The #1 Way To Tell If You Are A Hoarder or a Collector

Hello, My Name Is Jill & I Collect Fabric.

Online Editor, Sew Daily


"O bliss of the collector, bliss of the man of leisure! Of no one has less been expected and no one has had a greater sense of well-being than… a collector. Ownership is the most intimate relationship one can have to objects. No t that they come alive in him; it is he who comes alive in them."
Walter Benjamin

Hello. My name is Jill and I'm a collector. I collect fabric, lots and lots of fabric. Sometimes I don't even have a plan for the fabric I buy, I just buy it and hang it up neatly in my closet. Sometimes after I purchase a yard or two of fabric, I'll leave the bag in the car so as not to have questions or side-way glances thrown my way when I bring it in. Then in the dark of night I'll tip-toe out to the car and bring the bag in.

After I buy fabric I like to wrap myself in it like a cape and swirl it around like a matador. Or alternatively a queen of some sort.  I love to smell fabric. That's kind of embarrassing, I don't do it in public, except when no one is looking.

I've tried to quit fabric collecting or at the least be less consumptive. But, it only works for a short time and then when I go into a store or look online all self control is out the window. Recently, I bought 4 yards of Nani Iro cotton straight from Japan. Good lord it's beautiful. Plan for it? Um, no. That beauty I'm having shipped to my work address. There's a tip for you, ship it all to your work address if you don't want nosy people asking questions.

I also collect sewing machines, thread, sewing books and sewing tools. Pretty much anything with the word 'sew' in it I'm collecting it. Sometimes I use the object, sometimes I just look at it, pet it etc..

I, in no way identify myself with a hoarder. I've got this all under control. And, number one difference between a hoarder vs. collector? Collectors have a deep sense of pride for their items. We like to show off our collections, we're in no way ashamed of it. The only thing weird I do is sniff fabric and pretend like I'm a movie queen or a matador or both as the case may be.

I'm thinking if you're reading this you might have a bit of collection of sewing related items yourself? What do you collect? Can you pass a fabric store without going inside? Do you have multiple copies of sewing patterns just in case? Do you like to have complete sets of things and blame it on OCD-ness.  I would love to know your tips as a fabric or pattern collector. How do you keep your stash and items organized.

Collectors like us don't need an intervention! We just need to support each other and learn each others secrets(I mean tips!) so we can proudly fill our rooms with more fabric and sewing stuff!

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p.s. be sure to take advantage of the 80% off sale and grow your own collection!


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sewing Fabric & Fabric Basics

About Jill

I am the Online Editor for Sew Daily and I am so incredibly excited to meet everyone here on this amazing sewing community!

My first passion is garment sewing, I love vintage sewing patterns and working with knits and silks. I also get very jazzed about sewing pants and love learning couture techniques. What about you? I can't wait to get started finding out more about you and what you like to sew.

23 thoughts on “The #1 Way To Tell If You Are A Hoarder or a Collector

  1. That’s funny, I “collect” fabric, too. And yes,I have left bags of fabric in the car, until later when I can sneak them in the house unnoticed. I do keep my fabric piled neatly and organized. I have way to much fabric, for the amount of sewing I do. Usually I do have something in mind to make with a piece of fabric but sometimes, it is just so pretty and such a good price that I do pick up a few here and there, that I don’t know what I will do with it…………but I’ll figure it out someday, lol. I make mainly doll clothes (from 6″ to 36 “). I occasionally sew clothes for my grandchildren and love to make caftans for myself. And also make Halloween costumes. I do sew, in spurts and spats. Sometimes I’ll go 3 months before I sew something and then sometimes I’ll sew everyday for a month..
    I enjoy folding the fabric and rearranging my fabric. I do that 2 or 3 times a year………I get amazing enjoyment out that………so I guess you could say I love touching the fabric.
    Lory G

  2. Hi Jill,

    When my youngest daughter was 12, she was into organizing and we came up with this great storage plan for my fabric “collection”. I went through my fabrics and cut a 2×2 swatch of each fabric. She wrote a short description of each fabric, amount, width, and washing instructions and if it was pre-washed. I set up a spreadsheet and she entered all the information. That way I can load the spreadsheet on my iPad and take the list when I shop. Or, if I see a pattern that I like, I know what fabric I have on hand. She used a glue stick and glued each swatch to an index card. We then printed the list so that it would fit into a 5-3/4 X 8-3/4 page protector. My fabric is stored in a “Yaffa block” drawer system and each page and card corresponds to the drawer number that the specific fabric is stored in. My daughter is now 30, so obviously my collection has changed and I’ve had to update my list and I did go through it and arrange it by colors, but this plan has worked very well. It was very time consuming in the beginning, but worth it. When I’m searching for inspiration, I get my binder down and look through it. I feel as though I’ve been to the fabric shop. My oldest daughter now has an 11 year old and she is going to help me reorganize and update my collection. She loves to look through my fabric book. You could also use a regular sized binder; I just used what I had on hand because I “collect” other things, too. And we moved five years and the fabric was easy to move because it was stored in clear drawers.

  3. Alas! Not only do I collect fabric, but also beads; watercolor paints and brushes; fonts and graphic software; instructional books on quilting, sewing, watercolor painting, graphic design, and interior design. If I didn’t actually have boxes of jewelry, quilts, garments, paintings, published designs, and a lovely home — I would need serious therapy! When I grow up, I am going to be an artist! Looks like I am in good company.

  4. I also consider myself a fabric collector. I love the possibilities and, sometimes, with a particularly beautiful piece of fabric, I resist cutting into it even when I (think I) know what I want. I don’t want to limit its possibilities! When chatting with my (very wise) Mother on this matter one day (she, who has kept every piece ‘just in case it would be needed’) she suggested I hang the beautiful ones as pieces of art.

    I’ve not done that yet, partly because I can’t get to my wall for all the fabric stored by the said walls.

    I now give myself permission to enjoy the beauty and marvelous feels of different fabrics. Then, when I’m ready, they will become serviceable pieces of clothing.

    Thanks, Mom, for the encouragement in sewing and in enjoying my fabric!

  5. This might be the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Thanks for the laugh! PS Would you mind if I had some fabric shipped to your office address? I don’t have a job . . .

  6. The first step in being a collector is making sure that everyone knows you are a collector! Then they will give you fabric, gift cards to buy fabric and when they ask (and they will ask) when you are going to use the fabric, you can say: “No one expects a stamp collector to use the stamps in their collection!

    Other great things to say:

    Everyone knows that fabric must cure before being used.

    My grandmother used to talk about how hard is was to get fabric during WWII. I will be ready if the time ever comes! (This is really effective on those people who believe in being prepared for end times.)

    This room (the sewing/guest room) is really well insulated (with the fabric) so it doesn’t take much heat to warm it up.

    And, finally, in the words of my neighbor, “Don’t yuck on my yum!”

    Oh, and as to the question of storage: I have mine in crates that have hanging file folders and on each one, there is fabric hanging on it. (I had read a blog, Sew Many Ways, and she had done this in a file cabinet, but I wanted it to take up less floor space and crates do that. Or did until I had to start a new stack…or 2 or 4. Or more….Quit judging!)

  7. This makes me sniggle. I moved back to Canada many years ago and knew the high price of fabric up here. So, I added to my already huge collection by adding more. It took a semi truck to move me back and I’m sure it was mostly books (textile related of course) and fabric. Fleece fabric up here is almost untouchable and I love using it for pajamas in this cold climate so I bought yards of it in the States – and then used it for wrapping fragile items like my grandfather clock and packing material. Since it is so sturdy I just threw it all in the wash after the move and squirreled it away later. I have purchased industrial shelving units from the “orange” store to hold it all. To be fair, I do a lot of costuming (gowns can take 15-20 yards) and quilting (what? a girl’s got to have options!)

    As for patterns yes I would run into a burning building for mine but would need several volunteers to help. All I can say in that vein, thank goodness for PDF!

    Hello my name is Theresa and I am addicted to textiles. And no I don’t want therapy.

  8. And Jill if that is a picture of your stash, it helps to group it by colour. That way the eye doesn’t jump around so much and the uninspired partner/friend will not seem to feel it is so overwhelming. Every bit helps to the unabashed hoarder ;D

  9. This post cracked me up. I try to have a plan for the fabric and yarn that I buy, but sometimes I forget what it was. This is NOT hoarding. It’s all good stuff that makes us happy and gives us projects to work on.

  10. I too love all things fabric. I use my 8″ by 24″ ruler and roll the fabric around it like on a bolt then pull the ruler half way out and fold the bundle in half. This means that all the fabric is the same size, some fatter if larger yardages. I have two wire shelving units purchased at Lowes like you would use in a pantry or something and an old pie hutch type cabinet that I stack my fabrics by color. Makes it very easy to spot and pick out what I need for my next project. I also have lots of fat quarters, jelly rolls and layer cakes. I have a nice three drawer night stand that I put the jelly rolls in and an old picnic basket for the fat quarters. Did I mention that I took the door off of the closet so I could go in and out easier and have the decorative boxes in their with kits in them. I like the term collector much better than hoarder. I love my fabric collection!

  11. Jill – I see fabric as my instant resource when i want to make a gift for someone. It makes me feel good just handling the fabric and sorting thru it just to find the right piece for my project. Can’t begin to tell you how many pieces i have that I thought would make a beautiful bag or how long it was until I actually made the bag. Some still un made. Very recently one of my nieces was pregnant with child number 3. But this time it was to be a girl and after two boys she needed some girlie things. So it was decided to give her a “Sprinkle”. I had alot of fun sorting for the girlie things to make. At the last minute my niece posted on facebook or pinterest that you should make a bag or item to put your gift in instead of buying a bag. So one of my special items i had for an extremely long time found a home as a beautiful bag. She loved and took it to the hospital with sweet baby girls clothing to come home in. That collected fabric is worth it to me. Judy Morris

  12. I love your secret fabric confessions. My name is Carolyn and I am a recovering fabriholic!!! I made myself slow down. Well, actually I got into dying my own fabric which is equally addictive :). One of my loves with my silk fabric from China is to get it all out and spread it around me and fantasize about what I can make from it. To this day, I have not made very much from this China silk stash. It is lovely, though.

  13. I am also a collector! Of fabric, patterns, sewing magazines, threads….I store my fabrics in clear tubs with lids, I put a label on each tub for the type of fabric such as children’s fabrics; solids; fat quarters; landscapes; kits…etc. my magazines are stored with like magazines in those cardboard magazine holders then in a bookcase and on top of the bookcase! My patterns are stored in file boxes which are marked on the outside which type such as: children’s and crafts; men’s and coed; women’s, etc. if I see a new line of fabric that I love sometimes I will get yardage of each color in the collection!! I don’t always have a plan for it but when I need fabric for something I never HAVE to run to the store because whatever I need will be in my collection! My daughter in law has even taken to shopping in “Moms” stash!! She has always found something that will work for her project and I gladly share with her!!

  14. I loved this post.
    I confess that I am a fabric collector too.
    It runs in my family. My mom started sewing, and collecting.
    My older sister has a fabric store. Oh the temptations in there.
    I would say that her stash is larger than mine 🙂

    I buy fabric normally with a project in mind.
    But somehow the project gets sidetracked, and I never get to it.
    And then years later I look at the fabric and wonder why I bought it, and have to come up with a new project.
    Now that I have kids, I use lots of my smaller pieces for kids clothing.
    My daughter has a dress that I made for her out of leopard print silk with flowers. That silk is probably from the 70s. She loves the print

  15. When I moved to a much smaller home, I downsized most everything but my fabric collection. I did have to start storing them in plastic tubs. So I took a small sample of each piece and the yardage and staple the fabric sample and write the yardage on a file folder. Then I would categorize the contents and write that on the tub and folder. It works quite well for me, although I miss not having it hanging close by to feel, smell, touch it when I wish. When I dig into my collection I will generally pull out 8-10 pieces of fabric for a season … not that I would get it all sewed up but to enjoy and inspire me.

  16. I’m a little of both! I go to fabric stores and buy just because it might be gone when I have a need for it….

    … I also go to thrift stores and buy garments and linens for the fabric, trims or buttons! It’s so much less expensive to buy a garment with really interesting buttons at my local thrift stores than to buy a few buttons on a card!

    Yup, I’m both.

  17. I’m a little of both! I go to fabric stores and buy just because it might be gone when I have a need for it….

    … I also go to thrift stores and buy garments and linens for the fabric, trims or buttons! It’s so much less expensive to buy a garment with really interesting buttons at my local thrift stores than to buy a few buttons on a card!

    Yup, I’m both.

  18. I’m a little of both! I go to fabric stores and buy just because it might be gone when I have a need for it….

    … I also go to thrift stores and buy garments and linens for the fabric, trims or buttons! It’s so much less expensive to buy a garment with really interesting buttons at my local thrift stores than to buy a few buttons on a card!

    Yup, I’m both.

  19. Wow! So many awesome comments! And, great suggestions for organizing. But no one sniffs their fabric? I feel awkward now (but I’m still going to sniff my fabric).