by Judy Baum
“Stash [prob. a blend of store & cache] to put away in a secret or safe place, as
for future use – n. [slang] 1. a place for hiding things2. something hidden away”
That’s the definition of the word stash from my Webster’s New World Dictionary. Are you wondering why I felt I needed to know a clear and decisive meaning of the word? For one thing, being a baby boomer, ‘stash’ to me has a completely different connotation than that in the sewing world, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was writing about. I have a small confession to make: I don’t sew. (Oh, but it feels good to have that out in the open for everyone to see. You can’t believe the looks I get from people when they hear I work for Christine and, horror of horrors, I’m not a sewer…but that sounds like another article).
Let me get back to what I’ve observed in talking stash with sewers. I’ve found that almost a physical transformation happens to seemingly normal people when they start talking stash (remember, these seemingly normal people are sewers). A big smile spreads across their face, eyes begin to sparkle, and the mouth opens with stash stories pouring forth uncontrollably. Everything from “I just moved my daughter into the smaller bedroom because I needed more room for my sewing” (right, we all know what that means) to “Yes, I have a stash, you want to make something of it?” (this is said usually after the spouse cracks wise) or “I don’t know why I’m buying this; I could open my own store with what I have already, but the fabrics in this collections are so wonderful” (Christine likes to hear that one) to “it’s just an efficient way to save money—by having everything on hand, you eliminate those extra trips to the store that waste precious time, energy, and gas and just let the creative sewing process begin.” One lady in Georgia asked me to hold off shipping her order for a few days because “her son was in town to do some turkey hunting and she just didn’t want to be razzed by him when the order arrived” (I’d say it’s a safe bet that this is a stash household).
Your studio, sewing room, extra bedroom, basement, upstairs, downstairs, under the stairs could all be stash spots. We even know of a woman who has converted her garage into a sewing area; but the one thing these places all have in common: they are hideouts for the stash. Are your closets, cabinets, and drawers all full of stash? And don’t forget to check those plastic bins that are stacked to the ceiling. Whether you’re an old hand at sewing or new to the craft, I’ll wager somewhere in your sewing work area is the beginnings of a stash.
Sewing down your stash
by Ann Siegle
Sewing down your stash can be a problem, especially if you're a sewist who buys fabric with 'something in mind' - the problem is, unless you're willing to transfer that idea of what that fabric should be, to something else it could be, you'll keep accumulating stash!
- Once a quarter, sit in your closet and evaluate your wardrobe
- See if there are things you don't wear because you don't have something to wear with them
- Ask yourself if there are gaps in your wardrobe for your current lifestyle (aka, it's summer, you need shorts and skirts, or your workplace is more casual, you need more casual work clothes)
- Take those garments with you to your stash
- Pick out three fabrics that work well with that garment
- Pick out three sewing patterns that work well with that fabric AND that match your current lifestyle need. Sewing a fancy dress (unless you have a fancy-dress event coming up) does not do your wardrobe any good
- Commit to sewing those three items in the next 45 days by breaking each pattern into a series of 15-minute steps (laying out your fabric and cutting might take two 15-minute sessions.)
- Map out each 15 minute step and assign it to a day (on your calendar application). Set a reminder in your phone
- Sew for just those 15 minutes (unless you really want to continue on) and no more, on the day and time assigned
- Enjoy a refreshed wardrobe that works, a stash that is reduced and a feeling of accomplishment!