Organise your stash: sketch
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Fuel your Creativity by Organising your Stash – Part 2

Last week we talked about how having a large fabric and/or pattern stash can make us feel guilty and embarrassed. Moreover, if you lose track of what you have, your large stash is not creating opportunities but inhibiting your creativity. I listed steps for you to follow if you want to do something about this: eliminate temptation, catalogue your stash and catalogue your patterns. Check out the comment section too, there’s some great examples of how others catalogue their fabric and patterns. If you have already started: yay you! If you haven’t and you’re waiting for the happy ending: that’s what we’ll talk about today. Now that you have easy acces to all of your fabrics and patterns, let’s make some sewing plans!

Step 4: Start scheming

This is the fun part! Now that you have a system in place, start making pattern and fabric matches. You can start with patterns – take a few that get you excited, and then browse your swatch cards to see if you have the right fabric. Or start with your fabric – choose a couple and try to match them with patterns that make you excited. This round will also make you realise what patterns and fabrics don’t excite you at all. If they’re fabric or paper patterns, sell them or bring them to goodwill. You will feel lighter – you won’t have them staring you in the face asking why you’re not using them.

Organise your stash: sketch

I use my Fashionary notebook to sketch outfits. I’m awful at free hand drawing and the templates in the Fashionary make it so much easier. I sketch the patterns I have and try to make combinations in both patterns and fabrics. The goal is not only to sew through your stash, but of course to make garments that will be worn. That means no stand alone pieces. Try to come up with at least three ways in which you can combine your projects.

Step 5: Consider your wardrobe.

Organise your stash

Before you make your final list, put your sketches next to your wardrobe. Can they be combined with things you already have? Or do you need to make something else to make them fit in? Be careful with those projects – unless you have the willpower to sew a new capsule wardrobe, satisfaction will be greater when your pieces fit in. Making a colour palette can be a way to guide you in this. Look at which colours are dominating your wardrobe and choose the projects that can be combined with those.

Step 6: Make a list

This will be your plan of action. Make a list of the garments you are going to make. Just put the one you are most excited about at the top. One word of advice: don’t make the list too long. You risk feeling overwhelmed all over again if you are faced with 25 projects. Be realistic: if you only manage to sew one thing a month, just make a list of three or four projects. When you get to the end of that list, take out your sketchbook again and see what excites you the most.

And all this time while you are working through your stash, try not to buy any new fabric or patterns. You can always switch up projects on your list, but adding to your stash won’t help you to work with those ten fabulous fabrics you already have.

I know a good challenge helps me reach goals like this, so here goes: I pledge not to buy any new fabrics until I’ve made at least 5 garments from my stashAnd that means uncut pieces, using up scraps doesn’t count. I’m curious to see how long it will take me to accomplish that. A restriction like this is kind of scary but I’m not too worried – sketching outfits has made me really excited about the potential of my stash

So now it’s up to you – will you join me?

Update: See how my system has worked for me in part 3 of this series!


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  1. The advice on avoiding stand alones is key for me. I found this to be a big problem when I evaluated my closet in preparation for Wardrobe Architect 2015. I think I really need to sit down and work on a list

    1. It used to be for me too – for me the problem was buying every fabric that caught my eye. A colour palette helped me with that.

  2. This is so helpful – it’s time for me to cull the patterns and start matching the ones I keep to fabric. Such a good idea to keep the list short so as to not overwhelm.

    1. Great, good luck! Yes lists are only helpful if completing them seems doable I think.

  3. I’m a returning sewer (after a 40 year hiatus!) and there is so much available on the market now it’s truly daunting. In the old days there were 3 pattern companies and 3 primary fabrics (cottons/linens, polyester,silk) not a lot of blends at all. Now there are so many of both I’ve lost count. That spells temptation and in only a year I’ve accumulated an alarming amount of material and patterns! I’ve kept organized with putting them all in zip lock bags and organizing them on shelves according to fabric type (challenging!) and I have colour boxes for my patterns but my husband said to me the other day, “So when does all this stop? When are you going to sew all this???” So your suggestions re to just stop buying by unsubscribing and avoid perusing fabric shops is a great start! It does waste a lot of time and ends up just adding to a pile that is stressful to contemplate and manage. Thank you for this helpful post!

    1. Good point Kathleen, buying more actually adds to stress instead of relieving it, in the way we sometimes use shopping therapy. You end up needing therapy for your therapy :) I love how sewing has opened up so much new ways of making a living for people but in some ways less choice seems a relief too!

  4. thans for sharing your, tips andere trucks. Knowing that others also have more plans and stash than time helps ! Groetjes uit Nederland

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