Thursday, January 15, 2009

Busting Stashes

Marji wrote an interesting post on her blog about using stash that raises some really, really good points about why people accumulate stashed fabric (or yarn), and then feel guilty and believe it needs to be used.

That made me reflect on my own 'stash busting' efforts.

Do I sew just to use up fabric?

I don't *think* I do...but I do, at times, try to get the stash down. For several reasons.

Mostly, I 'de-stash' because I've got more fabric than I have storage space and I'd rather make room for garments in the closet. I probably shouldn't have purchased so much...but, we all have weak moments in some area. Mine is that I look at a lovely piece of fabric, think, "Oh, that would make such a nice ________!" and get it before I really think if my wardrobe needs a nice __________ ...or if I've got actual time to make it.

Consequently, the stash is full of planned projects; some of which are now out of date and not very feasible. Styles change, wardrobe plans change...anyway, it's there. And yes, I loved it when I got it. Mostly, I still love it (there are a few 'what was I thinking?' fabrics that will be muslins eventually).

But the old must go for there to be room for new. There are two ways of dealing with it. Either I don't buy anything new (and I have really restricted my purchases of late to just real wardrobe needs), or I have to sew/give away what's up there. Some I will give away, but mostly it's still fabric I really, really like and I want to use it to it's best potential.

And there's the rub. For me, stash busting isn't about using up a bunch of fabric, it's about getting over the fear that I'll put a piece of fabric to a less-than-stellar use. Sometimes, in order to get over the fear of cutting, I just have to make myself pull something out and cut into it.

Now, when I'm in extreme 'stash -busting' mode, I will tend towards the projects that use the greatest yardage. Yes, it's a wardrobe need; the yardage involved just makes it the one chosen at that time. It was stash busting that got me to make the six-yard skirt in '07 (a long, flowing skirt made of bias tiers) It used a *lot* of fabric, but because it was sort of tedious it had been pushed on the back burner for a long time. It was when I realized I could use a large amount of lovely cotton fabric that I had originally purchased to make us all 'family shirts' -- only to find that my kids would rather be dressed in rags than dressed alike -- that the lightbulb went off. Now I have the 'wear in the car on long summer trips' skirt I had been wanting for a long time, and the yardage I used in that skirt was a great help towards making parity that year.

Stash is a different thing for everyone. As my stash eventually has higher quality fabric, I expect it to get somewhat smaller. I do not expect it to ever go away. Ideally, stash would just sort of rotate...some in, some out every year. Wonderful fabrics at incredible prices are good to go in; a new inspiration for a piece that was purchased for another purpose brings that yardage out of the stash with lots of positive expectation. It's fun to add to the feels productive to sew something from it.

It's just that when it gets overwhelming that it becomes something negative, and that's a different point for everyone. So I hope no one would take my efforts -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- to control, track or use personal stash as a judgment of how everyone should manage their fabric purchases. It's just what works for me. Everyone else will be different. ;)


  1. I really like that point you made that "stash busting isn't about using up a bunch of fabric, it's about getting over the fear that I'll put a piece of fabric to a less-than-stellar use. "

    You make some really good points and it is quite interesting to see everyone's take on stash, using stash, buying, not buying, sewing, not sewing. I think we all should just do whatever we are comfortable with, and mostly I think that is what this community is about. Reading everyone's take is interesting.

    I can't use up fabric just to use it up, but that is because I love each piece and pieces I don't love are out of here, no matter where they came from. But sometimes I just have to force myself to jump in, scissors first, and that is where that line really hit a chord.

    We all have more or less or do more or less depending on our own temperaments. I love your blog and your efforts, it never occurred to me that you were writing about any thing else than that what worked, and didn't work, for you. That is what is fun about blogs, we learn so much by sharing.