Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fabric Hoarding Reformation - Is It Working?


Spring is finally here and I thought the start of a new season would be a good time to give an update on my fabric hoarding reformation.  I started back in January when I asked the question Are You A Fabric Hoarder Too? and loads of you raised your hands to tell me I wasn't alone:


The bottom line was my piles and bins of fabric had reached the point where I was trying to find space to store fabric more than I was using it.  Absolute craziness.  It was time to stop the madness.  And in February I shared my progress here, which saw me resisting the siren song of the fabric store and starting the chip away at my ridiculous stacks of fabric:


So now I'm 3 months in.  
Am I back to my fabric hoarding ways?

I can confidently say no.  I think I've turned a corner.  I'm not actively adding the the stash anymore (which had been an ongoing problem).  I can walk into the fabric store or see an email screaming BIG FABRIC SALE and not feel compelled to find something new - which was hard to resist a few months ago.


Just a few of my past impulse fabric buys

The good news is I have been sewing up a storm.  Instead of procrastinating or "saving for a special project", I've picked out a stack of Spring-style fabric from my stash and told myself to use them.  Now.  And it's actually happening!  I've just gotten terrible about photographing it and writing up blog posts for them, but one problem at a time, right?


Some of my stash-busting sewing for Spring
What's been working to de-hoard the stash?  

MINI-PILES.  It may sound a little crazy, but what's really helped whittle down my stash is putting several small piles right out in the open.  I'm not saying a stack as tall as the kids, but about once a month I'm taking a look through my bins and shelves and pulling out about 6-10 fabrics.  Right now I grabbed Spring/pastels and put them on my craft room counter. After a couple of days of just looking at them I started to separate it into  "Have an idea" pile and a "Don't Know" pile.  



Why they've worked: Seeing them out reminds me they need to be used, and keeping with the current season/themes around me encourages using them.  When I have a little free time I tell myself to start there. Not only have I used up about a dozen yards in the past 2 months, but it's also helped me get a plan for my projects better.  I don't have any more free time than I did before, but I'm using it more effectively.   Added Bonus: It's also given me a reason to sift through my patterns more too and finally use some that I'd forgotten about or kept postponing because there was a technique or step I didn't want to do.

OUT WITH THE OLD:  Seeing a handful of prints out in the open (not in a tightly packed stack) has also made me realize that my tastes have changed too.  Some fabrics that I LOVED a year or two ago, just aren't as fabulous to me now or what I originally wanted them for isn't needed anymore.  Hanging onto them doesn't make sense, so a few more of the "Don't know" fabrics will be added to my Etsy shop or given away.  

A few of the still nice, but just don't need fabrics
"1 IN, 2 OUT" RULE.  I mentioned this in my previous hoarding posts.  After I bought 6 yards last month on a trip in Canada, I then went to my bins to de-stash.  I pulled out more than 12 fabrics I knew I could part with, added part of them to my shop and donated the rest.  It wasn't even that hard to let them go.  Emotionally detaching from one's stash is the key to getting things under control.

And I've also been compiling some themed bundles to do a few fabric giveaways soon so I can give them to someone who is ready & eager to use them.

I've also learned a few more ways to keep the fabric hoarding from returning.  The LAST thing I need to do after I whittle things down is go on a fabric spree and do it all over again!


Stopping Future Fabric Hoarding

Buying With Purpose:  As I try to work through my stash one thing I've really noticed is how many fabrics I've bought because they were a fun print or really eye-catching, but I never had a clue what to do with them.  Even while telling myself to make something with them now, I'm still a bit stymied on what to create.  I let the "Ooohhh pretty!" design overrule common sense on what I could use or need.  Yes, that fabric may be gone if I don't buy it now, but more fabulous fabric will replace it.  It always does.  It's worth waiting for the fabric you really love AND know you can use.



Picking Flattering Fabric.  This is key for apparel making & I'd been doing it wrong.  With fabric it's so easy to fall in love with a print or type of fabric, but if you're planning to make something to wear with it - look at it in the mirror.  I saw a knit in the store I liked the other day, but when I saw it next to my face and hair, the colors didn't suit me at all.  I've got a number of multi-yard cuts I bought to make into clothing for myself and now when I look at them next to my skin tone I realize they aren't the most flattering, the weight is wrong or the print looks too twee or busy.  Which means I probably won't wear them that much.   Time to rethink what to do with them or give them a new home.  Going forward I'm going to be a bit more careful when shopping for fabrics for myself. 


And on that note, I did a bit of Spring cleaning to get rid off some old clothes and one thing that stood out was how much clothing I've made for myself that I don't wear.  Either the fit isn't quite right or the print looks better on the hanger than on me. It's clear I've done the same thing picking patterns for myself as I have with fabric.  I'm considering those past projects as good practice for honing my sewing skills, but in the future I'm going to be choosier on selecting patterns for myself too. 

I've still got a long way to go.  Actively going through my stash makes me realize just how hoarder-iffic I'd gotten, but I'm going to keep with it so I'll end up with less full bins and more finished projects.

And if YOU have any other ideas, experiences, hoarding anecdotes, etc. go ahead and share them in the comments.  We fabric hoarders love to know we're not alone!





26 comments:

  1. I know this isn't helping you, but I only wish I had a tiny fraction of your stash. ;)

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    1. Hehe. Well, you're in luck then because I'll have a few stash busting fabric giveaways coming up soon!

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  2. That fruit and veggie fabric is so FUN (the food group one). I can totally see why you had to have that one. (and it would make cute potholders, either real ones or play ones for a toy kitchen--depending on the size of the marked out blocks).

    I'm in the same boat as you are with the stashing. One thing that helped me was signing up for a monthly fabric club. I know that sounds like the total opposite of what I should do, but I found after looking at my stash that I was low on a lot of useful blenders so that's the club I decided to do for one year (to get all the colors). So every month I spend $20 and get a few new fat quarters of useful blenders and I get my buying fix (and mystery fix, I love mystery fabrics!) but it only adds a small bit to the stash.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that "I've got to have it" pull and thank you for the good idea - I need some new potholders too.

      I think your plan is smart because you're building a useful stash rather than a random one. And you can still get your fabric fix;)

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  3. My fabric stash is out of control. I actually find it's easy to go buy more fabric than dig through what I've got. I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that links to your post:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/advice-from-a-reformed-fabric-hoarder/2015/03/25/
    --Anne

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    1. I've been there Anne. LOL. I don't think we're alone either. Thanks for sharing this - hopefully these tips will help fellow fabric hoarders too!

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  4. Great tips. Pretty fabrics, too, though!!!!

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    1. Thanks - sticking to it has been the key to it all. Plus it's made me appreciate some of the stuff I'd forgotten all about until I started sorting.

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  5. What is the smallest size fabric scrap to save? I think part of my problem is saving too many small irregular shaped pieces of scrap fabric.

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    1. I've fallen into that trap too. Some would argue it's ALL useable, but how many actually do?

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    2. I've fallen into that trap too. Some would say ANY size is useable, but how many people ACTUALLY use all those scraps up?

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    3. Smaller pieces can be used as appliques or making squares for quilts, esp the nine-patch square design.

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  6. I've been trying to de-stash too. I am definitely shopping in my stash these days -which is a big plus. Also, I have tried giving away one fabric length a month. I feel great doing it and it helps de-stash at a rate that doesn't cause me panic (because I am addicted to my stash).

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    1. That's a great plan and manageable too!

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  7. Buying fabric takes much less time that actually using it :) I loove that food group fabric and would use it to make fun placemats for the kids! I'd also use that veggie print in the last photo for a fun 1/2 apron!

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    1. Man, is that the truth Christina! Probably why so many of us became fabric hoarders - I used to tell myself if I bought more fabrics I was excited about, I'd use them faster. Trouble was I was excited about everything I bought. I like those ideas for the food group fabric too.

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  8. This is great advice! I have done the same with scrapbooking paper, and now I have tons of it. I have done the same thing with yarn, and in the last year I started sewing again and noticed I was starting to collect a ton of fabric too (in my defense, quite a bit was given to me that used to belong to a lady that passed on). I love the way you explained everything here and I have been doing the same. I have a big stash of fabric sitting out and I'm going to use it. I do love pretty colors and patterns!! :)

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    1. Thanks Carmen - I think declaring it, in writing, & sharing the progress has helped me stick to it. I hope it's helped others too. There are so many posts about organizing or starting to do things, but not a lot of "what happens later", so I thought that would help people feel that they could really do it too.

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  9. Make some pillowcases to donate with fabric that isnt you any more. It might be somebody else. A good charity project for the million pillowcase project.

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    1. I have made a few pillowcases to use some up and that's a good idea. Unfortunately that particular charity doesn't have any participating stores that aren't hours away from me, but I'll be looking into some of the others they mention that also accept donations.

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  10. I tracked spending and put myself until a budget last year, and it UN-hoardified my thought process. I haven't destashed, but I haven't made bad fabric choices or impulse shopped. I've only got 3 bins but I bet a third of it I'll never use! I found a lady on freecycle.org asking for scraps as small as 2 inches. If she emails me back, I'll give her yards! Loving this series;)

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    1. I'm so glad sharing this journey is helping others as much as it's helping me:) Good for you Amy! Figuring out how to not make bad choices (although I know many would say there are never bad choices for stash fabrics) is a key aspect. I hope that Freecycle works out - I've got to look into that too.

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  11. Oh, wow - me too!!! I realized I had fabric stashed in not one... not two.. but THREE closets. And, I don't mean a a couple of yards, but a lot. I couldn't find things, had stuff I didn't want anymore, felt guilty buying more.... So, a couple of months ago I donated a BUNCH to a homeschooling group that is teaching students to sew. I still have a lot, but it is in one room now, which certainly helps. And, I have really put my foot down on buying more - that is hard, but until I have made a decent dent in my current supply I really can't justify buying more. Sigh.... being responsible really isn't fun sometimes! And the fact it, if I had sewn up everything I've purchased I would have quite the wardrobe by now.

    I know what Anne means about it being easier to buy more than go through what I have...

    I like that idea about putting a stack of fabrics out so they stay in your mind, and you come up with ways to use them. I am quite guilty of forgetting what all I have, but putting a stack of spring/summer fabrics would will remind me to "shop" there and get them used up.

    And.... I HATE the example I am setting for my kids! Here I am, going around the house, decluttering (doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent right now) and making great progress. But, that sewing room could use some help, and I know it. Makes it harder to tell family members to weed out things, they have too much when they need only point to shelves of fabric that I am 100% responsible for buying.

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    1. You're spot on with that example point Angela and that's a great bonus reminder. I'm always on my kids about messes and holding on to old scribbles, kid's meal prizes, toys they forgot about and other random stuff, yet I've got bins of fabrics I'm saving and drawers full of craft supplies I never use. Definitely going to keep that in mind this month and keep plugging away at things. And I'm definitely borrowing that 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent next year - or maybe just start it immediately after Lent this year....;)

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  12. Love this post! I just keep nodding as I read it...everything you say makes sense and true. I have seen my taste changed, pulling some fabrics out of the bin helps, and I have bought unflattering fabrics too. Fortunately I have a little girl, and you know little girls can wear anything and look cute :) So I better sew them all before she grows up...

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    1. Same here Annie. Now I've pulled out about half my stash trying to use them up....we just need to keep an even pace and we'll work through 'em!

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