Children are great little teachers

Children are great little teachers


This as going to be a slightly unusual post as I’m going to share photos of my latest make (another Aeolian!) while I talk about my consumerism, and the changes I’m making.


For the past month or so I have been feeling overwhelmed with the amount of unnecessary stuff in my house.  Culling has been happening.  My girls and I have sorted through their toys, books and clothes and we made three piles – one for keeps, one for memories and the other to giveaway.  The culling hasn’t been restricted to the small people in the house.  I’ve parted with some things from my wardrobe too (which is not uncommon for me) and an unused stock pot, which was taking up precious space in the pantry, has been re-homed.  There is still more to do.  Baby steps right?


My fabric and pattern stashes are large and for the first time ever, they feel like they are too big.

I’m not going to cull – it’s mostly quality fabric that I like and patterns don’t take up too much space – but I’ve decided to try to significantly reduce my spending on these items.  I’ve been tempted.  I even took a swatch of the most glorious medium-weight red linen from The Fabric Store to think about.


And think about that fabric I did.  I remembered how February is often the hottest month in our summer, and that the items of clothing lacking in my wardrobe are summer dresses, and that this fabric would make the perfect Aeolian dress.

To tell you the truth, I almost purchased the fabric when it went of sale (oh the temptation!), but then I took a few deep breathes and I decided to shop my stash.  The result is the dress in the photos.  It’s my favourite TNT pattern, it’s not red, but it’s made from a glorious geometric linen from my stash and I love this dress.  I also know it will get worn and worn and worn.


I could end there with a happily ever after, but I do feel I need to go on, because this isn’t just about halting purchases relating to my hobby, but also the RTW clothes, shoes and the accessories.  Admittedly, I have experienced quite a change of style and a some weight loss in the past two years, so it has been a time of buying and replacing, but I think I’m at a point now where I can significantly wind back the flow of new things.


The thing that actually crystallised the need for me to significantly change my buying habits came from two things that my girls recently said.  After we had finished cleaning out her wardrobe, one of my daughters said, and I quote, “Great. Now we can go shopping for new clothes.”  A few days later, my other daughter recited the following list when asked what her favourite things were… “gymnastics, swimming and shopping”.

I realised that my shopping (and a love of a good fabric bargain or a newly released pattern) may have not been setting the best example!  I’ve been purchasing in excess of need, so now I’m taking a step back and really thinking about all expenditure.  It’s only been a few weeks, but this mindfulness has already seen some purchasing opportunities passed up.

For me, this has been a valuable and grounding lesson and a reminder that children are great little teachers.


Now I’ve got that off my chest, I’m off to re-read Felicia’s from The Craft Sessions Stash Less posts.  I think they will have more meaning the second time around.


Pattern:  Pattern Fantastique’s Aeolian T-shirt Dress (knee length)
Printed linen from Joys Fabric Warehouse (purchased in April 2015)
Shortened the dress by 2 inches (5cm)
Accessories:  Sonia Rykiel beads from Christine and shoes purchased from Siricco.
Photo Location:  Creswick


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  • I can totally relate! My boys have asked repeatedly, “When are these boxes going to be for me?” when there is another parcel on our doorstep. I recently had a color analysis and what is most flattering is not what I had been buying/making. Funny enough, it has liberated my stash to be used for gifts when all along I’ve been so indecisive to chose a pattern and make something. Knowing that our new little one will keep me away from my sewing machine for a bit, I spent an unusual amount on RTW so there is no need to add to my stash. All that’s to say, I applaud your efforts and it is a constant battle to fight in myself and my children to not equate having more with being content.

    • Speaking from experience, knowing your colours is a wonderous thing! I’ve decided that shopping is pleasurable, but it doesn’t make you happy. It’s a hard lesson to teach my girls, but I’m going to give it a read hot shot! When is bubba due?

  • Good on you, Anna! Having felt overwhelmed by my stash, I recently culled all of the fabric that I didn’t love. It felt great but it definitely gave me an excuse to buy more, which is so silly and counterintuitive. I’ve been making an effort to sew from my stash and I’m getting better at it. Good luck with your personal fabric purchasing journey!

    • Thanks for sharing Bella. Stashes are so personal aren’t they? And like anything, sewing from your stash takes practice. Here’s hoping I get into a new rhythm soon!

  • To review and make plans, and then to follow through, can be wonderfully liberating. I have enough stash for myself, but my daughters regularly want something me for them. Which inevitably involves buying fabric and patterns. I reduced waste by taking them with me and buying only enough for the immediate project.

    I gifted away a lot of patterns and some fabrics at social sewing. What was taken went to the local op shop.

    • I offloaded some of my stash a few years ago and it was liberating. You know all that ‘wrong’ fabric that you buy when you start sewing and before you really know what you are doing! My current stash is mostly great stuff, so I really have no excuses but to sew it! Watch this space…

  • Your new dress is fabulous, I love that print, and see you didn’t need that new fabric!
    I really am in no position to talk, but I do understand how easy it is to buy new fabrics. The stores are like a lolly shop full of pretty colours and prints, but to be honest a lot of my wardrobe isn’t coloured or printed, and fabric I buy can sit there for years as I struggle to make something truly wearable from it. I’m trying!

  • Thanks for this interesting post. It’s something that has bothered me for a while about my sewing. Ive now got way more clothes than I need. I tell myself its all about improving skills, its my hobby, my meditation, my creative outlet, but…..too many clothes. This year I thought Id try more complex things, a quilted coat maybe and make muslins, just generally try to slow the process down. Another lovely Aeolian BTW.

    • I feel some more complicated project in my year ahead too Barbara. I also have been sewing for others (selected people of course) which is a great way to reduce the stash and not increase my item count in my wardrobe. I have used a one in one out system before, and that can be helpful too.

  • Hi Anna,
    Well done on your efforts!
    I too like to cull uneeded objects clothing fabric etc to make room for the new. But recently I’ve had a slight change of heart. I still want to declutter my house/life but I’m starting to see the use in what I have and instead of culling to make room for new my first aim is just to use what I have, like what you’ve done with that stunning green fabric. I cannot recommend enough the documentary “the true cost” which explores the impact of the throw-away fashion industry from a social, psychological, environmental and economical point of view. Have you seen it?

    • Hi Liz, I haven’t seen the documentary but I’ve heard all about it. Might be time to get my hands on it. Thanks for reminding me about it.

  • I am in total agreement with your philosophy Anna. I have started by decluttering my in box and unsubscribing to rubbish I don’t need to know about. Most sewing sites and blogs are excluded at this stage. My sewing room is in great need of rarionalisation and organisation. That is a work in progress. But I have used my stash to see 5 pairs of pants recently. I feel so virtuous as a result. Love the idea and you sharing this with us, as I think a lot of us tend to buy, buy, buy, fabrics using an excuse that it is cheap, beautiful and will be used one day!!! I am going to try to use my stash and repurpose what I already have this year. I’ll see how I go.

    • I’m pleased to hear that I’m not alone in the need to halt the buy, buy, buying. I was nervous posting this pieces, but I’ve had such lovely feedback that I’m so glad I did. It makes me feel stronger in my resolution to shop my stash. I have so many lovely pieces of fabric that need their chance to shine and get worn. Watch this space…

  • I have been been doing the same over the last few months.. And I am hitting the stash this year as well; the good and the bad. I have way too much and it needs to come down and I will have to live with my bad choices.

    Good luck with it all..

    • Thanks for sharing Stephanie. I’m pleased to hear I’m not along. I salute you Stephanie for accepting and living with your bad choices. Dare I say… you’re a braver lass than I! Sending good luck your way too…

  • Great post … something I’ve also been thinking about recently. We have so much stuff in our lives and so much of it unnecessary. It is definitely one of the things I want to change this year.

    • I do love a bit of navel gazing Anne, especially when it results in a plan for change. All the best on your journey this year.

  • Hello Anna, I enjoyed reading about your recent experience. I’ve just started a big clean-up, too-much-stuff! Culling clothes can be hard, but I’m reminding myself that friends and second hand shops are going to be happy! Xx

    • There does seem to be a too-much-stuff movement… I wonder if certain planets are aligning? Good luck with the culling. Give me a yell if you need a hand. I’m rather ruthless when it comes to wardrobe clean-outs. Just ask Lara!

  • The dress is gorgeous – of course! Your thoughts about your habits resonate with me also. I know I have too much fabric and I have a lot of patterns I never used. I might go read the posts you are referring to.

    • My fabric stash is large Jenya, but don’t get me started on the unused pattern. I’m blushing at the thought of all of mine neatly arranged in my cupboard!

  • That is so true! I’ve been thinking of this while my stash and I have been having a staring contest. I have been testing my need to press that buy button and have surprised myself many times by being happy I stopped myself from what I now see as impulsive buying. By no means will I not buy things this year but I will shop my stash first. Thanks for the post!

    • I laughed at the thought of a staring competition with your stash Melissa. I can safely say that making this dress from stash fabric was actually more satisfying than buying the new red fabric. And that in itself is a great lesson for me.

  • We did a lot of chucking out when we emptied the loft for our extension. But not enough. The trouble is I look after things so I have t-shirts that are 20 years old as well as the more recent buys and the items I make! I am trying to part with what I do not wear, but its hard. I too am hoping to only buy fabric that I need (eg item specific) and not buy other lovely fabrics just because its beautiful or cheap! Shopping from the stash worked for you on this dress its beautiful. Well done.

    • It so nice that everyone is sharing their personal stories. Quality clothes that are looked after do last a long time Louise. I imagine it’s hard parting with them. I do like having a stash… fabric for a project without having to head to the shops, but mine stash to be whittled down significantly before I can claim victory.

  • Nice post! It’s definitely hard to stay away from a Fabric Store sale so good on you! I’m quite happy with how my wardrobe is coming along so this year I’m going to get stuck into some projects for my ever patient hubby 🙂 and perhaps take a step back from so much sewing and spend more time on other hobbies. Good luck!

    • I’ve found myself sewing for others – my girls, their friends, my friends son etc… – in the last few weeks. It means less blogging (I only blog my items these days) but it has been highly satisfying see how well received these home-sewn gifts are received. I’m sure your hubby will be thrilled when you make something for me.

  • I admire your mindful approach to sewing and buying new fabric! Thankfully I have a pretty small stash (tiny appartement/small income) but I know I’d buy more if I could. Often just to own a beautiful piece of fabric. It brings me joy but I do wonder about the joy of having and owning. With the knitting now I know I have to be careful too 😉 I’ll follow your journey with interest and am curious to see what beauties your stash will reveal.

  • Oh lady I hear you! But don’t forget you are also incredibly generous with your stash and time…… My stash Is my one blind spot – I have a strict one in, one out policy for most things in our house as its pretty small, but yep, fabric and patterns are my weakness. I try to stick with a few ground rules – I avoid online purchases as much as possible; I’ve catalogued all my stash and getting there with my patterns in Evernote, and where I can I’ve matched fabric to patterns in my seasonal sewing plan; and I only buy without a project in mind if it’s absolutely a hard-to-find fabric (usually good quality knits). This winter I’ve got some bigger outerwear projects planned (although I distinctly remember telling you quite emphatically that I don’t need anymore coats. Turns out I’m wrong!).

  • Oh what a terrific post Anna! I’ve been heading this way for a while too, well mentally at least, as I have too much stuff and in particular my fabric stash has become overwhelming. I pass things on to second hand shops frequently, but apparently I acquire even more regularly :(. And I too hate the idea of raising a little girl who loves to shop – ugh, what a depressing cliche! Thank you for the links to Felicia’s posts – I clicked through and became absolutely engrossed in the Stash Less series; what an inspiration. And speaking of inspirations – I absolutely love these photos! You always find the BEST photo locations!

    • It’s such a journey isn’t it Gabrielle. Changing our pattern buying and spending habits is no mean feat. I’m hoping that being much more mindful, and openly sharing my journey, will help me stay true to my conviction. And thanks for the photo love. Sharon and I are forever ‘scouting’ locations and sending iPhone snaps to each other. We do have a lot of fun collaborating.

  • What a very thought provoking post, thank you.

  • Good for you. I also have a thing about consumption for consumption sake and it’s always made me feel squeamish. It’s purely personal and each to their own. I like pretty things as much as the next person, but it makes me uncomfortable to own more than I can realistically wear or use. It’s one of the reasons my blog and making are not as prolific as others. How many items of clothing can one person need? I’m also reminded constantly how easy it is for children to become thoughtless consumers – I’m guilty of being a little more of a shopper for my daughter and let me tell you I know she is less than appreciative of those gifts. It’s starting to seem like she wants things just to “have” them. Well, let me tell you that has been stopped, and conversations have been had 🙂

    • I’m currently having ‘those conversations’ with the smalls in my house too. It’s a work in progress. And do you remember how we talked about this when you visited and I said it wasn’t something I was going to blog about… Yes, I changed my mind on that one. The realisation and need for change became so large that I just had to share!

  • Another gorgeous dress – I have a trip to Marrakech in May, so something like this would be perfect in linen!

    I’ve recently been feeling the weight of all our stuff, so this post resonates with me. I have a habit of gearing myself up for a huge purge but then feeling overwhelmed and leaving it for another day (which doesn’t come), so this time, I’m going to just do a little bit every day. Except the fabric/pattern stash – I need to do that all in one go, when I’m in a particularly ruthless frame of mind!

  • Perfect dress for the hot hot weather and that mod print is very very you 🙂 I hear you on the overconsumption thing. I stopped buying rtw 6 years ago and since then have made 100% of my clothing myself; and one of the benefits is the fact that it forced me to slow down and truly think about each and every thing. I haven’t regretted that decision for a second 🙂