Monday, December 17, 2007

The Purpose of Parity

Y'know, I really do not believe a stash is an Evil Thing to Be Avoided. A fabric stash is a wonderful asset...a place to play, a place to dream, a source of inspiration. I would never, ever want to be without a stash.

But I have limited storage space and a limited budget. When I found I could buy wonderful fabric from the internet, the likes of which I could NEVER find in a local brick-and-mortar store, and often at discounted prices to boot, the stash ballooned and the budget creaked. I cannot go on buying fabric like there's an unlimited availability of either one.

Plus,my stash needs to change. I've got waaaayyyy too much cheap stuff, which seemed like a good idea at the time but really doesn't reflect my sewing goals anymore, and just enough Really Nice Fabric that I find myself hesitant to use it ('Oh, I'll wait till I lose 10 pounds' or 'Must...Find...Perfect...Pattern') Some of the fabric may end up dontated, but most of it just needs to be used.

And I really don't like the idea of having a Dead Sea into which fabric flows, but doesn't leave. I remember talking to Michael Bearman about stashing once, and he told me it actually saddens him when his beautiful fabrics end up just in a stash somewhere. He sells them for the lowest prices he can, just so folks like me will buy them and ACTUALLY SEW THEM (I am recollecting my moth-chewed Armani with great regret at this point). Fabric coming in is fine, so long as it's also going out...and hopefully the time between in and out is not excessive.

So I've decided I need to practice Parity as much as possible. This is the third year now that I've had the Parity goal, and the first year I was serious enough to actually do it. Not that a stash is bad; I don't want to outlaw purchasing new fabric or give myself a guilt trip for having a stash...I just want to be aware of how much I can reasonably sew and make an effort to not purchase more than I can make. Which should mean that the storage space and the budget should both be able to handle the fabric acquisitions...because there is also fabric moving out of the stash and into the closet.

So I need to find my Parity Point. Every home sewing enthusiast will have a different point at which s/he feels the stash is Big Enough. I'll be honest...I think mine is a little too big. It's not at a healthy point yet. The first goal to a healthy Parity Point was simply to achieve parity; I did that this year and I learned some things about my buying and sewing patterns that I can hopefully apply over the next two or three years to finally get to the point where I DO feel like I have a healthy rotating fabric stash.

Which will be a wonderful place to play, to dream, to be inspired...a resource that will allow the creative urges to find fulfillment.

Not to mention a place where I can find fabric in colors I love in order to make garments that suit me and my lifestyle when the fashion cycle denies me that option in RTW. ;)


  1. Hi Lisa,
    I love your blog. I too, am going for parity in the coming year. My stash is huge (no, I'm not bragging. I am actually embarrassed by it's size) and I love almost every piece of fabric I own. Notice, I said "almost". I do have some pieces that makes mr question what I was thinking when I purchased them. After reading Shannon's (Hungry Zombie) blog a few weeks ago, I actually returned a bolt of fabric to the store. It was questionable when I bought it. Even the saleslady tried to talk me out of it, but the price couldn't be beat. When I got it home, it sat in a corner, haunting me. I finally returned it. I have never, ever returned a purchase I made at the store. So the coming year for me is about organizing my wardrobe (I'm doing the SWAP) and buying only what I absolutely love.

  2. I never thought you meant that stash is a bad thing. But the idea of parity is, for me, a bit out of reach right now because I am uncomfortable with my (as you very well put it) Parity Point.
    I would have to decrease my stash quite a bit before I felt comfortable with the idea of keeping it in that balance.
    So my goal, if I were to set up a goal, would be not to achieve parity, but to close in on a comfortable parity point. And to do that I might have to ban buying.
    Hmmm... it's a thought.

  3. Thoughtful post! Yes it is a shame when we stash rather than sew. And we can only sew so much can't we?

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  5. Oh, Kathleen, I hope you didn't think I was referencing anybody in particular! But I know that it's easy to be misunderstood, and I didn't want anyone to think I was down on stashing fabric in general with my idea of restricting my purchasing. Parity just means that what comes in isn't any greater than what goes out...not necessarily that everything has to be sewn immediately. I've sewn about 55% from stash and 45% from new purchases this year, so some of what I purchased has gone into the stash. But that's ok, because some of what was stashed is now hanging in the closet. And I'm not comfortable with the parity point I have now, either...the stash really does need to be reduced. But it helps a lot to know how a large purchase affects the goal of maintaining parity. I thought it would just take several weeks of really dedicated sewing to get back; it took almost six months. It put it in perspective; I now have a much more realistic idea of how much time it really takes to sew 50 yards of fabric. If I want to trim the stash, I'll have to be even more careful about what/how much I purchase over the next two or three years. It's a long term goal, that's for sure. However, this step proves to me I *can* get there...eventually. ;)

  6. Blogger hiccupped and I posted the same comment twice...


  7. Oh no worries Lisa, I didn't think you were pointing fingers! I was just responding to how *I* felt.
    But thank you for your response. I see your point about attempting for parity regardless of the bulk of stash in hand. A very good point.
    Rather like losing weight really... if you wait to make a comittment to the actions that affect change... like exercise... until you feel you have attained a acceptable size, then you'll never get started down that the road!
    Really a thought provoking post Lisa. Thank you.

  8. Losing weight!!! Oh, yes, that's a great analogy!

    Hm. Wonder if I could get some of this newfound determination to spill over into THAT area... ;)

  9. I enjoyed your musings on parity immensely and very much liked the idea on how balance can be achieved. My reality is similar in that I have constraints on my time, space & budget-the term Dead Sea Stash is very apt-I don't like 'waste' and know that if I remain conscious of my fabric/pattern purchases (and other 'stuff') I can get sucked into major consumerist vibe-I can end up with a big pile of 'blah' -thank you for sharing your thoughts

  10. Ummm....oops!!!......missed a word out-should read ....'that if I don't remain conscious of' get the drift