When I started quilting in the 90's, I built my fabric stash of those tone-on-tone cottons that I knew would always be useful, but that now, of course, look terribly dated. I've been through enough cycles of trendy fabrics to know better than to accumulate them for future use, although recently I broke down and bought a bunch of solids for that fresh, modern look. But really, I'm satisfied that I have enough fabric in my stash. It's overflowing my closet.
The lure of scraps, though, is a different story. I love the whole idea of making something from discards. I like the frugality of it and the feeling of rescuing something from the trash pile. Friends know this about me, and I've been gifted fabulous scraps over the years. Lots of great cottons from batiks to the latest prints. And also lots of specialty fabrics.
Hand-dyed silk scarves:
And vintage fabrics:
That should be plenty for anyone, but I still love the hunt and a great bargain, so I do buy some bits. An enabler took me to Thai silks in the bay area where they have all sorts of silk and burned out velvet samples for next to nothing.
A friend told me that if you take apart cheap rag rugs, they are often full of interesting sari fabrics:
A local quilt store has a scrap basket that is loaded with bits of quilting cottons to buy cheaply by the pound, especially great on Mondays after a weekend of classes:
And my favorite for unusual finds is our Goodwill Outlet, otherwise known as "the bins." Tables oveflow with stuff that didn't sell at regular Goodwills, now sold by the pound. It's a hunt. Some days are filled with riches, others have nothing.
I built up my collection of sheers there.
It's especially a great place to find old linens to use naturally or for dyeing.
And occasionally, I snatch up clothes that have unusual prints.
Preparing this post made me face how many scraps I have piled up. I do use them, but in such small amounts that the piles never seem to get any smaller.
Maybe someday I'll get ambitious and tackle large, scrappy pieces like those by the fabulous Anne Smith from England. She doesn't have an online presence, but here are a few of her outstanding pieces.