Learning to Love the Fabric I Already Own

I think that the title of this post is a dilemma that many sew-ers have – but let me explain. I’ve found myself in an incredibly fortunate fabric-based position: at home, tucked in the corner by the dining table, is a large, wooden blanket box, handmade by a male relative back when my Dad was a child. It’s full to bursting with fabric – some that I’ve bought myself but many that have been donated to me by Grandmas and Aunties.

material box

In fact, I have so much fabric I could probably comfortably clothe half the population.

Yet why do I always find myself browsing the internet and my local fabric shops for new material? This post is all about learning to love the fabric that I’ve already got. So, after a bit of an after-work sort out, I’ve picked a few of my favourite pieces that I really need to use! Any suggestions for potential projects would be greatly appreciated!

green floral cotton

green floral cotton

green plaid

dark green plaid

blue stripe cotton

stripe cotton

broderie anglaise

broderie anglaise

pink houndstooth

pink houndstooth

pink floral cotton

pink floral cotton

pink floral cotton 2

pink floral brushed cotton

orange floral cotton

orange floral cotton

Do you find that you have the same dilemma? How do you keep your fabric stores in check?

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34 thoughts on “Learning to Love the Fabric I Already Own

  1. I agree entirely – I have had a tidy up this summer and was embarressed to find I had forgotten I had some fabric! As to Ideas – how about a floral scarf – 2 sided, 2 different florals? – there are so many scarves around this year . My other idea is to cover clothes hangers – then you are reminded every time you open the wardrobe of your favourite fabrics!

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    • Thanks for the ideas! The coat hanger suggestion is a nice possibility – after all, I have plenty of those around in my wardrobe! The pieces I’ve pictured here are big enough to make larger items with too, so I may have a go at making a top or blouse with one of them 🙂

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  2. Your post really inspires me. I also own a drawer of fabric stash that I don’t know what to do with. I wanted to make clothes but the fabrics are not big enough. One suggestion for your fabric use. Try ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki. You can overlock the seam of the fabric and use it as a gift wrap. Google for more techniques.

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    • Thank you! I think cases of chronic ‘Fabric Stash’ needs to be spoken about more openly, haha. I’ve just done a search for Furoshiki and it looks like a great idea – I did something similar at Christmas once using headscarves to wrap presents. Maybe an idea for all the smaller pieces of fabric I have in that box. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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  3. Hi. Good to see someone else taking stock of their fabric situation. I acquired someone else’s life-time stash by answering an advert. I have all the stash and none of the excitement of buying it… but I’ve identified 4 makes that don’t require any purchases and 6 that require pattern or a zip only.

    I could see a shift dress or gathered skirt with the blue stripe fabric. Also the Belle Bow Blouse pattern by In-House Designs could be used with one of your floral cottons. I have a stash delve section on my blog too that might inspire use of some of your smaller scraps.

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    • That sounds like a great way to obtain all sorts of treasures! Most of what I own came from my grandma – she’s been sewing and stashing her whole life and let me take most of it off her hands when I started sewing a few years ago. It gives everything that I make a nice vintage feel!

      A stripe shift dress sounds lovely too – I have enough of the fabric to make one so I’ll keep an eye out for a good pattern. I’ll also have a look for the blouse pattern you mentioned – thank you very much for your suggestions!

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  4. I limit myself to one shelf that goes all the way across a closet.When I free up space I get rewarded by shopping to fill the hole. A lot of mine comes from my friend’s grandmother or from thrift stores. I love that pink houndstooth. I would make a straight skirt with it or a purse, but that’s me. I love loud purses.

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    • Thanks for the comment! I have a fair amount of the houndstooth so I’m daring myself to do something adventurous with it – perhaps a skirt as you suggested or even a dress! Your fabric shelf sounds very sensible – I think I need to go on a fabric buying hiatus (sob sob) until I’ve used some of this lot up!

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  5. I think that #2 would make a great shirt – ideal for the preppy ‘worn with a navy sweater and ‘A’ line skirt’ look. #’s 4 & 7 are shouting to be made into pj’s or a nightie and #6 would make a lovely camisole/blouse or even a slip, depending on how much you have. The dark green plaid would make an ideal dress with a fitted bodice and slightly ‘A’ line bottom [matching seams carefully of course] with perhaps a collar made out of #6. I could probably find patterns for all the others, so why can’t I do the same with my own stash?

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    • amazing, thank you! I love your idea of making pyjamas – I’d never even thought of that. I only have little legs so there should be enough! If not a pair of summer pj shorts may be a thought. I’m not sure how skilled I am at dressmaking to try and make a shirt, but if I can find a simple enough pattern I’m more than willing to give it a try – I have plenty of the stripe cotton to practice with! thank you very much for your comment 🙂

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  6. Oh my, a blanket box full of fabric; and other sew-ers who have a drawer (or two)… I, ahem, have an entire ROOM of fabric. Three shelves that span one wall, and then storage crates and baskets piled with more. It is an addiction; I’m not yet in treatment. 😉

    For your smaller pieces, or scraps that are left once you make purses and pj’s, I’d suggest cloth napkins. Inspired by a college professor who had a big copper bowl on her kitchen counter full of assorted colorful cloth napkins, I decided I would always use cloth instead of paper. It’s been fun acquiring, making, and using them through the years. Oh, the meals we’ve shared!

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    • Wow that sounds like an impressive collection! (I’m also quite jealous!) Our spare room is stuffed to bursting with my craft and card-making supplies, but that’s a different story….

      Your napkin idea sounds wonderful – do you have a particular pattern that you follow? I was going to make a few ‘posh’ ones for the dining table but a bowl-full sounds lovely! Much better than using kitchen roll every time. Thanks for your comment!

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    • I think that’s it – sometimes it’s nice to have it all stashed away so that you can forget what you own and then come back to it and be surprised! A table runner is a nice idea – I already have one that I made but it’s so well used now it’s definitely in need of an update. Thanks for the comment!

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  8. Ooooh! How well I identify with all the comments regarding ‘fabric stash’. It really made me laugh and feel so glad that I’m not alone. I even bought a nice second hand kitchen pantry…..what for? My fabric pantry of course!!! And there’s more.
    Maybe we should swap fabrics when they have passed the use by date and are draining our creativity, trying to dream up a beautiful way to use them???? Just enjoy it girls!!

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    • Hi Sandra, thanks for the comment! A fabric pantry sounds incredible – though I think most of us would need a fabric walk-in-wardrobe by the sounds of things! A fabric swap also sounds like a great idea – I know other people around the world do them so perhaps I should attempt to set up my own. It seems as if all you fabric hoarders out there have plenty to exchange!

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  11. I have the same broderie anglaise as you! I agonised over what to do with it for months and months, and have just made it in to a Tova top (Wiksten patterns) for my mum (I dyed it a deep blue to make it more jolly!) and the top part of a Datura (Deer and Doe) for my sister (the bottom part is stripey – I am going to blog about this one sometime soon!). I do, however, have a ton of fabric still hanging around from when I left Japan (it was so cheap there and so pretty…), so I think I may need help too! If only there was a Fabrics Anonymous…

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    • Hi, thanks for the comment! I’ve just Googled the Tova pattern and it’s really pretty! I’m not quite sure my dressmaking skills are up to it yet though 🙂 Cheap fabric from Japan also sounds incredible – I’d love to go over there one day (perhaps with a second suitcase to bring my fabric back in!)

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      • I’m sure you could make it! Those pyjama bottoms look perfect and Tova isn’t much trickier than them! The only tricky part is sewing the yoke together, but just let me know if you get stuck and I will try to help! Another good (and free!) pattern is the Sorbetto top by Colette which might look cool in broderie anglaise? Japan is pretty cool! I lived there for two years so I have rather a large stash now… 😉

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      • I’m actually halfway through making the Sorbetto top with another one of my fabrics haha – I’ll be writing about that this weekend assuming eveything goes to plan! Living in Japan sounds great – I lived in Paris for a while last year and collected a fair few bits and pieces whilst I was there 🙂

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      • Ooh! I can’t wait to see your Sorbetto! Paris is really lovely! You must have found some beautiful fabrics and patterns while you were there! French printed fabric is wonderful 😀

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  13. Thanks for dropping by my blog 🙂
    I’ve learnt from the online sewing community the concept of “shopping my stash” for fabric for a new project, before I go to the fabric store. I actually don’t think it makes me buy less and sew more of the old stuff. But it makes me feel more virtuous. If I don’t have the fabric for my project, of course I need to buy new stuff!
    I also keep a written record of my fabrics which gives me a head start remembering what I have.

    No suggestions on what to use your lovely fabrics for, but I do so love them, especially the green and blue flowered one.

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    • Hi there – thank you and no problem! A written record of fabrics sounds like a great idea – although I fear I may need several notebooks thanks to the number of items in my stash 🙂

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    • haha I completely agree! especially when it belongs to someone else 🙂 I’m yet to use the houndstooth but I have a couple of dress patterns arriving in the mail soon so hopefully it’ll be suitable for one of those!

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  15. Very very late here, but I would make the By Hand London Anna dress with the broderie anglaise. Also +1 to cloth napkins, I have always bought ours in the nicest fabrics I could find and consequently my 6 year old gets very indignant if she’s offered a paper napkin or piece of kitchen roll anywhere other than at a hot dog stand or a birthday party. I have created a monster.
    I don’t have a vast stash. SOme yellow checked gingham that is not fit for purpose, a denim that is a bit heavy, a floral cotton that will be a dress for the girl and everything else is earmarked for at least one project (some for two, which delays the making even more whilst I decide…)

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    • Get that yellow gingham made into a Betty Draper style sleeveless blouse! I’ve been watching loads of Mad Man recently and am actually considering buying some gingham myself 🙂

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