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Monday, September 1, 2014

Shopping With Your Stash in Your Smart Phone - Why don't People Use the Existing Stash Management Apps?

So... one thing that I've noticed is that people are really longing for something that helps in the following situation:

You're in the fabric store and can't remember what's in your stash.

So what happens in that case? There's a bunch of outcomes
  1. you buy a few cones of thread / patterns only to discover that you now have more than enough of them (while having excess thread in a given color might eventually be solved through using it up, having duplicate patterns means you just incurred something you'll eventually want to destash, i.e. give away or trade for something more useful)
  2. you remember a pattern for a project you want to make and buy fabric without knowing how much fabric exactly you need (this means either having excess fabric you didn't need or ending up short on fabric and cursing)
  3. you decide not to shop because you don't want to take the risk
People all seem to agree that the solution is to have an app on your smart phone that lets you keep track of your stash.

So, now you're 
  1. in the fabric store,
  2. get out your smart phone to check 
    • whether you can use the item,
    • how much fabric you need,
    • what colorways of a particular thread are depleted, and
  3. can shop or not shop with confidence.

Yet, while there seem to be several Android and iOS apps that claim they do let you do exactly that, very few people seem to use these apps.

So why aren't these existing apps welcomed with open arms, smiling faces and all that?

I have to admit that I haven't studied these applications in detail, I just browsed a few websites. And the impression I get is the following:
The applications are either
  • really basic, free and appear tedious to use, or
  • come with their own database that is maintained by the provider of the application and cost a good bit of money.

I believe that
  • the center piece of a good stash management application is a shared database of patterns, fabrics, notions, thread 
    • without such a database, entering all the data about your stash becomes a chore - and people would constantly repeat recording the same data in different ways
  • this database needs to be user-maintained
    • only when the database allows users to add and edit entries, there's a chance we can keep up with the influx of new items while keeping the stash management tool free to use for everyone

I'd be totally interested in hearing why you do or don't use existing stash management applications - and, in particular, which ones you've tried.


  1. I use the oldest form of resources management - my memory!

    When that fails I use the albums feature on my phone. I take front and back pictures of the pattern envelope, and put them into the "patterns" album. I rarely access it, I know the rough fabric lengths needed for most garments and usually buy a tad more so that I have enough for test runs on the overlocker.

    The only thing I buy "just in case" are notions like thread and interfacing. Zips, buttons & fabric are all bought for a specific garment.

    1. Taking front and back pictures sure is a good way to go. And this sounds like something pretty simple to do actually.

      Do you have a huge patterns album? It sure seems like you have a great memory! Obviously, there's no real need for an application when things work so well for you this way. :)

    2. Roughly 30 patterns in the pattern library. I don't know if that is large or small, they are mostly for me, but also some for my kids and husband. I tend to use most of them just once, sometimes twice. Repeat uses are patterns that I really like and need multiples of, like basic pants.

      I use Evernote for lots of things so have a note on fabric lengths for family members' clothing. I also have a note that lists patterns I like so that I can review them and sometimes buy when they go on sale.