Stash vs. No Stash: The Great Debate

Stash vs. No Stash: The Great Debate

Posted by Jen Lopez on Feb 21st 2024

If you are a quilter, you are definitely going to have a lot of fabric, whether you accumulated it intentionally or not is a source of great debate. Some quilters end up with a lot of fabric because they simply make a lot of quilts and extra fabric is a by-product of that process. Some quilters have a lot of fabric because they essentially “collect” it, either because it’s pretty, they have an idea for a project they might use it in, as a building block of their fabric library... the list of reasons goes on and on. But is having a giant stash of fabric actually a good idea? Consider the following:

  • How much space will it consume – A big stash is going to take up space. Do you have the room to spare? If your family is sitting on bags of fabric instead of chairs or you have to store things in piles on the floor because the closets are full, a huge stash might not be right for you.
  • How will you store it – There are endless blog posts written on “how to store fabric." The choices range from the obvious – big plastic tubs, to the more creative – folding it up into mini-bolts on comic-book cards. The former has the problem of being environmentally unfriendly (all that plastic!) and after a time the plastic does impart a funky smell into the fabric. The latter is terribly clever and looks oh-so-cute all neatly displayed on a shelf, but the card stock does absorb moisture and can lead to mildewing and bug problems. Finding the right method for longterm storage can be very challenging as there is no one perfect solution.
  • So many folds – No matter how you store the fabric, it’s going to have fold marks – lots of them. After years of storage, getting out those fold lines when it’s time to actually use the fabric can seem near impossible. Sometimes I feel like going out and buying new fabric rather than dealing with the endless pressing. I’ve even had to cut “around” the folds, which is a waste of fabric.
  • Out of fashion – Fabric, just like clothing, goes out of style. Maybe you don’t have 30 or 40 years to wait for it to come back in style, or maybe it just no longer speaks to your sensibilities, so why continue to hold on to it?
  • The guilt – Buying fabric is FUN. Having a huge pile of it at home really takes the fun out of buying new fabric because of the crushing guilt. Why am I buying more when I already have so much at home?
  • Unfortunate repeats – I have at times re-bought the same fabric that I already own because I either forgot that I already owned it, or I knew I had it but could not for the life of me find it.
  • Bound for the trash – After years and years of carefully curating the perfect stash, you have to be realistic about where it’s all going to end up: in the trash. When you are no longer on this mortal coil, it is highly unlikely that any of your remaining family members will take the time to lovingly move your stash on to some new home. It’s probably going to end up in a dumpster faster than the real estate sign is going up on your lawn. That seems like a tragic end for the fabric that you spent so many years lovingly collecting.

In the immortal words of American novelist and poet Wendell Berry, “Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” The same can be said of your fabric collection. Better to keep it small, manageable, well-loved and well-used.


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