How To Manage Your Fabric Splurges

walthamstow market fabric stall

Goodness knows, we’ve all been there. You’re tired and deserve a reward for a hard week. Lying on the sofa, you browse online fabric stores and hit that Paypal button once too often.

Or you’re out physically shopping and the lure of those patterns and those prices is too much to resist. You carry ten metres of fabric home, wondering if you can stuff this under the bed before anyone notices.

Yup, we’ve all been there.

But I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards anxiety over these impulses and a desire to fabric shop more responsibly. People are starting to question whether or not a large stash is a good thing.

I think a stash can be a very good thing. If I spot a rare-to-find fabric, particularly in a solid colour, I’ll stock up on three metres. And I love holiday shopping – fabric as a reminder of places I’ve visited.

But in the meantime, here are my tips to manage your fabric splurges whilst still enjoying the creative inspiration of all those lovely bolts.

To Admire Does Not Mean To Own

I read this somewhere years ago and it really resonated with me. Just because you love the look of something, does that mean you actually need to own it? Or is it enough simply to admire? I often repeat this thought to myself when I’m out fabric shopping and make peace with walking away. Once you engage this mantra, it can be liberating. Try it!

Apply Realistic Self Discipline

Sounds counter-intuitive, but do allow yourself a treat every now and then. ‘I shall not buy ANY fabric for the next year, sewing only from my stash!’ Rigid statements such as these sound a bit miserable to my ears. Come on, we’re only human! We all need a treat sometimes.

Buy With Intent

Some people’s inspiration starts with a sewing pattern; others find their creative spurt buying fabric. Whichever way round works for you, it’s worth buying with intent. Having at least half a plan for what this fabric is going to make. Most of my random fabric purchases lurk in my stash cupboard for years and I never really quite know what they’re going to be. I didn’t know when I bought, and I still don’t know now. That tells me something, surely.

Behave Like The Person You Aspire To Become

There’s a tendency to laugh off splurge buying as a bit of a joke. Oh, look at me and my crazy fabric stash! But – and forgive me for being gender specific for a moment – women do have a great ability to laugh ourselves down. Do we need to? Maybe we’re not weak-willed or profligate. Maybe we’re clever and inspired – and have more than a little ability to manage our creativity. Well-managed creativity is one of the most powerful tools a person can own. That tool is in your hands.

charlie-caftan-did-you-make-that

So, goodness knows, I’m not perfect and there shall always be the odd spontaneous splurge. But I hope this has helped if you want to manage your own fabric buying. It probably is to my advantage that I have a rich resource on my doorstep – I can pick and choose as I need to.

If you live in different circumstances, far from fabric shops, how do you manage your shopping?

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51 Responses to How To Manage Your Fabric Splurges

  1. Cherry says:

    This all really resonates, thank you. Nice to know when one is not alone . Actually the last question triggers another reason for tricky (and sometimes erroneous) fabric buying decisions. I am here in this fabric shop and it is my ONLY CHANCE to buy this fabric before I go home. I lugged home metres of fabric from a trip to Amsterdam and it is all still in my stash.

  2. Debby58 says:

    I’ll start with as we speak I have something in a basket to checkout. I am tempted by the colour texture and price of it but have no firm plan of what to make. My stash has tripled this year and although I am sewing, obviously not as quick as I buy. I work in Preston once a week and they have a large well stocked Abakhan there that I have a habit of going in even when I know I don’t need anything. Is it because I like fabric a lot or is it just a buying habit I have? I love sewing but working full time and involved in loyal am dram means my time is limited. This weekend I’m going to the Sew up North in Leeds and have my cash ready to buy fabric but have no clear plan of any projects in mind for them. Maybe I should try your mantra. Look, touch, feel but just admire and walk away. Or maybe I could make sure I have a project in mind before I go so my purchase will definitely be made and not added to my ever-growing stash. It will be difficult. Everyone is going I think to buy too but I want to meet all those people I have seen on Instagram. Maybe I’ll be happy with just that and not splurge unnecessarily. Who knows what the day will bring😂

  3. arttraveller says:

    Hi one of the best tactics I have whatever type of purchase I’m tempted by is to photograph and walk away. 90% of the time ‘owning’ the image keeps me in check … and also gives me a reminder for further research before i do buy.

    • Beth Duffus says:

      This is a really good idea. I do a similar thing with an Amazon Wishlist, which has saved me a fortune on impulse buying, but I think the principle would transfer well to fabric shopping too, or indeed all high street shopping.

  4. Sheila says:

    Thank you, I am working on this as I was recently asked by someone I met on holiday whether I had a stable. When I said I had a sewing room not a stable she replied, no, a STABLE, Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. I think I probably have that!

  5. Linda Pierce says:

    I recently made a shirt dress from fabric in my stash that I had bought 4 or 5 years ago. As I was sewing I realised that I don’t really love the fabric anymore! It is a ditzy print and I am longing to sew this shirtdress in a large blowsy flower print! Actually the dress has turned out Ok and I do like it in the end. But my lesson is – buy for a project to make soon, or you might not like the fabric in years to come! I do most of my sewing at a sewing drop-in at my local fabric shop, so am surrounded by beautiful bolts of fabric as I sew! My aim is to buy from there as I want to sew something, and not buy fabric for my stash.

  6. Gillian Anderson says:

    Coincidentally I braved a visit to my stash cupboard in between showering and dressing this morning. Odd time to check out what’s in there I admit, but I suspect my conscious mind knows I need to get rid of all of the fabrics I’ve bought and know I’m never going to use, while my subconscious was allowing me to consider it, but not at a time when I could actually do anything constructive.
    I have decided that this afternoon will become THE afternoon for getting rid of all of those guilt-inspiring fabric purchases that I’m really never, ever going to make and which, I’ve come to realise, just make me feel bad. Trends change, tastes change, and if I’m honest, there’s not one piece of yardage that’s sitting there that I’d want in my wardrobe now.
    In future, I too will endeavour to admire from an online distance, and when I really, really want to make something, I’ll buy the fabric that I need for the design I’ve chosen, and that’s it – no more hoarded in cupboards.
    So wish me luck, it’s time for a charity shop run!
    Ps: I also have a hefty quilting stash but that’s totally different of course – all those tiny scraps of crazy coloured cottons will be so useful one day, and the yards and yards of scrappy binding and batting I’ve painstakingly stitched together for small quilting projects are so worthwhile storing away. Aren’t they……?

  7. Having a limited income can help curb wilder fabric-purchasing tendencies. When I worked in the city, and was on little better than slave wages, I’d spend my lunchtimes just roaming a couple of nearby fabric shops. It gave me a good handle on what was available in terms of colours and fabrics, as well as lifting my spirits after a morning in the office. It also meant that, when I did buy, it was usually something specific that I’d already earmarked for a specific project. Of course it also meant that I missed out occasionally but, hey, obviously not meant. Right?

  8. Elena says:

    I found that I only like to wear clothes made of mostly natural fibres. This means that I will only consider fabrics that are: at least 98% cotton for stretch cotton, or at least 70% wool for wool blends, or at least 33% viscose for Ponte Roma, etc. – I have fixed rules like that. Which means that 80% of fabrics on offer are immediately rejected, regardless of how nice they look on the computer (there are no physical “fishing spots” near me). Sometimes I buy something marked 100% viscose and when it arrives it turns out to be 100% horrible polyester, so then I send it back no matter how pretty it is and even if it drapes well, because experience has taught me that I will hate the garment made of it.

    I do have a stash, and I usually buy fabrics without a particular project in mind because when I need something specific, I can never find it. So I always sew from the stash. The stash size is limited by the shelf space, and I stick to it – no stashing away new purchases under the sofa “for now”! If there is no room on the shelves, I cannot buy anything untill I’ve made some room. As simple as that. 🙂 Last year I kept a list of all the fabrics that I bought and all the fabrics that I’ve sewn up, and I broke even! 😀

    • bracken says:

      Thats does sound like you have sorted out the storage problems. I had a similar idea but have not been very good at sticking to it. My shelves are overflowing!

      • Elena says:

        My shelves are open, so the entire stash is right in front of me at all times. I find it helps to avoid buying new stuff because I usually already have something suitable – and now I actually remember that I have it! Many purchases that I made previously were due to me not recalling that I already had something that would work.

  9. bracken says:

    I agree with Felicity from Down Under, that a small income can curb purchases but it can also work the opposite way because when I see something that is OK and cheap I just buy. That is assuming I have the money obviously. I tend to buy the 99p for 6m lots off ebay so get lots for my money. But my stash has grown so big it is now a problem. I spent very little on any of it. Its all bargain basement stuff. We bought new shelves to house it and I outgrew them as well. Now I am actually mass producing clothing to get the stash to a manageble level. Thats a bonus tho. I also needed lots of cheapo stuff when I began sewing since I was learning and there was quite a bit of wasteage. Now usually things do work so I waste much less but the stash is large. I will use everything tho before I die( I am 54) assuming I do not die tomorrow. What I have decided to do is to sell on ebay the stuff I have accumulated that I really am not keen on even if I lose money on this because it gives me space. And only buy selective fabrics but that includes anything black because I had a real problem at the start with bright colours that are lovely but not easy to wear in real life. I also now buy nothing clothing wise and make it all ( except underwear but thats hopefully my next venture since I now have lots of small offcuts too). But my stash takes up most of a my only spare room and its a double room of decent size! I feel I am getting there now tho and I really do not agree with people who say you should not have a stash for some or other moral because whether we own a large amount or small amount makes none of it more ethical. Its a rarity to find a fabric manufactured by fair trade it would seem. I have large amounts of projects planned with all this stash but having time to actually make them happen is my major problem. I like the idea tho that you need fabric to be able to create because that is very much how I work. I do not really buy for a specific project. I get inspired by my fabric instead. A major problem for me is besides having the spare room full of fabric I also have a large loft ( with window for easy lighting) full of knitting wool and I rarely even knit! Thats more of a problem for me really because it is not going down at all.

    Great post. Really resonates with me at the moment!

    • Elena says:

      If you don’t think you’d use up that wool and it’s acrylic or other synthetic, it makes for great pillow stuffing – as is, in balls, they are usually loosely wound. It’s got to be better than being a loft stuffing, isn’t it? 🙂

  10. lauriesannie says:

    Boy, did you open Pandora’s box!

  11. Barb Barna says:

    Having spent the last 9 months sorting through my sister’s two room stash of fabric, patterns and yarn (she passed away in January, 58 yrs young ) and purging some of my own stash to make room I have certainly believe that we possess a “squirrel” gene, as my sister used to say. We put aside things and food, so we will have them during the hard times. I have donated bags and bags to community quilting groups, individuals that sew and knit, as well as the local schools and theatre groups. I still have way too much, but I had to take a break for the summer. There will be more to give away.
    My sister lived in northern Canada, with little to no fabric shopping and stocked up before internet shopping was a thing. So I understood her desire to surround herself with her supplies.

    Barb

    • Carolyn says:

      Barb – I think this collection of fabric older sewists have, myself included, comes from a time when even though there were fabric stores in every town and you could just buy a piece when you needed it. There did come a time when they all went away and we had only big box stores and the internet…so we squirreled. Also, when I was growing up, having a collection of fabric wasn’t a bad thing.

      Personally, I love my fabric collection. It inspires me and encourages my creativity. I think of it as the tools I craft with but I’ve learned that this isn’t true for all sewists. I can honestly say that as I’m getting older, I’m more careful how I add to it and how much. Since I’ve had one for over 40 years, it’s changed and grown with me as I’ve grown. I’ve made some bad choices and bad garments. I’ve given pieces away and held onto some for sentimental reasons. Lately, I’ve been using part of it as a “giveback” donating to local high schools to encourage young budding sewists.

      However, you look at your collection or stash, it’s the one piece we all need to create. No fabric, no sewing…so we will probably be having this discussion until the end of time.

      • Barb Barna says:

        That is true, Carolyn. I am not trying to judge anyone, just trying to get through the literal mountains of fabric I have inherited and give it a good home. I have my own stash, as I sew, quilt and knit. I would feel so guilty tossing any of this, so I am just trying to give the stuff I can’t use a really good home. My stash is also over 40 years in the making. So much fabric, so little time 🙂 Our local theatre group seamstress taught children and adult beginner sewists this summer- she got gifted bags and bags of fabric.

  12. I ALWAYS have an idea when I actually buy the fabric-a pattern or a ready made outfit that I saw somewhere that I felt I could duplicate to fit my style. My problem is that the time I really have to work on all those wonderful ideas is never as much as I thought! I also have other crafts that I like to do that also takes up some of my very limited free time. I looked at my stash and thought “my kids are going to have to deal with that when I die” LOL!! I have really tried not to buy anymore fabric as my stash is varied enough to cover all sorts of options. And don’t get me started on my pattern stash!!

  13. Pam Holmes says:

    Great timing on this post! I’ve spent my week trying to wrangle my stash, clean out, and organize. I’ve always kept fabrics in the same color family together but now I’ve rearranged them by use, bottom weight, dress fabric, etc. I’m hoping it will keep me from buying more of fabric I already have (how much black twill does one person need?) and be easier for me to find something suitable in my stash rather than purchase new. I also have lots of fabric I ordered online that turned out to be rather awful that I am finally letting go of. I’m finally learning which online retailers sell good stuff and which are not worth the money!

  14. peggy leah says:

    My problem, if it is a problem, is that I am too restrained and pass up pieces that I
    really want and I’m not certain why this happens because I can afford to buy what I
    want. I have a stash but probably not an exceptionally large one. Recently, “the last
    fabric store” closed in my area and I went back numerous times during the closing
    period and bought out of sheer panic that I would never see a physical fabric store
    again. (sounds like a myriad of insecurities lurking). The internet shopping does not
    satisify my need to see and feel. I subscribe to a couple of swatch clubs but most
    often, disappointed. Traveling to other locations is currently not possible now so I love
    my small stask and am pleased that I opened my purse strings the few times that I did.
    Sometimes just to go through the fabrics brings joy and I have not regretted any of it.

    • Elena says:

      Fabric stores disappearing is such a sad thing. We have two fabric places in town: one is a large store filled entirely with rubbish, and the other is a small counter inside a department store filled with nice but expensive stuff. I don’t shop at either of them. The Internet is the only other option, but as you say, it is not satisfying. Once a year I go to a large craft fair, and that’s where I buy “interesting” fabric – the sort of thing I would not trust to buy off the internet without seeing. I don’t see how I could do without a stash.

  15. GreenDoor says:

    I live two minutes from a chain fabric store. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking my list and only going in with just enough cash to pay for what I actually need. If I have to go back out to the car for the credit card, it really makes me think twice. It also helps to have a chosen color palatte. That way, I can admire beautiful fabrics-but not buy if they’re not in my chosen scheme. I also have a firm budget. I typically don’t spend more than $8 USD per yard. If I need/want something that costs more, I find myself reeeeeeally thinking about whether I need it, have the skills to do it justice, etc.

  16. Lodi says:

    I too admire and “aquire” by photograph. On a visit to NY City I took A LOT of photos of fabric and clothing, but purchased *only* one piece of fabric at Mood – a length of two Liberty silk scarves. (Any suggestions other than scarves or an Ogden?)
    And I’m still searching for the proper term to call my stash/inventory/stock that denotes necessary yet fun and somewhat prudent! Ha! Ha?

    • Jean Tome says:

      In my family we call it our “supply”. Stash has a bit of a negative tone but the reality is that we need fabric in order to create! I love waking up on a weekend morning and being able to create a new bag or dress without having to go shopping for anything.

  17. kssews says:

    I like having a stash and probably always will. But I do have times where it feels completely overwhelming. And it’s gone both ways for me — finding something in stash that’s *perfect* for a new project…and going to the stash and seeing fabrics that no longer interest me. That’s the tough part.

    I had fabric in my cart the other day that I “needed”. Closed out and now I cannot remember for the life of me what the fabric was.

  18. That is a very interesting subject you put on the table. And not only related to fabric shopping, but to ALL shopping. The line separating a nice treat to our creativity from lunacy is thin, haha…
    In the past I never had a “stash”. I started planing a project when finishing the present one, went to the shop, bought the fabric for it, looked in my mags for a suitable pattern and made it.
    Now, everything has changed in my corner of the world. Or it might be me who changed… most of the local fabric stores closed, and the ones still open are selling mostly polyester blends these days…
    I sew a lot, so I prefer to buy good quality fabrics, specially made with natural fibers, sometimes organic, and sew slowly and properly. For that, I have to buy online, mostly to the UK, and that means high shipping costs. I love buying fabric when I travel, like you… I love Lisboa, Milano, Paris, London, Goteborg…I travel light and come back with my suitcase full or treasures.
    So, now I have a stash. My shelves are small, so not a big stash, but it is full now, so I made the promise to sew from my stash untill I get room in the shelves again.
    Thank you all for sharing. I don’t know what would I do if I lived in London like you do!

  19. JenL says:

    It is worthwhile to stock upon on quality fabrics that can be used indefinitely. If I saw a good price on navy wool crepe, e.g., I’d buy it.

    One thing I’ve learned is to buy quality fabrics. Early in my stash days I would buy cheaper (lower quality) fabrics, or trendy colors and patterns, and then end up not using them — wasted money and space. On the other hand, I have used some of them for fitting purposes (muslin, toile). When I find a fabric that I love, but which is not something that will realistically work with my style, I buy a small amount and use it for pocketing or lining a waistband or something like that.

    • Samantha says:

      Great suggestion for how to incorporate a gorgeous fabric that you don’t want (or can’t afford) for an entire garment! 🙂

  20. Taja says:

    Love this topic! Makes me think a bit.

    I was raised with the spectre of The Great Depression in the not-to-distant rear view mirror. Technically, it had ended about two decades before my arrival, but the average person was just beginning to recover financially post-WW II. That defined a good portion of our lives: use, reuse and recycle. A ball of string in the kitchen drawer (and hanks of twine and rope hanging in the garage, with salvaged wood on the rafters), rubber bands on interior door knobs, worn “good” clothing to be mended for “work” clothing–and my mother’s fabric stash! The stash–with related notions–was fairly small, usually three or four garments maximum. My mother did not drive, which presented a signicant challenge in Los Angeles of the time. Shopping had to be planned in advance to accommodate two work schedules and a school schedule. Although, we did have printed catalogues, the equivalent of online shopping back in the day!

    All that to say I definitely inherited pack-rat tendencies! My stash is much smaller than it used to be, although a bit on the excessive side at the moment! Sciatica sidelined my sewing nearly three years ago, just after restocking my stash for upcoming projects. I tend to wear related separates in a specific colour palette, with pops of various jewel tones and connecting/extending prints. New garments are created to work within my existing wardrobe. My garment fabric stash has about 25 yards just waiting to be incorporated into my wardrobe. Typically, it’s about 12 to 15 yards–not too bad! I also have a quilting stash, with about 10 yards of low-volume prints/neutral solids for backgounds, sashing and backing, with another 10 yards or so of various solids and prints for piecing designs. I like to think of them as paints! Of course, I also have a small stash of painting supplies! 🎨😉

    Now that I am able to move better (still unable to walk and chew gum–or do anything else!–simultaneously), I have begun to refit my slopers. My body has changed significantly, both weight and posture. Not fun! Looking forward to getting all parts completely functional again, updating my wardrobe and minimizing my fabric stash!

    Thanks to Karen and many other sewing bloggers for their work in maintaining their blogs. They always are interesting, but also have provided a sewing lifeline for me!

  21. tracy says:

    I do both — buy fabrics/notions for specific projects (and keep them together), and buy cool fabric when I see it, especially when traveling. (I really miss the sweatshirt fabric in Amsterdam! Just can’t seem to find it here in the States.) As a result, my sewing room is now pretty full up…ha.

  22. Fiona says:

    How far does ‘travel’ need to be? I travel about 25 miles to my local shop and I almost always buy more than I intend. My newest purchases are draped over a chair in my bedroom until I decide which pattern to use but the main stash helps to fill a space that would otherwise need to be dusted.

  23. I rarely buy fabric onlline unless it is a technically specific thing that I know exactly what I will get. I need to feel it between my fingers. I am really slowing down too, even with costume fabric which is far more fun to buy. My cupboards are full of delicious things and a combination of a Mr Creosote sense of over satiety and the reality that seven years after my last trip to the UK I still have every single piece of fabric I bought there, intact, puts it into perspective. I have lots of other intact fabric I bought a long tie ago but that lot is a bit of a milestone.
    My stash is now full of things I really, really love, but that does not mean I will be making them all into garments or quilts. I am going to be destashing again soon, to make some room not to fill up again but to reduce the amount we need to store while our building is being worked upon. It is now a burden not a resource and I am seriously rethinking my approach!

  24. Amelia says:

    I live in the country so for me having a sensible stash is a good thing as long as I don’t over-do it! : ) I have a couple of dress-up fabrics for dress up occasions as well as some pretty cotton prints for cute dresses etc. I’m finding I’m safest with solid cottons in my color comfort zone; for me that is black, navy and dark green. In that way, I’m insured a good dress, slacks or top that will look pretty good on me and not show mistakes as easy for first rounds of a pattern. The more I sew the wiser I get on having that balance of a nice stash over too much and feeling overwhelmed. I’m a ‘creative messy’ so I’m prone to getting too much but I like your thoughts here, I agree! I also take photos when I go downtown to more of an expensive fabric store and that way they are on the back burner for when I do need them. Also that wish list is a wonderful tool and guards against impulse buying.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! You make good sense on things. : )

    Blessings!

  25. Robin says:

    I have the experience of several other commenters of having some access to good fabric stores in my younger years, and then having that situation deteriorate over time. And I have been sewing for myself for about 40 years, so there is that aspect, with things accumulated, a changing body, and different work and lifestyle needs. I now have a lot less money than I used to, but I have ways around that limitation!

    For the past few years I have tended to buy when traveling, and to order from one supplier about once or twice a year. Now and then I will buy a super cheap small remnant from a big box store and make it up into something right away. When I buy from a good store in person when traveling, the price is dear, I generally buy a lot less, perhaps a few to several yards/meters of special things. When I order from my favorite low-cost supplier, the order could be as many as 28 yards, as happened about a month ago. That 28 yards was composed of 12 pieces – from which I have made 3 items of clothing so far, and I have anywhere from vague to quite solid plans for the rest. In this same time I have made at least 3 other garments from stash. So I am getting better at selecting what I can use right away, although I have maybe 130 yards of stash total at this point.

    Next month I will visit London and Barcelona, and hope to visit TMOS, but don’t expect to buy, but then again maybe he will be okay bargaining with my husband!

  26. Isabel says:

    I have a small stash, a few bins worth of fabric and recycling projects.
    I love to sew but do not have much time. Being a “short pear” I rarely ever find any RTW that fits. But I do love thrift shopping! So a lot of my sewing is tweaking thrifted garments, which works out a lot cheaper and faster than sewing from scratch. Years ago I bought a wool, bias cut skirt, made in Switzerland, with silk lining and all. It cost $8, and all it needed was a new hem! I wear every single winter and always feel great in it. But I do get tempted every now and then and get new fabric. Recently, I purged the stash and donated some fabric and some garments that I just don’t think I will ever get to. The rest is pretty well organized and I have a purpose for each fabric. All classic, basic garments in silhouettes that I know will fit, and in colors that go with what I already have. I window-shop online, but every time, before I hit the “purchase” button, I remember all the fabrics that are already waiting for me at home, so I have not bought much lately (or the few things I did buy, I sewed up right away!) I just keep reminding myself that no matter how happy and sure I am that I will sew this specific fabric, I felt the exact same way when I bought the rest of the stash, so now I have to prove myself by actually getting through about 10 new makes that I already have everything for, about 15 refashions, and the regular mending that comes my way through the children 🙂 Sorry to make this so long, it’s good to put one’s thoughts down in writing 🙂

  27. Caroline says:

    Hmmm interesting. Like others before me mentioned, in my youth there where many fabric shops where I live. Some very cheap. There was still a fabric and garment industry here in Belgium and the remnants ended up in the cheap shops. Now there is only one (rather expensive) shop left. In the past I would choose a pattern and then buy fabric, the right fabric was always available. I didn’t have a stash then. Now I buy fabric whenever I get the chance, and it often feels like it is my last chance to buy fabric of good quality for a good price.
    I like to go to designer fabric sales or I shop for fabric when I’m on holiday. Every time I come home with several pieces and I know exactly what to do with them. But,… most of them end up in my stash and there they stay. As I have a chronic illness I don’t always have the energy to sew. So the stash is growing, and growing. To be honest, it has become overwhelming and it makes me nervous when I go trough all this fabric. And some things I don’t like anymore. A saleswoman on a fabric sale (she knows me) said to me, all this fabric it must have cost a fortune. Well it did, and as I’m on a very low income this made me rethink my fabric buying and made me buy less. I still buy fabric but I don’t go crazy every time there is a fabric sale,.. Oh well my daughter has started sewing so the fabric might find it’s way.

  28. Louise says:

    Great post Karen ! Since retiring I have had to rethink my wardrobe – getting rid of “formal” workwear and making more “casual” garments. My wardrobe and fabric stash have both reduced and I feel much happier not opening the wardrobe or cupboard doors and finding nothing to wear / make. Our tastes are bound to change, an exception being my boho friend who has never got out of the sixties and now finds herself at the cutting edge once again at the age of 68. As with most things in life a little of what you fancy is never a bad thing.

  29. Sonja says:

    After my decision sewing my own clothes about 4,5 years ago I found out that there aren’t many physical fabric shops in my neighbourhood. One decent shop is about 50 km from where I live. That’s probably why I’ve a stash. Buying fabrics was based on the RTW-clothes I used to buy. In the meantime I’ve also learned more about the style I want and the colours I like to wear. To be honest that’s completely different then the RTW I used to have. My wardrobe is still a mixture of homemade and RTW. Since last year I try to get rid of this stash. All stash fabrics blend in well but I wouldn’t have bought them today. And when that’s gone and I’ve build my own wearable homemade clothes collection I try to buy only fabrics I need to replace garments that aren’t suitable to wear anymore.

  30. Lesley says:

    I’m on of those boring people who regularly gives myself a fabric buying ban when I feel like things are getting out of hand. I’ve just finished a 4 month ban. what I really dislike are these memes that keep being shared like “oh I must hide all these fabric purchases from my husband” or “do you need this fabric – do you need to ask”. I work in the aid industry and just find this gluttoness self indulgent wanton consumerism rather distasteful and yet I find myself falling into the same trap as others. There is something in my psyche that likes buying things whether I need them or not. So I find hard and fast bans on myself useful to reset my brain and bit and remind me why I sew.

    • Elena says:

      I find those memes quite sickening, actually. Just why exactly does a woman need to hide her purchases from her husband? Is it just because she herself feels guilty about them or is it because her marriage has no room for a hobby? That’s a much bigger problem, my friend. 🙁

  31. Sheree says:

    I find the most successful “makes” for me are when I first pick a pattern, buy fabric and complete the project. However to obtain that one piece of fabric, I visit my favourite London sources
    (Goldhawk Road/ Walthamstow and Brixton) as I like to first feel the fabrics on the roll. Of course, I am incapable of sticking to just the one and the others go into the stash. My stash is really quite small, but it seems to consist of fabrics that I no longer feel any love for and ones that I cherish too much and am afraid of messing up. Having seen youtube videos of enormous stashes has made very glad that they don’t belong to me, so my aim now is to sew up or donate and whittle down as much as possible.

  32. Heather says:

    This resonates with me especially as I am reading it a mere 20 minutes after a big EBay fabric parcel has arrived – full of the good stuff but nothing I really have a plan for. However I have recently gone through everything and I have charity shopped a lot of fabric. What I have I love BUT there is too much and I need to get a plan and start making it up.

  33. Sheree says:

    My local high street has six charity shops and as I live within a short walk I will often have a look around. I have never once seen any fabric or patterns available. It puzzles me – perhaps the volunteers are not sure that it will be popular and don’t bother to display. Can anyone enlighten me please?

    • Taja says:

      I have noticed the same thing, Sheree. No High Street, as I live in a large, sprawling metropolitan area and I do not even begin to reach 50% of it! What little I have seen is poor quality drapery panels classified as fabric. Hopefully, some of the thrift (charity or op shops) stores experience an infusion of fabric/notions occasionally. Unfortunately, the thrift stores in my area seem to be trying to compete with the upscale consignment stores–at least on a modest level–so bargains are few and far between unless you have time to check stores on markdown day or are willing to brave the resellers and pickers on major sale days. I innocently wandered into a thrift shop on a sale day after a hairdresser appointment, and several people were stalking the few items draped on my arm that I selected for purchase. EEEEEEK!

      When I moved here nearly 40 years ago, we had three major chain fabric/sewing stores (multiple locations of each), along with 20 or so independents. Even the chain stores had sections with high quality fabrics. We now have Joann’s, which has four or five stores for the entire valley, the fabric department in Hobby Lobby and a couple of the massive Walmart stores (they come in three or four sizes–fabric is in the extreme-sized super centers).

      Thankfully, we have a number of independent quilt shops scattered throughout the Valley, as well as a couple of home dec stores (down from over a dozen about 20 years ago). There also are two or three sewing machine dealers who carry fabric, primarily quilting cotton. Oh! Forgot SAS fabrics–two massive warehouse-style stores carrying mill-end rolls, cuts of mystery fabrics and inexpensive trims, with an occasional treasure. Self-service with a massive queue for cutting service. Except for Hobby Lobby and four quilt shops, all are destination shopping for me and rarely visited.

      Not sure why I am so nostalgic about fabric shopping when I am actively managing ny stash and not in buying mode. Must be an age thing!

  34. Tea says:

    Great comments here! I think people in the sewing community added certain words to their vocabulary to make things feel more normal for them to spree! But we need not feel guilty. I think your advice to reward yourself with a treat every once in a while is great advice!

  35. Isabel says:

    So nice to read everyone else’s responses! One can see a theme… we all have dreams! I am getting to a point in my life where I am finally learning to accept my limitations. Time, mostly. To me it’s not just about the cost of that piece of fabric, the question is “when will I have time to sew this?” “Is it enough of a priority right now?” Yes, it would make a beautiful garment, IF I ever get to sew it up… And then if I did get it done, would I actually wear it enough to justify the hours I put into it???

  36. Rural Shropshire curbs most fabric buying for me but Abakhans has just opened up in the town I work in 10 miles away. We went on our first visit knowing we wanted some jersey for PJ’s, and denim for jeans – we bought those … and one piece of very boden looking ponte roma for a winter dress that was not on the list. That will see us for a while. It helps to know what project you are buying for. Jo x

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