Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Personal Stash Bust/Stash Diet Pledge

If you're on Instagram and following me, you may have noticed the photo I posted as part of House of Pinheiro's Sew Photo Hop on Sunday. Based on Rachel's prompt, I posted a photo of my fabric stash. My excessively large fabric and increasingly disorganized stash.


Posting my photo and reading everyone's comments marveling at how out of control my stash has gotten, combined with a fortuitously-timed viewing of "The True Cost" had led me to determine that it's time for a stash diet.

While I don't buy very much, if any, "fast fashion," I am guilty of over-zealously buying fabric with no particular project in mind. Intellectually I know my stash is too big and that my fabric spending is a bit haphazard, but I guess it took this confluence of red flags to bring me to my senses.

To be fair, a large part (maybe over half) of my stash is hand-made (hand stamped batik, hand woven ikat) fabric I bought when I lived in Indonesia. As our time there wrapped up, I worried I would never really have a chance to return to Indonesia to get more, so I went a bit overboard. I also have a decent amount of both woven and knits that I commandeered from my mother's vintage stash.

But still, too much fabric, so I, Meg, solemnly swear to not buy any new fabric in the next 6 months (we'll see how the pledge goes and then maybe I'll extend it to a year?).

A few caveats... let's be realistic: this doesn't include fabric I receive as a gift or fabric purchased with a gift certificate. Also, if I travel during that time period, I am allowed to buy 2 lengths of fabric per trip, ideally with a specific project in mind. If I am sewing something for someone else and need to buy fabric for that specific purpose, that's fine, too.

Have you ever made any stash-busting promises with yourself? Were you successful?

In the meantime, I'll be over here, unsubscribing myself from fabric store mailing lists!

45 comments:

  1. Good luck!!! Stashbusting has never appealed to me, because I'm much more likely to spend my time worrying that my stash is getting TOO SMALL - but in truth, it's been growing steadily overall. It's just that my brain refuses to count fabric that I'm unlikely to use soon as stash! Dress-lengths of quilting cotton? Shitty knits from online orders? my entire 4 cd shelves of fat quarters? the massive bag of lining hidden in my bedroom closet? None of that counts as stash in my mind. Like you indonesian fabric, it's not what I wan tto use now but I also really don't want to let all that stuff go - one day maybe I'll want it! (I can hear how crazy I sound, don't worry. Maybe it IS time for a stash overhaul and making some fabric donations!)

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    1. Ug, I am also plagued by some shitty knits purchased online. Yuck. And the dreaded quilting cotton... maybe I won't feel so guilty if I rid myself of those?

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  2. It's hard not to let it get out of hand if you make garments because you need yardage. I used to have a FQ problem: buying cute little prints with no project in mind. I now rarely buy a FQ unless it's for a specific project. Or if it's the free one I get on my birthday at the LQS. :)

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    1. It definitely is! I found myself buying 3-5 yards of some fabrics, thinking "Maybe I'll make a dress out of this." but not having any particular dress in mind.. then it just sits in my stash, taking up space!

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  3. I totally know where you're coming from with the stocking up of Indonesian fabrics. I think a lot of sewers would have wanted to do the same. Maybe go through and really try and put things aside to donate that you really don't love and see how it looks from there. No need to feel bad about it if it's what you want, but if it's secretly making you feel guilty then try and reduce the quantity. Using it will definitely help with that! ;-)

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    1. Yep, Ill definitely feel better if I sew up some of it! But maybe I'll do a bit of culling of the worst offenders (see Gillian's comment re: shitty knits and quilting cottons) to get the size down a bit.

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  4. I actually just re-organized my stash, and not all of it fits in my new storage... eek! 2 years ago, I had the unfortunate mix of shopping at an awesome by-the-pound store + no idea what kind of fabrics I liked or my style... I bought a lot of weird solid chiffon-like things, and slippery things, and just stuff I'd never use. I'm currently wondering what to do with it! I may be seeing a Goodwill donation day in my future.

    Also - I'm currently trying to not buy fabric in the month of August, and I didn't really in July either. I do have a pretty specific winter wardrobe plan, so my goal is to ONLY buy fabric for that unless, of course, I have a specific project in mind.

    Looking forward to your makes over the next 6 months, especially if they're all from your stash!! :D

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    1. Making a wardrobe plan is a smart idea... I am much more of an impulse/lightning strike sewist, though. Stuff will just sit there for a while until suddenly the fabric + pattern combo jumps out at me and says "Make me!"

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  5. I put myself on a sewing budget afteR monitoring my spending and seeing how out of control I was. I ended up doing $100 a month including thread and tools; everything. That was still more than some people spend, but after 6 months of that budget I'm proud to say it cured me of frivolous spending. I now only buy for specific projects and that includes patterns and notions. i pull from stash 99% of the time, and have only bought fabric once this entire year. It doesn't even hurt (anymore) and I spend less than $50 a month now without even trying. It will get easier and it's nice seeing my stash shrink. Soon I'll have a sewing room again. Lol!! You CAN do it.

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    1. Good work getting your stash down! I think if I make a more conscious effort to only allow new fabrics into my home if they have a specific purpose, I'll be better off.

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  6. You can do it! It is hard to resist fabric!

    That stash looks amazing. My stash is small and I always try to buy fabric with projects in mind (doesn't always work which is how I ended up with several yards of wax prints, Nani Iro and Liberty fabric).

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    1. Ha- you have more self control than I do! But buying for a specific purpose is exactly what I should be doing. No "oooh, that's pretty" purchases for a while!

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  7. Oh yes--I know all about the reality of over-stashing. Currently I am in the process of remodeling my sewing room. I did not realize how much fabric I have-some still in boxes and bags. Patterns galore as well. I vowed no more fabric or patterns unless it's absolutely necessary (eg, not enough or no appropriate fabric for the project) which I don't think will happen.

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    1. It's so easy to let it get out of control, isn't it? A few weeks ago I finally organized my pattern stash by making a spreadsheet showing what I had, what fabric it uses, whether I've made it yet or not... that will be helpful in working my way through that particular stash.

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  8. Good luck, not sure I would have the will power to not buy fabric for six months.

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    1. Ha ha- you'll notice I left myself some wiggle room, knowing that I might not have the willpower either!

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  9. I've not really been good at stash busting.

    But I just placed an order at fabric mart (my weakness). When I couldn't remember what I ordered (shame), I logged into my account. Where I saw that in 6 weeks I've spent ~$220 there. Not cool at all. Well not for my life plans right now.

    I have a TON of fabric and am tailoring my August - November sewing plans around stash fabrics. And then we will be in the holiday season. So I'm hoping to not buy another length of fabric until January. Unless it's NECESSARY to complete something I'm working on.

    Exception is fabric for a quilt for my daughter who will be heading off to college at this time next year!

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    1. I feel you- it's hard! You can do it and hold out till January- I believe in you!

      Ooh- can't wait to see your quilt! I've got fabric for 2 quilts in my stash. Maybe if I made those it would put a significant dent in it ;-)

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  10. I once got rid of four boxes of fabric and then found to my dismay that three boxes of new slid into that spot. I have learned if I make a dent in the fabric stash, more comes in.
    Enjoy your stash and I treasure every piece I buy when traveling. My daughter just brought back some hand-woven ikat from guatemala for me and I have my recent Japan fabric buying trip that is slowly getting incorporated into sewing projects.
    I sew mostly from stash for purses and gifts. However, for clothing, I could use some stash editing as my projects quickly become style-dated if not sewn within six months.

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    1. I feel you on treasuring the travel purchases... that's why I left myself a bit of wiggle room!!

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  11. Good luck. I've been stash busting like crazy since January and my stash is definitely reducing but it's still a bit out of control! One thing sewing entirely from your stash is good for is clarifying what kind of fabric you like to sew with which makes it a bit easier to cull those that you will never use.

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    1. I should take your cue and be systematic about figuring my fabric likes and dislikes as I go!

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  12. I notice that, as a lawyer, you have specified your caveats. Maybe there should be some penalty clauses too :).

    Seriously, good luck with your stash busting. I started a fabric diet too last weekend. Yesterday I bought some fabric, so that's going well.

    I really enjoyed your IG post, I showed it to my husband in a smug, 'See, I have hardly any fabric' sort of way.

    I'm off to watch 'The True Cost' and get some proper motivation.

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    1. The lawyer in me definitely built in some loopholes!!

      Ha, I'm still on the wagon since I made the pledge yesterday, but we'll see if I make it through the weekend ;-)

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  13. What a great pledge and I wish you nothing but the best of luck! My stash looks very much like yours, and I see it as a collection. But it is getting a bit out of hand. I tried to do a stashbust once and failed within a week! You seem to have set reasonable rules for yourself and if you start to get the shakes, let me know and I'll gift you some of MY stash. LOL

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    1. I like your thinking... a "collection." Yes.

      Already feeling the shakes... SEND FABRIC!

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  14. I too have been trying not to buy any fabric, but I keep justifying it by being like, "Well I don't have anything like this in my stash!" The problem for me is that I got a huge chunk of my stash fabrics back when I first started sewing and was mostly making cutesy dresses out of novelty quilting cottons. Lately those aren't appealing to me much, so they just sit in my stash. Instead, I've been buying large amounts of new-to-me fabrics like linen and rayon challis and tencel denim and milliskin. I am buying a lot of these with specific projects in mind, but the problem is that I can't sew those projects fast enough to keep my stash low! Your post makes me want to kick my butt into gear and just dive in to those projects!

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    1. My justification is very similar to yours, although I am somehow able to rationalize purchases by splitting hairs really, really thin... like "Oh, I don't anything like this in this exact shade of avocado green." (but I do I have it in emerald, lime, forest, and kelly green)

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  15. I had a moderate stash before I even started garment sewing with any regularity! Most of it was gifted to me, which happens if people know you are crafty. I still do have some of it, but I did a big purge of things when we moved six months ago. And I did say I wouldn't buy any more because there's a lot in my stash that I really want to use! But... that didn't work out so well, tbh. I wasn't very strict about it, initially I gave myself a pass if I found a good deal on something practical, like a plain black rayon or nice cotton in a colour I wear a lot, since a lot of my stash was more 'special' fabrics. But honestly, that was a slippery slope.

    In a couple of months I'll drop my work hours and won't be able to afford to stash, though. Silver linings? Hopefully it also means I have more time to sew - my worst offenses come when I need to scratch that crafting itch and haven't had time lately. I also really need to draw the line under my pattern buying habit! I keep a running list and then buy them when they're on sale, but I've used a small fraction of them. So I need to either use more, or quite buying them, or both!

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    1. Ha ha- I am a sucker for a pattern sale, too. I'll agonize over whether or not to buy certain patterns, and then the second they're on sale, I snap them up.

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  16. That 'stash-guilt' thing, we all seem to have it :) I don't have that much of a stash really (like three shelves of fabric), but I often feel guilty about it too.
    But you know what? I think most of us are a little too hard on ourselves. Beautiful fabric is what gives us pleasure, and if you can afford it then why not? Other people are spending money on hobbies like video gaming, fishing, homebrewing, shooting, model making, historical reconstruction, etc. It's their thing. And our thing is sewing, so I think we can totally allow ourselves to spend some of our money on something we truly love.
    And speaking of Indonesia :) I lived on Bali for 7 months and for some reason at the time I felt very self-conscious about spending money on fabric, so I didn't buy much. And now I regret it SO much. Really. I would rather prefer to feel regret about buying too much :)
    So, if you are ever going to have a destash sale or something... Just an idea ;-)

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    1. It is strange that something like a pile (a big pile, in my case) of fabric can make you feel simultaneously so happy and also strangely guilty...

      Oh no- missing out on Balinese fabrics is kinda tragic! That's definitely the reason I allowed myself a small travel fabric budget. Since I live in Asia and there is so much gorgeous hand made fabric here, I don't want to miss out. And I feel good about buying that stuff since I feel like it's supporting traditional handicrafts rather than fast-fashion.

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    2. I like this way of thinking, Ksenia! It puts things into perspective. My stash has grown as large (space-wise) as I'm willing to let it go, so I've been focusing on notions and tools shopping. I still buy fabric and patterns, just at a greatly reduced rate!

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    3. I agree Ksenia! If it makes us happy and we can afford it, we shouldn't beat ourselves up about buying some fabric. At least we're limited by the size of our houses! :D:D

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  17. I hear you on the Indonesian fabrics. It's hard to pass up fabric that's so special. Whenever I see sweater knits in my color palette I buy them no matter what because inevitably I find myself freezing midwinter and my only store options are in dark jewel tones that make me look ill. But mostly my stash is moderate and under control. What I need more of is fabric for my boys. I have fun fabrics for them, but none of the practical things they need (good non stretch twill, anyone?). Stashes happen for any number of reasons and in seasons, and sometimes it's time to downsize and other times you just need stuff. Good luck with your pledge! I love the creativity that can come out of putting limits on yourself like this!

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    1. Ha ha- you and I have opposite color palettes- yes please to jewel tone sweater knits for me! Hmmm... non-stretch twill seems like one of those things that should be easy to find, doesn't it? But I agree, sometimes those basics can be mysteriously missing from fabric stores.

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  18. I hear you on the Indonesian fabrics. It's hard to pass up fabric that's so special. Whenever I see sweater knits in my color palette I buy them no matter what because inevitably I find myself freezing midwinter and my only store options are in dark jewel tones that make me look ill. But mostly my stash is moderate and under control. What I need more of is fabric for my boys. I have fun fabrics for them, but none of the practical things they need (good non stretch twill, anyone?). Stashes happen for any number of reasons and in seasons, and sometimes it's time to downsize and other times you just need stuff. Good luck with your pledge! I love the creativity that can come out of putting limits on yourself like this!

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  19. For the last 18+ months I've lived a good distance away from any fabric shop so that's my main way of keeping my stash down - that, plus no good online stores in NZ and I hate talking/ordering on the phone means I'll go months without buying fabric. But when I do get to a fabric store, I splurge a bit.

    I do like having a good sized stash, but if it gets too big (usually when there's stuff I don't like anymore) I find it more difficult to get inspiration, so I have gone through a few culls.

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  20. I think your fabric stash is beautiful! I can see all the potential sew up's hiding in there! I have a huge fabric stash and I'm planning on moving my sewing to an actually room soon so I'll get to pet all my fabrics again! New ideas will bloom and of course I'll think I don't have a specific type of fabric and I'll have to buy more. My fabric makes me happy................gets me excited about sewing & makes my imagination bloom with ideas!
    Embrace your fabric & sew away!
    Bonnie @ sewplus.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie! I like the idea of petting your fabric... maybe if I go in and visit with each fabric I'll feel less bad about having so many!

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  21. Oh the fabric stash... LOL... we just moved from a small city in Northern California to Wichita, Kansas. I have 9 big tubs (plastic) plus probably 15 or so U-Haul medium size boxes filled with fabric. As my mother in law helped me fold it and pack it, I had a story for every single piece. :P I have thought about destashing...and I may at some point...but holding each piece of fabric...it gave me such joy. Now the boxes are sitting somewhat adjacent to the sewing machine - which is finally set up a month later, saying "Open us! Sew what's in us!"

    And I'll remain silent about the patterns...I have over 2000 of them...I think that they and the fabric have babies when I'm not looking. :P

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    1. I know what you mean re: a story for every piece. I do have some crap in my stash I could get rid of, but much of it feels special still!

      Also: ha ha ha ha ha fabric and pattern babies!!

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  22. Best of luck with your destash! I feel like I've finally reached the point where I have to accept I have TOO much fabric, quite a lot of my stash is purchased at second hand stores but that comes with its own dangers (such as oh look its only $2 for 3 metres it seems silly to leave it behind). I should maybe make a similar pledge, but I'm not sure I'm quite there yet!

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    1. Ha- I made the pledge and I'm not even sure if I'm there yet ;-)

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  23. I missed this when you posted it, and all I can say is, DANG, that is a pretty stash! So colorful!!! I love it! I feel the guilt too, and go through bingeing/shopping vs. sewing from the stash phases. If I deprive myself for too long, I have a bad habit of buying all the things at the fabric store. So I too require some reasonable loopholes! :-)

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