confessions of a fabric stasher: part four {final post!}

Without further ado, here is a list of things I have tried to do in order to curb my fabric shopping habits:

-I organized my fabric and kept it in a place where it is easily accessible.  Having my stash organized and in plain-view {yet unexposed to lots of light!} served as a constant reminder that I don’t need to buy more. It can also inspire me to sew more frequently because I am able to catch glances of my materials throughout the course of the day. And even if it doesn’t stop me from buying more fabric, it does help me to shop smarter.  {I have tons of blues and greens, but  very little orange and yellow fabric.} Finally, when other family members know just how large my stash is, it helps me to be more accountable.  I don’t think further explanation is required on this one!

-I made a rotating list of fabric lines that I thought I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED TO HAVE but held off on actually purchasing them.  I added to that list over time, and pledged that I wouldn’t buy anything until there was a line of fabric  that stayed at the top of the list for a good solid period of time {4-5 months?}.  It’s pretty amazing to observe how quickly the list changes/how frequently you add to it/how often your absolute-most-favorites-must-have-fabrics rotate.  It’s a great exercise to force you to realize how swiftly the industry is moving, and that there will never be a lack of gorgeous new fabric for you to love.

-I stayed away from the big online sales by unsubscribing from online fabric shop newsletters and tried to buy locally.  I know that shopping locally isn’t always possible because not everyone has good fabric store nearby.  {I am forever grateful that I have access to the Franklin Mill Store.} There are several reasons why I prefer shopping in person.  First, I can purchase smaller quantities at my local shop and I know I will love what I am buying because I can see it up close. Second, it is logistically a lot trickier for me to get to a fabric store—especially if I want to shop without my kids. Shopping online is too fast and easy!  If I shop locally, I shop less frequently. Finally, I realize that I tend to pay more per yard at my local shop, but I am able to benefit from the overall experience.  I like to think of it as a cheap night out—like going to the movies.  Sometimes I’d rather go alone to my favorite shop on a Thursday evening — to wander around, browse their bolts and chat with their sewing experts — than go to the movies.  Does that make any sense?

-If I can’t purchase  something locally, I try to be very discriminating about online shopping.  I make sure I understand the scale of the prints.  I only buy if I have seen the fabric in person already or know that I  love the work of the designer.  Another trick is to fill up an online shopping cart and then wait a few days before pulling the trigger.  Most of the time, I can talk myself out of a purchase.  Finally, when I do shop, I buy smaller cuts of fabric.  If I am just stashing, fat quarters are plenty. If I have a specific project in mind, like a garment, then larger cuts are OK.  But no more stashing yardage for dresses I may or may not make for my daughter someday!

-I joined an online support group called the StashPact.  It’s not very active currently, but members of this flickr group stated their goals as well as a list of rules they hoped to follow in order to limit their spending on craft supplies. I allowed myself purchases on my birthday, mother’s day, and when we were on vacation. Some people allow solids, if that is what their stash is lacking.  Others allowed purchases for quilt backings and bindings and some folks even went cold turkey. There were other members of the group who pledged to adhere to a strict budget.  Throughout the year, we posted photos of finished projects that were sewn from stash. It was inspiring and motivating and, most importantly, it helped. UPDATE:  STASH PACT II IS HERE.  Join us!

-I started swapping fabric. I came to realize that I didn’t necessarily have to spend money to acquire new fabric. If you are really feeling like you need a surge of new prints in your stash, or a shiny new package in your mailbox, set up a swap with like-minded fabric friends.   The great thing about swapping is that you still get fun fabric packages in the mail, but the cost to you is minimal {shipping} and you aren’t adding unnecessary bulk to your stash.  That said, swapping can be time consuming, so if you want to get your fix without all the negotiating, set up a simple swap with a friend who has similar taste in fabric.  Jenny and I have an ongoing swap in which we send each other five inch charms of fabric in an envelope that requires one stamp of postage.  Jenny sends me a fun envelope and then I send one in return.  There are no deadlines. We don’t make requests.  Whatever we receive is a surprise.  {OK—sometimes we ask each other about preferences, but that’s only because we are both pretty geeky about fabric and it adds to the fun.} This was Jenny’s idea and it is brilliant.

-I set up a few small, manageable projects to have at the ready.  Sometimes I would shop because it was the quickest, easiest part of the process.  But when you think about it, you can sew a nine patch in no time. Having simple projects on hand was helpful. This way, when I had the urge to shop, I would spend my time sewing instead. Its OK to spend just 20 minutes crafting.  Sometimes just being engaged for a short while can go a long way.

-I began to catalog fabric that I was running run out of by making something that I will keep for myself. I love these silly green hedgehogs, and I am down to the tiniest scraps.  Now that they have been incorporated into a postage stamp quilt for me that I plan to have FOREVER, I don’t need to try to track down the fabric and buy more. Now that I think about it, I have since made two quilts of this nature recently and will share the other one in my next post.

So, that’s it! I hope this little “series” was  interesting and maybe even helpful.  I make a point to never apologize for lags on posting to this blog, but I will acknowledge that I really know how to drag out a succession of posts!  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  If you want to read all of the posts on this topic, they can be found here.

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14 thoughts on “confessions of a fabric stasher: part four {final post!}

  1. I think this post was the most helpful one of all… and having you say that you unsubscribed to store newsletters makes me think that I really should too… especially if they only talk about fabrics for sale as opposed to project ideas etc. Thanks for the series, I really enjoyed it!

  2. Excellent ideas! Can we start doing the swap you do with Jenny? I would love to swap with you on a regular basis, if you’d like to add another one to the mix. Have a fun weekend, M!

  3. i love this post, gosh and especially that I have over $100 in my online cart just staring at me. I love the fill up your cart and wait technique. 🙂

  4. I would love to do your Jenny swap also but you may have too many interested in that! 🙂 Loved this series, lady! (ps WP before email b/c otherwise wordpress doesn’t let me comment lately!)

  5. such a lovely series on stashing, M! i love to hear about the evolution in your thinking and behavior and all your rationales. we should start up that stash pact group again. lots of folks learned quite a bit from it.

  6. Some great ideas here M! Thanks for sharing. I may incorporate some of these into one of my financial planning seminars that deal with sticking to a spending plan, want vs. need, etc. I do feel very fortunate that I can always come to my sister’s house and check out the stash and get help with ideas 🙂 Love you. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of your kiddos today! Wish you were coming too!!!

  7. I work at a quilt store, so you can imagine the unbelievable temptation. I have been very oak-like in my ability to keep purchases to a minimum lately. That does not stop the owners from trying to get me excited about a block of the month, or a new line coming in. If I ever do fall in love with a line that I ”just gotta have”, I order a fat quarter bundle, or layer cake so that I get a usable amount of each print. It ends up being a lot less expensive than trying to get the prints from a hundred different places online, with shipping and minimum yardage requirements, I have found that I over purchase fabric, then it sits there. I love the swap that you do with Jenny. Great idea!!! (how many 5 inch charms can you mail with a stamp? Anyone out there want a swap buddy like this one? let me know! 🙂

  8. I love that second tip—the one about creating a favorites list and then *waiting.* My tastes change so much over time that I’m glad I didn’t go out and buy a bunch of this fabric or that fabric because I was so caught up with it at first glance and was afraid it’d all be gone. Like you said, there is always more, pretty fabric coming out to catch our eyes (and hearts.)
    Anyway, Congrats on your efforts and success in the fabric stashing department.

  9. this post is awesome. you come up with a lot of great ideas and strategies. i love the idea of having a friend to swap charms with. i also like the rotating list of “must have” fabrics. brilliant.

  10. my 9 year old daughter would think the pink quilt square is just the “bees knees”. any idea who made it and where i might find it? btw…lovely blog! just found you!

  11. Hi! I just found your blog, but I have to chime in and agree with you about Franklin Mill Store – though for me, its faster to shop there than online. See, I live within very, very short walking distance….one of the perks of our new place I didn’t share with hubby… 😀 I am trying to cut down on the new fabric thing, and you have some great ideas – Thanks!

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