Monday 6 May 2013

Stash Busting...

In case you missed it last month, here's a guest post I wrote as part of the Stash-Busting Series over at Feather's Flights...

I've been reading Feather's Flights, ever since I came across Heather's Baby Shortall tutorial, so  I was very pleased when Heather asked if I'd like to contribute to her Stash-Busting Series.

I buy fabric because I like it, not necessarily because I have a project in mind. Consequently, I have a rather large fabric stash.

This is just a small portion of my stash. There's two more sections to the IKEA bookcase. Not all shelves contain fabric, but a fair proportion of them do. 

So, why all the fabric, you may ask...
  • In the year before I gave up work, I stocked up on fabric... just in case.
  • When I buy online from overseas, the fabric is cheaper, but the postage adds to the price. To make it cost effective, I buy 6 - 7 yards at a time. Even including postage, it is still substantially cheaper than here in Australia.
  • I'm a sucker for a sale!!!
On top of all that fabric, I also have a pre-loved clothing stash, which is growing at a rate far faster than I can hope to sew with it.

Having all this fabric means that I usually shop from my stash when deciding on fabric for the next project. I'd much prefer to play with fabric combinations on the floor of my sewing room, than to have to dash out to the shops and make quick decisions.

Some fabrics are harder to give up than others, though.... fabrics that I probably couldn't get again or that I simply adore. So, let's get stash busting with two such fabrics.

I just adore this denim heart fabric. It's a non-stretch denim I bought at Spotlight some time ago. Again, I bought it because I liked it. I had no idea what I'd do with it. Typically, denim is made into jeans, pinafores (jumpers), overalls or skirts. I just couldn't see the all over heart pattern on any of these garments, unless it was broken with another fabric.

I needed a pattern that would work with the heart denim. So, my next step in using special fabric, is finding a pattern that is just perfect for the fabric. 

When working with special (to me) fabric, I almost always go with a commercial pattern and usually a PDF pattern from a designer whose patterns I have used before. I have found PDF patterns fit better than the big paper pattern companies (McCalls, Butterick etc). In other words, I need to have confidence in the pattern.

And this is the pattern I've decided upon: the All Day Skirt by Lily Bird Studio. It's a very simple skirt, designed for heavier fabrics like denim or corduroy. Now I know I could quite easily draft a pattern, similar to this one, myself. It's just a rectangle with a ruffle. I've written three tutorials on girls' skirts:
However, if I'm going to give up my heart denim, I want the measurements to be accurate and as I don't have ready access to the child who will be wearing this skirt, I'll use a pattern that I know will give the results I want. With the pattern already purchased, I won't have any excuse to procrastinate.

The third step in giving up my fabric, is finding a co-ordinating fabric and with the heart denim this was easy, a polka dot from my stash.

The second special fabric was much harder to give up. I've had it for much longer, it was expensive, it's not manufactured any more and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. However, the perfect pattern for this fabric came along recently.

As soon as I saw the Ruffle Top, by Heidi, from Elegance & Elephants, I knew it would work. I'm actually making an exception here, as I haven't previously used one of Heidi's patterns, but I have seen enough reviews by people I respect, so I've purchased the PDF.

This gorgeous print, Magical Lands, by Australian designer Saffron Craig, will be the centre panel, with the blue polka dot as the outside panels. It wasn't too hard to co-ordinate the print and the polka dot, but I haven't yet made up my mind about the ruffle. I'm still deciding between the mauve and the pink. I'd love your opinion to stop me from procrastinating any more... Do you prefer the mauve or the pink? 

Now that I've decided what I'll do with these fabrics, I've bagged them and put them on my desk. They've joined the queue, ready to be sewn. You can see the bagged fabric sitting on my desk. Once it reaches here, it only goes back to my shelves as scraps or left over fabric.

So that's how I stash bust favourite fabrics... match them with a pattern that is the perfect fit for the fabric and then co-ordinate with other fabrics from my stash. It's certainly not a fast process, but it works for me.

If you are looking for PDF patterns to help with your stash busting, I've been VERY happy with the following designers:
Just in case you were wondering, I'm not being sponsored in any way by the PDF designers. 

... Pam


  1. I have a similar method of stash busting - I make "kits" with the fabrics and notions for specific projects. The kits all go in a Rubbermaid container (or a drawer, when the container is full, LOL) to be worked on as I have time. Unfortunately zipper bags - my favourite project to make - don't exactly bust a lot of stash, lol. I've gotten into making little girls dresses thanks to you - I can make them in any size I want since whatever won't fit the little girls I know, will get donated to a local centre :D I just need to find the right BOY pattern or tutorial and bust some boy fabric!

  2. It was interesting to me to read about your stash busting method. I have begun putting everything for a project in large plastic bags so that I don't forget and use what I have selected for something else. Thanks for sharing the links to the websites with good patterns.

  3. Hi Pam! How have you been? I think the pink is much nicer for a little girl. The mauve is a bit subdued. They are both lovely, but I think the pink works best for the project you have in mind.

    Lots of love from Israel :-)

  4. Gosh how organised Pam! I'm impressed! I don't really have a system for stashbusting. I'm forever looking for ways to tidy up my house and store things better and when an idea comes to me I then match it to some fabric I have in my cupboard. I've now reached the stage that all my fabric fits in boxes....but only just. I'm hoping to make space in those boxes now - so that when I see more fabric in the sale section that I just HAVE to have, I'll have somewhere to put it!

  5. Your stash looks awesome! So nice and organized. I seem to buy fabric because I like it or its on sale, not because I have a project in mind so I can relate! And for the top I think I like the mauve.

  6. You are so neat and tidy! I'm working to get my stash down cuz it's outgrowing the new big room. I may have to seek help for this addiction;-o

    Love your bundling idea. Between this and Sandra's kitting, I should get the stash back in order.

  7. Great post Pam! I really enjoyed learning more about your process and seeing your stash and sewing space. You are so organized! You should see my random stashes of fabrics in various wonder I can never find the right piece! Thanks also for the tip on PDF patterns vs paper patterns. I agree the few McCall's patterns I have tried have not always been a true fit. Then again, I have a very skinny 3 year old who doesn't always fit in the average.

    I look forward to seeing what you create with these special fabrics and patterns. By the way, I like the pink better.

  8. P A M ! i am flabbergasted! your work room looks like a science Lab. I have the all the threads buttons needles etc in some orderly manner ,,,, But This ??? How do you keep that so NEAT ???? Indeed after years of sewing /repairing i feel the need to use up all those cloth pieces. last year i used up some leftovers into well needed new summer dresses, aprons for me and for a friend, bags, remaking clothes that needed to be changed. bags etc ,,, Lucky for me i also started two new Fiberart works that need loads of tiny pieces , and i am happy to share pieces with other Fiberartists. As to your question i think the Real PINK in the second photo fits better , i also think that a bit of the dotted blue will enhance both the patterned cloth and the pink i would use both !!!

  9. Your fabric stash looks so neat and organized, Pam! I like the idea of bagging the pattern and fabric and setting up a queue. Great idea!

  10. I can only aspire to such neatness Pam!

    Agree with the others on the pink :)


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