Why do I buy more fabric when I have plenty already?

Yesterday I did a post where I showed how I was doing a little organizing in one of my cabinets filled with fabrics. (HERE) Linda, one of my readers, commented on a few things and then she had a paragraph that went like this…

“By the way, with all the material you have, why do you buy more? Well, what I mean, is when you buy some material, is it for a dress you have in mind, and then you make it pronto? Or do you buy it just because it’s on sale and you like it? How do you know if you are ever going to use it? I guess, it’s because I only would buy material if I am going to sew something, and then I would make it, and it is gone. How do you have so much still stored? I’m sure you are dying laughing at me, but it is kind of puzzling to me!”

I’ve been thinking about her questions all day long, even taking notes on why I buy fabric when I already have more than I’ll probably ever use. I’ve tried to put my thoughts together and I hope this makes sense… although if you aren’t a “die-hard” seamstress like I am, you might not get it even if I do explain it… and then, I might not even be able to explain it. It might be an “unexplainable phenomenon” that only heavy duty sewers like me can understand.

Okay, let’s start. I LOVE fabrics (notice the bold!)… plain and simple…I just love fabrics. I think I always have. I’m a touchy feely person when I’m in a fabric store, or even a clothing store. I like to touch the fabrics and see how they feel. I like soft fabrics and like to touch the really nice ones. I once visited a shop in Nashville TN that carried Liberty of London Lawn fabrics and they were the most wonderful fabrics I have ever touched…. just a bit too high priced ($34/yd) for me at the time. If you haven’t noticed, there is a difference between $3.97/yard fabric from Walmart and $18.99/yard fabric from a specialty fabric store… just like there is a difference between a tee shirt from Walmart and one from Eddie Bauer. So the touch gets me every time. I have a hard time buying fabrics online because I can’t touch them. (that’s probably a good thing for me though!)

Most of the fabrics in the cabinet I showed yesterday are fabrics that are too big for my dolls…they were the fabrics I used when I made little girls dresses and sold them. I love floral prints and the majority of them are just that. As I dwindle down the fabrics I have on my open bookshelf, I transfer fabrics out of the cabinet to the bookshelf.

I’ve studied my fabrics today and I think this may be the oldest one I have in my stash. I know I made a little girl a coat out of it with big red buttons many many many years ago. It’s still a nice fleece…and I may use it again! :o)

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I love how the colors in some of the new fabrics look. Some colors just go together in a way that makes me want to buy them. I love blues and greens together and and mint greens and pinks and kelly green and navy. Sometimes you see a design that is just such a pretty combination and the way it’s been put together makes it irresistible. Sometimes I wonder how in the world do they keep coming up with color and design combinations that seem new… There is something to be said for buying something “NEW” too…not using something from your old stash, but something NEW! It’s just plain and simple… it’s more fun to use the new fabric than the old.

When I used to sell my little girls dresses at my local Farmer’s Market, this was a very popular print… so it’s been around since 1999 or so.

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This group of fabrics is probably next in line of being in my stash the longest… years ago Hobby Lobby would have these terrific clearance sales and the fabrics would be $1.00 -$3.00 a yard. I stocked up then. I’ll have to tell you the story about why I bought so much of this sometime…

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Whenever I go into a fabric store, I don’t necessarily think to myself, “I’m looking for such and such fabric.” I just like to look and if something strikes my fancy I’ll buy some of it. Sometimes I’ll buy more of it if it’s something I can make money on. This is how my mind works… I look at how much the fabric will cost me and then I try to guess how much I might sell it for. If it’s something I think I can make a profit on, I’ll buy more. Sometimes you can buy several yards and sell one dress and pay for the whole lot. I don’t buy too many big quantities any more. I used to when I was making little girls dresses. But I will buy several yards of things like tulle, or eyelet or a fabric I know I can use for pretty blouses or pantalettes. I can tell you too, I generally only buy fabrics that are on sale. I don’t need anything THAT BAD to pay full price for it!

This was the fabric I used for my very first doll dress back in 2006. I made a Colonial dress for Felicity out of it.

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Buying fabric is not so different from people who like to buy shoes, or cosmetics, or cookbooks or even collect recipes or paint their bathroom a different color when what they have up is perfectly fine. They just want another “something” to add to their collection or another look to make their house different. Some people collect things like pigs, or those gooses, or black and white cows, or salt and pepper shakers or cookie jars or hot wheels cars or vintage Valentines…OR DOLLS! I started out with one American Girl doll back in 2006. I thought she was the only one I would ever need. But I soon found out people really wanted to see the dresses on the dolls they had, so I began buying a few more dolls. I know some ladies who have over a hundred Ellowyne dolls! I’m never going to have one hundred dolls, but I may have over a hundred pieces of fabric….and sometimes I make money off my collection! :o)

These fabrics were the next four dresses I made for Felicity…

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I don’t buy fabric just to have it, I generally have something in mind for who will get a dress from it. She doesn’t always get it right away but I always have it in mind…I could give the excuse that I keep my fabrics because you never know when you might need that certain piece in your stash. I do use fabrics from my stash from time to time for a gift I need to make for someone or for a project. I like the freedom of having choices too…when I’m making something, it’s nice to be able to pick from several fabrics to make your dress perfect.

When I’m at the store and see something like tiny doll sized buttons on sale, I don’t just say, “oh, I think I’ll only get the pink ones because that’s what I need for the dress I’m working on now”…I will buy all the ones that are on sale, to save $ and also time for not having to run back to town to find the buttons I need for the next project. That’s how you grow a stash!

I have given lots of my fabric away and have a rule I made myself when we moved into this house… ALL my sewing stuff has to fit in my sewing room… it can’t be stored upstairs or in tubs under the bed or in the hall closet! If I get to the point where I’m overflowing across the threshold on the door, it’s time to weed out!

So, Linda, that’s a very long answer to your questions… and then again, maybe it really didn’t answer your questions at all…but that’s why I buy more fabrics even though I have plenty already.

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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Comments

  1. Linda Doyle says:

    Well, now, I’m about speechless, Jeanne, for once! I really didn’t mean to have you devote a whole blog to my question, but I must say, you answered it very well! Since I’m not the seamstress you are, and will never be (!), I just wondered how you figure out what to buy and why you buy more than you really need. I think you did a great job of explaining that to me and I do understand your love of fabrics and being able to touch and feel them! I too, much prefer to buy what I see in front of me over online.

    We did not get the “grapefruit” sized hail, but more like quarter sized, but it was a lot and came raining down for a good 15 to 20 minutes. The bigger stuff was in north county, and I live in south county. We have another round coming tonight, but hope it is only rain. The joys of living in the Midwest!!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Linda,
      You better not ask questions, if you don’t want answers! :o) This was fun for me to try and put into words… I hope I did answer your questions… It’s sort of like asking my hubby why he needs more tools…he surely has everything he needs, doesn’t he? He might, but he just wants the newest, latest, snazziest one out there. Me too!
      I’ve been working at cooking for a graduation banquet tonight and I hope it doesn’t get rained out. My hubby has worked too hard getting tents and tables all set up…
      Thanks for a fun topic to talk about Linda,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Charlotte Trayer says:

    I totally understand, Jeanne!! TOTALLY!! However, unlike you, I do not have the resolve to only buy what will fit in my sewing room, so it has overflowed….the hall, the hall closet, the basement, the laundry room, the garage…..

    And yet, if I feel like cutting something out in the middle of the night, I CAN!! If I need red ribbing for a t-shirt, I HAVE IT!! If I need a certain color of thread to mend something just before we head out the door, IT’S THERE!

    In addition I have nice fabrics you just can’t find any more–100% cotton interlocks with dyed-to-match ribbings for t-shirts or t-shirt dresses, Super Satin Tricot for panties and slips, etc. (for ME of course!) Also have lovely shirtings, sweater fabrics, even a little swimwear fabric (although I don’t swim much any more….).

    A year or so ago I went thru my stash and brought several big grocery bags full of fabric to the yardage sale benefiting the Clothing and Textile Advisers’ summer sewing program for kids. It hardly made a dent!!

    I have a plaque that says “She who dies with the most fabric wins.” My husband told me (and this was 15-20 years ago), I don’t have to die–I’ve already won!! LOL

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Charlotte,
      I think all seamstresses have a kindred spirit when it comes to fabric stashes… at least I think they do!
      I used to have my stuff spread out in a few different rooms, but since I have my very own sewing room, I promised myself I would keep everything within the 4 walls. Iplan to keep my promise… I think if I bought any more I’d be overwhelmed…
      I’ve seen that plaque before and it makes me laugh every time…
      Thanks Charlotte,
      Blessings, Jeanne

      • Charlotte Trayer says:

        I’ve had my very own sewing room for almost 42 years (Wed.) in this house, since our marriage, and in my apartment for about a year before I got married, I had a sewing room in that place, too!! At that time (the apt.), my sewing stuff was confined to the sewing room.

        However, in the 42 years since then, it had E–X–P–A–N–D–E–D!! LOL

        • Charlotte and Jeanne, I have had my own sewing room for 35+ years. During that time I have worked as a fabric manager at JoAnn’s, started my own pattern company for doll clothing, expanded to children’s wear, and in the last six years started a line of hand embroidered quilt patterns. Needless to say, my sewing room has expanded past its borders a long, long time ago!

          Only recently have I been able to walk into a fabric store and come out empty handed.
          Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about yarn.😜 I doesn’t help that I also knit, crochet, smock, paint, and draw.
          As I tell my patient husband “at least I am not boring.”

  3. I couldn’t have said it any better.

  4. Beth Dix says:

    Jeanne; here’s my thoughts on our continually growing fabric stash.. When we were little girls, because we are so creative, we had to have the BIGGEST box of crayons available. We needed all the colors at our disposal so we could be as creative as possible. I think the same holds true for us as quilters, seamstresses, knitters, etc. As I tell my husband, “it’s not my fault that there are this many different fabrics available!” ( or yarns… or threads …or trims)
    He doesn’t quite believe me, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Beth,
      I think your comments are the most ” creative” ones ever! It’s funny but I have a big of crayons…not for coloring, but for helping me with the names of colors when I get stumped! It’s a great tool to have!
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Karen D says:

    I hear you, Jeanne!!! I started collecting fabrics when I began quilting in 2003. I have a lot I could never use now for doll clothes … but, I still hope to get quilting time in (which rarely happens) and still want to use them. As seamstresses, I think we look at fabric for its beauty and usefulness. I used to only buy fabrics for whatever I was making at the time (clothing-wise). Doll clothes are different – we see something that would be perfect for a particular doll not knowing what pattern will eventually be used. I try not to buy more fabric on a whim because I already have an overflow. But, I will buy solids if I need them or a specialty fabric for a certain project. I know we’re not alone in our love of fabric. Every seamstress has to have that love or they wouldn’t be successful in their trade.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Karen,
      I could go a long time without ever buying fabric again, but I think it would make me very sad…I just pick up things now that I absolutely love…I used to buy just to buy I think.
      All his talk about loving your fabric may cause me to go through my fabrics and see if there are some I really could get rid of…
      …maybe….
      Thanks Karen,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Marilyn says:

    Sometimes you’ll say, “This is the last of that fabric,” or I’ll get one of your outfits and say to myself, “I hoped the blouse would be that fabric,” or “This petticoat is one of my favorite fabrics of hers.” I’ve been glad several times that you’ve bought more than you need of one fabric or another so that you can use it as part of several outfits.
    The letters above show that you aren’t the only one who loves her stash.
    I have too many cookbooks, but when I’m dusting them, it’s like going through my history. They are sort of like an alternate life. Teaching takes up all the time you can give it — much like housework — my books represent all the things I love but couldn’t spend much of my life on. They are a way of having it all — or at least some of it all.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thanks Marilyn,
      We all have our ” loves” and it makes for a wonderful world!
      I have my fabric and my dolls, my hubby has his tools, Rebecca has her beads, Kristoffer collects paint ball guns, you have your books…everyone has something that makes their heart beat just a little bit faster.
      All is well!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. I stopped telling myself I would sew half my stash before I buy more. HOW can any self respecting seamstress think that? I just got another box yesterday from Fabrics.com. My favorite place to browse. Why do I sew the newest first? Why do I have fabric that belonged to my grandmother and she died at 95 and this was from when she was in her 40s? Why do I take any fabric given to me? Why Why Why? Beats me. Some people hoard everything and fill the house. I hoard fabric and overflow the sewing room, the spare bedroom , my office and by my lift chair… I better quit and hope hubby smiles at the memory when I am gone and he has to get rid of it all….

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on the fabric dilemma…if that’s what it’s called… I have never shopped at fabric.com…do I dare take a peek?
      Blessings, Jeanne

      • Charlotte Trayer says:

        With Caution, Jeanne!! LOL

        Actually Farmhouse Fabrics is Much more tempting to me….and sometimes, if you spend a certain amount you get a FREE something-or-other!! This last order, it was a free yard of pink Egyptian cotton. How could I say no?! LOL

  8. Like many of you my stash has exploded to every room in the house except for my husband’s office–he barely lets me walk in there because I might leave something behind!

    But finding fabric from clothes and quilts that I made for my children 25-30 years ago and being able to use those scraps in quilts for my grandchildren, PRICELESS! Now I need to do something about my button addiction, and lace, and, and, and… Luckily my reading addiction is now electronic and 1000’s of books have left the house–more room for fabric, buttons, and lace!

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Donna,
      Maybe it’s too late for us to change our ways…fabric will always be appealing to us if we want it to be. I used to be assistant manager of a fabric store called So-Fro Fabrics and I started bringing things home then…for practically nothing…so that may have been my “stash-start.”
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Paula F. says:

    I totally get what you said about “fabrics”. I love the feel of fabrics too even though I don’t sew. I do look at fabrics and say, ” oh, that would be perfect as a dress for Felicity.”
    To me, I can certainly see your creative and artistic mind working when you consider new fabrics and why you have many types.
    This isn’t exactly comparable to your stash of fabrics, but I am kind of that way with dolls. Most of my American Girl dolls (or some of my other doll brands) all have the same face mold. But, with different colored skin, eyes and hair…it’s another whole look and another whole “doll person.” It’s a way to be creative with a certain line of dolls and yet not have them all looking alike. HOWEVER, that’s where the amount of dolls comes into play. It’s becomes a stash of dolls. Then, there are artists who customize certain dolls. I have added 6 beautiful AMG dolls that have been customized by someone and to me, they are so unique and beautiful and a notch above what Mattel creates. But it’s more dolls!!
    I thin my dolls out all the time, but always keep my favorites. So, I totally understand where you’re coming from.
    By the way, since I’m at a standstill with organizing my doll room, I’ll send some pictures soon of how it’s coming along.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Paula,
      See, it’s true…we all have something that we love to have more than one thing of…it’s just like Lay’s potato chips….how can you stop at just one? And better than that, why would you want to?
      I look forward to seeing your doll room!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Susette says:

    Fortunately it dawned on me when I started sewing again after 50 years and making doll clothes that no one lives forever, so I have now started buying only what I am going to sew immediately. Still I have a little, by comparison, stash of small graphic prints that make me happy just to know I have them. Also fortunate is that I only have to buy 1/2-5/8 yard. The only way I don’t buy more is to stay out of fabric stores. They just jump into my basket, but I now know to put some back. I totally understand the stash mentality.

    On another subject, have you noticed that your flower print dress from long ago is right in fashion again. I’ve noticed large flower and butterfly print blouses and dresses in the Neiman Marcus catalog and they are even being worn by women news reporters.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Susette,
      Sometimes I have to make myself stay away from the fabric stores too! You sound pretty disciplined in your fabric purchases…you smartie! Sometime fabric jumps in my cart too!

      Well, I didn’t save those dresses so if they come in style big time, I’ve got fabric to use! I’ve probably got enough fabric for EVERYONE!
      Thanks Susette,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  11. Boy am I on the right blog! Can’t agree more with everyone. Sole mates abound. Guess I should take pictures of my stashes. Then when it ever gets organized I can reflect back. 🙂
    Joy

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Joy,
      Yes, do take pictures of your stash…it’s fun to look back on and see what you had when…it’s also a little motivating to get it under control….I wish you well if you do!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  12. For doll sewing, I would buy what I have in mind for an outfit, but I know how you can build a stash. When my daughter was little my mom sewed quite a number of things and sometimes bought fabric with the intention of sewing a dress or jumper and some things never got finished. Some of those tinier prints I can use now. I have an adorable bumblebee fabric which will become a doll dress at some point now instead.
    My daughter had a dress when she was seven out of that exact fabric you used for Felicity’s first dress.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thanks Laura,
      I think with your fabric purchases comes memories. I made a quilt one time from the scraps of all the dresses I had made. It was really fun to look at the squares and think of those dresses.
      How funny that Felicity’s dress fabric was what your daughter wore. It’s a pretty fabric… I bet everyone has taken a new look at their fabric after all this talk…I know I have!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  13. Ingrid B says:

    Hi Jeanne,
    I loved reading this blog. Many of the comments brought a smile to my face. Recently I was looking through my “stash” and I came across a huge piece left over from a dress I made for myself when I was expecting my oldest. Awesome! vintage doll dress coming up! Yes I have a disease and I don’t mind having it! … By the way I love that blue and white stripe with the white pattern on top. I think I need some of that…. LOL
    Have a great weekend!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Ingrid,
      How fun that you found that very sentimental piece of fabric from your past!
      Maybe I’ve had my fabrics so long they will be re-mixed again… who knows…it could happen!
      I plan on having a great weekend, I hope you do too!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  14. I totally get your explanation, and can relate, and I don’t have a business!!!
    And here I thought Linda did some sewing also. Although, I KNOW there are some seamstresses out there that think like she evidently does in that you 1) need fabric 2) Buy fabric 3) make an item with said fabric and 4) do NOT add said fabric to your stash. But what fun would that be. And has she never hear the expressions something to the effect: Whomever dies with the most fabric wins? or something like that. Lol!

    • HI C,
      I have always bought fabric and I think I always WILL! I haven’t bought any lately, but that’s because I’ve bought 2 dolls! eep!
      I just love fabric…plain and simple…I just love it and always want more!
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

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