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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Am I a fabric hoarder ?

If you sew and craft you might one day realize that your sewing stuff is starting to take over your whole house!
I did.
I was reading a post from the Colette patterns blog Coletterie today about fabric storage that was right in tune with what I am going through as far as my enormous fabric stash goes.
 I thought making my own clothing would help me to stop shopping, but it hasn't. In fact, instead of shopping for clothing now, I often find myself shopping for fabric and notions at flea markets, thrift shops and discount fabric stores in the LA garment district. Yes, I get great deals but my concern is when does fabric collecting become fabric hoarding?
One of The tips Sarai gave in her post today had to do with not feeling guilty, but inspired when you look at your fabric collection.
 I recently picked up some great navy stretch fabric at the FIDM Scholarship store. When I got home to put my fabric away I already had 3 yards of something just like it! I started to feel terribly guilty. And feeling guilty and overwhelmed can crush your creativity very quickly. Hmmm... I used to do the same thing when I shoped for clothes and had several pairs of jeans that all looked similar.
Could this be a pattern?
So Sunday I spent a few hours going through my fabric bins and organizing them. I did have a system where I put solids or knits or special occasion fabrics together but over time everything had become jumbled up and it was a big mess!

Above are my fabric, patterns, and notions. I don't think this will be featured on any decorating blogs any time soon.

Here are some discoveries I made:
  • Several yards of a Gorgeous dusky rose silk charmeuse, silk duppioni and silk chiffon from a collection I had bought from a fabric store at an amazing closeout because they were going out of business. I had planned to create a mini collection based on these fabrics but had forgotten to.
  • Some slinky sweater knit with a big roses print bought in the early 90's. It was incredibly dated. Why was I hanging on to it? I could imagine the synthetic fabric quickly unraveling as I cut it. Into the giveaway pile it went.
  • Lots of denims for pants and jeans I have yet to make. Making a pair of denim jeans that look store bought are one of those elusive projects on my list. Seeing Erica B and Peter from Male Pattern Boldness rock their hand made jeans inspired me to buy some.
  • Old silk curtains in an ugly mustard color that I have been telling myself to make a dress out of for years. Something about the color is off putting so I never did. Maybe it's time to either list them on e bay or give them away. But I will probably need them  for one of my theatre costuming jobs as soon as I give them away so I hesitate.... I think I will store them in the garage somewhere.. AKA No Man's Land.
  • About 50 vintage and embroidered pillowcases I bought at an estate sale. I want to do something really creative with a few. Any ideas?
  • Bathing suit fabric I bought a couple years ago. I will make a usable bathing suit this year, by golly! I did make a vintage style last year out of vintage fabric but I am afraid to wear it in the water...
I try to go through my fabric bins and organize them about every six months so can refresh my memory about what I have. I would love to have a big room dedicated for sewing with all my fabrics lined up on dowels hung on the wall but these crummy bins will have to do for now.

My ideal fabric storage situation. I wish I were this organized...
I threw away a lot of scraps I had been saving for who knows what and even put some fabric in the charity pile that I bought when my 18 year old was a baby! I have to admit my organizational system is pretty bad, having all these boxes piled on top of each other. Living with four kids, a husband, and now my mom, space is seriously limited so this will have to do for now.
So here are my fabric goals for 2012:
  • Make at least one project a week from my fabric stash.
  • Only buy fabric if it is something totally unique like a vintage feed sack or an incredible piece of 40's rayon I find at an estate sale.
  • Seriously limit my estate sale and thrift shopping. How much stuff do I really need?  I already have plenty of stuff I can refashion sitting in my shed.

How about you? Do you have an system or tips you use to organize your fabrics and notion? 

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  1. I organise my fabrics by colour and fabric type, all stored in large zip lock bags on an IKEA shelf. It's my old clothes I must keep for a future project pile that needs organisation. At the moment they're shoved into large fabric bags, piled on top of each other, underneath my sewing table. I've run out of room on the shelves...

  2. I just spent much of Saturday organizing my fabric and sewing supplies. I keep it all on shelves my husband built in a nook we have in the laundry room. I have a friend who is the Queen of Organization help me and she set up a whole system for me. I have containers for fabric and I can't buy more fabric than I can fit in the containers!!! My patterns are now in files and we used little storage drawers made for screws and nails and what have you for buttons, snaps etc. The trick will be can I stay on top of it and KEEP it organized?

  3. All my fabric is also in bins, up in the attic, but turned on it's side without the lids for easy access. Organized by fabric type and color. My patterns, several thousand, mostly vintage, (I sell them in my Artfire shop), are also in short long bins on rollers under my bed. Like you I am hoping to make one project a week, although I may have several going at one time. I think we are fabric collectors, similar to art collectors;)

  4. I have moved most of my fabric stash onto 2 pull out drawers in a built in cabinet in my sewing room. It is organized loosely by knits and wovens, with solids and basics of each sharing the mid part of the drawers and special prints of both on the sides. I am slowly sewing through this stash, as much of it is not to my current taste but can be used for camping/hiking/riding clothing.

    I hope that it will be depleted by summer and I can buy nicer fabric :-)

  5. I have moved most of my fabric stash onto 2 pull out drawers in a built in cabinet in my sewing room. It is organized loosely by knits and wovens, with solids and basics of each sharing the mid part of the drawers and special prints of both on the sides. I am slowly sewing through this stash, as much of it is not to my current taste but can be used for camping/hiking/riding clothing.

    I hope that it will be depleted by summer and I can buy nicer fabric :-)

  6. @Pam
    My clothes for future refashions take up too much space too. I am droping off a bag tomorrow!
    Boy would I love to see some of those patterns!

  7. I relate totally to this post. I organize and purge about every 6 mo too. I took over our garage. I put rugs down and set up folding tables, to cut and sew on. I put all my fabric in clear 3 drawer thingies (from Wal). It's my very own "rustic" workshop/studio. I love it. I can keep all my projects out. I can pop out when I get a chance, (I'm at home all day schooling our 5 kids), so I'm always multi tasking.
    Thanks for sharing your fabric issues:)

  8. Well, at least I'm not the oly one! I hoard fabric, threads, braids, buttons, zips and sewing machines! I love all the stuff, sometime I'll have a clear up and make things tidy, but that does not seem to last long.

    But I have a very patient hubby, and I just LOVE all that stash, and I do use it.

    Thanks for taking a weight off my mind, thought I was the only one!

  9. Now I am a bit relieved.I'm not the only one.

  10. I have just posted a bit about stash reduction myself today:

    I store most of my fabric on a metal shelf in my laundry/sewing room. Then I have two plastic bins with cotton/smaller pieces of knit on the floor. Also two upper cabinets are filled with rolled thinner fabrics and smaller pieces. It's taking too much space. I just need to USE it instead of constantly reorganizing it :)

  11. Hi Justine, I spend last sunday organising my stuff .. I'm pretty much well organised on the craft fabrics and sewing fabrics, my issue is that once i finish a project i throughout the scraps in a bag and that been going on for 2 years with left me with 5 bags of scraps.. Mad.. so 4 hours later i manage to organised into small/medium and more than a yard.. and this weeks i been making things only from my scarab stash and its going well. I'm thinking about a 'scarp' swap... we can make pin cushions or any other idea and swap the present to a fellow blogger. would you be interested in running it me and `charlotte from sew far sew good??

  12. I think that setting a limit is a smart way to go. Set aside a certain area or number of containers and don't exceed the space. Or the concept of for every yard purchased, you use a yard up from your stash. *blush* Of course, I'm not exactly living this right now. There's 2 laundry baskets full of fabric, plus a pile of fabric on our headboard in our master bedroom right now since I don't have any more room in my designated areas. I'm attempting to use up more of my stash and have been deleting all those fabric store sale emails that seem to flood my inbox without opening them. It's hard though!

  13. I have 3 main fabric collections: costume fabrics, which I buy without abandon, are shiny, usually stretchy, and always fabulous. I keep these in a box under my desk, because I don't need easy access. I have small yardage (usually under 2) folded in a great former TV cabinet next to my workspace... And then there are the rolls and rolls of jerseys leaning up in my living room. Whoops. Those are usually 10-20 yd pieces.

    My biggest problem now is the PILE of sewing projects strewn across the floor. They all have to be hemmed, then photographed, then listed on Etsy, then stored somewhere. It's quite overwhelming!

  14. @Julianne
    If I had an Etsy shop I think my house would be unrecognizable under a pile of fabric!

  15. I am a bit of a fabric hoader, but sometimes it really is hard to pass up a great deal in the thrift shop. One thing that is helping is that I have made a swatch book. That way, I can flip through to see if I already have something and how much of it I have. I knew I had a lot of fabric, I just thought I didn't have yardage. Turns out, I was wrong....

  16. Yes, I am a hoarder for sure, but I have been changing my ways. We must be on the same wave length because, I too have been organizing and threw two large trash bags of fabric pieces away last week. Also I am finding, I don't have a good system for the fabric I have brought. I'll have 2 1/2 yards of something and forget what I brought it for. Last week I went to the fabric store and looked at some fabric I had been eyeballing the last time I was in, well I already brought it last year and forgot about it. So today, I was surprised to find it in my bin. LOL Yes, we all need a better way. You are right using up your stash. I am planning the same. Have a great year sewing.

  17. Ladies in the adult ed sewing classes here in Santa Barbara donate fabric they don't want to the class free bin. In this way, new/old sewing students have access to free material, and we all benefit from the sharing. I've donated lots of unwanted material, and also taken from the free fabric bins. We also donate patterns and notions. All in all, it helps making the sewing experience more enjoyable, especially when trying to advance in sewing without spending an arm and a leg to advance in our sewing experience. I, too, have fabric bins, and make a point trying out new techniques and patterns on my cherished fabric, from bags, aprons, microwavable heating pads for the belly, skirts, blouses and, of course dresses. We are not fabric horders, but ladies/men who love and appreciate all types of fabric. No reason to ever feel guilty about your fabric treasures -- there are worse things in the world. Enjoy your fabric in whatever stage it is in -- in storage bins, ready for laundering, or in the process of becoming another fabulous finished garment/bag/apron/hat/coat/skirt/blouse, etc.


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