Monday, 11 May 2015

Don’t buy three years’ worth of fabric at once

I have not used up any of these completely. Oh dear.

This is my new motto!  Why would anyone buy three years' worth of fabric in one go?  Where is the fun in that and how heavy is that to lug home?

It sounds awful!  Back-breaking.

I have done this before, I'm sure. When I just couldn't resist this beautiful fabric or that... Usually with no idea what to make with it, just the urge to carry it home, to own it, not to leave it behind.

This blog post about excessive fabric stashes is rather good: On Fabric Stashes - A Cautionary Tale by Sunni. The comments are pretty darn fantastic too!  The quotation I am using as this post's title is from one of the comments, by a very wise lady called Helen C. Peemoeller (thank you Helen! We don't know each other but thank you. I shall take your words to heart).

My trouble with my stash seems even worse than described by these wonderful sewing ladies - in the last few months I have taken to going through my stash again and again, with the goal of pulling out several suitable fabrics to use for a) a mini dress/tunic type garment, and b) a raglan sleeved blouse.  I have yet to get the tunic pattern to my satisfaction, but I found a great blouse pattern (Simplicity 1462) that I love and that didn't need too many adjustments (yes! This is such a welcome discovery).

I found a blue fabric that I want the 1462 blouse in (great) but no second one. What? That's not possible: I have way too much fabric, surely there is a second suitable fabric for a blouse in there? What's going on?

And I have a relatively new fabric which reminds me of Art Deco (it's nothing of the sort, not really) that I desperately want to use for the mini dress because I want to wear it really, really soon (my pattern drafting skills are not keeping up with my ambition on this one) - but I want to keep this one until I can be fairly certain that I won't stuff it up because I already used up three other fabrics that would have been nice wearable muslins, alas they didn't work out at all.  I really must figure out where I'm going wrong with this pattern (I misplaced the RTW mini dress that should serve as model)

I don't think I have that much of a problem cutting into fabric.  I used to find that first cut into a fresh piece of fabric more difficult but I have so much of the blooming stuff now that I got over that particular problem. If I don't cut into it when I know what to make with it and have everything else to hand, then I won't get to wear it. And if I don't sew it then the chances are getting higher by the month that this fabric will be one of those that I will give away. Because I can't cope with the overload, I just really can't. It's wearing me down.

That's something a second commenter said on the linked thread. June said: "I was struck by how a large stash can weigh a soul down" - that's such a good way of putting it.  Too much of a good thing can feel like it is grinding you down while wiping out your joy in sewing.

An excessive stash can also diminish the joy of fabric shopping: when I start to think about what kinds of lovely fabrics might be out there... before I realise that I can't go to take a look because that would make things just so much worse. I have not yet gone fabric shopping and come back with nothing, so I really can't go.  And I feel rather hard done by on that point, even though I've only got myself to blame.

I bought too many fabrics without a clear idea of what it should become once it's sewn. I have too much stuff in fibres that are unfamiliar to me so the main problem becomes not knowing what type of garment the fabric is suited to.  I often pull out a fabric that would be perfect! ...only to find that it is too thin, or too stiff, or too saggy... or whatever, and I can't use it. Damn.

Helen also describes a great method of cataloguing all new fabric and pattern purchases: write it all down with dates and as many details as you can muster (an app is great for that too; a notebook has the advantage that you can attach a snippet of the fabric).  I can imagine that when your list gets too long, your enthusiasm for buying more might get less.  An app can show just how many blue fabrics you already own, and how many blue cottons or blue crepes and that might put you off from buying a third one.

I bought a nice tweedy fashion fabric once and it took me ages to realise that I already owned another two. Very similar. I don't want three tweedy skirts!  What the hell was I thinking?  Problem of course is that I was thinking ("That'll make a lovely skirt!") but it was my memory that let me down.

Another issue is that I don't have my stash well organised. Which is how the three tweeds problem happened. I don't have all lining fabrics in one place, not all chunky material, or all chiffons.  This is my next main task: pull EVERYTHING (and I mean: literally every fabric that I own) out and sort it into categories that make sense.

Wish me luck!

What kind of stash do you have? Do you like the fabrics you own, have you earmarked each one for a specific project or type of garment?  Do you have any insights or ideas of how to manage a stash so it becomes less overwhelming and paralysing?  Please comment.

PS: This got rather long and rambling - so I pulled the ideas together in a summary: click here.

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