(image source: Cora)
For anyone who is interested in taming their fabric stash, help has arrived! I've been a bit out of the loop recently due to moving house and Dolores deciding she no longer needs to nap, so I have no idea how widely reported the new fabric stash app, Cora, has been amongst the sewing community to date. So I'm going to pretend that you haven't heard about it yet. Its developer, Hélène Martin, contacted a number of sewers including myself earlier this year about her new fabric stash app project. She was asking if we had any ideas about what we'd like from such a thing, and also if we'd like to trial her beta version. Well, trialling, feedback and a couple of rounds of updating have now taken place, and now it is on sale for use on iPhones, iPods and iPads for $6.99.
I'll be honest, if I hadn't been offered the opportunity to play about with it for free, I probably wouldn't have bothered. Although I love the idea of getting my stash into some semblance of order so I can get some serious stash busting done, I'm not the most technically minded and pretty time-poor these days, so I might have assumed that it wasn't worth investing the time to working it out. If that scenario had played out then it totally would have been my loss. First up, Cora is SUPER easy to use, barely any investment in time was required to get it up and running even though I'm in no way an avid app collector or user. And secondly, I have genuinely found it to be awesome in a number of ways.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, I should explain a bit more about what Cora actually is. This app allows you to catalogue your lengths of fabric by taking a photo and inputting information about them like width, length, if it's pre-washed, fibre content, main colour and lots more. All the info you add, as well as being potentially useful references, can also be used as filters to help you search through it all. You can add a lot of info (including super detailed stuff like where you bought it and on what date) or barely anything if the visual is the most important thing for you, and I really like that you can add 'Notes' on each piece which I have been using to add a reminder to myself about what I intended to use each piece for. Aside from knowing how much I have of the damn thing, remembering what I had planned for it is my biggest stumbling block when trying to use my stash.
(A tiny chunk of my fabric stash. Don't judge.)
I'm not going to lie, the initial inputting of your fabric is a bit time consuming. But once it's in there you can update it easily, for example, if some of it gets used or you have a new idea for what to do with it. Whilst I was packing up my fabric stash for my recent move I added about one bin bag's-worth of fabric into the app, which took quite a while and only amounted to 24 pieces (see image above), about one tenth of my total stash of fabric, scraps and refashionable garments! However, I'm some happy to have those catalogued, and I regularly go into the app to look at them and mull over what they should become. Even with that small chunk catalogued (along with recently having to pack and unpack it all!), I feel much more in touch with what fabric I own.
I can imagine that many people might find the app useful when shopping for sewing patterns to see if they already have something suitable to make it in. Me? I'm finding that it's making me feel more accountable for the vast amount of fabric I own, even though I've only catalogued a small section of it so far. If I'm serious about busting my stash and deploying the lovely pieces I own to make useful garments for myself and my children, then I have to actually start using the damn stuff. And I really think that this tool will help me actually do that. Currently, the app doesn't have a function for telling you how much you've used up in a given period of time, but just knowing that I have 24 pieces of fabric catalogued is making me think that I need to use at least two pieces of stash fabric per month if I'm ever going to make the smallest dent.
As you may have noticed, I feel pretty strongly about everyone, myself firmly included, using existing materials where possible over buying new stuff every time in every aspect of life. I just don't think our planet can support the level of consumption of goods and materials that most Western people (once again, sadly, myself firmly included) are currently engaged in. And fibre growth then fabric production, processing, dying and transportation is a real damaging industry. Aside from being heaps of fun, I really hope that this app will help many of us who like to sew to increasingly turn to what we already own more often than we currently do.
What about you? Have you tried Cora? Do you have any other successful method for tracking your fabric stash? If so, are you diligent at updating it? How has tracking and/or cataloguing your fabric stash altered your relationship to it?