Fabric, sewing supplies, and more fabric...how much is enough? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not a "fabric junkie" - I don't ordinarily buy fabric on a whim or stockpile something I can't imagine using yet, but I seem to have amassed a bunch of good pieces of fabric, mostly small, and I'm having a hard time DOWNSIZING them!

I don't sew much, but we do medieval re-enactment and I spend a month or two each year doing a big "push" to update our family's costumes. My kids sometimes ask me to sew things for Halloween, and I have promised my girls princess dresses. I also have this idea that one day I'm going to sew drawstring bags from my scraps for us to use instead of gift wrap. My kids aren't yet interested in sewing or crafts, or theatre requiring costumes!, but I think it's only a matter of time.

But I have five or six tubs of fabric, including some that I'm planning to make medieval costumes out of later this year or next, but also including scraps and smaller pieces, a mix of beautiful and practical fabrics. I keep thinking, "Doll clothes! Costumes!" LOL. Is this reasonable? It's probably the last useful thing I really and truly have "too much of" and I'm having a hard time letting go because it's so practical (okay, maybe not the very last - I still have a huge stash of canning jars, and a library's worth of books, but I'm ignoring those for the moment).

How would you sort it out? How much would be reasonable to keep? What would you do with the bits you decide to give up? What happens if, down the road, you suddenly wish you had five tubs worth of fabric scraps? (LOL - has this ever happened to anyone?)

I think I need some hand-holding and encouragement, here. What do you thinK?

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#2 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 11:35 PM
 
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I just downsized my sewing items including fabric and supplies. I had 1 tub of fabric and another tub of supplies. I found a nice nifty basket with a lid that fits nicely next to my couch and I decided that would be my sewing box and everything that could fit in there I would keep...fabric and supplies.

I went through my fabric and most of it I bought when I was going to make stuff for DS but never got around to it and now he has outgrown it. He's really not into winnie the pooh or blues clues anymore. So now I have 1 small baggie of supplies and the rest of the basket is fabric. (I am currently making blankets for yule presents) I am also getting rid of my serger (i never use it) and 1 of my 2 sewing machines. Like I can use them both at once.

If I were you I would go through it and see if it is still your taste or not. The scraps I would just toss out or freecycle it. I think you could get 5 tubs down to 1. You could pic out your favorite material or material that works best with the medieval costumes.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" --Leonardo Da Vinci
 blogging.jpg  780/2014 decluttered

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#3 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 11:43 PM
 
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Well, how much storage space do you have for your fabric stash? Are these 6 bins neatly in the closet, readily accessable and yet still "out of the way" when you don't need them? Or are they getting in the way, or taking up storage space you need for other items?

Scraps of fabric are GREAT for letting the kids play with/learn to sew. I haven't made too many doll clothes since I was a child myself, but my children use my fabric scraps for THEIR dolls now!

Going through the fabric is an excellent idea- make a bag or a tub full of the ones you're pretty sure you'll never use. Then offer the whole bag on Freecycle or drop it off at a thrift store. And organize what you keep, so you can easily find things when you need them.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#4 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 11:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
I think I need some hand-holding and encouragement, here. What do you thinK?

ok, so do you need hand holding to get rid of or to keep? if you want to get rid of leave your question posted here, I'm sure you will find an allie who will say get rid of most all of it but.... if you are wanting hand holding and TONS and TONS of really good reasons why it is perfectly sane to keep 5 or 6 or 7 or even 8 tubs then post over in sewing, those folks love fabric! :

I shouldn't post this here or else the tomatoes will come flying my way, but I think you should keep every scrap of fabric :

seriously, though, fabric is one thing I look at as not clutter per say, I did go through all mine and got down to 1 dresser (4 out of 6 drawers) of quilting cottons and 2 tubs of other fabrics/old clothes, it was difficult to do but once I started it went quick and not too painful, I got rid of anything that was smaller than a dishtowel and I get rid of all my little scraps once a project is completes, (well for the most part, I have 1 ziplock bag that I allow myself to keep tiny pieces in but it is not so full it will not close) , and NO , it's not one of those big bags you can stuff a car into!

I had a bag of upholstery scraps that I left out and said futon cover... if not done in 3 weeks it's gone, well I now have a neat futon cover the bag of corduroy that was to be a picnic quilt never got sewn in the 3 weeks, not even touched so out the door it went. regrets? sometimes but you know there's more cord out there and maybe the next time I have an itching for a picnic blanket I might find some prettier fabric!

Decide how many tubs you want to keep/have room for and start filling them with the must keep, really don't want to get rid of pieces, get rid of the ones you are okay with letting go for now and then set deadlines for yourself on the remaining pieces and if you don't attempt to do anything with them let them go too.

Good luck

what to do with the get rid of stuff, if you do renn faires, and there is one in the near future, then maybe take a bag there and give away/trade for something someone has that you would want. or check with the high school or college/community theater and see if theiy want it for costumes.
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#5 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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{groan} I worked on it last night. I still have five tubs with fabric in them - two are nearly empty but I have fabric in another room that needs to go in them. My tubs: white and off-white fabric (scraps big enough to piece together for underdresses), wool/fleece (for cloaks and partlets), tunic fabric, dress fabric, and scraps. With three females and three males in the family, and a 10 day festival we attend every summer, and kids that grow and grow, I really can justify what I'm keeping. Even if the tubs are not full I will keep them because it helps me to keep it sorted by category. It's a lot of storage but we do have a shed and I think I will make space in there. For now it's a better solution than buying fabric new every year when costume time rolls around. When we leave our big house with the storage shed - and we're planning on doing this within a couple of years - I might reconsider then.

I had more "less-than-useful scraps" than I realized. I downsized my scraps and now have a kitchen trash-bag full of whites and another of coloreds for my friends' preteen daughters, who are always looking for projects. I got rid of all the tiny scraps and all synthetics and kept only scraps big enough to make a reasonably-sized gift bag out of or some other project. It was easier once I figured out where I could donate them to an eager recipient.

And I have another tub for "sewing stuff" - pins and patterns and measuring tape and thread and all that good stuff. I'll work on decluttering that soon.

So I still have six tubs, but....I guess I've decluttered and justified them. LOL.

Thanks for the quick responses, it was exactly what I needed last night while I was working on this.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#6 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 11:06 AM
 
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I have an extra large canvas storage bag (the kind for storing extra blanket or sheets) that I keep all my fabric in and another for yarn. I have a small sewing box that holds my supplies. My rule is I can't have more stuff than can fit in the bag. If the bag fills up then I either have to make stuff with what I have to thin it out or go without whatever I found to get. It helps me stay on top of my projects this way. Well sort of.. everything in the bag is destined for something and I haven't gotten there yet!
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#7 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If the bag fills up then I either have to make stuff with what I have to thin it out or go without whatever I found to get. It helps me stay on top of my projects this way.
This is a great reminder to me that once I use the fabric, it goes away! I am sure I will remember this and it will help me keep moving on my projects. Thanks.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#8 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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If you have the storage space and truly feel that you will use the fabrics at some point, then I wouldn't consider it clutter. I would just periodically go through your stash to make sure you still feel you have a use for everything you have and purge as you decide you no longer like or need a particular fabric.
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#9 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 06:34 PM
 
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I think it's very much It Depends. With my fabric stash, I fairly recently realized:

(1) My sewing skills are not where they need to be to use some of the more difficult fabric. (Velvet and other pile fabrics, loose weaves, certain silks, many knits, etc.)
(2) It will be several months before I can really spend much time sewing, and after that it will be at least a year before I get my skills to the level I want.
(3) My taste in fabric changes a lot over time.
(4) Buying a new piece of fabric is part of what energizes my desire to sew. (Patterns are very different - having a stash of patterns does inspire me to sew.)
(5) I live in a very small house, I badly want that house to be neater, and books are a higher priority than fabric for me.

This meant that much of my older stash was not that attractive to me, and that I could pretty much expect that when I was ready to use the difficult pieces in my newer stash, I probably wouldn't like them much any more either. Once I added the fact that I really like to buy fabric as part of a sewing project, I realized that much of my fabric stash was pretty counterproductive. I've given away one _huge_ (slightly smaller than an appliance box) bin of fabric, and am working on giving away more. I'm keeping some unique pieces that still excite me, and a fair number of basics that I know I'll use - solid linens, solid wool crepe, that kind of thing.

It sounds like you're the opposite of me in many ways - you do sew on a regular schedule, you're skilled, you like already having fabric, your fabric feeds another hobby, and your fabric serves the whole family. So it sounds like it's worthwhile for you to devote a nontrivial amount of storage to fabric, and if you don't have the room, perhaps prioritize something else out of existence. That doesn't mean that it isn't worthwhile to thin it regularly, but I think that it makes sense for you to have a far, far bigger stash than, say, me.

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#10 of 13 Old 09-22-2007, 01:51 AM
 
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I'm with you, lightheart, I say keep all of it! Fabric is just so multi-purposeful and useful. I am a craft supply hoarder though. Unfortunately my fabric supply addiction carries through to my inability to get rid of clothes I don't wear...because afterall, it is fabric and I could eventually do something with it. Eventually I'll purge my closet of unwanted clothes but they just move to my fabric pile. My fabric stash just keeps growing without buying fabric!
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#11 of 13 Old 09-22-2007, 01:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
I don't sew much, but we do medieval re-enactment and I spend a month or two each year doing a big "push" to update our family's costumes.
if you are doing your sewing for Pennsic, please keep in mind that the "authentic" number of outfits for the average medieval person is 1-2. I expand the outfits of DS by hand while we are their. :

When we got home, I looked at what was being worn, and what was not. A dress of 50/50 linen/rayon is being scrapped (too hot!) For next year I will have 2 long sleeve and one short sleeve dresses, not a lot more. Hand washing is pretty easy with natural fibers :-)

I buy only 100% linen now (for costume making) which greatly cuts down on fabric accumulation. :

Your "extra" fabric should be pretty easy to swap or gift to friends. You can also make environmentally friendly holiday gift bags.
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#12 of 13 Old 09-22-2007, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, SleeplessMommy, I sew primarily for Pennsic, and what I make then suffices for the rest of the year. We Pennsic for 12 days and I aim for 5-6 outfits (tunics or dresses/shifts) per kid. In the past I've sewn with mostly cotton but this year I started sewing in 100% linen and I'm sold on it. All the kid garb I make gets four years' of use from my kids and is passed to others in our household, so I don't feel bad using sturdy high-quality fabric. I start weeks beforehand hemming and repairing and making new.

I hardly ever have a moment of time to sit and sew when I'm actually at war, other than to mend items on the spot. If we're in camp, I'm on my feet managing kids or cooking or helping with whatever needs doing.
This year I wore mainly two daytime dresses, but had several shifts and aprons, and only one caul which was not enough. I was drenched in sweat or rain most of the time and it was a challenge not to have something dry to change into. This year I tried hand-washing some of the kids' clothes and was absolutely amazed at how difficult it was to get the dirt out; much, much too difficult for me to imagine hand-washing on a regular basis while we are there. (Though admittedly some of their garb is from past years before I realized how critical it is NOT to use light-colored fabric for kids' garb.) And then there was the rain...I couldn't get the things I washed to airdry completely. I'm wondering how you're doing it differently that it works for you. Do you hang your things to dry underneath a pavilion? I have always done a midweek town laundry run.

Were you there any of the recent muddy years? (2003 comes especially to mind - we had a veritable lake of mud in our encampment, maybe 15' across and up nearly to the knee in the middle.) I realize it's medieval to have only 1-2 outfits, but it feels too extreme for us at Pennsic. The rain, and the mud, and the dirt, not to mention spills from food and drink...

Anyway, I switched to 100% linen for garb about a year ago, and I'm not going back as long as we can afford it.

Where do you camp? I wonder if we've crossed paths? It's nice to "meet" you here.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#13 of 13 Old 09-22-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Eclectica;9245286] Unfortunately my fabric supply addiction carries through to my inability to get rid of clothes I don't wear...because afterall, it is fabric and I could eventually do something with it. Eventually I'll purge my closet of unwanted clothes but they just move to my fabric pile. [QUOTE]

Refashioning is a good/bad thing to get into isn't it?
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