Hello, newbie sewists. I have something to say to you.
I also have unrelated snow pictures (because I’m southern and this is a big deal!).
With nearly two whole years of sewing under my belt, I’m here to share something that I wish someone had explained to me when I first started sewing.
As you browse and follow the myriad of sewing blogs out there, you will hear one word pop up again and again. It’s going to seem like a magical word, a word that will solve all your problems. But, I’m here to tell you, it’s not. You don’t need it. Resist the urge to force yourself acquire it.
What’s the word?
I started following sewing blogs long before I actually started sewing. It seemed to me that these ladies were constantly exulting that they whipped up a pretty little dress using nothing but odds and ends from their stash. “I only spent $3.00!” they would proclaim. When I finally acquired my sewing machine, I felt like a chump actually paying money for fabric.
And it wasn’t just fabric–it was trims and buttons and zippers and elastic and any other notion you could dream of–these women had everything tucked away in their overflowing sewing rooms! Every time I purchased a zipper, I felt a tiny piece of my frugal soul die.
I needed a stash. I needed a stash bad. I needed to hoard patterns and fabric and notions so that I could be like those ladies with their magical stashes full of unrealized potential just waiting for the perfect opportunity to emerge. So, that’s what I started to do. Cheap floral fabric for sale at Fabric.com? Yes. I bought that. Ten Simplicity patterns for $10? Yes–ten please. And I’ll be back tomorrow for more. Will I ever wear these? Doesn’t matter! Patterns, patterns, patterns! I even bought a random assortment of bias tape and seam binding (which I had no clue how to use) and such from an Etsy dealer who was quite happy to be rid of it. I became obsessed with finding thrift stores nearby that sold “vintage” patterns for super cheap. Only once did I ever stumble across actual patterns from the 60s and 70s.
And slowly, I began to accumulate yards and yards of bold, colorful fabric, hoards of “Big 4” patterns, and more seam binding than I knew what to do with. And slowly, the clutter started to weigh me down. I felt obligated to use up what I had already purchased, and it was mostly bad. I created floral dress after floral dress that I didn’t want to wear.
Something had to give.
When I started this wardrobe-sewing business, I began to realize that I had too much. I had too many things that I didn’t really want. Things that would never make outfits that I wanted to wear. I had long ago purchased cheap fabrics that looked cheap, trims that I would never use, and patterns that absolutely didn’t fit my style.
First, I made a resolution: no more stocking up. No more hoarding. Fabric and patterns and notions would be bought intentionally, as needed. Also, I would use only those things I actually liked. Other fabrics would be given away.
Next, it was time to clean out the patterns. Since I’ve decided to focus more on simple patterns I can modify myself, I didn’t need the enormous pattern stash. And there were so many that I would never, ever wear. So, I purged. I purged with a ferocity that cannot be expressed with mortal tongue. And even after that, I purged again. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I got rid of about 75-80% of my pattern stash. About half of that went to my sister and the other half to Goodwill. Don’t worry–there wasn’t anything good left, or I would have totally offered it to my lovely readers 🙂
I also sorted through my fabric and made a nice little pile to donate. The rest I organized into three groups: knits and knit scraps for some future projects I’m planning, wovens, and woven scraps for bags/purses/crafting in general.
Here’s the lesson I want to share: you don’t need a stash.
Having a stash is not a bad thing, but trying to force yourself to accumulate a stash is a bad thing. Don’t be lured in by cheap sale fabric. You will save more money in the long run if you buy only what you know you can use. Is it a terrible thing to buy a special cut of fabric without an immediate plan? Or a pattern for an evening dress that you may never get to wear? No, of course not! But, I really encourage you not to make it a habit to collect and collect and collect without concrete plans to use everything up. I’ve been there. It’s not a happy place.
Balance is the thing.
So, where you do stand on stashes? Is it good to have things “just in case”? Or better to buy as needed?