Ask: 2/7/11

What do you tend to hoard more of: patterns or fabric? How do you keep your stash under control?


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I hoard more on fabrics, I can’t help getting a couple of yards from the fabric store even if I only go to purchase pins. I recently organized all of them, took photos with my Iphone, did the same with my patterns, and have them in a apps called Sewing Kit. Now every time I go out to buy something for a sewing project I have all the information with me. Oh! and I also have my projects photos in the same app. It’s great!

  2. Hmm…. It’s a bit of a toss up, but if I were to count fabric versus patterns in my stash, patterns would win hands-down! I tend to buy a lot more of those than I do fabric (they take up less room! ;) and therefore don’t sew with as many of them as I’d like… :( At this point, I keep most of my patterns in one of three boxes; two hold all my vintage and repro patterns, and the third is my own designs plus modern patterns. I actually need to reorganize everything because it’s outgrowing the storage I currently have and getting messy again! :p
    ♥ Casey

  3. I definitely stash patterns more – but I work in a pattern archive, which doesn’t help. I think it really is more that patterns can be bought very cheaply off Ebay whereas fabric you need such and such an amount to justify it and since I don’t live near any cool antiques fairs/flea markets my closest fabric option is Jo-Anns. I think I only have a fabric stash at all because I do buy fabric to match a pattern, but I can’t sew them up fast enough!

  4. I certainly have more patterns, but my large stash of fabric takes up much more room. Hoping to sew through some of it this spring and get it down to a more reasonable size. It’s fun to peruse patterns on eBay. You actually have to leave the house for fabric if you want to be sure of what you’re getting. :)

  5. Patterns. Definitely. I barely have a fabric stash started. But, I have hundreds of patterns, some that I’ll probably never get to.

  6. oh my goodness, is there an equal? that’s what my husband just told me when i asked him. oops

  7. My stash is about evenly divided between patterns I know I want to sew one day and fabric I bought or inherited that I plan to use one day on some as-yet-unidentified projects. It skews a bit more towards patterns, though, at this point because so many good ones have been released the past few years. Plus all the patterns I bought with good intentions but now wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole, or vintage patterns I inherited that I probably won’t do anything with.

  8. Fabric! Especially vintage fabric.. I feel like it’s a ‘now-or-never’ buying decision, and ‘now’ usually wins!

  9. That’s a tough one! Ummm, both? At this point, I only buy fabric with a specific purpose in mind but sometimes it will take me a while to get to the project. For patterns, I tend to hoard patterns that have different style lines even if I’m not crazy about the overall design. So, if I’m in love with, say, the collar the pattern stays even if I have no idea what I’m going to do with it (right now). :)

  10. Fabric I buy on an absolute whim. Patterns I tend to think more carefully about what I buy – however I do have nearly every Burda going back to 1992 (give or take a few) so I guess you could say that the patterns win out.

  11. It used to be fabric, but now I’m tending more towards patterns (maybe to use up all that fabric?) My patterns are sorted neatly in a nice storage box, my fabric is squished into a cupboard, under the bed, on top of the wardrobe, in the loft…

  12. Generally fabric, I get seduced mainly by patterns and bright colours, and then I HAVE to buy it! I do however have a massive stash of patterns as I had a slow month at work a few months ago and bought over 100 patterns off ebay.. (some were in bulk lots so I sold a fair few of them back again! but still!) I’m trying to be a bit more restrained now!

  13. i used to hoard more patterns, which was easier for me! i keep them all organized in boxes by decade. then from there sort them out further by separates, undies, outerwear, dresses, etc… i could pick up a fabric and then sort through some boxes and be ready to go!
    …but then i started buying more and more fabric and now i take soooo long to match up a fabric with a pattern i drive myself crazy!

  14. I hoard more of fabrics! I am totally frantic about buying fabrics with prints or texture that literraly call me from the stalls. While I buy pattern only when I know that I will indeed sew something.
    My stash is underneath our bed…I won’t be possible to keep it that way for ever…

  15. FABRICS! Now, I write that in all-caps for a reason: I am VERY passionate about fabric. I have a good deal of fabric stored on shelves and in a dresser, but I don’t think I have an over abundance. I say this because almost every fabric that I have bought, I bought because I had a project in mind. And I almost always stick to that initial idea. It may take me months, or even a year, to begin that sewing project, but I do.
    I began planning this way a few years ago when I started knitting. I asked a friend of mine, “Should I buy the entire set of needles?” And she replied with, “No, not yet. Build your collection.” Yes, it may have been cheaper to buy an entire set at the very beginning, but I slowly realized that that straight needle set wouldn’t have suited me. I love my circulars!
    So I applied this frame of thought to sewing. Don’t buy a whole lot of fabric you don’t have a project for, unless it is a staple like black and white cotton that could be used for underlining or linings. Because when you do pull it out again, you will find that you are one yard short and you don’t have any idea where you bought it from. And that very well could be the most scary thing on earth! :)

  16. Patterns, definitively. And I’d have even more if I didnt use an incredibly amount of discipline everytime I get an email from
    That said, in the last months my purchases have shifted from patterns to fabric and under the policy “ooh, that remnant is only half price!” my stash is building nicely. *sigh*

  17. Patterns. But I have a lot of them that I won’t use, got for a detail or came with others that I really wanted from ebay.
    I should sell those off, to be honest.
    I’d freak out if I had the same amount of fabric that I do for patterns. Considering I have well over 1000 when it’s all said and done (magazines, paper patterns and Lutterloh and rip off books). Even going by 1 yard= 1 pattern, I’d be worried about it. As it is, I have about 250 yards and I’m getting to the point I have too much.

  18. Yeow – I haven’t even thought of my amount of material in yards or metres and I just bought 21 metres more on Sunday.