Sewing from stash. You see it all the time, people are on a #whole30yard challenge or #sewyourstash challenge. And then there’s the lure of new fabric! But sometimes new fabric helps you sew from stash! Here’s how to maximize your stash and minimize your fabric purchases together at the same time. And, I’ve included a mini “fabric and pattern haul” video from my VERY OWN STASH!
Find at least two pieces of stash fabric OR stash patterns to start with. I recently went looking for patterns in my stash for elastic waist “1990s” pants – you know, loose, slightly tapered at the ankle – and found six patterns with similar styles. Five of them were UNCUT. Then, in my travels I also found a great cowl neck (with drawstring and pockets) sweatshirt in my pattern stash, that looks just like some new patterns I’d been ogling. Beyond that I found a woven fabric tank top that I’d like to coordinate with the 1990-inspired pants and a tee shirt pattern that’s very on trend right now (from my vintage stash.) I also found an awesome bias cut midi skirt, and (cropped) knit tee shirt sewing patterns too.
But to do that, I needed more than just stash fabric – I needed one coordinate that would work together with other things I have, so I purchased 6 yards of fabric. Maybe you can relate? And I thought, all the while “but, but, but… it’s from my local fabric store!” I’m sure they appreciate it, but I’m not their only customer, either.
Here’s how I’m making the fabric and patterns work:
- I will sew two basic elastic waist pants (sideseam pockets, back patch pockets that I will draft and provide free downloadable patterns here). These will be in the woven indigo and natural linen/rayon
- and a tank top, from the indigo linen, designed for woven fabrics
- and that will coordinate with a jacket I have already sewn, the Unfolding Jacket that I hand-dyed too! I have enough camel wool for another Unfolding Jacket (lined in rayon) for a work-meeing-appropriate jacket too.
- a new duster that I will sew from long-stashed cream “Juicy Couture” rib knit (and a cropped tee shirt from a vintage pattern)
- and a summer-weight shacket/duster/ shirtdress to coordinate, also a vintage early 1980s pattern.
The shacket/shirtdress is in fabric from stash that didn’t even belong to me – someone else’s stash! – as is the jacket I will sew. Friends gifted me this fabric, often received themselves from moms, aunts or grandmothers fabric stashes! Let’s finally get this sewn!
I will also wear the pants I’m sewing from new fabric with many tops sweaters I already own or have sewn.
I did not own similar fabric – there was no navy / indigo in my stash (except for denim for jeans). And I’d used all the natural linen I had already for other projects in the past.
Enjoy my mini fabric haul and my stash pattern and fabric “haul” video below:
We need to normalizing the “haul” video to hauling stuff out of our basement, out of totes and bins and out of closets. When my LFS was hosting a “pattern and fabric of the month” with a basic elastic waist pant (Pants No 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing), I realized I had at least a half dozen basic elastic waist pants patterns in my stash – and found at least 6 that were uncut (and a few more that are TNT patterns that I’ve sewn before.
If we’re going to make an aim at being sustainable – and I think most sewists aim to get away from fast fashion – we need to also make a commitment to stop consuming and not using our fabric and pattern stashes. Yes, this comes with sewing more, but it also comes with acquiring less. You have to do both. So acquire strategically. In this case, I didn’t need a new basic elastic waist pant pattern, and I surely had coordinating fabric for this spring and summer capsule wardrobe.
What’s your commitment to your fabric and pattern stash?