I know that sewing your own clothes and accessories isn't a carbon-neutral activity. I wish it was, but I'm very aware that every time I put the 'pedal to the metal' of my sewing machine or overlocker, I'm contributing to the depletion of fossil fuels. Also, the new zips, thread, elastic, pattern cutting paper and whatever else I use during the process has to be manufactured, often packaged, and then transported and distributed before I get my mitts on it. Arse, I know.
However, I really believe that it is worthwhile to sew with fabric or old garments that have been sourced secondhand, or that we already have in our stash where possible, rather than heading to the fabric shop for every project. I think that can make a big impact on making this passtime of ours a more environmentally friendly activity. I know that can be tricky, particularly if you are just starting out sewing, but I bet that almost every sewer who's been at it for six months or more is sitting on at least 10 metres of fabric they've hoarded. I certainly know I am!
Which is what I wish to come clean about today. I have been sewing from secondhand and pre-hoarded stuff almost exclusively for quite a while now (I've only bought 2 metres of fabric since the start of this year) but I see my stash as a pile of potential, which is just sitting there when it could be turned into fantastic garments giving people joy to wear, or given to other sewers in fabric form for them to have the pleasure of doing with it what they will.
The vast majority of the fabric I own in Brighton (there's also a stash under the bed in my folks' spare room, but I'll deal with that another day) lives on a table at work. It makes more sense to keep it there as there's more space and that's where all my patterns also live. The big table in the studio is better for cutting out on than our little dining table at home, so I tend to start a project in my lunch break then bring it home to work on as pieces waiting to be constructed. The table where my fabric and garment mountain lives is where I'm meant to keep my bag, so every morning I am greeted with a duel pang of love and guilt when I see it all. So, the other night after work I stayed a while sorting and folding so it looks more organised (see above). As you can see, it now consists of three piles.
The vintage prints and patterns (basically fabric porn!):
Plain and modern prints/patterns. Pieces all big enough to form a garment or half a garment:
Odds and sods pile which includes scraps that could be used for contrast pieces, small pieces for undies-making, lace and garments awaiting refashioning inspiration:
Two examples of garments I have awaiting refashioning/fabric harvesting are; this super-pre-loved ratty shirt which has a lovely stripe. When I get round to it I plan to turn it into a Peter Pan collared blouse like this, the process of which I plan to document and make a kind of 'how-to'. Coming to a computer near you soon....
Also, this dowdy dress. the print is a pretty autumnal floral design which looks so 1940's to me. I've got a blouse pattern in mind for this too.
In total, I've got 34 pieces of fabric crying out to be made into something wonderful, but this number is set to rise. Almost every time we get a delivery at work (every two weeks), I usually ended up with a few more bits that aren't appropriate for using in our range. I really want to avoid my stash spiralling out of control. I find it overwhelming and difficult to focus on ideas for new projects when there's so much raw material staring at me. Plus, I know I'm in a very fortunate position to be able to add to my stash with secondhand textiles, so if I can't see myself using something, I want to share the love.
Basically, I'm firmly recommitting myself to my Stash Bustin' pledge. My aim is to log new additions every two weeks if the delivery results in aquistions for myself. Then I plan to use or give away at least that number of pieces until the next time I receive some more stuff, you with me? So if I end up with two refashionable garments and three pieces of fabric one week, I have to use or give away at least five items from my stash before I'm allowed any more. Plus there's the not-so-small matter of that heap of fabric lurking at my folks'. I'm off there next weekend so I'll dig through it whilst I'm there. I'm looking forward to the Me-Made-June '11 celebration meetup/fabric swap to offload some of my long-hoarded treasures. I hope to see you there! I also know some lovely ladies who are starting out sewing, so I plan to flow them some nuggets along the way to hopefully encourage and inspire them further.
So, what are your throughts on your stash? Are you a 'the person with the most fabric, wins' or more of a feng shui'd manageable stash kind of person? Is feeling guilty for owning lots of fabric a commonly felt state, or am I just mental? 'Your thoughts on a postcard...'or in the comments section please!