confessions of a fabric stasher: part two

In my last post, I promised to share with you information regarding my fabric stashing habits of the past.  {P.S. This post will make more sense if you read the post that precedes it.} Here you have it–the good, the bad and the ugly:

-I truly enjoy shopping for fabric, and when I didn’t have a lot of free time to craft, shopping was the quickest and easiest part of the “making” process. When I didn’t have time to make things, I could hop online and acquire pretty supplies.  It’s quick. It’s easy. I would get my fix. And I would get a lot of fun mail!

-I justified my shopping habits.  It would go something like this:  “Fabric shopping is my only consumer vice.  I hardly ever shop for things like clothes, shoes and make-up.” Or “ I make lots of gifts, so I am SAVING money.” {HA!} I could go on and on with examples. I am an expert in talking myself into things.

-My stashing habits were not very conscientious.  I wasn’t giving much thought to what type of fabric I already had.  I was clueless as to whether or not I was low on warm colors or that I owned an absurd amount of blues and greens.  I threw everything into a closet with no regard for organization and that was that!

-I used to get caught up in sales and/or free shipping offers. I would buy fabric, not necessarily because I loved it, but because it was a good deal. I would buy more fabric than I needed in order to justify paying for shipping.  Or I would buy more fabric than I wanted to buy in order to meet the minimum for free shipping.

-In a similar vein, I would occasionally get burnt by online shopping.  I would buy things that looked great on my computer monitor, and yet were just.plain.ugly. in person.  That’s the risk you take with online shopping, especially when you are dealing with something as tactile as fabric.  You really don’t know whether you are going to love something until you see it in person.

-I used to buy cuts of fabric that were too large for the type of sewing I do.  I would often buy one-yard cuts of fabric because, if I wanted to use it to make clothing for my daughter, I wanted to have enough on hand.  But the reality is that for someone like me, who likes to have a very wide array of fabric represented in most projects {quilts especially}, the largest cut of fabric I should ever buy is a quarter yard.  I shouldn’t “stash” fabric for an imaginary dress I think I might make someday.  I should buy that fabric when I know I am going to do that project.

-I would get worried when I was getting low on a print that I love and want to buy more before it disappeared.  This problem is generated by the lightening quick pace of the fabric market.  New lines are released and then disappear before you can blink an eye.  Some weird sense of urgency is created.  It can make some people feel pressured to shop for fabric just because, if they don’t buy it RIGHT NOW, it will be gone.

So, what have I missed?  I am sure there are other things I have done that I am forgetting to mention.  If you are susceptible to any {bad} habits that have not been mentioned in the above list,  please chime in if you feel inclined.   I think it could be informative to update the content of this post with ideas from other people.

In my next post, I will write about the various things I have done to try to break these habits.  Again, I really want to stress that I am not perfect and I haven’t stopped buying fabric all together.   The last thing I want to do is sound preachy! What I have done is become better aware of the type of crafter I am, and the ways it makes sense for me, personally, to acquire materials.

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13 thoughts on “confessions of a fabric stasher: part two

  1. One more, you introduce your sister to the world of online fabric shopping!!! 🙂

    I think it’s really great that you have taken the time to figure out your shopping habits. One idea to help some that may feel urges to splurge and get sucked into the free shipping, etc is to create a crafting budget. If you put a little something away on a regular basis and know that the $ is for crafting it will keep you on track. Psychologically you know this lil pot o’ gold is for crafting so you won’t feel guilty upon making purchases. Little financial planning tip from your favorite CFP 🙂

    Thanks for the post. I love u and your blog!

  2. oh Molly, are you sure you aren’t talking about ME instead of YOU?

    I think another of my vice’s is that I will see what someone has done with a fabric and i MUST have it too. like…Carmen, who uses so many fabulous Lecien prints that never reach my radar, yet, after seeing her hexagons, I rush to Etsy to see if I can find that same fabric.

    Im sure there are more, but you sure hit the HOT SPOTS!

    I can’t wait to read more about what you have to say on this topic.

  3. Bravo for talking about this subject. Fabric used to consume me. Now I let my business dictate what and how much I should be buying and i feel so much more at peace with it.

    The best thing I ever did was to organize by color so i don’t over buy the ones I already have enough of and can quickly and easily tell what I’m running low on.

  4. I just caught on to the fact that you’re doing this cool series of self-examining posts, and I think it’s great! (I’m also amused that Jenny mentioned me in her comment, haha.) I have two observations that are not fully formed:

    – I don’t tend to dress seasonally — like I’ll wear the same dress or top across different seasons and just layer it (or not) depending on what time of year it is — but there have been times when I’ve wanted to buy a fabric and make something with it specifically because “it’d be perfect for this time of year!” And of course, it never gets made (or swapped out) until half a year later when I’m no longer in the mood for it. I guess the print then seems kind of dated, even though I’m just talking about seasons?
    – I give my thumbs up to people who do it, but I think I actually own a very small number of dots and stripes and those very, very basic types of blender prints — I find them kind of boring (that’s me being too lazy to come up with a softer word, sorry) and I don’t really think of their potential as fantastic “supporting actors.” So when I see people’s photos of an entire flat-rate envelope filled with those basics, it makes my head spin! (But I’ll also be the first to admit that they do add great balance to a lot of projects that I’ve favourited by other people.)

    Haha, I guess this doesn’t actually help you compile your list! Anyway, thanks so much for the food for thought. I think that with the crazy speed of new designs coming out, these reflections are only going to become more and more relevant. Have a good Sunday, Molly!

  5. This is going to be a fascinating series. I’ll have to check back and see more comments as time goes by. I’m right there with you. The part about the industry enabling us is one of my rationalizations that I’m trying to beat. I think quilting and sewing would be made a lot more enjoyable if manufacturers would slow the pace of new fabric releases!

  6. It does bother me that lines are released with such fervor. Last year, I got caught up in buying precuts, something I’d never really done before. I barely use them, because, like you, I prefer to assimilate my own bundle of fabrics for a project. I’m determined to use these precuts soon, and resist buying more of them. I think I like them because it’s a cheap way to sample different fabrics. Part of the way I’m using them now is as “scraps”. This is more useful than limiting myself to using the precuts in their shapes, and only with the other precut pieces. /end tangent.

    I fully identify with the items on your list above. The crazy “OOP/HTF” phenomenon is a serious motivator!

  7. Amen, sister friend! We are crazy stashing twins. I have cut back to buying only fat quarters and started cutting all my half-yards into FQs and then swapping them. Gosh, but i still need TIME. One gets very little enjoyment from a dormant stash.

    I agree that the marketing and short shelf-life of fabrics is terrible. After a year of grousing about it, I’m getting comfortable knowing that where will always come along another fabric that’ll work just fine. No need to scurry to buy.

    Thanks again for this series, M!!

  8. As the daughter of a serious (serious!!) fabric stasher, and as a new sewer, facing this wild ride for the first time, I do love this so.

    Thanks, Molly!

  9. I have many of the same issues – the biggest being that I like to buy fabric once it’s on sale, but then you have to buy 1 yd to get the deal. I only need 1/4 to 1/2 yd, so I don’t know if it’s saving me any money. I saw someone once go through their stash and sell half the quantity of each piece in a destash sale (they make softies that are small in scale) – I’d love to do that, but I don’t think I have enough followers to generate interest in that kind of sale. But I’m never going to get through sewing all of my stash, and I just keep buying more. I buy fabric when I’m stressed and don’t have time to sew, and I buy it when I’ve been sewing because I’m having so much fun using it and need more so I don’t run out. Ack.

  10. There is SO much about your post that I identify with! I have only been back at my sewing machine for 2 years, but I have enough fabric for the next 10. At least. I buy fabric with lofty goals, but the truth is that I just don’t sew quickly enough to get through it, and I lose interest in the planned project before I even start. But on the flip side there are some out of print fabrics that I legitimately do want, and because finding them is so difficult I feel compelled to buy lots of new lines so that I don’t have the same trouble in the future.

    I also have a reason for buying that you didn’t mention: I love a fabric for the inherent design/illustration, not as a tool, but as an object. I’m a designer myself (architecture), and there are some fabric designers whom I truly admire, and I think sometimes I’m collecting their work more than I’m buying sewing supplies, if that makes any sense. In fact, there are some fabrics in my stash that I really can’t imagine sewing with. They just don’t suit my style / interior design choices. But I love them and had to have them. Now THAT’S nuts! 🙂

  11. There is so much about this that rings true for me. I have only been back at my sewing machine for about 2 years, but I have enough fabric for the next 10, at least! I buy fabric for all these quilt ideas I have in my head, but I don’t actually have a ton of time to sew. So I loose interest in the projects before I even start them! I am definitely motivated by the fear that something won’t be around when I want it, since there are a few out-of-print fabrics that I’d love to get my hands on and just can’t find.

    I have another reason to add to your list, too. You see, I’m a designer myself (architecture), and there are a few fabric designers that I truly admire, and so I think sometimes I am collecting their work not because it is a tool but because it is a beautiful object. But then I realize that it doesn’t actually suit my style or my decorating choices, or that I don’t have any desire to cut it up. Now isn’t THAT nutty?!

  12. we must be related. I can relate to all of that! Plus I would buy the fabric for projects that would build up and build up and never get done. I’d look at my fabric selection and be like, “what was I thinking?” Ugh!

    Thanks for confessing all your fabric hoarding habits!! It makes me feel less alone in my neurosis. 😛

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