Friday, November 28, 2008

Too Much Fabric

Well, can't you see me standing here,
I've got my back against the [sewing] machine
I ain't the worst that you've seen.
Oh can't you see what I mean ?
From "Jump" (with apologies to Van Halen)

Van Halen's lyrics kept running through my head as I was organizing my fabric collection. I changed the lyrics a little, but the sentiment still applies. When it comes to fabric stashers, "I ain't the worst that you've seen."

My "Stash"

With all due respect to stashers, stashing is a practice I just don't get. I feel exactly the same way about majoring in Math. I respect and admire those who choose to do it; I just can't understand why they do it. I have ten pieces of fabric and for me, that's just too much fabric. Stashers may look at my fabric and see a laughable very small "collection"; I see a very long to-do list. I don't appreciate fabric for it's own sake the way some stashers do. If I see a beautiful piece of fabric, I think, "This will be good for a dress", or "I need a blouse this color". When I buy the fabric, I immediately assign a pattern to it and buy the necessary notions. That way, I have "projects in a queue" or "clothes I haven't made yet", not a stash.

After my shopping trip to NYC, I have ten projects in my queue. Usually, I have no more than four or five. Having so many projects lined up puts pressure on me to finish them. Under normal conditions, that wouldn't be a problem because I've always managed to finish what I start. Just the idea of ten unfinished projects is intimidating. Having so much fabric has taken away two of my most enjoyable pastimes - planning future projects and shopping for fabric. I can't plan anything until I finish what I already have. With ten unfinished projects, what reason do I have for visiting a fabric store? I don't need to buy any more fabric until spring. Having so much fabric puts restrictions on how I spend my spare time. As much as I love to sew, sometimes I want to do something else. How can I enjoy a movie or a book with ten sewing projects calling my name?

Since I stress like this over ten little pieces of fabric, I don't ever have to worry about SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy). Stashing, like so many things, is relative. To me, ten pieces of fabric is a stash. To someone else, ten pieces is the result of a good day of fabric shopping. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


  1. As a "collector" - it is not the projects that I'm's the hopes and dreams...its the unlimited creativity that is available to me at a moment's notice...even at 4 in the morning!

    My collection gives me a peacefulness...I know that at any moment I can open those closet doors and create something amazing without having to go to the fabric store to make it come true.

    But then again, I work so much that I have limited time to spend on the one thing that gives me unlimited joy...and I don't want to spend time buying a piece of fabric or thread that I ran out of or anything that cuts into my limited sewing time. I want to hunker down with my sewing machine, fabric/notions/pattern collections and enjoy the process.

    But I can only speak for me, especially since I don't collect anything else that's not sewing related...ooops, I forgot I collect books too! *LOL*

  2. I agree with Carolyn 100% about the dreams and convenience. I have SABLE, but it's not a required disease, just an acquired disease.

  3. I do have a small fabric collection, but I certainly couldn't stand SABLE. Like you, I see too many projects that are not finished, and probably won't be finished within the next few months. Which doesn't feel good for me.

  4. Dear Elaray: Thanks for visiting my blog. I am enjoying your blog. Thanks for listing your favorite books and links. I prefer getting recommendations from those with experience.

    Hope you're enjoying your day. -JC

  5. Well, I agree with Carolyn's sentiments, but I wish I could say I had only about 1/4 of what I have. Right now I am trying to sew out of my stash. The thing for me is that the only fabric store I have nearby is JoAnns, which really limits my selection. Therefore, I shop online, and that can be addictive! I find good buys on line and fabrics that I could not get where I live. However, I have so much fabric that I could probably sew for the next year and then some without running out. Yet, I still buy fabrics that I just "have to have." You have much more self control than I do!

  6. I have a lot of fabric - maybe 2 years worth of good sewing stash. When you have that much you really can't get excited about fabric shopping (at least for me). But I can just make anything up when the inspiration hits.

  7. I'm with you, Elaray. I look at my unfinished clothes and feel PRESSURE. It's a good pressure, because it's full of promise, but there's also a sense of guilt that money spent on fabric and patterns might be going to waste. And I can't stand that.

  8. Many times I wish I didn't have a stash because it can be overwhelming. Other times I'm glad I do have a stash because I can put together a quick top, birthday gift, etc. So, I guess I'm on the fence about a stash.

  9. It's great that you have such control when it comes to fabrics. I owned a large stash of fabrics in fact I started collecting in 1978. Owning such a large stash can be overwhelming sometimes, at other times I can change the decor of my home on the spur of the moment by sewing new window treatments or slipcovers. I guess it depend on the sewist.

  10. A lot of my stash can be summed up by the expression "my reach exceeds my grasp." I have good intentions but sometimes my work schedule causes huge breaks in my sewing time. Still, no worries! I enjoy shopping my stash.

  11. I admire your ability to keep things under control. I'm way out of control, but I stopped fighting it a long time ago. Now I just enjoy my collection for what it is. It's my collection, not a to-do list.

  12. I think fabric stash or no stash is just dependent on personality type. Some feel overwhelmed and see the "stash" as a giant To Do list. It's better for them to buy the pattern for inspiration and then the fabric to match. Others see the "stash" and feel a sense of creativity - probably more productive for them to buy the fabric for inspiration and later match it to a pattern. Perhaps this is the right brain vs left brain thing?

  13. Elaray, I think you have expressed a feeling that some of us fabric collectors have from time to time, so it really rings a chime. However, I'm more like Carolyn in that I enjoy my large collection and the creative freedom that it gives me.

    Logic tells us not to bite off more than we can chew, but inspiration does not always listen to logic.

    I agree with Joan in that a "stash" affects sewists different ways. What's most important is that you clearly know that having more than a few pieces of fabrics (projects) lined up kills your joy in sewing. It's great that you can recognize that and deal with your fabric collection accordingly.

    After all, at the end of the day, the key is to let sewing soothe our creative souls. Anything that works against that soothing process is simply not worth it. So good for you for pinpointing something that works against your enjoyment of sewing. I venture to guess that you'll never buy that far ahead again. In the meanwhile, enjoy sewing up those lovely fabrics!


  14. Stash is one of those things that is relative. I have a stash, that my children now shop for their sewing pleasure. It is bolted, and on display like a store, which makes it get used. But, there is currently more than fits on the shelves, which causes me some stress.

    I don't shop online--I have enough ability to acquire a stash locally! I live an hour from Toronto, and 45 minutes from Hamilton, both major fashion districts in Canada, and I don't need to add online to my finances. But, my stash does give me pleasure, and it means that my girls can learn to sew from what I already have, which is cool.

  15. Elaray, I am one who enjoys my collection and acquire fabric without knowing what it will become until it "speaks to me". But you are in good company. I talked with Sandra Betzina at Sewing Expo in Puyallup a few years ago. She is not a fabric-a-holic either. She only shops for current projects and does not store fabric, nor does she save scraps.

  16. I majored in math (& earned a PhD in computational physics) and I collect fabric (and yarn and art supplies). In my limited personal time, I like to be able to walk into my "studio" (aka 4th bedroom) at any time and play.

    I bought 4 dress-length sample cuts last week. LA is a stasher's paradise.

  17. What can I say that has not ben said? I was much like you: three, four pieces of fabric and plans for each one of them; not buying unless I had something in mindto do with that fabric... But later I have become more like Carolyn; I feel pain when I have to say "no" to a beautiful fabric because I have no space left to store it. A few weeks ago I made an excel sheet with all the fabric I own and I also added "intended projects" for each fabric, if I had any. For fall/winter only I have nearly 130m of fabric... More than half of the fabric don't have a model to be made yet. Since I've started my fall sewing this year I've spent only 7m of fabric (a coat, a skirt, a pair of pants and a WIP jacket).
    But I don't feel the pressure of making the clothes that I want... If only I had more space... I also collectt BWOFs since the 90s, Patrones magazines, patterns and fashion magazines. Stash control seems only to apply to my yarn stash. I have yarn left for two projects now.