Love That Fabric

Dear Deb,

I am not really sure how much fabric to buy when I am in a quilt shop and I just fall in love with a particular fabric! Is there are recommended amount?

- Love That Fabric

Dear Love That Fabric,

You are in good company because I love fabric too!!! How much of one fabric to buy is always a question I ask myself when selecting and making a purchase. I think that when you are shopping you have to keep a few things in mind before taking your bolt to the cutting table.

  1. Is this a fabric that you want to be in a quilt top or would you want it on a back? Less fabric is need for a fabric in a top.
  1. Are you a scrap quilter and could you blend this in with what is in your stash?
  1. Do you have any patterns at home that you want to make and this would fit for that quilt?
  1. What is your budget?
  1. How much room do you have?

Having a few ideas of what you have in your stash and what you like to make is important to know. I would say that having a shopping goal in mind may also help you make your decision. So let’s get down to some numbers!

If you want to build your stash and have lots of fabric options then go for a little bit smaller amount of fabric. Fat quarters are fun to collect and you can even buy bundles that all coordinate and play well with other fabrics! They are the least expensive and are a great place to start. Word of warning: if you love this fabric and want a whole quilt top made with it, a fat quarter won’t go far! Fabric lines are not made for long periods of time so you may not be able to get more once you leave the shop! I have done this so many times and wished I had just bought yardage!

If you love this fabric enough to put it in a smaller top and feel it should be in many or most of the blocks you may want to buy a yard, more if you want a big quilt. Rule of thumb, I get a yard! If you have the budget and space- get a little more.

Now if you really love this and want it for a back of your quilt it is easy to calculate how many yards based on the size of the quilt you like to make. I tend to get 5 yards for most quilts that are a roughly twin sized. Want to use it as borders or sashing? That takes a bit of math and I use Robert Kaufman’s Quilter’s Little Helper app for my smartphone. That takes off any pressure of doing math in my head at a store and in front of other people!

I love this little reference guide from Moda. It has information on how much backing to purchase, bed and batting sizes, even how large to make a quilt with a particular drop size. You can get a copy here.

I really want people to make purchases that they love and feel confident that they will use. Overall, make a little plan of what your shopping goals are for the year like: I need more whites, don’t buy any more teal, keep all the colors in a certain color family like bright blues and greens. Know your fabric loves for example: I love solids, modern, reproductions or neutrals.  I keep a little list with swatches, if possible, to tuck in my purse for times when I may find a fabric for a project. I also take a picture of the fabric requirements of a pattern I want to make with my phone, so when I am searching for the perfect fabric to go in the quilt I have the fabric requirements easily available. But, when in doubt, get a yard. I have never regretting buying a little more than I needed. I have been sad when I was ¼  yard short and couldn’t get that fabric again!



1 comment
Rebecca Boening

Dear Deb, I love reading your posts/blog. I tried to get the Moda Guide you offered in your post and they said that the page no longer exists. I usually buy two to six yards of a favorite fabric that I really don’t have a project for. I have never regretted it. Well unless, I didn’t buy enough 🤣! I am curious as to what you do with the fabric and supplies that you thin out of your stash? I have donated supplies to our local schools and a local shelter for battered women and children. It doesn’t take much to make a cute pair of kids shorts. Of course I would be happy to take anything of quilt use off your hands. I even take ugly fabric, and girl you know that there’s a bunch of it out there. Often times when I gift a quilt to a child I find out later that the parents invariably will put it away until the child is old enough to appreciate the love, work and expense of the quilt. That’s great, but sometimes the quilt is of a childhood themes and wouldn’t be appropriate for an adult. I am glad that they value the quilt, but I want the kids to go ahead and use them. Get joy from my quilts. That’s when I decided to start making ugly quilts. The parents don’t care as much and for the most part the kids don’t either. They have something to cuddle up under, read a book with a flashlight or better yet, make a good old fort out of a card table and their quilt! Happy 2020, May it be everything that you want it to be

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