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How Can I Use More of the Fabrics I Buy?

12 tips to help you buy and use fabric, so you feel good about your fabric stash.

Posted in: Creativity & Mindset, Fabric & Textiles • April 13, 2022

Are there fabrics that are gathering dust in your stash? If you can already picture a few unused cuts of fabric, and you’re cringing, keep reading. We will help you use more of the fabric that you buy and buy fabric that you will most definitely use.

Here are 12 ideas pulled from episode 85 of the Seamwork Radio podcastt, when Sarai and Haley talked about what's gathering dust in their stashes.

6 tips for using the fabric you buy

Your fabric stash might be necessary for your creative process, and there is nothing wrong with having a robust stash. But if you’re lamenting over unused fabric, here are some tips to start cycling through your stash more quickly.

  1. Create a structure or challenge to use fabric from your stash. For example, use stash fabric for every other project that you make.

  2. Use a visual search engine to get ideas for your fabric. For example, Google Images or Pinterest can help you find images that look like the fabric from your stash, and then you can visualize what they will look like as various garments. This might kickstart your sewing.

  3. If you’re not already, start organizing. Pinterest has subboards so you can categorize your fabric or create wishlists.

  4. Organize by fabric type and weight rather than color. If you organize your fabric by type and weight, you can go to the section you need for your project and find all of your options in one place.

  5. Pull out your small cuts of fabric and store them separately. Use these for smaller projects, like accessories or pocket linings. Then they won’t muddy up your stash.

  6. Consider using a swatch book. You can cut swatches and keep them on cards stored on a keychain or keep them in a binder. You can take pictures and create a digital book or spreadsheet if it's easier.

6 tips for only buying fabric that you’ll use

Sometimes you might justify a fabric purchase because you simply fall in love with a fabric. Like Haley says, "the potential of fabric is so vast, it's easy to rationalize it." Here are some tips for only buying fabric that you will actually use.

  1. Buy prints with caution.

  2. Ask yourself, is this fabric true to your style today? Sometimes nostalgia makes us grab certain prints or colors, and they might not be relevant in our wardrobes anymore.

  3. Pause and think of two or three things you could make with the fabric. Before you get your yardage cut, make sure that you have some general ideas for how you will actually use it. If you can’t think of a few specific garments that would work, it might not be a smart purchase.

  4. Document your ideas for the fabric. Use Pinterest or a sketchbook to track your plans so you don’t forget why you bought a particular fabric.

  5. Consider your climate and season. Make sure you are shopping for fabrics that make sense for you to wear.

  6. Plan a wardrobe or a queue of projects. Use a planning tool like Design Your Wardrobe to dig into your personal style and learn how to match your fabric to projects that you are sure to wear.

To hear more about all these ideas, listen to episode 85 of the Seamwork Radio podcast.

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