4 August 2010

Stash Amnesty!

Reading the comments on my Tidying Up post made me think it would be fun to take a sneaky peek at other people's sewing stashes too. Moreover, what better therapy for the fabric stasher themselves than to come clean to the world about all the stuff they've been accumulating? With this in mind, I approached Jen from Pretty Little Pictures to see if she would be up for an interview about her sewing space and stash. Consider this the pilot for a "Stash Amnesty!" feature - if you like the idea of this post, I'll make it a regular thing (or if you think it's rubbish, I'll drop it).

So over to Jen, the inspiring and stylish seamstress with a great eye for colour and a love of vintage lovely things...

What's your sewing area like?
Jen: "I have just recently moved to Sydney, Australia from Dunedin, New Zealand.  We currently reside in a quaint, but rather small one-bed semi. As our current space is so small, my fiance and I have had to be some what imaginative with our space. Half of our lounge is dedicated as a small space for our own individual use.  My fiance works from home so his space is set up as a little office, surrounded by books.  Mine on the other hand is my dedicated sewing space - surrounded by a book shelf of fabric. I use two big plastic storage bins to house all of my patterns, thread, zips, buttons and all number of sewing related bits and pieces.  And while the bookshelf holds the bulk of my fabric, there is a teeny weeny pile building up behind my desk that I opted not to show you, because it's slowly getting out of control.  I need to learn not pile everything up in one corner, because it will eventually fall over..."

How long has your stash been accumulating?
Jen: "My stash has been accumulating for a good 4 years now.  But I did have to get rid of some of the excess before we left New Zealand - a very hard thing to do! I'm one of those people who is sure they will use it for something - even if its a tiny little scrap!  In saying that, I'm not quite sure I got rid of quite as much as I thought I did.  (read above statement: growing pile of fabric behind my sewing area that you cannot see..."

Where do you source your fabric?
Jen: "A lot of my initial stock came from opshops (thrift stores) in New Zealand.  I had a few really great stores that I frequented that always had masses of really great quality fabric.  I haven't had much time to scour Sydney though, so what I have bought while I've been here has been mostly off ebay - they always have some really great vintage fabric every time I look."

Talk us through a few of your favourite items in your stash...
Jen: "My very favourite things from my stash are my vintage patterns.  Even if I had no idea how to  sew, I would still collect them, just to stare at them.  My very first vintage pattern is rather special to me - the cover is tattered and looks well loved and used but all of the pattern pieces are all there:

"I also adore my vintage magazines - all of the ones I own still had their original patterns with them.  I had found three in New Zealand last year and this year I've hit a goldmine and have added several more to my stash (also including their patterns).  I'm not all that good at acurately dating vintage garments and I've found the magazines to be such a useful resource when it comes to not only dating garments, but to studying the styles of a particular period.  I also love the advertisements - they are cheesy and all round fantastic!"

What item has been dwelling unused in your stash for the longest? Why oh why?!
Jen: "Haha, well actually, that would be some of my vintage patterns!!  I have some beautiful ones but they can be just so darn complicated!! Like a good dress should be I guess :)  I haven't attempted them yet because I'm still building up my knowledge on using vintage patterns/sewing techniques and really don't want to get stuck into something that I know will cause me grief (I have been known to get so frustrated with a pattern that I just burst into tears - seriously!!). I will soon be delving into them with relish, but until then, I am content to look and dream of the day..."

What projects are you planning to downsize your stash?
Jen: "Oh so many!!  My first real Sydney summer is fast approaching which means lots of light, airy dresses will be needed.  I've just finished making a 60's wrap blouse (which you can see unfinished on my dress makers form) which I've wanted for such a long time.  I had to tweak the pattern here and there, but I love the design and think that there will be many more made very soon :)  I've also just started on another dress that is actually an autumn dress, but I think I will be able to squeeze a few wears out of it before the heat hits.  It's got some very interesting techniques that I've not tried before so I'm excited to give them a go."

Thank you, Jen! With a stash full of such lovely things, who would want to cut it down?!

Should this become a regular post? Readers - are you as nosey as I am? Stashers - want to be granted amnesty? If you'd like to feature in a future Stash Amnesty post, get in touch!


  1. Yes, please! I love looking at and reading about stashes and sewing rooms around the world! Maybe someday mine will be worth seeing, but not yet. But please continue the series!

  2. This is a great idea for a regular post - I am also very nosey and love seeing what other people have in their stash, how they 'stash' it and what their craft room looks like! Bring on the next one! :)

  3. I love this idea. I am very nosey and also keen to find new sewing blogs to follow, so a double-whammy for me! Thanks, Tilly.

  4. I think it will be a great addition.


  5. It's always fun to see everyone's sewing space!

  6. Dito to what was said above. :-) It's fun seeing other people's stash and sewing places!

  7. Yes, it's a great idea. Mainly because I like seeing what others have and try to make myself feel better about my way outta control stash!

  8. I love this idea...I would love to read more.

  9. Love the idea of having a nose about everyone else's sewing space!

    And now I have stash-envy!

  10. Yes! I like seeing pictures of other people's sewing rooms. Gives me ideas...
    I like your blog. I've been silently snooping around for some time now, but I'm becoming less shy about commenting :) You do great work and you make me wish I lived in London!

  11. I love the idea and it's not been done on any other blog (at least on none that I follow) I am nosy too plus I think it's an inspiration.

  12. Yes, please, Tilly. Can we do this as a regular post? I love reading about other's people's stashes, storage solutions, etc.

    (Jen's blog is great - love it!)

  13. I love the idea Tilly!

    And I have a question for Jen -- I am planning a move from Canada to the UK, and I wanted to know how you transported your sewing machines. I am moving by plane -- meaning, no container sent by boat -- and was wondering if the best thing would be for me to bring my machine on the plane. I wouldn't really want to check it, would I? Or would it be easier for me to find a used, cheap sewing machine in the UK, that I could use for two years? Would I be able to find that? What do you think?

  14. I Love it as a regular post. I think it's cool to see what other people's spaces are like out there. Mine is a disaster so hopefully I can get some inspiration from everyone's space if you make it a regular post! Thanks!


  15. Great idea! Im new to the world of sewing & stashes and love seeing what everyone else is doing :)

  16. Love it!
    Keep up the good work.

  17. Hell yes! Make it a regular thing, once a month or so. In the future I'd love to take part. Great idea xxx

  18. Excellent idea, can't wait to read more...there are so many sewers out there with amazing stashes!

  19. Glad y'all like the idea! I'm surprised that only one person has asked be interviewed though - are you all embarrassed by the extent of your hoarding? Don't be ashamed! Amnesty shall be granted!

  20. Great idea Tilly - I like seeing other people's stashing too! I also like showing my husband pictures of these stashes, as he thinks my single drawer of fabric is a HUGE stash! It is so very very little.

    I'll put my hand up to take part.

    And - your pattern instructions should arrive soon - they were posted on tuesday. Let me know when you get them.

  21. I just found your blog and I think the Stash Amnesty idea is a great one! If only so that it makes me feel less embaressed by the size of my stash...

    If you're looking for people to interview, I would love to take part :-)

  22. I travel/live full time in a 40 ft. motor home. I carry 1 Bernina, 1 serger, and 2 featherweights. My fabric stuffed into any and every available space. Looking for something always leads to finding some other project. I have tubs, suitcases, and bags. Critters can be a problem so I try to keep everything closed tight, except that small selection that is on the floor of the bedroom. Total sewing area is a vanity and a TV tray. At least when we aren't on the road everything can stay in place or be moved to the bed when the slides are put in. I'm always looking for something to "go with" what I already have.


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