How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric

We love our stashes. We don't want to say goodbye to any of our fabric. Sometimes, we love looking at it so much that we can't even bring ourselves to quilt with certain fabrics. But sometimes, there are fabrics in our stash that deserve a new lease on life. 

PS This post is part of the Summer Stash Busting Challenge-- Welcome! Be sure to check out the original post to see the full lineup of content here. 

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How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

We've spent 7.5 weeks so far busting our stashes. We've looked at every possible way to utilize and organize our stash except for one-- the dreaded destash. To some of you "destash" is a curse word. You're thinking about closing this blog right now. But bear with me-- Destashing doesn't have to mean getting rid of fabric. Destashing means taking the fabrics that have exceeded their "shelf life" and giving them a job. 

Video

When To Destash

These are suggestions only. If you are feeling any of these emotions you might consider destashing in one or more than one of the ways I'll be suggesting. For some quilters, destashing is never the right choice, and if that's you, it's okay! These may be good ideas to have for a friend. 

You might want to destash if:

  1.  Your stash has outgrown the space you have to store it
  2. No matter how hard you try, it feels impossible to keep your stash organized
  3. When preparing to make a new quilt, you promise yourself to "shop your stash" but that feels so overwhelming, that you end up going to the store anyway
  4. You have so much fabric that you're not even really sure WHAT you have, much less WHERE it all is
  5. You are STABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy), and you're not sure what is going to happen to your fabric after your quilting days end. It might be best to rehome some of your fabric with quilting friends so it doesn't get tossed aside by family members who really don't know anything about quilting

Bottom line, if your stash feels overwhelming and / or if you feel frustrated by futile efforts to shop your stash, keep reading. 

How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

How to Destash

When I hear "destash" I used think of selling fabric or feeling forced to get rid of fabric I love. We will talk about selling fabric in a few minutes, but that's only one way you can destash, and I think you might like my other ideas better. The first step for all of these ideas is to "take inventory." By that, I mean you need to get everything where you can see it and get organized. If you have a very large stash, this will be a big job. I suggest inviting a quilty friend over to help sort and fold. Wine, cake, chocolate, and pizza are all excellent bribery tools. LOL. I also suggest reading a couple posts I wrote earlier in the Summer Stash Busting Challenge:
-How to Organize Your Yardage
-How to Organize Your Scraps 
As you organize, set to one side anything you've fallen out of love with. You know, the "what was I thinking" fabrics, the "that's not my style anymore" fabrics, the "I'm so sick of that fabrics," and the "this doesn't match anything" fabrics. These are the fabrics you are going to "destash."

How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Repurpose

Remember what I said above: Destashing doesn't have to mean getting rid of fabric. Destashing means taking the fabrics that have exceeded their "shelf life" and giving them a job. To that end, here are some ways to use up some of that fabric in a jiffy:

  1. Make some quick and easy projects. Pillowcases are useful for storing and transporting quilts as well as for sleeping or organizing the linen closet (store a set of sheets or towels inside a pillowcase so that all the pieces stay together and stack neatly on the shelf), and they use up over a yard of fabric!
  2. Make practice sandwiches for free motion quilting. Two fat quarters and a bit of batting makes a perfect practice size. Use my homemade spray baste or some Hobbs fusible batting to make a whole pile of them to encourage yourself to practice your FMQ more often
  3. Make backings. I know magazines and quilts shows everywhere have brainwashed us into thinking that the back of the quilt must perfectly match the front, but it doesn't. Fabric that needs a job will make excellent backing. 

Share

Just because you can't seem to find what you're looking for when you shop your stash doesn't mean your friends can't! Invite your quilty friends to shop your stash when they need a backing or just a bit more purple or the perfect binding. You don't have to hand them the keys to the kingdom, but just invite them to let you know when they need something so you can check your stash before they head to the shop. If you are part of a guild, especially a large guild, ask if you can bring a pile of freebies to your next meeting. When a quilty friend has a birthday coming up or when the guild is doing a white elephant at Christmas, make a little fat quarter bundle from your stash instead of heading to the shop. At first it may feel hard to let go of the fabric you have so carefully collected and curated. But if these fabrics have lived their shelf life, you'll soon be happy to see them with a new purpose and happy to see the smiles they can bring to your friends.

How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Donate

Look for ways to contribute fabric for charity projects. To be perfectly honest, most charities are inundated with outdated fat quarters and poor quality fabrics. But if you have quilt shop quality cotton fabrics in large cuts (backing sizes), you can ask local and national charities, including Quilts for Cure, if they could use them. Additionally, you could make pillowcases for Ryan's Case for Smiles, make simple and quick quilts for local projects, or contribute fabric for your guild's charity work. 

How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Sell

Finally, you could consider reselling some of your stash. If you have sought after fabrics by "collectible" designers such as Tula Pink or Heather Ross, this might be a good option for you. This could also be a good choice if you have an established online store where you already serve other sewists or if you have a large social media following. From what I have observed online, most resellers price below the original price per yard, and either sell complete cuts of fabric, sell requiring one yard minimums, or they fabric by the pound (especially for smaller bits of fabric or stash). I recommend a bit of poking around on the internet to see what prices might be right for you if you are interested in selling fabric. 

How to Destash Your Quilting Fabric with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

PS Don't forget to pin this post so you can find it later!

This post is part of the Summer Stash Busting Challenge-- Welcome! Be sure to check out the original post to see the full lineup of content here. 

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