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Five Rules for Stashing or Trashing Your Fabric

Are you a fabric stasher or a fabric pitcher?

We adore fabric stashers here at Mood, because they love to buy and own fabric. Fabric stashaholics, we are here to enable you! Feel free to skip the rest of this blog post if you fall into the stashing camp. Read on if you'd like some helpful guidelines on when to pitch or donate your unused fabric:

1. Save your fabric if you have enough to cut contrast facings from it. A nice RTW touch is sewing facings out of a contrasting print or solid fabric. I just used a cotton voile print from my stash to sew a facing for this blouse I recently made: Photo1-2

2. Save your fabric if you have enough to cut lightweight bias strips from it. Couture sewers swear by bias strips for Hong Kong seams, neck and arm finishings, piping, and more.

photo from BurdaStyle photo from BurdaStyle

3. Save your fabric if you have enough for pocket linings. Especially if it's a satin or heavier silk fabric. But only if you actually make things with pockets.

4. Save your fabric if it would make an interesting contrast piece to a future garment. I hang on to fabrics that are metallic or have a cool texture, because they often make such great additions to the garments I'm working on. For example, I used some leftover gold-textured brocade to add an exterior facing to a tunic I made a few years ago, and it totally makes the garment. Sometimes turning leftover metallic fabric into piping can add a designer touch to a dress or jacket. For spring and summer sewing, white cotton piques can add a preppy touch to a dress or top.

tunic008a 5. Save your fabric if it's a solid-colored silk or other better quality, solid-colored fabric that isn't too heavy in weight. You can always use good-quality, solid-colored fabric at some point or other, for linings, facings, bias trim, etc. Some prints, on the other hand, aren't so timeless and can become dated-looking. Allow yourself to part ways with print fabrics unless you've absolutely convinced yourself that you will one day make something out of them.

Every spring I go through my fabric bins and then donate anything that doesn't meet the above criteria to a local charity's annual yard sale. Mood Fabrics gives its leftovers to Materials For The Arts, New York's leading reuse center. MFTA provides a way for companies like Mood to donate goods to thousands of nonprofit organizations with arts programming and to public schools.

What are your guidelines for stashing and trashing fabric? Leave a comment here and let us know your rules of thumb, or who/what you give your leftover fabric to. We'd love to hear your opinions on this topic.

6 thoughts on “Five Rules for Stashing or Trashing Your Fabric”

  • MB@YarnUiPhoneApp

    I was writing about this issue on my blog recently. My rule-of-left-thumb (I'm a southpaw) is to hang on to pretty pieces that are large enough for a yoke. Wide horizontal chunks of fabric can be flatlocked into a large piece of fabric which can in turn be cut into a bodice, sleeve, etc.

  • Kristen

    I'll also hang onto things that I can use for muslins, especially if they're an unusual weight or a knit. I've got a couple of polyester knits that I wouldn't ever want to wear as garments, but they're a decent choice to test a knit make before I cut into my real fabric. At least, they're decent as long as they're similar in stretch, etc.

  • Bunny

    I have a milk glass bowl full of bias binding cut from leftovers. They are all wound on empty thread spools and it looks cute. Whenever I am done cutting out a pattern I put the scraps in a pile. When the garment is completely done I will cut bias bindings from the leftovers. Other pieces will be recycled to my granddaughter's dolly clothes box.

  • Sarah Gunn

    Great ideas for those scraps of fabric I can't part with!

  • Olivia

    As if I needed more reasons to stash!! I'm a quilter as well as a garmet sewer, so my rule for quilting fabric is 2.5" squares for a (not-so-distant) future true scrap quilt. I'm teaching my girls hand sewing, so they love scraps of any size to practice on.

  • Meredith P

    Great tips from article and commentors. Thanks!

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