2015 Stash Busting Wrap Up


Happy New Year to all my sewing friends!  I've spent the last week and a half after Christmas furiously finishing a coat before the end of the year and then reorganizing/cleaning various areas of my house. Also stuffing copious amounts of cookies into my mouth and refusing to take any Christmas decorations down. Gotta make sure to balance all that virtuous stuff with a little vice.

Tis the season for year end review, a trend which I am not immune to. Heck the blog is probably my only "accountability" partner since Froggie is the perfect enabler.  So let's start with a look how my stash busting goal for 2015 worked out.

In case you've forgotten, and why would you remember, my goal was to get one of these rubbermaid containers off the floor and into the stash closet. Here's a pic from 2015.
Did this happen....Nope.  Here's the same area today. Other than the knits in the basket being level it looks the same. (Though I am pretty pleased with myself for keeping the top of my dresser clean for about half a year.)
So that's the bad news.  The good news is that I kept spreadsheets on how much was sewn/removed in other ways, and purchased. Those numbers tell a much more successful stash busting story for the year.

First of all fabric acquisition was way down from last year. In 2014 I added 154.75 yards to the stash, in 2015 that number was a more manageable 83.75 yards. Also about 40% of the new additions were also sewn into garments during the year.  Those fabrics that are still stashed fall into my "yellow layer" designation where I think, "Yeah I'm glad I bought that."  Overall I feel that I've modified my fabric buying habits in a successful way that actually reflects what I like to sew and wear. In case you're interested how this was accomplished, here's what worked for me.

1. Figured out my color palette and sticked to it.
I will be eternally grateful to Gillian for doing a blog series on this which gave me a kick in the butt to get working on this.  Even though I had a general idea of what colors were flattering to my coloring, my stash didn't always reflect this. Sometimes an interesting print would catch my eye and I'd buy it even though it was olive, ivory, some other color that makes me look ill.  Problem is that you can't do anything to those colors look good on you.  I'd sew that fabric up, put the garment on and immediately take it back off again. That's wasted money, time and closet space, not to mention latent guilt about all 3 of those things. So I stopped thinking of a color palette as something that constricted my creativity and embraced it instead.

If you go by seasonal color palettes I fall into the winter category. Here's a sample palette that I yonked off the internet.  Now most of these colors look "right" for my coloring, with the exception of that pale yellow, however they are not all colors that I like to wear.  Last year I took outfit photos almost every day for a couple of months and that helped me nail down what my personal palette is.
I like to wear a lot of bright but cool toned red, black,white and navy.  Bright/cool toned blues and greens also get mixed in regularly, but fabric in those colors is harder to find so they make up a smaller percentage of my closet. Similarly cool toned yellow is almost impossible to find, so you don't see me wearing a lot of it. I love pink in floral prints, but seem to hate it in anything else.  Finally as I've gotten older the color gray has mostly fallen out of favor. It is a flattering color, but I seem to be gravitating towards black or navy instead. Now I keep these preferences in mind whenever I think about purchasing a fabric.

2. Tracked what types of fabric got sewn the most. 
This was a side benefit of keeping spreadsheets showing what patterns/fabric were sewn through the year. Even though I love buying all types of fabrics, my stats clearly show that I mostly sew cotton wovens and knits. It also shows that I tend to make a small dent in the wool stash during the Fall and only 1 or 2 silk projects get sewn during the year.  I've kept these stats in mind whenever the fabric buying mood strikes me. Right now my personal buying rules are:
- All cottons in the color palette are fine to buy. Bonus points if they are in my favorite prints - florals, tropical plants and birds.
- Buying wool or rayon for a particular project is fine, but don't stash either of these fabrics without plan.
- Silk buying ban remains. Just shop the stash instead.

I pulled out a couple of fabrics bought and stashed 2015 to illustrate.  From the top left - Red wool jersey with black flicks, Red/Navy/White cotton - block print with birds, Black/white tropical print cotton, Dark Navy denim, Pink roses on black cotton and pink roses on white cotton.  I've purchased the wool jersey to knock off a knit dress and the denim is for jeans.  The rest of the cotton has no plans as of yet. However that's fine because they are in color palette, are my most sewn type of fabric and are my favorite type of prints.
Asking myself, "Is this in my color palette?" and "Does it fit my buying rules?" has cut down on buying overall and given me a stash with more things I want to sew.

3. Actively shopped the stash more
Sometimes when the itch to buy more fabric came a calling I did close the computer and go rummaging through the stash. Before buying new patterns I also thought about what fabrics in the stash would work with them. Overall I did pretty well using what I already had instead of buying new.

4. Looking at the numbers
Finally actually looking at the amount of yardage sewn and bought for the month was sometimes enough to table purchases. My goal was to sew more than I bought every month and consulting the tally was a good reality check.  It's easy to forget how much you might have bought earlier in the month. In 2015 I only went "into the red" with fabric purchases in July and August. I'll take 2 months out of 12 as an acceptable level of, "Oops, did I do that?"

Now that I've gone on and on about buying fabric during "stash busting" did my stash actually get smaller in 2015?  It did!!  After subtracting all the purchases I'm still down 161.25 yards for the year. Not all of that was sewing, some was rehoused in other people's stashes.  Big Thanks to those of you who purchased my "regrettably changed taste layer."  I'm glad those pieces have gone to good homes.

So if I reduced the stash by 161.25 yards and there's still no room in the stash cave then it must mean my 2015 goal was just a little over ambitious. Just a little.  Seems after all these years I still have no idea how much space X number of yards takes up in anything other than wool coating.  But you know what, I moved all the wool coating into that bin so now it's only something like 4 sewing projects away from being empty. Because of this I'm making 2016 stash busting goal the same as last years.  Here's to 2016 and more floor space in my bedroom!

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