It is the end of my self created, self-imposed, Use-It-Up fabric challenge. I went one year, October 31, 2015 to November 1, 2016, with out buying any fabric.
I began the challenge to use up fabric I had. I mean I bought it to use it, right? I never bought fabric intending to never use it. I saw it, I liked it, and I thought I want to make something out of that. But I never got around to using the fabric and it was time I did so the challenge was a game I came up with to motivate myself to use the fabric I had. I also wanted to make more room in my cluttered space and to gauge how much fabric I really did use and therefore “needed” to buy in the first place.
The Challenge: Use fabric I already own or fabrics donated to me to make anything for the next year. Try to use as much of the stash as possible. Use yardage, use scraps, use notions. Make apparel, make gifts, make quilts, make crafts.
Man, I thought I was going to be a sewing maniac. No, that didn’t happen. But seriously, how much can I actually sew in one year? Even when the year brings nothing but blue skies and rainbows. (That was not this last year for me) Can I sew a garment a week? A garment a month? What is realistic for me? This is good stuff to know and to consider when buying supplies.
During the challenge, I sewed;
- 7 garments – just skirts and tops some for me some for my daughter and some that didn’t work out at all.
- 1 pair of super deep shirt cuffs added to my son’s thrifted shirt (his design)
- 8 purses or bags
- 1 baby quilt and 3 baby bibs
- 10 Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered pouches (9 were gifts)
- 1 Christmas tree skirt
- 2 mats for the dog food bowls
- 3 alterations to store bought clothes but no fabric was used from the stash
I used up a lot of my scraps and smaller cuts. Some of the garments I sewed left me with large scraps.
Objective: By using up the fabric I will make room for a larger desk (which is more useful than stacks of unused fabric). Since the fabric was purchased to be made into something it will feel good to follow through and make something.
It did feel good every time I made something. Whether that was because I followed through or because making things just feels good, I don’t know. In the last month of the challenge, I curated my fabric. Any fabric that I no longer liked, could not be used for making a muslin or that I knew, deep down, sewing with it was at the bottom of my list, was donated. I donated about 28 pieces of fabric.
Room was made for a longer desk but that was a matter of furniture rearranging, making the new longer desk narrow and cutting down my work table surface. Because I didn’t get rid of the shelving unit that held all the fabric no extra floor space became open. However five cubbies in the unit freed up. I moved my fabric scrap bins into three of them (books into the other two) from the floor. So, technically a little floor space did open up.
My fabric stash by the numbers:
- At the start: 256 pieces of fabric Now: 185 pieces of fabric (71 pieces gone)
- At the start: 130 pieces are larger than 1 yard Now: 109 pieces are over a yard and could possibly be made into a garment (other than a halter top or children’s wear)
- At the start: 73 pieces are blue or dominantly blue Now: 47 blue pieces are left
- At the start: 31 pieces are linen Now: 28 pieces of linen
- At the start: 4 pieces have owls printed on them Now: 3 pieces of fabric have owls
- At the start: 1 unfinished dress was found in the stash (yes, it’s blue) Now: Still unfinished. Still in the stash
The Take Away From a Year of Not Buying Fabric:
Sewing time is not limitless. (Sorry to burst any bubbles. It was a shock to me too) I hope to be more realistic in the future of what I can and cannot get around to sewing. I would like to be one of those women who could post a newly made garment every week on Instagram but I just don’t sew that fast or I sleep or I just have other things to do.
Buying things I don’t use is a waste of resources which usually leads to guilt. No thanks. I don’t need that. I bought patterns and sewing books as well as fabric with the sincere intention of using them. Seeing them unused a year or years later does not make me happy. I rather buy things when I need them and have a little change left in my pocket for an occasional burrito bowl.
Not buying what I don’t actually use applies to patterns, sewing books and notions. It also applies to fiction books, candles, beauty products and numerous other things.
Be picky. Buy what you truly love and what you can genuinely make time for. Don’t be lured into a purchase because it’s on sale. If you never use the fabric or pattern you didn’t save any money, you wasted it. And don’t believe the hype. New patterns come out all the time. You don’t need to buy it hot off the press. Think about it. See if you have something like it already. Let someone else discover the instruction errors or the missing pattern piece. Wait until the pattern company fixes and reprints it. And not every style or pattern is worth your time or money.
Downsides to the challenge?
Maybe there was a downside, I’m not sure. I wasn’t very motivated to sew this last year. Was that because I had to sew with what I had? Was it because I couldn’t “see” what I had because I had pieces I didn’t like muddy-ing the stash (like a too full closet) or was it simply because there were many, many things going on with family this last year that left me just wanting to to sit on the beach for days on end (I never did make it to a beach this year 🙁
I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I didn’t have any slip ups either. I learned only positive things from my Use-it-Up fabric challenge. I’m ready to use more of my fabric up so I’ve set a new challenge: sewing everyday for 20 minutes. It’s only for the month of November which I think is doable. Who knows, it may become a habit and things may get made.
How much fabric do you have? Are you going to sew it all?