Saturday, April 19, 2008

How long do you age your fabrics?

It's Saturday morning...the sun is shining and there is a nice breeze blowing through my kitchen window. I so adore the first days of spring when the weather has that soft, gentle breeze flowing through the I am up and on the computer reading all of the blogs that captivate me in sewing blogland. This phase stopped me dead in my tracks! "These fabrics don't get to age like some of my other fabrics." from Linda's blog - Danvillegirl Sewing Diary.

It sent my mind spiraling in several directions:

My first thought:
I only age basics. You know the fabrics that you buy in solid colors to always have in your collection, so that when you need basic pieces you always have fabric on hand to sew them.

Second thought:
Gosh, do I have a lot of basics in a lot of colors! *LOL*

Third thought:
I am ageing a lot of fabric, probably at SABLE proportions!!!

Which leads to this post and this question..."How long do you age your fabric?" See I never buy fabric with the intent that it will hang out in the collection for years upon years. And I never buy fabric without an inspiration or a desire to make something from it. But somehow between the buying and the actual construction, some pieces can wait years for their turn to see the light of day, or spring, summer, winter, fall! *LOL* Sorta like an airplane stack at a busy airport - where the planes keep circling and circling until its their turn to land.

And then some fabrics arrive - either by delivery or by my hand - and they go through the prewash system before the bag's warmth on the fabric is even cold. Then they get plunked down onto the cutting table and stitched and sewn right away! How do they get preferential treatment over a studier basic piece?!

Also, there are those impulse buys...some of which get stored and retrieved years later, that make me wonder, what was I THINKIN' when I bought this? Many times it just gets put back on the shelf with the hope that I will think of something to do with it in the future! Is this you? Do you do any of this, too?

Now I know there is a portion of the population that doesn't store/stash or collect fabric. Again, you are an amazing person to me because I just can't live my life without a good collection of fabric around me (sorta like the books I'm also collecting!) I'm guessing that you don't age fabric.

But to anyone else reading my ramblings this fine spring day, "How long do you age your fabric?"


And a postscript to Thursday's entry...

First thanks for all the interesting comments, but I need to amend my post to say that I haven't totally slipped over to the dark side of no planning...'cause I truly love to plan! My creative spirit is just saying, no planning this season. Let's just take the journey and see where it leads. I'm sure my reliable creative senses will reassert themselves with the first whiff of cooler air and want to plan out a fall/winter wardrobe. So don't rejoice just yet, you non-planners, I think I'm just testing the waters and taking a much needed break!


  1. Carolyn, I just posted a similar (sort of) question about patterns on my blog. My fabric stash is 3 times SABLE. I just buy what I like. My plans are vague...gee, this would be good for a shirt, skirt, dress, suit, evening gown, etc. Rarely is there an actual plan. Even more rare is there execution of a plan. LOL!!! I'm working on changing that.

    The only time my fabrics aren't simply added to the stash is for a very specific event, then, instead of shopping the stash, I shop the's a sickness for sure.

    I love the question and I'll keep checking back for everyone's answers.

  2. Well I know I have a piece of pink dotted swiss I bought when my daughter was about 6 months old. She will be 42 in June. Do you think it has aged enough?

  3. Interesting thoughts!

    It's crazy. Sometimes I bring them home and whip them up that afternoon too. Others are in the 6 month category and others are year out. I seem to run in 6 month sewing binge cycles. That's probably why. :blush:

    In October, I bought 2 gorgeous pieces of flannel to make my DD winter dresses. Although I had them prewashed and prepped in 2 days, unforseen circumstances put my life in a tailspin. I decided to hold them for next autumn to make new winter dresses that will fit then. There's my year...

  4. OMG, this is so timely!! I've been doing my seasonal fabric shift today.

    I've been reading various blogs and threads and people are struggling with this issue so bad right now. I admit, I do too sometimes, especially since DF (the Minimalist) and I plan to combine households in the near future.

    But I know how I am. If I cleared all my stash out, I'd just start all over again. It's my nature. I do better having a supply on hand. What I really need to work on is doing actual instead of virtual sewing.

    I know I really haven't answered the question but I'd say the oldest pieces are probably 10-15 years old. Most of my stash acquistion dates to the post-divorce era in 1991. And I joined ASG in 1993, which really began "sewing fever" in earnest.

  5. Hmmmm, yeah I have a couple of fabrics that are a few years old...... They were purchases that my mom, my sister and I have made over the years with the intent to create something....but then we forgot what that something was. So they just stayed there, hoping to be used someday.

    I have to admit I've been doing a lot of impulse fabric shopping. If I see it and I like it, I buy it. Usually about two yards as a standard. I'll think, this one would be cute for a dress, or a my stash just keeps growing. I probably should stop that, but it's hard!!!

  6. OK everybody...I have you beat, well my aunt does actually! Dear Auntie is closing in on 92 this summer. She taught me to sew in the 50's. She has stuff aging in her stash from the 30's and 40's!!! All of it is safely tucked away in a huge cedar closet. Her entire basement, though, is devoted to her sewing stash. You name it she has it, from flannel for pj's to a mink collar and cuffs set. Hmm...think I'll give her a call and go over for some "shopping".

  7. I'm just like you Carolyn (surprise, surprise, eh?), some stuff gets stashed away, some stuff gets sewn right up. I guess it depends on the day, my mood, the inspiration, the get the idea.

    As for my oldest piece of fabric - it's probably only 3 years old. I sewed like mad when I was in highschool and then took a break in university and the early part of my career (and I didn't stash then). I have only really been back to sewing for about 3 years now so my stash has only been building for 3 years. At the rate I'm going, I figure I'll be swimming in fabric by the end of the decade!

  8. PRETTY STASH!!! I just posted about my transforming my now-tacky almost SABLE stash. I hope to one day have a well aged classic SABLE to bask in. LOL!

  9. I age them for as long as it takes.

    I age many craft related things like this. It may take 20+ years before that perfect match of supply and demand happen, but it keeps happening so I keep buying supplies.

    Oh, I should add some of my aged goods/scraps become the perfect gift for someone else who can not find this or that (because it has fallen out of fashion or is no longer produced).

    I consider myself part hamster because I horde things (in more or less neatly labeled bins in case you are thinking I have some kind of OCD) lol

    This year's plan however is to buy with a specific garment in mind and within my 2008/09 color scheme. I am in a stash busting mood and want a coordinated wardrobe for once in my life.

    You're inspirational as always Ms. Carolyn.

  10. hmm, honestly I think everyone has a few pieces that has been in the stash for a while regardless if they don't claim to be a collector or hoarder or whatever we are calling it these days, lol, I have a couple of pieces from Trinidad that will be "aged" for a while because I really don't care to sew them as much as I want to sew other things that were both for a purpose, and this fine by me!

  11. Most of my fabric is only a few years old. Mine ends up as stash because I have great dreams of all the outfits I could have but I don't have a matching motivation to sew. Sigh......

    So my stash is not made up of basics but pieces that have called out my name.

  12. I may or I may not :) have a few pieces in the 16 yr range..bought for my daughter when she was
    6-ish, she's now 22! Maybe she'll have a daughter :)

  13. Well in the early days I only sewed home decor stuff and have fabric intended for that, so I'd say 7 years. As for my new venture, garment sewing, I would say the oldest fabrics I have may be 9 months. I took a second look at some of it today, since my daughter wants a few items made. Hopefully, I can bust my minimal stash and begin Carolyn, Thanks so much for the lovely compliment on my dress.

  14. I am most certainly a stasher. I get a wonderful rush when I pull out a stashed piece and finally create something from it. I also have an "excuse" for part of my "stash-a-rama" (well sorta!) I only have a Joann's and a Hancock fabrics local. I have to drive almost two hours to get to Vogue Fabrics, which is my fabric mecca. So I make a seasonal trip, and I STOCK UP. I buy anything and everything that strikes me, plan or not, the prices and selection are that good. I make a day of it!
    Also, I haven't gotten into internet shopping of y'all really swear by it?

  15. My problem isn't my stash in general, it's my stashing of fabric for my wedding dresses! I'm making two of them, but haven't settled on design or color yet for the main one, so I keep buying fabric that would match the dress in my head, which changes weekly. I have taffeta coming out of my ears!

  16. Something is afoot in the cosmos - it seems so many people have pondered the stash question these past few days. On Saturday afternoon I went through the brown and green section of my stash pulling out things I thought might work together. I found a mustardy gold knit with a furry raised self pattern in it that I don't even recall buying. So I made a quick button through dress from a 70's pattern that can double as a coat/long cardigan. Goes well with a few things and didn't take long to make. But where and when I got that piece of fabric will remain a mystery. I also dug out two lengths of a cotton, both of which have been prelaundered. Again, I have no idea where I got them. I did know I had one of them, but the other, who knows? Both pieces match perfectly with the wardrobe I am attempting to put together.

    I'm of the opinion that it is more satisfying to pull something from the depths of the stash to sew than it is to sew from a brand new purchase. Maybe this is because I can convince myself that I didn't have to spend anything ...

  17. Yes I do age fabric but not as much fabric as you do, lol, I don't have the space! Other than that, we think exactly alike!
    My oldest fabric must be 15 years old... The grey jacket is made of one of these "aged" fabrics, lol! I remember buying it (it was on sale and I bought everything there was left). I used it three or four years ago and I stored away the remaining fabric for future use.

  18. WOW, I love any topic on fabric. I so enjoy your discussion topics. My fabric stash has many aged pieces. I even have some fabric that I aquired from my grandmother's stash when she died almost 17 yrs ago, so who knows how old that is. My rule of thumb (if I had one) would be to age only fabic that is not trendy, classic pieces can live on for years on end. (Good theory anyway). On the other hand if you keep it long enough it will come back in style. The fabric I aquired from my good ol' granny, several of those pieces are as up to date now as they were whenever she bought them. I have fabric that I can't even remember when I bought it but it's like we're old friends. I love looking at it, feeling it, I even store most of my fabric on open shelves in my sewing room so I can see it. The variety of color & texture are colorful and inspiring. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I love my addition!

  19. oh yeah SABLE - I had to look that up - and yes I have some of that - LOL!!!

  20. I was sorting fabric the other day and I had some I do not recall ever buying. So my theory is that someone else sneaks it in there. I also have some from my late Mom's stash and some from DH's late aunt's stash and from HIS mom's stash. So far they are all getting along.

  21. Well I am glad I was the inspiration for your latest question. I have some basic fabrics like you, for that one piece that will go with several things. My oldest fabric is small pieces given to me by my grandmother that would date back to the 60's perhaps. I have a lovely piece of silk and wool that I purchased from Britex-SF when I lived in Santa Rosa,which is coming up on 19 years!!!! Oh my god, I can't believe that I was living there that long ago. So that would be the oldest. Other pieces I purchased in the '91-'00 time frame in Florida. Some of those pieces have been pulled out to sew in the past year or two but get returned due to change of sewing plans and fabric.

    I also have some of those fabrics that were what was I thinking fabrics. Those sometimes I give to Goodwill or take to ASG for the ugly fabric exchange. Actually I have a few of those pieces now.

  22. I think that the oldest fabric that I have might date back about 10 years. In that time, I did a huge fabric purge, only to accumulate more than I sold or gave away. Amazingly enough, the fabrics that get the longest aging are things the winter fabrics. That's probably because I live in Florida and the winters are short. By the time I plan to sew, the season is over. Some fabrics do get used right away while others are out of sight out of mind. I have made some changes to my habits, as in: I wash all fabric before it joins its fabric family. That way I'm ready to go when/if the inspiration hits me. Most of the fabric that sits around, I find, is fabric that my mom sends me when she's "helping" me. It's generally not to my taste, but I do find myself using it more and more for lining and interfacing. Waste not want not. I recently suprised myself by going back in time and retrieving flannel from years and years ago. Perfect for the baby items I'm making now. Maybe one day I'll actually sew more than I gather, but until then....

  23. Carolyn, some of my fabric goes back 30+ years. It's stored in a cedar chest in the attic. One of these days I'll have hubby bring it down to me. For every piece of fabric I have, I have a pattern and notions to complete the outfit. I love my stash and will buy new fabric and supplies as the whim hits me. DD loves to fondle my fabrics when she's home from college. She thinks of things that she wants to sew but doesn't have time right now. Her dorm mates are happy that she has her own sewing machine at school.

  24. What is SABLE?

    I don't like having a stash, because a stash represents excess to me. However, I seem to be growing a stash anyway!

    I love to plan. Right now I have a stash of SWAP fabrics that are just sitting in a bag. Some are cut up and ready to sew, but for some reason, I can't find the motivation to sew them. I keep thinking of all of the summer dresses I want to make and can't stay focused.

    I usually buy a piece of fabric with some idea of what I want to make out of it. But sometimes (and this is less frequent) I buy a piece of fabric that just really inspires me and is waiting for the right pattern.

    I find that the $1/yd Wal-Mart fabric gets me into trouble. I find some great stuff there that I *know* will come in handy at some point. Plus, it's so cheap: how can one resist.

    I said all this to say, I stash fabric too. :-)


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