a big market with a number of fabric retailers.
Unfortunately, not as many as there once was but still enough to keep me busy. There are a couple of well-priced places to shop and more often than not you can find some reduced pieces, bundles and scrap pieces.
You can also look at places like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Shpock for bargains or even your local charity shops.
3. Buy Bundles
I love buying fat quarter bundles and pre-cut fabric packs as they are so easy to work with and look lovely. I love these as they come in a pre-organised pack and lovely colourways.
If you plan to do any quilting these are great as the colour matching is already done for you. They are also great sizes and you can use them straight from the pack.
You can also find other bundles for other fabrics from quilting, upholstery, dressmaking fabrics and more. You can find bundles online in fabric stores, in store and at markets.
These are a great way of collecting together a couple of different fabrics for your stash in one go. They often are cheaper than buying the fabric individually too.
4. Shop Smart
When I say shop smart I mean to buy from recycling yards, I have two main ones I visit to build up on craft supplies and they also hold the fabric. It isn’t always great prints or even dressmaking fabrics but you can often find a gem in the bundles.
I love shopping at places like this as it stops the materials going to waste, they are still great quality as they are leftovers from big companies and they are super cheap!
Nearly 50% of my fabric stash is made up of old clothes and bedding that were mine or my family that are no longer of use. I love upcycling and recycling and if you already like the print of something, the hardest part is done for you.
I pretty much save and upcycle all my old bedding to make into blankets, quilts and more.
Ask around to friends and family if they are having a clear-out of any of their bedding, curtains and clothes to put them to aside for you. It is a great way to stop things from going to landfill and it takes it off your families hands.
If you want to learn more about the different fabrics you might want to use, know more about or even learn more about tools check out my projects & tutorials page for plenty of hints, tips and helpful information on different tools and how to understand the different fabrics.
6. Buy By Colours
If like me one of your main fabric collections will be based on dressmaking you will want to think about what colours you want to buy and wear.
There is no reason buying 5m of fabric that you won’t want to wear or isn’t a colour or print you would wear. There are fabrics you will see and like but only buy what you love.
Look at the colour breakdown of your wardrobe to give you a good direction of what colours to buy. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy new colours but it is something to take into account when buying fabrics.
If you are looking at quilting and upholstery fabrics look at buying colours you use in your home. For example, we love mustard yellow, greys and navy blue so I always like to buy these colours so I can use them to create things for our home.
You can of course look at different colours than you have at home to give away as gifts and use to add another colour at your home.
7. Actually Use Your Stash
One thing you want to make sure you do is use your stash. It is easy to keep collecting these beautiful fabrics but it is good to keep using them when you can.
Much like using the food in your cupboards and freezer you should use your fabrics to keep them rotating. I like to look at what I have, how many meters I have and what I want to make and try and match them together.
I also have a medium size stash of sewing patterns to work through so I have plenty of projects I can use my fabrics on. I also use plenty of different cotton’s to create some of my own home storage and organization such as fabric buckets, sewing machine mats and armchair caddy.
Planning your projects is a great way of using up your growing stash and creating yourself something beautiful.
8. Shop By Style
As I like to buy cottons for quilting and dressmaking fabrics for clothes, I try to stick to those styles. There are certain fabrics I know I like to wear and use so once I find one I like I save a sample in my fabric swatch book and shop that style and type again.
Using a swatch book is a great way of keeping track of fabrics you have used and you can even make notes of the projects you used with it, notes about what it was like to work with and how it handled.
When I am looking at buying fabrics and looking at bargains I look at what I will use and what I like to make clothes from.
Make a note of the fabrics you already own, whether they are store bought or self made, these will help you decide what fabrics you feel comfortable in, what works well with your figure and what you already like.
Make a note of these in your journal, notes on your phone or in your fabric swatch book, that way when you are shopping you can cross check your notes and make an executive decision.
9. Co-ordinate Your Stash
I don’t just hold fabric but other parts of sewing such as threads, zips and fastenings and accessories. I often by bundles of a variety of colours of threads and matching spools to save me buying specialised threads for every fabric.
If I don’t have a close colour I will buy the matching thread but otherwise I keep quite a variety on hand so I can get to work when inspiration strikes.
I also like to go through other supplies and work out things that I have too much of or things I don’t feel I am going to use. When you are planning your projects and planning to buy more fabric it is also a great idea to plan what other parts you will require.
I often find I don’t have the right interfacing or zip for the project so it is wise to have a small supply of these things on hand.
10. Go Through Your Stash Regularly
One great way to keep building your stash is to keep working through what you have.
Once a month I sit down and go through my sewing supplies to see what I might need to replace and what I could do with using.
If there are items that I haven’t used or a particular fabric I have had a long time I look to use it in my next project or even look at selling it. That way I can make space for newer and fresher fabrics and even create some funds to go back into my sewing budget.