Extreme Makeover Stash Edition

AKA X and T, an old Nancy Cabot block revisited

AKA X and T, an old Nancy Cabot block revisited

Lately I’ve heard some grumbling from friends, guild members, clients, and myself. We’re all complaining about those dull, outdated fabrics in our fabric stash. Ugh.

But America’s cotton crop was ruined by bad weather the past couple of seasons, so prices have risen, and new fabric is pricy. Your stash is a goldmine! And the solution for updating those oldies but goodies is just to add a few new fabrics to them, and sew!

First, forget about matching. Make a scrap quilt! With lots of different fabrics, you hardly notice the old dusty rose and blue from the 90s and those ancient calicoes.  Scrap quilts are fun. It’s never boring to make each block with a different fabric combination. The more, the merrier!

So pick a pattern you like, even a simple pattern — 9Patch or  4patch or  Pinwheel. Scrap quilts are all about the fabrics and you’re trying to use up your oldies. Thousands of free block patterns are online.

Bobbi, a quilting buddy in the Philly Modern Quilt Guild had shared pix online of the start of a scrappy quilt. And I loved it. We saw this online swap on a great blog with good directions for the block. (http://occasionalpiece.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/cross-and-x-quilt-block/),  with  a few different fabrics used in each block,  so I decided to try that pattern. I pulled blues, pinks, and purples to get started. I wanted it scrappy with a limited palette.

So simple, right? Just go ahead and figure how much fabric you’ll need for one block. It’s usually less than a fat quarter of each. And figure out how many blocks you need to make.

Sort through your stash. Pick a few colors you love and choose at least 6 different fabrics. Try to get half dark and half light, but if you can’t, that’s ok too. You’re going shopping! You can fill in and get what you need there.

Stick your fabrics in a bag, and go to your local quilt shop. Talk to the staff. Show them your old stuff, and tell them you’re looking for a couple new fabrics to freshen up your stash. Walk around, look at their samples. You’ll get an idea of what’s new.

Spread your fabrics out, and watch the other shoppers wander over. It’s  fun to talk to the other quilters and get different ideas.  Get inspired! We all see things differently, and that’s helpful when we’re trying to think outside the box. Maybe add some solids, big dots, or wild stripes. Pick a new color you don’t have, maybe kiwi green or citron or salmon. (Pale grey was new for me.)

Buy a bunch of fat quarters that look good with your oldies– even $20 -$30 of fat quarters can be a beautiful facelift for your stash. Then go home and sew, with some new fabric and some old stash in each block. Bam! You just gave your stash a makeover!
I used the same fabric several times in the quilt, just not together in the same block. Every block was different. Here are some pix of mine. It feels new and modern, but look closely.

dusty blue n dots

See that old dusty rose and washed out blue?

old aqua plus kaffe

The antique aqua calico that was a sundress for my (now 40-something) baby daughter?

Dusty rose floral

Dusty rose floral

Hidden in plain sight!

Have fun, and keep on stitching. Bright blessings!

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About Author: Donna Laing
Donna Laing is a quiltmaker who is passionate about her craft. She enjoys both traditional and contemporary quilting, and has an abiding interest in antique quilts. She has been quilting for over 40 years, and has made hundreds of quilts. She is the owner of North Star Quality Quilting, a professional longarm quilting service operated from her home in Bucks County.