Collecting fabric is almost inevitably a side effect of being a quilter. As we make our beautiful quilts or dream about future quilts, we almost always acquire more fabric than we use up. If you have been quilting for a long time, you most likely own a solid pile of fabric.
Buying and collecting different fabric lines enable us to work on different styles and themes of quilts. However, as time passes by, the fabric will eventually pile up and take up too much space in your sewing room. The result is visual clutter, less space to work, and a need to spend gradually more resources on organizing and maintaining the fabric collection.
We all know that a cluttered workspace can affect one’s productivity. For all of us quilters, there is a balancing act between having enough fabric that you love to let you create to your heart’s content, but also not have so much fabric that it leads to constant feelings of guilt (I really should use this up. Why did I buy that?) and feelings of overwhelm.
How much fabric you should keep in your stash is probably different for everyone. I know one quilter who has no stash at all, and I know another who has an entire room for fabric storage. Personally, I get stressed out when I run out of shelf space in my studio, and when I started putting boxes of fabric in the garage for more permanent storage I knew I had way too much.
To help you out with decluttering and paring down your personal quilting fabric stash, we have provided a quick guide with tips. We have adapted some of the principles of the KonMari method on how to declutter your fabric stash. The result should be a stash that is the optimal size for you, and you should feel pure joy when interacting with your fabric stash.
From sorting through the pile of fabrics, deciding which one to keep or sell up to organizing it back in your sewing room, we’ve got you covered! Here are some tips for you to follow if you need to purge your fabric stash.
How do you declutter a fabric stash?
1. Take everything out of your sewing space (or wherever you store your fabric)
The first thing you need to do is to remove all your fabric from its storage space. Gather all your fabric and put it in one giant pile. Move it to a separate room if necessary. This will enable you to see all your fabric at once and give you a fresh view of your fabric collection. It is likely you will be surprised at how much fabric you have actually accumulated! I know I was.
2. Set up a keep, donate, and sell box
Before you start purging fabric, set up boxes so you can have a designated place to collect it all. Set up 2 to 3 boxes or areas for fabric that you will either keep, donate, or sell. These will be helpful in the next steps of decluttering.
3. Sort your fabric
Sort through all of your fabric and determine which ones you would like to keep. If you are familiar with Mari Kondo’s way of decluttering, she recommends holding each piece of fabric in your hands and try to feel if this fabric gives you a feeling of joy, or maybe something else.
According to Mari Kondo, any feeling other than joy (say feelings of guilt at not having used the fabric you bought for a project, resentment over the money you spent buying it, etc.) means that you should get rid of the fabric. This part can be difficult. Three years ago, you may have bought an entire collection of a new and trendy fabric line that was getting a lot of hype. Say you spent $119 on a fat quarter pack of the entire collection.
Today you know deep in your heart that sherbet orange fabric with unicorns and polka dots isn’t your style. You know you spent a small fortune on the fabric and you feel terrible “wasting” the money you spent bypassing the fabric onto somebody else. Yes, you could make a charity quilt from the collection, but really, wouldn’t you rather make something that you really love? Do you have unlimited time to quilt?
Rather than keeping the fabric, thank it for being part of your stash. Then send it out into the world where somebody else will be delighted to receive it. The fabric can still spark joy for somebody else.
If you are getting overwhelmed by that pile of fabric, you can also ask yourself these decluttering questions to start:
- What are the color schemes that I usually work with?
- What are the current fabric styles that I often gravitate towards and create with?
- Do I have a plan for what to sew with this fabric?
- Do I still like this pattern?
- Will I ever sew this pattern again?
Answering these questions will enable you to identify which fabrics to keep and which ones to remove from your collection. Doing this will also help you ponder if your stash matches your current quilting style and projects. Once you identify their use, you can toss them at their designated boxes.
4. Donate or sell the fabric you purge
So, the tidying part is over. What comes next? What will you do with the fabric after you’ve identified that they no longer spark joy and belong in your stash?
Donating or selling your unloved fabric may be the best way to get rid of it. Start to ask your quilter friends if they need extra fabric. Donating these items to someone else will enable you to get rid of these extra fabrics and help your friends as well.
There are several organizations that make charity quilts for babies, children’s hospitals, hospice care, etc. Contact them and ask if they are interested in adopting your fabric stash. Some quilt guilds also have fabric sales with donated fabric to raise money for the guild. Personally, I tend to prefer donating fabric because I can often get rid of it in bulk and it saves time.
On the other hand, if you want to earn a little money from your old stash, you can start listing the fabrics on websites like eBay or Etsy. These platforms allow you to give a new home to your fabrics.
Another option that some quilters use is to start a destash account on Instagram. You can also use your regular Instagram account and just add hashtag #destash. We suggest offering the fabric at a rather low price but make sure to add the shipping cost. You can even give away the fabric on Instagram or Facebook and just collect the cost of shipment.
This can be a great way to reach quilters who maybe are just getting started with this hobby and would love to build a fabric collection of their own without spending a lot of money. Have interested buyers send you a direct message on Instagram or Facebook and take payments via Venmo or Paypal before you ship the fabric out to make sure you don’t get stranded with the shipping expenses.
Once done with the decluttering, you can now start reorganizing your fabric stash. Use the KonMari method in organizing your stash.
How to Konmari your fabric stash
- Fold the fabric on each side toward the center then work on your way until you fold it in lengthwise.
- For bigger fabrics, repeat step 1 but minimize the folds so you can prevent crease and bulkiness of the fabric.
Mari Kondo generally recommends storing things vertically but I have found that this can be really cumbersome with fabrics in various sizes that are usually organized by color, collection, or style. Many quilters prefer to store their fabrics on shelves and it is important to be able to see all the fabrics when pulling fabric for a new quilt project.
To keep my fabric stash feeling “energized”, joyful, and alive, I work through my collection at least twice a year and remove anything that no longer feels joyful. Reorganizing and handling the fabric on a regular basis makes me very aware of what I own, and creates lots of inspiration for new quilts.
Decluttering your stash fabric might sound daunting at first, especially if you do not know what to do at first. We hope this article brings some joy when decluttering your fabric collection. Now it’s time to get sewing again and enjoy your joyful and clutter-free sewing room!
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