How to Tame The Fabric Stash Monster
This article is a follow up to the article “How Constraints Foster Creativity“.
“I’m not going to buy any more fabric till I’ve used up my fabric stash?”
Where have I heard that before? A lot of us say this. I’m sure you’ve made this promise to yourself at least once. If you’re honest, you make this bold declaration probably more like every couple of years or months.
I once met a woman whose sewing room was filled from floor to ceiling with so many fabrics that she could no longer sew in that room. She had to move all sewing to her living room. She only visited her “sewing room” turned “storage room” to retrieve fabrics and supplies (even that was a difficult exercise to do).
So why do we amass so much that we end up with an overflowing fabric stash which unfortunately only makes us less creative? Here’s what I know.
First off, they’re beautiful. If we didn’t think so, we wouldn’t be working with them, right?
Secondly, their colors can be so gorgeous you can’t be satisfied just gazing at them in a store. You’ve got to pet them (run your fingers gently over them and feel their texture under your skin), and more importantly, you’ve got to bring them home with you.
And before you know it, your pet has grown into a monster – an overflowing fabric stash that needs to be tamed.
What do you do when your fabric stash gets to where it needs to be tamed? Obviously, we can go the route of “I’m not buying any more fabric till I’ve used up all that I have”. But we all know where that route often leads – back to the fabric store purchasing more. Is there a way out of this conundrum? Absolutely!! Here’s how:
6 Ways to Tame The Fabric Stash Monster
Organize, Organize, Organize: I find that the biggest challenge people face with fabrics is finding the right piece to use from their fabric stash. Often, when you go back on your word not to buy more fabric it’s because you couldn’t find what you wanted in their stash.
This occurs not because of the obvious reason. Rather, it occurs because of poor fabric stash organization. Organizing your fabric stash will save you from buying multiples of the same fabric or the same color or design.
Organize your stash by color, by type of fabric or by whatever criteria works best for you. Creative people think visually, so organize your fabric stash in a way that will appeal to you both visually and efficiently. I’ve organized mine by color.
Shop Your Stash: Use up what you’ve got creatively:. Some people have more selections in their fabric stash than some stores. If you’re that person, then shop your own stash. Go through your fabric stash, like you were going through the fabric bolts in a store and use what you’ve got. Go through the same process you would in a fabric store if it’d make you feel better.
Cultivate Good Buying Habits: Buy only what you need, for specific projects. If you hand dye, then dye enough for your current project. If you tried out a technique to learn something new then find a project for which you can use your newly dyed fabrics immediately.
I used to dye quarter yards of each color because I ended up using about 8-12 of these pieces in each project. Later I increased my dyeing size to half a yard because I needed more to create bigger sized work.
Everyone’s needs vary. Assess your needs and adjust accordingly. If you’re completing one project every six months you certainly don’t need to be buying fabric every month. Don’t buy for the future, buy what you need now.
More Ways to Tame the Fabric Stash Monster
Yard Sale: Sell your extra fabrics in a yard sale. If you haven’t had the opportunity to use them for years, chances are you won’t use them for several more years. Package them nicely with some other notions or magazines and sell them at a yard sale. You could use the proceeds from the sale to buy organization aids – baskets, caddies and the like where you can organize your fabrics and notions.
Use Your Local Fabric Store As A Petting Zoo
Petting zoos present both adults and children an opportunity to encounter exotic and unique animals, close up. That’s what you do with your fabric store (local or online) when you’re trying to tame your fabric stash.
If you’re having withdrawal symptoms from buying fabric, go into the store (leave your wallet at home) to admire and pet those fabrics. Just like you would in a petting zoo, then walk away. After all, you’ve got enough fabrics at home to last you a lifetime, what do you need more for?
Just in the same way you don’t bring the animals at a petting zoo home with you, don’t bring the fabrics in the store home with you. If you do they’ll soon turn from being exotic fabrics that need to be petted into a monster that needs to be tamed.
Create a Fixed Budget for Your Fabric Purchase
Another option is to put the breaks on how you fund your fabric purchases. Create a monetary limit on what you’re going to spend on fabric every month. That’ll mean keeping a tally of your fabric and supplies purchases. But that should be a very small price to pay if you’re really interested in getting your fabric stash under control.
People on fixed incomes find it easier to not buy fabric unnecessarily. So use that strategy to your advantage. Put your fabric purchase under a budget. When you reach your monthly limit you don’t purchase any more fabric. It just maybe what you need.
’You don’t need all the most beautiful and exotic fabrics in the world to create great art. You can make great art with what you already have.
Moreover, having too many supplies only inhibit your ability to be more creative. Controlling your fabric stash is not just an issue of tidiness or decluttering. It is about boosting your creativity.
Which of these 6 ways of controlling your fabric stash can you see yourself actually doing?
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You May Also be Interested in the Previous Article
How Constraints & Abundance Influence Creativity
maryrita tilley says
Thanks Clara. I have way too much fabric that it creates a problem when I want to create a quilt or whatever. I do have to downsize and give away some of the stash. I feel like I’m a hoarder…as I don’t have enough shelf room to organize the colors. So I will start packaging / selling at the yard sales or Flea market… I got a Sewing table built a year ago and it sits…waiting for me.
Clara Nartey says
Maryrita, I’m glad you found this post valuable. Don’t wait too long to sell off your excess fabric so you can get back to creating. Life is too short to waste.
Claudia Ziersch says
I keep using up fabrics from my stash, but people keep giving me more fabric. So I agree on sorting. I sort it all. What will I use, what can I toss right now, how can I use the other fabric. One thing I do is go to sew with the girls at the shelter about every other month. This is a good opportunity to use fabric that I don’t like, but is still good. We make bags or scarves – the fabric is free so I don’t worry about cost and they can pick what they like from the stash I have created.
Clara Nartey says
Funny you bring that up Claudia. was just wondering about that. What if you have too much fabric and people keep bringing you more. I thought about it a lot and decided, I’ll say NO.
I like your use of excess fabric at the shelter. One of my art group buddies does exactly that. She and other friends have a program going on at the shelter and they’re always asking for fabric donations to use . It’s a great way to git rid of the excess.