Thursday, May 22, 2014

Is Your Garment Free...

...when you sew from stash?  Or the collection as I like to call it?

See, I'm not buying any fabric in the foreseeable future.  Not because I don't want any but because it's started to crawl up the basement steps again and I just need to sew from the collection.  I honestly can't think of anything I'd want to buy...notice I didn't say need...even though I still open every Fabric Mart, Michael Levine, Mood and Sawyer Brook sale email I receive.  Something about the word "SALE" that triggers something in my brain e-v-e-r-y-t-i-m-e! *LOL*



But I'm committed to...well for the moment...to sewing from the collection. I've picked out my next project and realized that the fabrics are O-L-D!  I bought the linen like ten years ago from Ebad Fabrics in NYC...and the paisley cotton printed knit was gifted to me by a friend when my daughters were 11 and 12, so like 14 years ago!


Ebad Fabrics - 550 Eighth Avenue - NYC

I even remember the stories for each piece of fabric.  Where I was when I bought the linen.  Who I was with.  How heavy it was to get home!  Or how I lingered over my friend's fabric closet, touching all of the pieces when she said I could take a few pieces home with me...which meant the world to me because I was living on a very tight budget at the time.

So if I was doing a cost analysis, would these be "free" fabrics because they're so well aged that it doesn't even matter what I did or didn't pay for them?  Do you consider well aged fabric free when you finally sew it?  Or do you always add the cost of everything ~ fabric, notions, thread, pattern ~ to determine what your outfit actually cost?

This is my question of the day!  Talk back to me.  Do you believe in free fabric?  If so, how long does it have to be in your collection/stash before it's free?  Or is the cost always counted in the final total?!

Finally...another trip down memory lane...after my 6th grade graduation pictures at home:



...as always more later!

51 comments:

  1. I don't figure the cost of sewing. I mean I think about it when I'm buying fabric, like this will be a $10 dress thanks to that great Fabric Mart sale on knits, but once it's in the house, the cost doesn't enter my mind again. Same with yarn. Plus, I don't write anything down to know year later what it 'cost'. Hope you are having a great sewcation. g

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  2. I try not to think about the amount of money I have spent on fabric. When we sew with passion the cost is not important. It's my drug of choice! I also can tell you where I got every piece and what I had wanted to make with it.

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  3. I don't think about the cost of my projects either, although I do like to tell my husband that I'm saving loads of fabric! I love that you remember the details of where and when you bought your fabric so vividly - it's definitely a collection and not a hoard

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  4. On one hand, I don't consider anything to be "free" unless it was gifted to me (happens more than I expected). On the other hand, when I make something I don't ever figure out costs unless I am working on commission for someone else. Once it is stash, it is stash, and I can use it as my whims dictate.

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  5. Good question. I would say that fabric depreciates in value quite quickly as each new season brings out new colours/designs etc., so like computer equipment or cars, the value can probably be written off in four or five years . . . . so yes! Sewing from your collection is absolutely free! What I love about 'shopping your collection' is that the fabrics are all fantastic (well, you did choose them after all!) and all the patterns are your style!! Much better than ANY shop that you could shop in!!

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  6. Some fabric in my stash dates back to the early 70s. I would consider these pieces 'free'.

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  7. I do think of the cost of the fabric as the cost of the garment but as in the case of the knit gifted to you I think that's free. I think most of us agree that sewing our own clothes is not the money saving hobby it once was but I'm not giving it up any time soon :)

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  8. Like gMarie, I think about the price when I buy it (Wow! SUCH a good deal!!!) and rarely remember the cost later. Unless it was really expensive and then it's more that I feel I need to use it on a 'worthy' garment, and not just any old thing. So I remember a good deal, and the really expensive stuff, forget the rest, and it's all free when I finally sew it up. In accounting, collection fabric would be a sunk cost.

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  9. Ha! I play the "free" game quite a bit when perusing my stashed fabric and patterns. Glad to hear I am not the only one!

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  10. I am always looking at fabric but today was the first day that I hit the submit button since the start of Lent despite all of the temptation. FM is my weakness. I've been sewing for my new work wardrobe using fabric that has been in the stash for more than a year. I enjoy buying fabric but try to slow down when it outgrows the storage space. It has been very satisfying to shop the stash. Of course, I'm adding to it when I go to NYC at the end of the month. One good thing about having a stash is that I know exactly what I need to buy for my summer wardrobe.

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  11. Nothing is free... I alwasy think of my fabric stash as an investment. I decided (and trying hard) to sew only from my fabric stash so far. Fact that a lot of fabric shops are closed down and a fabric market is only twice a year is helping.
    Buying a lot of fabric and keeping it in stash is not so good. Thare are so many new fabrics each time.

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  12. I don't think it's ever free. Sure, if the fabric is in your stash and has been there for ages, it's still not free. It's free for Present You because Past You invested in it but for the Overall You, it's not free. Plus you still pay for the electricity you use when sewing.

    So my point is, it's "free" for you right now but it's not free in the general sense. If that makes any sense :D

    But I'm guilty as well in building a stash and not using it..So who am I to lecture anyone :D

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  13. My only free fabric is what has been given to me ( I admit I stole a couple of pieces from my mothers stash in my 20s so that was free too) even my 20 year old fabric cost something( in fact I remember it cost $15 / metre so quite pricey )

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  14. Each piece of fabric I buy has a purpose. I don't buy fabric "just in case" or "because it was too good to miss". I just don't have the space to hoard fabric or patterns. Notions are different story! I do stock interfacings, threads and elastics. So I guess it is only free when I never paid for it.

    The total cost of a garment is something I consider when deciding to buy fabric. I like to compare like for like: pure wool tailored trousers in the shops compared to making them myself in my unpaid time. I also try to use patterns more than once, if possible.

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  15. When I buy fabric I will think about the comparison of what it would cost to buy a similar ready made garment to what I plan on making. If it's going to end up more expensive, then I probably won't get it, even if I'll never buy or even find the imaginary RTW garment.

    I only fully cost out a garment if I want to know the actual cost to make (but even then, I would only count the fabric used, and not any leftovers). Mostly though, if I'm sewing from stash, I just want new clothes, and if I didn't think to keep a record of what I paid for something, then it might as well be free.

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  16. My fabric stash is an investment in my future happiness. It will last me as long as I live and provide me with endless creative opportunities. When I am no longer working and earning I will be able to clothe myself and half the family for free!',,

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  17. I sometimes calculate the cost of a garment. Like my daughters recent banquet dress that was like $12 or something. But really, I don't care :) I love to sew.

    And since I go to work EVERYDAY and we have a roof and food...well I will keep stashing as I see fit! Although I'm at a saturation point right now (it won't last...) I do enjoy having a stash of fabrics.

    Oh and I definitely think 10 year old fabric is free!

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  18. I truly have *free* fabric in my collection...I've been gifted (or inherited) from 3 different sources, so I always call those garments *free* (sometimes, even the notions were free!!)


    I don't call anything made from fabric I actually purchased (no matter how long ago) free

    but that's just me =)

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  19. This is very interesting as I am teaching a group (some teens, some young 20 somethings, some older adults) and they do not see the "value" of sewing. In this world of cheap fast fashion, it does not make sense to them to sew in place of buying... although they do want to learn and are enjoying the process immensely!! Sewing is not cheap but the value comes from making something yourself, making something that fits you to a T, something that shows your taste and personality. It is your own creation... and I think it is hard to put a price tag on that. But as for a fabric collection being "free".... only if the fabric was given to you. It is not free if you spent your time, energy, and resources to bring it home because those could have gone somewhere else or been saved for retirement, etc. Having said that, my passion is sewing so I don't care what it costs and rarely equate costs with my finished project.

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  20. After I buy the fabric, I don't think of the cost of the garments I make.
    Not that I have years of fabric stashed, but if I buy 3 yards of $10/yd fabric and I only use 1.5 yards on a project, i don't sit around and calculate how much it cost.

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  21. After reading the comments, I'm in complete agreement with gMarie :-)

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  22. Just found your blog thanks to La Sewista who has wonderful things to say about your projects.

    I keep a record of each fabric purchase, where it came from, how much I paid for, care instructions etc. This is not so much about the importance of how much each garment cost but as a resource for future purchases, history, and education. I do not sew to save money, I sew because it's my passion.

    Hope to be back soon

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  23. It's only free if it was a real bargain, a "what was I thinking" and purchased over a year ago. Fabric I consider free I'll use in a heartbeat as a muslin, don't mind marking on it, or tossing it as a "not for me pattern:. Nowdays I treasure the stash, and that's because I generally love all of it as much as when purchased. (Became more choosy over the years). Great question, BTW!

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  24. I think it's better than free- you already spent the money, and you are 'rescuing" it now from never being sewn and thus going to waste. I have the same attitude about leftover food- it helps me have an awesome attitude about using what we already have instead of buying new.

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  25. interesting post. I buy fabric with intention, and don't really have that much in my stash. Mostly stuff I have found at garage sales or thrift stores so the cost for those is a few dollars. when I buy fabric at the store I generally use it and get upset with myself if I don't. As for buying for a stash that goes against my grain (ha, sewing pun intended). fabric that I paid money for and is just sitting there is to me not a good use of money, in fact it is costing me money by being in "inventory" as retailers would say. So not free at all. but I love to make something for under $ 10, now that is a thrill.
    I always enjoy your though provoking posts and getting to hear everyone's different take on the subjects.

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  26. "See, I'm not buying any fabric in the foreseeable future." => cut to me laughing hysterically. You and me both...let's see how long it lasts!

    I only count fabric as free when it's leftover from another fabric (say I make a dress, but there's enough left to make a top) or if it was a gift or swap. But you sure don't feel the cost when you use the fabric ages later!

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  27. "Free" clothes are clothes I make from leftover bits. Every summer I have a fit of multi-fabric tiered dressmaking for my 10yo daughter (she loves those dresses) out of the extra 1/2 yards that accumulate in my stash. Or this year I squeezed a princess-seamed blouse out of the remnants from a very wide, very long skirt (a really fabric pig, but oh so pretty). I consider that "free" - excepting the buttons.

    But generally I don't add things up too much. :D Except maybe when I'm being all impressed with myself for making my husband a shirt for 1/2 the cost of buying one!

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  28. Currently I am knee deep in the cost status of my stash; I am weeding and purging my beloved stash in anticipation of another cross country move. This will be the second time in less than five years that I have moved the lot and I am fining that the cost of transport vastly deviates from the concept of free fabric. The first round I traveled 500 miles with 9 tubs of fabric and soon I will be traveling an additional 4000 miles (Alaska) with 6 tubs of fabric at 6x the transport rate of the first round. Let me state for the record: after this move I refuse to BUY any additional fabric in the foreseeable future! At the rate I sew my stash will run dry in approximately 4 years just in time to move back to the continental US. The funny part is that purging daily use items is much easier than purging stash fabric. I too remember where and when I acquired each piece and although I may not have had an immediate project for the yardage but the possibilities are endless. In turn the value is endless but it may never be free.

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    1. If you're moving to Alaska you may want me to hold onto some of that fabric and send it to you periodically! I still have a little wall space in the garage!!!!

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  29. When I look at (or add to) my 'stash' I think of the money spent, but when I extract from the stash, I'm thinking it feels good to be able to create a garment from what I already have (without an additional expense or trip to the fabric store). It's hard to calculate dollars spent to support my 'hobby' because once it's purchased I don't think about it anymore (unless if it ends up a wadder-then I briefly mourn the waste of time and money spent).

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  30. Interesting post. Like, Hearth, I don't consider a garment "free" unless it's from leftover bits. My 2-year-old is getting a lot of clothes made from fabric lengths where I bought 3 yards and only used 2. (One yard of fabric isn't enough for me to do anything with other than use for contrast or for kid clothes.) I consider her clothes "free" then. And then I also feel good about getting more bang for my buck from my fabric purchases.

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  31. I don't think of it as free but I don't usually add up the cost except in a general way. I do think of it as kind of virtuous when I sew from my 'collection'.

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  32. Bear with me on this: The study of Economics is called "the dismal science" because those people are always counting the lost value of things or opportunity. By their way of thinking, you've already lost all the "value" of the fabric, because of their theories of the Time Value of Money. What you paid for that fabric - in real cost plus your shopping time and transportation, storage, etc - has already been lost. Therefore, not only is that stash now free, as soon as you make something from it there is ADDED VALUE. So you've suddenly brought a boost to the economy (or at least to your economy), you've had fun doing it! Congratulations, you've outsmarted those dismal economists!

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    1. Ohhhhh I like this way of thinking!!!!! Adding Value is one of those catch phrases in my industry so my fabric collection is adding value to my life! Love it!

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  33. I haven't read the other comments yet, C, but do you know that Gillian posed a similar question yesterday: http://crafting-a-rainbow.tumblr.com/post/86452644622/money-matters-your-advice-summerized#disqus_thread. I think you'll enjoy it!

    And fabric I bought is never free, no matter how long it's in my stash for :-) I still paid for it! Even if inflation is a factor.

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    1. Karen - I read both of Gillian's posts and they are very interesting since they talk more about budgeting and how much money to spend on fabric/notions. One of the great things about being an "older" sewist is that I have a larger disposable income than I did when I was younger so I have money to spend on my hobby without affecting my savings or paying my bills.

      I don't believe that my post is as deep as Gillian's either. Honestly, I was more interested in whether fabric is considered free after time in the stash/collection rather than the cost of getting it there.

      Thanks for the link it was a very interesting read.

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    2. Kristin - I'm an idiot because I know your name isn't Karen - just wanted to clarify that here!

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  34. At first I was in total agreement with gMarie. Then Mary Glenn described my opinion perfectly. Then Telltaletasha. And Maggie. And Robin. And finally Charade explained how I really should think!
    Great idea for a post. Now I just want to sew something!
    Have a great sewcation and I love tour blog.

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  35. If fabric is in my house more than 24 hours, it is FREEEE!!!!!

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  36. Free? What about our valuable time? We are DONATING our time to our stash! I'm with you about reducing my "collection" but also doing the cost analysis...stash: already paid for; my own labor: free; affordable ready-to-wear in stores: crummy. Sewing as a method to keep high-maintenance husband and son out of my hair: priceless.

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  37. Great topic, I loved reading all of the comments! I don't consider any fabric in my HUGE stash free unless it was a gift and that's probably only 1% of it. I don't calculate cost because I honestly don't care, I love fabric. I slowed down on purchasing new fabrics a lot though as I'm running out of storage space and I have lots of good fabrics to choose from on a whim when I want to work on a new project.

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  38. I don't consider any of my stash free unless it really was, in which case I do label it as "free". I do have a lot of stash, but I do not keep track of the cost.

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  39. I think of pieces of fabric I have inherited from my grandmother and mother as free. A few great metres of John Kaldor from the seventies. I am still waiting for my sewing skills to advance so I have the courage to cut in to them !

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  40. Fabric is only free when it is gifted to you. Several of my friends who know how much I love to sew have literally given me fabric they had in their 'collections' for a long time and for whatever reason decided they have no use for it or no longer feel like they want it. I have a beautiful 'free' silk brocade jacket, and several free dresses, skirts, blouses, etc.My best freebies came from male friends whose wives or girlfriends left them, leaving behind all or parts of their fabric stashes.

    I also consider recycled fabric free. For example, I decided to recover the back cushions on one of my sofas. Rather than throw away a lot of perfectly good upholstery fabric, I saved it. Right now, it is residing in my 'collection'/aka stash. Eventually, I will make a purse and overnight bag set. if there's enough left over, I may even make a jacket with pockets large enough to hold boarding passes, my passport and other essentials, including cash.

    The final cost of all those items... the price of lining and notions [thread, zippers, snaps buttons, etc.] only.

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  41. Well, if I went on a fabric buying diet, it would make my Husband very happy.
    The way I justify buying more, Cheaper than Therapy.

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  42. I do believe in "Free" fabric and mines doesn't even have to be aged, a few months to a year or so, I would count as free. I also have really free fabric in my stash. Fabric that I pick up from class, that people do not want.

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  43. You raise such interesting questions for your fellow sewists! I, too, have been sewing for many years and have a nice collection. I really don't consider the actual cost of finished garments but aged fabric over 10 years is definitely free.

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  44. I try to be good- but those sales! Arrgh! I am weak!

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  45. Like you, I do remember where I purchased my fabric particularly those I purchased in person. They remain with me much firmly. Perhaps for that reason, they never become 'free' in my mind. Some of my fabric become 'free' when I see no value to it. I suppose I am not using the meaning of 'free' right here. But, that is the notion most meaningful to me: is this a fabric worth nothing or not? As always, your blog makes us all ponder.

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  46. I agree that after a while the fabric becomes "free". I have a stash that has some old pieces that I still love. I retired and moved to Florida 3 years ago and my outlook changed. I no longer need business attire. I need casual and outfits for church, going out to dinner and parties. So my stash changed, but it is still pretty big. I consider this stash as free because I have had it for a while and in many cases have forgotten how much I paid.

    But if I buy a piece and make it up immediately, I consider the cost. I don't include thread, but do include zippers, buttons, etc. I just bought from Mood some Italian white stretch cotton to make some pants. I will consider the cost of those.

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  47. I just had a discussion with my mom about the cost of sewing. I thought sewing would cut back on my spending...WRONG. I definitely spend less on RTW but I more than make up for it on fabric and sewing thingies. BUT even if I don't touch the fabric for years, I get such happiness looking at my stash (this would be the sewing nerd in me). :)

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