The stash diet: use it or lose it

At #sewbrum this weekend, I didn’t buy a single piece of fabric. I know. It was painful.

We visited the Rag Market, Fancy Silk Store, Barry’s and Guthrie & Ghani, plus there was a fabric swap, so it wasn’t because I wasn’t tempted.

I very nearly came home with some of this gorgeous textured wool – perfect for a new coat, don’t you think?

It’s that over the past year I’ve slowly amassed more fabric than I’ve sewn. Some of it was on sale; some was perfect for a pattern I already had; some was too beautiful to leave on the shelf. But whatever the reason for the purchase, most of it is still on the shelf. So I’ve set myself a challenge.

I won’t buy any more fashion fabric this year. (Interfacings, linings, trims and calico are all permitted if I need them for a current project.)

I will sew up all the fabric I bought to go with a specific pattern before buying any more. That means tackling the following projects: Fifi by Tilly and the Buttons, The Ginger jeans by Closet Case Files (eek), some Christmas PJ bottoms for my son, and the final version of the Fairfield shirt from Thread Theory.

This one is all ready to cut out.

If that doesn’t take me up to Christmas, then I’ll sew some of the rest of my stash too. I have cuts of border-print denim, flecked sweatshirting, striped single jersey and red wool crepe that are all crying out to make it into my wardrobe.

Denim border stitch and white jersey drying on the washing line
The border print denim has been languishing unused for over a year now.

Let’s see how it goes.

Is your stash growing or shrinking? And how do you make sure your house doesn’t gradually fill up with enough fabric to bury your partner, children and pets underneath it all?


  1. Sounds very disciplined, good luck! My stash is slowly growing – when I started out sewing I generally brought the same type of fabric so as I get more experienced and want to branch out to different things, I need to buy different fabrics. Am trying to be reasonably restrained though and only buy fabric that I’m pretty certain I’ll use soon! Hope you enjoyed the meet up?


    • Yes, thank you – everyone was very friendly and there was lots of cake 🙂 Do you have a particular fabric weakness at the moment then?


      • I’m determined to finally tackle knits so that has opened up a lot of new fabric possibilities and after successfully making my first pair of jeans this year I want to buy more denim. So yeah, guess I do have a fabric weakness at the moment 🙂


  2. I’m at the point where I am running out to places to put fabric now but still can’t resist buying! I don’t get much time for sewing but I keep thinking if I don’t buy that fabric now it won’t be there when I do want to use it 😉

    I definitely need to go on a stash diet, or at least have a 1 out 1 in policy, if I use something then I can buy something new to replace it

    PS. It was lovely to meet you at Sewbrum.


    • I like the idea of a one-in-one-out policy. If this works, I’ll need a way of preventing it from getting out of control afterwards, too – and that might just be it. PS Lovely to meet you too!


  3. Well done you! I don’t think I bumped into you again after our first cuppa so didn’t realise you’d been so restrained. I’ve cut back on the buying, but not enough really. I think it’s a good idea what you’re doing to match the pattern and fabric as they were originally intended and crack on with it. Good luck 🍀


  4. It sounds very recognisable. Almost everyone with a hobby has to deal with buying things for the future. Markets and fairs for hobbyisten are great places to visit but also very tempting to make you buy materials for your hobby.


    • Sooooo tempting, isn’t it? I’ve got to do something though – at the moment I’m spending my clothing budget on stuff I can’t wear yet. So if I don’t catch up soon I’m going to be broke and naked!


  5. […] It’s Liberty Tana lawn that I bought in their summer sale, contrasting with the purple satin polyester bias binding that I found at Birmingham’s rag market during the Sewbrum meet-up in September. I love this colour combination, and the cotton lawn was perfectly behaved making it easy to sew and press the french seams. I’m itching to hunt down some more tana lawn to make another set, but that might have to wait until I’ve sewn my stash. […]


  6. […] Back in September, I decided my fabric stash was beginning to get out of control, and that it was time to take action. I was accumulating fabric faster than I was sewing it up and it was making a very definite hole in my wallet. […]


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