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…
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.
… and other sized cuts of fabric…
…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 🙂
Well, there seems to have been a bit of radio silence chez LPC recently. And for a very good reason! Not only have I been travelling – visiting Mum, weekend in Bath, day trip to Lyon – I’ve also been sewing away like a crazy woman.
Mais pourquoi I hear you cry! Well, a local group I belong to – the International Women’s Club of Lausanne – is holding a Holiday Gift Fair in early December. And I’ve decided to take a table to try and sell my wares.
This is a bit of a departure for me, as, until now, I’ve never seriously considered selling what I create. Most of it is made for the sheer pleasure of creating something beautiful, and ends up as gifts for people close to me. What’s more, I’ve never actually been convinced that anything I make is good enough to sell. But a couple of things have recently helped changed my mind.
First off, I successfully completed my Fabric Fast earlier this year, during which I committed to not buying any new fabric for 6 whole months. And so, from January to June, everything I made came my stash. This not only made me feel Deeply Virtuous, it also made me really take stock of the yards and yards of beautiful fabric I already have and which I’ve been hoarding for Some Special Project Or Other. But I’ve come to realise that such a Special Project may never materialise. Or, if it does, I’m much more likely to buy something yummy and new. And this is because of another revelation from my Fabric Fast – over the years my tastes have evolved. Fabric that I bought, say, 5 years ago, whilst still very beautiful, just doesn’t inspire me like it used to. It’s just sitting forlornly in my cupboard, waiting to be used. And that makes me a little sad. Fabric should be enjoyed, not hidden away in a cupboard!
And so I resolved to use up some of these former favourites to make beautiful and useful items – not just quilts, but things like various-sized fabric baskets, tissue holders, bookmarks, bags – and whatever else I can think of! And seeing as I can only use so many of these, and only have so many friends that would appreciate them as a gift, the logical conclusion is that I should try to sell them, so that they can be used and enjoyed as the fabric gods intended.
Secondly, I recently attended Patchwork in the Peaks – a twice yearly quilt retreat, held by the lovely Ms E in the glorious French Alps. And when I was there, I made a new friend, Ms S. Now Ms S, like me, loves modern quilting fabric, and was, like me, hugely frustrated by the lack of said modern quilting fabric available in the local area. And so she opened an Etsy store to sell fabric that she loves (she currently has some beautiful Jeni Baker Art Gallery fabric for sale…) One of the evenings we got chatting about fabric in general, and fabrics we’ve grown out of in particular, and she suggested I look into selling off some of my stash on Etsy, which, she assured me, is nowhere near as complicated or expensive as I’d previously assumed. And so a seed was planted…
Finally, I heard about the Holiday Gift Fair, and it occurred to me that this would be the ideal opportunity to maybe try and sell some of my creations, and then, if it goes well, possibly open up a little Etsy store myself as well.
And so I’ve been creating… And here is a little snapshot of some of my Works in Progress.
Noodlehead Divided Baskets
Pocket Tissue Holders
Reversible Twisted Fabric Baskets
And last, but by no means least, Kitty Cat Tissue Box Holders, just like this little guy – but in waaaay cooler fabrics 🙂
Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday...
In August I’m off to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. I’ve only been once before – in 2011 – and I had such a great time that I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. It didn’t work out the past couple of summers, but this time around it’s all planned. And I have to admit I’m very excited!
Even better, I’m going with a friend, the lovely Ms C. We’re going for the full 4 days, have signed up for a 2 day workshop and various mini-sessions. We’ll be learning new techniques, admiring all the beautiful quilts on display and shopping till we drop with all the money we’ve saved by staying with Mum rather than booking a hotel. Result!
The thing I’m most excited about,though, has to be our 2 day workshop, where we’ll be learning to make Jacqueline de Jonge’s Colourful Quilt.
It was Ms C’s idea to sign up for this class – we’ve both had been feeling like we wanted to try something a bit more complicated and involved than your standard squares-and-triangles block, and, as she pointed out, this certainly looks like it fits the bill! It was advertised for intermediate to advanced quilters, so we decided to take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say…
I’d already decided prior to receiving the supply list that I didn’t want to make an exact replica of Jacqueline’s quilt. I’ve recently made a quilt in similar colours (my Broken Herringbone quilt), and, in any case, I’m not really a massive batik fan. I toyed around with a couple of options, pulled out lots of fabric from my stash, and in the end I decided to go with my current obsession of solids, using my current favourite colours of blues and greens. Of which, it has to be admitted, I had plenty. This is just as well, as there are 24 separate colours in the quilt, not including background and border fabric.
And here’s what I chose…
The 24 colours needed for the quilt top…
… with the background, border and backing fabric
I’d originally bought most of these fabrics for a scrappy-effect Storm at Sea quilt I was planning, but I’ve kind of gone off that idea recently. So this was the ideal project to re-purpose them! Better still, I only had to buy the background fabrics, as I already had the coloured ones and the backing fabric in my stash. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but in my eyes, this almost keeps the integrity of my Fabric Fast intact 🙂
I spent a lovely morning today trying to decide on the order the fabrics will appear in my quilt top – as you can (hopefully!) see above, I’m aiming for a kind of ombré effect. There are one or two colours I’m still not entirely convinced by, and a couple of the transitions between colours are a bit abrupt for my liking, but I’m going to see if they grow on me before I go out buying replacements. Get me – frugal or what?!
And so for now all the fabrics are tidily packed away in a plastic container in my sewing room, waiting for me to decide for certain whether these are Definitely The Right Fabrics For This Quilt.
So – what do you think? Any glaring issues with my colour choices? Do you think it’ll look unutterably cool or just a bit meh? Honest opinions needed before I start cutting!!!
Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.
In less than a month I will be at the next Patchwork in the Peaks!
Patchwork in the Peaks is a bi-annual quilt retreat, run by my wonderful friend, Ms E. In April and October each year, a group of lovely ladies gather in Morzine in the French Alps to quilt their hearts out for four days. I’ve gone to every retreat since the start, I’ve made some fantastic friends, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a long weekend. You can read all about October’s retreat here.
Quilting with a view!
(Incidentally, it seems that 2 spots have opened up on the upcoming retreat – if you’re at all interested, I’d hurry up and snap one of them up before someone else does, seeing as they were all taken within a week of registration opening back in December – click here to find out more…)
But I digress…
As always, we’ll all be working on the same project during the retreat, and this time around it’s going to be a Mystery Quilt. I’m really excited to see how it’s all going to turn out, but it’s also rather daunting to choose fabric when you have no idea what you’re making. Oh, and when you’re on a Fabric Fast and so have to use what you already have rather than jump in and use the lovely Fat Quarter Shop discount for Peaks participants…
So what to do?
Back in February, I read this post from Isisjem, and it really struck a chord. Isisjem is also on a Fabric Fast, and she writes about approaching her stash as if it were a fabric store, with the idea that anything can be used for any project, rather than seeing it as a precious hoard of beautiful fabric to be saved for something special. I’m totally guilty of doing this with certain Too-Beautiful-To-Cut-Into fabrics (you know the kind..), but if I’m brutally honest, this means they’ll likely never get used because a) I have so much fabric already and b) I already have so many projects and ideas in the pipeline.
So I have decided that as of now, any fabric in my stash should be fair game, and I have spent this morning ‘shopping’ for the Peaks Mystery Project – a throw sized quilt which will finish at 58″ x 74 1/2″.
Obviously, I need to start with the focus fabric. All I know is that it should ideally be a large scale print, and I will need 1 1/8 yards of it. This already takes a whole load of my stash out of the running, as I have a lot of fabric cuts of 1 yard or less. And so, after a hard morning’s work, I have narrowed down my choice to one of 11 different fabrics, all large-scale prints
Well, it’s a start, right?!
Amy Butler – Love – Cypress Paisley
P&B Textiles – Florentine
Michael Miller – Eiffel Tower
Holly Holderman – Jolie Jardin
Philip Jacobs – Trumpet Flower
Gift from the wonderful Ms JJ
Robert Kaufmann – Tuscan Wildflower
Kaffe Fassett – Dancing Leaves
Yuko Hasegawa for RJR Fabrics
Hoffman International – Indulgence
Philip Jacobs – Coleus
As you can see, I have a wide variety of colours and styles of fabric in my stash! Some of them have been in there for several years, waiting for the right project. Is this that project? Who knows!
I think I know which one I want to use, but I’m going to sleep on it for a few days before making a final decision.
And anyway, I’m interested – which one do you like best????
Linking up today with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday – because, hey, pulling fabric for a new quilt counts as a work in progress…