Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Money Saving Tips for the Frugal Stitcher (4/7) - Manage your stash

Hey guys!

How are we all doing?

Today we're going to talk about stash management! What is this? I guess it's a way of looking at your store-cupboard for cooking up something crafty. There's stuff you need all the time, there are ingredients you need once in a blue moon and there's only so much you can actually deal with in the pantry. If you take care here, you'll save money, reduce waste and have everything you need within easy reach.

Do it right and you won't end  like me, with unusable Octopodae (octopuses)
See? Unusable octopus...

Let's break it down into a few stages

I'm not talking about discounts, coupons and freebies here (oh no, that comes later!), but more the questions and points you need to be thinking about when you're buying/inheriting/stealing fabric.

Here are some good ones to think about:
+ How does this fit in with the rest of my stash and projects? - Okay, so if your stash is all identical, you've got a problem. If your stash is all totally unrelated, clashing and mismatched, you've got an equally bad issue. If the bulk of your stash coordinates in terms of colour, hue, print, texture, weight etc, there's a much higher chance you'll find a way to use more of it, avoid duplicates and buy less.
+ Can I use this? - Are you grabbing it simply because it's beautiful? Can you think of anything to do with it? I've already said that a cash-strapped stitcher shouldn't be buying fabric heading straight to the stash. If you have nothing planned immediately, it's probably going straight to the back of the that packet of reindeer meat...
+ Do I need this now? - Pick an arbitrary deadline. One year is good. Let's call that your stash turnover. Think about your other projects, plans, obligations and your skill level. Can you feasibly use this fabric within that time? Can you manage a bouclé cocoon coat when you already bought the fabric for that twill trench?
+ How much do I need? - Don't bring home a bolt if you can't use a bolt, don't buy a metre when you know ideally need two, don't buy enough of a fabric for 4 projects when you know you'll only be able to make one. At the same time, it pays to know roughly how much fabric it'll take for you to make certain garments. If you're petite and slim, you'll obviously take less fabric than a tall, plus-size. Bear this in mind because those tiny pennies and half-metres will add up.

Going back to the idea of a stash turnover. I'd say the bulk of your fabric should be used within the turnover time. Yes, there are a few pieces that'll go back to the 1970s and you'll have no idea how you got them, or what you were drinking when you did, but the majority of fabric should be used before the deadline. Storage costs money, maintenance costs money, unused fabric costs money.

If you aim for something like this, you will think more critically about what/when you buy but also if you buy at all. You'll also probably be more focused and more versatile when making things too. 
This is my stash...

Of course, a lot of your stash should be going towards finished, usable objects and finished projects. When you're making things  and trying to save money there are two important things you need to consider: is this essential to the project? (Do I need to do this?) How can I do this using what I already have?

Once again, this is likely to get you thinking a little more creatively about what you're making. Here are a few options that could help:
Make your own shoulder pads
Swap out one fastening for another
Stabilise facings with scraps, finish facings with scraps, make facings with scraps!
Salvage failed projects for yardage and notions
Make your own stay tape and tie interfacing
Substitute chest pieces and thermal interlinings
Create your own rope bridge / escape cord
Piecing and design details
Built-in bra, anyone?

Getting rid of it
I probably should have said first, but the term "use" could probably do with being a bit broader. It's not just about the finished object. Think of it in terms of these options: stuffing, muslin, experiment, lining, swap, giveaway, gifting, shred/burn (for the anarchists), repurpose, recycle, sell (useful if you've got big yardage), teaching know, use as in "get rid of"...

Keep this in mind, any of these options are possible and will definitely help you manage your turnover time and the cost of your stash.

That's it today. Do you have any nifty ideas for stash management? 

Ciao for now,

Monday, 4 August 2014

Blogged down

Why do we do it?

Things recently got a bit out of hand and I stopped reading all the blogs I regularly follow. I opened up Bloglovin' one day to find 120 unread posts and an ominous dread that I would need to wade through all of these and need to be complimentary about each and every one. I'm currently at the Edinburgh Fringe and am struck with the same dread that a whole new mound will be there to greet me upon my return.

In truth, in these situations culling dull posts is quite easy when you know there are 5 more by the same author further down the line. The same goes for unfollowing the blogs you regularly skip over.

There are millions of people around the world making things for millions of different reasons. there are probably just a many millions of reasons to put a picture of it on the web and shout to the world "Look! I made a thing!".

That being said, blogging is largely about baring a tiny piece of our souls to the world. It's a risky business when your skill, taste, intelligence, integrity and body are all on show for some strangers to oggle and scrutinise. So it seems natural that when a particular community starts questioning the regular unwavering praise offered by readers, it would be a direct and personal affront to everything an individual within that community would stand for.

Grayson Perry regularly argues that we're all anxious to show off our cultual/social/intellectual capital to justify ourselves in the face of our peers. Perhaps it's  even more acute when you live your life just outside of the cultural norms set our by your society.You feel you need to fight your corner just a little harder.

We are proud of our makes. We don't need a blog to prove that. We're proud of our makes because we choose to wear them everyday, we offer them as gifts (or charge for our services), or give them pride of place in our homes.

Alexandra Schulman said fairly recently that writing about clothes is a lot easier than making them. But writing about clothes we have made? That's tough.

Perhaps in writing we expect to find a level of clarity, wit and precision in the way we communicate. Perhaps we automatically assume it will magically appear as we scrawl small, deliberate pieces on our creations. There's a hope that we can capture the emotional, spiritual and intellectual complexity of producing something with our hands and trying to show the world that this object doesn't exist in a vaccuum, and ultimately does not exist in a world of jargon, exclusivity and technical wizardy.

But we are clumsy and can end up with the reader screaming "stop bloody whining! You made a pretty dress! Be happy! Not everyone else can do that! Just stop being bloody miserable with it!"

I have a theory that what you make is a reflection of your state of mind at the time. Evidently how you write about that particular project will be a reflection of your state of mind too. Perhaps that's why so many bloggers feel they must blog projects in order.

Perhaps it's the tiny, fraught, emotional posts that get published, the ones which are embarassing later in life and appear petty/whinging to the reader, that are the most valuable. Yes they might annoy readers, they may lose you followers, they may spark a panoply of followup posts lambasting or defending you. You can't opt out of conflict. Apprently you can't opt out of accidentally poersonally and grossly offending people on the internet either (what's new?).

Why am I saying this? Because it's hard to discuss the merits/worth of some blogs over others publicly, without making some personally offensive comments about the ones you don't enjoy. But there is a big difference between the blogs you follow loyally and everything else avilable out there.

It inevitably forces you to think about the worth of your own blog too.