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By the Yard: Are ALL Those Boxes Fabric?

Posted by Jen Lopez on May 15th 2019

We quilters buy fabric—lots and LOTS of fabric. According to the Quilting in America™ 2017 Survey, quilting households spend an average of $442 per year on their hobby. Much of that is spent on fabric, what we quilters affectionately call our “stash.” Every quilter has one, although most shy away from confessing its true size. Why is it so big, and why does it just keep growing, at a rate that far outpaces our ability to lovingly turn it into family heirlooms and gifts? Here at By the Yard, we have a few theories.

1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Every quilter knows: if you don’t buy it now, it could be gone for good. This a reasonable fear based on the way fabric is printed. Often, fabrics are printed as single runs, with only the most popular having another go as a reprint.

2. Ideas in the head. Although you are not actually working on *insert brilliant project idea here*, you just know that this would be the perfect fabric for such a thing. Better buy it now, just in case you ever do take up that project in the future.

3. Collecting is an entirely different hobby. Just because a quilter buys fabric, that in no way obligates him or her to stitch it up. Think of some of the world’s other popular hobbies: stamp collecting; coin collecting; and card collecting, from baseball cards to Pokemon. If you can't imagine a stamp collector mailing the gas bill with a rare Penny Black, why would you expect a quilter to use their fabric for anything other than quiet admiration?

4. Diversity is inherent. By the very nature of the craft, quilting consumes copious amounts of fabric and at the same time, leaves a trail of leftovers behind. The colors and designs that may be suitable for one project are likely completely unsuited for another. Thus, a happy excuse for another trip to the fabric shop arises.

If you find yourself with way too much fabric, take heart in knowing you are not alone. Just box it up and ask an unsuspecting friend to help move it.

Please join us here every other Wednesday for another fun, fiber-filled installment of By the Yard. You can also find the newest development from By the Yard, the 2020 Wall Calendar for Quilters at, sure to keep you in stitches all year long.

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