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Fabric Strategeries

2012 February 8
by elizabeth_admin

First off, thank you so much for the great comments on my teal Burda top.  I really love that top.  I’m glad you all did too.  🙂  

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I have been thinking about my past fabric buying strategeries.  (Yes, I know that is not how you say or spell strategy, but I love fake Bush-isms, so I’m sticking with it.)  My closet is filled to the gills with fabric.  See?


This picture is from April 2011, so my fabric closet is actually a lot fuller right now, truth be told.  (Can’t help tattling on myself again.)  But if you’ll notice, there isn’t a whole lot of mass quantities of any one fabric.  It’s all 2 or 3 yard pieces and a lot of them are prints at that.  I think I may have mentioned my fetish for prints once or twice or twenty times. 

After finishing my Burda top last week and noticing that I have 3/4 of a yard left of the teal knit with which may or may not be enough to make another top, I had a minor epiphany:

If I buy many yards of neutral, staple, solid colors that I know I love

and in fabrics that I use often, I will have a more “usable” stash.


I loved my teal top.  I think that’s a color that looks great with my complexion, if I do say so myself.  In fact, I wore this color for my senior high school picture! 


I can’t figure out why I haven’t worn it again in so long.  Has teal really been out of favor for that many years?

Anyway, long story long (with gratuitous picture of myself in high school and not even on a Wednesday at that), I think I need to change up my fabric buying habits and get more strategery.  I’m considering the following:

  • Buy more solid knits in colors that work with my everyday wardrobe and that I like
  • Buy in larger quantities if buying a solid (who can’t use a variety of black tops made up in different shapes/patterns?)
  • Buy less prints, I have tons already.

Today I made an impromptu visit to the garment district as I had a Living Social coupon to Mood burning through my wallet.  I was on the hunt for a heavier than voile weight cotton to make up my niece Katie’s birthday dress.  I found the cutest print (I know, not on my list up there, but this is for Katie, not me).  I found a perfectly matched grosgrain ribbon to add as trim if needed too.  Isn’t it perfect?  Katie has greenish eyes, so this will look particularly good on her.


While there I did manage to pick up a little sumpin-sumpin for me too.  A red burnout knit.  Love. This.  I see another date night top in my future.  Maybe one with a drapey neckline?


Then I stopped in at Chic Fabrics where I have always had good luck.  I came across their selection of stretch charmeuses and just had to buy these too.  I have grandiose plans of making myself some button down blouses with these or maybe some peasant blouses.  I’m not sure yet.



Yeah, so you might have noticed that I didn’t exactly follow any of my fabric buying strategeries today, huh?  Well, there’s always next time.

Happy fabric buying!

22 Responses leave one →
  1. February 8, 2012

    They are lovely prints – too good to pass up and it seems you are just following your heart in buying what you love . I love prints too and when I sew solids I add in extra details as it just doesn`t feel right to me to sew a totally plain item.

  2. February 8, 2012

    Yeah… having now sewn two solid pieces, I am reminded why ‘I never have anything to wear’. I need to not buy anymore prints for a very long time.

  3. February 8, 2012

    Oh, Elizabeth — the “short and sassy” look!

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Haha Peter, you don’t know the half of it. There is no photographic evidence (that I know of) of my punk hairstyles.

  4. February 8, 2012

    You make me smile in knowing agreement. I’ve had the same thoughts and failed in the same way. That said, I think you bought some particularly nice prints:-)

  5. February 8, 2012

    I’ve given up trying to curb my fabric buying addiction, as long as I am having fun then it’s all good with me 🙂 Mind you, my collection isn’t enough to fill a wardrobe…yet…so I may have to take action when it gets that bad! 😉 I love prints too and I spy some pretty pretty prints in those piles xx

  6. February 8, 2012

    I can’t manage a stash – maybe I don’t have enough practice yet but I’ll keep trying. You really went to town there but the fabrics are so gorgeous that you cannot be blamed. Look forward to seeing the sewn results.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Ruth, don’t hold your breath… you might wait a really long time for some of the fabrics to be sewn up. 😉

  7. February 8, 2012

    Oooh— I love getting a peak at someone else’s stash. I love how many colorful prints you have! My closet is chock full of drab neutrals (surprise surprise).

    I’ve been thinking too about having “staples” in my stash. Like gray wool knits. I am always thinking of things to do with gray wool knits. And then I’m reluctant to use mine because I want to have it in stash in case another project comes along that I need it for.

    I think one problem I have with buying boring-but-useful fabrics is it takes away from the fun of fabric shopping, which really is half the reason I sew. One idea is to buy prints together with coordinating solids. Personally, I buy far too many fabrics because I like how they look in combination with each other. Then I only ever get around to making one item.

    You could also play with mixing fabrics in one piece. Like in a pattern designed for colorblocking you could use you teal knit scraps and a print with some teal in it.

    Anyway the new fabrics are beautiful. I think we should encourage stash picture posting on sewing blogs. It’s like the thrill of fabric shopping without having to actually acquire more fabric!

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Great idea about pairing a print with a solid, but then again, I would have the same problem as you do and only would make one of the garments. Sigh… But part of the joy of having a stash is just having one. N’est ce pas?

  8. annie permalink
    February 8, 2012

    The problem w/ strategeries arises when a sewist walks through the front door of any business that has even a whiff of fabric.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Good point Annie! Good point.

  9. February 8, 2012

    I have strategy issues too! I can’t plan, I just grab at pretty prints…I love all your purchases, especially the last picture.

  10. February 8, 2012

    I LOVE seeing stash photos. It makes me feel happy. I wish I could have a closet for fabric – it would be much better than the bin system I have now. I mean, even though my stash is somewhere around *mumble mumble mumble* yards, I can almost always point to the bin I want. Digging the fabric out… is another matter. I love having a stash though – I was planning out my next few projects and thought about what fabric I wanted to use, then realized I had another fabric that would be great as a practice run, and I realized I had some great buttons in the stash to go with both fabrics, and I still have enough interfacing, and so I don’t have to buy a thing! Well, maybe some thread, but really it is great to not have to search for important components of upcoming projects.

    Also, love your new fabrics! You are a print… embrace it! I say you should buy fabrics that inspire you – I bet if you stashed a bunch of dark neutral colors you would gravitate towards projects that would make use of the prints you have anyway. If you want to make a project in some sort of neutral to go with your tops, you can probably go look for what you want when you need it (especially since you live so close to the fashion district). In the mean time you should buy what makes you happy. I live in a warmer climate (no snow ever), but I might as well own a sheep farm for all the wool coating I have. I have decided I really like to make and wear coats. So I buy lots of wool. Maybe not the most practical of fabrics, but it makes me happy so I won’t complain.

  11. Heather permalink
    February 8, 2012

    The thing is, you can always find the solid colors if you want them. But fabulous prints don’t stick around, so if you see one you love you have to grab it because you know it will be gone the next time you visit the fabric store. I say you made the right call. I love those prints!

  12. February 9, 2012

    That blue and purple-y charmeuse is incredible! I can’t wait to see what you make that into.

  13. February 9, 2012

    You are of course completely correct. But despite knowing this, the only thing that works for me is not to go shopping without a list! May you have more willpower than me 🙂

    Your new fabrics are so pretty. That print for Katie is lush.

  14. February 9, 2012

    I think of fabric shopping like I think of grocery shopping. If I go grocery shopping with no list and hungry, I’ll just buy random food that I can’t make a decent meal of. I don’t go to the garment district unless I have a list of projects that match fabric with pattern (or unless I have a list period.) I also keep a list of future projects matched up with fabric and pattern (something that carried over from my knitting days.) Hope that helps!

    Btw I also think we should encourage stash posting on other sewing blogs. It would help us to be more accountable (and less enabling I hope!)

  15. February 10, 2012

    When I’m contemplating a fabric purchase, I remind myself that there will always be more fabric, and then I ask myself whether there will be more of THIS fabric. If the answer is no, I buy. If it is yes, I skip it. There’s no need for me to stash basics I could pick up any time in the Garment District, like knit solids. Coincidentally, my stash is a lot like yours – unique fabrics that I love. (How’s that for enabling??)

  16. February 10, 2012

    my problem is the opposite – I find it so easy to justify plains in a colour I love but finding prints I love is trickier. Sometimes I feel my sewing is very plain and full of more ‘practical’ than pretty. Something I am working on. Our local fabric store tends towards loud and bright or flowery, finding a decent wool crepe in subdued colours is impossible. So when I stock up on trips to the big smoke I tend to buy plains. It seems I have to put a lot more thought into a print.
    Clio – your strategy is similar to mine – I ask “will I find a similar fabric without too much trouble when I need it?” generally I can answer “no” 🙂 not helpful for my wallet.

  17. February 12, 2012

    I never have solids on hand, but when contemplating what to buy solids are not appealing (except for a perfect turquoise knit, which I cannot find–more green than yours but not too bright). Let’s not talk about my stash, though. I have a problem.

  18. February 14, 2012

    Well, stash is stash and rules are for bending. The trick is to allow a measure of deviation from the plan. Its a good thing to have a pay off.

    Besides I think the colour in your stash is lovely.

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