To an artsy or craftsy person, a stash is as a pantry is to cooks--a storehouse of raw materials out of which you produce your creations. Personally, I have a sewing stash, a beading stash and a knitting stash. Last weekend, in my efforts to de-clutter and streamline my life, I tackled the sewing stash.
Apparently, I'd been deluding myself about the size of my fabric stash. I have this wooden chest that, in my mind, was where my fabric stash lived. And that was kind of true--the chest was, in fact, full of fabric. But there were also random cuts of fabric in other places--a shopping bag in the closet, a FedEx box on a shelf, etc. These pieces had somehow ended up in a holding pattern, like a pre-stash staging area. Some still had prices or labels pinned to them, and thus hadn't been washed or pre-shrunk and thus weren't technically ready to use and thus hadn't yet moved into the stash chest and thus didn't count as stash...yes, this does sound like a massive loophole and yes, I told you I'd been deluding myself.
So, step one was to wash/dry/pre-shrink all of this vagrant fabric--eight cuts in all, totalling somewhere between 11 and 16 yards, enough for at least five garments. That's a lot of stash to have been floating in limbo.
With all of this former pre-stash ready to join the rest of its brethren in the chest, I had to face the next problem: if I really wanted all of my stash to live in that chest, some would have to go. I discovered five sewing projects that had been stalled or abandoned. Taking a hard look at these, I determined that four of the five could be saved. The other one I realized I no longer cared about and didn't feel sad about officially surrendering. From elsewhere in the chest, I put together a bag of remnants to give to a friend who quilts, along with some yardage I'd had literally for ten years without ever figuring out a plan for it, as well as some what-was-I-thinking pieces.
Now I can honestly say that this filled-to-the-top wooden chest contains my entire fabric stash. Some of you with a hardcore sewing habit are surely looking at this and thinking what a puny stash this is compared to your stash closet/stash room/stash wing of your house, but that's okay. I now know what all I have and where it all is, and I like all of it. Plus, there's now empty closet and shelf space formerly occupied by pre-stash fabric. Perhaps most importantly: fabric is squishy! I've managed to cram a LOT of fabric into this chest. If I didn't buy any more for several years, there would be plenty here to keep me busy. Of course, I'm sure I will buy more fabric. But THERE WILL BE NO MORE PRE-STASH STAGING AREA: I'll be trying very hard not to obtain more stash until some of what's in the chest has been sewn up to make room for new stash. If I make this vow in front of you all here, maybe I'll actually keep it. :)