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Sep 1, 2016

Culling My Fabric Stash for National Sewing Month!


Readers, you probably have heard that September is National Sewing Month.

To celebrate, I decided to spend a few hours doing an inventory of my fabric stash and getting rid of stuff I'm unlikely to ever sew with.  As you can see up top, I had four bags' worth of discards.  Off to the thrift store they went; we kept the dog.

I keep a large plastic box of fabric remnants -- some going back to my very first sewing projects -- and it grows rapidly if I don't prune it often.  I do use remnants on occasion, but let's face it: for most sewers, if we've used the fabric once, we're unlikely to ever want to sew with it again.   Do you agree?  (Maybe you don't.)



I also found some fabric I'd forgotten I owned, like this circus-themed vintage cotton that was probably meant for curtains in a child's bedroom.   I think I found it at the flea market; I'm keeping it -- for now.


I was going to get rid of this stiff waxed fabric Michael's dad brought back from Tanzania (below), but there was such an outcry when I posted the pic on Instagram that I decided to give it a reprieve.  I'll launder it first and see if it softens up -- or if I soften toward it.


I also got rid of a few dozen patterns left over from our most recent MPB Day, as well as a bag of interfacing remnants I was keeping for I forget what reason.



I still have a ways to go but I think I'm off to a good start.  

I have way too many tropical floral prints!

In other news, my tailoring class met Tuesday night and we're off to an exciting start.  We'll be making a ladies jacket that, hopefully, will end up looking something like this one -- with two sleeves, of course.



And that's it.  My draping class starts Saturday; more about that next week.

In closing, how do you organize your fabric stash?  By color?  By fabric?  By date purchased?

Do you ever cull it?

Have a great day, everybody!

How did a "Summer" end up with so much Autumn fabric?

33 comments:

  1. Grew up with too many scraps, old quilts, and stories of the dress or outfit that this scrap represented. I buy for a project and throw the scraps away. Hate how the clutter piles up so quickly.

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    1. That is how I am. I only buy for the project that I am making and toss the scraps. I prefer this for me because when I make a project I enjoy looking for something particular just for that rather than going through piles of fabrics hoping something will work.

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  2. I store by fabric type - velvets, lycra, upholstery, etc. I go through the bins every couple of years (!) & touch base with stuff I just can't let go and bag up the rest. The problem is always where to take the cast-offs. Schools don't seem to have sewing classes anymore to donate towards & the 2nd hand shops aren't really interested in fabric.

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    Replies
    1. Try churches - most will have either a quilting or sewing group that is happy to take fabric. That's where I just got rid of a lot of mine!

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    2. Or college theater departments. Ours accepts donations of fabric as well as vintage garments. And you can usually get a receipt for a tax deduction.

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  3. Another one here who organises by fabric type. My stash lives on shelving, so I can see what I've got. I seem to have a lot of knits atm, so will have to sew from that before I buy any more. Knits are just so comfy though, aren't they?
    Scraps are another story. I do through away pieces smaller than 12", but substantial pieces which could be used, I have a real problem throwing away..

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  4. I've just recently started sewing garments. I'm trying very hard NOT to collect garment fabric. I already have a very sizeable yarn collection from my six years of knitting and a large quilt fabric collection which I now longer care for (my tastes as well as styles have changed). I bought a loom and am turning that passé collection slowly into woven rugs and table runners. But I really do not want to start a third fiber related collection.

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  5. When I was at the doctor the other day, I noticed there was a basket with some knitting on the table. I had noticed it before, but always assumed it belonged to someone. This time I saw that there was a little sign saying that everyone was free to knit while they waited, the finished result would be given to a homeless. So when I read about scraps, maybe there is some similar charity or something near where you guys live, where you can send your scraps to someone who quilts them for shelters or something. I got no clue though.

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  6. I organize by type in 24 office file boxes: children, lining, lawn, light, mid, and heavy weight cotton/rayon/linen, knits, silks, synthetics, wool, kimonos, obi, costume/ugly, scraps, etc. I have to cull regularly to keep my stash within my box limit but it is one of my least favorite things to do.

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  7. As my fabric stash grows much faster than my garment sewing I now force myself to throw out scraps. There is so much sorting and organisation and clever storage needed in a sewing room: threads, bobbins for different machines, interfacing and tracing paper, and keeping the lint fog at bay. We need to keep focused on the next project! Keeping scraps is keeping clutter. Saying that I never ever throw out Liberty tana lawn scraps!

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  8. We had a big scrap sort at the shop, didn't cull much but it is tidy now at least. I know my taste so much, if I love a fabric I will buy twice as much of it so I can remake the garment once it falls apart. I have a small but perfectly formed wardrobe which means I really can wear garments out, and I have learned in the past that I grieve over garments I love. Best to have the replacement on stand by!

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  9. Good for you for being able to de stash! I won't even get to sew during sewing month as I lost my house in the floods last month in South Louisiana and my machines are all being stored at a friends house. I was able to de stash since a few new pieces of fabric were damaged in the flood. I knew I wouldn't have time to get all of it washed and dried in a timely fashion, so out it went in the trash heap. I miss being able to sew so much. I would have sewn all weekend long since it's a long weekend. Enjoy your classes!

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  10. I regularly cull my fabric bin--I have one extra large sweater box that I keep my fabric in, and if it gets overfull, stuff has to go! We have limited storage in the house, and with four kids, I just can't keep much more than that. I also give scraps to quilting friends, or if it isn't appropriate for quilting, I recycle the textiles by bringing them in a bag to H&M for their Close the Loop program. They will recycle any textiles for free plus give a coupon for 15% off a future purchase. (I like their light weight cotton cardigans, so it is a win-win for me)

    I do keep some scraps of fabric for sentimental reasons, though.

    I think that wax cotton would make an interesting dress for Cathy! (Or a shirt for you or Michael). I like it a lot.

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  11. Wow. I would have screamed my head off over that wax print if I'd caught that 'gram! It will absolutely soften in the wash, but I'm probably the 100th person to say that at this point :)

    Does your thrift store keep the fabric you donate? I've been to several, looking for patterns/fabric, and they've said they immediately discard both. (For some reason they couldn't understand the look of horror on my face.)

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    1. It never occurred to me they'd just dump it. I've seen (and purchased) patterns and fabric at my Salvation Army so I'm hoping they'll sell them. I guess I could ask just to be sure. Eek!

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  12. Remnants from other peoples' stashes make up the bulk of my own stash. Remnants from my projects that are too small for tote bags, or scrap quilt pieces, get cut into strips to crochet rag rugs and pot holders -- or spun into rag yarn to knit up for the same purpose. Scraps from THAT get thrown away. (Scraps of knit, as from discarded t-shirts, also get turned into rag yarn -- very absorbent indeed, those rag rugs. Take forever to dry, after you wash them.)

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  13. I LOOOOOVE that circus print!!!! If you ever decide to get rid of it, I know where it could go to live.

    My stash is sorted by knits, wovens, quilting, and miscellaneous. I keep fabric and interfacing scraps, but rarely use them. Somehow I never have, or can find, the right size or type of scrap that I want. So they ferment in the stash until proper time to remove them, not unlike some leftovers in the refrigerator.

    When I send large scraps to the thrift store, I label the bag as for material for crafts and doll clothes. I don't know if that helps keep it out of the discards, but it can't hurt given some of the half used yarn skeins I've seen. I never thought that they'd discard cuts big enough for garments. I'll need to ask next time.

    Culling and organizing is on the to-do list for next week while I'm using some vacation days.

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  14. I divide my fabric between summer fabric, winter fabric, quilting and home dec. If a scrap is bigger than 1/2yd, I put it in a bag for Sal Army (unless I love it too much to part with it) and donate the bag when full. If the scrap is under 1/2yd, I pitch it. I hate having messes and little pieces hanging around. I do the same with yarn. If a skein is left over after a knitting project, it goes in the donate bag unless it's something I really love, then I'll keep it. The older I get, the less stash I want so I've been making an effort to use things up or cull them. I've whittled down the quilting and yarn stash though the fashion fabric has a ways to go-a work in progress.

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  15. I have an enormous fabric stash, maybe what some might call a problem fabric stash. I also love vintage 50s dresses, so a lot of cuts are 4+ yards. I cut boxes into long strips for bolts and then arrange them on a set of shelves so that I can see as many of the fabrics as possible. It keeps things mostly un-creased and makes me feel like a fancy shop owner.

    The shelves are organized by their function (apparel, bag-making, fleece (which I just fold and don't bother bolting as it is far harder to crease and also way bulkier), miscellaneous fabrics.

    I love being able to glance through all my fabrics, but I go through them every so often to make sure I still love or feel like I would use them.

    And I love that Tanzanian wax print, but wax prints are my favorite fabric of all time. I hope you do something wonderful with it if you end up keeping it!

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  16. I greatly appreciate those of you who declutter, as 90% of my fabric stash is from thrift stores; thus, most pieces are genuine scraps although I rarely buy anything smaller than one yard unless it can trim a fabric I already own.

    I've been collecting fabric for about 2 years and now have a closet full of it, sorted by type: wool, denim, poplin, twill, home dec, etc. Fabric doesn't take as much space as sewing machines and satisfies my collecting urge. Peter, I see some fabrics in your toss pile that I would happily buy were I to see them on a hanger at the local Value Village.

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  17. My quilting stash is folded onto acid free comic book cardboard into "mini bolts" and lives on two bookshelves. The upholstery and clothing stuff lives on the same bookcase, on the larger size comic book cardboard "bolts." What I love about this is that I can instantly see the whole stash and find what I need instantly.

    Scraps of quilting fabric is sorted by color family and kept in gallon zip lock bags in a plastic bin in my guest room closet.

    I donate any fabric that I've fallen out of love with to my quilting guild, we do a lot of charity quilting.

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  18. There's a plastic box under my sewing desk for scraps but I keep only sizable pieces. They get used for facings, inside yokes, sometimes interfacing, inside pockets, inside cuffs, collars and every once in a while a complete shirt made of coordinating scraps. And of course, I forgot samples, so the box never overflows, just gets topped up. The dribs and drabs from cutting get pitched into the garbage. I do need to cull the fabric stash but right now, having too much fun sewing and creating to do it.

    Theresa in Tucson

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  19. I am still trying to grow my stash, so I am not decluttering at this point. I keep a ring of tag cards that have a swatch with the amount of fabric and any other pertinent info. I have two large storage tubs and I keep fabric that I would use for muslins in one and he rest of the fabric in another. I have a ring of tags that say large scrap and I keep those in a separate box. If I ever do not like a fabric when I eventually de-stash, I would use it for a muslin rather than throw it out.

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  20. Once in a while I go through my fabric and get rid of stuff. Actual scraps go to a kids' summer camp, an elementary school, or a before/after care program. They use fabric scraps, trims, yarn, etc. for various crafts, and are very happy to get them.

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  21. I had a ruthless cull some time ago and imposed a limit of 2 storage bins going forth. The strategy is working well, virtually eliminating impulse buying.

    Suitable scraps are donated to a charity (to make bags containing sunflower seeds for planting by young children who've lost a lost sibling). The rest go to kindergartens/schools for craft projects.

    Spud.

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  22. As I worked in a fabric shop my some years ago my fabric stash is enormous. I have given away a lot but there is still to much.

    I keep my fabric in plastic boxes and its organized by the likeliness of use. The easier the box is to reach the more likely it is that I will use it.

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  23. No stash here, find a project, buy the fabric I need and whatever else and throw out any scraps, usually there aren't many scraps.

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  24. I don't buy fabric unless I need it, I use my small scraps to make decorations or applique stuff and give away large useable scraps if I don't think I need them. I don't know about in the US but here in the UK is zero waste week so perhaps in the spirit try to use scraps too small to give away!

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  25. I really need to do the same with my fabric stash. Good luck with the Tailoring III class. I am sure you will enjoy it. I took that class at FIT too (years ago) and for me, it was by far the class I enjoyed the most where I learned the most. I look forward to seeing your creation...which I am sure will be fabulous.

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  26. I'm getting ready to move, so I recently went through my stash and got rid of a TON! Four large shopping bags of fabric and one of patterns went to a friend who does theater costuming, another large shopping bag went to a quilter friend, and almost two trash bags full went to a friend who's church is going to be making lap blankets for chemo patients. I still have too much, but at least I got rid of some of it! lol

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  27. If you are ever planning on taking Haute Couture Sewing Techniques at FIT, keep some of the 1 yard pieces. You'll want them. I just got rid of all my surplus and of course we are using all of that stuff (I scraped some things together). Just putting it out there. Have fun in Draping.

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  28. That batik fabric is the bomb! In serious need of a major fabric and pattern culling here. Have been shopping my stash for a friend's pillowcase project for children in foster care. Yard by yard it finds a purpose.

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  29. I think that circus themed fabric contributed to my childhood trauma! (jk) The pattern looks really familiar, and I think my sister and I had something made out of it at one point. Couldn't tell you what it was for the life of me.

    I have culled fabrics in the past and sometimes I have regretted purging some fabrics. Most of the time I don't regret getting rid of them. My "stash" is pretty small due to storage constraints, so everything is stored in two shelves of my bookcase. I will admit that I am one who will re-visit previously used fabrics. I try to find some use for my remnants; I hate wasting fabric.

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