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using up the stash

stillsuesew | Posted in General Discussion on

Since the fabric stash discussion has gotten pretty long and off topic, I thought I’d start another one. We recently moved from a 3400 sq ft home (where my stash had taken over my son’s former bedroom) and moved into a 1300 sq ft condo. I had a fabric and craft sale and then ended up giving away 8 garbage bags of fabric to the Epilepsy Foundation – much of it had been given to me over the years “because I sew”. I still have a closet full, a bookcase full of quilting cottons and a garbage can covered with a flat table top, hidden by a floor length table cloth (which could easily be used as fabric for something else! should the need arise). Now I am trying to use up my stash. Last fall I made 25 hats from leftover polar fleece and crocheted 11 more and gave them to a local shelter. Meals on wheels asked for hot pads and I produced 20 of those from my quilting samples. I am teaching Somali immigrant women to sew and using up lots of scraps and zippers with them, making bags and pin cushions and some mini versions of clothing to teach them techniques. But it is all hardly making a dent in the collection so far. I don’t need a whole lot of new clothing for myself and my closets are already full. If I make more for myself, I’m going to have to give something away and it really hard to part with some on the unique things I have made. I have only one granddaughter that I have made a few things for, but my stash isn’t granddaughter friendly. Have any of you found unique ways to use up your stash? (by the way, I haven’t missed anything that I got rid of!)


  1. Palady | | #1

    Your accomplishments are inspiring.  Reducing a stash is on my to-do-list.  One of these days . . . .


  2. beo | | #2

    In the past, I"ve used some of my stash to make women's garments that I have then donated to my local YWCA's closet for their clients.  I was told that they need larger sizes, and tried to pre-treat the fabric so that it would be washable.  The recipients are women coming into the shelter sometimes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. 

    1. sewluving | | #5

      that is such a great idea.  

      1. kbalinski | | #6

        I've been using my "what was I thinking?" pieces for muslins lately.  But, I still have that argument in my head of "maybe I shouldn't wasted it... yet"!

        Kristine (who has sewed over 65 yards since the start of 2009)

        1. MDNB | | #42

          Using strange "why did i ever think i would like that" fabrics for muslin try it out copies, is one of my best stash uses. I also have given bags of fabrics any type to the Lutheran Church they are making quilts for Lutheran World Relief, they often have to cut up old clothes which is hard work.
          I also called the school district and asked if I sent them an e-mail about craft and fabric items I had would they send it out to the whole staff of the district. They were happy to do it and I had many requests. I simply delivered a bag to each school with the teachers names on it. They were very grateful.

      2. beo | | #7

        I must admit that sewing garments  for the YWCA closet provides me with a chance to preview patterns.  I hate sewing muslins (find myself getting sloppy) but if I use a decent fabric, follow the pattern step by step, without worrying about, but anticipating the alterations I would have to make for myself, I get a very good idea of where to go with that particular pattern.  Plus, someone has something new to wear!  Also, I get a kick out of visiting local resale shops, finding a good bargin, then donationg it to the YWCA closet. 

        1. kayrosie | | #8

          Donate your statsh or some of it to the local Family Consumer Science Program.  They always need material to make aprons and so forth.   The teacher will be thrilled.  


          1. Ceeayche | | #9

            Unfortunately, those programs have all been eliminated where I'm from due to budget cuts.  A pity.

          2. kayrosie | | #10

            Oh really.  My daughter is an FCS teacher in Iowa. They are going strong here.  To bad you don't live closer.  She is always looking for material. 

          3. Sancin | | #11

            This summer I decided to DEAL with my stash. I also do not need as many clothes since retired. But I like new clothes. So I had a friend collecting clothing for street people in our city. I gave her 4 big bags of clothing, some of which I still wear. I am hoping that that will be the incentive to sew like mad just to be able to get out of the house!! It will be interesting if I see some of the clothes on a street corner. I once had a garage sale on a Saturday and on Monday saw 2 of my (adult) students sitting in the front row with my sweater and pants on!!One of my problems with my stash is that other than quilting, I usually buy fabric with something in mind, then I stash in a clear labelled box (by season)with the pattern. I usually remember the pattern, but not always the fabric. I go nuts when I see another piece of fabric I would like to make in 'that pattern I know I have'. Then I waste time going through all the boxes looking for the pattern. Then I find fabric I forgot I had with a pattern, that by now is often a little more than out of date. If I am in a hurry and don't have a garment, I will buy RTW that I need at the time. Because I am very short everything needs to be shortened and my pile of shortening (and ironing) gets so tall I never get to sewing up the things I really want. I am going away for this weekend and need that pair of jeans that have been in my pile since May. In looking at the pile of 'shortenings' I find shorts I would love to have worn during our very hot summer. Now, do I put those away and start on the winter clothes I need because I gave most away, or do I finish the shortening (for storage for next year) before sewing up those pants, blouses and quilted vests and jackets, or finish the baby quilt for my grandson who is now three!? I need to buy many more pins, and I am fussy about those. And then there are those quilts all ready to go with one or two color pieces I have been unable to find ......and the box of unfinished projects :-(

            Edited 9/1/2009 8:03 pm ET by Sancin

          4. sewluving | | #12


            I just celebrated my 64th b-day and I know how you feel with your stash.  Due to Transverse Myelitis I have no longer worked for the last 6 years.  I too have the 'stash' and also no longer need a lot of clothes but do like new things.  I lost weight this year so gave away those clothes.  I'm now limited too so need to MAKE SOMETHING..........ANYTHING...............LOL LOL   Everything you said I was sitting here nodding.......yep, except for the quilting.  However, I took several courses over the years in that too and have so many unfinished projects.  Also made 10 porcelain dolls of varying sizes (some as tall as my now 5 yr old grandson).  The dolls are now about 12 years old and still naked (stored in closets here and there'.  Hemming is another 'project' I don't mind doing for others too.  I have this organized sewing room but I always seem to have 'other' things on the go too.  Then there is this 'procrastination' thing...........LOL  I'm sure there are others like me too.  I so relate to your story.

            Heather in Calgary

          5. regatta | | #13

            Are you perhaps a  Pisces - could you be some long lost relative ?  I believe my grandmother's parents and 6 siblings settled in Canada.

            I have a very good case of procrastination as well.  Wish someone would tell me what to sew for myself, so that my mind could have a rest.


          6. sewluving | | #16


            No, I'm a Virgo.  I don't think 'procrastination' has a sign..........LOL  I see we are the same age so maybe it has to do with the year we were born......... or not......LOL

            I like the 'collecting fabric' idea.  I know that if I took all the $$ I have spent on fabric that is just 'sitting' I could probably have a fabulous wardrobe if I had just gone to the store and bought a garment.................but.............where is the creativity in that?

            Heather in Calgary

          7. regatta | | #17

            Yes, must be the age - I haven't always had "Procrastinitis".  We will probably be dressed as good as queens when we get around to it.  Right colour, right proportions,  fitting properly - can't buy that surely?

            I also had a thing about learning things - Sewing,  patchwork, embroidery, machine embroidery, digitizing, then on to folk art and painting - do them for a bit and then when I know how I go back to "Procrastinitis".  That is why I love Threads- so much to learn.

             Since I have discovered "gatherings" though, I am seriously becoming inspired  to sew "something for me" - might  not even wait until I loose weight - get into shape etc etc.  Perhaps "P" is coming to an end

            Edited 9/5/2009 1:03 am ET by regatta

          8. sewluving | | #18

            Wow, we MUST be twins.........  :)

            Only problem is when I think I want to make something for me to wear someone else needs something........LOL

            Heather in Calgary

          9. regatta | | #19

            Yes - definately TWINS 

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #22

            umm, yes, actually procrastination does have a sign, it is a round TUIT. tee hee hee. I have one, sitting in my pinbox, but I think it is broken. ;) Cathy

          11. sewluving | | #23

            I haven't thought of the Round TUIT for years.  Used to have one on my fridge when my kids were little (eons ago -- well maybe 30 to 40 yrs ago anyway).  Guess the TUIT still applies even in retirement...........  :) 

            Heather in Calgary

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #24

            Mine is an antique, that was in my grandmother's pinbox. Guess somethings never change, tee hee hee. Cathy

          13. sewluving | | #25

            Oh that is so nice that you have it.  Isn't it so very special when we have something that used to belong to someone we cherished. 

            Heather in Calgary

          14. Gloriasews | | #26

            I have a round Tuit, too!  It used to live on my computer when I was still working.  Then, I called it a Panic Button (& it was pushed often)!  Now, it's living by my home computer - maybe I'd better move it to the sewing machine, as the procrastination has worsened drastically since I retired.

          15. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #27

            I figured that once my girls left home, I would have more time to sew. HAH!! so much for semi-retirement. My days keep filling up with other things that MUST be done somehow... blech. However, with the impending birth of our first grandchild, I am finding it much easier to tell everyone I must sew for the new baby, and am finding the time. At least they leave me alone to get that done, tee hee hee. :) Cathy

          16. Gloriasews | | #30

            I hear you!  I thought that, once I was retired, I could sew all the time - hah!  not so!  Other things always intrude & must be done first.  By the time I get those done, my get-up-&-go got up & went!  I must organize my time better, as I have several Christmas projects to do &, if I don't start soon, they won't get finished on time.  But first, haha, I must get the pickled beets done!

          17. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #36

            AAAAHHHHHH!!! The dreaded "C" word! We just picked names for the family Christmas, and we drew the two most difficult, as anything will make them happy, and males to boot! DH will be the main idea man this year :( I will probably whip up a couple pair of boxer shorts from my stash. :) They love those. Cathy

          18. Gloriasews | | #39

            Yah - the 'C' word has sure crept into our house already :).  I was considering making boxers this year, too, but I need to get the fabric - probably from MacPhee Workshop, as they have T-shirt knits.  You're lucky that your family draws names, as it cuts down on a lot of effort & expense.  Our family still doesn't want to go that route, unfortunately, although we have cut back on the expense, & I make whatever I can.  Surprisingly, most of the young adults want tins of homemade cookies (which is a LOT of work for a few of each variety), but my tins have gotten smaller :).  They also like homemade Poppycock & Nuts 'n Bolts, plus bone biscuits for their dogs - more work & expense (especially for the nuts 'n bolts, as cereals are becoming more expensive)!  I keep telling myself that I'll start SOON (the cookies can be frozen) & it won't be so exhausting.  Now, if I can only stick to that idea, I'd have it made :).

          19. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #40

            Great idea, the tins of cookies! But maybe I will stick to just a couple of the family favorites, gingerbread and shortbread, and chocolate chip of course. The name I drew loves home made cookies, and I had forgotten that. Thanks. :) Cathy

          20. Gloriasews | | #41

            You're welcome!  Seniors also love the cookies, as there is usually nothing they need if they're in a care facility.  I bought the tins in a dollar store, but plastic containers would be lighter (for mailing).  I'll be making hedgehog cookes (real cute - again from http://www.countrywomanmagazine.com ), shortbread, peanut butter cookies with a chocolate rosebud on top, & a sugar cookie.

          21. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #54

            Countrywoman Magazine is one of those good magazines for simple everyday recipes. Lovely tasting ones too! A couple of times my girlfriend has given me a gift subscription, and I enjoyed it while I had it. Every issue seemed to have a recipe that entered into the family favorite category. Cathy

          22. Gloriasews | | #57

            Their recipes are usually really good, although we tweak them (the supper recipes, anyway), as, sometimes, they're a bit too bland for us.  It is a 'nice' (very pleasant) magazine & a quick read, as all articles are short (sometimes too short).  Sometimes there are good crafts in it, too.  I've been a subscriber for years.

          23. MaryinColorado | | #48

            Oh yes, the guys especially love home made edibles!  he he  My favorite is Cherry Winks and if I'm really ambitious the date pinwheel cookies, ooooooooo and I always look forward to my daughter in laws home made fudge!  My daughter and grandkids make the gingerbread men and cookie cutter sugar cookies so I'm off the hook there and have it much easier these days. 

          24. Ralphetta | | #49

            Wow! Your message just brought back a wonderful memory. Many, many years ago, when I was in elementary school, one of the room mothers would make date pinwheels for our holiday parties. I can still remember how excited I would get if I knew she was going to be room mother for my class that year.

          25. MaryinColorado | | #50

            I'm so glad to have prompted your happy memory!  A little early glad tidings and good cheer for you!  Thanks to all the folks who were room moms and dads, scout and camp leaders and their families!  They brought endless smiles, joy, and teaching to generations!

          26. MaryinColorado | | #47

            When my children were small, my neighbors and I used to get together for a weekend or two of baking all sorts of Christmas goodies.  It was such fun and we really got alot of variety. 

          27. Gloriasews | | #53

            I've heard & read of women getting together for a day or 2 for Christmas baking, but I've never done that.  It sounds like fun - but I get more accomplished by myself.  My kitchen is so small that there's only room for one at a time, anyway (sigh).

          28. MaryinColorado | | #55

            One of the gals had the "perfect" kitchen for this and she had all the big fancy modern appliances too.  We were all from different parts of the country so had a variety of old recipes and traditions to compare too.  My daughter "babysat" all the younger children and entertained them with games,movies, and popcorn...and a few cookies of course. 

             I always did alot of crafts with the children when they were young.  Popsicle stick sleds, salt dough or ceramic ornaments, pipe cleaner candy canes, pom pom reindeer, ojo de Dios (yarn eye of God ornaments), fabric angels, etc.

            This year I'll get together with my daughter and grandkids to make goodies.    Mary


          29. Gloriasews | | #58

            You were very lucky to have those fun baking days in a perfect kitchen.  Now you can do it with your daughter & grands - both baking & crafts. 

            I also made decorations with my kids when they were small.   One of our favourites was blowing up balloons (not very much - just ornament size - some smaller, some larger), then wrapping them in string, embroidery cotton or yarn that was dipped in liquid laundry starch so it's completely wet.  You don't wrap them densely, as you want the lights to shine through them.  Hang them to dry.  When they are completly dry & hard (the next day), break the balloons with a pin & pull them out through one of the holes.  Add ribbon or yarn for hanging.  Voila!  Nice ornaments!  Have fun with the grands.


          30. MaryinColorado | | #59

            Thanks for sharing your wonderful ornament "recipe", sounds like fun, I think I even have the starch!  Mary

          31. Gloriasews | | #60

            Give it a go & see how you like them.  Do you also decorate pine cones as ornaments

          32. MaryinColorado | | #61

            Since I always have pinecones in the living room (and all over the back yard,he he) I haven't used them in ornaments in quite a few years.  If you turn them sideways, put the narrow end forward and add a red pom pom there, google eyes, chenille stems for antlers and yarn hanger they make cute Rudolphs.  We've dipped them in glitter too.  You can cut them into flower shapes and use for adorning packages. 

            That reminds me...thanks, I need to spray my pinecone wreathes with stain as they have gotten flat and faded looking through the years.  I always forget until it's cold outside.  Mary

          33. Gloriasews | | #63

            Those little pinecone Rudolphs sound really cute.  Thanks for the directions.

          34. MaryinColorado | | #64

            I forgot the little felt triangle ears for pinecone Rudolphs. 

          35. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #67

            Thanks for the idea! This is one for my nieces and nephews! Cathy

          36. Gloriasews | | #68

            You're welcome.  Have fun with them.


          37. MaryinColorado | | #46

            Boxer shorts sound like such a fun project with all the fabric possibilities!  I just might have to pick up a pattern for those so I can make some for Christmas.  Glad you picked the "easy ones" that's a gift in itself.  You have enought to keep you busy with the grandbaby on the way!  Mary

          38. MaryinColorado | | #43

            Thanks for reminding me of that Pete Seeger song!  "How do I know my youth is all spent?  My get up and go has got up and went.  And in spite of it all, I'm able to grin, and think of the places my getup has been...."  Too too true!  giggle 

          39. sewluving | | #51

            Luv it.  That is exactly how I feel some days since 'retirement'.

            Heather in Calgary

          40. Gloriasews | | #52

            I wasn't even thinking of the Pete Seeger song when I said that!  I'm glad it brought back fond memories of where your get-up had been :).  Yeah, the years have sure flown, eh?


          41. MaryinColorado | | #56

            Oh yeah, in the blink of an eye as they say!  So now we make new memories, and maybe some new traditions, right?  Mary

          42. Gloriasews | | #62

            You're on the right track.  New memories & new traditions will be fun.

          43. MaryinColorado | | #65

            I have a big oval copper pot that I lay on it's side on the hearth and it is filled with pinecones year round.  I used to put dried flowers and #### willow in a few other copper or pottery containers, but have gotten too lazy to clean around them anymore. 

            Nowadays there are more throws and pillows in the room...with bears and moose of course, he he.

          44. Gloriasews | | #66

            Your room sounds lovely & homey.  The older we become, the less dusting & cleaning we want to do, it seems.  That's just not as much fun as sewing :).

          45. rodezzy | | #28

            Here, here!!!!!

          46. sewelegant | | #14

            I even went so far as to cut out the fabric before "stashing" it - filing it away with all the notion, pattern, etc. and then forgetting about it or maybe just procrastinating.  What a disappointment a few years down the road to realize I am not that size any more so sewing it up wouldn't work.  I quit doing that after I realized I just did not have the time or it was out of season or whatever and I was wasting fabric, rendering it useless for anything else!  I think maybe someone had it right when they called it Fabric Collecting.  I buy the stuff just because I love it and the fact I could make something useful out of it makes it seem not so frivolous or wasteful.

          47. Sancin | | #15

            Cutting out and putting away - I've been there! - I have had a whole summer wardrobe in on big box all in pieces for 5 years. I am trying to figure out if I can rescue any of the fabric. In fairness to myself, I did have a serious fall after I got everything cut out and was out of commission for awhile. Ahhh - life is a journey. Somehow I never start early enough on seasonal clothes. In fact, I get stimulus from this site when others start to talk about what they are working on. Christmas!!!!

          48. rodezzy | | #29

            Whew.....giggle....I'm tired just reading about all you have to do.  I say, just do what you want, as it comes to mind.  I have a stash of quilt tops that need to be quilted.  Maybe I'll finally get those done.  I've a paper pieced sampler quilt that I haven't finished yet.  Maybe I'll finally get that in our 2010 Quilt show.  Just need to choose a backing and quilt it now.  giggle.  Thats better said then done...huh.

    2. MaryinColorado | | #21

      Bless You for your giving heart.  You ladies are such an inspiration and shining example of making our world a better place.  Mary

  3. Ceeayche | | #3

    What an example!  You're actually doing what I'm plotting.  I've been researching ways to cull my stash and my mother's stash (I just inherited it).  Here are ideas I've been exploring:

    Local High School Drama Department for their productions.

    Local Women's Shelter needs pillow cases-- I've got a lot of muslin I'm thinking about using.

    One of the other folk in Gatherings sent me to this site:  Charitable Sewing http://www.sewing.org/html/charitysew.php.  This site has a lot of suggestions and the patterns to complete them.

    Adult Bibs

    Chemotherapy Turbans

    Hug Me Teddybear

    Hospital Bed Saddlebag

    Lap Robe

    Snuggles Blanket

    Walker Caddie

    Wheelchair Totes

    Here is another site:  http://sewingforlife.wordpress.com/category/charity-sewing/  She's doing lap robes and isolets.


    1. sewelegant | | #4

      This is very interesting to me as I joined the American Sewing Guild several years ago and sewing for others is a BIG reason for the guild.  There have been some interesting projects, one of my favorites was making quilts for the children of deployed military personnel.  Another:  the arm pillow used by mastectomy patients.  I never thought of the stash, but how appropriate!

  4. MaryinColorado | | #20

    Bless You for giving so much of your time and materials and sharing your gift of creativity and sewing with others!  Project Linus appreciates quilts and blankets for children as well as for covers for the isolets in NICU.  Police and fire departments might like to have blankets or stuffed animals for victims of circumstance.  http://www.nancysnotions.com (from Nancy Zeiman's PBS tv show Sewing With Nancy) has many suggestions on her website for sharing your gift of sewing.  She has some free patterns on her site for comfort caps for those going through chemo therapy.  Homes for unwed mothers, shelters, and salvation army come to mind.  There are also groups that provide for Vetrans and their families that you can sew for.  There are cool wraps for the soldiers who work in desert areas.  Schools and preschools, Headstart might appreciate fabric donations too.   

  5. Tatsy | | #31

    Saw a new acronym today: STABLE. It stands for Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. The gal was hoping to meet this goal before she dies. I think she must be under 30 or she'd have made it already!

    1. sewluving | | #32

      Luv this acronym.  Sent it to my sister who is a wonderful quilter and has a ton more fabric than I do.  She lives over 2,000 miles away and I'm sure I will here her laughing when she opens her e-mail tomorrow morning.  Thanks for this.

      Heather in Calgary

      1. Tatsy | | #33

        You're welcome. One of my sisters actually GAVE AWAY part of her stash, not because she wanted to buy new and different but because her husband insisted. I worried about the marriage for 20 years, but they've had four more kids and seem to be humming along.

        1. Gloriasews | | #34

          Love the acronym!  Your sister must have had the 4 more kids to replace the stash, eh? :)  Hopefully, she gave away what she wasn't crazy about, anyway (the stash, not the kids). :)

          1. Tatsy | | #35

            They moved to a part of the country where six kids is a small family. They're happy. I think her middle daughter is making up for it by buying clothes at discount.

          2. Gloriasews | | #37

            Their being happy is the main thing.  The daughter has probably surpassed the stash that her mom gave away by now, eh? :)

          3. Tatsy | | #38

            That's for sure.

        2. MaryinColorado | | #45

          Oooooooh, I'd have to reply to that one with a little visit to the hubby's garage, not to mention the basement! 

    2. MaryinColorado | | #44

      Glad to know I am STABLE!  At least in one way!

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