A Stash Ain’t All That (for Me, Anyway)

I am not much of a fabric stasher. I tend to buy fabric for a specific project, and usually only the amount needed for the project. When I hear of other sewers who have hundreds of yards stashed away, it makes me wonder if they are on to something. Or, are they wasting a lot of time, money and space?

To be fair, I live within a 15-minute drive of two Joann stores for basics such as threads and needles, and a 40-minute drive to a great designer fabric store. And I work a couple of days a week in New York City, pretty near the garment district. So I am spoiled with choice, and I know I can get whatever I need within a day or two.

That said, I keep track of my meager fabric stash in this cheap workaday photo album.
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I staple a postage-stamp sized swatch onto an index card and record the basics of length and width, fabric content, where and when I got it, what I paid, and care instructions.

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I organize the index cards by purpose (apparel woven or knit, home dec or quilting), then by type (cotton, silk etc). Finally, I sort the cards by yardage – 2+ yards, 1-1.5 yards or less than 1 yard.

I have run into three big problems with “stashing.”

1. Fabric is ruined in storage. I had some really pretty Irish linen that faded badly. I have some lovely silk dupioni that has probably permanent crease marks from being folded for 15+ years. Plus, storage itself is an issue – I don’t want to waste money on storage bins etc.

2. Fabric is too nice to use. I bought some lovely hand-silkscreened fabric at the Philadelphia Textile Museum, made by one of the students there. It sat in the stash for 10 years because it was “too nice” to use for anything, and then there wasn’t enough of it for what I wanted to use it for. Finally I made a blouse out of it and was disappointed.

3. There’s too much, or not enough. I bought some beautiful and expensive Liberty lawn, only to discover that I didn’t buy quite enough for a blouse, unless I wanted a sleeveless blouse, and I didn’t want sleeveless. Or some good quality ponte that’s not quite enough for a dress, but too much for a skirt.

So, no big stash for me. I’d love to hear ideas about how to overcome some of these problems.

Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

6 thoughts on “A Stash Ain’t All That (for Me, Anyway)”

  1. Yes I’m with you, tons of bins of fabric feels overwhelming in my mind and my home. However I have kids so buying a certain amount isn’t an issue — I can make clothes on less than a yard. I keep getting fabric from people, so most of the stuff I have isn’t something I would buy, but I will still use it.

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  2. I feel similarly about being overwhelmed by too much fabric and somehow I have managed to accumulate too much I think because I started buying fabric when I saw it after noticing fabric stores were closing down. Also I get given quite a lot too – others discards that can be hit and miss. I don’t have the luxury though of living close to fabric stores anymore ( they all closed down ). The last two years I have been steadily sewing down my stash but still measures over 160 metres.

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