Sunday, April 28, 2013

Building a Notions Stash

LauraSJ asked...
"You mentioned that you usually love to have all your details/notions (thread, zipper, hem lace) match. I think that you also have most of these notions in your stash...that you bulk order thread, zips, etc. (I learned about the now defunct ATS from you) several times a year. What I'd like to know is how you decide what colors in which notion to order and keep in your stash. Have you ever covered this topic? I've been trying to keep a zipper and thread stash on hand, but am never quite sure what to order. What if I suddenly decide that I need an orange top, even though I know orange looks terrible on me? (Yes, I do have a little orange thread in my stash). I'm also never quite sure just how much thread it will take to stitch up a certain project. Thanks!"

It's been awhile since I talked about how I keep and maintain a notions stash and the sources I use to keep it stocked.  I'll start answering Laura's question with my thread source.

Threads ~
I use to purchase my thread from ATS (Atlanta Thread & Supply) which was recently purchased by Wawak.  I buy Gutterman polyester thread in 1,086 yards for way less than the price that you pay for in the craft store. Several years ago I bought the thread color chart so I update colors that way.  Since I own so many colors now (you wouldn't believe how many shades of red there are!) I only stock up when I'm running low on the basics - black, white, red and beige.  I usually throw a few other colors in then because you get a price break when you order 10+.  However, through the end of the month of April they're running a great sale where each spool is $1.86 without purchasing 10+.  

I also buy serger thread from them. I use Maxi-Lock 3,000 yard cones in fashion colors because it's $1.94 a spool for 4 or more. When it was ATS I bought the basics in 6,000 yard spools.  Don't see them on Wawak's site but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.  The entire line of thread can be found here.  I highly recommend using Wawak as a resource.  Their service is prompt, the website is easy to use and they have a really deep product line.

Thread is stored in these small car boxes that I purchased from Space Savers. You can also get them from Nancy's Notions.

Zippers ~
Are purchased in bulk from Daytona Trimmings (who have no online presence). The large ones are 12 for $4 (I think!) and the 9" are 12 for $2 (again I think!). I haven't bought any in awhile cause I have a lot on hand now. Daytona isn't the cheapest resource in the garment district but I have a sentimental attachment to them so I continue to buy from them. There is a wide variety of colors available in both the 22 and 9 inch sizes and of course I keep several pieces (4-6) of the basic colors - black, brown, white, and creme.  Then I buy one or two of every other color they offer whether I have something to sew with them at present or not. That way I usually have the right color on hand.

Other online resources for zippers are ~ Wawak, Mood, and Nancy's Notions.

I store the longer ones in the leather tray above which I purchased from TJ Maxx and the shorter ones in a clear jar that I got from The Dollar Tree dollar store. I have several of these jars waiting to be filled with notions.

Since I like to add piping to garments, I do keep it on hand. I stock basic colors like white, creme, black, navy and red in 25 yard increments. Again, I stock this from Daytona Trimming because their selection is so deep. I also have a stock of bias binding that I bought about a decade ago from Fabric Mart when they were running a special. It was rolls and rolls of bias binding that I shared with a friend because there was so much. It's stored in the yellow storage unit pictured above. This is under my sewing tables, handy for when I need to apply it. Both of the bottom shelves are full of piping and the top shelves hold sewing machine supplies.

Honestly I don't have any online resources for the piping and bias binding because except for the FM buy, everything is purchased in the garment district. 

All of my interfacing is purchased online. I have two sources - Fashion Sewing Supply for just about everything. I also buy and stock a really lightweight interfacing called "Baby Interfacing" from Farmhouse Fabrics. Interfacing and lining are stored in the bins above.  All of my cutting and marking instruments are stored in the first shelf of this unit...making them easy to grab when cutting out at the table.

Silk Organza/Lining/Tracing Paper ~
This bin contains bolts of silk organza purchased from Thai Silks. I keep 10 yards of white, beige and black on hand. The tracing paper that I purchase from Dick Blick and use when making alterations to patterns along with the ABC/123 paper that I buy from SIL Threads.  

Finally since I buy white, black and brown lining in 15 yard lengths, it has been wrapped onto cardboard rolls and stand in the bin waiting to be used.  Rayon bemberg lining is bought from several sources both online and in the garment district. I store not only the colors listed above but creme, red, navy and any other color I can find at an inexpensive price.  I store every color that I would possibly use, including colors I find on sale that I know will coordinate with recent purchases. I line almost everything I wear so I have a very deep supply.

Also the large sheets of tracing paper that I purchase from SIL Threads is stored in this bin. I cut it down into manageable sizes for smaller details and leave the larger pieces here for bigger jobs. 

Buttons are stored in the embroidery floss boxes on these shelves. Why do I have so many buttons?  Well it helps that my last job in the Garment District was working for a button company. The company ordered sample buttons from the factory in 5 gross lots. No one cared if I took a dozen or two of buttons for my own personal use. It was actually encouraged since buttons were thrown out (can you believe it?) when no longer needed.  Not shipped back to the factory ~ thrown out

If you knew me at the time, not only did I end up with an amazing button collection, but quite a few of my friends did too!  Even with this vast assortment of buttons, I still purchase buttons from time to time. My sources are mostly garment district sources, Botani Button and Pacific Trimmings being the primary ones. However, I've bought buttons from Sawyer Brook and Fabric Mart too, especially when they were shown with a fabric I was buying.

All of my elastic supplies are stored on the top shelf of this unit next to my Barbie dolls. The stretch and sew elastic I use in my elastic waist pants, as well as, the 1" non-roll and 1/2" non-roll elastic. The non-roll elastic is bought in 50 yard rolls from Newark Dressmaker Supply and Home Sew. Also, the supplies I need to make AG doll clothes for my niece are stored in a box there also.

This 4 shelf unit (an old Ikea piece) has a drawer for the following things...
- one drawer for all kinds of trims
- one drawer for all of my bindings and rayon seam binding
- one drawer for shoulder pads and sleeve heads
- one drawer for recently purchased trims

Most of my trims are purchased from the Garment District. I have trims from Tinsel Trading, M&J Trims, Joyce Button & Trims, Pacific Trimmings and Daytona Trimmings. I would say most of them come from Daytona.

Rayon Seam Binding use to be purchased from Daytona but lately I've been buying it from SIL Thread in the Garment District because they have a wall (seriously a wall people!) with every color under the sun available for purchase. I have quite a few rolls of rayon seam binding in every color I can imagine sewing but I do know that you can purchase it online from and Wawak.

Assorted notions, threads, pressing supplies ~
The last piece that holds notions and pressing supplies is this set of plastic bins. Most of the bins hold patterns but some of my embroidery supplies, fabric paints, stencils, and serger threads are housed here. As noted above serger thread is purchased from Wawak. Fabric paints, stencils and things like that were purchased from Dana Marie Design Co.  

Conclusion ~
I've basically done a tour of the remaining sections of my sewing cave. I thought it was the easiest way to share what notions I stock. I've omitted all the places in the sewing cave that I've stashed patterns, suffice it to say they are everywhere. *LOL* But as you can tell my notions stash is very deep. Over the years I've stocked a lot because I really want to be able to wake up in the middle of the night, go downstairs to the sewing cave and make whatever my heart desires. Maybe this is why my sewing space isn't light and airy...maybe it's why it's stocked like a workroom. The very workrooms I use to visit when I was employed in the garment district. Definitely makes me think about how I've filled the room...

Anyway, Laura I hope I answered your question. I definitely got some understanding on what I've put in the Cave and why. I did sew this weekend. One dress is almost done and another one is all cut out and serge finished because I didn't want to change my serger thread twice.  Lazy I know but I'm fine with that! *LOL* always more later!


  1. This is the most amazing collection! Wow I am impressed.

  2. Wow, very comprehensive. Thanks for listing your sources!

  3. I have a huge fabric you, but my notions are severly lacking in some areas. I am ok with 'finishing later' if necessary when I don't have what is needed.
    Your final statement is really what caught my attention. Going from one garment to another with the serger thread because you are lazy? I think NOT! It is absolute intelligence! I do it all the time. Haha. I frequently look for what to sew next from the same color to avoid changing the thread in the machine and serger. Especially when I used my old serger...but now that I have a Babylock Evolution with the air threading I am not so bothered with the changing of the thread anymore.

  4. Carolyn, thanks so much for the notions tour! I have a question and it comes from a personal dilemma. You sew so much for work, you rarely make casual clothes. What will you sew when you retire? I retired a couple of years ago and with the exception of church, I rarely wear dresses or suits (which I love to sew!). I can't seem to find the mojo to sew the causal garments I live in these days. Any thoughts on the matter will be greatly appreciated.

  5. Thanks Carolyn for such a great post. I have bookmarked it for future reference.

  6. Thank you for the tour and the links. I think I'll be buying some thread soon. g

  7. Fascinating. Do you ever have problems with your interfacing creasing? I store mine folded too and sometimes bits become unusable!

  8. You ate one organised lady!

  9. Amazing....I just love reading your blog. You inspire me. I try to build stash of things, but I have a very long way to go. My dream is to be able to sew something without going to the store to get odds and ends. Can I come shop at your home??? Just kidding.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your sources, especially the online ones! I live in an area that is seriously lacking in sewing resources (Joann's is literally the only place in the state to buy anything), and it's good to have some ideas for where to start looking for good prices on serger thread and better quality interfacings than I can source locally!

  11. So impressive, Carolyn! Since you worked in the industry, I can see that you have an industrial approach to home sewing. Now I wish I were your neighbor and could come by and ask for a cup of elastic!

  12. Thank you Carolyn, you answered my question and then some! It was interesting to hear that your basic colors include red! Anyway, you gave me some ideas for filling gaps in my stash. I too have had good experience with Wawak and Fashoin Sewing Supply. Just wish I had easy access to bricks & mortar sources like you do!

  13. i want to shop on your sewing cave... thanks for sharing your experience...

  14. Thanks for the incredibly helpful information! I love how you apply your planning and organization skills at home. Hey, why should we waste all our talents at work! LOL
    I wanted to add that I loved ATS because they carried Mettler Metrosene in more colors and at a lower price than anywhere else, but WAWAK has cut the selection way down. I have had to go back to searching out the odd sales here and there. Very sad. (I've found that Metrosene produces less machine-clogging fuzz than any other poly thread and try to use it exclusively.)

  15. Wow, amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  16. What a fun virtual tour of your notions stash! It's always interesting to see what others think are the important items to have on hand!

  17. I want to live inside your sewing room. All those stashed notions - be still, my heart!

  18. I'm speechless. Everything is so organized and ready for any garment you choose to sew. I'm impressed and inspired.

  19. Re Maxi-Lock serger thread - it's on pages 16 and 17 of the Wawak free catalog. They have 76 colors of the regular serger thread, $1.99each for 3000 yards and $3.28 for the 6000 yard spools. They also have Maxi-Lock Swirls and Maxi-Lock Stretch for lingerie, swimwear and other stretchy-type garments. The catalog is really a good one. Their # is 800-654-2235

  20. So organized and it is nice to have notions on hand when you are ready to sew in the middle of the night. Love all the info I get from your blog! You rock!

  21. I forgot to mention that the Maxi-Lock in the 6000 yd spools is item # SPT-5 in the WAWAK catalog but looks like in comes only in black, eggshell and white in this size spool.

  22. I have come to appreciate having a fabric and notion stash since my commute is way tooooo long. It is nice to go into the sewing room and start a project without having to go to the store. I still have some gaps that need to be filled in.

  23. at first it never really occurred to me to stash notions. then I was given a small collection of zips, bias tape, and seam binding and i realized how great it was to have all that on hand! So I can really appreciate why you value this so much.

  24. Great links, thanks. Just been in touch with Wawak and they will quote for postage to Canada. Yippee! I pay the same for 100yds (approx) of Gutermann thread as you pay for 1000yds (approx). Crazy!

  25. Thanks for the notions tour. Now I have more places to visit when I get to NY in June. My list of sewing suppliers is much bigger after your post!

  26. Thank you for sharing your resources.

    I think that I read your ATS (now Wawak) tip last year and refuse to purchase thread from anywhere else now. Maybe you or another blogger shared buying elastic from Use their elastic for leggings and clear elastic for knit shoulder seams.

    Now to try the 20 yd assorted elastic from NewarkDress

    FabricMart sold some 60" wide interfacing last year for about $1. It's good stuff and I ordered a lot

  27. This is very helpful and quite impressive.

  28. Carolyn: This was such a helpful article! Cant wait to start accruing my stash!!!

  29. Thanks for posting the link to your 2013 post on where you buy your basic supplies. I must have missed that. But for bemberg lining - you just mentioned you buy it from a variety of sources. Are there any online sources that you shop regularly for bemberg? (i.e., good prices?)

    1. I do buy bemberg from everywhere, anywhere I can get a good deal is where I purchase from!


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