STASH- the concept that changed my life as a sewist!
When I first got into this whole sewing thing, I used to come into the shop and see the most glorious fabrics. I’d take a bolt off the shelf and hold it in my arms… I’d stroke the fabric just to get a sense of the feel of it and imagine it running through my fingers as I sewed it…I’d gaze upon the beautiful colors and patterns. Then I’d sigh… ever so deeply… and reluctantly put it back on the shelf as I just couldn’t think of what to do with it at that moment or simply didn’t have time to make something then and there. I didn’t have a pattern. I didn’t know how much to buy. I would sadly and longingly put it back on the shelf. IT WAS TORTURE. I can’t tell you how many times I did this.
Then, the worst thing ever happened. I went into the shop and asked about a fabric I had seen 6 or more months ago. I remember it clearly. It was a Charlie Harper print. It was divine. It haunted me in my sleep. I dreamed of it. I finally decided that I had to make something with it. When I went in to ask about it, I was told that the fabric run was over and they couldn’t order any more. I was crestfallen. How did this happen???
Despite, or maybe because of, my gloom, I just couldn’t see my way through this dilemma. I continued only buying fabrics that I had a designated use for, buying exactly what the pattern specified. What was I to do when I see magnificent fabric, but have no idea what to do with it? I certainly couldn’t just buy it. How much would I get? How wasteful would that be to just have fabric that you didn’t have a use for? I was truly vexed.
Finally, I was at the Sydney Quilt and Craft show in 2016 thumbing through a magnificent display of Alison Glass fabrics (of course, I didn’t know who Alison Glass was at the time—or Tula Pink for that matter). I wanted some SOOOOOOO badly, but didn’t have a pattern or a clue what to do with it. Two women came alongside me and were ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhhhing’ over the same selection of fabrics. One of them exclaimed, ‘I absolutely must have these for my STASH” and bought them.
STASH? What could she mean by that?
Well, I’m a pretty quick study and, as some of you know, not very shy at all. So, I turned to her and asked, “Are you buying that fabric just to have it around? Just in case….someday….”. She looked at me like I had gone a bit loopy and responded, “Of course!” The heavens opened. Nirvana. It was as if I had been given permission to go ahead and buy fabric even though I had no idea in God’s green acre what you were going to do with it. All in the name of “STASH.”
My collection began. Needless to say, that was a very expensive day at the show for me.
As I collected stash and started to make more things and became more bold in talking to strangers about “STASH”, I started learning things… like what makes a well rounded STASH collection. Later that year, I was at the Modern Quilt Show in Petersham… a woman commented to one of the fabric sellers, “You have such a great selection of low volume fabrics. I need some for my STASH”. (I LOVE that word). Low Volume???? I went home and looked it up….(have shamelessly copied the description about low volume from thesewing directory.co.uk website below):
Low volume fabrics can be described as basically subtle white, cream, neutral or pale coloured print fabrics often with a delicate self-coloured pattern or subtle design and they are selected to offset the much brighter palette of colours available in many fabric lines. Think of pale floral designs, faint spots or those white fabrics with text and these would be described as low volume – your eye sees them as soft colours even though they are not entirely plain. Low volume fabrics won’t ‘fight’ with more colourful fabrics and will let those bright prints shine!
How can low volume fabrics be used?
- You could use low volume fabrics where the effect of using a solid white fabric is desired, particularly in modern quilts but you don’t want the starkness of a pure white fabric, which can be just as overwhelming as a bright colour. Low volume prints are great for achieving a softer look than a plain white background.
- Low volume fabrics are great for adding subtle interest to a quilt design without introducing another strong colour.
- I would often choose low volume prints as the background fabrics when you look at a list of quilt fabric requirements or, alternatively, you could build the block pattern using a selection of low volume fabrics and pick one bright fabric as your background to give a different effect.
And the story goes on…..
I will acknowledge, that this whole STASH thing works very well for me living on Scotland Island. I mean, I have a lot of STASH for nearly everything else in my life… What do you do when you live on an island with no bridge and no shops?? You make sure you have an ample STASH of loo paper, an ample stash of eggs (or borrow from the neighbors chickens), a substantial stash of coffee,… the list goes on. So why not fabric??? (And no, dear, we don’t use the word ‘hoarding’ in my household).
So where has this madness gotten me? I think some pretty spectacular outcomes:
When Annette announced that she was teaching her Bionic Gear Bag glass, I reached into my STASH and found that Alison Glass fabric that I bought in 2017 (and later augmented) and made my homage to STASH: It wasn’t too long after I learned about STASH that I went to Ubud, Bali. Well, you certainly can’t keep your STASH habit at home… I returned with nearly a suitcase of stash that has been unused until last month… to make this fabulous Tessuti “Lily Dress”.
When I decided to make my Ms Cactus Quilt for Brayden’s Kindergarten Teacher, Ms Kafkis, I found the delightful Baby Cactus quilt pattern by Cabbage Rose click here. I bought the background fabric from the shop, but was able to make all the cacti from my STASH.
One of my favorite cacti was made from one of those curated bundles of fabric that CQW has by the cutting counter… Sandy put this one together… Megan’s got a fantastic eye for selecting fabulous packs as well.
I even used my stash to augment my Laura Heine Octopus Garden quilt, that came as a kit with all the fabrics from the designer, click here. See the little seahorse? I bought the fabric when I was at the shop doing a Monday sit and sew, when Nancy walked into the room with a bit of this fabulous seahorse fabric!! MUST HAVE. I bought it. I had it around when I was working on the quilt and thought, “perfect!” I’m so glad I have this in my STASH. (there are quite a few stash fabrics in the quilt, but the seahorse is my fave… or maybe it’s the memory of Nancy and I having fun!)
I have gotten so much joy and use out of having a STASH on my island home that I can just look at and admire, and when I finally decide what to do with myself—BAM, most of what I need is at my fingertips! All I have to do is keep replenishing my STASH!
What I’m really enjoying these days is seeing the beautifully curated packs that the women in the shop have put together… from whimsical to traditional to aboriginal… they all delight.