My quilt fabric strategy: Trust in abundance and use the good stuff

I still consider myself a relatively new quilter. I started my first quilt when I was a kid in the 80s but I didn’t finish a quilt for the first time until 2013. I don’t have a large stash of fabric and scraps already on hand. All of my fabric fits in one storage tote with lots of room to spare.

I’m also a stay at home mom in the high cost of living San Francisco Bay Area so I don’t have a lot of extra space to store a fabric stash or a lot of extra disposable income to spend on fabric that I’m not going to use for a project right away.

Fabric is expensive. I figure I spend an average of $10 per yard. If I pick out gorgeous designer quilting cottons at my local quilt shop along with a batting and maybe a new spool of Aurifil, even a baby quilt ends up costing me about $100 in supplies. I always joke with my husband when we go over our finances that we don’t need to pinch pennies but we do need to pinch hundreds.

Quilting is not a cheap hobby.

$100 of supplies for a quilt I’m going to make this month adds up to a lot more quality time spent sewing and enjoying my finished product than $100 of fabric that I’m going to put in the closet for later.

I like to keep waste to a minimum and use my supplies as efficiently as possible.

I want my quilt tops to be as big as my batting will allow so I don’t waste a lot of batting and I want to my fabric efficiently to make that quilt top.

I’d really rather not have a lot of scraps left over. Rather than making additional quilts or bags or little projects from scraps, I’d prefer to pick out new fabric to use efficiently for those additional projects.

I am obsessed with this idea of spending out from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.

As part of my happiness project I wanted to stop hoarding, to trust in abundance, so that I could use things up, give things away, throw things away. Not only that—I wanted to stop worrying so much about keeping score and profit and loss. I wanted to spend out.

A few years ago, my sister gave me a box of beautiful stationery for my birthday. I loved it, but I’d never used it. When I was mailing some photos to the grandparents, I hesitated to use the new stationery because I was “saving” it; but to what better use could it be put? Of course I should use those notes. Spend out.
— Gretchen Rubin

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I don’t want to save that amazing new fabric for some future project that I might never make. I want to start a quilt that uses as much of that gorgeous fabric as possible right now.

What’s your fabric strategy? Do you save the good stuff or use the good stuff?