Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Stashing

Do you stash fabric?


I don't, and I definitely feel like I'm in the minority, at least from what I see around the blogosphere. I don't mean to sound like I'm judging those who do - on the contrary! I love living vicariously through others, drooling over the delicious fabrics they acquire. I've just never felt good doing it, myself.

It's partly a financial thing. I'm still paying off my student loan, and then I'll want to start saving for a house, and I just can't abide the idea of tying up hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in fabric that will sit in my cupboard. It's partly a risk thing, too. What if the house burns down or floods? (Or gets robbed? Fabric theives!) But mostly it's a guilt thing. Once I buy fabric, I feel obligated to use it. It feels wasteful just letting it languish unloved in a closet. And it never fails that if I buy something "just because," the right project never materializes for it, and I never have the right type or amount of fabric on hand for the projects that I do want to make.

Sure, I know I'd be safe buying around 2.5 meters of almost anything, if I really loved it. But then that leads me right back to my first two points about money and risk. I'm definitely happier choosing a pattern first, and then buying my supplies. And ogling the stashes of others, in the meantime :)

I'm curious - are there any other non-stashers out there?


  1. Yes, I'm a non-stasher in principle. I feel the same. Spare fabric haunts me, nags me, tells me what I must do next and be quick about it. I do buy in batches of four or five fabrics but I sew each batch down as quick as i can and then buy another batch. But I am thinking of going back to buying one at a time.... I think pattern magazines can provoke stashing, though. I have to really fight the urge to buy for "future sewing" since I found Burda mag!


  2. @Hatty - when you buy batches, do you have specific projects in mind? Or do you just have a rough idea of how much fabric you'll need for the sort of garments you like to make?

    Also, you raise a whole other point - the stashing of patterns and notions! I find that a bit easier to fall into, because they're generally less expensive and take up less space. But even then, I start to feel the same pressure/guilt emotions with unused patterns as well.

  3. I think stashing habits are born of different things.

    First, natural inclination. I stash but in my professional life, I'm in a field that is all about keeping old things for as long as possible (museums)

    Second, context. I live in a third world country (development being on the back burner for the past 25 years) and you can't just go out and buy whatever you want whenever you want. If the income is disposable, and you find it, get it now. What few fabric stores are still open here carry mostly polyester crepe in ghastly colors. I love cotton and linen. Knits of any kind are not sold locally.

    Third, and related to the previous, life experiences. We were under embargo in the mid 90s which meant a lot of things were not being imported at all and gasoline was sky high. I learned then to buy things NOW because tomorrow it would be gone until who knows when. So I got into the habit of buying just enough fabric for at least a sheath dress (I'm also a very economical 5', Small size FYI).

    Fourth, major disasters make you crazy. Much like Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic who once lost everything in a fire, I've survived a major earhtquake and lost part of my stash, most of my notions though my machines survived. I realize it's making me completely irrational about stashing. It's all I can think about. The up side is that I was able to replace clothing by sewing them myself and I experienced first hand the famed kindness of strangers.

    So, my point is, maybe stashing isn't easily explained away.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts! You're right, there are so many different things that can affect one's point of view. My own response is definitely influenced by living in a first-world, consumerist culture - both because I'm working to prevent myself from over-consuming, but also because I am fairly secure in knowing that when I want something, it will be available for me. Good to remember what a privilege that is.

    Also, something I think I haven't touched on, but that's tied in with the space thing, is the fact that I'm not a very tidy person. I grew up in a home where my parents didn't ever get rid of anything... so as an adult I've come to really fear clutter. The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to make a mess with, you know? And the less storage space I have to try and keep what I already have under control :)

    You're definitely right on your last point - not easily explained! I think I keep posting on this because I'm still working out exactly how I feel about it! And I'm sure my stance will evolve along with my interest in sewing.