Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy

This is probably the most common question I get - you know which fabrics you like, but you don't know HOW MUCH to buy. None of us can see into the future, but here are some ideas to help you figure out your own system.

Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

When I first started quilting, I bought half yards of everything. Lots of shops require a minimum of a 1/2 yard cut, plus that is usually enough to bind a lap size quilt, so it seemed like a pretty safe bet. If I was going to buy fabric, I almost always bought 1/2 yard.

Maybe 1/2 yard cuts are just the right size for you, but as I began to work with my fabric, I discovered that 1/2 yards are almost always too much or too little. 

Now, I almost buy smaller OR larger cuts depending on the fabric. Here are my reasons.

1/4 yard cuts or Fat Quarters

Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

If I like the fabric and will probably use it for one project, a half yard of fabric is almost always too much. Most fabrics fall into this category. For a long time I didn't buy fat quarters and only purchased 1/4 yard cuts, but I have found them to both be useful so I am no longer discriminating against fat quarters. More and more shops will let you buy smaller fabric cuts AND they will let you choose between a fat quarter and a 1/4 yard. So nice!

Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

1 yard (or more!)

Sometimes there is a fabric that I know will be useful. These are fabrics like Add it Up or Architextures, but they are also fabrics that are colors that are hard to find (but that I love to use). 

Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

If I find a purple fabric that I really like, I buy at least a yard because there just aren't that many purple fabrics out there (and it is my favorite color). My two favorite designers that always find those magical colors are Lizzy House (who is unfortunately no longer designing fabric) and Maureen Cracknell. Maureen does a really great job of incorporating very usable, very uniquely colored prints into her collections. I originally bought 1 yard of this print when it was released, but I have bought it 4 additional times because I don't see this color very often and I use it ALL OF THE TIME. 

Background Fabrics

Lots of patterns out there will ask for "background fabric." Most of the time, these are white or cream solids, so I keep a large stash of "background fabrics" in my stash. For these, I usually buy between 3-4 yards at a time and that should be enough to use them as background fabrics in 2 quilts. 

(I will be doing a post all about low volume prints and building a stash to use as background fabric.)

Special case - solids 

I almost always bind my quilts with a solid fabric. This hasn't always been the case, but I have found that I prefer to have the binding "frame" the quilt and it generally works best if the fabric is a solid. If you prefer prints for your binding, then use prints! This is something that is 100% personal preference and there isn't a right or wrong answer.
Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

In addition, I like a wide binding. I almost always cut my fabric 3" wide which means that I need MORE than 1/2 yard. When it comes to solids, I always buy 1 yard cuts (or more if I plan to use it as a background fabric). This is enough for binding and then then some leftover to have on hand. 

Which solids to buy? I would suggest buying a few different brands and deciding what you like. There are great things about every brand. I love that Kona has the most color variety, I love the texture of Cotton Couture, I love the softness of FreeSpirit Solids, and I love the colors of Pure Elements. Those are the brands that I use most frequently, but there are many more!


Ok, but what if you are buying a bundle? I rarely purchase full fabric collections, but I will almost always buy fat quarter bundles when I do. If the collection has a ton of prints (for example, some of Heather Ross' collections, although I want to get fat quarters of this one) I will buy fat eighths. The only time I have ever purchased a half yard bundle was for Lizzy House's Constellation prints.

Building Your Fabric Stash - How Much to Buy - Kitchen Table Quilting

Really, how much fabric you buy depends on you. A good policy to set for yourself though is that if you don't love the fabric, don't buy it (even if it's a really good price). You will enjoy quilting so much more when you are using fabrics that you really love. 


  1. These are really great suggestions! Great info on your instagram stories as well, thanks for answering all those questions.

  2. Good ideas for stash building. Half yard cuts tend to linger too long in my stash also. Love the butterfly print, wondering who makes it. My google search didn't find it, maybe OOP? Thanks!


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