Saturday, 27 April 2013

{new} Fabric Fast: The First 4 months

When I first decided not to buy new fabric for the whole of this year, I expected to give you at least monthly updates about the state of my stash, what I've made, and how/if fasting from fabric shopping has affected or changed me. I hoped that it would be a great business decision, connecting me with more people and drawing interest to my blog and making.
But life has a way of throwing us curve balls. I never expected that by the end of April I would have closed up my shop and come back home without any clear long term vision or direction, except to make what I feel like and have more time for my family. And while the game has been uncomfortable, I'm slowly learning to lean into it rather than fight against it. And the growing freedom to just be without any ridiculous expectations on myself, is bringing a great peace.

What has surprised me:
My decision not to buy fabric has been far more personal than I expected. Taking out that whole portion of my life: the looking, adding things to favourites or online carts, imagining possible projects, culling back the list, buying, waiting for the mail, washing, folding, and putting away. It's all so FUN! But it not only took a considerable amount of the time I would give to sewing, it took my mind away from the things I already had. Treating my stash like a 'complete collection' has meant I've had to accept it for what it is (and it is wonderful!). I can make with what it can give me, and what I can't can wait for another day. This resting acceptance, I think, has given me more creativity and freedom to try new things, and this has been more fun for me than having the whole internet available for my choosing. It's also got me thinking about accepting my tiny house (and creating ways to make it more family friendly), my time (there's only so much you can do with 16 hours and a mother's energy!) and myself.

Saying goodbye.
That said, if I was buying fabric, I would buy bolts and bolts of Little Folks! I've so enjoyed using this Pastry Line (above) for binding, and it's all too quickly slipping away. In the top photo, I made a stack of hand-stitched voile and flannel quilts from this line and Anna Maria Horner's other flannels. I used a yard of each print and put them together into a quilt. They are soft and amazing, and they've sold really well, but it's a sure fire way to move through fabric quickly! Maybe there'll still be some left next year?

I have actually bought some fabric. I would have loved to have got the end of the year without a single purchase, but I still feel ok about the reasons I bought. When I was sick and away from the shop last month, I bought a couple of jelly rolls to play with while at home because my whole stash was in town and I didn't want to go in. I made the decision to buy something small and pre-cut so I could make something complete, to buy from an Australian seller, and to go on with the fast after that. Being able to keep with the 'spirit' of the Fast has helped me to feel good about doing it till the end of the year. I think if I hadn't given myself that freedom, I would have felt tempted to throw it in.

Then last week, I dropped into a local fabric store that was closing down and had 50% off everything. I was thinking I'd buy some seam rippers and thread. When I walked in the shop, it was so empty and depressing, and the store owner was talking to a friend, sounding so bitter and sad. The white thread and other things I had in mind were already gone, and suddenly I felt stuck. If I bought something, I felt like a vulture, if I didn't, I felt like I carried responsibility for not buying my fabric locally all this time. In the end I remembered people deliberating over my own closing down sale and decided to buy some fabric remnants that were near the counter and left. Once I walked out, I felt like I hadn't made the best decision, that I couldn't carry the weight of her loss (or poor business decisions). But it's done now, and I'll choose to enjoy using these new colours. :)

What I've made:
I think the thing that hasn't surprised me is that even 4 months in, I've hardly made a dent in my scrap stash. It's pretty amazing how far those little things will go! I have mostly spent the time making things that I had in mind when I first bought the fabric, like the quilts up the top. It's been a bit like fulfilling a promise, which has been a really wonderful experience. Soon though, I'll set myself free of that list and just start making my new ideas.
I've really only had the motivation to make quilts. I thought my Pinny fetish would return after the hundreds I made and sold in the shop around Christmas, but no. Not one little inkling to make clothes of any kind. And I'm enjoying the change.

I want to say that I don't have anything against buying fabric, or selling it. And there are some things I'm certainly looking forward to buying when the time comes. Quilt Home has a sale this week on Shelburne Falls and Anna Maria's new Linen line! Argh! But overall I'm very glad for my decision and would recommend it, even just for a month. And I'm hoping the the things I'm learning from it will stay with me beyond this year.

Jodi. xx


  1. It's so good to hear your thoughts and experience on this, Jodi. I think sometimes it's easy to forget what you have in pursuit of everything else out there. We miss a lot of contentment that way. I may have to consider a fast of my own...

  2. Jodi, I really enjoyed this post! I have been doing craft shows off and on, and selling fabric and crafts off and on on ebay, since 1977, and am disabled and thus "retired." I have the "habit of buying fabric -- based mostly on what other people will buy -- and now find myself with a diminished income, but the feeling that I 'should' be getting fabric...sigh...Your post really spoke to me! Now that I am sewing for me, and for my loved ones, I really do not NEED to add more fabric every month. Thanks for a thought provoking message!

  3. Jodi, I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and feelings. I suppose fabric buying is like so many other things in life - done in moderation it is fine. It becomes a problem when it gets excessive ( or obsessive). It is human nature to want something because everyone else is getting it (remember beanie babies?), but as long as you stay true to what is right and appropriate for you, all will be well! I wish you the best of luck and good health!

  4. I really enjoyed your post, Jodi :) I actually think making the most of what you've got often leads to more creativity :)

  5. I've been saving this post and catching up with your blog in general for a time when I could really enjoy it. This was a true and inspiring read. I am so happy to hear the feelings of peace and gratitude and even creative energy this fast has given you. Honestly, I'd totally be interested in doing this for 6 months or so (I already go whole months without buying fabric), but it's not appropriate for my business model. Someday, if/when my business changes, I will hold onto this gem of an idea. I like that it's not so much about saving money or using up as changing one's perspective and living with more grace.


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx