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Inventoried Stash… dumb idea!

kbalinski | Posted in General Discussion on

Sounded like a good idea at the time.  Measure the pieces of fabric in my stash and record them all for reference.  I couldn’t have that much fabric, right?  WRONG.  50+ pieces of fabric sit on our pool table (i.e. my sewing work space), divided into 3 piles:  45″, 60″, and fabric for my kids clothes.  From 1 to 4 yards per piece, I never would’ve guessed I had that much.  As I went through it all, here’s what else surprised me…

1.  I can remember where I bought each piece, and what I wanted to do with it.

2.  I’m partial to wovens (only 3 knits found), khaki, and stripes.

3.  There’s only 1 piece I regret buying (maybe I’ll put it in the kid’s pile!).

Whoever posted that “YouTube” link of Grandma’s sewing room, this guilt I’m experiencing is all your fault!  Just kidding…  I really liked that clip, it made me smile to think of my grandkids going through my sewing stuff one day.  Why guilt?  I buy more than I need.  And sadness, since I anticipate my next sewing purchase to be far into the future, now that I have a very clear mental picture of exactly how much fabric I have.  Sell some on ebay?  No way, I’m far too stubborn to admit defeat.  I’ll just have to get cranking, and get my priorities straight… sew, eat, sleep.  No wait, I mean, kids, sew, husband.  Totally possible, right?  Did I mention that I’ve been waiting for him to go back to work, so I could do my inventory?  Gee, I wonder why…

Actually, I like the idea of 1 garment per week.  That is do-able.

What does your stash say about you?

Kristine in MI



  1. jatman | | #1

    You crack me up!  That's a lot of fabric and exactly why I'm not taking inventory of my own.  I've been fortunate enough to be able to shop at some traveling fabric markets where I've found some really good deals and I've started to accumulate quite a bit.  How much I'm not really sure.  What does it say about me?  I've gagged it so it will not be uttering a single word....

    What part of MI are you from?  I was from there once and will be going 'home' there again in about a year or so.



    1. kbalinski | | #3

      I'm from Oxford, which is about an hour north of Detroit.  Do all my fabric shopping at JoAnn's, and the new quilt shop in town has beautiful cottons I like to use for my kids' clothes.  Haberman's Fabrics in Royal Oak is a rare treat, not a place I go often, or add to my stash at, but a great store to get lost in for a couple hours.  Lately, I've been found some of the best deals online.  I really like http://www.trendyfabrics.com and http://www.buythepiece.com for the best bargains.  Haven't been disappointed, yet.

      Where in MI are you from, and where did you move to?


      1. jatman | | #7

        Hi Kristine!  I lived in Royal Oak - actually only a mile or two from Haberman Fabrics but never went there because I never had time to sew.  I'll make a point of going there when I get home since it's been years since I've been in - I've never even been in there 'new' building which they've probably been in for over 5 years.  I moved to Sweden.  My husband's job brought us here and will send us back in a little bit over a year.  I happened on a few fabric markets throughout The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany which are pretty cool and have bought some wonderful pieces of fabric that I'm slowly working my way through.  I just love having the ability to shop from my own stash!

        Growing up I had a friend who moved to Oxford.  It was beautiful there.


        P.S.  Thank you for the websites!

        1. starzoe | | #8

          I have just been reading all your posts in this topic - of great interest to me of course, having a large stash of my own. Help is on the horizon though, a shop has opened here where I live that is called Fabric Traders - you take your extras in, they buy it from you, you get a credit and from there on in you have a huge assortment of fabrics to choose from. They also carry other fabrics and all findings.Most of the items I have sewn this year are from this shop, but that doesn't stop me from visiting other fabric stores!

  2. kiwianne | | #2

    What does my fabric stash say about me?  It says I am a fabriholic, that's what!!!

    Like you, I did an inventory and made a swatch book of all my pieces with the width and yardage in a vain attempt to stop me buying more.  But all that happened was that, with it in my purse, I would see yet another piece, fish out my swatchbook and think "Ooh that would go with that piece I already have."  Arrrrgggghhh, yet more fabric to squirrel away somewhere.  I just know I am going to run out life before I run out of fabric.

    I too loved the Youtube clip and thought of my grand-daughter wading through my sewing stash.  Fortunately, at seven, she is showing signs of loving fabric the way I do so in the near future, I am going to try to teach her to sew.

    Regards, Kiwianne

    1. kbalinski | | #4


      I laughed when I read about you're buying to match the stash.  I could totally see myself doing that!  I wasn't devoted enough to cut swatches, just recorded the descriptions and lengths for reference.    If I was smart, I'd get my name removed from the JoAnn's mailing list... their end of season clearance is what always gets me the worst.  The bargain prices, the idea that I can always use it next year if I don't get around to it this year... ugh, a vicious cycle.


      1. kiwianne | | #5

        I know what you mean.  We have a branch here in NZ of an Australian store called Spotlight.  As soon as their bi-monthly catalogue arrives, I sit down and mark stuff I'm interested in and the whole fabric merry-go-round starts again.

        When I go to the UK to visit my son, there is a street of fabric shops that I always visit and wherever else we go in Europe, I am always on the lookout for fabric shops.

        Now is this an affliction or an addiction?  :-)

        Regards, Kiwianne


        1. fitting | | #20

          It's a wonderful, peaceful avocation and the size of our collections will make our children and grandchildren laugh (or cry) when they have to clear it out.  You should see my button collection!

          1. kiwianne | | #21

            You're dead right there, Fitting!  When my mother-in-law died in the early seventies, we three daughters-in-law had the job of clearing out her sewing stuff.  We were absolutely staggered to discover that she had 82 pieces of fabric, some still wrapped in brown paper with receipts dating back to the 50s.  She also had around 20 garments part made.  The thing was that they were never very flush with money and we couldn't see how she managed to squirrel away all this stuff without my father-in-law knowing.

            Ah, we fabriholics are very devious!

            Regards, Kiwianne

          2. seamster | | #22

            I've enjoyed reading about all the ladies out there who have a fabric stash.  I noticed, however, no one until your letter mentioned the age of their stash.   I have a piece that I bought in Ft. Lauderdale when I lived there in 1960.  It, along with the rest of my "fabric family" has moved several times since, I just can't seem to part with it.    I do occasionally sort thru my many boxes of fabric and eliminate the pieces I'm sure I won't use in the future.   That just makes more room to buy more fabric to take it's place.   I'm usually sewing for other people and don't have time to sew for myself.   That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

          3. ella | | #23

            Am much relieved that my stash and I are not alone! We really do identify with much of what has been said already; may I just add that a stash is the perfect companion in many ways     doesn't need feeding, don't have to take it for a walk, is a delight to look at, doesn't answer back, no dusting required, and doesn't complain even if ignored,sworn at,or squashed into small dark places. Three cheers for The Stash.

          4. Lynnelle | | #24

            Hah, love it.  I find it befititng that I am drinking a glass of wine while reading this post.  To the Stash!

          5. solosmocker | | #25

            My glass of chardonnay is clinking against yours Lynelle! Cheers to the stash!

          6. Teaf5 | | #26

            I have several pieces of corduroy from the 1960s, some of my mother's stash from the 1950s, and a ten-yard piece of silk from about 1910.  The quality of those fabrics makes today's seem so shoddy by comparison!

          7. seamster | | #27

            Please tell me more about that 10 yard piece of silk from 1910.  Just a little about the color, other details so I can better picture it in my mind.   I've made some  outfits for a friend in silk brocade that I've ordered from California, but I'll bet that fabric doesn't  compare with the quality of the piece you have.   Will you ever cut into the silk you own?  

          8. kbalinski | | #28

            1910???  Wow! How did you acquire this treasure?  I'm also very curious about it's appearance.  And, will you dare cut into it?  I think I'd lose sleep over the entire project if I did!


      2. Ralphetta | | #6

        I could identify also.  Except I know myself well enough to just pull everything out, look over, fold, stack and put back.  That takes a very long time and I know I would never finish if I took time to measure and do all that other stuff. 

        I can refrain from Joann's sales.  My down fall has always been when upscale places go out of business and the bargains are just TOO good to resist!

        You know Murphy's Law?  Well, we should coin a name for that law that says no matter how many stacks and rooms full of fabric, boxes of trim, zippers, etc.  you will NOT have the correct ingredients...zipper, fabric and lining for whatever one garment you decide to make and will have to...go buy something more!

  3. Velvetangel | | #9


    I inventoried all my fabric  1 1/2 yrs. ago.  I was meticulous in recording the fabric content, if I had washed it before storing, how much I had and where I bought it.  I enjoyed the exercise and found some neat stuff I didn't know I had.   Sadly and predictably, I have not maintained the inventory system.  I totally forget to remove fabric I have used and often miss entering new additions.  I learned that I like beige and white a lot , I never buy the right colour lining the first time out and most importantly - I have way too much fabric.  I will never get all that sewn. 

    I did discover that I am very crafty at hiding the evidence of my purchases.  We had some old trunks in an unused barn - I stashed some synthetics there.  I had some fabric tucked in with my table cloths.  Some was in a front hall closet (my sewing room is down stairs).  My best idea was laying long lengths of fabric between the box spring and mattress of our bed. 

    I am hoping that some day the local grocery stores will carry fabric so I can sneak the costs in under the grocery budget!

    Yikes - I guess it's an addiction with me!  Are there Fabricaholics Anonymous meetings?  Maybe they are near a fabric store!


    Manitoba, Canada


    1. Ralphetta | | #12

      I'm still laughing about the grocery store.

      1. kbalinski | | #13

        No kidding... I thought I was being sneaky hiding half my piles under shelves beneath by sewing tables.  Never thought of the linen closet or mattress!  Where is this fabric exchange store at?  Never heard of one before, but a great idea!

        So, I got to work cutting a couple patterns today, and I have a 2 new questions.

        1.  White chiffon with a black floral print.  I bought white lining, but it's still too sheer.  Wrong lining or wrong color?  I'm thinking maybe black lining, but don't want to distort the "pop" of the white.  Any lining fabric that is still white, but not sheer?

        2.  Laying out a pleated skirt pattern on a border fabric.  I'm in heaven because it's exactly what I wanted for this piece of fabric!  Now, the 3 skirt pieces (front, side, back) are perfectly rectangular.  Can I overlap the pattern pieces (seam allowance), transfer the pattern markings, and cut 1 long piece for the entire skirt, eliminating all but one seam?  I really want to keep the border intact (embroidered design along hem).  Makes sense to me, but wanted to bounce it off the "pros" here. 

        Also, just a note that I'm so excited to be sharing information with all of you across the globe.  Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, USA... it just makes my head spin.  Here I am a 33 year old, mom of 2 toddlers, feeling a little alone in my hobby, as I know no one else my age who sews garments.  But within a few hours, can get advice and laughs from you lovely ladies around the gllobe.  Wow!

        Talk to you all soon,


        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #14

          About the white lining... you may want to consider an underlay (piece by piece) and a lining. Chiffon is very sheer! Maybe a white underlay with flesh tone lining?  Can you take your chiffon to a fabric store and experiment with some different possibilities?  I did lots of this experimenting with DD 3 to get her bridesmaids dresses just right!

          About the skirt... yes you can cut it as one long piece (but I am addicted to pockets so I don't do it any more!)  You say that your pieces are "perfectly rectangular", does the skirt waist have a yoke or some other way to shape the top? 'cause a rectangular skirt would hang really strange on a curvy woman!!

          Hope this helps,


          1. kbalinski | | #15

            Okay, the underlining each piece makes sense, and very do-able.

            And, yes, the skirt has a yoke for the pieces to attach to.  Pockets are nice, but keeping the border intact is more important to me on this garment.

            Thanks for your help!


        2. SewistKitty | | #18

          If you are still working on the white chiffon I would consider a nude or flesh colored silk organza such as Thai Silk sells for US 8.00. The sewing goddess, Sandra Betzina recommends the site and the fabric for interlining sheer fabric. I have used the taupe and peach silk organza in my interlined garments very successfully. Thai Silks is a secure on-line site. I have no connection with this site. I am a satisfied customer.

  4. Teaf5 | | #10

    Thanks for warning us against getting our stash too organized--a perfect excuse for me never to count mine!

    That said, though, I'm thinking that our stashes might come in handy now that they're closing fabric stores left and right.  If we use up all those great pieces in our stashes, we might have a hard time finding any new fabric to work on, right?

    1. Josefly | | #11

      I don't see how the fabric stores are going out of business, does anybody? I mean, with us accumulating fabrics hand-over-fist, as it sounds, way more than we're actually sewing? Just imagine what would happen to the remaining fabric stores if all our stashed fabric came onto the market suddenly!If there were some kind of fabric exchange available, how many have fabrics they would actually give up to get somebody else's?

  5. autumn | | #16

    Luckily, I have a friend who helps make a quilt every year for her church to raffle off at Christmas. Last year she asked me if I had any fabric that would be suitable.  HA.  I sent her away with a big paper bag of material, but strangely enough, it did not give me any more room in my boxes of uncut and scraps.  I guess fabric expands to fill the space available.

  6. fabricholic | | #17

    I still have hope, even though my daughter says I will never use all of that fabric. My fabric says this about me; I want more than I need and my wants have won out.Marcy

  7. sewelegant | | #19

    I loved reading about how others have and are dealing with their fabric stash.  It made me think of the time we were living in old Navy quarters (my husband was a career Naval officer) and I had a wonderful room to use for my sewing.  All my fabric was neatly folded on the shelves of a wicker etagere.  The house had resident mice.  My son had been watching tv and eating potato chips and a mouse calmly walked out of it's hole, picked up a crumb and dashed back.  The housing office rep came out but said all he could do was put down those sticky tapes.  Or, he could get a cat for us.  Well, I took the cat (I am not an animal person, but thought I would prefer this to dead mice on sticky tape).  The cat had kittens a month into her stay with us.  I put a litter box in the basement (that should do, shouldn't it?)  well, apparently not!  But, I didn't realize this until sometime later I was looking through the fabric on the bottom shelf of my etagere and there was a reeking odor... oh, lordy, the kittens has found their own litter box.  I've never missed those cats!  But I still think of that fabric.

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