Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

A Stash Evaluation


The only new goal I have added for this year is to review my stash and rationalise it. Although I don’t think I have a particularly big stash, there are a couple of reasons why I need to sort it out. Firstly, I am tripping over it all the time. It is in the living room down the side of the sofa where I sit (in easy reach for the evenings). Secondly, with three years of serious sewing under my belt, I have come to realise that I am just no good at planning. I plan all the time to use things in my stash, but I easily get distracted by new fabric. I believe it is almost a herculean task for me to reduce my stash. I have been doing this during the year, but my sewing pace isn’t great. I would like to be in the comfortable zone where an impulse fabric buy, is immediately translated into impulse sewing!

My first task is really to make an audit of what I have. I think that my stash is divided into three broad categories:

1. Unused fabric

This fabric was bought for a defined purpose, but hasn’t yet been sewn into anything.

Unused fabric

Clockwise from top right –

Fabric Description When / Where added to Stash
Blue Tartan From Weaving Mill, Edinburgh (April 2016)
Blue Skill Twill From Britex, San Francisco (April 2015)
Gold Paisley Lawn From a charity shop, Bath (2015)
Stretch lace in black and white From Fashion Fabrics, Bath (2015)
Purple Starburst Corduroy From Rag Market, Birmingham (July 2016)
Wool Blend From Fabric Land, Bristol (2014)
Fur (not shown) From Fashion Fabrics, Bath (2015)

2. Large “left-over” pieces

This is fabric that has been left-over from other projects. They are usually pieces over 0.5 metre, so I consider that I can get some sort of garment or item out of them.


Clock-wise from top left –

Fabric Description Intended Make
Natural Linen Shopping Bags / Storage / Embroidery
Blue linen / cotton blend Unsure
Grey Corduroy Hat
Black Bamboo Knit Knickers
Striped wool jersey Beanie Hat
Eri Silk Sleeveless top or other top that doesn’t need much fabric
Orange corduroy Alteration (I want to re-do the waistband on my corduroy trousers).

3. Scraps

I have so many of these. I do like to have some scraps around, but how much do I actually need? Here are some uses I have for scraps:

Fabric Description Use
Small bits of similar fabric to the current project Checking I’ve threaded my machine correctly / Checking that stitch works well with thickness of fabric or for intended purpose
Cotton Lawn / Cotton Poplin / Silk Pockets and linings. I quite like a completely different fabric for the pockets, yoke linings and such like on my makes. It adds interest.

Interesting homemade bias tape

Denim Patchwork skirt

So, why do things end up in my stash? What conclusions can I draw about my use of fabric and my purchase decisions?

I think some of the items have ended up being stuck in the stash as they will be made into an item that requires more thought than average. For example, I would like to make a kilt with my tartan, but I know I will need to do some reading in order to make it (hence my delay). Likewise, the stretch lace. I would like to make a cardigan with this, but I need to research how I might finish my hems, I’m thinking some stretch mesh might be good? How should the buttons do up? Should I make buttonholes – in stretch lace? Or loop fastenings? I’ll need to read up about how to add button-loops too. Too much to think about, so it got trapped in the stash.

To be honest, the category that gives me the biggest headache is the large “left-overs”. To use this fabric, probably requires the most creativity and ingenuity. Can I squeeze a small project out of this fabric?

I have improved considerably at selecting the appropriate amount of fabric for a project over the last few years. I hardly ever use the information on the back of the pattern envelope as a guide for the fabric amount I buy. I am short in the body, so the fabric required is often way too much. Plus, some pattern companies are very generous with their calculations. These days other factors generally inform me, such as what quantity I used for a similar make previously and with a new pattern I may lay out the fabric pieces (customized to be own size) and estimate the required area. This has meant that I’m adding less to the “left-overs” category and these recent projects have only produce amounts that fit in the “scraps” category.

I probably have too much in my “scraps” category too though, and I should go through it again more ruthlessly. Perhaps I could use some scraps as rags for polishing and dusting. This would reduce this category still further.

All in all, I don’t have too much in the unused fabric category, but I strongly suspect that I won’t sew all these items within 2017. My aim is really to reduce my stash, so that I feel less guilty when I have the impulse to buy more fabric. Hey, we all love buying fabric after all, don’t we?



Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

8 thoughts on “A Stash Evaluation

  1. I’m struck with a number of things you say – the one about how it’s morphed into a rather bold and invasive entity in your house really resonated 🙂 Mine has as well and I’m a returned to sewing sewer (after 40 years I returned 2 years ago when I finally had the time). I have been guilty of saving those smaller pieces too thinking I will use them. They just keep piling up alarmingly because I don’t pick a pattern that will actually use up bits! I did compile some scraps before Xmas and donated them to Women in Need who sell fabric scraps by weight to raise $ for their charity – that made me feel better 🙂 but there is still more. I have gotten pretty good at just tossing scraps…now I have a problem with online shopping when I see a fabric I can’t resist. And my pattern stash – now that is getting positively silly. I won’t need another pattern probably for as long as I live 🙂

    • That’s a good idea about the fabric scraps. I guess I just feel guilty about waste. Somehow I think as a sewer I need to be super good not wasting stuff. My pattern stash isn’t too big thankfully. I like PDF patterns, probably just as well! Although I imagine I too have more patterns than I can sensibly get through in a life-time!

  2. That’s a lot of polishing and dusting if you’re going to be using scraps for it!! I’ve started being ruthless at the end of a project and endless it’s a reasonable size that could be used for colour blocking it goes!! Good luck with getting it sewn up! ! 😀

  3. I definitely get distracted by new fabric. I have a large stash, although I have seen larger, and I hardly ever buy fabric anymore. But then again there is always that one trip I make once a year to the fabric shop to add to the pile!

  4. I use bits for shopping bags, quilts and knickers – I’ve a good pattern for ones made out of lightweight cotton

  5. You have some gorgeous pieces there! (I SO identify with your “get distracted by new fabric” situation (-; )

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