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How to Declutter Your Fabric Stash

A large fabric stash is must-have for many quilters. And while it's amazing to be able to "shop your stash" for a project, having too much fabric can also become a burden for some. If you're feeling the call to cut down on your fabric collection, here are my best tips for doing a declutter.

I declutter my fabric every year, because my tastes and style change, I want to have room to buy new fabric, and I want to have an organized and pretty space that allows me to be creative and relaxed. Decluttering is one of my big passions, and I truly think it makes a difference in our lives when we’re surrounded by things we love!

Why would you declutter your fabric stash?

There are several reasons you might need to sort through and possibly get rid of fabric, including the following:

  • You're moving to a smaller sewing space.

  • You want to buy new fabrics you love, but don't have the room to store them.

  • You can never find the fabrics you need when sewing.

  • You feel overwhelmed by your fabric stash and have a hard time getting creative.

No matter what your reasons are for embarking on a journey to declutter your fabrics, the end goal is to curate a collection of fabric you love and that makes you happy!

How to declutter your fabric stash

The process for decluttering your fabric is so simple! I promise! Pick up each piece of fabric and ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I love this?

  • Will I use this?

If the answer is yes to either of those questions, you keep the fabric. If the answer is no, you get rid of it. Simple, right? You never want to get rid of fabric you will love or use -- you'll only regret it. But if you don't love it and you won't use it, it doesn't need space in your stash.

Let's dive into the process a little deeper, because while the physical act of decluttering isn't necessarily hard, there is a lot of emotions surrounded a fabric stash. And these emotions can make answering the question of whether you love and will use the fabric hard.

While you're decluttering your fabric stash, you may have these types of thoughts running through your head. And that's ok! It's completely normal to feel attached to the fabric we brought into our home.

  • I spent a lot of money on that fabric. I can't get rid of it!

  • I was going to use this fabric to make a quilt for my daughter's wedding five years ago. Maybe I should start that project now.

  • I bought this fabric on a trip with my friend, who has since passed away. The fabric holds special memories of her.

  • I've been saving my scraps for years to make a quilt. I just love scrappy quilts, but haven't felt the excitement to make one myself.

As you can see, fabric is much more than just fabric! It's also time, money, memories, and future plans. And confronting whether to keep or get rid of fabric can also feel like we're confronting deeper issues in our lives.

Set yourself up for decluttering success

Let's discuss how to prepare yourself for decluttering your fabric, especially if you're feeling nervous or emotional about the process. Take it step by step and never push yourself to get rid of something or continue the process if it's too hard.

Get it on your calendar. Schedule your declutter and block off uninterrupted time for the process. We suggest scheduling it in 30 minute blocks of time, so you can make real progress, but also don't feel too overwhelmed.

Set the mood. Try to approach your decluttering time with a positive mindset. Make your environment happy by playing music or listening to an audiobook. Light a favorite candle. Treat yourself to a fun snack. Or invite a friend over for support if you need it.

Keep supplies simple. If you have too many boxes, bags, labels, etc., it'll make the process more complicated. Have a few boxes or bags ready for fabric you may not be keeping. And have a cloth on hand to clean off dusty shelves or containers as you go.

Have a game plan. Figure out an ordered way to declutter your fabric stash, such as working shelf by shelf or drawer by drawer. If you jump around to different areas in your room, you'll lose track of what has been done. If you have to stop the process, come right back where you left off the next time you declutter.

Make a plan for "maybes". When decluttering, if you instantly know something will stay or go (and you have space to store it), go with your gut! You don't need to make it more complicated. But if you don't have an immediate feeling about a piece of fabric and you need more time to consider it, place it in a pile and keep moving through your fabric stash. At the end of the process, go back to that pile and make the hard decisions.

Common hurdles to your fabric declutter

Sometimes answering the questions "Do I love it?" and "Will I used it" are not as easy as they may seem! Here are some different situations you may encounter when decluttering your stash and what to do about them.

Saving scraps. Many quilters save smaller cuts of fabric for scrappy quilts. But if the size of a fabric is too small for the types of quilts you're making (or your scrap bin is filled and you never use them), you may want to donate the scraps to someone who will love them.

Breaking apart precuts. Bundles of precuts look beautiful on your shelf and can be addicting to buy, but you're allowed to take your bundles apart to better sort and store your fabrics. Maybe there are fabrics in a fat-quarter bundle that you'll never use. Or maybe you were obsessed with mini charm squares at one time (I'm speaking from my own experience), and you separate them to put them in your scrap bin.

Coveting out-of-print fabric. Sometimes we get caught up in the hype of a new fabric collection, even if the style of fabric isn't something we'll use. And now years later, the fabric is still sitting in our collection. It can be hard to get rid of, especially if it's out-of-print or you see quilters on Instagram talking about how lucky they were to score that fabric at their local quilt shop. But just because other quilters are obsessed, doesn't mean you have to be.

Having a scarcity mindset. It's normal (especially in this economy) to feel a scarcity mindset toward decluttering. You may think to yourself, "What if I get rid of this fabric and never find another fabric like this again?" Or, "What if I sell this fabric but next year my budget is so tight I can't buy the fabric I need for a project?" These are real worries! Obviously if there are financial worries and you have the space to keep the fabric, keep it! The joy of quilting (whether you love the fabric or not) outweighs the benefits of decluttering. But remember that most fabric designers put out similar looking collections and colors multiple times a year. There will always be more fabric to buy!

Feeling an emotional attachment. We can have a very emotional attachment to some fabrics (such as fabric you've received after a family member or friend has passed away, fabric you bought on a meaningful vacation, or fabric that was meant for a special occasion such as a birth). If you don't want the fabric, but are struggling to get rid of it, consider taking a picture of the fabric to remember it by. Or save small scraps of the fabric in a memory book, and donate the rest to a charity sewing organization.

What to do after a fabric declutter

You're done with your declutter! Congrats! Now that you only have fabric that you love and you'll use, you can truly see the impact the declutter has made in your sewing space. Here are some suggestions on next steps.

Deal with the "no" fabric. It's time to get rid of your "no" fabric pile. If you have that pile in the house for too long, you're more likely to keep the fabric. You can sell your fabric, especially if it's larger yardage pieces or precuts. You can gift fabric to family or friends, or bring it on your next quilt retreat or quilt guild meeting to share with others. You can also donate fabric to a person or organization that sews for charity or a thrift store for a lucky sewist to find.

Rethink your space. It's possible that you weren't able to use your sewing space to its full potential or be as organized as you would've liked because you had too much fabric. But now you've opened up the potential for change. That extra space may be just what you need to store your fabrics in a better and smarter way for your needs. Here are some ideas:

  • Did you clear enough space on a shelf to move fabric from a closet or drawer to that space?

  • Are you able to better organize your fabrics by color, by theme, or by categories?

  • Did you carve out enough room to keep your scrap bin handy?

Make it pretty. As you're putting fabrics back in their place, make sure to clean the space from dust or debris. Refold fabrics or trim loose threads if needed. And save some empty space if you have it! You can use the space to grow into as your buy more fabric in the future or to display special trinkets.

I hope these tips and ideas help you feel confident and empowered to tackle your fabric stash! You've got this!

Thanks for joining me for "happy. hour",


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