This here is but a minuscule fraction of the fabric I have – my go-to linen and linen-blend stash. I wish it always looked this lovely…

I spent a good part of last weekend trying to re-organize them into categories like “My Fall clothes”, “K’s Fall clothes”, “Home Decor”, etc. I have cotton, linen, voile, velvet, fleece, rayon, knits (so much knits), canvas, denim, corduroy, wool, muslin, silk, and all manners of blends and mystery fabrics. My sewing room usually looks more like this:

It is a problem.

I did, however, briefly feel better when I saw this stash, because mine is slightly smaller. Only slightly.

Rather than stacking them onto shelves, I like to put all my fabric into these babies:

Probably not the best for breathability (I do put in those cedar things to prevent grossness), but since I keep almost all of my fabric in the basement because I have nowhere else to put them, and since we’ve had some unfortunate flooding incidents in the past, this is a necessity. To give you an idea of the size of this bin, it’s similar to this. And I have roughly thirty of these, all labeled nicely. I didn’t even try to get a visual of the craziness in the basement because, well, it’s out of control (in a weirdly organized way, but still). Plus the light is bad down there.

Thirty bins. I know.

To be fair, over half of my stash is from my mom. I’ve mentioned before that she has an entire ROOM dedicated to fabric filled to capacity – she could open a shop. Obviously hoarding fabrics is a genetic trait. I’ve been buying fabric off and on for almost six years now because I’m obsessed with textiles, but it wasn’t until last year that I started to sew regularly.

And even though I’ve been stitching up outfit after outfit consistently for the past year, and I’ve had very little qualms about cutting into beautiful fabrics for K’s clothes (pricey organic cotton! silk!), I haven’t felt entirely ready to dive into using the nice stuff for myself. I read an articleΒ about fabric stashing on a Fashionable Stitch last week, and it made me stop to reflect on why I hesitate to use the special fabrics for me. I can very well see myself becoming that grandmother who lets her life pass before using and savoring the carefully curated collection of fabrics. I have visions of me on my deathbed, wracked with pneumatic coughing as I tell K, “I leave you my fabric…I never got a chance to use the best of the best…”

Not that there’s anything wrong with admiring your collection and taking pleasure in lovingly gazing at it for hours (I definitely do that). But I was drawn to sewing because it’s utilitarian, creative and nourishing – I like to Make with a capital “M”, to have a tangible product at the end of the day. I’m pretty sure it’s beyond the fear of ruining the textiles that stops me, which admittedly is a big one, but it’s only fabric after all, and there is always more beautiful fabric to be had. In an unconscious way I’m probably waiting: waiting to be more fit and better somehow — maybe as someone with the kind of lifestyle that warrants a custom-tailored wardrobe made out of stunning fabric.

I’m done waiting though [cue soaring, uplifting music here]. The ginormousness of my stash is overwhelming, and I’m a firm believer in making mistakes to learn better. I will boldly chop up my treasured fabrics to make tops for myself; that soft-as-butter insanely expensive 100% linen is going to be something fabulous for me to strut about in. And if I mess up? I’ll just reuse it to sew something for K. Problem solved.

There you have it, my self-help nuggets and endless ruminating on a Tuesday — that’s how I roll.

As I tackle my hoard, a fabric fast is mandatory, don’t you think? The gorgeous and talentedΒ MorganΒ (my blog-friend-turned-in-real-life friend – love it when that happens!) just informed me of a cool place for stashaholics like myself here in Seattle, so it sounds like we’re going to check it out. I’ll let you know how it is! I’d love to use up all the fabric in the next year, but realistically, I might need to also explore other options to reduce my staggering stash.

How about you, do you keep a large stash, or are you a project-by-project kind of person?


27 thoughts on “Stashaholic

  1. I have a stash and constantly want to buy more, but I have limited myself to one tall bookshelf with doors. I just bought a stack of fabric that I can’t squeeze in, which means I need to get sewing or donate some… I used to store fabric in bins but didn’t like how hard it was to see what I had. I have lots of large pieces for making garments, which I don’t feel bad about, but I have a serious weakness for pretty quilting cotton, and I don’t quilt! So I have tons of fat quarters of adorable prints. I can only make so many zippered pouches…

    1. I’m so impressed with your restraint, Amanda! I lost sight of things about three bookshelves-full ago…I have mostly clear bins so I can see the fabric better, so the one I showed here isn’t the best representation. And I hear you on the cute quilting cottons!

  2. *ahem*
    Hi… I’m Venus and I too am a stashaholic…
    Wait. 30 BINS?!!! Holy cow, woman! I have 12 large bins bursting at the seams and I have been categorized by color. I’ll go out and buy for a specific project and come home with 6 new projects on top of my original. Crazy! Who does that?! Oh yeah, me.

    That stashaholic business is genius. As for using your best fabrics… I like your solution. At least K will get to enjoy it. Lucky girl.

    I think projects will be the death of me. It’s my crack. πŸ˜‰

    1. Welcome to the support group, Venus! This is a safe place…6 additional projects per shopping trip is less than average for me, I assure you. :-).

  3. You’re so awesome for tackling this head-on! I’ve been working for years on my hoarding tendencies, and luckily I started sewing/buying fabric after I’d gotten somewhat of a handle on it. I know that I do best when I buy for a project I want to make right now. Second-best is buying for a project I want to make eventually. Not so great is when I’m buying fabric because I think it’s neat and might be able to make something out of it!

    It’s really helpful that you know exactly how many bins of fabric you have – you can measure your progress easily! Maybe you could even pick a number of bins you’d like to get down to and maintain that number.

    (Emailed you about the store visit!)

    1. So excited to check out the store, Morgan! You’re right on about fabric that I don’t have any ideas about. I tend to use the fabrics that I specifically buy for K or the ones I purchase thinking “this would make such a great top/skirt/etc”

  4. ha ha. i only have 1 bin like yours and i’m already thinking that i should put a big dent in it before buying more. i know that feeling of encountering new fabric that is fabulous- there’s this tremendous mouth watering hunger that takes over and it just wants to be satiated. it really is like a drug- so addicting! i love textiles too- each one seems to have a special story that wants a further life to keep thriving on.

  5. I am of the opinion that you can never have too much fabric. You never know when you’ll need just the right color or when you’ll need something to compliment another color you just picked up πŸ˜€ My stash is only two small boxes and I never have the fabric I need for a project.

    1. We’re cut from the same cloth (har), Bernadette, but sometimes reality (like lack of space) gets in the way…my stash has definitely provided plenty of sewing options! πŸ™‚

  6. Of course I had to click on that stash link, and suddenly I’m feeling so much better:) But really, while my own stash does not reach that volume, that’s not really the point. The point, as you said so eloquently, is to focus more intently on actually USING what we have! Why are we women such gather-ers? I was visiting my parents last weekend and my mom passed along some of her unused fabric to me – reminding me once again that it does no one any good boxed up. Love your philosophy that “it’s only fabric after all” and there is always more beautiful fabric to be purchased. That is liberating. Thank you for this though-provoking and inspiring post, and I may be considering where my own intentions lie in this whole de-stashing journey!

    1. Isn’t that stash something? I’m looking forward to seeing what projects will result from your destashing Lucinda!

  7. I have a whole bookcase and two wash baskets full of my stuff which I store in my sewing room (ahem..”the guest room”). Looking at pretty fabric just makes me happy. I store my fabric on those comic book boards and by colour so it looks like a beautiful rainbow. I keep my knit fabrics in a plastic bin and my scraps in plastic bags which unfortunately seem to be multiplying and trying to take over the whole room. Because I live in an area without fabric stores I tend to buy online and in larger quantities because shipping to Europe is so expensive. I’m afraid even if I could sew as fast (and good!) as you I still would need more than a lifetime to diminish my stash…but stop buying fabric? No way…sewing and looking at my fabric and creations is what keeps me sane and happy!

    1. Oh thank you for the kind words about my sewing, Laney! Fabric really has the power to bring happiness, doesn’t it – love love love textiles!

  8. Well, I think my fabric possession is not so extensive as your one, but is going to the same path. I’m all up to the fabric tells me what to do, but sometimes when I come back home the fabric stops the talking :P…Anyway, sometimes I buy to accomplish a sewing goal and sometimes I buy to hoard. When I open my boxes always there are certain fabrics that really I’m not sure in what project I will use them or I believe they are so precious that perhaps I should wait for “the project”. Very interesting post Sanae, and yes, what I’m waiting for?

    1. What are we waiting for indeed! I know that the anticipation and planning is often just as fun, but I think it’s so easy to get in the trap of thinking “oh, I’ll just save this fabric for that extra special project someday…” To the point of crippling indecision. Yay for stash busting πŸ™‚

  9. I am in awe of your stash! I am in love with that linen pile. They are all colours that I would happily wear. The problem with my stash is not in quantity but in the type of fabric. My modest stash is stored on 2 shelves in a cupboard but it is mostly pretty or cute fabric that’s not suitable for sewing clothes either for myself or my 20 year old daughter. It’s such a simple thing, but it took me so long to understand myself and the kind of fabrics that I would like to wear. But now having acquired this understanding, hopefully, I will build a better, more usable stash, fingers crossed πŸ™‚

    1. I had the same problem initially too. As I started to sew for myself, I somehow felt like a lot of my fabrics weren’t appropriate for me (too cute, too busy, too bright, etc). At the same time, I didn’t want to be boring and only sew with solids — I’m still trying to figure my style out! πŸ™‚

  10. Huge stash over here as well… But same situation: my mom has a bigger stash, so I can put it all down to genetics! Trying to work my way through though πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks Nienke! Linen is hands down my favorite fabric in the world…and so glad to hear you’re working your way through your stash too! These pesky fabric hoarding chromosomes…

  11. Oh good….I am so glad to hear that there are other fabric hoarders out there!! My “stash” takes up almost half of my daughter’s closet (previously our guest room) and I feel excited and embarrassed every time I open it. So many projects just waiting to be sewn up. I too save special fabrics and I should just be bold and cut into them. I sew mainly for my daughters and am just starting to get up enough courage to sew for myself. Thank you for opening up and sharing your love of fabric hoarding with us! And thank you too for the introduction to Our Fabric Stash! I think a little road trip may be in order……

    1. Oh, I’m very familiar with that excited/embarrassed feeling. Friends who have seen my stash in person have been boggled. I’ll keep you posted on how the stash busting store visit goes – I think it’s a brilliant concept too, obviously started by someone intimately aware of fabric hoarding πŸ™‚

  12. you have inspired me with your frankness. I think the age we live in encourages us to hoard. you are doing a really good job talking about it. i think of it as something you did with the whole body image thing. bravo! and I think that is what makes your posts something that i so look forward to.
    it’s not easy to actually admit that you have 30 boxes i can imagine. so really, fantastic that you have come out with it…. it is BRAVE.

    on a lighter note, more giveaways? maybe that way I can win some of your lovely delicious fabric maybe????

    1. Thank you so much, Asmita – I’m so heartened that my ramblings are things you can relate to πŸ™‚ And yes, the giveaways will keep happening!

  13. I can’t wait to see what you do with the silk!

    lately I’ve been wanting to sew something for myself instead of just for my kids, but first I had the problem of being pregnant. now that I’m not pregnant, I’ve got the problem of post-partum mom body. The unsightly pooch in the front. Everything wiiiiider than before. It’s hard to go ahead and sew something for a body I don’t like, in a size that may not fit anymore (optimism!) soonish. But I’m thinking that maybe just a knit maxi skirt would be a good place to start. At least that will stretch to fit, and hides my legs. ha

    1. Knit maxis are fantastic! One of the great things about sewing for myself, I’ve discovered, is how much more forgiving I’ve become of my body and I love that I can customize patterns for better fit – looking and feeling great in clothes has everything to do with fit! πŸ™‚

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