Friday, June 30, 2017

Stash Management

Reposting (originally published 6/28/12)

Oh the stash... it just grows and grows, doesn't it?

Okay, here is an exercise for all of us. ALL OF US... Yes, ALL of us...

You know that fabric stash that is stuffed in your closets, drawers, boxes, rubbermaid tins, cedar chests... wherever? I know you've got piles of fabric waiting for your next project soon someday. Okay... today we're gonna decide that's okay. Part of the creative process is collecting hoarding curating a fabric supply. That's what keeps the creative juices flowing.

I'm being serious here. I have yet to visit the workspace of any creative person, fully immersed in the art of making things, who doesn't have a big ol' pile of creative madness going on. Embrace it.

Why do I bring this up?

History has taught me that when I wander in and out of fabric stores, I see all kinds of great things that I would love to use, if only I had a project going for which I could use it. If I decide I want those things six months later, I may never find them again. Here's the thing... buy it, and you may be surprised by what it inspires later on! I made some covered buttons about 6 years ago and never finished the project for which they were intended. Time marched on, the design idea lost its luster, and my daughter asked for the buttons instead. She made use of one in a fabulous necklace made for my birthday! Creative karma...

Another reason to curate a healthy stash? When the fabric is considered before your creation/design decisions or pattern purchases, you can build a wardrobe of planned items that are interchangeable and/or coordinating, rather than a one-at-atime approach, that keeps you buying new shoes accessories and bags to complement each piece. A time/money saver! See...? Not so crazy, huh?

So, feed your stash, people. Organize it to the best of your ability, but understand that it is part of the process.

Now, cue some sad bugle playing taps, while you scroll through the swatches of fabulous fabrics I regret not buying, or not buying enough of...

Some sorta leather-like wool animal-printed fabric I found at Paron. Just weird enough to intrigue me, but not creating a sharp enough creative vision in my head to coax any money out of my wallet that day. NOW, I can see the winter vest it should have been.



I am almost embarrased to share how long this crinkled denim (above) lived in my stash. In an appetizing color I affectionately call "Pepto", I always knew it needed to be a pair of pants, but there was never quite enough of it to become a pair. So it became a jumper. And a hasty one at that. One I have never, ever, ever worn...

I need a tissue.

And quite possibly a hug.

Learn from my mistakes, folks. I share because I care...

The best stores for stash shopping are the ones where you find wonderful surprises in limited quantity or quick/limited seasonal availability. Bring your wallet with some "mad" money, because these are a few of the places to find the fabrics you weren't looking for:

Mood225 W. 37th St., 3rd floor (mid-block, office building, go into the lobby and take the elevator to the 3rd floor)

Paron
257 West 39th st (bet. 7th 8th ave) New York, NY 10018

Metro Textiles
265 West 37th Street Suite 908 New York, NY 10018
More info about this store can be found here.

Enjoy yourself, take deep breaths, and embrace the stash...

16 comments:

  1. Mimi - what a fantastic post! I think one of the reasons my fabric collection is so large is because I've learned to "collect" for the future. And my collection has never let me down in times of emergencies, I've always found what I needed right there!

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    1. Thank you! I see you've been making some pretty fabulous stuff lately!

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  2. I do best when I buy fabric & let it inspire me for a project, not the other way around. Quilters are excellent stash builders. It's all about the stash, and keeping it organized like a rainbow. There are web sites where we exhibit our collections or drool over others' stashes. Ami Simms' site & her "Show Me Your STASH!" page comes right to mind...

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    1. So important for quilters and anyone who combines colors and fabrics in a collage-like way. Impossible without a stash, I'm pretty sure.

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  3. Here's a little advice to sewers who DON'T have a stash (speaking from experience): You really limit your creativeness if you have no stash. Up until last year, I bought only the fabric I needed for the exact pattern. Then I tossed the leftovers so I didn't have clutter. Could not figure out what to do with them anyway. Then, I started taking classes from well-known designers, sewists, fiber-artists, etc. When asked to bring fabrics from my stash, I had to go buy some. Of course, I bought stuff that matched each other. Now, I have about 20 different fabrics in my studio, from crinkled knits to cashmere wool blends to my treasured deep purple leather hides from the leather store I got on my recent to the district (from the great little Russian couple who have all manner of leathers and furs). Now, when I go to my studio to make a garment, I have more options to play with and my sewing is much more creative. So to those of you who have little to no stash, I urge you to get out there and get SOME FABRIC ASAP! Your creative side (and the Garment District vendors) will thank you! Love posts and chat about stash! Jackie in Toledo, OH

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  4. I agree...to an extent. There is such a thing as stash that is just too big, with more fabric than one person can possibly sew in lifetime. And what happens when we sewers go in to that nursing home? I bet most of it goes into a dumpster. Like anything a certain amount of moderation is necessary,my rule now is"two out, one in" - two items sewn and then can add to the stash with new fabric.

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    1. Of course there are limits... but for most of us, our wallets will stop us eventually!

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  5. Shhhhhh! My husband still hasn't opened the doors to the closet in the spare room. We can probably pay off our house with the treasures that are hidden in there. ;=]

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  6. There's the term "SABLE" -- which stands for Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy. Quilters joke about it, but it does happen. So they often specify who gets their stashes, either in their wills or by telling their wishes to their families. My family knows to call my quilting friends for help distributing my fabrics to those who can use them. Meanwhile, I have a rainbow in my sewing room to happily play with.

    My guild has inherited several stashes. The fabric was cut & distributed in kits to make quilts that were then donated to different charities. Our Education Committee also used the fabric to demonstrate quilting at schools & girls' clubs.

    Something I do for stash management -- I write the date & the store on each selvage, using a fabric marker. I also make sure that before I leave the store, I get the maker & design name from the bolt if my particular cut doesn't have that complete info on the edge. Helps if I need to track down more of that fabric later.

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    1. Some of the best items in my stash were inherited from other sewers' "SABLEs". I am grateful for them. Who woulda thought that their 1970's trip to a wool mill in Scotland would be a great jacket for me in 2012?

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  7. I definitively get inspired by the fabric first - and at some point the perfect pattern is suddenly there, and I can start immediately :-)

    It is also nice to know that if I am going through a "dry period" meaning I am traveling less - I buy most fabric when I travel to cities where there are lots of fabric stores (New York being one of them of course) - then I still know that I have enough to take me through dark and rainy winter evenings.

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    1. Yes, Carin. Great to buy what inspires you when you see it, rather than trying to dream something up at home, and then search for it!

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  8. I was sorry to see a reference to Paron, whose doors closed last year in August or September. I have a stash of nice shirtings and light cottons that will keep me in nightgowns for years from there. It was my go to place.

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    1. Sad as Paron's unfortunate closing may be, wonderful goods are peeking out of many corners in the district! I can tell you, there are shirtings to die for in some of my favorite district haunts!

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