Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lessons from '07

Ah! All that's left of the holidays now is a little down time, a little (snort!) cleanup, a not-so-little Discover bill and some memories. So it's time to glean from last year's lessons and move forward.

Here's what I accomplished last year:
Fabric In: 157.93 yds
Fabric Out: 159.458 yds
Garments made for me: 52
Garments made for other people in my family: 17
Home Dec items: 2 tablecloths, 1 set flannel waterbed sheets
Accessories: Weekender tote bag
'Donations': 1
Things made for friends: 7 Weekender Bags, 1 Tamari Apron
Miscellaneous Church-Related Sewing:
4 Ladies Bible Costumes
3 Guys Bible Costumes
Green panne Medieval Dress
5 altar blankets
red drape for interpretive dance
6 tasseled stoles
4 swaggy-pennant drapes
Team Effort:
12 soldier tunics/shorts/capes, 4 soldier 'armor' tabbards
15 ladies' Bible costumes
2 priestly Bible costumes
12 guys' Bible costumes
6 kids' Bible costumes

For the third year in a row, I told myself at the start of the year I would make parity (sew at least as much fabric yardage as I purchase). In 2005, I was less than 10 yards from parity, but in 2006 I really didn't discipline myself and I ended up almost 34 yards over. That shocked me into deciding I *would* really stay on it in 2007, and I did pretty well until one fateful day in May when we went up to Sir's Fabrics in Fayetteville, Tn. Sir's is a fabric outlet, and they'd recently purchased all the inventory of an unnamed store in New York's Garment District, and I bought almost 50 yards of fabric.

In years past, I'd've written off parity at that point and just tried to be very disciplined in my buying for the rest of the year, but not this year. This year, I wanted to prove to myself that I *could* be disciplined enough to sew as much as I bought. So I went on a fabric fast and, as soon as I had a chunk of time available (it was the last two weeks in July before I got the chance), I lined up a number of projects and cut fabric until I had enough cut out to get back to parity. Then I started sewing. The only fabric I bought from that point until I got back to the balance point was a chunk of extra-wide flannel, which became waterbed sheets very quickly.

I sewed as fast and as efficiently as I could, sorting the queue into like colors so I could sew as much as possible without changing thread. And I had some wardrobe needs arise (ok, one or two were simply for my mental health) that I added to the queue, so that, even though I made parity, I still have a few things left from that cutting spree that are not sewn. At times, I chafed at the wasn't always my idea of fun. By and large, I was sewing with my inexpensive (yeah, some of it was cheap, too) fabric, not the Nice Stuff. But it was kind of encouraging to see the garments take shape and get crossed off the list...and I did make some things that had been on the 'someday' list. However, it took a lot longer to get back to parity than I expected when I was throwing fabric into the cart back in May.

I learned a lot about myself and my fabric addiction buying. Most importantly, I learned that I tend to buy to satisfy my imagination, not my wardrobe needs. That's not smart in any case, whether one is sewing or just buying RTW. So my number one behavior change will be to purchase fabric that reflects what I really wear, not just fabric that will make a smashing (whatever). I also need to let my buying reflect my sewing capacity. 10 - 12 yards at a time, to take advantage of a special opportunity (the sewing expo, road trips, unbelievable sales, etc) is not unreasonable from any perspective; I can sew that in a month or two. But I can't do three 12 yard purchases in six weeks' time. I need to plan what I'm purchasing so I can take advantage of those opportunities without overwhelming my actual ability to sew it.

And I need to shop the stash. Which means I need to Let Go of yesterday's visions. Fabrics that I purchased to make a specific garment which didn't get made when the inspiration was on me need to be released from that vision so that they can become inspirations for new visions. I think that is going to be the most fun/rewarding part of this whole revelation: I get to be inspired by some beautiful fabrics all over again.

And that, in a nutshell is my direction for 2008.


  1. Well done a very busy year!

    Much of want you said in your post I can relate to me. Lets face it, the fabric shopping and dreams are the best bit.

  2. Your ideas and lessons learned are the first that I have read that haven't made me just wanna throw my hands up and go, "so why do you sew?" You have good solid practical reasons for maintaining parity and none of them take away from your ability to enjoy your craft! I always read these discussions and come away learning something new...thank you for sharing your lessons learned!

  3. WOW!!! Wow!!! and one more wow!!!

  4. Impressive list of achievements!

    Happy New Year!!!

  5. Wow!!! You are my (s)hero. Your dedication to the joy of sewing is very inspiring.

  6. I have really enjoyed reading your reflections on your fabric collection over recent times-a thoughtful perspective-thank you