Signs of a Fabric-a-holic:
1. Petting the Fabric: Reach out and lightly stroke the fabric with the fingers of one hand. Don’t use too much pressure; just pet the surface so you can feel the Fabric’s softness and texture.
2. Drape: look around to make sure no one’s looking…unwind a bit of fabric from the bolt, no more than a yard…holding unwound fabric in one hand look at the drape…enjoy the drape, contemplate this drape in your next project.
2. Cheek Testing: Quickly, so that no one can object, pick up the skein in one hand and rub the yarn lightly against your cheek. Tilt your head slightly so that you can get the most facial surface area against the yarn. If you find yourself quietly humming or purring during this activity, go with that. It is a natural reaction to piece of yarn art. (The quilter/fabric bond is beginning to form at this point.)
The quilter/seamstress bond in action:
3. Color Admiration
Hold the bolt or remnant out in front of you, moving it at different angles as though it were a crystal and you wished to see the light reflect off of it from different angles. Walk to the window and admire the color as it looks under natural light. Hold the cloth to your skin and notice how well it looks with your coloring.
4. Content Test
Read the label if available (don’t let go of the fabric itself, keep stroking it with a finger or thumb); coo over the various lovely things which have made up this wonderful cloth. Even if there’s no content to be found, wonder in amazement what could have made such a perfect fabric! Cotton, wool, poly-happiness
5. Distance and Resistance Test
Put the fabric down where you found it and walk away. Watch every other person in the store like a hawk to see if they go near your fabric. If someone looks like they are going to pick up Your FABRIC, swoop in and grab it and say something like, “oh THERE it is, I am so glad I found one more yard/remnant of the EXACT SHADE OF (insert fabric color here) for my mother’s birthday quilt/skirt/dolly, Whew!” This tactic tells you how much you really want the fabric: If you cannot stand to see another quilter even hover next to the shelf your fabric is on, you need to buy the fabric. If you can tolerate another crafter walking around the shop with your wonderful cloth, pick another fabric and start over. (It wasn’t meant to be.)
Other Advice for the Blossoming fabric Collector
Start small. Wee mismatch remnants really doesn’t count as stash, as many wise quilter in the comments have pointed out, so that’s a non-threatening place to start. Pretty colors and reasonable prices; and you may even actually make a pot holder out of it someday.
Bring a Fabric friend.
A Fabric friend is someone who says things like, “You deserve a little treat today,” or “That is so beautiful; I bet you won’t find one of those again anytime soon” or “It’s just one fat quarter of fabric, it won’t kill your budget”–encouraging phrases that help you break down your resistance to buying non-practical collectibles such as fabric. Art objects are for the soul, for the joy of the heart; a good fabric friend can encourage you to follow your heart and not your head whilst in the cloth shop.
And finally: The most successful fabric collectors have stopped asking themselves “But what would I make with it?” every time they see a fabric they love in the shop. They buy for the love of the cloth, for the fuzzy delight the fleece or flannel brings to their lives. Fabric isn’t just the project you can sew/quilt with it; fabric is its own joy, in and unto itself.