Sarai wrote a very thoughtful a post on the Colette Patterns blog the other day about balancing a compulsive sewing habit with an equally strong desire not to hoard and over-consume. This post really struck a chord with me because I've been on a fabric buying lockdown all year in an effort to reduce my stash. When I moved up to Montreal in January it became embarrassingly apparent just how much fabric I've been hoarding -- I packed up a massive tupperware bin of fabric to take with me, and I still have more at our apartment in Ithaca. And I'm clearly not the only one with this problem, as evidenced by the response to Sarai's post.
Reading everyone's comments about hoarding control mechanisms made me think about why exactly it is that I do this. Some of the reasons are not so bad, perhaps: I buy fabric because I love nice fabric, and it's fun to stop in the garment district when I'm passing through NYC or traveling somewhere else and buy a few fabric souvenirs. But I also have a well-documented tendency to take on too many projects that I never get around to doing (and to be fair, I've had very little time to sew for the last six months so my backlog is worse than usual).
Inspired by all the talk of de-stashing, I pre-treated a bunch of fabrics tonight that I would like to sew with soon. As I was folding them, it occurred to me that each of these fabrics represents a different problem that keeps me from actually using the fabric I have stored up.
1) A purple rayon print from Japan. I bought this fabric as a souvenir and because I loved the print, but inspiration has yet to strike on this one. Every time I look at it, I just can't picture what kind of top it wants to be. I'm actually not so worried about this anti-stashing issue, because I think the moment will come for this fabric eventually.
2) A cotton double gauze, also from Japan. This fabric falls into the category of fabrics that I would be heartbroken if I screwed up. This piece was expensive enough and I love the print, and so even though I'm dying to make something out of this and wear it around I keep avoiding it in case the thing that I make doesn't turn out well. I would hate to make a dress out of this that ended up in the back of my closet.
3) Shirting from Paron Annex. This is one of several fabrics in my stash that I avoid because I feel like my technical skills are not quite up to the task of making what I envision. In this case it's not that the cotton shirting itself is hard to work with, but I fear that the button down shirt that I plan on making might be above my skill level. I could make a tester shirt out of a cheaper fabric to practice shirtmaking techniques, but I hate sewing stuff out of crappy fabric that I'm not really excited about (catch 22, anyone?)
4) Lightweight cotton from Quilter's Corner in Ithaca. Here I have exactly the opposite problem from fabric number one: I have way too many ideas of what to do with this fabric. I've mentally drafted four or five different summer shirts with this fabric in mind, but all that inspiration makes me indecisive. If I lock in one plan, I kill off all the other possibilities!
So there's my four horsemen of the stashpocalypse. Of all these, I've decided that the least tenable reason not to sew is number three -- there's no reason to not make something (or to buy cheap fabric and make something I don't love) just because I'm afraid my skills aren't up to it, especially when the fabric wasn't insanely expensive, I have lots of it, and more cotton shirting can easily be found elsewhere. Classic button down shirt, here I come!