Organise your stash
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Fuel Your Creativity by Organising Your Stash – Pt. 3

It’s been a few months since I wrote part 1 and part 2 of these mini series, and I thought I’d report back on how my system has worked so far. The first post was about how my large stash was inhibiting my creativity, not fuelling it. Because I didn’t know what fabrics and what patterns I had, and there was no way to quickly browse through them, thinking about a new project made me indecisive rather than inspired. Instead of using great fabric I already had, I just purchased new fabric. I’ve found that organising my stash, patterns and fabric both made it easier to see what I have and to come up with new projects that didn’t require spending money. Today I’ll talk about whether this system has held up and some new insights I gained.

Eliminating temptation

If you want to start using your stash and buy less, then this one absolutely works best. I unsubscribed from fabric shop emails and unfollowed them on social media. There are so many shops and so many sales going on all the time, it is really hard to ignore all that. I find myself clicking a link every.single.time. it announces a sale. Not being exposed to the sales in the first place is the best way to stop yourself from purchasing new fabric that you really don’t need. Don’t be afraid you’re missing out. If you don’t know about it, you’re not missing anything.

Organise your stash

What I’ve Learned

So the first thing I noticed was that the urge to buy new fabric comes and goes. Sometimes I do fine and am not tempted at all. Then comes a week or so when I find myself clicking every sale and browsing for hours. And I’ve also found that it doesn’t actually make me feel good. This browsing, putting things in and out of my cart, closing the browser, coming back later, doubting what I should buy and whether I should buy it at all, it doesn’t actually make me happy. And it’s not even about the fabric. The feeling that I need to buy something stems from feeling uncomfortable in some way. It has nothing to do with fabric, but with the idea that buying something will somehow take away that feeling. It’s just ‘shopping therapy’. This past month, especially with SlowFashionOctober going on, I’ve managed to concentrate on that thought and have been able to convince myself to stop the mindless browsing.

In terms of choosing new projects and using more of my stash, the cataloguing has really brought about a change. I love to browse through the cards to see whether a fabric inspires me for my next project, or to see whether I have the right fabric for a project. I am definitely making better use of my stash than before. And I’ve also been good with cataloguing new fabric. The swatches make it really easy to plan new projects. I printed the tech drawings from some patterns and paired them with a swatch to make a project board. If I want to sew something, I just look up and there’s my choice. I’m careful not to pin too many projects up there though. Just enough to have a choice, but not too many to be discouraged by a long to do list.

fabric stash

Another thing I’ve learned is that my sewing mojo comes and goes. The project list I have is not based on that, though. That list is written for the imaginary me who never loses her mojo and has a lot more time to sew than the real me. I’ve pinned 8 projects on my board a month ago, and I’ve made two and cut out one. And those are the most simple projects, I haven’t even begun cutting the jeans. So as much as I would like it to be otherwise, 8 projects is probably more than enough for the whole winter. This might feel disappointing, but accepting your true sewing speed is a good thing. If I take that as a given, I can choose the 8 projects that really make me the most excited.

In terms of reducing my stash, this method has not worked so far. Most of all because I didn’t keep to the various ‘no new fabric’ rules I imposed on myself. In fact, my stash has grown from 80 to 106 pieces of fabric. But now that I have come to these insights regarding my fabric buying sprees I feel like I’ll be better able to actually buy less fabric. And I have some projects on my board with fabrics from my stash that I have been wanting to use for a while. I’m not sure if I’ll set any new goals – being aware of why I’m buying new fabric is a good start. Sometimes I just buy something because there’s nothing like it in my stash. Those pieces add something new to my collection, and that’s a good reason to buy them.

Have you organised your stash yet? What ways do you have of reducing it? Do you buy fabric as therapy?

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  1. Great post thanks for sharing! I couldn’t get the links to parts 1&2 to work, thought I’d let you know.

  2. I’m coming to the realisation that I need to do this too. My stash was fairly organised, but without swatches I end up getting bits of fabric out just to look at them and plan/invent projects, and they end up spread out all over the place – messy and overwhelming, as both the stash and the project ideas are then totally out of control! I don’t think I buy or currently have “too much”, at least I don’t feel that way about it, but the idea management thing is much needed! And it would be much better for the fabric itself to be put away nicely in boxes rather than spread out in piles in various corners. Thank you for blogging all this, it’s really useful to read!

    1. Glad it helps! It really works well for idea management, I have a lot more ideas now and get excited again over pieces that were lying at the back of the closet.

  3. I’ve stopped shopping for fabric mostly because my other half has told me I’m not allowed anymore until I use what I’ve got! I’m good at being obsessive so having him put a stop to excessive fabric shopping has worked really well!
    I’m glad I’m not the only one that does that with online shopping!
    I organised my whole fabric and pattern stash a few months ago using Evernote, I’ve got the app on my phone so whenever I see some fabric I ‘must have’ I can straight away see how much I need and what I can use it for.

    I think being organised doesn’t always come easily to crafty people!

    1. You might be right, crafting always seems to create some sort of mess, haha. Great idea to have someone else help you stick to your rules. I’ve heard more people using Evernote. I like the swatches because I can check the drape and the feel of the fabric.

  4. Going back to read parts 1 and 2 – I love the idea of pairing fabric with the tech drawing. I have such good intentions – but everything else gets in the way. Like most people I have limited time to sew, I work full time, cook dinner every night, try to fit in some exercise (after work/before dinner) which leaves the weekend to sew – when laundry and groceries need to be done. I think one thing I need to do – is turn the tv off and just stand up. Thankfully when I’m sitting in front of the tv, I’m generally reading and knitting – so at least I’m being productive. g

    1. Leaving the TV off is a good start, although sometimes you also just need to shut your brain off. I knit while watching too, can’t stand to feel unproductive even in my time off.

    1. Well I did just mention 3 in my newsletter! I can still recommend them to others, just not in the light of this article :)

  5. I’ve got my stash catalogued on Evernote, along with patterns and a seasonal list. This way I can look at it whenever I wish for some inspiration! I write notes on the patterns about alterations for future versions. It’s a never ending list but at least now I don’t forget about things as I think of them!

    1. I like that idea, you aways have your samples and patterns with you when you’re shopping for new fabric. Maybe I should digitalise my swatch cards in Evernote.

  6. We are thinking about moving into the city when my daughter starts high school. Even if we don’t, I’m pretending we definitely will. I don’t want to move piles of fabric and old patterns I’ve never used so I’ve got three years to use or toss!

    This approach helps me overcome “someday maybe” and decide definitely this month, next month.

    My fabric is in a spreadsheet (I can picture it reasonably clearly from a few key words), and the projects are programmed out to October 2016! I know the order will change but knowing I have at least 12 months ahead of me before I can even think about some of the other patterns helps me stop buying even more. Except just once last week!

  7. I love the idea of cataloguing your stash. I’ve not got too much at the moment (maybe 20 – 30 pieces plus scraps) but it would be good to make sure it’s all to hand when making my making decisions!

    1. That’s a very modest stash! I like that it can be stashed in a box and you don’t have to pull it out. But if I had the room, a big fabric display might happen. Like a museum collection!

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