I have a lot of fabric. I’m not really sure where it all came from, but it’s clear that the quilter’s proverb “she who dies with the biggest stash wins” is one I take seriously. I might just be out to set the world record and become the Michael Phelps of fabric collecting. I collect fabric at a much higher rate than I use fabric, and, honestly, this doesn’t bother me at all. Sometimes it’s just so pretty that I just want to put in on a shelf with other pretty fabrics and admire it. I don’t want to cut it, I don’t want to put a stitch in it, and I don’t want to see it be anything other than what it is.

But most fabrics are truly brought to life when in the context of an object (a dress, an eyeglass case, a curtain, etc). The colors and shapes that the fabric brings to the object are what give the object a certain mood or character. Consider a simple wrap-dress in black. Nothing special. It has its appeal in terms of fit, comfort, and simplicity, but, it’s not really a dress to write home about. Now, consider what Diane Von Furstenberg has done with that simple shape by making countless versions out of different prints. Not only has she made herself a fashion icon by doing this, she’s given that simple dress a more interesting life and personality that’s different with each print.

An even deeper dimension of character can be found in an object when fabrics are used together. Use more than one fabric and you have new relationships of color, shape, and scale that adds interest and complexity to the object. And this is what quilting is all about for me. Why do I tend to stop once the top of the quilt is made? Because I’ve exhausted the fun part of finding fabrics and combining them in ways that make the quilt more than the sum of its parts. Luckily, I’ve found ways to indulge in this pleasure that don’t involve an ever-growing collection of unfinished quilt tops. I just make other things and piece the hell out of them. The rush is pretty much the same, as is the amount of time spent hemming and hawing over my choices.

Aprons are always fun. They don’t really have to make much sense, so, they’re fun to play with.

My most recent fabric acquisition is from the Farmers Market by Sandi Henderson line, from Michael Miller Fabrics (check out their blog for some fun projects and great photos of fabrics in action). I thought these florals really lent themselves to a fun apron, so that’s what I made!


I added a few bits from my personal stash, including the navy and cream ruffled stripe at the bottom, which I also used as the back lining. I found when I only mixed the florals, it was, as Tim Gunn might say, “a whole lotta look.” It was on its way, but it needed something else. So I consulted with my friend Ali who has a great eye for this sort of thing, and she pulled out this stripe and put it in the mix. I was amazed to see it instantly come together. Go figure that a navy and cream stripe could bring out the best in a palette of greens, oranges, and browns. That little bit of stripe and neutral from another palette added some much-needed balance and grounding to the floral-mix.

Here it is on Kait, who also used a great print from the Farmers Market collection to line one of her impeccably crafted bags.



And even after using all this fabric, my stash is still in the lead. I have yards more from this great collection of prints – some have now been used, some will have small guest-appearances in projects down the road, and some will just stay on the shelf as-is to be admired for years to come.

0 thoughts on “It’s all about the fabric…

  1. Jo Rich says:

    Hi! I know you wrote this a LONG time ago, but I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and I totally relate to your fabric stash. I talso buy fabric, just because I love it and am now trying to use it up. Thankfully I have two obliging daughters…..

    • Ann says:

      And my stash continues to grow! I’ve tried using some up, but I somehow manage to replace it before I make a dent. Happy sewing, and thanks for visiting 😉