Crafty stuff, Historical Sew Fortnightly

HSF/M ’15: Challenge #3: Stashbusting

The third Historical Sew used-to-be-Fortnightly-now-it’s-Monthly challenge of 2015 is Stashbusting.

Unlike previous challenges, like Blue, there is no research or inspiration needed for a Stashbusting challenge: you either have one, or don’t, and if you have one, the question is simply, how big is it?

Mine is ummm…big.

There are bits of it stored in chests and suitcases and boxes all over the house.

Mostly I sort by colour, with specialty boxes of linens, laces, and a few other pieces.  Where I have so much of one colour (cough *white*) that it doesn’t fit in one box, it’s sorted by fibre and weight: a box of white silks, a box of lightweight whites, and a box of mid-heavyweight whites.

Under our bed I have my red stash:

TheStash TheDreamstress.com1

Isn’t the dark red swoon-worthy?  It’s a proper vintage rayon, with flowers and moon shapes on it, and it just begs  to be made up as a late ’30s frock!  And I’m currently working on a dress in the feather print – so the red stash is being reduced!

And my green stash:

TheStash TheDreamstress.com2

From top left, a green wool jersey, beautiful original 1950s plaid wool, destined to be a 1940s suit, green and white checked voile (some of which has already been made into a blouse), green silk (some of which is being made into a corset), vintage rayon that needs to be a blouse, the most SPECTACULAR carnation patterned faille, which is going to be a dressy swing coat, lemongrass silk crepe, and geometric rayon challis.  

And my white silks

In the spare bedroom I have a small poof full of pinks:


And in the lounge, a suitcase of purples:


That fabric on top is a vintage silk and metal brocade that I found in an op-shop for 50 cents, and it is THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER.  

There is also a chest full of black and white and grey in the lounge.  Not exciting, but very practical and useful!TheStashthedreamstress.com1And, in my actual sewing room, I have a box full of browns:


Surprisingly full, considering how much brown is not my thing..

And a box full of blues:


There are actually two boxes full of blues – a big one for wool, silk and rayon, and a small one for cotton.

So, yeah.  A lot of stash!  Better get sewing!  (and if you really want to see more of my sewing mess, check out my sewing space tour)

How do you store and sort your stash?


  1. Very neat! I keep the fabric I like in a cupboard with glass doors in my living room, sorted by fiber content (wool, silk, cotton, rayon…) and the fabric I don’t like in big IKEA storage cases under the bed. I really should sell/do something about the fabrics I don’t like. It kind of eats energy having things you don’t like lying around (even when hidden in boxes).

    • Stina: Could you describe some of the fabrics you *don’t* like? Depending on what they are (and approximately how much it would cost to have you ship them to me), I might be interested in buying some of them from you. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so they say! 🙂

  2. I keep it in a cupboard and a half. I actually did a big stash cleaning last year and got rid of everything too small to be useful, and also all the strange pieces I had gotten as “you like fabrics, so I think you can do something with this”, (that was mostly ugly furniture/curtain fabrics). My first stash was sorted by colour, now I sort by usage. Silks and light fabrics in one shelf, wool and heavy fabrics in another and so on. The one thing that is outside of the cupboard is my stash of natural fabrics where I keep my pure natural fibres, mostly linen but some cotton in unbleached and white.

    When I cleared out my stash I promised myself not to buy fabrics that I don’t have a plan for, and I’ve almost been able to keep that so it hasn’t grown too much the last year.

  3. Most, though not all, of my stash is in big plastic boxes with snap-on lids; though some is in cardboard boxes and a few pieces are in piles on my chest of drawers, staring at me 😉 None of it is organized, particularly. (I try to organize it, periodically; my last attempt was to separately bag fabric according to the outfit for which it was bought. I rarely buy fabric “on spec”; usually, I buy it for an intended project, which may or may not get made.) For that reason, I’m having a hard time finding the blue wool flannel I wrote about in my last post (though I now think I know where it ended up).

  4. WOW! This is amazing! I don’t have nearly this much fabric (which is probably good, ‘cuz I’d have nowhere to put it!), but I’m trying to work through what I do have more this season!

  5. Some of my stash is in three plastic containers under the bed. Some of it is in a – is it cupboard, chest, or what? English is so confusing on such a basic item of furniture. Anyway, that’s that, and then there’s so much of it just lying on the bunk bed because I don’t have enough storage space.
    I definitely need to make something for the stashbusting challenge, preferrably several somethings…

  6. Mine is in quite a few plastic boxes mostly in my studio. Not sure how many boxes are fabric as I also have the weaving, spinning and knitting stashes in boxes there. Some of my sewing stash is not for historical clothing, in fact quite a bit of it is meant for kids clothes or day to day clothing. It’s not in any particular order, but it is all in an excel spreadsheet.

  7. Frances says

    My Stash (capitalized!) is mainly stored in two built-in wardrobes in my sewing room. I am very spoiled in that I live in India, in a very spacious flat provided by my husband’s employer, and I have a large (4×5 metre) spare bedroom to use as my sewing room. It is big enough to have a sewing desk, as well as the mother of all bar height tables in the centre to use as a cutting/pinning/ sewing table. I tend to do a lot of sewing standing at this table. I keep promising to look for a comfy bar stool of a convenient height so that I can sit and sew. I organize the stash by future use, eg 18th century, Regency, etc, through to modern clothes. Then, within those sortings I organize by type eg for Regency into muslins, silks, heavier fabrics for outerwear, etc. Most pieces have a purpose already in mind, which I hope to get to eventually! Other pieces are just there because I couldn’t leave it behind in the shop! This happens a lot in India. My biggest undesignated pile is of plain light silk sarsnet which is very inexpensive here, and which piles up because I buy some everytime I see a colour I like! India is fabric heaven, and My Stash is embarassing in size.

    • Lyn Swan says

      I am envious of your sewing room and fabrics, sounds lovely!

      • Frances says

        I know! I am so spoiled. It will be tough when I go home to find a house with a nice sewing space. It won’t be like this, I am sure.

  8. Elizabeth says

    My stash is not very large yet, so I sort it by meterage (ie, how much I’ve used) and what project it is intended for. So fabrics I have a lot of go in a large plastic box and are sorted within that box by project, pieces left over from projects which are large enough to be used for something else go in another box.

  9. I have what I call a “moderate” stash, as it “only” fills 10 shelves in my Expedit/Kallax shelving unit. Really, only 8, as the last 2 shelves hold my boyfriends fabric stash. We only really sort between his and mine, although his is also sorted into 1 shelf with historical-appropriate fabric and 1 shelf with everyday/modern appropriate fabrics. My shelves are a mix of everything, really. Someday, I’ll sort it.

    All our fabric is rolled and marked with all information about fiber, yardage, pre-treatment, cost ect. It is very practical, as it fills the shelves better, all can be seen at a glimpse and it is easy to guesstimate amount due to the thickness of the rolls.

    I have a full blog post on my sewing room with a visual of my fabric stash here:

  10. My stash is mostly contained in a large plastic storage box – or two. And a stackable cube full of yarn stash. I’m reasonably good at not buying new stuff unless it’s for a project I’m starting straight away (having a handwork budget helps), but the stash doesn’t seem to get any smaller…
    My Foundations shift was from the stash of old sheets, and the item I am presently working on is from the yarn stash – also blue, and War & Peace themed. I’m hoping to cover all the bases, even if I don’t manage anything like twelve items!

  11. Lynne says

    You could go medieval with that purple silk and metal brocade!

  12. I have 16 30-gallon clear plastic storage bins stacked in my sewing room. I could build a fort. I sort my fabric by intended usage, for the most part, except for some reason I separate out the knits into their own bins. So, Regency gown fabrics in one bin, Regency outerwear fabrics in another, modern dress etc. fabrics in the rest, sari collection in one, etc.

  13. Michelle L. says

    Just found your blog off Pintrest and I LOVE it!!!!!!! I have some straw picnic baskets (because the whole idea of a picnic is so wonderful and although I rarely go I still love a great picnic basket).

    Anyway they don’t currently have yarn or fabric in them but they could, then that could also be an excuse to have a few more. Yikes, this is not good stash busting is it?

  14. Ruth Olson says

    Stash? well I figure at almost 75, I should start cleaning out my stash, never know, you know. last Fall I hit a garage sale by a retiring seamstress. $50 later I had the most fun collection of lace and trims and 18″ doll patterns, plus a piece here and there of fabric. I now have to get my stash more organized as it is taking over my small bedroom in my little rambler house. last Thanksgiving I cancelled Turkey Dinner cause my small kitchen was full of ironing board and sewing machine on the table. I love sewing and been retired since 2007 and I am more busy now than when I worked full time. anyway , today I gave the compo doll a new mohair wig from Kemper and am sewing her a new dress. End of Story lol

  15. Lovely storage system you’ve got going there. In one way, I’m jealous. In another way I’m glad my stash fits in one place. Can’t wait to see how you meet challenge number 3!

  16. Alex says

    I keep mine in 55 litre plastic rolly boxes, sorted by where I got it from. (Two boxes from my nan, two from a friend, two from various op shops.) I keep the fabric I intend for a specific project with the pattern and notions in a big snaplock bag.

  17. Wow You make me feel much better about my fabric stash 😊 yours wins! We have a sewing room, mine sits part in a second hand glass fronted cabinet and part in a shelving unit and now a fair bit has found a semipermanent home stacked on a chair because the shelves are full! …I also found a box of fabric in my sons wardrobe (shameful) the stash is creeping out of the sewing room and invading!

  18. Gayle1154 says

    Hello Fellow Historical Sew Monthly participants,

    This is my first year working with and learning from all of you. Initially, my goal was to complete 3 or 4 of the monthly challenges over the 2015 year. But I happy to be able to say I have created an article for all of the first 3 months we have just had,. However they are small items, but they work nicely into a greater “over all plan” I am working towards. Unfortunately, I do not have a blog or web & therefore don’t know how to post any photos.

    Jan. – a foundation piece – 18th century bum roll – style required that ever lady needed a bigger behind
    Feb – Blue- a knitted 18th century gallery
    March – stashbuster – set of 18th cent pockets

    I have tried & almost entirely succeeded to purchase nothing so far, using/reusing materials at hand. Any “hidden” stitching has been machine done, but all stitches visible when examining pieces is hand-stitched(at which I am improving, thanks to HSM)

    I am totally stuck for any idea for April’s challenge, perhaps, I just don’t grasp it, but I’m asking for help/suggestions.

    Gayle in Maine

    • Well done! I’ll be doing an inspiration post for April’s challenge tomorrow, so hopefully that will help with ideas.

  19. Finished just in time! It’s still March here for a couple more hours.

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