I hope all my US readers had a very happy Thanksgiving this past Thursday. I know Eric and I did. We drove all over the north half of Indiana to celebrate with each of our families. I think we spent somewhere close to 8 hours of the day in the car driving. We were exhausted by the time we pulled into our driveway that evening. It was a long day full of great food and family.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it also marks the start of the Christmas season in our house. We do not put up any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. For me, it also marks the start of Christmas shopping. Of course, it is no secret that I love shopping and Black Friday. It all stems from my mom taking my sister and I out early in the morning on Black Friday to go shopping when we were younger. These days, I really only go to Jo-Ann’s to get my shopping fix and this year was no exception. While I love Black Friday, it should be noted that I am very against shopping on Thanksgiving day.
I picked up some great fabrics, that I have been eyeing for quite sometime, to add to my stash. One of which is that heavyweight Aztec woven at the top of this post. It will eventually be a coat of some variety with the black faux leather as binding. Right now, I have two different ideas in mind and I am so torn on which one to go with, but that is a post for another time. I also got a grey fleece lined sweater knit, that has had me curious to try for a couple of months now, and a black/grey chambray.
Ever since Jo-Ann’s released the line of Doctor Who fabrics I knew I had to have the exploding Tardis cotton, so I picked up 4 yards of it. I am thinking a cute dress with a Peter Pan collar to wear to Gen Con next year. I just could not pass up the vintage sewing machine cotton either. I think this may be a lining for a tote bag or something.
Of course, flannels made it into my shopping bags. Flannel is the main reason I go to Jo-Ann’s for Black Friday. For $1.74 a yard you just cannot lose on this one. I do already have a ton of flannel still in my stash, but none that I wanted to give up and make into Christmas jammies for other people. I did also pick up some solid color flannel to keep on hand to use as underlining in any coats I may be making in the coming months.
Somehow, I have misplaced my receipt from my Friday shopping excursion and now have no way to track what I paid for each of these pieces. The OCD in me is having a hard time with this, since I have been keeping a very detailed record of everything I have purchased, sewn up, and given-away. I will just have to estimate these purchases I guess.
In keeping track of everything, I realized I was very close to using more than I have purchased this year, but that has now been blown out of the water by my Black Friday trips. I always strive to use more than I purchase through out the year, but it looks like my stash will be growing this year and I am okay with that.
Here’s the deal, I keep readily available a stash of most sewing supplies and fabrics. It is not because I am a hoarder, I most definitely throw out a lot of stuff around my house all the time. Ask Eric, today alone I tossed a pair of his pants that he loved. In fact I delight in using something up in its entirety, like finishing off a bottle of soap or burning the last bit of a candle. My philosophy is to keep my sewing room like I keep my pantry, well stocked. After sewing for as long as I have been, I can say that my sewing room is just that. Having such a well stocked sewing space means that I can make just about anything I want whenever the inspiration strikes me. It means that I do not have to stop sewing at 9pm because I realized I didn’t buy a zipper or buttons or whatever finishing notions I need and now the stores are closed so I cannot finish my garment. While my sewing space is crowded and more often than not messy, it allows me the freedom to be more creative with my garments. For example, if I am making a dress and I start to hem it and it doesn’t look the way I had envisioned, I can immediately try something else without having to make a trip to the store. I love having all the things I need at my disposal.
I truly believe that building up your fabric stash and sewing supplies is like stocking your kitchen pantry. Plan your sewing like you plan your meals. The more you have on hand the less time and money you spend at the store. I know it is not ideal for everyone, but if you want to build up your fabric stash and sewing supplies here are some tips to try.
- Always shop the sales. Much like grocery shopping, this will help you to save money in the long run. You don’t have to go crazy and buy all the things all at once, but make sure you only buy things that are on sale or you can use a coupon for. Never pay full retail price for anything. Once you start really paying attention to their sales you will see a pattern to be able to better plan your shopping.
- Always have coupons. There are so many ways to get good coupons. Jo-Ann’s has a mailing list you can sign up for, which is a must, they have coupons on their mobile app, they will email and text you coupons. You should always have at least one coupon available to you at any given point. You can search for Hobby Lobby coupon and one will always come up to use. I do not shop Hancock’s as there isn’t one close to me but I believe they do a lot of the same things Jo-Ann’s does.
- Take stock and make a list. Look at the projects you have made and ask yourself what items you constantly find yourself using. Those are the things you should start buying in bulk. For me one of my must buy notions is 1″ wide non roll elastic. I use it in pj pants and go through it so quickly that it makes more sense for me to buy the 30 yard roll from Jo-Ann’s website than it does to buy a 1 yard package. Right now the 30 yard roll is on sale for $20 while the 1 yard package is $5. That is a savings of over $4 a yard, for a total savings of $120 for 30 yards. To me, there is no question of which I should buy. I also keep an on going list of patterns that I want to pick up saved to my phone, so that when they go on sale I can snatch them up. I never ever pay full retail price for a pattern from the big 4. You can be guaranteed that they will be on sale every 3-4 weeks between Jo-Ann’s, Hancock’s and Hobby Lobby. This also applies to purchasing fabrics. If you do not use or wear linen, do not buy it just because it is on sale. Start out by only purchasing those fabrics that you know you will eventually use. Take it slow.
- Buy 3 yards. If I find a fabric that I just have to have but I don’t know what I would use it for, I purchase 3 yards. I have found that I can make just about anything out of 3 yards or less. Most coat patterns that I want to make can come out of 3 yards. I tend to be suspicious of patterns that take more than 4 yards. Those make me nervous for how heavy the garment is going to be and how much fullness is in the pattern. The only exception I have for this one is period costumes, they are what they are in terms of fabric needed. In my experience, even the patterns that say they take a bit more than 3 yards can actually fit into less fabric if you are willing to play around with your piece layout. Don’t think that you have to abide by what the layout guides show you.
- Shop online. One of my go to online shops is Fabric Mart. They offer a wide variety of quality fabrics at deeply discounted prices. They even have designer fabrics for cheap. I also love Mood Fabrics and Girl Charlee Fabrics for their selection. Wawak Sewing is a great source for purchasing thread and notions. I use Corset Making Supplies to purchase all my spiral steel hoop boning. There are so many options online the possibilities are endless! Always check to for a first timers discount when you shop on a new to you site. Typically it is a small percentage off, but every little bit helps.
Now that you are building your stash, make sure you are using it too. Don’t build a stash unless you are positive you have a real passion for sewing. Also, don’t feel guilty for having a stash! Enjoy your carefully curated collection of fabrics by sewing up something great!