Late Summer Fabric Stash Additions

At the very end of summer I found myself at the local discount fabric store (not looking for fabric for myself–how often have you heard that?). As often happens when I’m looking for fabric, I found some that just absolutely needed to come home with me.

The top fabric is a lovely woven cotton plaid. It’s quite creamy, as the next photo shows. I’m considering making it into something mid-19th century someday and bought enough yardage to accommodate that idea.

The lower fabric is a cotton print that looks perfect for a Regency dress! I’ve been wanting a yellow on white cotton for at least a year, but hadn’t found just the right one in a price I wanted. The only downsides about this one are that it’s not block printed and that the weight is a quilting cotton rather than a lawn or voile. But I liked the colors, motif, and price enough to buy it. I finished off the bolt on this one! Whew! I’m glad there was enough for my Regency dress idea.

Neither of these ideas has any particular timeline (so don’t expect to see these fabrics again soon), but it was fun to share these with you before stashing them away!

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Spring & Summer Fabric Stash Additions: Stripes & Patterns

For most of this year, I’ve had a dress in mind that I want to build for an event in August. I’ve been on the hunt for just the right striped fabric for it for a few months, but really hadn’t found anything that was just right. I was shopping for another fabric and saw that Farmhouse Fabrics had a large section of stripes… I had to come back and look through them!

‘Danger!’ Should have been posted somewhere, because I wound up purchasing three different striped cotton fabrics instead of just the one I’d been looking for!

I have solid plans for all three fabrics, which somewhat justifies their purchase. The green seersucker I plan to make a modern dress out of, most likely with a circle skirt. The cotton candy stripe, as I call it, I’m planning to also use for a modern dress based on New Look #6143. The yellow stripe is intended for McCall’s #7153, a 1933 Archive Collection pattern.

I also came across (yes, I promise, I wasn’t intentionally looking for these either!) two interesting patterned fabrics this spring.

The one on the left is a rayon from Joann’s (and in looking for the link I see they’ve got a whole bunch of lovely looking new rayon prints–more danger!). It’s great that they’ve got a wider variety of fiber contents lately. I think it will make an interesting Henrietta Maria. Leimomi posted one awhile ago that I loved and this fabric reminds me of it a little.

The fabric on the right was super discounted at a local store (though I’ve seen at regular price at another store, so I definitely got a deal). It’s a lovely cotton lawn that I think will make an interesting 1920s day dress. I’ve got lots of evening gowns but my daywear options are somewhat limited. It will be fun to have new 1920s daywear! In fact, I’ve already started making a dress with the cotton lawn! I’ve been posting progress pictures of it on my Instagram account. Check it out!

Oh, I also came across remnants of seafoam green silk taffeta for a bargain price that I also bought, though I don’t have a picture or a specific project in mind for that. It’s hard to pass up silk taffeta even when there is no project in mind, because if you go on a hunt for a specific color you can’t usually find it at a bargain price.

I’m looking forward to putting these new fabric projects high enough on the to-do list to actually accomplish them!

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June Fabric Stash Additions

Twice recently I’ve wound up at the local low-priced fabric store not needing fabric, but finding fabric that I knew wouldn’t be there if I went looking for it again in the future. Those trips resulted in three new dress lengths of fabrics for the stash.

The first two were from the first trip, when a friend and I stopped by the fabric store so she could get some supplies… I didn’t need anything…

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Fabrics 1 and 2: rayon velvet and good imitation silk

But I bought the gorgeous burgundy rayon velvet specifically to make an 1830s evening gown I’ve been thinking of for the last year or so. It’s nice and lightweight and won’t weigh down the silhouette!

And the icy pink shot imitation silk I also purchased. I’ve used this fabric in other colors in the past multiple times, in my 1813 Regency dress and my 1811 Regency dress. It’s a little poofy, but looks like silk. I also have it in gold, which has been sitting in my stash for a few years. I have no current plans for this fabric, but I finished off the bolt so I have enough to make a dress from just about any decade in the 19th century I eventually decide on.

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Fabrics 3 and 4: very slightly slubbed silk and figured purple lightweight silk

The lovely pumpkin silk is a color I’ve been dreaming of having a dress made out of, but it’s one of those colors you don’t often find. I carried it around the store for probably an hour before purchasing it. I’ve thought specifically of an 1820s dress, but really this color could be used for many decades in the 19th century. I also finished off the bolt on this one with hopefully enough yardage for any project I eventually decide on.

In addition, I found a lovely figured silk online at Blackbird Fabrics that I also knew was a fabric I wouldn’t find if I went looking for something similar in the future. That’s how fabric shopping often is, at least near me. You have to buy great things when you see them because if you go looking for specific and similar things you’ll likely not find them. Is it like that near where you live?

The purple color is so very 2nd-half-of-the-19th-century-chemically-dyed and it’s figured. It’s hard to find good silks these days for a reasonable price that aren’t just solid. I’m eventually planning a new 1890s gown, though who knows when. Maybe when another 1890s ball pops up on my calendar?

For now I need to get back to using up stash fabrics for my summer projects instead of adding to the stash!

How I Organize My Fabric Stash

As with most people who have a sewing professional life or sewing hobby, I have a collection of fabrics, patterns, and books. Today I thought I’d share my fabric stash organization with you.

As I designed my system, it was important that my fabrics by organized in a way that was easy to access and maintain. I also wanted to know what I have without needing to physically dig through a box to see the yardage. Here is a pictorial walk through the bulk of my storage:

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Fabrics are stored in plastic boxes. There’s more fabrics than will fit in the boxes I currently have, so you can see that there are bags piled on top as well, but even the bags are organized! I have some other boxes as well, but this is most of them.
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The boxes have folded fabrics stacked inside. Fabrics are organized by fiber content. There is a post-it inside each box telling me what categories that box contains.
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The boxes are in a corner, so there is a space behind them for more things! (You can also see some of the fabrics stashed on top of the boxes here, like the reproduction cottons on bolts poking out on the left.)
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I also have some fabrics on rolls. These stand against the wall.
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The area between the boxes in the corner is where I keep items I access less frequently, such as lace and trims. These are organized by type in large plastic bags. The large plastic bags are all contained in one large shopping bag.
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Also in the corner are my millinery flowers. I’ve had multiple opportunities to purchase large numbers of vintage millinery flowers at super cheap prices, so I have lots of them. These only scratch the surface! The flowers are organized by type (if I have tons of the same exact flowers) or color in plastic bags, which are then either contained in plastic boxes or shopping bags (once I ran out of plastic box space!).

When I first made this system, I tried to remember what was in each box. (I don’t label them on the outside.*) As I went along though, opening multiple boxes to jar my memory just wasn’t working out. So I simply wrote a list of which boxes have which categories and stuck it in the front of my swatch book.

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My cheat-sheet box content list.

Ah ha, but I haven’t mentioned my swatch book yet! This is probably the best organizational part of my stash organization. My swatch book is a binder full of information on every fabric and trim that I own (or most of them… sometimes new ones take a bit to make it into the binder). I just add pages as needed to each section as I log new fabrics and trims.

The binder is organized by fiber content for fabric and then by type when it gets to lace and trim. Each item has the following information:

  • A swatch of that fabric or trim
  • A description
  • The yardage I currently own
  • The width of the fabric or trim
  • Where I purchased it and the year (if I can remember)
  • Extra notes
  • And I’ve started adding price paid per yard, though for older items I generally just can’t remember and haven’t gone through my records to figure it out (though I do keep receipts and records of these things)

The random blue and pink post-it bits are marking the pages where I’ve removed one of the fabrics from my stash and brought it home to work on a project. That way I can keep track of what is in boxes and what is at home.

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Page one of the silk section.
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One of the lace pages.

It’s quite a great system, because I can take my binder home with me to consider options and ideas without having to drag out fabric yardage. I can also see at a glance if I have enough of a fabric or trim for a project without having to measure. It did take some time to set this up, measuring everything and taking swatches, but now that it is set up it is very easy to maintain. Even if I stored everything in an easily accessible location I would still appreciate my swatch book system!

*I store all this in my office at work. The room is actually a converted star dressing room, so my desk is a makeup counter. Unlike most offices, where boxes of fabric might be obvious, out of place, or unacceptable, my office is essentially a fabric/trim/jewelry/accessory storage closet even without my personal items, so more boxes and more fabric aren’t out of the ordinary at all, and since it’s technically my office I can store whatever I want in there. Also, I spend very little time in my office and hardly ever do work in there, so lots of space devoted to even more fabric, etc. is not a big deal.) Also, because my “office” is a general storage space with labeled boxes that other people are allowed to access, I choose not to label my personal boxes to make it clear that no one should be digging through them. That’s also why the boxes are opaque.

Fabric Stash Addition: Silk Plaid

Well, I went to the fabric store today looking for fabrics to cover some gifted pillow forms to grace our newly redecorated rooms (they’re still not quite done after two weeks of work, but hopefully soon they’ll be done and I’ll have pictures!). I found some truly horrendous fabrics like the one below… (don’t worry! I didn’t buy it. I can only imagine this being in a farmhouse kitchen and even then I wonder about all the mixed motifs…)

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Roosters, and damask motifs, and sunflowers, and gingham, and words…

I did find a few pillow possibilities that I liked, but they all had oatmeal/neutral backgrounds that would not look good in our space, so I didn’t purchase any of those. (I’ve got more places to check out, so I’m not concerned on that front, yet.)

And I did look through the silks, as I always do. Danger!!!! I found lovely plaid smooth silk taffeta (no slubs, hooray!) and it just wanted to come home with me to be made into an 1850s/60s evening gown. I finished off the bolt, which was just under 7 yards. Hopefully enough to make a skirt, possibly both day and evening bodices, and also maybe self trim. Someday (maybe next year?).

A very kind and enabling friend who happened to be with me helped convince me that the silk was a good idea. So in the grand tradition of all my 1850s/60s gowns which have names, when I get around to building the new plaid one I affectionally plan to name the new gown “Johanna” after her. It’s actually a bit more subdued in person. More of a “bruise palette” collection of colors than my usual jewel tones, but “bruise palette” is Johanna’s go to for color choices, so that is perfect. And it’s patterned, which is in keeping with my need to add more patterns to my wardrobe. I think I’ll play up the purple in this rather than the green, since I already have a green 1860s ball gown.

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Fabric! (Because obviously I don’t have enough of it in my stash or enough to accomplish in my life right now…)

A Lot Of Wool: October Fabric Stash Additions

I really should post about my 9 Month Sewing Plan before posting about the additions I might have added to it (cough, cough). But oh well… These fabrics are exciting so I don’t want to wait!

The first fabric stash addition is 2 yards of Waverly Mineral Felicite. I was interested in the Curtain- Along created by  Jen of Festive Attyre, but I wasn’t inspired enough by the three Waverly curtain colors (Cream, Noir, and Crimson) to actually hop on the train (and I didn’t want to make something super similar to what other people are making). But then I started researching other color ways online and fell in love with the Mineral Felicite at onlinefabricstore.net. You can see my Pinterest board of various color ways here. The board also includes some other similar fabrics. I haven’t done all my research yet so I can only generally say that I’m planning to make a 1780s jacket out of this fabric. (And possibly something else, because 2 yards of this fabric is actually quite a lot!)

My next fabric stash addition has two parts. The first is plain weave creamy yellow silk that I bought a few months ago when buying the whole giant mound of fabric that is for my 9 Month Sewing Plan. I bought a few sections of it from the remnant table for just $6 a yard! I love prices like that! It had no definite plans, until… I was starting to near completion of my current hand sewing project and started thinking (which is almost always dangerous!) about what to hand sew next. I’ve been contemplating an 18th century quilted petticoat for about a year, but never had a real need and considered it to be overwhelming. But now the idea is sticking… and I’m planning to hand quilt a petticoat sometime in the foreseeable future! I mean, I hand piece and quilt queen size quilts, and if I can do that, I think I can tackle a petticoat. In fact, I think a queen size quilt is actually bigger… The second part of this, and the recent stash addition, is a plain weave cream colored wool to back the petticoat with (only $5 a yard!). You can see both of the fabrics in the top photo. To the right you can see the wool by itself. I’m excited… It’s going to be really amazing!

While looking at the wool wall for the petticoat backing I stumbled upon this wonderful wool plaid. There were only about 1 1/2 yards left on the bolt and it was $8 a yard, but I loved it and couldn’t let it go, even though I had no idea what I would do with it. It’s really lovely and thick, and a little fuzzy and soft, and not itchy. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s forest green, plum purple, dark tan, and light beige. The repeat is pretty big (I didn’t measure it, but I’d guess about 6″). After taking down this bolt, I stopped at the wool remnant table… where wool was only $3 a yard! Really nice wool! There were about ten 1-2 yard pieces of that slightly fuzzy beige wool in the picture… and I might have bought all of them! I have visions of using some of them, with the plaid, to make a bustle dress either from the 1870s or 1880s (with a train!!!). I’m still open to inspiration for this fabric, though, so who knows what else I will come up with? Does it strike you as anything in particular? I also have visions of maybe using the beige wool for an 18th century cloak, and a modern skirt, and probably other things… I have a lot of it. Whee!

I also found, at the wool remnant table, two similar but different dark blue wools. There were two pieces of each, all under 1 1/2 yards in length (and I did have to dig through a lot of blue wool, analyzing the selvedge edges of each to make sure I found matches, before I was successful). One of the two blues will be used to make a 1780s petticoat. The other… I don’t know. Maybe a cloak, instead of the beige wool? Blue cloaks were more common than brown in the 18th century, I believe. And I’m not sure that the beige is the right shade of brown, anyway. I have more research to do on that before I make a decision. One of the blues is more purple-y than that other (and I think I do like that one best!) but I’m not sure if it’s too purple-y for the 18th century. Although if they are not next to each other they just look navy and are almost impossible to tell apart, so I’m not sure it matters. On the left is another view of the same fabrics.

Well, as you can see, I was sort of struck by an 18th century inspiration… so most of these new additions relate to new 18th century projects. Yikes, I had better go sew, or my stack of to-be-used fabric might just envelop me!