The indefinite period of the stash

Jennifer over at Quarter Inch from the Edge has set herself a goal of focusing on sewing from her stash this year. She has even written a manifesto and provided tips on how to set yourself realistic and personalised stash-busting goals.

I did not set myself many sewing goals last year, and because I was realistic, they were achievable, except for my second goal of buying less fabric, which I totally failed at. My stash grew at an alarming rate, but part of that growth is due to two amazing fabric clubs, one of which was a much-appreciated Christmas gift from my husband. I console myself by remembering that I excelled at making humidicrib quilts. I also made a mountain of bee blocks, contributed to round robin projects and never missed a deadline. I think a success in one area balances out a failure in another!

Let’s try to be equally realistic and sensible this year.

In 2016, I would like to:

  • make a dent in my stash by making a few quick and easy quilt tops that chew up fabric
  • take a short break from buying and see what inspiration can be found in my stash
  • keep chipping away at the Cupboard of Shame’s contents and my WIP list
  • make bee blocks for myself each month as part of my Bee, Myself and I selfish sewing bee
  • see some regular progress on hand quilting Dear Jane
  • have fun.

To force myself to focus on finishing and using what I have, I have buried my pin-money debit card in a sealed envelope in the bottom of a drawer for safekeeping until Easter. Yep, not even a zipper will be bought.  In the meantime, my pin-money account should grow undisturbed and I can go on a wild and uncontrolled spending spree buy the few things I will have noted on a responsible and grown-up shopping list when I eventually rip open the seal. I know I cannot stop spending for a whole year, but I can cope until Easter, maybe even a bit longer. We will see. I am already sure I will need some tone-on-tone white and some zippers by then. If at the end of the year my fabric bins are less overflowing and close to level across the top, I will see that as a win.

Pretty fabrics

These are my December fabric purchases and why I think I can survive a little while without buying more fabric.

I have already spotted a flaw in my plan. Rummaging about in my stash and scrap box has bred a whole range of new ideas. The treasures and ideas that I have found in there! It looks like the WIP and UFO pile will grow as the stash shrinks.

Just this week, sorting and tidying my scrap box has turned up these new projects:

  • some tiny hexies to make something out of – the scraps were small but too good to throw away
  • a bag of aqua scraps that might become a cushion or some other small project
  • a new quilt idea to use up the white scrappy crumbs.
English paper piecing hexagon basting

I have no idea what I am making these hexies for, but I could not throw the scraps away.

Pile of aqua fabric scraps

I am sure I can make something out of this pile of aqua scraps, but what?

Digging about in my stash has already seen three new quilt tops start life since December. I even cut into a carefully hoarded Bonnie and Camille bundle! However, I feel that all these new projects are okay. Jenn has declared 2016 the year of the stash, not the year of restraint.

What are you planning to sew in 2016? Will you be following Jenn’s suggestions and writing your own stash manifesto?


34 thoughts on “The indefinite period of the stash

  1. I am trying *so* hard not to make spontaneous fabric purchases ‘just because’. Buying fabrics to complete an existing project, or to replace fabric already bought which just doesn’t work for its purpose seems acceptable, though. I do need to make one large purchase, which is a new roll of batting.
    One thing I should put on my list for 2016 is getting my scraps into some sort of order, probably by colour if nothing else!

  2. I like your idea, but I use my debit card for coffee ; ) I would have to rip it open nearly every day……
    Those tiny hexies are just adorable. Looking forward to seeing how you make out. I like your monkeys from the previous post too

    • I am a stay-at-home tea drinker, so I am okay on that front.

      However, the card is my play money, so this also means no new clothes, shoes or books for a little while. Luckily, I chose a period when there are no family birthdays that I need to buy presents for!

    • My scraps are sorted in zip-lock bags by size: strings, 2½-inch squares, 1½-inch squares and useable HST scraps. When I have enough of one type, I will make something out of them. If I cannot cut a 1½-inch square or small hexie out of it, it goes in the bin. I keep a small working scrap bin for when I need a little a small bit of something, but every few months I go through it with a rotary cutter.

  3. Good luck with the fabric restraint! I also tried last year to make from my stash but know the temptation is always out there! My low volume stash has severely diminished and the only reason I haven’t replenished is the lack of anything I like in the LQSs! Just as well, really. I will continue to try to make some dent in my stash too, hence the recent Square in a Square top that is languishing while I complete some bee blocks, that are taking FORever!

    • One of my fabric clubs in 2015 was the Westwood Acres Inside Voices club, and I was really happy with it. The exchange rate is not so much in our favour these days, but I also had difficulty finding many low-volume prints in my LQS. I think the good ones get snapped up quickly when they come in.

    • I still laugh when I remember all the feathers in my hair as I repurposed that feather doona into cushion inserts!

      I am chipping away at the Cupboard of Shame. At a snail’s pace, I admit, but still chipping.

  4. Very admirable goals, and a good idea to be realistic too. Oddly, I am one of the few with a goal to buy a bit more fabric! Trying to avoid red and Christina’s, and buy some different combinations.

    • There is nothing wrong with buying more fabric! I will be right back at it as soon as I have sewn up some of what I have and created a bit more space in the cupboard.

      Why avoid red? It is a wonderful colour and you make such lovely things with it!

  5. I love your plan and Easter seems like a doable goal though I suspect there may be moments – if you are stuck for anything ask me – I need to get through a pre-Christmas spending spree I shouldn’t have spent before buying anything else!

    • As my pre-Christmas December purchases included a 10 lb box of fabric from Hawthorne Threads (4–5 kg in our world), I know what you mean.

      In my defence, the two lengths of wide backing I needed would not fit in an envelope, so I had to go up to a box, and then it seemed silly to pay for postage and not use the space. At least I stuck to the sale fabrics!

    • Here’s to going crazy in 2017! I do seem to buy in alternating waves of austerity and splurging.

      Weirdly, I am feeling good about this. I have lots of good stuff in the cupboard to play with, so I do not think it will be any hardship.

  6. yep, chuckling here at the thought of an uncontrolled spending spree. If only! Being either on a money budget or a stash building budget, it is hard at times but actually pushed me into a new creative zone. I have found my skill at pairing unusual and wonderful fabric combinations.

    Thanks for the nudge at creating my own sewing manifesto. Time to so some writing and a blog post. I did have fun making my first block for myself, a pineapple mini from Dear Stella. (It’s a free pattern.) Good job so far with your new year of sewing.

    • Hive 1 chose the pineapple block as their Stash Bee block for January this year. What I have seen looks great.

      I am actually hoping that I can avoid a crazy spending spree at the end. A sensible list will be just fine.

      • Yes, a couple of us are “party crashers” to Hive 1, I made a block for the queen, and one for myself. You were a good example! This year I am in Hive 5, and look forward to the whole year of stash using. It is fun rediscovering hidden treasures in the nooks.

  7. I think your goals are very doable again this year. I think you did amazingly well this past year with all the crib quilts and that it sort of balanced out with the other fabric purchases. Those teeny tiny hexies are so cute. Can’t wait to see what you do with them.

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  9. oh, I love the idea of a personalized manifesto! I think I try to not buy fabric every year and I fail, every year. Usually about 3 months in I go crazy. I didn’t even make it one of my goals this year. For this year, I am going to try and reach net zero again. I ended last year -25 yards, so worst case scenario is, I have the same amount at the end of the year! This is the year of the stash, I love that saying. Good luck on your plan 🙂

    • I think three months will be about my breaking point too, which is why I am glad that Easter is in March and not April this year. 🙂

      Not buying anything for a whole year is not possible for me – I know I will run out of white background fabric or thread or wadding or something. It seems better to set ourselves realistic targets that we can work to, like your net zero or my shopping pause. If nothing else, I see a renewed appreciation for what I have!

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