Hello Class, Professior Froggie here. Today we will be learning about a subject that is near and dear to my heart, fabric stashes. It may look like a random pile of fabric to the non-educated, but it is actually divided into layers that accumulate over time. Now the number of layers in the stash will depend upon location, size of storage area, amount of mad money and if the stasher was born with a hoarding gene. You find that some stashers keep their supply levels down to a mere three layers, while others will proudly/guiltily display the full seven. My job is to teach you about those layers so you can accurately assess the level of "hoarding" going on with your favorite sewists house. For the deeper layers I will give you tips to help prod your stasher into sewing that fabric.
To properly access the maturity of a stash you must first know the names and characteristics of each stash layer. I've constructed this handy graphic to help you in your education. The top layers in yellow are sewn from the most. As the stash deepens the colors darken to show how the fabric is then ignored in favor of upper layers. Finally we get to the red layers that never see the light of day unless an errant child rips apart the stash with glee. Now let's dive deeper into an explanation of each layer.
Yellow = Happy fun sewing time and smiles for all.
Orange = Aggravating sewing project that will either bore you to death or make you want to stick a seam ripper in your eye in frustration.
Red = Would rather trade your first born child away than sew that fabric.
Layer 1 - Pure Excitement layer. The top most strata of the fabric stash which could also be named, "Happiness incarnate." This layer houses brand new fabric purchases that have recently been added to the stash. The time frame for a purchase to be considered "brand new" varies among stashers, but usually anything that is less than 6 months old qualifies. The fabric here still has the glitter of fairy dust and frenzied sewing dreams. The giddy feeling of acquisition has not worn off and when ever the stasher takes a look at this layer their face looks a lot like this.
This layer is usually not to thick since the stash will either sew the fabric up right away or leave it until it sinks into layer 2.
Layer 2 - Slightly Seasoned Pretties layer. This strata is comprised of fabric that stasher still loves, but has been around long enough that they no longer consider it a new purchase. While this layer doesn't have the same amount of glamour as the Pure excitement layer, the stasher still cackles with glee when gloating over their precious, precious fabric. They just haven't had the time to sew the fabric up yet. But they will, oh yes they will and it will be glorious. They just have buy some more new fabric first. The thickness of this layer will depend on your personal stashers monthly buying habit, the amount of sewing time they have and if they recently had a someone tell them they have "enough" fabric. More on that later.
Layer 3 - Out of Season Favorites layer. Layer 3 is very similar to Layer 2 with the exception that the fabrics don't match the current season. The stasher concedes that while they think that fabric is great, it still won't be used for several months. They might think, "I'll sew a coat next year when it's cold instead of giving myself heat stroke trying to get blog photos in June." "Or I love to sew a sundress but the -10 temp turning my skin blue might cause some concerns." Note - Some stashers often sew out of season anyway so this layer also holds "Planned projects that are still exciting enough not to be abandoned." That project might not get sewn up for awhile but it's still on the mental list so to speak. Fabric can cycle between layers 2 and 3 for a few years. If it remains unused the fabric may find it's self sinking into Layer 4. Eeek!
Layer 4 - Aborted Plans and Remnants layer. Poor fabrics, once so full of promise that somehow never got sewn up. Maybe the pattern it was bought for didn't work out. Or maybe the stasher was distracted by a new shiny project and never got around to sewing up the already purchased fabric Maybe they just bought so much fabric that they couldn't possibly sew it all this year. "I had to buy all the pretties. What if I regretted it later" - they cried. (Dangers of the hoarding gene) This layer also houses large-ish pieces of fabric left over from other projects. No self respecting stasher can part with "good fabric" unless it's a tiny bit. Now all this yardage makes the stasher think, "What the heck am I going to make with this." I recommend having them join sewing groups with general themes, having them rifle through their patterns and pointing out fabrics that coordinate. You can also throw in the carrot of new matching shoes if it gets them cutting into that fabric.
Layer 5 - Tricksy Fabrics layer. The home of all those hard to sew fabric that don't lend themselves to quick projects. For example only people with super hero skills or are bat-shit crazy think "I'll just quickly whip up a silk chiffon top." This layer might be full of fabrics the stasher thinks are beautiful, but can't quite put up with the hassle of sewing them. "Ugh, who wants to lay out a bunch of paper to cut some silk. I'll just sew a cotton dress and eat cake instead." - I have often overheard. Some times the stasher continues to buy these sorts of fabrics with abandon swelling this layer to unruly proportions. If this happens I suggest tricking them into keeping records so that they will notice their sewing patterns. Then they may just give themselves a personal ban on certain fabric types. Then steal some of that stash to sleep on because everyone deserves silk sheets.
Layer 6 - Regrettably Changed Taste layer. One of the dangers long time stashers run up against is finding that there fabric tastes change over time. A certain stasher I happen to live with once bought, sewed and wore a lot of rayon jersey. Now not so much, but the stash is still full of them. You might be tempted to point out that this layer shows the stasher should buy less so that fabrics gets used up before they strike out on some other style whim. Don't Do This! It only aggravates them and causes what I like to call a "spite purchase." (Same goes for spouses/children of stashers using the phrase "You already have enough fabric." You are only making the problem worse.) Instead leave the stasher to come to the conclusion themselves that this fabric should be rehoused either via reselling or donation.
Layer 7 - WTF was I Thinking layer. Fabric that was bought "on sale" that really shouldn't have been. Colors that make the stasher look like they are battling a bad case of food poisoning. Things inherited from other people that on second thought should have gone to the dump instead. Stashers are a funny lot that sometimes hold on to things they shouldn't. Take their hand in your hand/paw and say, "It's all right, everyone makes mistakes. You can let that fabric go." Then help them pack it up in boxes to donate at the nearest facility. If they protest loudly then let them keep a few yards to "make muslins" and then take the rest out when they are binge watching Netflix's "Daredevil." (Side note - if they are watching 2003 Daredevil staring Ben Affleck then do them a favor and destroy that DVD first, then dispose of the fabric. No one needs to subject themselves to that garbage.)
And that concludes my lecture about the strata of fabric stashes. I hope it either helps you in diagnosing your own stash levels or helps loved ones interact with your stash in the proper way. Class dismissed!
P.S. Heather here - I put the entire Etsy shop on sale for the month of April. If you like to help me rehouse some of my "Regrettably Changed Taste layer" then click here. Thanks to those of you who already have. :)