Nov 17


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!


*GOOD-LOOKING DONATION:
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:

Nov 5

flickr: Luci_F

Last week I wrote a post called “15 Reasons to Bust Your Stash,” which was all about using up instead of buying more. This week I want to talk about building a stash, and the reasons why you should consider doing it!

1. Having a stash provides inspiration. Your materials will dictate the direction your project takes, and sometimes having a ready supply of stuff will help shape your project plans.

2. You will learn something about yourself by looking at the things you collect. Guess what, you like orange! I know because you have six cuts of orange fabric sitting on the shelf in your studio. And, you have a penchant for the nautical. And you like bavarian woven trims, and googly eyes. Learning these subconscious leanings can help you define your own style of crafting. Go with what you like!

3. You might never find that item again! When you’re shopping, sometimes you come across an incredible deal, or a unique item. It makes sense to buy it when you see it, lest you regret it later. Some people limit themselves to a certain quantity if they don’t have a specific purpose in mind for something, say only buying half a yard of fabric.

4. Save up some goodies for the lean times. Unless you are independently wealthy, there are times when you can’t afford to spend much, or anything, on crafting. Having a bit of a stash squirreled away means that you will always be able to craft when the mood strikes, no matter what your economic situation.

5. Because it’s okay to have some fun, in the form of buying cool supplies that you love. Just be sure that you do love them. My sister uses a term she calls “Bangkok Market Regret,” based on a time she bought some sneakers at an open-air market in Thailand in a frenzy of shopping. When she got back to the states, the sneakers looked cheapo, and not cute–something she would never wear. She just bought for the sake of buying, and not because she actually loved the shoes, and soon regretted it. Be sure to honestly assess the things you are buying for your stash, especially if you don’t have a specific plan for them.

6. It saves time. Sometimes you just want to craft. It helps to have something available immediately whenever the inspiration strikes.

7. Because you have something in mind. By all means, if you find some amber beads that are your mother’s favorite style, buy them. Just make a plan to actually use them. A specific plan, ideally with a date that you will do the crafting, or a deadline when you will be finished.

8. Because it can motivate you. Maybe you are suffering from crafter’s block. Perhaps a trip to your local craft store will provide just the boost you’ve needed to move beyond the block. If you already have something of a large stash, give yourself a price limit to work within (think Project Runway! Tim Gunn: “All right people, you have a budget of fifteen dollars!”). Actually, when buying supplies, it is always a good idea to have a budget to work with! It keeps you from buying stuff you won’t use.

9. Because you need it. You have happily been busting your stash and have worked hard to reduce the items in your storerooms, and now you need more! Perhaps one of the best reasons of all to buy more loot! You’ve been diligent in using what you have, so now you have the privilege of getting more.

10. Because you need something new to make your existing stash work. You need an 18″ zipper, a coordinating lining fabric or some matching thread. Shopping for small staple items can make you feel like you’ve gone on a shopping binge, but is more directly useful than just buying random pieces with no final plan.

11. Because you want to expand your crafting horizons. If you are going to try something new, you will most likely need some new supplies. You can’t needle felt without felting needles, right? If you have an issue with buying large amounts of stashtastic goodness, I advise two things. One, be judicious in what new crafts you embark on. Don’t start something that requires a lot of storage space and a huge cash outlay if you are already strapped for money and storage space. Two, don’t go crazy for your first project (or three). Buy just what is required to do one simple project, and reward yourself for completing that project by purchasing enough supplies for just one more project.

12. Because it’s your birthday, or your blogiversary, or you just sold your 500th item on Etsy, or you inked a book deal. There are reasons to celebrate, and instead of going out to a fancy dinner, spend that $100 on buying supplies. Or go out to a moderately nice dinner and spend the remaining $50 on supplies. Spin it however you want to your significant other!

13. Because nothing in your existing stash will do. You can’t make cloth diapers if all you have is a bunch of pipe cleaners and pom poms. Again, like with point 11, I advise purchasing a conservative amount of whatever you need to make.

14. Because you are making a gift for someone with specific tastes. My stash is full juvenile flannel prints (confessional!) but my sister is a chic urban girl whose signature color is red. I need to make a few small purchases in order to make her an appropriate Christmas gift, y’know?

15. Because you just got an economic stimulus check from the government! What else are you gonna spend that “free” money on?

Okay, so some of these reasons are extremely legit, and a few of them are thinly veiled excuses to do some retail therapy. The important thing is that you are aware of the size of your stash, and that you are mindfully adding to it instead of randomly and haphazardly buying things that you will never look at again once they hit your closet.

Thanks to Luci_F for the photo.

Oct 28
woven stash trim by glumpire (via flickr)

woven stash trim by glumpire (via flickr)

I am a big fan of stash-busting and you should be too. Here’s why:

  1. I so rarely reach the end of any particular product (a cut of fabric, a jar of paint) but when I do, it just feels so great to have loved something enough to actually use it up.
  2. Even better than the feeling of having used something up is the knowledge that you will soon get to buy more to replace what you used up! And this time you actually HAVE to buy it because you need it!
  3. When something enters your stash, it’s there because you liked it so much that you had to have it. When you picked up that bolt of fabric, your mind flashed on all the amazing things you would make with it. When you brought the fabric to the cutting counter, it was like a sacred pact between you and the fabric. I will make something incredible with you, and only you. And now that it’s been sitting in your fabric bin in your studio for two years, you look at it and go, “really? a dolphin print in khaki and peach? what WAS I thinking?”

    Sad but true, the moment a supply enters your stash, it starts getting less fresh. Don’t let that supply live past its “use by” date!
  4. If it’s sitting in your stash, the supply isn’t doing anything! Once you use it up, you give it a life beyond your studio shelves. Make something, and either love it or let someone else love it!
  5. Stuff in your stash can give you a creative boost. Experiencing crafter’s block? Close your eyes and point to three items in your stash. Now pretend like you’re in a Project Craftway challenge and you HAVE to make something using those items. You’ll be surprised when three random items come together to create one cohesive item.
  6. Because you can’t find anything that’s filed away in your stash. Once an item is out of sight, you are much less likely to use it. When you open up your stash and come across something great, use it!
  7. It’s more environmentally friendly. Avoid all the crafter’s guilt that comes from further contributing to ecological problems that come from manufacturing and shipping new stuff. Build a project around items that you already have on hand instead of buying new supplies for new projects.
  8. Hoarding is sad. It’s sad because it means that you found something really great, but you’re depriving the world of its awesomeness by leaving it locked inside your stash. Even sadder, you’re depriving yourself of something great instead of enjoying it like you should be. If you are hoarding a special supply, make a deal with yourself to craft for yourself for once, using that special supply to make something all for you!
  9. Building a stash instead of using it is a form of denial. Some people, not naming any names, just like to shop for supplies, but never actually use them. If this is you, step one to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Step two is to stop buying more stuff! Step three, and this is the challenging one, is to sit down and start using all that stuff you’ve accrued!
  10. Because you need a break! Forget about the dishes and vacuuming out the couch and paying your bills (okay, maybe do that last one before you start busting your stash)! Those aren’t fun like making stuff is! You are building a stash so you can use it, so just use it!
  11. Because you don’t want your great-grandchildren to sell off your stash at the estate sale starring your stuff. Gather ye craftstuff while ye may, and then cut, sew, and be merry with it! You’re not gettin’ any younger!
  12. You just cannot use it faster than you will accrue it. You will never run out of stash, so just keep working on it! It’s a scientific fact.
  13. Face it, your craft corner is overstuffed. You need that storage space for something else! You need to reduce and USE so you can make room to live in, make room for your significant other’s personal effects, or just make room for more stuff!
  14. Because Christmas is in eight weeks! Do I need to elaborate? Maybe you should add a couple more handmade items to your gift list this year. Preferably large things that use up a lot of your stashtastic goodness.
  15. Because you’ve spent more on your stash than any other single item in your house! Now treat it with the respect it deserves!

Thanks to glumpire for the use of her photo.

Oct 27

Quilting stuff everywhere!

Every year, my mom and I like to have a quilt “sweatshop” to make quilts for an entire year’s worth of baby shower gifts. In years past, we have made 20 and 17 quilts, respectively during our sweatshop marathons.

In years past, our sweatshop has been at least five days of sewing, but this year I just had time to devote a single day to the sweatshop. I got to craft for one entire day with no interruptions (which is rare these days, with my two kiddos in the picture!) Our final tally for this year: Two completed quilts, and one top (not finished)

The first sweatshop year, we used up about half of our collective pre-cut 5″ blocks, and last year, we used the rest of our pre-cut blocks up. It felt so good to bust that stash!

Quilt #1 with bias tape binding

This year was also all about stashbusting, but all our fabric was in full pieces, not already-cut blocks, so we played around with a different design than our go-to “Trip Around the World” one patch.

Our design was inspired by filminthefridge’s Blocks & Stripes Quilt.

We used fabrics that we had on hand (stash-busting!), an old Ikea sheet for the background, and an old comforter for the batting. Just trying to use up the stash!

My mom made bias tape for the first quilt. Binding a quilt with bias tape was a first for us! (Link: a nifty tutorial for a DIY bias tape maker!)

Our quilts were planned on graph paper, but the rows of random blocks and stripes were only loosely laid out, making these half-planned, half-improvised quilts.

I designed the block rows to use a combination of 6″, 4.5″ and 3″ colored blocks along with either 3″ or 1.5″ lashing between them. Then I calculated how many of each block one row would need, and sewed nine of those rows (for the three quilts). I threw in a few random blocks while I was sewing the block/lashing rows.

Aug 14
yes, i really have 20 lbs of zippers in my garage

yes, i really have 20 lbs of zippers in my garage

Ah, the old salad days of yore, when I spend who knows how much money adding to my crafty stash. I still have a garage full of stashtastic stuff that I have toted halfway across the country with me. I just can’t bear to part with the twenty pound bag of multicolored industrial zippers I got at a dorm garage sale in 2002. Of course, when a new project comes up, I just have to go to the craft store to pick up “one or two” things necessary for completing my new opus.

The last crafty things I purchased were for a holiday ornament project I have yet to do: white glitter, fabric stiffener, and balloons (can you figure out what my project was from that list?). You know how long ago the holidays were…

I have put a moratorium on purchasing any new supplies this year. My stash is too large already, and with two little ones, I’m lucky if I have time to eat dinner, let alone wax crafty.

That doesn’t mean I can’t add to my kiddie craft stash, though! I admit I’ve fallen prey to the siren song of the loss-leader school supply aisle. Washable crayons for a dollah? Let me stock up! My toddler has a full arsenal of washable art supplies, from markers to paints, as well as every type of art paper a 2 year-old could possibly need for his precious scribbles. He even has a pair of high tech safety scissors (they don’t look like they did when I was a kid! They’re now entirely made of plastic–safe enough for my seven month old to chew on, if they fall into his hands.) I vicariously craft through my toddler, who sits in his high chair long enough to paint a few strokes on one wooden figurine before he gets bored and wants to “run around like a crazy guy.”

I’m actually quite the eco-crafter, too. I find it hard to throw away a lot of my trash because it has potential to be used as a craft item. Egg cartons, colorful cereal boxes, used wrapping paper, twisty ties, bread tabs, cans, milk cartons. I have a major case of tightwad angst against throwing this stuff away. It’s good stuff! I’m sure the day after our recycling bin is picked up, I will NEED that huge olive can for something! Hey it would be great for potting geraniums!

As a stay at home mom, you would think I have time for all that crafting I wished I could do back when I was working. I feel guilty, though, even starting a craft project when I know there are seventy-three domestic tasks I have been putting off. I feel like I just have to do those (Item fifty-two: sew blackout curtains for my toddler’s room so he won’t keep getting up at 6:30 every morning!) before I can start anything that is just for fun.

So when I add to my craft stash (okay, okay, I admit it, I did buy a vintage sheet at Goodwill recently. It would make such adorable reusable grocery totes), what I’m really purchasing is the idea of crafting. It’s just not enough to purchase the materials, you have to actually use them. Otherwise, they become the fabric of just another crafty quilt dream.

Feb 16

Well, my mom and I have launched our annual baby quilt sweatshop with a few good hours yesterday (we laid out 13 quilts), and I continued today, laying out 2 quilts (and using up the balance of our blocks! boo-yah! That’s what we set out to do LAST year in our first annual baby quilt sweatshop marathon – and we only managed to do 20 last year, and still had tons of blocks left.)

Let’s do the math: 15 baby quilts at 81 blocks each = 1215 blocks so far!

Once we get these sewn together (they each take about 2 hrs per quilt top, and then another 30 mins of finishing work), I plan on starting on our bigger pieces of material. Must bust stash!

–Heather

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