The Lure Of The Empty Page

Empty Notepad ii

Ah, the lure of the empty page. All that potential. A story waiting to be scribed onto virgin paper, that will make your fortune and bring you lifelong applause.

Can you guess? I’m crowbarring in another of my sewing analogies. But bear with me, I think there’s real substance to this one! I have a theory, you see. That there’s a reason people around the world have cupboards brimming with fabric and drawers stuffed with patterns. It’s the potential, the fantasy sewing of the future, unsullied by mistakes and ripped out stitches. A clean page.

This shall be the dress to top all dresses! With my new pattern, I’ll finally sew the perfect outfit. Surely no one could go wrong with zebra print fleece! I’ll buy five metres to be on the safe side. Just in case the first version goes wrong. 

Sound familiar? Do you spend all your hard earned wages on fabric and patterns because of the lure of creations that exist only in your head – that you may or may not get around to sewing?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It just makes me roll my eyes slightly when I stumble across the neon pink silk twill that was definitely going to become a rad outfit. Or the Egyptian sphynx sequins that I’d transform into the best dress ever, even buying a pattern to use – see below. Lots of hopes. Lots of dreams. Lots of fabric!

Maybe one day, I’ll get round to sewing all those outfits. Maybe I won’t. I’m not going to stop dreaming. Maybe I just lock up my purse instead? Any tips for an eternal optimist?

Empty Notepad

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35 Responses to The Lure Of The Empty Page

  1. symondezyn says:

    Oh gosh, yes! Who among us hasn’t given in to the many swirling dreams in our creative brains? ^_^ Even when they do get attempted, they don’t always end up as we envisioned (my guess in my case is that I fail to remember I’m NOT the willowy model on the placket – HA!)

    That being said, I’m glad I have a stash because in my slower times as a freelancer, when cash flow is limited, I shop that bad stash instead & then I can keep stitching dreams! 🙂

    • gingermakes says:

      I’m the same way! I bought a fair amount of fabric when I was working on a few totally insane jobs in a row and had no time or energy to sew, but needed to scratch the creative itch somehow. Now that things are slower, I’ve got some nice things stashed away that I can’t afford now. I think of it as a fabric savings account! 🙂

  2. robyn says:

    i used to do that. then a divorce, series of moves, considerable downsizing and i realized i could not use all this fabric or patterns or craft supplies in 3 lifetimes. so i donated car loads to Gift for Teaching, a friend who runs a theatre company, a church affiliated nursery school. i buy things as i need them [bought yarn for baby blanket and a stuffy last night, going to buy a pattern tonight, new mens size] i feel really good about everything going to happy homes where they will be used instead of just sitting.
    it helps that the nearest fabric store is NOT CLOSE!

  3. It’s so funny but it is true. I think every craft is like that – you buy up patterns, knitting wool, cloth or whatever, thinking “this will be great!”. I’ve got a wool bag like that with balls of yarn just waiting for projects and now I’ve started hoarding fabric. Ah well. For a vice, it’s pretty innocent!

  4. Lauren says:

    It’s good for me to have a stash because I really don’t go fabric shopping often (or have the money to fabric shop being still in school) so I can keep making things! I have a mental list of things to make but it changes all the time, new things get prioritized which is fine.

  5. I’m fairly new to the more than occasional sewing but I have acquired a substantial amount of fabric and patterns (a lot of PDF ones as well that I haven’t even assembled). As life never ceases to surprise me with how unexpected it can be, I have decided (but not vowed, promised or anything that official) not to buy any more patterns or fabric until I sew all that remains not sewn in my drawers, otherwise it means I will have to somehow leave them behind in the house move that’s in the cards for next year. But that’s easier said than done, hehe. I do think though that making an inventory of what I have – patterns & fabric – sometimes help to tick some projects off my list. Time of course is also an issue and wondering why I’d kill myself to make a dress or a top. I guess I like it.

  6. I’m definitely a craft hoarder, but because I like to do so many *different* things, it’s getting a bit out of control. I never ever buy things at full price, though, so I justify it by saying that my stash still cost less money than buying specific things for specific projects would have.

  7. Michelle says:

    Hmmm. I’m not sure I’m with you on this one. I definitely have lots of fabric and lots of patterns. I also have lots of sewing plans and dreams. But, I have a slightly different approach to my fabric and pattern buying than most. I get most of my stash from estate sales. I don’t need to buy more, but I continue to do so, because I HATE the thought of these treasures being sent to the dump. For me, it’s the thrill of finding fancy silks, wildly woven wools, and yards of 1950s flocked tulle that keeps me looking for more. I know full well that I may never be able to use all the materials I currently have at my disposal, and I’m completely at peace with that. I hope that someday, my overflow stash will land in the hands of another ‘thrill seeker’. Let’s face it, vintage fabrics and notions are in shorter supply every day- I stash to sew, but I also stash to preserve.

  8. Having banned myself from purchasing new patterns or new fabric for the last four months (and, eventually, learning to enjoy the challenge), I enjoyed a well-deserved, but very carefully thought out splurge this week 🙂 I’m slowly learning the joy of restraint…

    • Melizza says:

      What I was trying to type before i accidentally hit he publish button was…

      Karen, how are you in my brain?! That is my thinking exactly! Exactly. I fantasize which each purchase. My heart goes a flutter and all is forgotten by the next purchase. Ugh. My sewjng life. It’s as if I hope these things will make me sew faster/better/prettier. Delusional me.

  9. Janet says:

    I would rather not guilt myself and enjoy my hobby. Enjoying the possibilities is so much fun.

  10. You have really hit the nail on the head for me. I am always on the lookout for more fabric. I love dreaming about what it will become, it is a sort of therapy for me. But in spending the time dreaming I am not creating and as a consequence I have a huge stash. Honestly, if I said that I might have a couple of hundred metres of fabric it probably would be a gross underestimate. I can’t bypass a piece of vintage fabric and people very kindly often give me notions and stuff that belonged to their relatives. I am a sucker for shot silk and have two huge plastic crates of the stuff. And as for patterns! I love to buy vintage ones, sometimes just for the artwork. They are hardly ever in my size as plus-sized vintage ones are hard to find but they are fab. I mean a lot of the charity shops I have on the look out for them for me used to use them for wrapping china. The horror! So I feel like I am saving them for another generation. I am on a bit of a self-imposed ban at the moment so that I actually make things with the hoard. Still on the plus side, when inspiration strikes I usually have everything to hand. Xx

  11. Stephani says:

    um, yeah….considering I just bought 10 vintage saris for a steal on Etsy–for, you know, some currently undefined future project–I have no advice to give.

    • Ha, ha, ha! You never know when you might need ten different sari patterns. Let’s call it forward planning.

      • Stephani says:

        LOL! Yes….let’s go with that. I already have 7 in my stash. But two will soon be leaving the stash, so I see this as “restocking”. In a pinch, they make excellent gifts for anyone who likes to sew or for historical costumers interested in the Georgian and Regency eras. The two exiting my stash will be gifts for two members of my local Jane Austen Society group.

  12. Hah! Those saris can get made into lovely quilts! But yes, we all do this. I’ve lately started entering all purchased in Evernote. It actually really helps me to be able to compare something in front of me that I’m considering buying to the stash that I can ‘see’ electronically. So if I’m like ‘oh I loooooove that wool blend’, I can easily look and see that I have a fabric that will essentially realize the same vision. Being in this situation, though, is an obvious outgrowth of too many past binges… 😉

  13. joen says:

    Yep right there with you! I have the fabric and patterns to prove it!! So much fabric so little time….someday maybe.

  14. My tip? Don’t get into patchwork……….it’s HEAPS worse!

  15. sewbusylizzy says:

    I don’t think I’m an eternal optimist… anything but! However I certainly do sew because I love a thought popping into my head and being able to turn it into something tangible – that’s addictive.

  16. Sheree says:

    Your words describe exactly how I am. I have often thought about the reasons why I love to have these ideas and dreams of what I may conjure out of the new fabrics and patterns. It is certainly not about getting a new item of clothing, as I have asked myself if I was to see my current project for sale in the high street, would I rush to buy it. Probably not. Mostly, I think, I am addicted to the buying of new fabric and the planning. Reading blogs has certainly made this habit worse! I read on-line this week about a sample fabric sale that is quite a distance from where I live. I find myself thinking about making the effort and going to it. It is totally mad. There is absolutely NO need for me to buy any more fabric. But the lure is still there – do I need therapy?

  17. 5currantbuns says:

    My fabric collection is a fantasy land of possible futures (as opposed to impossible ones like winning the lottery or dinner with Daniel Craig)… sometimes when I’m feeling blue I go through them, stroking one or two muttering “one day my prettys, one day”

  18. Brenda says:

    Growing up, my mother made all of my clothes. We would go to the fabric store, pick out the fabric and patterns and then she would sew it all up. No leftover fabrics, no stored fabrics, no stash. If she bought it, she made it. More fabric wasn’t purchased if there were projects to make. I sewed all of my girls clothes as they grew up. I did the same thing as my mother. Bought it, sewed it, no stash. Now, with no good fabric store to be found in the area I buy on line. Spend $35.00 and get free shipping. Have. to. Spend $75.00 get free surprise fabrics. Have. to. People give me fabric.
    I now have a stash. The pressure in my head to get it sewn up is ENORMOUS.

    • Sheree says:

      This is exactly the way things were done when I was still living at home. I think, it was simply, that we did not have the money to have a stash.

    • I have a stash too, partly inherited from & shared with my mother, who used to sew my clothes when I was little too. But, I’ve recently been trying to think of the fabric in the stash as “possibilities” rather than “must do’s,” and to only buy new fabric if there’s nothing in the stash that will work for my current project. I think you have to let go of the feeling that you must sew it all, otherwise your fun hobby will become a stressful part of your life!

  19. liza jane says:

    I was literally just perusing fabric online and battling with myself right before I clicked over here. I have no business buying any more fabric! I think the fact that you can order things at the click of the button makes a huge difference.

  20. Rachel says:

    Have you been lurking in my subconscious, because this thought has run around me head too! I used to worry about it (lack of progress against perceived goals etc etc) until I realised the beauty of this brainstorming for what it is: creative dreaming. Provided I’m not spending money I don’t have of course – only taking debit cards out with me helps on that front! Rachel ☺

  21. All I can say is that my 2014 fabric diet pledge miserably failed! I did pretty well (1 purchase only) until September…then a couple of trips and a fair got me…and I also increased my indie pattern stash! So, despite still being within my sewing budget, a lock on my purse and paypal account will be necessary next year! Thanks for reminding me!

  22. UtaC says:

    So true. .Love this post. Just recently I was thinking…when does the stash ever ends. I am in the middle of doing my Christmas DIYs and suddenly my chair started to clear as the work went down.. and then guess what? ….more fabric was bought….aaaaaaaahhh … will the chair ever be able to seat more than one…I hope.. before the holidays…. 🙂 On the other hand. I like that the creativity is always coming.. but there has to be a way to do it within budget.. I truly believe those impulse pieces come in handy along the way… even if it doesn’t fulfill that initial vision we had it does come in handy…:) Its the risk of the creative mind….:)

  23. Elena Knits says:

    It comes in waves for me. My natural tendency is imagining all the garments that I will make and purchasing patterns and fabric for them. But I never have enough time to sew 20% of what I imagined. Then I start to control myself and do some stashbusting. After some time I get excited again. Repeat.

  24. Anyone who loves sewing can relate! I started feeling overwhelmed by all the fabric and patterns I never got around to. I have materials for 2 projects only. Once they are complete, my reward is to get started on something new. I traded feeling guilty for a sense of expectation!

  25. laura kLaura says:

    Sometimes I think I like dreaming about the possibilities more than I even like the actual sewing. As someone who has never loved clothing shopping because nothing ever fits me, sewing opened up new fashion doors for me. I get so excited about the what it could wear if I can make it to fit. But sewing can be tedious and difficult so a lot of my dreams still sit in my stash. Alas.

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