|This is my nightmare|
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is: I am not really a big collector of stuff. Or I wasn't, right up to the day where I decided to start sewing, and then suddenly I started collecting things: fabric, first and foremost, but also notions like buttons and thread and trim. I've been sewing almost exactly two years now, and I've gone from having my sewing machine and a little box of fabric to having eight tubs of fabric, two boxes of patterns and pattern magazines, boxes of notions, an overlocker, a sewing box full of thread, and what feels like a million other things. It's SO MUCH stuff.
The worst offender is the fabric. I have just over 200m of garment fabric and about the same amount of home dec remnants and quilting fabrics that I use for bags. It's a huge investment in monetary terms, it takes up a huge amount of space. I started a thread on PR because as I've been getting ready to move I actually put all of my stash, previously distributed around the house, into one place, and the sheer size and scale of it filled me with horror. As a result of the thread I had a PM conversation with another PR user about stash and hoarding, and as part of it I tried to describe my dream fabric stash, which I am reproducing below for the sake of posterity (and actually, so I remember I said it).
The first thing to say is that, OK, look, I doubt my little "collections" of clothes I've taken to making impress anyone but me (and I am fine with that) but I am LOVING making my little diagrams with the descriptions and putting together little capsules of clothing that go together. Initially I sort of felt it was a bit stifling, but then I realized the problem was I was trying to look too far ahead. I am quite happy to be working on one collection and planning the next, but if I try to look further out it all feels overwhelmingly like work, like I have a schedule and I have to stick to it or else the sewing productivity police will come and beat me up.
At any rate, when thinking about how these collections and the idea of stashing fabric interact, this is what I said:
Mostly the way I've been [putting together my collections] is figuring out one item that I really really want to make from a specific fabric in my stash, and then co-ordinating other clothes around it. ... I'm finding it's almost as entertaining imagining my "collections" as it was to fabric shop, and I am drawing mainly from my stash plus just a few extra things.In my two capsules so far, my cornerstone fabrics were (a) the brown crocodile woven I made into a skirt for the Earth and Spring collection; and (b) the floral print I used for the skirt in the Wedding Belles collection. However, when I look at the rest of my fabric stash, I'm disappointed by how few such cornerstone fabrics I have in amongst the 200+m I have stashed. There are some, don't get me wrong, but there are far more very ordinary fabrics. Some of them are kind of building block fabrics: they're good, useful fabrics, but nothing special. There are some that it makes no sense for me to have in stash at all. I can buy plain red jersey anywhere, why did I feel the need to buy 3m and hoard it? It's a really nice colour and all, but it's not special in any way.
As a result, my stash preference is probably not just "one project ahead". I like the idea of having a few fabrics in my stash that I've bought just because I see them and love them to pieces, fabrics that can become an "inspiration" fabric for a collection. That would satisfy my desire to browse fabric shops, but it also means I should limit my purchases to things that really are different and special and inspiring.
So my ideal stash (which is not at all what I actually have!) is probably as follows: some amount of amazing, unusual, gorgeous "inspiration" fabrics -- something really special that later become the cornerstone of a collection. Plus, whatever fabrics I need for the collection I am working on at that point. Based on my experience to date, that is probably about 15-20m of fabric in total, depending on what specific items are in my plan.
And finally, probably [I'd also have in stash] some things I am getting together as I plan the next collection, so that when I finish the current one I have everything I need for the next one.
What I DON'T want to do is stash fabrics that are e.g: really boring and that I am always going to be able to go out and pick up at any time, like basic fabrics in solid colours (cotton, or wool, or jersey); lining fabrics; or fabrics that aren't really inspiring and also don't fit with other things I already have. The last one is probably the most important: I either want to buy fabrics where they are truly something special, or else that are immediately functional for something I will be making in the next few weeks. At the moment, I have quite a lot of fabrics that don't really speak to me all that strongly and also that I don't know when I will use, and that to me is really quite wasteful and depressing to have around the house.
After confronting my epic fabric stash, I initially told myself that I was not to buy any fabric, at all, for the rest of 2013 except for (a) one tiny piece of white sateen I need for a knock off of that blue and white skirt and (b) lining fabrics. However, I'm going to add one more clause. On a "one in, one out" basis, I can buy cornerstone fabrics -- really amazing, special, inspiring fabrics that are going to make special amazing garments (insofar as my sewing skills hold up to that description) -- but it has to be a really mindful purchase, not just a random grab from a fabric shop. Other than that, I really do want to reduce my stash. I'd like to finish the three years in Ireland that I am about to embark on with a totally different sort of stash, one that is much closer to my ideal. Or, that is what I think right now. Ask me again in 6 months if I still think that!
Above all though, I want to let go of worrying about any particular fabric I use and whether the pattern I pick is the right one, or how sad it would be if I ruined the fabric. There will always be more beautiful fabric. I'm in the privileged financial situation that ruining one piece of fabric is not going to really have any effect on my wallet. And above all, it's far more fun to sew fabric than to hoard it and have it hanging about the house in tubs.