Friday, January 17, 2014

Are you a sewing technician or a creative fiber artist?

I've read two awesome blog posts recently on fabric stashing and collections. First there was Kristin's called, "Why I'm not on a Stash Diet" and then there's Myrna's called "Thoughts on Space and Stash."  Why did I like these blog posts so much?  Because neither made you feel bad if you were a serious fabric collector.  Both extolled the virtues of having the stash that is right for your needs, so to me, they included everyone under the sewing tent. In comparison to the conversations that talk about limiting how much stash you, as a sewist, should have.

However, after reading Myrna's I had a thought.  Do you have a smaller stash/collection if you think of yourself more as a sewing technician?  Now before you start doing a Justin Bieber on me and slinging eggs at my blog, what I'm trying to ask/say is if you're interested in the techniques ~ fit, learning procedures - how to make a bound buttonhole, etc. are you less likely to stash/collect?  Because if you're a technician do you need a huge range of inspiration?  Isn't it all about the procedure or the process?

Whereas if you are into the creativity of sewing - what colors work together in this outfit?  How can you enhance, change, make different a top or a dress? Replicating/duplicating a current trend or look, wouldn't you need more material to work with?  Wouldn't you need a supply of thread, fabric, notions to use so that when you started your creative journey you could work without having to stop and purchase anything?

And why do we as sewists limit ourselves? Myrna's opening paragraph states it so eloquently when she says she wonders if other creative souls have the same conversations about having too much. Which brings me back to my question, "Are you a sewing technician or a creative fiber artist?"

Please feel free to discuss in the comments...just remember to play nice! *LOL* Everyone's opinion is important to me and no ones should be denigrated. Alright so that is the first Question of the Day for 2014.  Please chime in and tell me what you think, I'm truly interested!!!

...as always more later!

66 comments:

  1. Geez, you don't ask easy ones, do you? �� i don't know how to answer. I love my stash. I am trying to copy yours. �� i do want to know techniques, but I don't want to be just technique. I guess I would have to say creative fiber artist though it feels a bit pretentious for me to call myself that.

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  2. I'm only new to sewing so I don't have my fabric stashed so far. I think the main problem would be buying fabric that is never used...no matter how pretty. It's just money sitting in the cupboard I think.

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  3. This is a hard one, I love my stash but do feel it is getting out of control, well out of the cupboard it lives in and storage is pretty much non existent in our home. I love to have the ability to shop my stash for that garment I have just seen in RTW or online! As well as to not be hard on myself if I see that piece of fabric that just has to come home with me. I am enjoying learning new techniques but then creative fibre artist doesn't feel comfortable either as I am not in the same league as you or Myrna's creativity!

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  4. Hmmmm that is a very interesting way of framing the stash question. I would have to put myself in the "creative fiber artist" category, as for me the technique of what I do is always in service to what I am trying to create - which is wearable garments that suit my personal style, that being something I will basically never find in RTW. I describe my style as sort of "urban fairytale" and it includes a lot of handcrafted details, so technique is very important too. I need to have enough fabric on hand to create my clothing, in coordinating wardrobe groups, as I sew all my own clothing except for shoes and socks. I do have a stash of fabrics, most all in the natural fibers and limited colors that I love to wear, with an additional amount of fabrics for the historical clothing I make and wear for my hobby of medieval and viking age re-creation.

    I also see a difference between "fabric collecting" and "fabric stashing". I know that you Carolyn call yourself a fabric collector, but in my mind you are the queen of the fabric stash, as the fabrics you acquire seem all to be theoretically suitable for clothing in your life. When I read about someone having "too much stash" or a "problem with stashed fabrics" I imagine someone who has purchased fabrics unsuitable to any intended use they might actually make of them, rather as if I started buying lots of printed quilting cotton; I don't quilt, or make much of the sorts of things that type of fabric is best used for, so despite how adorable and appealing the fabric itself is, I strongly resist the pull to acquire any, as it would sit on my shelf unused. To me a fabric collector is someone who just acquires fabric for it's own sake rather than for the use it may be in the future.

    When I look at your delectable shelves of fabric, I see the textile equivalent of my own workroom shelves of enamel powder (I am a cloisonne enameling artist by profession) I need to have a LOT of different colors of powdered glass available, to have just the right ones for any particular artwork commission. As designing women, we need to have enough fabric to have just the right piece for any particular garment we want to make. If I were to have no stashed fabric I would be dependent on the marketplace having what I wanted at any particular time, and I am so often frustrated when I try and go out and shop either locally or online, when I have an idea that requires "just the right thing" and I can't find it.

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  5. Hmmmm... when I first started sewing I was far more interested in learning about techniques than I was in learning about different fabric types, or buying with plans to make a full wardrobe of garments. However, as I have gone on in my sewing journey, I have become far more interested in buying fabrics based on colors, fiber content, and with a focus on how they will fit into my wardrobe and lifestyle. I have become less focused on technique, and more focused on finding unique and beautiful fabrics to use to create unique and beautiful clothes. So, I guess I would have to say I am a bit more on the artist side of the fence, though I suppose part of the appeal of sewing is mixing art and technique. So, um, maybe I am like 60% artist and 40% technician?

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  6. I'd put myself in the 'keeping busy, creative outlet' category. My stash isn't great, because I like to be able to visualize everything that's in there, but I think having one is important for the very same reasons that were mentioned in those two posts.

    My stash is currently in storage and let me tell you - I really miss it and the possibilities it brings, which I suppose is why I started building a yarn stash. Though crochet is nowhere close as rewarding as seeing.

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  7. Interesting topic, I am more interested in having clothes I love so I have never been one to have a stash - more along the lines of buying fabric to sew into something. I believe in having supplies, so I have notions, lining, interfacings etc but that is more for convenience and economy, buying on sale or in bulk. If I had to make a choice I am on the side of technician instead of artist, plus I don't want the investment in fabric sitting in the closet not giving me any return. But I confess I do have a couple of items bought last summer that didn't get sewn up - so they will be first when spring arrives :)

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  8. I do have a stash, sometimes I see something I know I will want for later but don't have time now (I just don't live by Britex). I buy what I know I will use, and I do buy more yardage of something than I used to, but it has to fit into the cabinet. Luckily I have some resources for destashing, and there is a lot of swapping and swatching going on. The tech part of me just buys sheets at rummage sales for working up models, or for making muslins I will not wear (well...., the pajama don't count....) so that I will spend the time making the finished item to fit me perfectly. I also have more clothes I made and love, so new stuff has to earn its way into the closet. That's a smaller space than the stash cabinet!

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  9. As you know I love my stash and don't apologise for it. The only limits are the amount of available space, which is why I am making more effort at the moment to shop my stash rather than purchasing, and am only purchasing if it is for a specific project that will be sewn right now rather than being added to stash. That said, if I come across something that I absolutely love and I know will be perfect for me at some stage, I'll buy it. I'm not sure that I am either a technician or a fibre artist. My stash certainly inspires me though.

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  10. Very interesting topic for me too. I don't have a huge stash. Because I'm on a very strict budget. I'm also very fussy about the type of fabric I wear. And the variety of fabric available here is limited. This translates to me buying less because I only acquire fabric if it meets my high standards. So, although I'm not a tehcnician in the sense that I want to perfect a technique, I'm definitely a fabric snob. (I hardly ever buy synthetics!) I'm a minimalist though, so I have no need for "more".

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  11. I'm (probably like quite a few people) between the two. I sew because I want to wear better fitting clothes (I'm tall so most high street shops don't cater as well for tall as petite) and because I want to wear different clothes to those in the shops. I also want to learn fit and other techniques to make those garments better.

    To me it comes down to space. I don't have a dedicated sewing space and so I don't really stash. Everything I buy is bought for a specific garment and if I don't buy for a specific pattern that is when it sits in the pile. The exception is thrifted bargains or remnants. Fabric is pricy in the UK and I can't afford to have it just sitting on a shelf!

    I should stash more thread and notions tho.

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  12. I have a very large stash that I add to with fabric bargains mainly from Bangkok. I work full time and don't have a lot of time to sew. I buy fabric now while I can afford it and still find it for when I retire and no longer have the money but have the time. It is my retirement investment. I used to have a fabric store, worked very hard seven days a week only to just break even. Fabric was getting harder to source other than from Asia and customers were getting fewer and fewer. In Australia we are left with one major chain store provider and a few specialist suppliers

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  13. Knitters, crocheters and spinners certainly have this conversation about stash. I'm not sure about other arts/crafts... I've certainly met woodworkers with sheds overloaded with bits of wood to use one day, also amateur mechanics and electrical tinkerers often have lots of stashed stuff!

    When I think of my art stash, it's not that big - sure, I have quiet a few pencils you might classify as "orange", but they're not exactly the same orange, or if they are, they're all different hardnesses etc. The main thing about my art stash is the items in it are all relatively small (pencils, pastels, tubes of gouache) so it doesn't seem a storage/space issue...

    Then again, as a knitter and (sometimes) sewist, I just don't seem to have the stashing gene ;)

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  14. Provocative question, Carolyn! I consider myself both sides of your question, for sure. I love process and technique and have always been the "artistic" type. But as far as how that affects my stash, I don't see a connection. My stash is not large. It consists of much given to me by generous souls. I buy with specific garments in mind, not to have "supplies" when the spirit moves me. I like to buy per project and enjoy the foreplay, the shopping for the perfect fabric, etc. I consider that part of the fun, a challenge to get the perfect textile for my project. I definitely don't buy to have backup should the spirit move me. For me a big part of the pleasure of sewing a garment is the actual search for the perfect fabric. I don't feel a need to stash. Now this all applies to fabric. As far as notions, I consider them tools and like any good electrician or plumber, get the best I can afford and have extras in case of breakage. Patterns are the same, tools of my trade. So that is a very deep bench but I don't consider them stash. They are my tools.

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  15. So happy to come out of the shadows and feel better about my home for wayward textiles! I need lots of things to fondle and croon to- Im a whim sewer- I need raw gaudy inspiration at hand when the muse strikes- stashbusting seems chorelike and I dont like chores!!!

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    1. Haha, home for wayward textiles!!! I love it!

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  16. I think of it as "what seduces you"? For me it's definitely the fabric -- I have a groaning Ikea Expedit to prove it. I wouldn't say I'm much of a fiber artist OR a technician, but in part that's because I don't have much time to sew these days. I've noticed that lately tend to cleave to the tried-and-true to ensure I get a "keeper" out of my limited time. But back when I had more time I did enjoy the experiment. I guess that makes me a "frustrated fiber artist?"

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  17. I probably started out as a technique type -- and a "if I want something new I will need to sew it" practical sewist -- but as soon as I discovered ways to add to my stash on a budget, I hopped over to the creative artistic side. It always starts with the fabric for me -- when I'm motivated to master a new technique, it's because it will help me to bring a creative idea to reality.

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  18. I am both a technician and an artist (or I think I am). I can take a piece of fabric to the fabric store and shop and visualize what I want. And I can do it out of the stash. Very easy when making gowns for rodeo queens. And both are fun to do. But I love technique also and am always itching to try some technique out, whether on the machine or by hand. Plus I enjoy designing; taking patterns and making something new. That has been done time and again with those rodeo dresses.
    When it comes to sewing for myself, I am working on getting TNT patterns and that journey has begun. Once I have that stash of TNT patterns, I will try some creative moves on those patterns. I have said I will sew from my small stash (compared to others) as I want to acquire new fabrics for down the road. It is time, in my mind, to flip the stash. Though it excites me, I really want to use it now I have given myself permission to sew it.
    I do love to look at other people's stashes. Sometimes it is the colours in the stash that I love, sometimes it is how they are arranged, and sometimes it is what type of fabric is in the stash.

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  19. I always admire fabric artists sand I love to see what people like Diane Ericson do with fabric. But I have only recently come to feel comfortable in the fact that I am a technician, and that while I can change fabric by interesting external finishes, I am unlikely to feel the same thrill by felting, painting, or changing fabric surfaces. I used to feel badly about it and only lately come to terms with the fact that we all can't be comfortable doing the same things and I can celebrate the difference without feeling inadequate or jealous. Well, maybe just a little jealous,

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  20. I think I'm a little bit of both. I enjoy the process, the fitting (I used to be a technical designer), and the pattern work, but I also love to see everything come together with color, pattern, trims and notions. I'm pretty good with my stash in that I only buy fabric for projects I'm currently working on. There are a few minor occasions I buy fabric just because it's pretty, but that's rare.

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  21. I wonder if those of us who have large stashes also have large stashes of other things such as makeup, nail polish, or shoes so that if we are inspired we can just select from our own supply.

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    1. I do have a shoe problem...love them too! But fabric/clothing, shoes and jewelry are my only stashes! However, this is a very interesting correlation.

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    2. I'm a minimalist with other clothing/accessories/etc-- there's just something about fabric that I can't say no to! ;)

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    3. Good question! I am also a little bit of both, but mostly practical. When I first started to sew I purchased fabric generously, with hopes to sew fabulous creations. The problem is, I never created anything fabulous, and dislike being wasteful. Before I begin purchasing a lot more fabric, I want it to have a purpose or a vision. So yes, very practical in that sense.

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  22. I know I am trying to buy fabrics now that actually will inspire me. I buy a lot of wools and linens. I do a lot of basic colors and prints because I just started collecting again and by no means have near the collection you have :) I definitely like to experiment with new techniques. I don't have a lot of time for sewing at this point in my life because I have three young children I have to drag around and take to fencing and violin lessons, etc. Takes up a lot of my time, but I dream and plan a lot and do occasionally get into the sewing room when I finally get the house cleaned up after them.

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  23. I just say I'm collecting for when I retire and can't afford to buy material like I can now. Sounds good anyway.

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  24. I've only a small stash, but only because I've been limited on income at times. Sometimes I just want to make the garment, I need a bit of choice around when that mood strikes. When I'm into the process of sewing, learning or perfecting a new technique it is a different thing altogether. Other crafty types do have this discussion also. You should see the stash of some extreme cross stitchers! They don't generally feel guilty though and consider it chart/materials collecting. So what if the charts are so large they take 6 months to 5 years to stitch? Point? If you love it and are passionate about it you are probably going to have more than you physically 'need' but not more than you need to enjoy your crafting. If you want/need a new skirt to go with that awesome jacket you found the odds are you can find something in your stash and whip it up TODAY, while you have the time and are excited about it. That is worth a lot.

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  25. Oooh, interesting question!! I really loved both of those posts and was nodding my head in agreement with Myrna's opening paragraph. I view all of my sewing expenditures as an investment in myself, which is the best kind of investment to make, IMHO!

    I do have a stash and don't feel at all bad about it. It's not huge, but that's more because I can get to the Garment District most weekdays (don't hate). I really only buy for stash when I see something special or that is just soooo me that I must have it. So, my stash is full of fabrics that are special and fabulous and inspiring.

    I'm not really sure where I fall on the technician/creative spectrum. I definitely don't have the fabric mojo that you or someone like Oona has, but as I've built my technical skills, I've definitely bought better and more inspiring fabrics. That in turn has made me want to have even better technical skills to sew those awesome fabrics.... and so on. The word that I would probably aspire to is "artisan".

    Another sewist recently pointed out to me that I seem to be very pattern/design driven and I think she's right. For me, inspiration often comes from the pattern or style I want to make and then I find a fabric that excites me for that project (in stash or purchased) and then I set to learning the new techniques that I'll need to execute my vision of the project. Sometimes my inspiration will come from the fabric, but that's not the norm.

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  26. Yup, I am straddling the fence with this question though I think I have a foot firmly down on the technician half. I stopped sewing for a number of years and only started again about three years ago so my stash (both fabric and yarn) are extensive enough for me to shop from it but not overwhelming. All in all, I have about three of your shelves of fabric and way more yarn. Before I purchase, I have to be able to at least picture in my head what I will make but I also tend to buy fabric, yarn, notions and patterns when I can get a good deal.

    I have been purchasing thread and other notions lately in bulk because nothing is more frustrating than to want to sew and not be able to because you are missing the wrong color thread, not enough of the same thread (as in coverstitching), wrong type of interfacing, wrong color zipper, etc. Then, when a local fabric store is not so local, you have to factor in the time it takes to go back and forth so it is good to be able to create from what you have on hand.

    My view is that one should never feel guilty about stash purchases because they feed the soul for some and can be a source of inspiration. Not to mention that my cats seem to enjoy the fabric stacks tremendously and who on earth would question their judgment?!?!

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  27. I love Myrna's blogspace. She recently (lovingly) chastised me when I said I wasn't creative.

    I'm a technical person (I'm a scientist) so that part of sewing really appeals to me and I think it's the reason I've done so well in my short time working this craft. I have a slight compulsive side and must. have. all. the. things. NOW!

    I have a very random assortment of fabric because I buy thinking, "Oooh! I like that". Not really thinking of HOW I will use it or HOW would that print/color/texture work for ME. I am trying to change that a bit. I'm not interesting in *not* stashing; I like the option to decide to sew, and then go rummaging for pattern or fabric.

    Like someone else mentioned, I am more driven by pattern choice than fabric choice. I don't always have a creative vision of "this is what this fabric wants to be". I usually decide, I want to make THIS item and then search the stash.

    My last fabric purchase, I knew I wanted some solid colored knits to make tops. I went to SR Harris *awesomeness* and bought 3 cuts of knits (2 are sewn up already). Next I wanted to make pants that could be worn with at least 2 of the 3 and bam, I had suitings in the stash that were perfect. That makes me happy :)

    I do have a ton of patterns and several cuts of fabric that I have now realized probably aren't "me". Perhaps my 1 year sewing anniversary next week is a good time to do a giveaway?? :)

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  28. My fabric buying and pattern buying comes in spurts. I usually have an idea what the fabric would be good for (top, bottom, dress, jacket, etc) but nothing specific. When I buy a pattern, I have no specific fabric in mind. I guess I could say I'm a pattern and fabric collector--frustratingly so because my 'collecting' outweighs my sewing output. When I first started to become a serious sewist, I wanted to make one outfit a week. Not bad, no pressure. But life gets in the way. My first grandchild, a wayward dd moves back home, and sewing room was reassigned and is currently under construction. To stay in the flow, I read sewing blogs, buy fabric and patterns (occasionally), and look forward to getting back to my sewing cave 'one of these days'.

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  29. My thoughts... since you DID ask for them... are that you cannot be a true fiber artist without being a sewing technician. Without knowing how to execute proper sewing techniques, you cannot make clothes and accessories that will stand up to normal wear and use. I guess it's almost like the chicken/egg debate. Which comes first? Who cares as long as beautiful clothes and accessories are the end result?

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  30. I have a 'stash' simply because you can't count on a certain fabric waiting for you (at the store) while you go home & think or finish another project.

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  31. Interesting that you should post about this because Myrna's recent thoughts on this subject spurred me to reflect that, as much as I admire the way she works and the results she achieves (a lot!), it isn't how I feel most successful and productive. There are moments when I am inspired to be more artistic and experimental, but the time spent and the things I make almost never seem like a good reward in my case. It was helpful to realize this and to allow myself to feel good about my "technician" tendencies--it frees me to appreciate a more artistic approach without thinking that I should be working in the same way. I am sewing from stash exclusively right now, because the time is right financially and I have decided "if not now, then when?".

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  32. Hmmm. I use sewing techniques to help me be creative with fibers. I honestly don't know how to answer this question ... fabric comes to me via many avenues. Sometimes I just move piles of fabric around until 6-8 pieces call out that they want to be together. Sometimes I just need to construct a garment to cover my nudity in a way that is socially acceptable and will protect me from the weather.

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    1. LOL! Love the line, "need to cover your nudity in a way that is socially acceptable"

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    2. Hahahaha! Well, I live in central North Carolina. There is a certain amount of skin that even 90-year-old women expose in the high summertime without any eye-rolling from the general populace ... but I, personally, drew the line at tube tops and hot pants long ago, when I was in my 30s. Not so much my 77-year-old mother, alas.

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  33. Oooh, thanks for the link love, Carolyn - and I think this post is so interesting. I have to land (as you might imagine) on the technician side of the equation. Of course, I love to think I am technical in the most artistic of ways :-) But I do most definitely lean to the technical joys of sewing. BTW, I love what Myrna had to say about her stash and managing it. It strikes me that she's got the perfect balance going on.

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  34. I aspire to (as Clio puts it) "artisan" sewing. Fun shapes but functional garments that actually fit me. I do have quite a fabric stash but a) I have space for it and b) I've been sewing for a very long time. Some pieces of fabric have changed their minds 3 times about what they will become! (And some haven't decided yet.) Recently as I've improved a lot in my fitting and pattern manipulation skills my taste in fabrics is changing. I really want to work with the better stuff now. Think I feel a stash reevaluation session coming on.

    Since I'm multi-craftual, I also have stashes of spinning fibres, yarns, dyes and beads plus all the appropriate tools and equipment. DH is a woodworker and of course has his own stashes as well. As long as they are reasonable and not overwhelming our living space, I have no problem with the accumulation of supplies. On the other hand, we've recently retired and funds are more limited so we're both working as much as possible with what we have on hand and minimizing (though not eliminating!) new purchases. It's so nice to just be able to grab what you need and start creating right away when the urge hits!

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  35. hmmm...I don't feel I am either...I don't see my very basic garments as any sort of *art* and I'm not too interested in any fancy techniques. I sew because RTW disappoints me and I came to the last straw, dug in and refuse to purchase one more ill-fitting, poorly made garment.

    I have a moderate *stash* (collection?) but each piece has an intended garment(s) (ie: skirt, jacket, etc) but not a specific pattern. I let the fabric tell me which pattern it wants to be made from.

    If I had more means and space I would likely collect more heavily. I do work best with a bit of fluidity. When I first began sewing in earnest I dutifully took my pattern specifications to the fabric store, bought only the yardage and notions I needed and felt only so-so about each of those garments.

    I make jewelry as a passion, and I work best when I buy assorted beads by the pound and allow the beads to tell me if they should be earrings, a bracelet or a necklace. Now, I sew this way as well.

    I would call myself Utilitarian: useful, practical, functional

    That's the way I sew

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  36. After all those delightful and thoughtful comments I don't have anything new to say. Alison said it best for me. I love me some beautiful fabric and don't apologize for it. Someday most of it will be made into gorgeous outfits that suit my lifestyle and are unique to me.

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    1. "...suit my lifestyle and are unique to me."

      This here exactly.

      I am positively giddy when someone asks "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!" and they can't have it! :)

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  37. Myrna's post was close to my own feelings about stashing. As to your question about what kind of sewer stashes fabric, I think of myself as both. I don't think that they are necessarily mutually exclusive. I feel that having a stash enhances my creativity. I love to moving fabrics around finding combinations I love. I've got a wall of rtw inspirations and a file on my computer with things that catch my interest. A detail here or there or a whole look to emulate. But, I also like using details and techniques that test my skills. My stash inspires me, and I have quite a lot in it right now so what I buy has to be special, at least to me. I fill in pieces that I need for a wardrobe plan, or something that pulls pieces I already have together when I purchase now. I try not to impulse shop because these pieces almost always end up staying in my stash for years. I try to buy fabrics that will work in my life. I have some gorgeous silk brocade that I bought in India 9 years ago and it's still in my stash. See what I mean? It doesn't really work in my life, but it's gorgeous. Maybe I'll use it one of these days.

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  38. This is a great question! I'm less of a process/technique person, and I think my stash reflects that! I love love love textiles, and I love to dream about how to use them! I have more fabric than I can reasonably store, so I'm working on using my existing stash for every possible project until everything can fit in one spot. I go through periods where I can barely find any sewing time, so I've been guilty in the past of buying fabrics to scratch the sewing itch instead of actually making something. I don't feel bad about the accumulation, though-- at the end of the day I'll be unemployed and will have more time to sew, but no money til I find a new gig, so it all works out! :)

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  39. Although I'm very technical in everyday life, when it comes to sewing I think I'm more like a fiber artist (artist doesn't necessary means talented, does it ?) I just can't sew because I have to, but instead I need inspiration. Just like playing music, I need to feel what I'm doing. And I also need to do what I feel. In a world where any fabric is available at any time, it would be easier: feel, need, buy, sew. But that's not the case. So when I see a beautiful fabric, I have to buy some just in case I would feel I need it later. Add the fact that I have more ideas than time to sew them, and you get an impressive fabric stash within a few years only.

    Until last year, I felt guilty about this, but this has changed. In fact, some fabric shops have changed in my area, and now I find it hard to buy some new nice fabric. Each time I go to one of these shops, I have the same impression: if I had no stash, I could find something interesting, but with the little old treasures I own, I feel more inspired by my stash than what is available in shops. Of course, this can't prevent me from buying 1 ot 2 new pieces, but that's nothing compared to what I was used to. So I've decided I could try to make it a good opportunity to take the time to use some of the fabrics I bought a long time ago. That's what I did for a Christmas Fair. I wanted to make warm clothes for kids. Why this ? Why now ? I don't know. It was the right time, and I felt inspired for this, even though I had enough items to sell without these, and I need to change most of my wardrobe pieces in emergency. Anyway, I made kid clothes, which made me use about 12m of polar fleece from stash, and buy only 3m. It wouldn't have been possible to do this another way, because the incredible colors I bought 3 or 4 years ago are impossible to find here now. I hope I will go on like that during a few months (or maybe a few years), so that I can gain some space in my shelves and to be allowed to buy more fabric feeling no guilt at all...

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  40. I'm a sewing technician, no doubt ... I like getting little details right, pressing, tailoring ... my stash clearly reflects that : it's the same kinds of fabric, over and over, in various solid neutrals. I do have a stash, because I'm picky about fabric and good quality is rare around here so I buy it when I find it, not when I need is. I'm very admirative of all of you creative fiber artists !

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  41. This is an interesting question and I consider myself in both camps. But thinking back on my stashing history, when I lived in NYC, I really did not have much of a stash. Just go into Manhattan and get what I wanted. Moving to Boston, the stash was still small because if I wanted something it was easy to buy. Unfortunately my stash has grown as the quantity and quality of stores has shrunk. I need to touch fabric to know if I want to wear it so I purchase both on line and in real life when I see it. A good example is a top I saw on a blog. It was color blocked, I loved it and wanted to start it immediately. But of course nothing local. So I ordered from FM. Fabric took about a week to get here. Now I don't have the time and am not as inspired.

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  42. Wow Carolyn - I've enjoyed reading both your post and all the responses. What a thought provoking post! I am definitely an artistic collector first and sewing technician second. I have a HUGE stash, one that I've been wondering how to store and how on earth I will sew all of it within my lifetime. After moving homes (and studios!) a little over five years ago, I stood in my basement (soon to become my new studio) feeling embarrassed and completely overwhelmed at the state of my stash. A friend consoled me with the words "Don't ever be embarrassed about the size of your stash. You are an artist and these are your tools." To this day, I think about her words. I love the creative part of sewing, seeing the garment (or item) come together step by step. I love that I end up with a garment that no one else will have.

    Funny enough, lately I've been pondering elevating the level of my sewing technician ability. I'm sure I can blend both the creative artist and the sewing technician!

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  43. A very interesting question. I have no doubt about myself, I am not a technician i always look for colour and generally effect rather than the technical side. I love to be lost in the journey, the colour, the feel of the textile and ultimately the end result so there has to be an aspect of technicality but ultimately i love the effect.
    As far as my fabric stash i love it. I love to look at the open shelves , I love to touch the fabric and i love to shop in my stash. Buying fabric is one of the great pleasures in my life and when life has been difficult i buy fabric, I don't drink or smoke so i figure there are worse things i can do in life. I am lucky i have always had a sewing room and space to be able to collect fabric.
    We spend so much of our lives feeling guilty about what we love and maybe this year is about deciding who we are and accepting this and embracing ourselves. Life is to be lived and where we seek happiness, that is not self destructive or hurting others we should embrace and enjoy.

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  44. Firmly in the technician camp and I have a stash because my reach exceeds my grasp. The stash is fairly well ordered and not to the point it overwhelms me (yet) but I always have more planned than I have the energy to complete. I am in awe of your stash but would find it too intimidating, but that's me. You are comfortable with it and that's fine.
    Theresa in Tucson

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  45. I consider myself part of the "creative fiber artist" camp, but my stash is fairly small. At its largest, it is around 200 yds. Now it's probably closer to 100 yds. No matter how big my stash is, I won't have everything I want. I only stash basic fabrics (although my idea of basic might be different from yours), as well as dyes and inks to change them if necessary. If I want something specific (neoprene or whatever), I can always buy it for a particular project.

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  46. I have a stash because I can. My stash is sizeable and I love having it. Stashing fabric taught me that I'm an impulse buyer especially when I'm stressed. It has also taught me to curb this behavior. I'm shopping my stash because these fabrics deserve to be used and not sit on the shelf. Over the years, I've learned what works for me and most of the time, my choices hit the spot. I only have a few "what was I thinking fabrics left". Sewing gives me the freedom to be me, to be an individual. I think that I'm still working on finding my creative voice and my technical skills need to grow. My other hobby is making jewelry. It is very relaxing but takes back seat to sewing. I am very happy when I am dressed in me-made clothes and jewelry and I look ok.

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  47. I don't think I am either. I fall in the love clothes, buy fabric and make clothes. I don't have much of a stash, always seems budget reasons. Then there is the main reason, I just get overwhelmed with stash and tend to rush projects to sew up fabric. Then I am so envious of people with stashes and they can just find the perfect piece at anytime.

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  48. I think I am an un-intentional stasher. Everything in the stash was purchased for a specific intended garment. So that would be the Creative Fiber Artist at work. However, life sometimes had a way of dictating other activities, and things like sewing had to wait for me to find time. Sometimes either the occasion or need had passed or worse, the figure had changed or the child had outgrown the original plan. The unintended consequences have been that I had plenty of fabric to sew when other occasions came up. I could usually find just the thing I needed in the stash. The the fiber artist really got to be creative because then it was a make it work moment. Also, I have a hard time making tried and true garments because I rarely want to make the same thing twice. I am learning from you that tried and true can really speed up the process. I appreciate how you inspire me.

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  49. I think myself as a little of both :). I have a huge appetite for clothes and I tend to buy a lot of fabric... The reality is that I don't have time to make everything that I envisioned, hence the ever growing fabric stash... I also buy fabric if it is pretty or unusual... hoping that one day I'll find the perfect pattern for it.

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  50. I don't consider myself either a fiber artist or a technician. I'm just trying to put together a well coordinated and well fitting wardrobe. Early in my sewing I would just buy things that looked pretty, but now I try to plan what type of garments I need, make a list of fabrics, and purchase them when I find something that meets the criteria. Since I am a slow sewist my imaginary wardrobe of about 30 pieces of fashion fabric tends to grow a bit. I consider myself a curator of a small collection. That said I do with I had more thread and notions stored for my upcoming projects.

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  51. Sewing is one of those creative skills that requires some left brain thinking as well. So I would imagine everyone uses a bit if both. I love having a stash. It's great to look at and dream up new projects. And I am very rarely in a situation where I have to stop sewing because I don't have something I need- which us great for someone who only sews when baby is finally napping! :) I say hooray for stashes.

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  52. I have a moderate size stash so does that make me both ? Myrna s post was eloquent and she listed many variables which affect the size of ones stash . She seems to have reached a happy point in her stashing as have you although your stashes are entirely different in size. I am not at a happy stage (too much ) and this seems to be a common phenomena although I am sure we are all aware we should not feel guilty about this. Still I am having fun sewing down the stash . Back to the question I am a bit of both creative and technical and would argue that all sewists are because even matching patterns and fabrics is a bit creative and of course sewing them up is technical !

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  53. My stash is just right for me... I sew all sorts of things, clothing, crafts, quilts and all sorts of things. It amazes me sometimes that I can go to my stash and find just what I want or need... Sewing is lethargic to me.... in a good way... it helps me slow things in life down and I seem to enjoy it so much more when I've done some for the day. Granted it's not every day that I get too... just everyone else life gets in the way some times. I would say I'm both! I love a good challenge... as far as sewing (other things too). Been known to sew a wedding dress in a week because the promised seamstress fell through on the bride! I love to be creative, nothing like having my 3 year old granddaughter tell me she wants a gramma made dress for her birthday...
    Love your questions... makes me think! Hugs.... Jean C.

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  54. I think I can honestly say that I am both. When I taught my workshop last weekend, it was clear to me that the students saw me as both - they told me they like how I have an engineering mind with a creative side. Interesting things to think about.

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  55. After taking a little time to think about your question, "Are you a sewing technician or a creative fiber artist?", I have to answer that I think I'm a little of both. I do enjoy learning how to do new/or working on perfecting difficult techniques and I choose to do so from time to time just to push myself out of my "sew a simple knit" mentality from time to time. On the other hand I LOVE fabric, and it is so nice and a blessing to have a stash on hand. BUT, I do have to watch it though, because sometimes I notice that my LOVE of fabric quite often borders on GREED. I just want it, and I just want it all right now!

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  56. I have to agree with Faye, I am definitely both! Fit, techniques, etc., are all just as important to me as fabric! However, I must admit, I've just started to collect fabric for approx the last two years (although I've been sewing for 46 yrs!). Because of this, most would think I was a "technical" sewer. That's actually not the case...I just found myself sewing up every piece of fabric I bought right away! Now I understand and appreciate the reasons for having a fabric stash. But I have a question to all...don't you have to be concerned with dry rot with fabrics kept for years?

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