Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Fabric Stash is a Lesson in Economics

One of the reasons I absolutely love blogging (12+ years and going strong) is reading and replying to comments made by you. Some of my best friends are you because we've exchanged multiple emails that started with a comment

Such is the case with a recent exchange with Joy (thejoyfulquilter). I remarked about my solids stash and she replied (in a long email) "Solids stash... what's that?!" She made me smile, as she apparently likes  and prefers prints. Our diverse tastes are what make quiltmaking attractive to so many people. 

But she made me think about my solids stash. 

When the modern quiltmaking movement began in 2009 or thereabouts, I was a long-time traditional quilt maker, preferring to make quilts with prints that were medium and dark valued, in muted, dusty colors. Being a person who is very slow to adopt and adapt to changing trends, it wasn't until 2011 or so that my stash color palette began to gravitate toward light and bright prints. Since 2018 my color palette has transitioned from prints to solids. I like the dramatic impact of pure, intense solids set beside each another. It makes for a strong visual statement.

Thus, through the past 18 months I've added a wide range of solid colors to my storage cabinet. These shelves are stuffed with yardage. I'd guess this is 200 yards that range in quantity from 1½ to 2 to 3 yards of each color.

This bin is full of various brands of solids, in pieces of a yard or less. 

Shoebox bins are where I store small, less-than-a-fat-quarter-sized pieces.

Not only do I like solids for their graphic quality, but the price per yard is lower than prints. When I found Painter's Palette solids for $5.96 a yard ($1.03 less per yard than another popular online shop), I began to stock up.

One reason I stocked-up is based on economics.

In early 2020, the price (value) of raw cotton fell. As a result, fewer cotton farmers planted cotton.

The result is that cotton is now less available.

Have you looked at recent prices for raw cotton? In the past month they've been climbing.

The theory of "trickle-down" is evident. Because raw cotton prices are climbing, the price of quilting cotton will likewise climb.

In fact, it's happening. In April, a renown New York City quilt shop raised all it's fabric price-per-yard by $1. It's a trend that will continue. 

Historically, we've seen quilting cotton prices increase and never return to the previous price. Specifically, I remember 2009 floods in India that ruined cotton fields. The result was an increase in the price of quilting cotton. Those quilting cotton prices never returned to pre-flood "normal."  
Who would have guessed that quiltmaking is a lesson in economics?! 

With print quilting cottons currently costing between $10 and $12+ a yard (USD), I feel completely justified in building my solids stash (at only $5.96 USD a yard) through the pandemic. 

By the way. It's worth mentioning that this cotton value increase will also directly affect the price of blue jeans. Just sayin'... 

So, I'm looking forward to creating my next solids-only quilt that will be made for the South Florida MQG  "Curve Around Challenge." I'll use mostly fabrics from the box of Benartex Superior Solids fat quarters I won in an Instagram giveaway. I've made this 20" test block that I will to work into the quilt.

I've also started another Kawandi. I just can't help myself! I find this handwork very comforting... relaxing. Fellow Instagrammer @quilterbeth made a Kawandi using only scraps of stripes and solids that I liked so much I started my own. If you're on Instagram, I suggest following the hashtag #kawandi so you don't miss seeing what others are making. 

This is 17" X 24" and uses Quilter's Dream Request cotton batting.

Speaking of Quilter's Dream batting... May I just tell you that I won another Instagram giveaway?! Not Your Mama's Quilt Store in Plano, Texas let me know yesterday that I won a 60" X 60" batt of Quilter's Dream Select cotton. I'm feelin' mighty lucky these days!

For the past ten months - through days of frenetic quiltmaking - I saved the littlest fabric, batting, and thread scraps in a king-sized pillow case. This past week I used stashed home dec weight yardage to serge and stuff two large (roughly 24" X 38") pet beds for a local animal shelter. I'm remembering that big dogs need beds too, and can attest that these are pretty darned comfortable!

Book Recommendation
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes is about Inara Erickson who has just inherited her aunt's home on Orcas Island in Washington. She visits the house with the intention of selling it. When she accidentally unearths part of a garment that's been heavily embroidered with a pictorial scene, questions arise about its origins and meaning. A university professor helps Inara discover the history of the piece, and secrets begin to immerse. The story behind the embroidery begins a century earlier, when young Mei Lein, an American of Chinese descent, is forcibly removed from her home in Seattle. Along with other Chinese they board a ship to China. When it becomes apparent they will not reach their destination, Mei Lein becomes the lone survivor who has a secret to share through her embroidery.   

This was a pleasant read. But perhaps because of the formulaic plot - apparently disparate lives slowly moving toward a connection - I felt this book was a little bit predictable. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0



  1. Hi Linda! I'm not a quilter, but I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing all of your beautiful creations. I like the solid colors, and the fact that they save money. Everything is so expensive these days. Have a great day! Mary

    1. Hello Mary! Thank you very much for your comment! It's so nice of you to read my blog when quiltmaking isn't your thing. I agree that everything is "so expensive these days," and prices continue to climb. That darned pandemic really set back our economies. I hope you see this reply to you, because I can't reply to you by email... you've got your email address hidden in your Google profile setting. Comments you make on all blog posts are from "no-reply commenter" until you change that Google setting.

  2. You are the queen of solids Linda! Your stash is most impressive!

  3. It's fun to learn a little more about your quilting journey from dusty prints to bright solids. You make fabulous solids quilts. Your test block looks perfect. Can't wait to see what you make. I think the longer we've quilted the more likely it is we've gone through a similar journey. I've mostly always used bright prints. Prints are what originally drew me into quilting and remain my primary inspiration. It's this variety of styles and preferences though that I find so rewarding about following other quilters. Keep up the great work with solids.

  4. Well now, I never considered the price of solids as compared to prints, but it makes sense. Thanks for a lesson in the economics. Cotton prices do keep climbing, perhaps turning quilters into stash shoppers and scrappy quilt fans!

  5. Love your solid stash. I'm working towards using up alot of my prints, but it's slow going. Looking forward to seeing more of your 'circle' project.

  6. LOVE that new stripe-y Kawandi!! Thanks for the lesson in quilting economics, Linda. I can totally see the value in solids, but still prefer prints! Another thing to remember is that I rarely buy fabric anymore. My generous anti-scrap quilting friends generously feed my scrap addiction! :P

  7. Man! I am going to have to get on the Kawandi bandwagon! I’ve been admiring yours! Thanks for the lesson! I don’t buy much fabrics. But solids are something I am short on. I need to remember Painter’s Palette! If it’s good enough for Linda it is certainly good enough for me! You are a master!

  8. That is one gorgeous solids stash! I love seeing everything you do with your solids as the feature fabrics, though I don't ever see myself following suit. I think all the little bloopers I make while machine quilting show up much more on solids and so I tend to use them sparingly. Sweet of you to make the shelter pups their own beds. I'm sure they're much appreciated.

  9. Dog beds! Great thinking! I have just the tiny scraps to fill a few, and home dec fabric, too (if I can't quilt with it, what good is it?)

    1. Hello Linda! I'm sorry you're another "no-reply commenter," which means I'm unable to respond to you by email. (You can change that setting in your Google profile.) But yes, pet beds are a thing! For at least ten years, I've been involved with quilting groups that make them. It's IS such a good way to use scraps. And though I've seen beds made with quilting cotton, I can't imagine that it's sturdy enough to withstand an animal clawing at it. So, I use home dec weight fabric whenever possible. I hope you're able to make some too! I'm sure an animal shelter would appreciate having them. In our arrangement, adopted pets are sent home with "their" bed.

  10. $5.96 is a great price for fabric! I try and stock up when there is a sale and I buy enough to get free shipping. I still buy prints but only when they are on sale.

  11. I sew with mostly solids, too. Recently I accumulated a large stash of $2 a yard fabrics. I am using that fabric for backing for UFOs and charity quilts. Interesting post about the price of cotton. Will it be like the price of lumber and now gas? Hmmm. What is your fabric solid? I’ve only purchased Kona. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary! Did you know you have your Google profile set to "no-reply commenter"? Or maybe you have a Yahoo email address. Either of those reasons may be why I cannot respond to you by email. So, I hope you see this! What a great deal you got for yardage! I'd have snatched it up at that price too! Can't say that quilting cotton will be like lumber or gas, as lumber and gas prices fluctuate. I think quilting cotton prices will rise, and never drop back down again. As I mentioned in the post, I buy and use Painter's Palette solids, made by Paintbrush Studios. I don't care for Kona because 1) it has a heavy hand; and 2) it bleeds when pre-washing. Painter's Palette has a lighter hand and never bleeds. You're welcome! :-)

  12. No one ever could have said "Making quilts in economical." We can only hope the recipients appreciate them a LOT.

  13. Hi! Linda. I've made a gradual transition from those dusty 'Civil War' type prints to brighter prints and solids too. Cotton is really expensive in the UK. Kona solids are £10 per metre and prints are anything from £12 to £16 a metre. I spend a lot of my shopping time looking for 'end of bolt' bargains and the like!


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