15 Ways to Bust Your Stash

Think Pink by pumpkinseedmama

Finding it hard to actually use stuff after you buy it? Here’s a list of 15 ways to bust your stash!

1. Figure out what you can lose. Take an afternoon to go through your stash, and realistically assess what you have. Separate things into piles.

  • Go pile: stuff that you don’t feel inspired to use at all can be donated (see #9) or gifted to crafty friends.
  • Keep pile: stuff you’re not sure what to do with, but you don’t want to get rid of, like that brocade you scored in Hong Kong in 1967 can go in this pile. Although, you should probably ask yourself why you haven’t used in 40 years and make a plan for it. Everything does not belong in the Keep pile!
  • Deadline pile: see the next item in the list

2. Make a deadline. This is a deadline by which you will use the items in your stash. A large percentage of your stash should fall into this category. When you purchased that flowered corduroy, hopefully you had an idea of what it would soon become. Go through your stash and make a list of projects you want to do, then begin to assign dates you will be making the items on the list. If you can’t think of specific projects for stuff in your stash, create a

3. Create a Stash Limbo. This Stash Limbo will exist in the form of, say a “Six Month Box.” Stuff goes in the box, and if it’s not gone in 6 months, it’s GONE in 6 months. Keep track of the “Use by” date by putting a label on the box that says “June 2009” and so on. You should always go to your Stash Limbo box FIRST when you decide to work on new projects. This might mean you have to

4. Change your focus. Instead of trying out a new craft with all new
supplies, try a slightly different craft that you can use your existing
supplies with. Or better yet, try your new craft but adapt your old
stuff to work with it.

5. Trade with someone else. If you are starting a new craft, find someone else who has some of the supplies needed, and work out a deal with them wherein you trade something you have in your stash for something they have in their stash. I used this method a few years ago when I wanted to try felting soap, but I didn’t want to splash out for wool roving. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do more than one or two soaps, and spending $20 on roving to find out if I liked the project wasn’t an option. If you don’t know someone personally who has what you need, try using a crafty forum like Craftster or Ravelry or Swap-bot to get in touch with potential swappers.

6. Get inspired by your stash. Take a good look at the items you’ve collected. Rearrange things in your stash. Juxtapose unlikely items together and see if an idea is sparked. Now USE your stash to create your new inspiration.

7. Put Stashbusting on your calendar. If you craft every Saturday, set aside every second Saturday of the month for exclusive stashbusting. Or every Thursday night when you’re watching TV, and so on. You get the idea, right?

8. Stashbust for Charity. There are any number of charity organizations that take handmade items and give them away to people who need them. A quick google search will give you more organizations than you can donate to who will take your handmade blankets, knitted or crocheted items, stuffed animals and dolls, and whatever item you specialize in. CraftSanity has a lot of info on charity crafting, and here are just a few links I chose:

9. Stashbust materials for charity. If you don’t have time to make everything in your stash into a good-looking donation* perhaps you can give out of the overflowing abundance of stuff you have to people who can use the raw materials.

  • Refugeecrafts, a site that helps refugee women achieve self-sufficiency through craft, has a wishlist of stuff they can use
  • Pictureme.org encourages you to donate scrapbooking stuff to your local hospital or school for therapeutic scrapbooking
  • Project Linus–check with your local chapter about donating fabric, thread, etc.

10. or, stashbust for other not-necessarily-charity groups like:

  • Churches that have groups that sew for charity.
  • Local theater groups that have lots of costume needs.
  • Quilt stores that have the names of groups that are, are/not church related that do charity sewing.
  • Local offices of 4H that have programs for youth.
  • Some nursing homes that do crafts to sell.

11. Make a prayer shawl. This is in the same category as stashbusting for charity, but closer to home. Surely someone you know is in the hospital, or going through a rough time (cancer, miscarriage, divorce, etc.). A prayer shawl is a beautiful gift that lets the recipient know you care and are thinking about them, and thought about them throughout the process of creating the prayer shawl. It does not need to be religious, either! A great book on this is the Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet E. Bristow, published by Taunton Press. I have been meaning to review it, but in a sentence, I was skeptical as I started it, but by about page ten I was converted and ready to start making prayer shawls! The book focuses on knitting and crochet projects, but you could just as easily sew a prayer shawl or lap blanket.

Okay, so we’ve pretty soundly covered the donation route. More lighthearted stuff:

12. Do some quick and dirty craft projects. Instant-gratification stuff like pajama pants (yeah! you just used up two yards!) or

13. Use your stash for practicing techniques or creating patterns. If you want to test out an idea, use the stuff in your stash to practice! Instead of using muslin for a pattern mock-up, why not use that prairie-inspired calico you just had to have? You aren’t as obsessed with the pioneers as you once were, so use the callie to get the proportions right on that Vera Wang-inspired wedding dress BEFORE you cut into the silk you bought for the real thing. The best part about this technique is that you can use differerent fabrics together because this mock-up will never see the light of day. Actually, it sounds kind of awesome so please post to your flickr when it’s done, k? This would also work with yarn, paper, etc.

14. Organize a crafternoon courtesy of your stash. Open up your stash to a handful of crafty friends and see what comes out of it! I can’t think of a more fun way to bust your stash! Optional: set a theme, like stocking stuffers, or making Morsbags (reusable shopping bags).

15. Participate in a fun project that focuses on stashbusting. Wardrobe Refashion comes to mind–take a pledge to not buy anything new to wear, but to use what you have on hand to make new stuff and craft up a new wardrobe. Apply this to your existing stash items (if they aren’t compatible with refashioning your wardrobe), and make it fun. Bonus points if you “pledge” to use up your stash, post about it on your blog, make a nifty button for your particular stashbusting endeavor, and rope others in to pledging the same!

Bonus idea:

16. Organize a stash-reducing white elephant party with your crafty friends… of course, you will come home with new stuff for your stash, so I don’t know if it really counts!

I know this pretty much goes without saying, but please don’t just donate sub-par stuff to charities! It’s the thought that counts, but giving someone in need something that you wouldn’t use yourself isn’t very nice.

Previous Stashbusting posts:

About Croq

CROQ Zine is a print zine devoted to hip crafting and indie business. Our first issue went to print in Summer 2005.
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