Use Your Stash Challenge- The Participant Weigh-in

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This Use Your Stash Challenge has turned out to be really very interesting. I’ve had some eye-opening email conversations with a few of you, and I wanted to share some of that.

I started this challenge because I was tired of having my creativity go down the drain. I felt (and still do) a bit overwhelmed with everything that I owned. I knew that I needed to just make something. I have so much fabric, but I wasn’t feeling okay with using it up. I wrote more about these feelings of fear here.

So I decided that since I was going to take the plunge and cut into my favorite fabrics, I would see if anyone else wanted to as well. I got a very positive response, and lots of people said they were ready to go if I came up with something, so I did.

The really interesting part of this were the emails and conversations I had in person with other seamstresses as they started to go thru and weigh out their stashes. Slowly, they started to say, “I don’t think I can do this. I have too much stuff, and I feel overwhelmed when I see what I have.”  Or, “I’m too embarrassed by how much I have. I really think this would be fun, but you don’t understand how long I’ve been collecting.”

I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed to hear this. I listened, sent back a few “oh, that’s too bad” emails, but I really felt kind of sad for each of these women too. I talked before about the mental burden that a stash can create, and here I was, seeing these people who felt the same way I did.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not mad at anyone at all! I just want you to be able to feel creative when you are looking thru your stash. To feel inspired, happy, and like you can make anything. Above all, I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about or afraid to use up their stash. Cleaning it out really does help!

I do have two brave souls, who I am very happy to be working with, who dug thru their fabric stashes and weighed and sorted everything. The first participant is Jennie, of Jagged Rose. She has a lot of fabric from her Mom, but started collecting for herself when she was 16. She studied fashion design in school, and has made some really beautiful dresses and costumes!  She and I have emailed back and forth, and it really made me happy when she said, “My job is exhausting & I’d lost my creativity, but thanks to you & the challenge – it’s starting to come back!”

Jennie’s stash weighed in at 183 lbs (83 kilos).

Some of Jennie’s private stash- this doesn’t include her business fabrics or her yarn.

This is a photo that Jennie posted on her Flickr. It’s from 2006, when she covered her living room floor with her stash. She said her collection has definitely grown since then!

Jennie’s stash from 2006.

Be sure to check out Jennie’s blog as she posts the garments she’s making from her stash. Great job, Jennie!

The other wonderful participant is Elsa. She doesn’t have a blog for me to link to, so I’ll be sharing her stash busting here for her. Elsa used the stash challenge as motivation to clean up her sewing room, which is a loft space. She said, “When I walked up to the loft this morning it was like walking into a new room…it’s sooo clean.  I love it.  If nothing else comes of this challenge, it will have been worth it.”

Elsa’s stash weighed in at 169 pounds.

She is really lucky and gets to visit the LA garment district when she visits her daughter. She has a lot of beautiful silk from her trips there, and would like to sew a jacket, make a quilt someday, and sew some pillows or something for her grand-daughter.

Elsa has great cupboards her husband built her for storing fabric.

The top left are clothes she’d like to upcycle, and then there’s her nice silk selection, wool felt, and fabric for making pillows.

I’m so grateful to Jennie and Elsa for stash busting with me. They will each be getting a Fashionary sketchbook, and the more stash they use up, the bigger their boxes of goodies will be!

I’m on a top-secret project right now (Eek! Can’t wait to share!), and also trying to get thru my stash. I’ll have new garments to share very soon!

  • Rob

    Honey, I’m so proud of you for undertaking this challenge—especially with all you have going on right now. Don’t be discouraged! I’m sure others will be influenced whether they participated or not. I love you!

    • Thanks, love! Your encouragement is always wonderful. Does this mean I can buy more fabric when this is over? 😉

  • Elsa

    Now I’m excited! It’s so nice that your husband is so encouraging to you. My husband happened to see my pictures and he said “you have all this?” He has no idea! Anyway…we’re going camping (in our trailor) for a week or so, so I got a bunch of things ready that I can do by hand, but you won’t be hearing from me until I get back.

    Let the sewing begin! Elsa

    • Isn’t he so nice? Seriously, I don’t know what’d I’d do without him sometimes! Have fun camping, Elsa- I’ll look forward to seeing what you have when you get back!

    • Elsa! I think I have/had that same silk fabric, the black one with the gold pattern 🙂
      It looks like the fabric that I made this corset in

      • That’s really something, considering you’re thousands of miles apart!

  • I’ll do it too! I’m out of town but as soon as I get back, I’ll get on it. It’s such a great idea, thanks for the gentle kick in the rear!

    • Oh good! I’m happy to kick butts when it’s needed. 😉 Let’s see that yarn, Rose!

  • Amy, your husband is so sweet! 🙂
    Well I can say my husband will be very happy with me losing some of my stash, but I don’t think he’ll be happy about the fact that I’ll need more closet space now 😉
    It’s my day off today, which means time to start sewing, but first a cup of tea!

    • Isn’t he? I do love him quite a bit. 🙂 That’s pretty funny about needing more closet space. I’ll need it too, and our closet is really tiny!

      Yay sewing!

  • amy
    hi! you visited my blog awhile back, and i wanted to say thanx, if i didn’t already. sorry you had so many poop out on the challenge after they initially seemed to commit…disappointing, i know. i knew better than to even think of commiting to something like this right now! i’m all for busting the stash; Lord knows i have enough fabric just sitting around, just isn’t the right time, unfortunately. wish it would have happened in the fall or something…when my hateful organic chem classes are over. i may go ahead and do this anyway once my time frees up a bit. well, have fun with it anyhow, and talk to you soon!
    take care!

    • Hi Debra! Maybe we’ll do another stash busting next fall, after we’ve all had time to stock-up again! 😉 I was happy to stop by and comment- I love that you turned your shirts in something you’d wear instead of sticking them in the back of your closet. Let me know if you decided to join in, and I’ll make a link to your blog, too. Thanks for saying hi!

  • If I hadn’t beat you to it and de-stashed in September 2011, I would have joined you–and I’ll bet my ginormous yarn stash would have been of a competitive weight! I too felt overwhelmed, stifled, suffocated, ashamed, worried, and any number of other negatives about the stash I had a accumulated and never had any hope of using up. I made three passes through my stash–each more ruthless than the other — loaded into my car and drove it to the nearest Goodwill drop off. I finished two scarves that weekend, and went on to continue FINISHING things, not accumulating materials. I am so lucky to have the wherewithal to acquire a stash, but am trying to avoid doing it again and I am mostly succeeding. It feels much better this way.

  • OK. Oops! I misunderstood–I didn’t USE up my stash, I got rid of my stash. But the emotional results were the same!

    • WOW- you really did get rid of it! I’m glad it had a liberating effect. Using up/getting rid of excess stuff always feels so good! By the way- your pups are adorable!