Take control of your stash!

Hi, my name is Jane, and I am a fabric stasher.

At least once a day someone will walk into The Drapery and mutter guiltily about how they shouldn't even be looking at fabric, given the size of their stash at home. Raise your hand if you can relate. I can!

I recently decided I needed to do something about my own fabric hoarding so I thought I'd share a few tips that have been working for me.

1. No fabric is 'too precious to use'.
It's fabric. It's meant to be sewn into something. I remind myself that I have honestly never regretted cutting into 'special' fabric. My son chose some stunning silk brocade that my mum had brought back from India, for the wall pocket that holds his books by his bed. It's used and appreciated every day. Some voile in a beautiful but difficult geometric print made a luxurious dress lining. I boldly snipped into some Nani Iro double gauze from a couple of years ago to make a shirt. And I stitched a dress from Liberty Tana Lawn that had been in the stash a couple of years.

2. Don't beat yourself up. A stash is a useful thing.
Say you want to make a 'wearable muslin' to test a pattern that you think will be pretty good, but you don't want to cut into your 'best' fabric first. Head to the stash!
Need a costume in a hurry? Chances are the stash will provide. I used some white polar fleece scraps to make a 'Miffy' costume for Book Week, and some red cotton ribbing was cut into a very quick scarf and some more Indian silk became a tie. Hooray for the stash!

3. Lost the love? Re-home it.
The five metres of sale fabric for curtains that never happened. The baby girl knit for a gift you never made. The op-shop velvet that was too good to pass up. (I speak for myself, ahem.) If you're not going to use it, it's probably just sitting there giving off negative vibes every time you contemplate your stash. Sell it on eBay or Gumtree. Offer it to a friend. Donate it to the Salvos. Just get it out of your stash because it's not earning its real estate.

4. Make gifts.
Try a simple, spacious tote bags like this one that would be good for grocery shopping or everyday use. Or how about cushion covers? It's never too early to start sewing Christmas gifts! I chopped up a vintage linen tablecloth I'd been hoarding to make a very large and sturdy tote for a friend who shares my love of quirky handmade. That was such a success that I snipped into another precious stash piece to make this apron for a friend, who I knew would find it both hilarious and useful. Satisfying, and gone outta my stash!
yes, it's a Map of Tassie

5. Find a simple 'go to' pattern and make a bunch of them. 
I've made five versions of 'Dress A' from the Stylish Dress Book. It's a great stash buster: doesn't take vast amounts of fabric, really simple to construct, extremely comfortable and works in loads of different fabric types.
Stylish Dress Book 'Dress A' in vintage fabric from the Salvos: yes, released from someone else's stash!

6. Ditch the small scraps.
Even the bigger ones, if you're unlikely to use them. I am now reasonably convinced that a fabric fairy does not die every time I put a wee scrap in the bin. Make a scrappy quilt if you're that way inclined (personally they're my favourites). Or keep a special large bag for scraps that you will one day stuff into a big puffy handmade ottoman. But make a point of realistically assessing scraps from each project and only keeping those that could be genuinely useful.

7. When you buy, choose quality.
Sewing is ever so much more pleasurable when you use good quality fabrics that you love. So choose quality and you will enjoy sewing more. Therefore, you will want to use your stash more. (See how easy that is to justify?)

We hope you find these tips helpful. Remember, a stash can be great, but only if you use it. Do you look at your stash and feel inspired to sew? Yay! Do you look at your stash and feel overwhelmed and disinclined to start anything? The change of seasons is a good time to reassess and take some action. If you love your stash, set it free!

Do you have any stash-busting tips to share?

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. When I finally decided that it was all getting to be a 'bit much', and that I should share some of my stash if I wasn't going to use it (3 lives is never going to happen!! ;-} ), I asked around (for quite a while...) and found 2 church groups that were sewing for missions, both here and overseas. Although I felt ill when I saw just how much fabric I COULD live without, I was overjoyed that someone somewhere would be wearing/using it.

    1. That's fantastic Aless - and if you or anyone else knows of a charity / organisation that needs donations of fabric, please feel free to post details here. Also, kindergartens, schools and childcare centres may be pleased to take fabric scraps for children to craft with. Our local school's OSHC is taking some of ours :)

  2. I definitely need to de-stash mine, a Mission would be perfect as it is big pieces and good quality, just not really my style now.

    It was so lovely to meet you Fiona and Jane, your shop is delightful.

  3. I send bags of scraps to my friends who quilt more ... but yeah, the stash is out. of. control. right now!


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