Tag Archive | store

COGS and COSTS

img_4652-1I was recently presented with the opportunity to sell some of my amigurumi’ s and children’s clothes and blankets at a farmer’s market. Most of the venders at the market were selling produce but there were a few craft vendors so I decided to join them. I would like to tell you about my selling experience and what I learned from selling my wares.

First off, I do not want to start a crafting or sewing business. Crocheting and sewing is my hobby. It’s what I do with my down time to relax. But, with that said, supplies are expensive. Yarn and fabric cost money. So, I decided that I could sell some of my amigurumi’s and children’s clothes to help pay for the supplies to make more.

img_4645I have thought several times before about selling some of the items that I have made, but every time I looked into the cost of doing so, I stopped there. I could set up an online Etsy store, but with the many amigurumi’s already being sold on Etsy, would I ever sell anything? Plus if I did sell something could I charge enough to make enough money to cover the cost of the store and shipping costs along with the cost of supplies to make the items? I could sell my items on eBay, but once again, after paying eBay and PayPal fees plus the cost of supplies would I make any money doing that?

Over the years, I have thought about selling some items at craft fairs, but once again, the cost of the booths stops me. When I asked how much a booth would cost at most craft shows, I was quoted between $75.00 and $125.00. That was too much for me. I did not believe that I would sell enough items to even cover the cost of the booth at those prices, let alone the cost of supplies.

img_5484You will notice that I never include the cost of my labor to make the items in my questions above. I learned long ago if you make around 50 cents an hour for your labor to make your crafts, you are doing quite well. Because of that I didn’t bother trying to include the labor portion of my cost of goods sold into the equations above.

When I talked to the manager of the farmer’s market, she said the cost would be $10.00 for the spot for the season plus 12% of my profits. That did not seem like too much to me, plus rather than laying out money up front, the cost was based on what I sold.

img_4647If I sold only a little, then they only got a little of what I sold. This sounded great, but, of course, there was a catch. I had to have my own tables and a canopy. I did not already have these things, so I would have to purchase them to be able sell at the farmer’s market. Luckily, I found both folding tables and a canopy on sale, but the cost was still about $100.00.

This initial startup cost almost stopped me from selling at the farmer’s market but after some thought, I decided that these were useful purchases, and could be used for other purposes other than for selling at the farmer’s market. Folding tables are always useful and nice to have on hand, and the canopy could be used in the back yard for holidays and family events. Plus, if I sold multiple weeks at the market, that $100.00 cost could be spread out over several weeks of selling.

img_4648Of course purchasing the tables and canopy was only the first step in getting ready to sell at the farmer’s market. Next, I had to figure out my COGS or the Cost Of the Goods I was selling, and then based on that number determine what I wanted to sell each item for. I decided to price my amigurumi’s based on size, complexity, and cost to replace the supplies to make the same amigurumi again. The clothes and blankets were harder to price but eventually, they were priced based on style, embroidery, and size.

Since this is my hobby, I did not calculate the cost of my time to make the amigurumi or the clothes. If I had added the cost of my time into the price, I would have priced myself out of the market and no one could have afforded what I was selling. So, luckily, I was not expecting a wage from my wares.

img_4649Selling at the farmer’s market was not easy or fun for me. I knew that I could not just sit on a chair by my tables of goods and people would walk by and throw money at me. I knew I had to sell my items which meant selling me, the creator.

Why would some one pay good money for what I had made?

I had to show and tell them why they would. I had to tell stories about my item’s creation. I had to express my love and concern that each of my amigurumi have a good home. I had to make small talk and entertain my potential customers and hope that my efforts were not in vain, and that someone would be interested and buy my goods.

img_4650This was very difficult for me. I had purposely over priced my items a little so that I could bargain a little with people, because everyone loves a deal! So, when it came time for people to get out some money to pay me or they seemed to not really be interested in what I was selling, I would offer them a lower price. This ended up not being a good selling practice, and it did cost me some money.

I really struggled with this, especially before I had made the first sell of the day, or when too many people had walked by without showing any interest in my goods. I can’t say that my selling techniques improved much over time, but luckily the husband was with me and he helped to keep me in check as well as to help with the selling of my items, especially on the rare occasion that I had multiple customers at the same time.

img_4651I learned very quickly that my amigurumi’s caught people’s attention and they would stop and look and sometimes buy, but that they had no interest in my handmade children’s clothing and baby blankets. In all the weeks that I sold at the farmer’s market, I only sold one blanket and one child’s shirt (which was sold at a deep discount).

I sold at the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks, and each week I sold a few items, but I decided that it was not for me. First, people did not come to the farmer’s market to buy a teddy bear or a little girl’s dress. They were there to spend their money on fresh tomatoes and peaches. What I was selling was an after thought for them. Next, I had to spend my precious days off selling my items at the market.

It was a full day event since I had to be there early enough to set up the canopy, tables and my goods before the market opened and I had to be there until the market closed. Then I had to carefully pack back up my goods and take down my tables and the canopy and haul it all back to the car. It ended up taking the whole day. The day off that I needed to take care of other things was spent trying to sell a few items. I was a little discouraged by this experience and did not think that I ever wanted to sell my items again.

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But wouldn’t you know it, opportunity knocked again…

I was asked to be the monthly featured artist at an art walk for one of the downtown stores in old town. It was just one evening for a couple of hours so I decided to do it. I arrived at the store an hour before the art walk started, and I set up my tables and displayed my wares on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was not really in the mood to sell to people, but I knew once again that if I wanted anyone to buy my items, I had to hawk my wares.

img_6541This time though, I did not cut any prices quickly and I did not care if I sold anything since there was no cost involved other than my time. At first, no one seemed to be interested in my items and I hadn’t sold a thing. After an hour or so, I commented to the husband that I doubted that I would sell anything this evening.

But shortly after I made my comment things started to change. More people started to arrive at the art walk and more people were interested in my amigurumi’s (Once again though, no one even looked at the children’s clothes and blankets. I did sell one child’s shirt, but this time not at a deep discount.)

img_6539I once again talked to the people who stopped to look and I sold my items, but this time I let them fall in love with my amigurumi’s and pay me my asking price. I did bargain with a few people but I felt better about these sales than I did at the farmer’s market. I believe it was because I had a better and more receptive audience for selling at the art walk. The people who had come to the art walk were interesting in seeing something fun and unique. Plus, I was much more relaxed about selling.

img_6540When the night was done, I had sold more in the couple of hours at the art walk than I had the several weeks at the farmer’s market. I felt better about the experience and I decided that I could sell my wares again but I would be very selective as to where and when.

But, before I can sell anymore amigurumi’s, I have got to get some more made. Between what I sold at the farmer’s market and what I sold at the art walk, my collection of amigurumi’s is now quite small. I would not feel comfortable doing another display of my wares until I get some more amigurumi’s made.

So, with that being said I had better get crocheting! Stay tuned to see what fun things I make next!

Until then, sew and crochet forth and sell on!

Buttoning It All Together

I need a bigger button box! cz4mwl6uy_m

 

Or do I?

My button box is currently full, right to the top. I can hardly close the lid on the darn thing!

So, it must be time to get a bigger box to store my buttons in right?

Or maybe it is just time to stop being lazy and sort and organize my current button box so that I have an easier time using what I already have.

While staring at all of the buttons that were just randomly and haphazardly tossed in my button box, I decided that a bigger button box was not the answer. What I needed was to take the time to sort and organize what was in my current button box.

DSCN4316Looking in my button box, I noticed right away that a lot of the space in the box was being taken up by the buttons packaging, mostly the cardboard cards the buttons were purchased on. So, my first step was to remove all of the buttons from the cards.

As I pulled the first buttons off a card, I thought to myself “This will take no time at all!” Boy was I wrong!

As I pulled more buttons off the cards, the staples holding the buttons to the card were staying attached to the buttons, not the cards. I did not want to store the staples attached to the buttons, and I did not want the staples to scratch the buttons while in the box. So, I started the long and tedious task of removing the staples from each of the buttons.

With the use of pliers, scissors and a staple remover, I slowly worked at removing the staples from the buttons. The husband was even given some buttons to remove the staples from. (That will teach him to walk into the sewing room and inquire what I was up to.) After a couple of hours and some sore fingers, I had all of the buttons removed from their cards and the packaging and all the staples and threads were removed.

DSCN4308Now that I had piles and piles of buttons all over the cutting table, it was time to sort and package them up more efficiently. I started by sorting my miscellaneous buttons from my button can. I matched the buttons from the can with the piles of buttons I had on the table. I was surprised how many single buttons from the can matched with one of the piles of buttons. Next, I retrieved my small jewelry zip lock baggies from the closet. I love these baggies. I use them all the time in my crafting and sewing so I keep them handy in a couple of different sizes. I placed each sorted pile of buttons in its own little zip lock baggie. Any single buttons without mates went back into the button can.

DSCN4317Now that I had several piles of buttons all stored in little baggies all over the cutting table, I started sorting the buttons by color. I was pretty liberal on what color the buttons were as I sorted, and soon I had just a few larger piles of buttons in little baggies of like colors sitting on the cutting table. These piles where then placed in larger quart or gallon ziplock bags to keep them further organized.

DSCN4320Looking at the large ziplock bags of buttons, I was pleased with the cleaning and sorting of my buttons. The large bags easily fit back into my current button box with some room to spare. I was very excited. I really like my current button box and I did not really want to replace it with a bigger one so this worked out great!

I have looked for buttons for a project a few times now since sorting my buttons into the bags and the new organization system has worked great. I merely pulled out the bag of buttons in the color I was looking for, then I quickly sorted through the little baggie inside to pick the exact buttons that I needed for my project. Through the clear bags I can easily see the buttons I have and how many of each of them I have, and since they are not attached to a card, the buttons can easily be placed on top of a project while still in the bags to see how they will look and match. Plus, this baggie system has been easy to keep organized as I add new buttons to my button box.

DSCN4315With the buttons finally sorted and back in the button box, I was ready for my next sewing room adventure!

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Down In The Southwest

DSCN4029Waste not, want not, but as you know there is more to it when it comes to fabric scraps and remnants. It’s the challenge of making something from nothing and the creativity of making it work that gets you to use those scraps and to buy those fabric remnants from the bargain bin at the fabric store.

It was this challenge and creativity that got me to begin my latest sewing project.

DSCN4027I saw this southwest print in a stack of discounted flat fold fabrics and I just fell in love with it. I love the bright colors on the black background and the fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. But, there was just a little over a yard left. What could I make from that? The fabric would be ideal for me a shirt, but could I figure out how to piece it together with other pieces of fabric to make me a shirt? Color blocking ideas swirled in my head so I quickly purchased the piece of southwest print fabric and brought it home!

DSCN4033With a color blocking design in mind, I dug through the stash and found several pieces of fabric that I could put together with the southwest print to make me a shirt, but the deep blood red piece that I found was by far my favorite. But, as I went to cut the shirt out, I noticed that the red piece of fabric was terribly flawed.

What was such a flawed piece of fabric even doing in the stash?

I returned to the stash to select a different piece of fabric to use with the southwest print but now I did not like any of my other choices. I thought about going back to the fabric store to look for more red fabric but I was too disappointed to go. I took another look at the flaws in the red fabric to see if I could work around them. How could I make it work the way it was? After much thought, I came up with a new color block design that should work, but I would have to cut the southwest print perpendicular to the grain line.

Would it be ok to cut against the grain?

DSCN4022After much studying and reading about grain lines, grain, cross grain, welt and warp threads, I decided that yes it would be ok to cut my fabric perpendicular to the grain line as long as I was careful to cut on the cross grain just as I would be careful to cut on the grain line. At this point after fully researching the issue, it was finally time to cut the fabric.

The cutting process started with tracing my pattern and then cutting out new pieces for the color blocking. This took time and thought. I had to decide where I wanted the seams to be, add some seam allowances and then reshape the armscye and hem. With the new pattern pieces created, it was time to cut. I carefully cut the front and back pieces perpendicular to the grain line from the southwest print and the I carefully placed and cut my new side pattern pieces and sleeves around the flaws of the red pieces of fabric. With the pieces all cut out, it was time to sew.

DSCN4023The sewing process was going along smoothly until I noticed the flaw of the red fabric in the center of one of the sleeves. I thought I had cut so carefully around the flaws but I guess that I had not. I had no more non-flawed red fabric to cut out another sleeve with. Could I just pretend the flaw was not there? No, I would never wear the shirt with the flawed sleeve. Hmm, I wondered. Could I cover up the flaw with a little embroidery? Yes, that would work!

I picked a lizard embroidery design and some bright colors to match the southwest print and embroidered the design on the sleeve to cover up the flaw and it worked great! You can still see the flaw, but your eye is now attracted to the embroidery design instead of the flaw so no one ever notices it. Showing the husband my embroidery solution, he suggested embroidering another lizard on the other sleeve to balance out the design. So, I picked some more bright colors and embroidered another lizard on the other arm. With the lizard designs embroidered on each sleeve, it did not take long to complete the hems and sew on some bright southwest looking buttons to complete the shirt.

DSCN4026I was a little apprehensive about wearing this shirt at first with its bright colors and it’s multiple embroidery designs, but it did not take long to fall in love with the shirt. It is a lot of fun to wear! The color blocking, bright colors, and the embroidered designs make it highly unique. This shirt also fits well. The alterations to the pattern for the color blocking did not affect the fit.

I am very pleased with this shirt and have already worn it several times. I am now excited to make more projects with lots of color blocking and embroidery designs but minus the flawed fabric.

Until then, sew forth and lizard on!

What About The Scraps? – Part One

DSCN2070I just love fabric! I love to hold it and feel it and measure it and imagine all the fun items that it could be made into. Then, I just love to fold it and hoard it in my stash until that special day when it finally is retrieved and made into something fun!

And that brings me to the age old question of “what to do with the scraps?”

After a project, should I fold up the scraps and return them to the stash or should they make their way to the donation box or the garbage? When I first started sewing, I saved every scrap, but over the years as the stash has grown in size, I have been more able to let go of and part with my scraps.

DSCN2071Now days, I evaluate my scraps based on a ranking system of importance.

1. Are there enough scraps left to make something with?

2. Did I enjoy working with the fabric?

3. How did the item wear when made from the fabric?

It was this evaluation that started my next sewing projects. DSCN2068

Left sitting on the cutting table were the scraps from my last few projects. I needed to clean off the table before I could cut out another project, so it was time to evaluate the scraps.

Large scraps were easily folded and returned back to the stash, but a couple of pieces were just not quite big enough to return to the stash. The first of these pieces was the scraps of purple and white knit left over from my last shirt.

The scraps were big enough to make something, so I did not want to just throw them away, and I enjoyed sewing with this fabric, plus my shirt has worn well, so I grabbed my Kwik-Sew books and I determined that I had enough scraps for a size 2 t-shirt with long sleeves. DSCN2072I already had the pattern traced, and in no time I had the pieces cut out and I was sewing them up.

To add a little something to this shirt, I top stitched the shoulder and sleeve seams. After sewing and serging these seams, I simple sewed the seam down from the top side of the shirt.

Looking at the results, I wish I had lengthened my stitches so it looked more decorative. I will do that next time. That was a good lesson learned.

IDSCN2069t was not hard to pick the Snoopy and Woodstock embroidery design for this little shirt. I worried that the embroidery design would be lost in the shell design of the shirt, but it did not once I had it stitched up. I think the embroidery design looks very cute and that it can easily be seen.

This little shirt was a fun and fast sewing project with fun results, plus the scraps were put to good use.

Hopefully, some little girl will enjoy wearing the shirt.

Stay tuned for the next scrap heap sewing project coming up soon.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!

To Live and Buy in LA

IMG_1659I Love LA!

The lights, the beaches, the entertainment, the movie stars, the glamor, the shopping! Oh yes the shopping!

Of course it was shopping in the fashion and garment district that in LA that I loved the most!

I recently journeyed to Los Angeles, CA to attend the 56th Annual Grammy Awards show and the Grammy’s Tribute to the Beatles show, and then the next day the husband took me to the LA Fashion/Garment district (LAFD) to do some fabric shopping. Wow! I was in heaven! Even with as many times that I have been to LA over the years, I just hadn’t previously made the time to go and see the downtown LA fashion district. I had done a little research before I went on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, so I had some idea of what I was in for, but it was still very overwhelming. The beautiful rolls of fur, satin, silk and lace that lined the streets in every direction for as far as the eye could see made my mouth drool and my head spin like a top. My creative mind swirled with idea after idea. I was ready to shop, ready to buy and ready to create something ASAP!

IMG_0002-1From my research I knew I wanted to go to Michael Levine’s, so I decided to start there. It was a fun store but it was a little disappointing to me from what I had heard about it. It was a nice fabric store and the prices were reasonable. You could find pretty much any sewing item you needed. But, for a bargain hunter/stash collector, this was not the place for me. So I next made my way across the street, and headed for Michael Levine’s Loft.

IMG_1715On my way to the Loft, I stopped at a shop that had $0.99/yd satins displayed outside. I needed some of these satins for some current projects that I was working on. And while I was purchasing several yards of several different pieces, I found a fabulous knit for the husband a shirt but I did not want to pay the $7/yd even though it was a big name designer fabric. The shop owner said he would go down to $6/yd and I’m sure I could have got him down to $5/yd, but I just could not pay that price for fabric to stash in the closet, so I past on this fabric and I am glad I did. Because in the LAFD you just never know what you might find if you look hard enough!

IMG_1722We made our way into the Loft, and I was in bargain paradise. All fabric at the Loft was in big card board boxes and you have to dumpster dive to see what there is. All the fabric in the Loft is sold by the pound for $2.50/lb. I dived right in to see what treasures I could find but after several boxes, I could see that the husband, although being a real trouper, was starting to waver, so I decided I was done. At least I thought I was until I just happened upon a scrap piece of the the $7/yd designer knit fabric from the other store.

Now the hunt was on!

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Even the husband got involved in the hunt at this point. After digging though several more boxes and finding a couple more scraps, and it was still not enough to make the husband a shirt, we decided to call it quits on the hunt. But as we started to leave, the husband spied the desired fabric in another box, and this was a big piece of more than 2 yards in length that would be enough for him a shirt. I ran and grabbed the scrap pieces, which were about 3/4 yd each, plus some snowman lace and some black satin lace for lining, and headed for the scales to check out. I now have a little over 3 lbs of fabric, about 7 yards in total for just $7.50! Or just slightly more than the price of 1 yard of the same fabric from the store down the street. I was so excited! Not only was I going to get a shirt for the husband, but I would still have plenty of scraps for all kinds of kid’s clothes, as well as the snowman lace and lining, which was so light that it was practically free!

IMG_1718After leaving the Loft we continued to make our way down the street, and as we did I touched so many different gorgeous fabrics along the way, especially fur in styles and colors I had never seen before. I had already purchased way more fabric than I needed, because I really didn’t need any, so I started to bemoan the storage of my purchases. Why had I picked up that snowman lace? What P1040004was I going to do with it besides have it live in a box?

But then the husband said, “Why don’t you put it over some velvet and make a Christmas dress for the little neighbor girl.” I don’t know if he had this brilliant idea before seeing the next store, or if the idea came to him beforehand, but the next store had some beautiful crushed velvet for $1.99/yd. I promptly purchased what they had left on a roll of black. This is going to be a beautiful Christmas dress for the little neighbor girl. I just need to get it made now, in between my other projects and before next Christmas rolls around.

IMG_1731At this point both I and the husband were getting tired, and the purchases that the husband was being a dear and carrying around seemed to be getting heavy. And even though we had only been on one street so far today, and only in a fraction of the many stores we had walked past, we were ready to call it quits, or at least that’s what I thought until I saw the next store with nothing but notions. As made our way across the street to go and see what the notion store had, we passed a shop selling fleece so of course I just had to stop there too.

Outside the fleece shop they were displaying all of the different sporting teams fleeces, so we stopped in really quick just to see what they had. The salesman told us it was $10/yd for the fleece. That was not a bad price for licensed prints. He then mentioned that inside, the fleeces, although not licensed prints, were $6/yd. That was a great price so I had to step in just to see. The entire wall was covered with rolls of fleece 4 and 5 rolls deep. There were so many different prints, dogs and baseballs and monkeys and princesses. I started to pick out everything that I wanted and then I stopped. $6/yd was a great price but was more than I wanted to pay for fabric just to live in the stash. Seeing that he was losing a sale, the salesman piped up that if I would purchase 20 yards of any print, he would sell it to me for just $2/yd.

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What?!? $2/yd?!? SOLD!

As I began to pick out all the different prints I wanted, I happened to glance over at the husband and saw a tear in his eye. He did not want to tell me no, but he was not sure how I was going to get 200 yards of fleece home or where in the stash 200 yards of fleece was going to live. And he was right. I really, really, really did not need any more fleece! I have barely sewn up any of the fleece that I already own and so I put the rolls of fleece back and we headed towards the notion store once again.

The notion store was great, full of thousands of buttons and threads and zippers and lace. I was very unprepared to shop at this store though. I have white zippers for sleepers but did I need pink or blue or yellow? I need separating zippers but what sizes and what colors? I use three buttons on every shirt I make for the husband but what color or size would I need next? What color of thread do I need for my next project? What is my next project? My head was still spinning and I was feeling faint. So, I purchased some various buttons in sizes and colors that I use often and we left.

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Finally totally exhausted we headed back to the car, but not without a stop for a world famous LA Bacon Dog on the way! If you haven’t ever had one, it’s a bacon wrapped hot dog with grilled peppers and onions usually cooked on a cookie sheet on top of a shopping cart scattered everywhere throughout LA’s downtown street corners.

In the end I had a wonderful first time shopping at LA’s garment district. And I plan to return there again some day soon. I can already hear the monkey fleece calling me back!

Second Try

P1030516As I said in a previous post, I was not 100% happy with the alterations to my sloper pattern after the wear test. And as I stated in that post, I decided to not just move on to the next sloper pattern, but to continue to alter this pattern to fine tune it some more and to make another shirt from it. So here is the shirt I made after altering my pattern yet again.

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The first alteration I made to the pattern before cutting out the shirt was to add 1/2 inch back to the side seams at the bust, but not at the hips. Next, I added the 1/2 inch back into the sleeve at the armscye but not at the hem line. I also lifted the armscye up just a little more. The last alteration was to raise the slit on each side of the shirt up by an inch. All of these alterations were to help make the shirt more comfortable while sitting.

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P1030521The fabric that I picked was one of those purchases that at the time was the cutest, greatest fabric I had ever seen but after living in a box for several years, just wasn’t quite as appealing when it came back out. I find it so funny when that happens. Fortunately, I remember buying this fabric and I did not pay that much for it, but I did buy a lot of it.

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The cutting and the sewing of the shirt went well. I used a different interfacing this time around and I had better results with it. I did not encounter the stiffness problem like I did with the last interfacing I used. I used some inexpensive buttons on this shirt so that if my alternations did not work out, I did not have much invested in the construction of it.

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P1030519After the shirt was all finished, the wear test was started. After wearing the shirt a couple of times, I have determined that my alterations are all good and working out well. This shirt is much more comfortable to wear when sitting than the last one was. There is now more room for my bust and hips when in sitting positions. Plus, the different interfacing did not interfere with the wear test. I see, though, after wearing this shirt that my next alteration needs to be with the length of the shirt. It needs to be shorter, and the button placements need to be adjusted.

Now looking at my original sloper pattern with all of the changes lying on my cutting table, I see that it is a mess. Not wanting to lose any of the alterations that I have made so far, and even though I want to make a couple of more alterations before I’m done with it, my next step will be to to retrace my sloper pattern with the alterations I’ve made up to now. After that I will make the alterations I want to the length and the button placement, and then make another shirt. If all goes well with the length and buttons alterations, I will retrace the pattern one last time and call that my final ‘altered button up the front, v-neck, no collar sloper’ pattern.

I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

P1020861With the sorting of all my fabric in the stash finally completed, it was time to start re-boxing it all back up. And I must say that I just hated to be putting all of my lovely fabric back into boxes. I was wishing as I was packing it back up that I had a way of displaying everything in my stash at once so I could see what I have without looking in the boxes. I could have bought the clear plastic totes to box up the stash in, but I am a frugal person at heart and I didn’t want to put out the money for them.

So, how else could I box my stash back up and yet still be able to see what I had in the boxes?

The answer was a simple one of course! A picture of the contents of the box, taped to the outside of the box, would let me see what I had in the box and yet the fabric would be safe and secure in storage inside it’s box. This also went hand in hand with the way I wanted the stash categorized for my needs.

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P1020916So my Organizational Categories that I came up with are as follows: Category 1 is Knits, solid colors, 2 yards or longer. And so in the first box I arranged 9 pieces of knit solid color 2 yards or longer fabric in the box. I had picked darker colors to go into this box. And since I had taken the time to pre-sort all of my fabrics as I unboxed them all, I knew that I had all of my pieces of this type of fabric together.

Once I was sure they would fit in the box ok, I then removed the 9 pieces of fabric and took a picture of them. I then re-boxed up the 9 pieces of fabric, and then I printed out the picture I took and labeled the box and picture 1a. Next I placed the picture in a plastic sheet protector and taped it to the front of the box so I could easily see it from the side as it was stacked with other boxes in the closet. Since I have many more pieces in this category, I repeated the process for the next box but labeled it 1b and so on with the next boxes of fabric.

Now when I decide that I want to make something that will require a piece of solid color knit fabric of more than 2 yards in length, I will only need to look at the photos on the boxes in the 1XX series to determine which box I need to open. And when I remove a piece of fabric from a box, I will pull the picture out of the plastic protector and mark out the fabric on the picture showing that it has been used and is no longer in the box. Also, if I need to condense boxes in the future, I can just retake the pictures for the the front of the box to show the boxes current inventory.

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P1020923Fortunately or unfortunately, depending who you are and how you think about it, I am not parting with very much of the fabric from my stash. I had started this project with the original intent of getting rid of quite a bit of the fabric that I would probably never use while I was organizing and categorizing it. But that didn’t end up happening.

While I was discussing my intentions with the husband, he asked why I wanted to part with any of my fabric that I had spent so long carefully curating, and he was right. Why would I? It isn’t like I didn’t have room to store it or anything like that. And each piece in the stash is a wanted piece of fabric that I was willing to give money for and was willing to store, sometimes for many years on end.

He wondered why I would part with these pieces only to end up going back out and purchasing them again in the end. I told him it was probably the thrill of the purchase, to which, he of course responded with some smart comment about charging me for each piece that I removed from the stash so I felt like I was getting nothing for my money. I promptly ignored his last comment, but I took his other comments to heart.

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P1020873Of course, there are always those pieces that you just adored back when you first purchased them and at the time knew just exactly what you wanted to make from them, but after aging in a box for awhile, they just don’t have the same appeal to you when you next see them. And all of those pieces have now departed the stash and are being sent to a local charity that makes things to sell at craft shows.

Also a lot of my older scraps that I had been storing are finally making their way to the garbage can. I view scraps quite differently now than I used to.

Previously I would always keep all my scraps, just in case, you never know, like aliens are landing on earth and the only thing that would save us is if I could make a rope from the tied together pieces of the scraps and we could climb down from the rooftop using the rope made from the scraps and we would be saved from certain destruction, and on and on. But after storing the scraps now for years, and just never really needing them, they are finally departing the stash.

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P1030024I remember the first time that I ever threw away the scraps from a project, it upset me greatly and I ended up retrieving the scraps from the garbage can, but I then found a bit of bravery and threw them away again. And I did not in the end ever miss or need them. It was all ok.

So, now it is time I have decided for the scraps in the stash to just go away. Now, bear in mind, that I am pretty conservative about what I consider to be scraps. If I can squeeze a baby sleeper or a size 6 month t-shirt out of a scrap, it’s not a scrap. Instead it is still a usable piece of fabric to me. So, the scraps I am parting with really are scraps. Two or three inches here, four of five inches there, etc, but even at that I even kept some or the cuter scraps for appliqués.

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P1020875As I am writing this I am still in the long process of re-boxing the stash. It is a very slow and painstaking process and so I am taking it slow. I wanted to get this sorting and boxing process done right this time, because I want the stash organized and under control for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to be able to easily and quickly find what I want, when I want it. So far it is looking good with my chosen categories and pictures. And I am excited to be done with the boxing and to start on my next project and to be able to find a piece of fabric from the stash without spending hours looking for it as I would have previously. My husband was nice enough to design me a small computer database of the categories and photos so that before I even head to the stash I can see an overview of everything I have without even leaving my sewing room. I have my fingers crossed that it will all work as I had planned. Here is to hoping that I am right!

Mother Dough – The Obsession Begins

When you make sourdough bread, you start with a piece of dough left over from the last unbaked loaf as a starter for the next loaf. This is called the mother dough. And when I was opening the boxes of the stash in my big ‘Fabric Stash Organization and Cleanup of 2013’ project, I have found the first piece of fabric that was ever placed in my stash. It is a piece of cotton, 2 yards in length, with tiny camels on it. It was the piece of fabric that started my fabric stash in the first place, or my mother dough as it were.

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P1020984When I was in college, I needed a job to pick up some extra cash to help pay for the expenses of going to school full time. And so, back in the day I found work at a discount fabric store named the $2 Fabric Store. My mom had taught me to sew when I was just a young girl and I had entered a few sewing projects as a member of my local 4H club. And now that I was a newly married bride, and a full time student and poor as a church mouse, I was trying to remember all that she had taught me as quickly as I could. I was doing this so that I could make some clothes for the husband,  and so we didn’t have to pay the outrageous clothing prices they wanted for clothes in his size at the local Big and Tall store. I understood the basic process of sewing and I had recently purchased some fabric and was in the process of making the husband a shirt from it, but I had not bought any more fabric than I needed to complete that project, and I only had the piece I was currently sewing together.

I of course knew about the obsession to buy and store extra fabric that people develop when they start sewing, but I certainly had not been swept up by it at that point in time. The other ladies that I worked with at the fabric store were quick to snag any new fabric that came in and caught their fancy, and I remembered my mother buying fabric to tuck into a box for later, so I did not find their behavior odd at the time, but it just wasn’t for me. Then one day while at work, some of the fabric had been marked down to just $0.50 a yard and the ladies were going nuts over it! It was at this time that I got caught up in the fabric purchasing frenzy and I bought this first 2 yard piece of fabric just to store away for later. And so I put my dollar in the register and took my purchase home. Even though at the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

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P1020986Purchasing the fabric was fun. I got a little kick from it and the ladies at work were so excited to see me purchase the fabric since I normally did not buy into their mania. So, I figured that the next time I saw a great deal that I just couldn’t pass up I would do it again. So, I soon spent another dollar and purchased another piece of fabric, this time 2 yards of cotton with panda bears skiing printed on it. It was just as much fun to purchase as the first piece of fabric was and the second piece of fabric was soon placed with the first piece.

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I quickly learned that fabric purchasing was highly addictive. I began to look at the other fabric in the store and think about what my next purchase would be. I started to agree with the other ladies that I just had to buy another piece that next payday. It was not long before the next payday came and I had purchased my next piece of fabric, 2 yards of purple and green plaid printed fleece. I loved the piece and wanted to make a shirt from it. I had even paid a whole one dollar per yard for it! Outrageous! This was the start. Now I had 3 pieces of fabric in my stash. I now had yardage of fabric on hand. I could make whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without going to the store and making a purchase first. And so it goes.

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P1020987And even now, somewhat ironically, I still have these original 3 pieces of fabric in my stash. I laughed when I came across them while I was sorting through my boxes. After 20+ years, these three pieces of fabric that I had originally purchased so long ago are still living in a box, sitting in the stash just waiting for their turn to be picked and made into something fun.

As I looked at these three pieces, I thought to myself, “What were you thinking? Especially that purple and green plaid fleece. It’s just awful.” Needless to say those three pieces quickly made their way to the depart with pile, but in the end I had pulled them back out. Doesn’t the little neighbor girl need a dress with camels or skiing panda on it? Plus the purple and green plaid isn’t that bad. I should make me the shirt I wanted, even if I never wear it, just to say that I have a shirt from the third piece of fabric from my stash that I purchased all so long ago. It’s all so nostalgic of course!

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P1020992Speaking of nostalgia, I found one more piece of fabric that brought back a million memories for me. This piece of beige cotton with fudgecicles printed on it is very old. It is the remnants from a blouse that my mother made for me for my first day of school in the first grade. I remember the blouse having elastic at the neckline and she also made me a pair of brown polyester pants to wear along with the the blouse. The final piece of the outfit was a matching purse from the brown polyester, lined with the fudgecicle fabric. The purse had a ruffle on the flap made from the fudgecicle fabric and a fudgecicle pocket on the front. I thought I was quite dashing in this ensemble at the time!

A few years ago, my mother was parting with this piece of fabric and I quickly took it from her. It needed to come home and live in my stash. Now as far as a piece of fabric goes, it is not a very high quality piece at all. It’s a very thin and loose weave, and it would not be the first fabric I would pick for a project. And I would not have bought it had I saw it at the store, but it still holds a lot of memories for me, so I keep it tucked away in the stash if for nothing more than nostalgia’s sake. I need to do something special with it, but I am not sure what that exactly is yet. So, for now, it continues to live in the stash to provide me with some fond memories of my childhood’s past.

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“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.”
― Ally Condie

Stash Busting

P1020833Since it is too early in the year to break my New Year’s Resolutions just yet, I decided to get started on my great stash cleanup of 2013. I knew that my goal was to get control over the stash and I had outlined a few broad steps to achieve this goal, but actually getting started and getting it done had started to become an issue for me.

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Where should I start?
What should I do first?

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I tried to come up with a plan of action to get the task completed, but in the end I was failing to get a working plan outlined. And I noticed that all my time was being spent trying to come up with a plan instead of actually doing something, so I finally just started opening up boxes to see what I had. As my husband always tells me: “Stop over thinking it! Just do it!”

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P1020839Seeing what surprises were discovered in each box worked great for about half a dozen boxes, until I noticed that I had fabric laying out everywhere in no particular order.

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I was becoming discouraged quickly. I needed some order.
Isn’t that was this goal was all about in the first place?

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So I gave some thought about how I had organized the stash in the past. Previously, I had boxed my fabric according to what I planned to sew with it. There was a box of fabric to make myself shirts, a box of fabric to make the husband shirts, a box of baby prints for sleepers and such, a box of scraps, and so on. This worked out for me for many years, but I noticed that this type of organization system failed when there became more than one box with the same label. Now that there are 5 boxes of fabric all labeled as shirts for the husband, I could no longer remember what was in each box. Plus as the stash grew a number of boxes P1020836were labeled mixed fabric. This was really of no help and I had no clue at all as to what was in these boxes. I also had knits in with rayons in with cottons which was fine when there were only two to three pieces of each, but now that there is, well, let’s just say much more of everything, this had become problem too. Another problem was the yardage or size of each piece of fabric. The stash is just an accumulation of yardage I have bought, fabric Mom has given me, pieces of odd sizes purchased from discount bins and at thrift stores, and scraps, some that are more usable than others. So, in the box marked ‘Husband Shirts’ there might be a 3 yard piece of knit I purchased, a 1.5 yard piece of cotton that Mom gave me (not enough for a shirt for the husbands size, but it could be pieced together with something else for say a bowling shirt), and a 5 yard piece of rayon Hawaiian print purchased on sale for that fantastic vacation shirt I am going to make him some day, plus smaller scraps to piece together with the smaller pieces. Previous to this reorganization, when I wanted to make the husband a new shirt and I would open one of his boxes, and then I would end up spending way too much time sorting through the fabric to find what I wanted. It use to be I just saw two or three options, could pick one and get the sewing process started.

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P1020834With these thoughts in mind and seeing an vast array of fabric pieces before me, the plan to organize my fabric started to fall into place in my mind. I have come up with 30 categories to sort and box my fabric into. For example, 2 yards or more knit solid colors, 2 yards or less knit solid colors, 2 yards or more cotton prints, 2 yards or less cotton prints and so on. This way when I want to make something like the little neighbor girl a dress, I will know to look in the box labeled 2 yards or less cotton prints. I think this will work and since I will not be adding anymore fabric to the stash in the near future, nod nod wink wink, there should not be anymore mixed fabric boxes or boxes I have no idea what is in to slow me down. And say on the off chance that I do add a new piece to the stash (over the husband’s dead body), I can then put it in the appropriate box to find it easily later.

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Now that I had a workable organization plan in place, I began to sort the fabric from the boxes I had already opened. And I am now ready to open more of my boxes to see all the gorgeous fabric that I have, and then get it all sorted into its appropriate piles for later placement into the appropriate boxes.