I’ve said many times that I keep a fairly small stash in comparison to a lot of people (despite my mother’s insistence that “whoever dies with the most wins”), and these days it’s pretty well-organised if I may say so myself. That said, I am convinced that it is not the size that counts, it’s the management. If you have the storage space and the budget for a larger stash, this does not make you a hoarder! I think some degree of stashing makes sense for most of us; even with a smaller stash I can snap up a good deal when I see it, and always have something on hand when inspiration strikes. A stash should be organised in a way that makes sense for the way that you sew, but the key is this: you need to know what you have, and be able to use it. Just some ideas for every size of stash:
Think About How YOU Sew
My sewing tends to be strongly seasonal, so I organise my main stash in two sections: winter and summer. This works really well for me, with a small stash, because I can aim to get through the stack within the season, and easily see if my ambition is starting to outstrip reality. With a larger stash, this method wouldn’t work as well. It would be too broad, with too many fabrics mixed up together. A larger stash might do better organised by fabric type, colour, weight, or size. Again, only you know what would work best for you; do you tend to choose a pattern first and then search for a specific fabric type? Are you more drawn to the colours you want to wear that season? Maybe getting that pattern tetris right is your top priority. For those skim readers, here’s a list of ways to organise your main stash, from smallest to largest:
Main Stash Organisation:
Fabric and Fibre Type
Fabric and Fibre Type, with Cut Size Labelled
The larger your stash becomes, the more management you’ll need. For instance, labelling. If you keep a larger stash, label fibre content and cut size at least. I’d recommend an all-or-nothing pre-washing policy (in other words, always prewash, or never prewash – so you know for sure. I always prewash as soon as possible after purchase.), but if you can’t stick to that, I would strongly recommend labelling whether or not you have pre-washed as well. If you’re a blogger or Instagrammer, you might also like to label where it’s from if you’re unlikely to remember, because people love to know that stuff, but that’s probably not a top priority for most of us. Some people prefer a spreadsheet for this sort of thing, but I personally wouldn’t resort to that unless my stash were truly enormous.
Think About Special Cases
If you do any niche sewing, you might like to keep those fabrics separate. I keep a separate small stash for fabrics I’ve earmarked for my kids, the hallmarks of which are tiny cuts and novelty prints. It works much better for me, so things don’t get lost in the main stash. I can also see my options for kid’s clothes at a glance. I also keep a separate lingerie stash in a box, because the fabrics and supplies are really specific. Possible separate stash ideas, again, for the skimmers:
As above, only you know your specific requirements.
Think About Scraps
Scrap management IS stash management. I may keep a small stash of larger cuts, but I’m dreadful for saving scraps. I can’t bear to part with them. I recently reorganised my scraps, and it is making a HUGE difference in terms of actually using them. I mainly use scraps for underwear, facings and mending, so I have organised them by weight and type. I keep 3 large boxes: one for lightweight wovens, one for medium to heavier weight wovens, and one for knits. I also keep a bag on the go for tiny scraps to be recycled. Larger scrap stashes might be more effective specifically earmarked for use (undies, quilts, toys, mending, cushions), or size as well as type. When I worked in the costume shop in college, we had a huge scrap stash organised simply by colour. You might also consider only saving scraps that you will realistically use; I’ve started being pickier about what I keep based on fibre content and quality. In other words, I will keep every tiny scrap of Liberty cotton lawn, but I have to let go of those poly-whatever scraps from that wearable muslin. Another good idea I’ve heard for all the scraps you really won’t sew, is to use them to stuff cushions or soft toys. We have an old Moroccan pouf I may stuff with scraps if I can ever get over that fact that it smells like goats (and probably is goat; did I mention my husband is not vegan? He buys gross things sometimes). Once more, for those in the back:
By Intended Use (quilts, mending, lingerie, etc.)
So that’s my thoughts on stashing. I think a well-maintained stash is the difference between stashing being a money and time-saving tool, or a guilt-ridden money pit. Size doesn’t matter. Don’t apologise, organise!
Hope someone out there finds this helpful!