Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Tame Your Fabric Stash!

(image source: Cora)

For anyone who is interested in taming their fabric stash, help has arrived! I've been a bit out of the loop recently due to moving house and Dolores deciding she no longer needs to nap, so I have no idea how widely reported the new fabric stash app, Cora, has been amongst the sewing community to date. So I'm going to pretend that you haven't heard about it yet. Its developer, Hélène Martin, contacted a number of sewers including myself earlier this year about her new fabric stash app project. She was asking if we had any ideas about what we'd like from such a thing, and also if we'd like to trial her beta version. Well, trialling, feedback and a couple of rounds of updating have now taken place, and now it is on sale for use on iPhones, iPods and iPads for $6.99.

I'll be honest, if I hadn't been offered the opportunity to play about with it for free, I probably wouldn't have bothered. Although I love the idea of getting my stash into some semblance of order so I can get some serious stash busting done, I'm not the most technically minded and pretty time-poor these days, so I might have assumed that it wasn't worth investing the time to working it out. If that scenario had played out then it totally would have been my loss. First up, Cora is SUPER easy to use, barely any investment in time was required to get it up and running even though I'm in no way an avid app collector or user. And secondly, I have genuinely found it to be awesome in a number of ways.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, I should explain a bit more about what Cora actually is. This app allows you to catalogue your lengths of fabric by taking a photo and inputting information about them like width, length, if it's pre-washed, fibre content, main colour and lots more. All the info you add, as well as being potentially useful references, can also be used as filters to help you search through it all. You can add a lot of info (including super detailed stuff like where you bought it and on what date) or barely anything if the visual is the most important thing for you, and I really like that you can add 'Notes' on each piece which I have been using to add a reminder to myself about what I intended to use each piece for. Aside from knowing how much I have of the damn thing, remembering what I had planned for it is my biggest stumbling block when trying to use my stash.

(A tiny chunk of my fabric stash. Don't judge.)

I'm not going to lie, the initial inputting of your fabric is a bit time consuming. But once it's in there you can update it easily, for example, if some of it gets used or you have a new idea for what to do with it. Whilst I was packing up my fabric stash for my recent move I added about one bin bag's-worth of fabric into the app, which took quite a while and only amounted to 24 pieces (see image above), about one tenth of my total stash of fabric, scraps and refashionable garments! However, I'm some happy to have those catalogued, and I regularly go into the app to look at them and mull over what they should become. Even with that small chunk catalogued (along with recently having to pack and unpack it all!), I feel much more in touch with what fabric I own.

I can imagine that many people might find the app useful when shopping for sewing patterns to see if they already have something suitable to make it in. Me? I'm finding that it's making me feel more accountable for the vast amount of fabric I own, even though I've only catalogued a small section of it so far. If I'm serious about busting my stash and deploying the lovely pieces I own to make useful garments for myself and my children, then I have to actually start using the damn stuff. And I really think that this tool will help me actually do that. Currently, the app doesn't have a function for telling you how much you've used up in a given period of time, but just knowing that I have 24 pieces of fabric catalogued is making me think that I need to use at least two pieces of stash fabric per month if I'm ever going to make the smallest dent.

As you may have noticed, I feel pretty strongly about everyone, myself firmly included, using existing materials where possible over buying new stuff every time in every aspect of life. I just don't think our planet can support the level of consumption of goods and materials that most Western people (once again, sadly, myself firmly included) are currently engaged in. And fibre growth then fabric production, processing, dying and transportation is a real damaging industry. Aside from being heaps of fun, I really hope that this app will help many of us who like to sew to increasingly turn to what we already own more often than we currently do.

What about you? Have you tried Cora? Do you have any other successful method for tracking your fabric stash? If so, are you diligent at updating it? How has tracking and/or cataloguing your fabric stash altered your relationship to it?

12 comments:

Christals Creations said...

While it sounds interesting I don't think it's something I'd use. My fabric stash is a little on the large side but so far this year I haven't bought any more. In fact I've made many gifts and decided to take the plunge and make a party dress as a gift recently. It will take a while to get through it but eventually. . . I've even managed to use up some of the fabric I thought 'wasn't for me' which is a bonus. Have fun with Cora. Happy Holidays. x

Spikeabell said...

Oona posted about it and I got it immediately. I have been meaning to sort the stash for so long and Cora makes that super easy with different fields. I have fabric from at least 20 years back, so it is great to have it all laid out.

Wakeymakes said...

I bought Cora early and I love it. I own fabric I had forgotten I had bought. Shameful. Sometimes you buy online for a project but when it comes it's not perfect for that project so I just move on. This reminds me what it would be good for. I am loving going through my stash K xXx

wendyward said...

Sounds great for bigger pieces of fabric. I imagine if I did it it would serve mainly as a mahoosive guilty prod in the ribs everytime I opened it, but then maybe that's what I need..... Now an app that could combine fabric, notions and patterns and be able to come up with project suggestions.....now that would be interesting!

Emma Gedge said...

It sounds like an interesting app, though I actually record all mine on an Excel spreadsheet and have separate tabs for the stash, planned projects and completed projects, and I've created pivot tables and reports for what I've made. Um yeah, that all sounds a bit nerdy now it's written down!

I love being able to manipulate the data any way I choose though and I am bit of an Excel fangirl so it works for me!

I do love an app though so I might look into it...

Birgitte said...

I saw the app mentioned on a another blog, but was dissapointed to see it was just for the i-family of technological things. Once I'm determined to have a certain app I wont stop until I find one that works! Clothio is an option for us Android users, though it sounds like it's a bit reduced in features. I've started logging my fabric too, and I think it will be very handy to scroll through for ideas of how to use my stash. It is for sure encouraging me to use what I have!

Nancy said...

I just started sewing a year ago. I'm shocked at how much fabric I've accumulated in a year! I go to a lot of estate sales and have purchased some great bulk fabric and quilting notions at a fraction of their "new" price; usually I don't have a specific project in mind when I purchase the fabric. This app should help me organize and actually use my stash. Thanks for the heads-up about the app!

Hélène said...

I'm so excited to read this post! Zoe highlights many of the things I was thinking about when building Cora. 💜 And it's so cool to read that a few of you have already checked it out and had a good experience.

@wendyward, I would also like to add patterns and notions at some point! But I'll probably try to make something for the awesome Android sewists like @Birgitte first -- stay tuned for new things coming out of Cora-land. I love to get feedback and suggestions so don't hesitate to get in touch at hello@meetcora.com

Lesley said...

Probably something I should use. Generally when I resolve to do something I do it, but fabric buying is a weakness I'm afraid. After voting my stash was big enough, I found 3 lengths had jumped into my baggage on the last trip away! Will definitely check this out, thanks for the heads up Zoe.

Unknown said...

I'm have it and have put four pieces of fabric in so far...it's great, and I think will help me keep track. My only complaint is that the information doesn't transfer from device to device. I decided to put the inventory on my iPhone, since I always have that, but it would have been nice to be able to see it on my iPad too.

Addie K said...

This sounds very clever and useful. Thanks for both the blog post and app! I too am an android user who would be interested in this app. I have used pinterest to catalog my sewing patterns but it's trickier with fabric since items go in and out of circulation.

The Purkinje Ninja said...

I have used Evernote happily for years to track patterns and fabric, and found it especially useful for my vast collection of sewing pattern magazines. Whenever I liked a pattern I simply took a picture of the line drawing and made a note of which issue it was, and then added tags for type of garment, which fabric etc etc. My stash was organised in a similar way, with pictures, tags for colour / pattern / composition, and even the number of the box it was stored in (this saved a bit of sanity when we moved house last year!).
I have also used Evernote for shopping lists, home renovation, tracking our disabled cat's weight gain and studying! My plan changed as of yesterday and I have to pay if I want to use it on more than one device, so I think I'll try customising Google docs instead. Cora looks good but it's a little too specific for me, since I'd need to move that whole huge chunk of my life that has lived on Evernote until now to something generic and customisable.

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