Resolution #1: Cut fearlessly!

5 Jan

What I Wore 2/1/2010

Or, what to do when your stash needs to start paying rent.

What do you do when your stash is full of fabric that is ‘too pretty to use’? It’s gotten to that stage: I have piles and piles of gorgeous prints that I don’t want to cut into because I am scared of wrecking them. I deliberate for hours over what fabric to use for projects, too timid to pick the ones I’ve hoarded ‘for best’ in case I ruin them. When I went to Japan in 2008 it was fabric I bought as a souvenir rather than tea sets or kimonos – fabric I still haven’t touched. I bought these things because I want to live with them everyday, not to stuff them away in a drawer!

One solution is as old as DIY itself – use the fabric in such a way that it can be re-made at a later date. The skirt in the photo above is made of some of the hoarded Japan fabric, a Kokka print that I bought in a beautiful little fabric shop in Kichijoji. It’s a lovely cotton/linen blend of a quality that is rare in Australia, or at least horribly expensive, and when I cut into it I swear my hands were shaking! In the end I made a very simple full skirt of two rectangles sewn together and gathered to a waistband. In this way, I can unpick and re-use the rectangles if I ever get sick of the skirt or don’t fit into it anymore. Even though I love patterns with complicated seaming, they would not have done this fabric justice. I have already altered it from a shorter bubble skirt shape to a longer, slightly more wearable version!

Am I just hedging my bets? I could spend my life as a crafter making simple shapes for fear of ruining a pretty fabric. What are your tips for getting over The Fear? Are there any patterns you use to show off the fabric, rather than the stitches? Or should I just give up and hang my uncut fabric on the wall?


15 Responses to “Resolution #1: Cut fearlessly!”

  1. Kat January 5, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    I think simple skirts are the best way to showcase your favourite fabrics. I wear heaps of skirts and dresses so I make skirts with basically every fabric I love. And like you say if you want you can always take it apart and make something else later. I love the fabric by the way!

  2. Alyssa January 5, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    I have the same problem, except that my fabrics really aren’t that nice, they are more just unwearable. I tend to buy really zany or campy prints that are much too cuckoo for day wear or just end up not being that great.
    This was a really good solution though for your fabric, which is beautiful! I have been looking for a similar nautical print.

  3. sarah January 5, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Those Kokka cottons are amazing, aren’t they? I made a dress for my daughter out of some and I shuddered cutting into it, too!

    I have yet to make anything for myself out of any fabric that’s exceptional (or irreplacable, I guess I mean), but I have made a few things for my daughter – I look for dresses with panels that will display the fabric, a-line shapes, that sort of thing. This one was a particular success, I felt cutting up that vintage Moomin fabric was worth it for the result!

    • whipstitchsewing January 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

      Oh my gosh I love Mumin! I have some Mumin fabric I bought in Finland a few years ago – you guessed it, I have not dared to cut it yet. Gah. That dress is so cute though, it gives me hope!

  4. Lily January 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Hi! I just discovered your blog and I love it! I know what you mean about being too scared to cut nice fabric, especially since it’s so hard to come by in Australia (I find it so upsetting and frustrating how expensive and crap fabric is here. It’s ridiculous to have to pay $30/m for boring polyester from Spotlight!). You did the right thing, though. That skirt is really classic and classy, I can’t imagine you’d get sick of it in a hurry.

    I also really love your playsuit (I think I might make one when I’m finished my current project) and the poor unfortunate bird dress (you can’t just unpick it and fusible interface the whole thing??).

  5. Andi B. Goode January 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    That’s a gorgeous print. And I think it’s a fab skirt. I haven’t any advice, not being a crafty gal myself, though.
    -Andi x

  6. claire January 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    WOW what a fab skirt. auz must be like england the nice fabric is so expensive and i’m on abit of a tite budget at the mo……….so i no the panic attacks when you have to dig in and start to cut x (p.s dont think you will ever have trouble fitting into any thing skinny bird!)

    • whipstitchsewing January 5, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

      I can’t believe there isn’t great fabric in England! With all that tailoring heritage I’m sure there must be some amazing haberdashers. But yes, probably expensive.

  7. Karin January 7, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Very pretty! The material works perfectly well this way I think. But then, how many gathered skirts does one need?
    Maybe it’s easier to use the treasured fabrics with sewing-patterns that you’ve already tried, so that you know they work for you?
    I almost exclusively buy solid colour fabric (maybe because I’m a fair blonde, and most patterns tend to draw all attention on me, I disappear in them), so I don’t really have that problem…

    • whipstitchsewing January 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

      Too many gathered skirts are never enough!! It’s true, I like using patterns I have tried before for treasured fabric. Almost like havng made a mock-up!

      • Karin January 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm #


  8. Sandra January 7, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    Beautiful, and great idea!

  9. Abi January 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    What a beautiful fabric! It definitely looks best with a simple style that allows the fabric to shine!

    I totally relate to cutting fears! Sadly it’s where I procrastinate the most on my projects. It’s either worrying that I’ll spoil it by cutting it out wrong, or my current procrastination is not wanting to use nice fabrics until I lose some weight, so I don’t have to take things apart to take them in 😛

    It all really just comes down to being more confident in your skills. Tafe is definitely helping me conquer my cutting fear. You have to balance it so that you can cut fearlessly, but also make sure you aren’t cutting it wrong!

  10. Twill Jill January 14, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    I read a great quote once that said, “Fabric is just fabric. The magic doesn’t begin until you cut into it.” That’s really helped me. All those daydreams you get of what that fabric COULD become when you spot that great piece will never become reality if you don’t start cutting.

    • whipstitchsewing January 14, 2010 at 9:36 am #

      Very true. Until you cut it, there is only the potential to be an amazing outfit!

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