If you’ve sewn for any length of time, it soon follows that you have lots of little bits of fabric that accumulate. Sometimes they accumulate AFTER you’ve made a project, and often, before–like when you see something that’s so wickedly cute or cheap or __________ (fill in the blank) that it must be purchased. So what do you do with all of that?
Sew Mama Sew asked its readers to blog about their stashes, so in the spirit of letting people read weird things about myself, here I go.
What do you usually sew? Whatever I happen to be thinking about. I make clothes, belts, toys, purses, and when I can find the time to devote to them, I love making yoyos.
When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy? (i.e. If you see something beautiful, but you don’t have a use for it right away, how much do you buy?) It depends. Minimum for me is typically 1/2 yard but I’ll usually buy a yard unless I know the exact project I have in mind for it–then I’ll buy what I need.
Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need? Yes on both counts. Color inspires me–sometimes frequently I can’t resist its siren call.
Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it? I prewash about 80% of the time. I hate having to wash stuff when I want to use it, so it usually goes from the shopping bag into the washer. 20% of the time I don’t feel like it.
Do you iron it? Never. If I’m worried if the fabric will shrink too much or wrinkle in the dryer, I’ll tumble it for about 5 minutes, then pull it out of the dryer, shake it out and allow to air dry–I do this with my vintage tablecloths too–it makes them virtually wrinkle free without having to bust out the iron.
How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.) In an ideal world, I would sort by color because I love things sorted by color. When I’m stressed, I will sort my colored pencils by color. With my fabric, I just don’t have the ideal setup for storage right now, so things get folded and put away as I finish with them essentially. Perhaps I’ll get on the sorting…
Do you have any special folding techniques? I fold everything in nice little tight rectangular bundles.
How do you store your fabric? I have uncut 1/2 cuts in a clear storage bin, cuts from my projects of varying sizes in an open-sided cardboard box (no lie) and my scraps in a really big hat box with the lid overturned that I keep notion scraps in.
What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash? Buy fabric that you love. There’s nothing more depressing than being stuck with 5 yards of some color you totally hate (for me it would be mauve and or hunter green–I shudder…). Solids are your friends too. There are so many awesome prints available for sewers these days, but when you put them all together, your composition can lack balance and just be well…busy.
When do you say enough is enough? Perhaps when I had a complete studio decked out in fabrics of every Pantone shade ever created, but that seems a little over the top. Perhaps the more practical answer is never.
What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects? Amy Butler’s Nappy Bag pattern uses SO much fabric for the lining and old sheets are a good weight for lining that bag. It’s not a quick fix for using up fabric, but yoyos do effectively use a whole lot of it.
Do you have a current favorite print in your stash? Let’s see it! Picking one is like trying to say what your favorite chocolate is. I picked 3.
Because I love tea:
Because it’s funky:
Because it’s from the 40’s, has an unusual hand, and an even more unusual width (36″):
What’s your definition of the perfect stash? (Consider sharing a picture or two of your stash & storage, or direct us to a pic on Flickr!) Something that is usable, that inpires you, that gives you raw material with which to create and discover in whatever time you have to do so. If I could, my ideal stash would look like Britex Fabrics in San Francisco–things neatly ordered by the color spectrum, and nice bright cheery light to judge colors properly by.
photo from Sam Sanford on Flickr.