To stash or not to stash?

by Kate on October 4, 2010

A very personal question, wouldn’t you agree?

This time last year I was looking at my fabric stash and thought ‘why do I have an entire cupboard full of fabric?’. At that time, I very rarely sewed from my stash and I realised that my taste in fabric had changed. I decided to offload the fabric that I knew I wouldn’t use and change both my fabric buying and sewing habits.

Now, where possible, I try and sew from my stash as much as I can. This is pretty easy to do on small projects but quilts are a bit different. I generally buy fabric when I am making a quilt but I am really anal about quantities  and buy only what is required.

There are a few exceptions to my ‘non-stashing’ rule and they include solids, linen and Liberty. I know I will always use these guys and like to have a selection on hand.

My little system has being working quite nicely which I think is assisted greatly by having a fantastic patchwork store on my doorstep. I just don’t need to be buying up in bulk anymore.

Storage was also a big reason why I didn’t really sew from my stash. Having my fabric locked away in a cupboard didn’t make for an inspiring sewing environment and when Kirst was offloading this little hutch, I snapped it up.

This is pretty much my entire stash (apart from my linens and treasured Liberty’s – they are housed elsewhere).

The hutch lives in our study and I love that every time I am on the computer, I can swivel around, look at my fabric and contemplate the next project.

So, do you or do you not stash? Is it a conscious decision or do circumstances play a part?

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mookah October 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

Come on. Surely every sewer has a stash? I absolutely love your little hutch and how organised it is. Just a little envious…..


2 Deb October 4, 2010 at 7:46 am

I stash vintage linens, but I try and only buy fabrics for projects. Having said that I tend to buy a bit during the summer when we have more money, and busily sew through it during the winter, when there's less about (we have a seasonal business!) It's funny how your tastes change, I have noticed that.


3 Lindsay October 4, 2010 at 7:53 am

I only stash when I come across a fabric that I know I wont need now but might not be around when I am ready for it. Like Innocent crush :). However, if I had more money in the budget for fabric I certainly would stash for the time when I get back into school and can not buy anything but still want to sew.


4 XUE October 4, 2010 at 8:10 am

I live in Tokyo & I am addicted to Japanese fabrics so my stash is pretty scary ! Your stash is so pretty & so neatly organised !


5 Mon Petit Lapin October 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

Your collection looks great, so pleasing and inspiring when its well organised like this, you were lucky to find such a nice display. I'm definitely a stasher because Im a sucker for cute fabric whether I have a project in mind or not!


6 Evelyne October 4, 2010 at 8:19 am

Am currently re-organising my sewing room and have boxed shelving – perfect place to store my stash. Thanks for the idea. Need to paint them first and add some shelves.


7 Flaming Nora October 4, 2010 at 8:21 am

My stash is so big i have a lock up to store it in! It does all get used though. Just a natural born hoarder I guess!


8 Suzy October 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

That hutch is a great way of storing! The colours look so pretty. And I agree, you can never have too much linen or Liberty.
I struggle with stashing… I used to buy a lot of fabric in Japan, and I do try and use up stashed fabric as much as I can but often when I go to start sewing I find that the things I have are either the wrong amount (too little for dressmaking) or that my taste in prints and colours has changed, so I end up buying more anyway. Bad storage definitely makes it harder – mine's stuffed away in a chest of drawers so I forget what's there.


9 Jeanne October 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

I don't stash – I collect. :-) I love to make stuff, but I've loved textiles since I was a child and my fabric collection started long before I learned how to do anything with it. The oldest piece of fabric in my collection is something I hounded my mother into buying for me in 1969!


10 Bellgirl October 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

I'm doing most of my sewing from stash, and I find it easier to break into the smaller cuts and scraps.

However, I keep replenishing stash, mainly because I live near Darn Cheap Fabrics which sells remainder stock of quilting cottons very cheaply. It's a bit of a trap really, because I know there's limited quantities so I'll snap up large quantities of what I might need for a quilt back. Storage is a problem! I love your hutch, it looks very accessible.


11 Megan October 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

Stash? Ummm I pretty much fall into the hoarder category. But I do use everything, I just need more time to sew to use it up in!


12 Liesl October 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

Your hutch looks beautiful – so organised!

I have a ludicrous stash. There is an inverse relationship between sewing and stashing speed … and I quite possibly should never buy a piece of fabric again in my lifetime!


13 Mary on Lake Pulaski October 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

Love the hutch – I need something like that. I have a stash, but it is all tucked away in bins because I don't have a sewing room….just a room which is the office/guest bedroom and my sewing room. So when guests come fabric must have a home elsewhere. AND my closest fabric store is 25 miles away.


14 Tania October 4, 2010 at 9:38 am

To my reckoning a stash is imperative – how else do you whip up a something on a whim at 10.45pm? But the neatly foldedness such as yours is something that happens with my stash twice a year and lasts until the next 10.45pm whip up whim…


15 Jen October 4, 2010 at 9:40 am

I'm a stasher, to my husband's dismay. I buy stuff when it's on special, certain fabric lines that I like and know will be gone by the time I want to use it, and when the $AUD is at sky high rates, like now!
Unfortunately I had just organised myself when my mother-in-law's best friend decided to de-stash and dumped her entire sewing room contents on me! Not my tastes mostly and I just don't know what to do with it. And my room is a total mess once again.


16 Cathy October 4, 2010 at 10:15 am

I'm sure I overstash, and like you was finding I wasn't sewing much from my stash until I stored it 'out in the open'! Now every time I walk into my little sewing room, my stash is right there ready for me to start playing with. I adore your hutch Kate.


17 CurlyPops October 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

My stash is bordering on the ridiculous, but on the upside, I can make anything I want without going shopping!


18 Blossomnbird October 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

Lovely to hear about others little stash stories…I'm currently trying to sort out an entire room full of thrifted fabrics and garments i had collected for sewing projects. Now with twin babies my priorities have changed…I'm wishing for more time and space (and much less sifting and sorting)…so back to the thrift store it all goes! (well lots of it anyway :)


19 Krista October 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

Oh, that's a beautiful stash! It's really easy to see what things you love.

I have way too much fabric, so I'm swapping out what I know I won't use. But I have found recently that I'll pull out fabrics that I've had forever and finally they click in a project. So it makes me wary of getting rid of too much! The only ones I regret buying are the really bright multi colored prints geared more towards kids.

My staples now are shot cottons– I will always use them. Basic geometric prints. Linen. Echino. I would LOVE some Liberty, but I just haven't been able to get over the sticker shock that comes with it!

Those shelves are also fantastic!


20 RED PEPPER QUILTS October 4, 2010 at 11:24 am

I am a stasher, but it is all there to be used. I wish my stash was half as tidy as yours!



21 Mel October 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

Oh I'm trying very VERY hard to not be lured in by the hot flash of excitement when I see something new (bloody Amy keeps tempting me with her wares!). Never in a million years will I use all the fabric I have in my cupboard but when I buy fabric it's like I'm buying a "promise" of a time in the future where I will be able to sit and sew something! But like you, my tastes have changed since those first, heady days of sewing. I started to offload some last week to a local sewing/art workshop where the kids do some classes. Slowly but surely …. ;)


22 Sandrine October 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm

humm I have a drawer full of fabric and not enough time to sew and not so well accessible for the inspiration to strike :)I agree with what you are saying about taste changing with some fabric patterns and linens are a forever must at my place as well!Your stash is really inspiring the way you have it there,I think it is also why we need a stash too! :)Happy Monday x


23 Leslie October 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

you know, i do stash but just before i read this i opened a package of fabric form the mail and thought about the other fabric i have upstairs and i did ask myself the same as you did, "why do i have all of this fabric? when am i ever going to use it?" i don't know the answer to this but maybe i can figure it out


24 Bianca Jae Makes Stuff October 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm

At the moment I'm in stashing mode. Given the insurance money and hubby changing jobs, and taking a pay cut, I'm stashing like the world is ending. Funny that I didn't think to save money….mmmmmm Will ponder that while I stare at my stash ;)


25 Angie October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I have one…but i sure do need some organization tips from your beautiful stash display!


26 Sooz October 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for this contemplation. I stash. Unabashedly stash. It's a problem. But now I see there is a way out…
Best, Sooz


27 Ducks and Rabbits October 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I love your new cupboard! My 'stash', which is quite small, is stored in plastic bags in my wardrobe at the moment. There are some things I MUST have that I keep in my stash, but I often find myself needing to buy new fabric for specific projects. That said, I could easily sew for a good year without buying anything!


28 Patchwork and Play October 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Yes, sadly I do have a stash- some fabrics go back over 20 years! I am seriously thinking of getting rid of the stuff I don't absolutely LOVE, especially as I tend to make smaller items now rather than quilts!


29 Catherine October 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I'm definitely a stasher but now have fabric that is not really me anymore so intend to use it up by piecing it for quilt backings. I have my newer purchasers on display in baskets in my sewing attic and love that it inspires every time i'm in there creating.


30 patchworkoncentralpark October 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I don't know about others but I have found it best not to just stash fabrics but just buy what is needed when the urge to create strikes. I often use up leftover fabrics from a quilt in the back.
As a past stasher I found that whenever I would go to use the stashed fabric it was never quite right, and just kept my shelves warm.
I am still clearing out fabrics I will never use.


31 Wendy October 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Oh I stash, boy do I stash! I've got the same problem I have with my patterned paper – it's so pretty I can't bear to use it! I am slowly overcoming that though!!


32 GUGAW October 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm

ooh i'm doing exactly the same with my jewellery supplies and it feels great! going to use it as an opportunity to refresh my designs. your storage looks fab.


33 Meg October 5, 2010 at 4:02 am

I stash! And I try to work from it exclusively. I love making scrappy quilts, so if I want to use a color in a quilt, it will be 4 or more different fabrics instead of just one fabric throughout. It means that I can build or "bust" as I feel moved to, and typically, all I "need" to buy for a project (even a big quilt) might be batting and some solid for sashing.


34 Kirsty October 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

It looks beautiful. My stash is all crap really…just a few lovely vintage bits & pieces…and boxes of warwick stuff too ;)


35 Samantha October 5, 2010 at 8:35 am

I stash… way too much material!!! We recently moved and I have realised how much material I have! I think I have a serious problem. I never have time to sew but designers keep bringing out new lines and I don't want to miss out so I buy it and it sits in the cupboard! I'm hoping now that I have 2 girls to sew for my stash will start to disappear… here's hoping! I am very jealous of your organisation though, I have nothing like that and no area that can be mine for sewing here in our new home. I'm also a little worried that if I have my material out on display my husband will see just how much I've got and freak! :)


36 Anna October 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

good topic! I do stash, but try to use as much as I can when I can. I do still have some fabrics I don't really like anymore and am trying to find ways of cleverly getting rid of them. And yes, I always try to ask myself when and if I'll ever have time to use it all up!


37 Valerie October 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

it seems like a wise decision.
but yes to have fabrics stashed on open shelves definitely helps !
i stashed less than in the past (because i don't have any space left !!) but i would say a good side with full&happy shelves like yours is that you start a new project whenever the inspiration strickes. even at night !


38 Gina October 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Down with stashing! Up with buying-on-a-project-by-project-basis. That's my theory, but meanwhile, I do have a bit of a stash and I need to sort it through further, decide what to keep and let the rest go.

Also drooling over the hutch!


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