Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Confessions of a fabric hoarder ... and my tips to score more!

I have a little bit of fabric tucked away in my sewing room.

A bit here ...

If I think I will get to a project within the week, it lands on the sewing table next to my machine.
 

I am probably most excited about this upcoming project: the stocking Advent calendar by Caroline of Trillium Design.  And I use these record bowls for tons of craft room organizing.
And there …

 
Large yardages of fabric, like those for Renaissance Faire dresses; recycled fabrics and materials; and batting tend to land right under the table.  That burlap coffee bag is soon going to reupholster a cheap little footstool that I plan on repainting.  Oh, yes, that stack of green tubs is also quilt fabric for quilts in the various UFO stages.

 And here …
 
To the right of my machine, I keep a basket of inspiration fabrics.  Things I need to mull over before I decide what to do with them, like some Poe-themed fabric.  Can you tell what colors I gravitate towards?
And here (and here and here).
 
This is my mega stash.  Anything smaller than a yard goes here, in a shoe hanger on the back of my sewing room door.  It may not look like there is a system, but it makes sense to me.
I found this great box at a garage sale for 2$, and this is where I store all future projects that I know I won't get to for a while.  I bag up the pattern and all the fabric I purchased for the project, then slide the lid on and tuck it away until I run out of things to do and need a new project.  (Hah!)
 
I store projects in the works and some of my quilt backings on my ironing board.  Then I curse myself for that decision every time I run out of room to iron my seams.
 
There’s even more stashed away in little pockets around the room.


OK, I may willing to admit to a small bit of fabric hoarding.  But I have gone from purchasing gifts for the gigantic family I married into to making most of them, and it is nice to have a large stash on hand so I can put together a quick gift at the last minute.  (They don’t believe much in planning ahead.)  I thought I might share with you some of my fabric and quilting supply shopping tips in this post.  Just to help enable you in your own fabric hoarding endeavors.  ;)

·         If you see a fabric you love and you know you will eventually be able to put it to use but you don’t know where or when, go ahead and get yourself at least a quarter yard.  That will usually run you between a dollar and two dollars at the big box fabric stores.  Because trust me, if you think you’re going to be able to find it when that perfect block does pop up, you are in for a big disappointment.
 
·         Check Spoonflower for some truly remarkable custom fabrics.  My personal favorites are the Doctor Who prints, which are impossible to find anywhere else.  Generally your cost will run around 20$ a yard for Kona cotton, but if you are really searching for something unusual or have designed your own fabric, this is the place to purchase it.  Designers even get a discount on their own designs!

·         Check eBay!  It is amazing how many times I have found the perfect fabric there for specialty projects, and you can often buy in quarter yard increments.  The prices are usually right in line with on-ground shops, or even cheaper.  I generally sort by price+shipping (lowest first) so I can look for options in my price range, but sometimes I will pay a bit more for unique items, like a Van Gogh-inspired print for a Doctor Who block.
My free Mickey print!  I ended up with quite a lot of this.
 
·         I use Listia to clear out finished craft projects or unwanted items and earn new crafting supplies.  Listia is a site similar to eBay, but you use credits that you earn by giving away free things to bid, so no money changes hands.  As the site grows, there is a lot more available, and I found my favorite fabric there once to recover a chair, as well as a classic Mickey print for a Disney-loving family member. 

I adore this magnolia print that I "bought" for free on Listia.  I got that chair for 20$ on Craigslist.  Probably overpriced, but I loved the design of it.  A little spray paint and new upholstery, and it was good as new.
 
·         If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, garage sales can be a terrific source of fabric.  I can often find fat quarters with the labels still on for 25 or 50 cents each, which is a great savings.  Occasionally you can get yardage of something really nice for pennies on the dollar.  It’s usually other people clearing out their hoarded stashes, so sometimes you find hideous, outdated fabrics, but you can also find some real scores.
 
·         I get a little coupon card on those coupon door hangers for 20% off one item each month at my local quilt shop.  I usually use that on things like patterns, and it is a nice discount.  You might try calling your local quilt shop to see if they participate in anything like that so you can keep your eye out or have friends save theirs for you.
 
·         When you get those 50% off coupons to the big craft stores and it seems like everything in the entire store is already on sale, that is your chance to stock up on three critical quilting items: Carol Doak’s foundation paper (making it about 5$ for a pack of 100 sheets), basting spray (making it about 7$ a can, depending on the brand you use), and sewing machine quilting needles.  It is very rare that these things go on sale, so they are perfect fodder for coupons.

I would love to know some of your tips, so please share them with me in the comments!

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