16 November 2014

Counting the Stash

It's no secret that I have a lot of fabric.  I've adopted an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of existence by storing all of it in plastic bins.  Since I am trying to downsize, I wanted to get an idea of how much fabric I really had and see if there are some pieces I can live without. So for the last few days, I've been cataloging all of my stash by separating it into categories and measuring each piece.

The totals so far:
  • denim - 29.5
  • light-weight cotton & stretch cotton - 81.25
  • silk - 89.625
  • pants/dress wools - 90
  • printed shirtings - 6.5
  • striped shirtings - 44.125
  • solid shirtings - 78.625
  • bottomweights/boucle - 31.25
  • stretch suitings - 20.5
  • non-stretch suitings - 12.375
  • jacket wools - 25.75
  • coat wools - 49.75
  • skirt wools - 58.75
  • knit/wool boucle - 6.25
As of today, I have approximately 624.25 yards of fabric.  This total doesn't include any ponte, rayon, or ITY knits, linen, or lining.  It also doesn't include the large box of fabric that I plan to give away.  I went through 13 bins of fabric and still have 12 to do.  o_O

Damn.  Shame.

There are some sheep freezing their little asses off because of my addiction to love of wool.   Yes, I know their hair will grow back.  But still.  The amount of wool I have in my possession is beyond excessive.  Over 1/3 of the total yardage is wool. My dry cleaner is a happy camper.  My friend the environmentalist?  Not so much.

I am going on a month-to-month fabric fast.  There is absolutely no reason for me to buy anything!  The only exception is Kasha lining and lambswool or cotton flannel for the thousand coats I need to make.  Aside from that, I am committing to not buy a single inch.  I just can't.

A great deal of my fabric was the result of retail therapy.  

sad face + credit card = the reason for this post

The silver lining to counting the stash is that I am reminded of some of the goodness that I have and that I want to sew.  I've taken out several pieces already and got patterns in my mind to start cutting.  

Someone has to sew this fabric and life's too short to let it sit around collecting dust.  I'm not going to be afraid to cut into the fabric for fear of losing a good piece.  I have so much, I'm sure I can find something else.

This project has created a mixed range of emotions - including excitement, frustration, and a bit of sadness.  I can't believe I let my fabric buying get out of control!  At the same time, I'm getting motivated to do something about it.

Has anyone else counted their stash?  What was it like for you?

***

On a completely separate note, I will leave you with one of the myriad crazy things students have said to me in the past:

Last year, when I asked a student why her homework wasn't completed, she said that she and her roommate had a five-hour twerk session.

Yes.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Not only was the phrase "five-hour twerk session" used in a sentence, it was also the reason given for not having completed an assignment.  I didn't even know how to be mad.  These are our future doctors, lawyers, and engineers.  I am moving to Mars.

L

37 comments:

  1. I just read your post and I do have quite the fabric stash myself but I don't feel that it would be quite as large if I had a different profession. I am a 1st grade teacher and between lesson plans, checking papers, putting grades in, and trying to come up with creative teaching ideas I dont have the time or energy for sewing. While I realize your teaching a different level, do you feel that your career choice hinders your sewing? If not, any suggestions? I live in Michigan too.

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    1. Despite what some may think about teaching, it really is an exhausting job - mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have a friend who complains that he has to work all year round while I "get the summer off." He doesn't realize that I take my job home with me every night and on weekends and during school breaks. Just because school is out doesn't mean there isn't work to do!

      I definitely get more sewing done during the summer, though I could do more during the school year. I mentioned before that I am a caregiver for an ill parent and that consumes a lot of emotional energy. When I take the time to sew, it's usually a few minutes here or there. I did get some sewing done this weekend.

      Are your ready for the crazy weather? One of my students from Florida was excited to see snow falling. Aww. Poor child has no idea what's in store for her! That cloud sneeze was nothing compared to a *real* snow fall!

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    2. Thanks for responding and glad to know it's not just me! Enjoy your stash. I feel that my stash is my little reward. Now I just need to find the time to sew it up!!!!

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  2. well what can I say, if it's on sales from 20 something down to 3 something we can't just walk away can we? I have the biggest bag Hancocks has that says no just a month ago lol! maybe there should be a linky party for "are you a collector or a horder" lol! lol! there are reasons why I buy fabric, one because I love it! out weighs need it! my excuses are,it's on sale! I might have a sewing party one day & let my friends pick from my stash oh did I just say that? it's all good if I hide the good stuff humm did that just put me in the horder category lol! we all have reasons & excuses but the bottom line is we love our fabrics! if you decide not to buy anymore for a while you may need to hold on to it that changes your category to satisfied lol!

    Helen

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    1. Oh Helen I definitely understand. A lot of the fabric I have was bought on sale. Sales are evilly awesome! I am really committed to not buying anything more fabric, save for a particular houndstooth that I want for a coat (M7025).

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  3. Wow! Quite the stash. I would probably be in your shoes if I didn't live in Canada where the shipping is expensive lol.

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    1. I know! Shipping is crazy expensive!

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  4. As someone with an extensive fabric collection, I understand how it can feel overwhelming. This year I've bought less fabric then since my children were younger because I do want to spend more time sewing fabric than storing it. However, my collection still inspires me and motivates me to sew. AND when I use certain pieces, I'm actually sad that they are now missing from the collection. I have to talk myself out of buying more. *LOL*

    Good luck with counting the rest of the bins! BTW, I also use giving fabric away as a way to whittle the collection down. I'm always thrilled to read about or hear when a sewist has used a piece I sent them!

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    1. The feeling is definitely overwhelming. I've taken a break because I felt this sense of dread come over me. I still have to catalog all of the knits and linen. I might resume this project in January. =)

      I do feel inspired to start sewing more often now that I've gone through almost have of the stash. Like you, I've also cut down on buying. I didn't purchase any fabric in October and I'm on track to doing the same in November.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

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  5. WOW, I'm impressed that you are measuring each piece!!! I mainly buy because I am on vacation and the fabric is not readily accessible to me (the only store is Joann's and while they do seem to be getting better with the fabric, the agony of the cutting counter is not worth it. Lately I have been taking pictures of the bolt label and if I really really want it then I'll order it online).

    But I buy way too much fabric on the vacation trips. Last year around this time I purged the stash and it's time to do so again. I don't have a basement or garage and I'm not going into the attic so my choices are to either get it into a closet or look at it, and I don't want to look at it because it makes me feel out of control.

    It is time to purge again and I actually started to do so yesterday with my clothes. My clothes closet and dresser drawers are packed so it's time to reduce.

    I did find a new place to store fabric in my house yesterday. I realized I have a stash of new bed pillows--the kind for sleeping on, not the decorative kind--from when I was trying to find a new one that I liked. If I donated them then that opens up a new place to store fabric, yay!

    As for the twerking comment, that is hysterical!!! They should have phrased it as "we exercised for 5 hours" . Keep the crazy student comments coming! :)

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    1. I think buying on vacation is fine. Whenever you wear that garment, you'll always be reminded of the special place where you bought it. And at least you use your fabric! Mine slowing antiquing in my basement. LOL

      I donated two boxes of clothes about a month ago and have started another box. I wasn't wearing any of that stuff and the longer it sat, the more space it consumed. Besides, someone else could be wearing the stuff, so why not give it away?

      As for the student comments, I keep saying that I'm going to write a book of all the wacky things I've heard since I started teaching. So funny!

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  6. I haven't actually counted my stash, but I did have to face it when we moved last year. Like you, I also tend to fabric shop as retail therapy. I also tend to buy more fabric when I can't sew or have low sewjo. I did donate 50 yards earlier this year and have an IKEA bag of another 50 yards ready to go to Goodwill.

    Loved the twerking comment! I don't know how I'd even react to that.

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    1. You're good Michelle! I think I have about 20 yards to donate. Some of the fabric I can't part with right now. Then again, I said that years ago about the fabric I will donate now.

      As for the twerking comment, my mouth dropped. I was speechless!

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  7. I probably need to have a fabric purge but I don't that' it'll happen. As far as twerking goes who in the heck wants to even think about twerking for 5 hours?? The thought of it makes my joints ache to no end.

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    1. I know! I sure hope they took a break somewhere in there.

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  8. I feel much better about my stash since reading this. I am clearly a minor leaguer.

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    1. LOL. It's been accumulating for ten years. There are people I'm sure have more than this!

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  9. I seem to be able to stick to a plan in fabric shops. My undoing is sad face + credit card + internet .. although I am way more restrained than I used to be.
    All that wool sounds luscious. There are some nice new coat patterns out ;))

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    1. That's good to have a plan! It keeps the impulse-buying at bay. Like you, I am more restrained now than in the past.

      How many wool garments does someone need?? I need washable stuff!

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  10. I saw the title to this post and was shaking my head and saying, "NO L! Don't do it! Don't count it!!!"

    I am astonished that this is only half of your stash!!!

    I was tracking mine but that made me feel out of control because YIKES! I know I need to cull though because there are pieces that I continuously push to the side when I'm looking for fabric.

    Fabric as therapy - yep. Me too. I can get lost in imagining the possibilities.

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    1. I know, I know! Where were you a few days ago when I started down this dark tunnel to nowhere? =)

      You're astonished? I am vexed! Counting it has opened my eyes to the bad habit of my pain. I need to make it worth it by sewing the fabric!

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    2. I didn't know you were a caregiver for your parent. And teaching. Oh gosh I can't imagine how much you must push yourself!

      I'm fasting for November and aiming for December - except a trip to SR. Harris when someone visits in December. I am still on the lookout for a fabric for a white shirt and I want to try my hand at making jeans in January so I need a cut of stretch denim.

      Solidarity!

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  11. You are a much braver woman than me, but do at times feel overwhelmed at my stash. Oh wool that is something that we seem to be lacking of any quality, enjoy.

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    1. Really? I didn't know that. There is so much wool here in the States - quiet a bit is imported. I'll be on the look out if you'd like to receive some pieces.

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  12. "sad face + credit card = the reason for this post"

    Oh thank you for the chuckle! I am exactly the same way!

    All of my fabric is marked and I used to count it but have not done so in the last 2 years because it was too overwhelming of a task. I estimate that I was over 800 yards at the beginning of this year. Then I did a giveaway/adoption fundraiser and over 300 yards left my stash.

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    1. Wowow! To go from 800 to 300 yards is amazing! How did you run the giveaway/adoption fundraiser? Like MrsSmith, I also get lost in imagining the possibilities. Every piece that I counted and kept has an idea attached to it. As long as that idea exists, the fabric stays. How did you get around that?

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  13. I don't mean to be an enabler, but it's good to know I'm not the only one. I stopped counting once I realized I had over 800 yards of fabric. I could stock a small fabric store. However, like you, I've started sewing the "good" stuff. It's quite liberating. I have decided to do a 2015 fabric fast. I have such beautiful pieces, there's something for any garment/gift I want to sew. Oh yeah, I think I'll join you on Mars. :-)
    Cynthia

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    1. ^^This!
      Sewing the good stuff is liberating because you can actually *wear* it! I hesitated cutting the fabric for my Indygo Junction coat for fear of messing it up. I love everything about that coat now. Over the weekend, I cut and sewed a skirt from one of the silk tweeds I have. It felt great to finally use the fabric!

      How do you think our fabric will hold up in the Martian atmosphere? =)

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  14. I think I could twerk for five hours in preference to some assignments as well - I could, but I wouldn't!

    Better make sure there are no twerkers on Mars....

    I think I have about as much stash as you - some of it was to make me feel better, but a lot is quite pragmatic - it really is hard to find decent fabrics in Australia - bits and pieces, yes, but never when you want them. So I have built a large stash, and some of it now I don't even like - so I've got to use it. I need to add top fabric to the stash though, and one or two garment specific pieces, and then I'll join you in downsizing that stash :) Lets join forces in 2015...(and in 2016 lets restash but better bits - give us something to look forward to).

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    1. I would prefer to do a lot of things over a writing assignment! I never liked English or writing and it always takes me the longest time to complete an assignment.

      I wonder how twerking on Mars would work with its atmosphere. Hmm... LOL

      I will gladly join with you to styling the stash and focusing on better pieces!

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  15. I counted and catalogued my stash earlier in the year. I counted about 250 metres but I didn't count 2 rectangle plastic bins of funny stuff. Sometimes I buy stuff for costume making for my son... that has come in handy. Like Sarah Liz says, not always easy to get good fabric at a good price so I always stock up at a designer sale that happens about once every 12 - 18 months. I know there is Tessuti (Sydney - I'm in Brisbane) and The Fabric Store but a lot of the times I can't afford their prices so the designer stuff is this high quality but the most I have paid is $8 pm with most at about $2. Having said that, I have some linen from 20 years ago and I'm aiming to use the good stuff. It's funny if I think about it, I save the good stuff in case something doesn't work out but mostly stuff does work out.

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    1. Let's start using the good stuff! I made a skirt recently out of some silk tweed that I had in the stash and I love it. I've had it for a few years and saved it because I liked it so much. I like it even more now that I can wear it.

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  16. Holy cow, that's a lot of fabric! I have been much more deliberate in my own buying for the last few years, and my husband is perplexed at the extra money each month...the guy had no idea! Getting my stash onto shelves really helped me use it rather than letting it languish in rubbermaid containers. I wish you luck as you sew through your wonderful stash.

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    1. I know!! And the total is only half of all of the bins!! Storing the fabric in rubbermaid containers certainly didn't help as it was easy for me to forget what I had. Counting and cataloging everything has revealed how much I really have and why it is unnecessary for me to buy anything new for a long time. Thank you for the good luck! Now I need to sew. =)

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  17. I had to look up what twerking is! Unbelievable. Not the definition of twerking but the response from the student.

    The first response that I had after reading that you are counting the yardage was :o, Why would you want to torture yourself like that! Lol.. But you are on a mission. You are doing it for reason. My best wishes! Check out Brooks Palmer's blog.. He posts short blogposts on decluttering and letting of the guilt and any other negative emotions while decluttering.

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    1. LOL. I had no words for her.

      I had to take a break from counting and cataloging because it was torture! On one hand I am reminded of the nice fabrics that I have. On the other hand, I'm reminded of why I have so much fabric. It's quite overwhelming. I'll check out the blog and see if I can get some pointers on how to let go. There are some non-sewing things that I've been holding on to for way too long.

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  18. Here's brook palmers blog on decluttering. I clicked on publish too soon, in my previous reply.
    http://brooks-palmer.blogspot.com/

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