Preparing For A Mahoosive Destash

Back in the day, when I first started sewing, the lovely ladies who were teaching me to quilt gave me some advice. “If you see some fabric you like and think you’ll use”, they said, “buy at least 3 yards. It’s rare you’ll ever need more than 3 yards of any one fabric in a quilt top, and it’s usually plenty for the backing of a lap size quilt.” And so from my early quilting days, I started buying largish lengths of fabric for my stash.

For the first couple of years as a quilter, my stash was relatively small. There were some great quilt stores near where we lived on Long Island, so I never really felt the need to ‘stock up’ or hoard. So, if I saw some fabric that I liked and had tentative plans for, I’d buy it. At least 3 yards of it. But I never made a habit of it.

Then RR was offered a job in Switzerland, and we got ready to move back to Europe. Where quilt shops are less plentiful, and quilting fabric is significantly more expensive. And so before we left the US, RR took me on a massive fabric-buying spree in Lancaster County, PA. I spent a small fortune stocking up, but figured that we’d save a fortune too, given the price of fabric in Switzerland.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind paying the going rate for fabric, and I would dearly love to support local quilting stores here. The problem is that there just isn’t enough choice, so to find what I want, I have to go online. And pay the resulting international delivery charges, as well as import duty and the not-insubstantial flat-rate ‘administrative fee’ charged by Swiss customs to merely process said package. So if I want to order a yard or two of fabric to complete a project, and am paying upwards of $25 for delivery, it makes sense to fill each and every flat-rate envelope I order to bursting with yummy fabric.

And so my stash kept on growing…


And growing…


And growing…



To enormous proportions…


To the point where it started to get overwhelming, and I had to start stashing in the spare room wardrobe, because I’d run out of room in my sewing room. It was all getting a bit out of control…

At the same time my tastes have changed. Pretty dramatically, actually. So although I still like the fabric I have, I no longer love all of it. And I’m never going be able to use it all. There’s. Just. Too. Much. Of. It.

That’s why I decided to have a massive clear-out. Get rid of the fabric that, realistically, I’m never going to use. Or which I bought too much of, have already used in another project, and no longer need. Or just don’t love enough any more to justify keeping.

And so I’ve spent the last month doing just that, working out what to keep and what it’s time to let go of. And I’ve been ruthless. I’ve cleared out well over half my stash. The pile of boxes to destash is now over 6 feet high…


These boxes contain yards and yards of fabric, along with some kits I bought and never got round to making. Pre-cuts such as jelly rolls, fat quarter bundles, layer cakes and charm packs.

DSC03486 DSC03487 DSC03488  DSC03491 DSC03489

Not to mention over 100 fat quarters…



… and other sized cuts of fabric…

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 …and a whole bunch of 1930s fabrics too.


All I have to do now is to work out how best to sell them! And for that, dear reader, I’m hoping for your help…

I was going to offer them to local quilty friends first, but after that I wasn’t sure. Where should I sell them? Online via my Etsy store? Or another way? I’ve seen destash sales and postings on Instagram, for example…

And then, how to sell them, as in what format? As yardage, or as bundles of fabrics that go well together? Or a bit of both? How do people like to buy fabric? How would you prefer to buy fabric?

Any thoughts and ideas extremely welcome!  And don’t forget to check back soon for more details of my mahoosive destash 🙂

7 responses

  1. thelittlestthistle | Reply

    IG works well, since Etsy has fees, and here’s some tips that you may choose to take or ignore 😉

    It’s best to set up a separate IG account for it, eg lynnepusscatdestash, and point your followers there when you’re ready. You can also ask your friends to repost to spread the word, and if you think there’s a QAL or something that people might like a certain fabric for, hashtag it in the relevant posts.

    Prep everything in advance before announcing the name of the account, then everything will be good to go then.

    If the account is private initially you can ensure no-one sees what’s going on until you’re ready to open up shop. People are impatient, which is why it’s good to just launch everything for sale at once, otherwise you’ll be constantly pestered by people wanting to know when the next bit is going up, or people will get bored and won’t hang around to see it all and you may miss sales.

    Make sure your first post in the account contains the rules, ie first comment with an e-mail/highest bid gets it (depending on your approach), whether postage is included in the price, and if not how much it will be for that piece, whether you’ll reduce shipping if people buy multiples, whether you will invoice people by Paypal or you provide your address for them to pay you (I would suggest you invoice for two reasons: 1 from the combined postage point of view and 2 because if it’s first to claim wins and more than 1 person thinks they’ve got it you may get paid more than once and have to refund)

    Number each listing so that you can track back easily, eg Susie bought items 3, 5 and 10, so say that on the invoice, or if you want them to Paypal direct to you, make them mention the numbers of what they bought in the Notes To Seller section. I would suggest you keep a spreadsheet to tick things off too.

    If things naturally come in bundles, bundle them, if not, list individually, or possibly FQ groups of 5 or 6 by colour, but if it’s big cuts people will likely only want to buy individual cuts rather than a whole bunch of them in a random group.

    If you have multiples of precuts, it can be easiest to list each line/precut once with how many you have and then let people claim how many they want.

    Be prepared that people may want to buy smaller cuts of the big pieces you have, so decide whether or not you’re willing to do that.

    Weigh each bit before you post so you know what postage will be, especially so you can calculate combined totals if people buy lots of pieces.

  2. thelittlestthistle | Reply

    Oh, and I should have said, delete the photo when sold, otherwise people get all excited thinking things are still available (this has just happened to me!)

  3. Ooooh, very exciting. Do I qualify as friends close by even if I am still in Tuscany?

  4. Bears in prison! Bears in prison! Bears in prison!

    1. Aha – keeping that one 🙂

  5. Wow, that’s a serious destash. As to how best to actually destash the fabrics, well I’m not really sure on that one. My first thought is to tell you to just open a shop. Or to have a garage sale for all your fabric loving friends!

    After that IG seems to be very popular and is clearly much loved by many sellers although personally I’ve started to ignore Instagram destash sales myself as they are often a bit too crazy for me. I’m not sure if it is people getting excited about the whole de-stash sale idea but from what I have seen the fabrics seem to be sold almost before they are posted. I’ve tried following a few destashes that were being posted live but found that impossible as most fabrics were sold before the post appeared in my feed. Even when they are posted in a seperate destash account that only went live at a specific time it seemed that there was the same buying frenzy right from the start. I would also think that with a destash of the size you are looking at an IG sale will generate an awful lot of paperwork and headaches as you track who bought what and then have to bill everyone seperately, wait to confirm payment before you ship etc. The other downside to IG, and again this is from the buyers view point, is that you are usually instantly limiting the sale to those who have PayPal and who are available online at the specific time of the sale.

    If you already have an etsy store, and don’t mind the fees that you will have to pay then I would think it might be a better option given how much you wish to destash. I think it would make it easier for buyers to seriously browse your stash and to really see everything that there is on offer and etsy will do a lot of the work for you interms of organising payment, tracking who bough what etc. There is also the issue of postage costs. They aren’t cheap if you’re shipping out of the country and if you are shipping to the US then it’s really comparable to what we pay for them to ship to us (yes, I too am all too guilty of overshopping to fill those flat rate envelopes!). If it is the case that a lot of your potential online buyers are overseas then etsy may appeal more because then they too can browse and do the stuffing the envelope with as much as possible trick that we do.

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