Tag Archive | stashwatch

2017 in Review

It’s that time of year, when we all look back and see how we did.

2017 proved to be my most productive year so far. I made a total of 22 items (6 dresses, 8 tops, 4 skirts, 1 coat, 2 scarves, a nightshirt) plus one refashioned hoodie. However, as usual, I had way more plans/ideas than actual finished projects, and I bought more fabric than I really should have! I got a couple of long-standing WIPs finished, though, so I’m going to count that as swings and roundabouts.

The items I found most wearable were the shell tops, and the summer Shannon Collection dresses, but almost everything has found its way into my normal wearing rotation.


I set myself up with a whole load of fabric-related goals at the start of the year, with Stashwatch and #2017UseNine. Looking at my Stashwatch goals, I fear that I’m facing a big fat faily fail with it this year…

  1.  To catalogue my costume fabric stash and transfer suitable fabrics to my real life fabric stash.
    X – Just Nope.
  2.  To use up 12 items from stash revised in the summer, to using up 21 items from stash by the end of this year.
    X – More Nope. I got up to 16 pieces fully used up, with four not quite qualifying (one piece still has 50cm + scraps in the stash, until I can donate/swap it, and three garments are WIPs).
  3. To refashion 6 garments.
    X – Still with the Nope. I did the Banksy Hoody on holiday, and started beading a t-shirt, but I think I’ve made it too hard for myself, and I might be scrapping it. I just haven’t had the inclination to keep going with it – my refashions need to be quick and easy.
  4. To not buy any new fabric until I’ve used up at least 6 stash items updated in the summer, to not buying any new fabric until the end of the year.
    X – Seriously, I don’t know why I even bothered!
  5. To keep WIPs to no more than 3 throughout the year.
    X – Full house! I’ve got three proper works in progress (cut, and ready, or at least ready-ish, to sew), but I’ve also got two sewing fails that I think are capable of being fixed up, so that the fabric eventually gets to see the light of day.

So, what do I learn from this? Well, obviously: I need to set more realistic goals. So for Stashwatch 2018, I’m going to rein my enthusiasm in.

  1. Use 12 items from Stash. I think this is feasible.
  2. Complete the 3 WIPs. Full disclosure in the interests of internet accountability – the maroon poppies dress, the 100 Day Dress and the next Simple Sew project.
  3. Complete 3 Refashions. This is possibly the most ambitious goal, given I only managed one last year.
  4. Swap/donate fabric, to thin the stash. I’m not going to give myself an unmanageable No New Fabric goal, because that’s downright unrealistic. But I’m going to try to be more discerning about any new purchases and I’m going to make sure I offload those fabrics where I’m no longer feeling the love. I work for Surrey Adult Learning, and I’m happy to donate unwanted fabric and scraps for use by our textiles teachers in the Supported Learning programme.

On the #2017UseNine front, I managed to use six out of my nine, which I’m happy with.
I’m not going to create a 2018UseNine, as it would only add add more pressure. I think that when I acquire new fabric through the year, I want to use that, partly to avoid it falling into long-term stash, and partly because it’s the lure of the brand new shiny! However, I still want to use the three remaining pieces, so they are on my horizon for 2018. The massive red floral is earmarked for a dress, the pink & purple scuba is for a skirt and the pale blue floral is for a top.

I will need to kickstart the sewjo soon. I’m going on holiday to Cairo in February, and I want to have a strongly me-made holiday wardrobe for that.

Stashwatch – Summer Check-in

My stashwatching this year has been very feast-and-famine! Months of self-restraint followed by indulgence days. Let’s look at the goals:

1.  To catalogue my costume fabric stash and transfer suitable fabrics to my real life fabric stash.

Hasn’t happened yet. I’ve started, but there’s still a binbag-ful to go through!

2.  To use up 12 items from stash and to review this aim in the summer.

I’ve used up 12 items so far, and I’ve got another 3 works in progress, to be finished on my holidays, which should take it up to 15. So I feel I’m doing quite well this year. I’m updating this goal to: using up 21 items from stash by the end of this year.

3. To refashion 6 garments. 

Nothing so far. Must do better.

I started beading a t-shirt, and I’m hoping to get it finished on holiday. That’s a start.

4. To not buy any new fabric until I’ve used up at least 6 stash items.

I failed on this, but I did make sure that I caught up with myself within a couple of days, by way of compensation. So although it was a technical fail, it was a moral win.

Having caught up, and sewn three more stash pieces up, I felt I could happily go on a fabric buying trip to Walthamstow Market, at the end of May, which added 7 more bits of fabric to the pile. A declutter also added to the stash, because I came across bits and bobs of fabric that I’d forgotten all about. And when I get around to cataloguing the costume stash, that may also add to the pile. At the moment the stash is standing at around 26 items; I’d like to see it coming down to 20 or so.

So I’m updating this goal to: not buying any new fabric until the end of the year. I’ve got plenty of ideas for the material that I’ve got. I will allow myself fabric swaps (but trying to keep it stash-neutral), and I’ll accept gifts of fabric if offered (because it’s churlish to refuse), but I won’t buy any more, nor enter competitions, prize draws or giveaways, just in case I win them.:

5. To keep WIPs to no more than 3 throughout the year. If I feel like starting a fourth, I need to consider whether I should finish of any of the other three first, or let one of them go.

So far, so good. I sewed up two of my start of year WIPs, and was ahead of myself for a while, but in readiness for holiday sewing, I’m building up a set of things that just need a bit of hand-sewing to finish, so I’m currently at 4 WIPs, and hoping to make it a couple more by Thursday morning! But by the end of the hols, I should be back to only one WIP.

It’s been interesting to reflect on my year’s progress so far, and although it doesn’t feel like I’m bringing my stash levels down, I realise I’ve been quite productive and done quite a lot towards using the fabrics I’ve got in the way I originally intended, or sometimes, changing my ideas around and making something different that I hadn’t expected.

Making a Win out of a Fail

The Fail – adding to the stash

I fell off the stash wagon at the weekend. I was supposed to not buy any new fabric until I’d used at least 6 pieces from my existing stash. But there was a sale at FC Fabric Studio on Saturday. I’d only used three pieces, though I had cut out a fourth, without having done any sewing on it. Too bad – their prices are really good anyway, but when they are reduced, they’re brilliant. I couldn’t resist.

I went with a plan… I’ve got this new overlocker, and I need to practise using it. I decided to stick to jerseys, with the idea of making some leggings and t-shirts suitable for teaching dance in, because Me-Made May 2017 is coming up and I’ll have four teaching nights where I’ll need to clothe myself. And FC Fabrics have some beautiful jerseys.

I came away with over 8 metres of viscose jersey for only £10. Three of the pieces I found in the £2 remnants box, including a deep royal blue bit that turned out to be over 2½ metres – bargain! I thought I’d be going for their printed jerseys, but maybe because there weren’t so many of them on sale, or because the plains were just calling to me, it was all plains. They all have a bit of elastane, to make them stretchy enough for my dance-practice-wear purposes.

The colours are a bit off, but not too badly

However, I was conscious of my epic failure on the not-buying-new-fabric front.  I was already in deficit to the tune of 3 makes, and the stash has gone up by 4 bits.

The Win – using up the stash and firing up the sew-jo.

This fail galvanised me into action. I had four WIPs- patterns already cut out – and I could jollywell make some of them up, to start meeting that deficit. It helps that Saturday, apart from being Fabric-Buying day was also Me-Made-May-2017-Sign-Up-Going-Live day. As I have mentioned in my post, MMM is usually extremely good for my sew-jo. That, and an overwhelming stashguilt combined to make Sunday a day of sewing.

I sewed up the navy Juliette top that I’d cut out a couple of weeks earlier. I’d cut it before the black Juliette, to test my pattern adjustments, and I’d pinned it all together to test it. I’m not sure that even constitutes a toile! But it was still pinned, so it was good to go. Having made the black one so recently, the instructions were all still fresh in my mind. I didn’t include the waist ties, because I didn’t have enough fabric, so it was even easier/quicker. The longest process was the hand-hemming. I don’t really think there’s much else I can add. I’m impatient to post this and I haven’t photographed it yet, but it’ll feature in a post soon enough, I’m sure, and it’s certain to show up in MMM!

Oh except I sewed in a little charm, into the facing, so I’d know which is back and which is front. I got a load of these at the Knitting and Stitching Show last month.

Cute, eh?

And while I had the overlocker out, and threaded up with black thread, I pulled out a long-standing UFO, to see if I couldn’t have a stab at finishing it in time to wear to work on Monday (spoiler alert – I didn’t!). This was a straight skirt, using my self-drafted pattern. I’d cut it months ago, from 80cms of cotton sateen. The fabric was a tiny smidge too narrow to fit both front and back side by side, so I had to cut it rather more snugly than the pattern dictated, and I was relying on a slight stretch in the sateen and narrow seam allowances to make it work and still be able to sit down in it. This is what I had left:

I don’t like wasting material! 

I needed to cut the facings, and as there wasn’t enough of my main fabric left, I pillaged my scraps and used a bit of purple from the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! skirt. I used curved petersham inside the facing, while I was understitching, to make the waist nice and crisp and stable. The technique for that is in my Pink Polka Dots skirt post. In fact I referred to it, to be sure I was doing it correctly!

I sewed all the seams on the overlocker (I love it!) and then I tested my new concealed zip foot – it’s brilliant. Using Julie’s methods have resulted in another seriously invisible zip. I’m so impressed with myself!

Well, I managed to get all the machine sewing done on the Sunday evening, but the remaining hand-sewing of the facing to the zip, and hemming got postponed to Monday evening.

Facing, with charm

But I was wearing it on Tuesday to work.

I should really be getting on with my curriculum planning…

And how invisible is that invisible zip?!

What would I do differently next time? It’s a really good fit, actually, so I’m thinking that my self-drafted pattern may need a bit of width being shaved off it. On reflection, the Pink Polka Dot skirt made last year from the same pattern is also feeling quite loose. Maybe I’ve lost some weight in the bum & tum area. Next time I use the pattern I’ll measure myself and the pattern and see if I need to tweak it.

What do I love about this skirt? This print attracted me right from the start – I love a monochrome, and the pink just makes it pop!

So that was two down from my deficit of three. I’m going to see if there are a couple more quick wins I can get under my belt this week, to try and catch up with myself. Internet accountability is a powerful motivator!


The insta-sphere is great for getting a load of New Year ideas and challenges. I’ve been seeing a lot of #2017makenine posts, inspired by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille with fantastic ideas of patterns and garments that people are planning on making in the year ahead. But the gorgeous and creative Rhiannon of More Blue Fabric has taken it a step further. As soon as I read these words, I knew this was the right approach for me:

“One of the things I am acutely aware of at the moment is that my stash is getting bigger and bigger, and that I keep buying new things with plans to use them, but then a new favourite comes along and pushes it to the side.” 

She’s created the #2017usenine hashtag, and I’m jumping right on board with that. It totally tallies with my Stashwatch plans, and my aims to use my stash before adding any more to it. So here is my collection of nine fabrics I want to get sewn up this year.


#2017usenine – four plains, five patterned

Let’s start with all those plains. I decided in May last year that I need more plain tops that I can wear with patterned skirts. So I bought a whole load of plain fabric last year, and this year I need to make it up. The white Swiss dot cotton (top left) is already cut out, although I’ve still got to piece a front facing for it to work, and I just need to sew the beggar up. The black peachskin (bottom left) is also going to be a top, but I haven’t decided what kind – possibly a variation on the batwing dresses, but it’s not a knit so I’d have to be more thoughtful about how I make it up. It’s lovely and slinky, but could be a bit of a nightmare to wrangle. The navy (top middle) is also quite slinky and was bought with the notion of making into a shell top, but I might turn it into a Juliette blouse.

But I can’t work purely in plains, I need me some floral print! The red ponte (top right) was supposed to be a Christmas dress, but that didn’t happen. But it will! There are two other floral jerseys there – the pale blue with a pretty meadowflower print, bottom right, and the olive-y pink next to it, which seems much more exotic. They will both be tops. I may need to run up a couple of plain black skirts to wear with them through Me Made May, though!

This black & white & pink sateen has been begging to be made into a skirt since I got it 2½ years ago. It’s cut out, and I’m planning on making it properly lined by way of a little challenge to myself. The bonkers pink and purple scuba (middle row left) will be a simple dress, because there’s no point in trying to use a fancy pattern to try and shout that print down.

And finally the plain white jersey in the middle row right, is going to be at least one scarf, possibly more. I’ve got ideas for at least eight. One of the things I do need more of are interesting accessories, and my selfless sewing of scarves for others has triggered a desire to make some for myself. I probably won’t use it all up, and I doubt I’d use up all my ideas, but I’m going to see how far I can take it.

So, those are my current ideas. I think I’m going to go for the red dress first, because who wouldn’t want a massive floral red dress?!

Stashwatch 2016 – How did I do?

To recap, my goals for 2016 were:
– to catalogue the stash. ✔️
– to use 10 pieces of stash fabric, of which 5 would be used *up*. ✔️
– to fix/mend/refashion 10 items. ✖️ Only 4.
– to not buy any new fabric until I’d used at least 5 stash items. ✔️

So I would say overall I did pretty well. I’m calling 2016 a Stashwin.

Moving forward into 2017, I need to consider new goals.

1. The cataloguing was really beneficial in making me more conscious – about what I buy and what I use. I’m confident that I will keep this up. However, if I’m being brutally honest, I cheated – mea maxima culpa. I only applied this to one of my stashes. Truth is, I’ve got an additional Costume Fabric stash, which contains fabrics for making dance costumes. Plus at least 2 costumes in progress. I ought to investigate whether any of the fabrics in that bag could usefully be transferred to the Real Life Fabric stash. Most of it wouldn’t work, but there’s probably a couple of fabrics that I might be able to get away with for everyday wear. I don’t know when, but I’ll say:
* To catalogue my costume fabric stash and transfer suitable fabrics to my real life fabric stash.

2. The using stash goal is a good one to reprise for next year. I’m happy to work with 1 item per month for now, but with a mid-year review, in case I’ve made it too easy, or in case I’ve built up a bigger stash than I’m feeling comfortable with. This will also tie in with my intended #2017usenine aim. So let’s say:
* To use up 12 items from stash and to review this aim in the summer.

3. I’m thinking more about the refashions and fixes aim. I’m going to separate these two areas, because I do view fixing/mending differently than I view refashions. The fix-ups are chores that aren’t creative or fun. At the moment I’ve only got 3 in the pile, and it’s not worth making this an aim by itself. I’ll get round to them eventually. My refashions are usually quick and easy and they tick all my boxes on making my clothing more personal and unique, so I don’t know why I don’t work on those more. I’ve still got a few plans and ideas for refashions so I do want a goal for these. I want to keep these aims achievable, but also challenging. Based on my refashioning output this year, I’m going to say:
* To refashion 6 garments. 

4. Despite having called Stashwatch 2016 a win at the start of this post, I can’t avoid the fact that I have ended the year with a bigger stash than I started with, which feels like a massive fail, but really isn’t. I’ve used up a lot of long-standing stash items – only 10 items now date back to earlier than the start of 2016, the majority are this year’s acquisitions. I’ve fabric-swapped those items I wasn’t ever realistically going to use. And I’ve attended two fabric swaps and had three fabric splurges, so I reckon my stash ending only 3 items up is pretty good going. It now feels like my stash is more “curated”, it’s fabrics that I love and know will fit in with my wardrobe.
Having morally absolved myself, though, I’m still left with the practical issue that one of my main drivers for starting the Stashwatch in the first place was my lack of storage, and that problem has not gone away. So I’m renewing the no-buying commitment:
* To not buy any new fabric until I’ve used up at least 6 stash items.

5. For a new heading, I want to address the issue of Works In Progress.
My catalogued stash includes a few works in progress which need finishing. I’ll sometimes start a project by cutting the fabric, then fail to do the sewing part. Which is bonkers, because the sewing is the fun part! On the positive side, the WIPs I had at the start of the year did get finished in 2016, and the WIPs I now have are new ones, so that’s quite heartening. But in general, knowing I’ve got WIPs waiting on the shelf, makes me feel stressy and guilt-ridden, so in the interests of my personal wellbeing, I need to get a handle on them:
* To keep WIPs to no more than 3 throughout the year. If I feel like starting a fourth, I need to consider whether I should finish of any of the other three first, or let one of them go. 

I think those are all manageable, and will keep things under control. I’ll update the Stashwatch page shortly. It’s handy to have that Internet accountability! 

I’ll also be posting more about the #2017usenine, when I’ve had a bit of a rummage around the stash and made some decisions about what I’d like to sew. 

Stashwatch Update


On Monday it’s the Final of the Great British Sewing Bee for 2016, and I’ll be up in London, watching it with the lovely Ana of Cocowawa Crafts & Elena of Sew it with Love, and all the rest of the GBSB group. If you want to come along, check out the Doodle link in this post.

The evening will include, amongst other, as yet unknown, delights, a fabric swap, so I’ve been going through my stash, to see what to take along. It’s not quite so easy because I offloaded four pieces last month and most of what’s left I’ve got plans for. But I’ve unearthed a couple more bits that are substantial enough to pass on. And I remembered my mahoosive collection of long white zips.

Stash to be swapped

So while I was a-rummaging, I decided to take stock, work out what I want to do with everything, and think about my next bits of sewing.

I’ve got 3 WIPs/UFOs, two of which only need hemming, so I’m hoping to get at least one of them done and dusted tonight, and the third is a skirt which is cut out, but needs a bit of thinking about. I’m hoping to get three shell tops and two skirts cut out this coming week.

So how does this all affect my 2016 Stashwatch Pledge? Well, my aims for the year were:

  • to catalogue the stash (tick!),
  • to use 10 pieces of stash fabric, of which 5 would be used *up* (I’ve used 6 so far, with 4 of them using up the whole piece, I’m feeling very positive about this one),
  • to fix/mend/refashion 10 items (not doing so well on this one, I’ve only done 1 refashion so far, I need to up my game).
  • to not buy any new fabric until I’d used at least 5 stash items (done, but I did hit Goldhawk Road as soon as I achieved this!)

I’m hoping to come home from the swap with up to three usable pieces which will mean stash neutrality. Once that’s done, I’m going to go back on the stash diet for a while. I’m not attempting to reduce my stash to zero, just to keep it to manageable proportions.

We’re half way through the year, so I’ll need to get my patootie in gear to meet the rest of those aims.


Day trip to London

The fabric swap last weekend was FAB fun!

I decided to go up a bit early, and pay a visit to Goldhawk Road, ahead of the designated meeting time. While I knew there would be fabric a-plenty later in the day, that was going to be serendipity. I wanted to be sure of getting some fabric to deal with the specific makes that I wanted to add specifically to my wardrobe, as a result of my MMM considerations. I realised that my fabric stash doesn’t include enough plains. I’m not going to say there are too many patterns, because there’s no such thing as too many patterns. But there was definitely not enough plains.

Well there are now!

All the Plains


I’ve invested in some plain white cotton dobby, with gorgeous little spots (from Orya Textiles), a heavy-ish peach-skin in navy, undoubtedly a man-made fibre, but with a lovely flow to it (from A-One Fabrics), and two much lighter weight pieces with a similar drapy quality, in black and chartreuse (because while I am aiming to use mostly neutral colours with these plains, I couldn’t bring myself to pass up this glorious green – these two were from A to Z Fabrics). I limited myself to one top’s worth of each.

I also popped around the corner to Shepherds Bush Market to get a couple of invisible zips. Because I *will* master the invisible zip.

And then I set off for the meet-up. I was initially flummoxed by the proposed pub being swathed in scaffolding and looking very closed, but when I had a chance to check my phone, I found out that the pub had moved us to their sister pub around the corner. When I got there, I met Kristy of Scientific Sewing, who’d organised it all (what a star!), and a whole host of lovely sewing people, including Gabby from Gabberdashery and Alex from GBSB#3.

We were all holding back initially to make sure late-comers stood a decent chance. But once the actual swapping part of it got started it was quite intense – we were in a very small space, with terrible lighting, and it was very warm. It was quite hard work to manoeuvre yourself into a position where you could have a big old rummage. But it was all very friendly and good-humoured.

I came away with less than I took, which is good for my stash management. The first piece I seized upon was this beautiful border print, which is destined to become a pleated skirt, I think. Or possibly a jiffy dress. I’m not committing yet! But it was far too beautiful to pass up, and it’s a giant floral print, so it’s right up my personal style alley.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

The second piece I got was a viscose-like drapey fabric, in a dark colour with a pretty cloud-like print. I couldn’t tell whether it was black or navy until we got out into natural daylight – turned out it’s black! Either would have been fine, though. There’s enough for a top there.


Clouds? Or islands?

Once everyone had picked everything they wanted to keep, Kristy googled to find a nearby charity shop, and all the leftover fabrics and patterns were bundled into bags to take there. We all set off to find it, and kudos to those who were actually carrying it all! We were all feeling quite hungry  by then, so having dropped the bundles off at Oxfam, we found a Pret, which fortunately had a large enough seating space to fit us all. Although the group had dwindled by then, there were still maybe 12 or 14 of us, and plenty of chatting to be done.

It was really great to meet so many lovely people, and I’ve got a whole new set of blogs and instagrams to follow now.

And on my way back to the tube, I walked past Angels and Berman, and saw their window displays, which were delightful!



Renewing my Stashbusting Pledge for 2016


With a year of not making stuff behind me, my fabric stash has not diminished much (finding the positive, though, it’s not got any bigger either). The things I’ve completed just now have made a small dent, but I feel the need to make a renewed Stashbusting commitment.

Deep breath!

For 2016, I aim to:

  • Catalogue my fabric stash. For Internet accountability purposes. This is important because I don’t even know exactly what I’ve got. However, this is not going to going to happen just yet, because of going away. I’m going to aim for it being done by the end of the Easter weekend.
  • Use 10 pieces of stash fabric, use *up* 5 pieces. Some of my stash consists of substantial lengths of material which remain as bought/acquired, and some is material that’s left over from other projects. I would like to be finished with some of it! So I want to get to the point where there’s nothing left of the pieces but scraps.
    Edited for clarity – the aim is to make 10 garments, using *up* 5 pieces of stash fabric along the way, so it’s 10 in total, not 10 + 5. If I make a garment, that will count as one of the 10 stashbusters. If I then make a second garment, using the rest of that fabric, then it will count as one of the 5 finish-offers.
  • Fix, mend or refashion 10 items. Some of my stash is clothing that is currently unwearable for one reason or another. It may need fixing to make it fit better, or mending, or it may be ripe for refashioning. I’ve also got a gazillion plain t-shirts that I want to tart up. Let’s get some of it done and dusted.
  • Not buy any new fabric until I have used up at least 5 stash items already. This includes not acquiring freebies either. Basically not adding any more to the stash, so that it does come down to more acceptable proportions.

I am sure this is manageable. It’s one piece of stash per month, and one fix-up, with a month in hand. However, this is not a pledge as such, because I don’t want to create a false sense of stress about it all. I sew for fun!