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Share Your Fabric Stash Busting Projects

What purpose will the fabrics from my stash find? I never know, because it's an ongoing process. I do know writing about my fabric stash compelled me to neaten and fold this portion of it!

There are different degrees and definitions for stash-busting. To strict observers, it can be using up all the fabric they already have, or only working with fabric they already possess for a given time – a month or a year, for example.

I’m not quite that disciplined about buying material. So I think of stash-busting as the art of finding a purpose for all the fabric you buy. It can take years! I call it an art because it requires skill and creativity to find projects that are worth your while, but don’t require additional investment in material.

After all, it’s wonderful to make do with what you have, but where is the enjoyment in your sewing if it isn’t exciting to you?

Most of the fabric I buy has the same life cycle:

It comes into my apartment paired with a pattern and notions.

Six months (or six years) go by.

I decide to make something completely different.

(That must be why I’ve accumulated a big assortment of zippers. Unlike buttons, I know I never buy zippers for their intrinsic beauty!)

After I’ve actually made a garment, I’m always looking for ways to use the bits and pieces left over. The fabric begins a new spiral of purpose: It starts with accessories (bags, scarves, belts) moves on to small home-decor items (book covers, pillows) then embellishments (applique, bookmarks, fabric flowers) until every fabric reaches the “bag of scraps” stage.

Someday, possibly, the bag of scraps will become a quilt.

Here’s a great online resource I’ve came across for finding stash-busting inspiration:

The Dollar Store Crafts blog featured a Stash-busting Carnival in April. The blog has links to 28 ideas submitted by participants who committed to working within their stashes for a month.

Do you have thoughts, tips, Websites, patterns, or recommendations about stash busting? Share them in the Threads forums or post photos of your stash-busting garments or accessories in the Reader’s Closet gallery.

To me, the point is, fabric comes home, but no fabric leaves in its original form, if I can possibly help it!


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  1. sewsewnerdy | | #1

    I use the "fancy" scraps and small remnants to make small, quilted, zippered bags. They are great for hostess gifts and gift exchanges. Now that I have an embroidery machine, I'm adding motifs to make them even prettier.
    As far as yardage goes, I'm fortunate to have enough space that I don't have to purge. I keep all fabric that I think I may use someday. I just recently used a piece I've had for 10 years to sew up a sample for the 2010 Threads/ASDP Challenge.
    If I'm sure I'll never use the fabric (a poly interlock comes to mind)--I'll find a friend or co-worker who is learning to sew and give it to them.

  2. Skymom | | #2

    The last time I moved, I culled my stash and donated quite a lot to the local high school's sewing classes. I had a lot of leftover kiddie fabrics (cute print knits, etc.) that my kids have outgrown. The sewing classes make blankets and pet toys, and can use anything, no matter how ugly or too-cute, and they used scraps that weren't good for sewing as stuffing for the toys. No waste, and my fabric-storage area became much neater. I still have much too much, but at least it's mostly fabric I still want to use for myself!

  3. kafree2fly | | #3

    I am fortunate enough to have the summer off (!!) and have committed myself to finishing at least a project per week. So far, it's been working wonders! Like TxMouse, I have used small pieces to make bags. As for the larger stuff, it's been liberating to view this summer as a *learning experience*. I've let go of my perfectionist paralysis and assured myself that every project is for the good--figuring out fit, trying out new techniques/practicing old ones, etc. Some of my really old stuff is of appropriate style and hand to use as a mockup for other garments; if the mockup also ends up being wearable in its own right, so much the better! I have a few pieces that I *really* want to turn into good garments, so it's been really fun to have something of a warmup.

  4. Fredwb | | #4

    So far, even though I have made only a few things, I have ended up with a 30 Gal plastic can FULL of scraps. I do not have the heart to through anything out!(Yet)Since I am very new to sewing, a 2 yard dress can take 6 yards of fabric with LOTS of "start overs" etc. So, I can have whole skirts, Bodice, midriffs (With linings) etc. scrapped! SOMEDAY I am sure I will find some use for them :)
    The small stuff I am thinking; headbands, scarfs, ties, dew rags etc. OR I could cut them up and use them as embelishments. Or more than likely, end up just throwing most of it out and starting over! (LOL)
    What ever I end up doing, I am sure will be a fun learning experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. norieellen | | #5

    Making bags, donating to sewing classes and other causes, and making mock-ups are all great. I've been making lots of little purses myself. My co-worker's daughter's home ec teacher was begging for even the smallest scraps so I gave her a large bag - the bottoms of pant legs I'd hemmed for people, etc. For large-volume stashes, one solution has been very successful here in Nashville. One particular senior assisted living center has a sale every year. They accept donations of anything sewing or textile-craft related, including knitting and crocheting tools and supplies, books, patterns, findings of all kinds, and of course, FABRIC. This began when families of people who were moving into assisted living had no place to store all the fabric and other sewing-related items their loved ones had accumulated. So, once a year in the spring they have a giant indoor yard sale of all these great things. You can find lots of vintage and retro things at a sale like this; and you can stuff a bag for 50 cents from certain heaps. My personal rule: don't bring in any more than I get rid of. Sometimes I comply.

  6. KCinKS | | #6

    My biggest problem is that since I do nicer garment sewing, my stash is mostly woolens and the like. Tough to find "crafty" projects that are suited for that kind of fabric. So, there it sits, my stash growing ever-higher.

  7. Love_Sewing | | #7

    I found a way of making fashion necklaces out of strips of fabric, preferably silk, that are knotted together macrame-style and stitched with pearls, sequins etc.. My girlfriends love them.

    My other solution, that I still work on, is swapping my fabrics that I no longer like because since buying them either my taste or my confection size (and the possible use of the fabric) have changed with my sewing friends. The challenge is not having enough sewing friends ;-). (Anybody in Basel, Switzerland interested in fabric swapping?)

  8. LizLucio | | #8

    Hi everyone,
    I recently found a neat free pattern online for a skirt at Portabellopixie. You can search for it as "Saturday Market skirt" or here is the link http://portabellopixie.typepad.com/portabellopixie/2010/03/sewing-bits-and-pieces-.html

    The skirt is made out of bits and pieces of fabric. Some one gave me a box full of fabric they had collected over the years. So what I'm going to do with it is make skirts for the little girls in orphanages for Haiti. My church has mission groups going over to Haiti at least once a month. I'm sure they will be happy to take them with them. I'm sure you can find organizations online that would be glad to take them over for you. To bless some little girls with beautiful skirts and bring a smile to their face. Have fun!!

  9. User avater
    judithann | | #9

    Christmas gifts! I like to make wallets, pocketbooks/ tote bags and small zippered bags, also dolls/doll clothes, angels, ornaments and the like. I want to embellish some nice store bpught pillowcases this year, waiting on a sale! I am inspired at christmas by the season and my family and friends now expect a made gift. I think this year I am also going to try to make some things for the animals at the shelter.

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