Friday, March 25, 2016

My Fabric Collection is part of my Retirement Fund

The internet and the sewing community is an interesting place because it's a very diverse collection of sewists.  Sewists from various countries with the ability to access resources differently. Sewists in individual stages of their sewing journey.  Sewists of different ages and spaces in their lives. Sewists of several body sizes & types, as well as races...all unalike but united in their love of putting needle and thread to cloth to make something new.


(photo courtesy of http://tarynleighhowe.blogspot.com/) 

In the last couple of weeks I've posted a lot of fabric purchases. Some from my bucket list adventure, some from Christmas gift card purchases but even through my fabric haze, I can tell that it's a lot of fabric. One of the conversations held during my visit to Seattle is how I know think of my fabric collection as part of my Retirement Fund.

Honestly I have about 10 years to retirement and I think about it a lot...in a good way! See I've lived through the years of my first job, first apartment, first home, marriage & divorce, children and their growing up years. I'm moving into a cycle that's quite different from a large portion of the blogging sewing community - Retirement.

So when I read a blog post or an Instagram post about a young mother struggling to balance home, children and a career with sewing, I nod my head in understanding - been there, done that.  When I read about sewists dealing with growing children and momentous events of their lives (proms, graduations, weddings), I nod my head in agreement - been there, done that. Or the sewist learning how to deal with empty nest syndrome - gawd have I been there and done that.

However, issues that face the older (for lack of a better word and believe me I reviewed several) sewist are rarely addressed in the sewing community. I don't know if it's because we're less visible in social media or it's just not thought of...because I remember being 35, married, working full-time with three daughters and having a total different view of the world than I do now as a woman approaching 60.



Why this reflection now? It's because I read a couple of Instagram posts and blog posts about "stashing less" and I got all up in my feelings. Isn't it interesting how you read someone else's experience and all of a sudden you feel the need to validate your own life choices! 

Though after I thought about it for a minute, I realized that I should discuss the fabric buying, collecting or stashing as some of you call it. See I truly think of this fabric collection as my retirement fund. In less than a decade I'm going to have to learn to live on a much stricter budget than I am presently doing. Yes, many of my expenses will decrease since I will no longer head out to work every day. However, having my very deep and varied fabric collection will allow me to continue to do what I love. I will be able to sew for myself, my grandchildren and anyone else I desire.

During the next 10 years I will be adding less to the collection as I add more money to my actual retirement fund, but while I have the ability to add unique pieces to it now, I'm going to. It's interesting to be on the other end of the spectrum now since I so clearly remember being a 20 year old spending my lunch money for the week on a piece of fabric that I just had to have.  To now being a conscious consumer debating how new pieces fit into the collection and how they can be used in the future.

All aspects of sewing is a journey...this just happens to be mine now.

...as always more later!


70 comments:

  1. Good for you for talking about your perspective. It's always helpful for me to understand others' thoughts on a topic! I'm with you about not needing to limit my fabric purchases (for now). It's fun to shop, consider choices, think about how a piece might fit in to the whole group of my collection. Maybe when I move I'll feel differently, but for now I like having choices in my home, available to me.

    Last week I had lunch with one of my friend's children, and she was talking about learning how to sew. I could think of several pieces of fabric from my collection that I could send to her to start her off on the right foot. It was great to not have to worry about what it might cost to help her out. I just had the resources available.

    This topic of a collection also makes me think of Grandma, who was a china painter. She had stacks and stacks of unpainted plates, cups, and other dishes. She'd say, "It's money in the bank. Do you know how much those would cost now?" Of course when she passed, finding someone to adopt her china was a challenge, but her attitude rubbed off on me.

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  2. I've always thought that too about my stash; should anything happen- should I want to go part time or perhaps scale back on my expenses I will have plenty to keep me busy. . . I agree -- this is how I think of it - and I'm turning 50 this year.

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    1. It is comforting to know that I have fabric to play with, as well as, a top of the line sewing machine and serger, when those changes come to pass.

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    2. this is a fascinating concept. Buy today the tools I'll need later because now I have a decent income. I'm 50, and plan to be retired in 15 years. Now I can feel good about the new machines I bought, and my huge yarn/fabric stash

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  3. I'm 57 and I assume I will never retire. I assume I will never have the money or the situation to retire in. And I am married, so that's a job I can't retire from, plus I am guessing my kids may take a long time to move out on their own (when did things get so expensive in Seattle?).

    I do have a stash that has a lot of sentimental stuff in it. Things I am not going to sew, and it mocks me (can you hear that distant giggling sound?) for what I thought I was going to make. And a spouse who is really deeply truly irritated by the stash. So I am cleaning part of it out, and cataloging what I have.

    As a sewing 57 yr old, I wish I spent more time participating in Patti's Visible Mondays. I'm not dead yet.

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  4. I am 66 and retired and I must admit that I am buying more fabric now than ever before. My love of sewing has intensified. I discovered shopping for fabric on the web a few years ago and now that is my go to place to buy fabric. I have also become addicted to buying sewing machines. More time for sewing results in spending more not less, but this is my drug of choice. I think there are far worse things that we could spend our money on. My advice is to save as much as you can because you will always have the urge to buy more fabric.

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  5. Retiring just gives you more time to play. You sew for a different life. Fabric changes, different fibers are used making older fabric less desirable. Retirement often means smaller houses with less spare room for the stash. Use up the stash and save the money-it never goes out of fashion.

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  6. I am 58, retired last year-sooner than planned, and before paying off all our debt. I am very thankful for my sewing and quilting fabric stashes, although they are not as big as some I have seen, they have allowed me to continue doing what I love.
    My only suggestion is you give some thought as to what kinds of fabric you will use most when you retire...I wish I had purchased more fabric for casual clothes and workout wear (I took up riding a bicycle at 57). I still have lots of beautiful pieces that may never get used, as they don't suit my current lifestyle. I am on a very restricted budget- perhaps I should sell a few of these to get more of what I need.
    Happy sewing,
    Barb from Canada

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  7. How interesting this post is. I've looked at your stash in awe and wondered how on earth will she ever use it up.

    But let me just say that now that I am retired I really regret that when I went though I period of bereavement (including the loss of my mother) I stopped sewing and gave away both my stash AND that of my late mums.

    Now I am retired and have returned to seeing I am trying to only purchase fabric to make a specific garment and only have 2 items on the to do list. How I wish I still had those stashes! At the very least I could be selling vintage fabric on the Internet.


    So I say purchase all the fabric that takes your eye and don't feel guilty - you are setting yourself up for retirement and creating the basis of a nice little business selling vintage fabric!


    Best wishes and happy sewing!

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    1. Jane - I've heard these type of stories before - the regret of giving away a stash. I do remember their regret so my collection is going no where! *smile* Also there are grandchildren and nieces to sew for in the future besides the fact that my middle daughter also sews. So she's claimed my sewing cave for her own when I pass so there are no worries on my part regarding what will happen to it.

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  8. Carolyn, I get a thrill from looking at your stash every time you post pictures. I don't think you need to justify it to anybody - least of all to yourself. You create amazing things from it. It's not like you or anyone else goes hungry because of it. And it is part of who you are and what you do. Enjoy it!

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    1. My sentiments exactly...well said!

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  9. If sewing is what you love then of course you need to keep your stash. It is so large that maybe you can scale down how much you add to it, you certainly don't want to end up with fabric you no longer love. But if you see bargains then of course that is money saved in the future. These are your choices alone and you don't have to explain yourself to people with differing opinions. I did enjoy the post, happy sewing. xx

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  10. Even though I'm not thinking about retirement - so far away - I also struggle to relate to the 'stash less' people. I buy what I want and within my means. Sometimes I use it straight away, sometimes later. Having crap fabric in my stash reminds me to buy good stuff and allows me to test patterns without buying calico or other cheap fabric. Stashing is good and like you say, you can seek inspiration from the collection to make something whenever you want to make without major constrictions. For the record, my kids are getting somewhat easier, but working full time with three littlies is a killer! :)

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    1. Christy - I remember this stage of life and the only way I sewed is that I scheduled it. Though I also have to say this was the time that I enjoyed raising my children most because they were so interesting!

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    2. When I retired, I built up my stash, bought a new electronic sewing machine and a serger and was excited to think I could sew every day. But, alas, other things that waited for retirement get in the way. I can go to lunch with the girls any time I want. I have new activities, card games, sports that I could never do since I worked. Still not enough time to sew. So, don't postpone til retirement what you can do today. Use those great fabrics.

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  11. I love looking at, touching and buying fabric. It's something I love and I want to keep on doing it for as long as I can. I don't see it as a waste of money or feel guilty about it. Life is short so keep doing what you love.

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  12. I remember trying to explain what I meant by my stash 'saving me' during my period of unemployment. Sure I could have saved part of the money -- I don't kid myself that un-purchased fabric = money in savings -- but having a stash really helped my mental health during a very stressful time. So I can totally see the relationship between the stash and retirement.

    And yes you're own fabric needs will change but some of those fabrics that are more for the old corporate life can become garments for the daughters and granddaughters! Because you'll have ample time to sew for them!

    I have been stashing less though. Due to life changes and events mostly. But I also want to become a better online fabric shopper. I want to be a bit more discerning.

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    1. Nakisha - I know we had conversations about this during that time. As you touch and sew more fabrics you will learn what you like to sew with AND will find great online resources to purchase from...your association with Fabric Mart should really help with this allowing you to use different types of fabrics in ways you might not have previously thought of.

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    2. When I was unemployed, I sewed interview and work clothes from my stash. It kept me busy and feeling productive. And I looked great on interviews. Having a stash is good for you!

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  13. Heading to 70 and still cranking out brides but I find I buy better flattering fabrics and think more about reducing the stash so my kids don't have to sell all my pretties in a garage sale for 50 cents a bundle. If I can ever retire and sew for myself and family, that would be something worth celebrating but for now I don't mind being the oldest working seamstress in the valley.

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    1. Okay I bow to you! So awesome that you're still doing this and it definitely gives me something to aspire to!

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  14. Love your approach, because I am doing the same!!! LOL I totally undestand you. I thought I was crazy or just putting an excuse to my fabric hoarding, but its true; once our income gets reduce and our time expanded we will use all that fabric at our leisure. Remembering when we bought that piece of fabric and for what and using it for something else. Happy Easter!

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  15. Let's just say I am in awe of your stash -especially because it is so organized!! You always seem to have the right fabric for the job and always find inspiration in your fabric. You inspire us with your purchases and your designs and creations. Keep up the good work!

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  16. First, let me slap your hand! Stop considering anyone else's opinion. If you love it, that's all that matters. I don't stash fabric, but I stash the hell out of patterns. Just bought 10 new ones yesterday. You will be sewing and enjoying life forever!

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    1. This might be my favorite comment

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    2. Now didn't you two read that I got all up in my feelings! LOL, I went there all by myself! Then I autocorrected and realized that this was a conversation worth having from "a different point of view."

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    3. It happens. Then you have to catch yourself!

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    4. You are right Erica! And may I congratulate you on becoming a Bernina Ambassador! That is huge and I hope you'll share when you receive your new machine.

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  17. Provocative post! I retired at barely fifty. Now I am one of the working retired! Like you, I felt I needed this stockpile to bring me into my non working, less income days. For me, however, the reality of a big downsize as well as changes in fibers, styles, fashion and my own personal desires of what I wanted to sew made me see my resources differently. Did I ever think that my grandchildren would grow up and not need my heirloom garments I made them? No, so that part of the stash is now waiting for and ebay account. Did I ever think I would go back to work in a job that welcomes jeans and casual looks and love that job into my later years? No, so the beautiful suitings sit. And did I ever think I would never quilt again like I did in my thirties? Reality left me with a huge stash of quilting cottons that all got given away. I have no regrets about any of this as I am truly not interested in quilting but if that changes I sure as heck want new. I find I am buying for specific garments now, not building stash, and I am very comfortable with that. But there was a time where I felt I could never have enough fabric and it would be there in my leaner years. My leaner years turned into a great job that gives me whatever I want to spend on fabric. None of these circumstances could have been predicted. Then there is the matter of looming demise and what happens to all this stuff. My kids don't have time to deal with that. So now I am much leaner with my stash and meaner with my need to stash. It has worked well for me. One thing I have learned in retirement is that there is always more fabric to buy and I look forward to that pleasure without overburdening budgets or family with the realities of a large stash. All of this is mentioned with a view from living the time that you are looking so forward to. Whatever works for you is great for you but know that life changes in ways we never expect and what can give great pleasure can be something to worry about in a different situation. May your stash always be what you want and need and you have a smooth transition into that time when you will no longer be working.

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    1. Bunny, you are right life brings more curveballs than you can plan for but my fabric collection brings a sense of security that I would miss if I didn't have it. Also, I have no fears of how to dispose of the collection because I'm wonderfully blessed in having a daughter who sews, who will take the bulk of it. Plus the challenge of making some of my prior fabric collections actually inspire me!

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    2. A very provocative post, Carolyn. I am one of the working retired and my dress code is somewhat casual. Hence why I gave away a lot of fabric to a young co-worker who will sew and wear those fabrics when she finishes university. I won't wear tailored clothing again and the fabric I had was suited for that type of clothing only. I don't really quilt much any more and am doing less crafts. I am giving that fabric away also. I did give our daughter all the rodeo queen fabric to sew up and she was grateful for it. But she would never use my other fabric as it doesn't suit her lifestyle and job (jeans and tops and steel toe workbooks).
      I also find that I am buying for one or two projects at a time whether it is for garments or crafts. I am enjoying this way of sewing a lot though it isn't for everyone. It also allows me to know that I won't be leaving a lot of fabric for our children to get rid of and it allows me to sew new fabrics on a constant basis.
      Enjoy your lovely stash. It will give you many happy years of sewing as it is so versatile. Mine wasn't and it was causing me more stress that not.

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  18. Just last night Jordan made a comment about how streamlined my wardrobe has become with my current jeans and sweatshirts casual work environment. I don't sew as much as I did for lack of time and I don't have fabric for truly casual clothes. I do like my stash but realize I'll never sew it in my lifetime. But, more importantly, what I have in my stash doesn't fit in my current lifestyle. That said, I have 20 more years of work ahead of me so I'm sure my needs will change!

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    1. I so know what you mean! I use to plan out what to wear the night or the weekend before now I pull something out when I get out if the shower. However I'm looking forward to spring because I'm going to wear dresses, skirts and maxi dresses in bright prints. Gone are all thoughts of professional tailored garments...I'm looking forward to doing my own thing! I am lucky in the fact that the women in my office do wear skirts and dresses when the weather gets warmer...and I'm finding my way with jeans/leggings/casual wear. But it has been a challenge!

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  19. That picture of your fabric is really rather yummy. If I ever come visit you, keep your eye on me. Or rather, check my bags before I leave. I might have sticky fingers, lol.

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    1. Robin - I share and I'm a good sharer. I love when people take pieces home. Ask anyone who has been to visit!

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  20. I am 47. I'm not ready to retire yet but I work only part time now at a fabric store. You have no idea how difficult it is not to accumulate a huge stash when working with fabrics everyday. Somewhere in the back of my head I've always thought I will have all these lovely fabrics to choose from in the future so I like to keep a large stash on hand. I also make and sell handmade dresses so it's easy to fall into the trap of "I'll just buy that to sell it". This can lead to hoarding! I try not to buy any fabric for business that I wouldn't like for myself. I don't want to end up with a stash I will never wear or use in the future.

    I also have gone through the stage of giving away my stash. I sewed constantly from when I was a teen up until 2005 and then I stopped for about 10 years. I burned myself out and decided that other hobbies were more interesting at the time. I have given away or donated all those old fabrics from when my son was little and I sewed for him. Thank goodness I kept those 90s velvets because they are hard to find now!

    I definitely need to work through my stash but I think I could sew for the next 25 years easily just from the stash! Use it and enjoy it! :)

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  21. Carolyn, when I read the title of your post, i literally laughed out loud! Thank you for sharing your insight on 'older' sewists as I am rapidly approaching retirement age as well. While I am in my early 50's, it will be here before I know it and like you, I will have to change my habits on how my fabric I add to my stash!
    Thanks again for sharing your perspectives, I love hearing your thoughts! Keep posting your amazing creations!
    Sue

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  22. I have been retired 5yrs - and not a clear choice - my husband was ill and it made sense. Hes gone now and I am still retired-with my stash! What a lovely gift to me - time and rediscovering all that fabric! You go girl - sewing is for as long as you can.

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  23. Carolyn, I just love your blog and one of the reasons is that you are closer to my age than some of the sewing bloggers. I really find myself skipping over the mommy blogs because they are no longer relevant to me at this stage in life. I wish I lived near you and could hang out with you. When you do retire, become a designer!

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  24. I have read your blog for years and had to jump in on this one.
    Regarding less money in retirement, I have to say I have been sewing for 30 years and most of the best things I have made have come from fabric I have found at thrift stores, vintage tablecloths in beautiful linen for a dollar, you just have to cut around the wine stain.

    I just bought a beautiful piece of wool crepe at goodwill, three yards for $5.00.

    If I wanted velvet and couldnt find it in the fabric store, that plus size black velvet dress in the consignment store for $5.00 would usually work. I could also keep the zipper and cut up the lining inside to use as lining for pockets, etc. I have a fabulous vintage button stash from doing this type of thing for years.

    Searching for fabric this way has really sparked my creativity. Years ago I found a 1/4 yard of electric blue silk with black polka dots, I made piping for a black jacket, it worked great.

    With a little ingenuity and some time (which everyone should have more of in retirement) you can find some wonderful things to sew with that dont cost much money.

    Also, you would be surprised at what you can find if you ask, lots of people have fabric they meant to use or inherited from their grandmother and would be happy to share with you.

    I have no children and want my stash and machines to go to a loving home. I contacted the Denver Performing Arts Costume Center, they would be delighted to have everything. I wrote my will donating my sewing machine and all sewing related materials to them.

    If you are in my situation, think about your local theater group, boys and girls club, girl scouts, etc, they can always use your stash.

    Three years ago I found a yard of faux silver fox fur, it was gorgeous. I am a professional and mostly sew my work clothes so I had about as much need for this fur as a third leg. But for $5.00 I HAD to have it. My husband laughed at me, what are you ever going to use that for?

    Last week a 30 something friend of mine asked me to make her a costume, she would like a long velvet gown with a fur collar and cuffs, she looked at the prices for faux fur and couldnt afford it.

    I told her, "I have exactly what you need.'

    With a stash you just never know.

    Keep Sewing

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  25. I love your stash! Thank you for a great post. I feel a lot less guilty after reading it. The comments here are always thoughful and very worth my time. I now realize my stash is really light on colors and way heavy on darks. LOL I will retire in two or three years and I do want to sew. If I don't get around to sewing all of it, then I too have a sewing daughter that will love my cave. You are an amazing blessing to many of us, keep sewing!

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  26. It's funny that you talk about 'the older set'. I'm Prez of my American Sewing Guild Chapter, and at 50 am a youngster and one of the few still working. (Nearly) ALL the sewists I know are retired! What I've noticed is that people tend to do a fairly large destash about 2-3 years after they retire. They have lovely things that just don't work for post-retirement casualness. Wool for nice skirts and jackets tends to be the first to go. And lining.

    I have to say though that I have found it simply heavenly to be able to go out to my studio and sew pretty much anything. I've been being more aware of adequate garment lengths and not 'good deals', as fabulous remnants are not as good when there isn't enough to do anything with.

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    1. Leigh - I've heard this before and started curating my fabric collection differently when I was in my late 30s/early 40s. I'm leaving my suiting and lining in my collection because I really want to use it for my family (nieces/granddaughters/daughters) if I don't use it on myself. I've bought classic pieces for years knowing that prints are cyclical. Though I'm planning to sew in glorious prints for the next few seasons since I was limited in sewing them during the last 10 years and can wear what I want now. And honestly we are a lot older than the popular sewing bloggers are right now...

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  27. I've just had my 49th birthday this month, and like you, I have a bigger stash than I did when I was younger. Part of it is that I can afford larger pieces. If I love it, I will just buy the rest of the bolt, ditto if it's a great basic (wool gabardine with a touch of stretch in black and gray? Thanks, I'll take it all!). I don't have to parcel out my purchases in remnants and little bits. I don't have to worry as much about finding a flaw or cutting a piece wrong or a piece getting messed up because I've got plenty to work with. In addition, I can buy better quality fabrics in quantity, rather than hoping for a remnant. I don't really think of it as having a bigger stash, more of a curated collection of fabrics I find most useful in my personal wardrobe. If I don't use it all before I die, then someone is going to have a fantastic day at the thrift store, and I hope she is young and will be thrilled to get her scissors into my nice fabric collection, and that she learns a lot from it and gets some really nice clothes out of the experience.

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  28. This post got my attention immediately. I feel the same way about my fabric and sewing items. I may retire in a couple of years, depending on if I still like my job. Until that time I am updating and purchasing sewing items and fabric. Thanks for your post.

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  29. What and interesting and inspiring write up Carolyn! It looks as if I am one of the older sewist being 67 and retired for close to 10 years. My stash is very modest and I want to keep it that way. I have no children and no one who would want all my bits and pieces. Therefore I am very selective in what I buy. Also our lifestyle is casual and I have simply no need for "very dressy" clothes. However, enjoy your great stash Carolyn! I am sure you will always appreciate having it and make good use of it all!

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  30. This is such an interesting post. I turned 68 yesterday (retired for 3 yrs) and love that I have a healthy fabric stash. So I completely understand your stash retirement. I say, do whatever makes you happy. And you obviously love fabric and sewing like me so keep on woman!!!

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  31. Carolyn, I say, do what works for you. And if it stops working, try something else. I agree that the "right" amount of stash is going to be different for each person, and change with life's circumstances. I'm happiest with a certain amount of fabric- let's call it x square feet or y number of shelves of fabric- organized to my liking, with space between the stacks. I sew from my stash. I do tend to buy more quickly than I sew, so I periodically pull out some pieces that I don't like as much as I thought I would for some reason and donate it or use it for a muslin. It's a balance for me. Mom saved everything that could be useful and this was a good habit. Dad could have been a hoarder under different circumstances, and it wouldn't have bothered him. I've learned from some pretty good "savers" and I have also learned a different way to save that works better for me and allows me a little more breathing room.
    I love having nearly everything I need at hand to sew beautiful, practical things during times when my income is low, like now. At the same time, if I had much more stash than I do now, I would find it overwhelming and I would feel less creative.
    Best


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  32. I have always enjoyed your blog. I will be 80 in September and still enjoy sewing and yes I have more fabric than I will ever use in my lifetime. It has given me so much enjoyment over the years and my only regrets would be the fabric I didn't buy because I couldn't afford it when I was younger. I do regret giving away some of my patterns and fabric over the years, but I hope someone who needed them was able to use them. I have been retired for about 12 years so a lot of my sewing has been for my daughter and granddaughter since I no longer need office and working clothes. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes enough. If you get pleasure and joy from fabric and patterns (and you obviously do) you don't have to justify yourself. Just enjoy.

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  33. Your perspective resonates as it sounds much like my own since I planned to stop working last year. I haven't retired (that's still a long way off!) but I decided to make a radical career change starting with two years back studying for my Masters. Knowing we'd be on a much tighter budget I deliberately splashed out on some fabric and wool over my last few pay cheques so that I wouldn't have to sacrifice my making. So far so good, although I think a bigger stash would've been better - I suspect although the wool will last, the fabric may run out within the first year!
    PS I love reading your blog :)

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  34. i totally agree with you, I'm putting not just fabric, but wool (yarn) and other craft supplies away. There will be less money for my hobbies, which is sad, as I'll have the time but not the money. It's just smart thinking.

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  35. I like your perspective on your stash. I look at mine and think "Wow! I have a lot of fabric!" But, just tonight, I ordered 18 yards of different fabrics online, with the encouragement of my hubby. I used to use all cotton fabrics, and I'm finally (at 49) venturing into clothes making and learning to alter patterns.

    I've been sewing since I was a little girl dressing my barbie doll in mom's scraps. Over the years, the clothes I remember best are the ones I have sewn for me and for my kids. I hope that my grandson will remember my sewing as fondly as I remember my Granny in her quilts.

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  36. I'm 70 and have been retired 4 years and don't have nearly the time to sew that I imagined! But I have so much fabric that I, too, will never sew it in my lifetime. And yet I buy more! How I envy you the room to store your stash where you can see it! Mine has to be stuffed in closets, cabinets, and tubs and I'm sure I've purchased many pieces I've forgotten about. What I started doing last year is going through the stash and pulling out coordinating pieces I'd like to sew for the coming season. These are piled all over my guest room bed until the grandkids come to visit, then have to be hastily dumped in a tub. But it works. And we certainly could have worse addictions!

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  37. Interesting thoughts! If I do not buy any more fabric and keep sewing at the current rate then I will have no material by the time I retire. My take has been to save as much money as I can now so I will have enough to buy what I need including sewing goodies . My mother is still sewing at age 83 so I hope I have over 30 years of sewing to go.

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  38. Carolyn, you are a great human being who happens to sew. Thank you always for your honesty and creativity and inspiration. I just turned 65 and continue to teach grade school. I hope to keep going till I'm 70. Yesterday I played Musical Chairs with 9-year olds. Hard to imagine doing that as a retiree. I realize my stash should be more fabulous. I just made a kimono top of my most gorgeous fabric and wore it twice in 2 weeks. Life is casual, but outside the box invigorating.

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  39. Thank you, thank you. Your post is very relevant to me. I am 60 and have not worked for 5 years. I draft my own patterns - and find I have to redraft my sloper bodice far too often (gravity gets very strong when you hit 50). I have reached S.A.B.L.E. status with my fabric collection (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) and that's just fine with me. My clothing needs have changed since I stopped working but I still have lots of ideas for my stash. I recently sorted all my fabric and have made a pledge to use from my stash - not to buy anymore. This is mostly because I have no more room - you can bet when there is space I will be running to my local fabric store for a "top up". As I often get my inspiration from RTW I do find it difficult to find styles I like. It seems that when at certain age is reached you must wear voluminous linen tops with irregular hemlines.

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  40. Carolyn I found this post of yours very interesting. I have seen people's "stashes" donated when they passed away and often the fabric was outdated and undesirable. Something to be aware of in making your stash choices I guess when you are thinking in terms of 10-30 years worth of sewing. I believe in stash of all kinds for creativity, (I paper craft as well) they can be a well of creativity in their own right. Buy what makes you happy!

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  41. I love your post. We are about the same but I am working on my retirement in a couple of years for various reasons. I love my fabric collection and I can't wait till I have more time to sew. Fabric is my addiction and I will always continue to add to it. I don't think I will ever be able to use it all but you never know maybe my retirement i will have more of a chance.
    I find your blog very inspiring. Thank you for everything you post , I really enjoy your blog.

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  42. I say keep doing what you are doing. I am in that same space. The only thing I would add is make sure that someone you love understands how much you love the craft of sewing and all things that go with it. Although DH, DS and DD (in my case) do not understand my love, my closest Sister does. So she will not be donating my fabic willy nilly - her words not mine. She will ensure every piece I painstakingly picked out will get a good loving home not back the truck up at the local good will. Now that being said, let me get back to making my WONDERFUL Sister the dress she ask for.

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  43. I love this point of view, Carolyn. I suppose I am still in the nest(egg) building phase of life and stashing!

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  44. This blog post gave me a giggle. Seems we have traveled the same sewing journey. I am a widow currently planning to downsize - my home not my fabric stash (LOL). Sewing has provided me with many friends I would not have met otherwise, and certainly a blessing to keep me busy after my husband passed away. I too plan to sew when I retire and can't wait for this part of my sewing journey.

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  45. We are the same age, and I am also looking at retirement in 10 years- only when I am at 20 years in my state pension! I am lately commenting because we were in Florida- and were looking at places to retire. The communities had to have water access for fishing hubby and near a fabric store for me. It's doable! I checked out the shops and the ASG chapter too. But we realized that a tiny retirement home wouldn't work. I need a sewing room and hubby needs to read and fish. I can't see myself downsizing to just a sewing cabinet and a tote of fabric. Also we wouldn't be happy if there was no room for visitors. I am also looking at my fabric stash in a different light. I give away some to the local fashion program at our high school. I can't give up the wools yet because it is so cold here in winter. But I know those clothes and fabrics will leave once I am retired. I do have some quilting cottons as they make beautiful bags. So my stash is varied. It is my retirement investment just like you. Glad you "spoke up".

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  46. Thank you for providing such a thoughtful, beautifully written post about something that is on my mind. I don't want to feel guilt as it is such a useless emotion, but I do feel bad about having such alot of fabric. It takes up space in our tiny flat and I know I cannot find the time to make it up. In fact I buy more than I use. But there are emotional, psychological reasons for it, and at the simplest level every hobby needs raw materials. And I don't spend as much as many people spend on their wardrobes.

    I also appreciated your point about different stages of life, and I liked Bunny's reflections too. Sometimes life turns out differently, and that is OK. The world will supply more fabric if we need it, and those that get or buy our fabrics and patterns after we have gone will hopefully enjoy them too.

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  47. I love your point of view and thoughtful posts because they're different from a lot of the others out there. Also, I'm a collector by profession (museum curator of Collections!) so I appreciate a well articulated and managed collection. It's good to have a vision, goals, and a plan. You're on the right path for you!

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  48. I retired last year. In the years leading up to that Momentus day I accumulated alot of fabric, trim, patterns and anything on sale that I thought I would need after retiring. It has been fabulous to just go into my craft closet and pick out what I wanted to work on. I love it!

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  49. Oh my goodness! I will return and read the rest of the comments. I hope you feel loved by this community Carolyn. I love your posts and your stash is your thing. I have a cupboard of fabric and when I open it I feel so wonderful. I feel so creative and I feel so me! I don't know if people who are not sewists quite get this. My fabric and sewing patterns remind me that I am a creative person and that is very important in my life.

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  50. Carolyn, I love this post. I have a huge fabric stash but you may have me beat. I just moved into my first home last December and have a bedroom that I designated my sewing room. I pulled up the carpet and the flooring was laid this weekend. I purchased the shelving that you have and will get it later this week. Will post pics on instagram when done. I am 62 and will be retiring in 4 years. I think of my stash like you do, been stashing fabric for over 30 years. My taste have changed over the years but this is what I will do until I can no longer sew. I told my daughter I am putting the fabric in my will, so she will have to donate it not sell it in a yard sale for $.50. Keep on doing you!

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