Tuesday, November 2, 2010

100-yard Challenge

Two weeks ago my sister and I each had a lot of fabric. Here's some of mine:

Now we have even more, thanks to our buying frenzy at FabricDepot and additional indulgences at Bolt during our recent weekend in Portland, OR (partially documented in previous posts). And I bought more when I got home, too: three FQ sets of Kona solids in purples, blues, and greens. All the stash shelves, drawers, and bins in my sewing room are full or very close to full.

It's time to use some of it up, so Sis and I have issued each other a 100-Yard Challenge. The rules are simple:
  • Open time frame (we'd considered 100-yards-in-a-year but we both have multiple other priorities competing with sewing for our time/attention). This is not intended to be a lifetime goal, though. Some attention to sustained momentum is implied.
  • Only completed projects count. This is a tough one, and we may regret it, but we are both highly susceptible to the lure of a new project and have long histories of UFO production to show for it. So in addition to using up some yardage, we will be focused on getting things to "done." The exception is that projects to be sent out for long-arm quilting by someone else can be counted when they get to the ready-to-be-mailed stage (since the budget for paid quilting may not be available yet).
  • Only fabric used beginning 11/1 counts. If I now add borders, back and binding to an existing UFO top, I count those when it's done, but not the yardage for the top itself.
  • We went back and forth on scrap usage. Abby is focused on big-piece yardage, but If I don't use some scraps soon (especially the smaller ones) I will need to buy another scrap bin. Adding the scraps generated by 100 yards used for other things to my already overflowing scrap drawers is not an option. So we agreed scrap use is optional. Finished scrap projects will be counted by size of finished project + 10% for seams.
  • NO STASH-BUILDING until the challenge has been met! This is the tough one. There's a little wiggle room here, as fabric may be purchased if, and only if, necessary in order to complete a project. But that's it. The idea is to sew as close to completely from stash as possible until 100 stash yards have been used. I am already wishing that I had a bit more garment fabric (vs. quilting yardage) in the stash, but the quilting yardage is what I most want to make a dent in, and I wear mostly cotton clothes, so I'll make do. Maybe this challenge will inspire me to sew up some of the garment yardage I keep passing over each time I decide what skirt or top to make next.
Every good challenge needs a good reward, and we've got a great one planned: When we have both used up 100 yards of stash, we'll get together for a weekend again! This will of course involve giddy self-indulgence at every fabric store we can find. What's the point of challenging ourselves to use up so much fabric if we don't get to buy more when it's done??

How am I doing so far? Well, Nov. 1 came and went with no sewing done whatsoever, so I'm not exactly off to a full-sprint start.


  1. It's good that you have your sister for company in this challenge. It sounds like you have similar ways of working, so you can understand how to encourage each other best.

    As to clothe yardage that you keep passing over, I'd encourage you to do a cull first. It may just be that this fabric was a mistake to begin with, or that the time for it has passed. Maybe you realize that you don't really look good in that color, or it doesn't go with anything already in your wardrobe? Pay attention to the voice of intuition, sometimes it's right for no immediately discernible reason. Throwing good time after bad money is not a productive way to deal with stash.

  2. That's excellent advice, Marie-Christine, but when I pass over a fabric, it's not because it doesn't suit me, or the moment as passed (I am old enough to be immune to trends, and to know what I like and look good in) ... I just don't choose to use it "next," usually because I haven't settled on a garment/pattern choice yet for that particular fabric.

    I'm pleased to say that my stash is full of potential, not mistakes. But I'm running out of fabric-storage space, and my head is bursting with ideas for all the stuff I want to sew. So I'll be focused on sewing more and shopping less for a while.

    Bottom line: it's not about decluttering the satsh. The waste is in having so much nice yardage just sitting there, waiting for me to get to it. So that's what I'm going to do.