Does the Stash Control You?

Most of you will not relate to this but I’ve known quilters who hardly ever quilt because they no longer like the fabric in their stash.  They feel they can’t buy new fabric because they have a stash . . though they don’t want to use it so . . they don’t quilt.

What if you’re in that position?  What would you do?

Obviously, you need to get rid of the fabric that has you paralyzed.  Decide today . . what are you going to do?  Don’t you want to be excited about quilting again?  Do you believe that there is no truly ugly fabric?  Even if you don’t like it now, you must have once loved it or you wouldn’t have bought it, right?  If you once loved it, don’t you think someone else would love it now?

  • You could try to sell it on ebay.
  • You could try to trade it with another quilter.  Maybe she has fabric she doesn’t like and you’d love it.
  • You could make donation quilts — quilts for orphans, lap quilts for old folks homes, small quilts for police to give to children when needed.
  • You could make bags to re-use at the grocery store.

If you have the funds to buy new fabric, you can donate the fabric you no longer want.  But, if you don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of new fabric, can you try buying a few new pieces to put with the old fabrics and maybe make it work?

Here’s a story I was told when I first began longarm quilting.  For those who machine quilt, whether on a longarm, short arm, domestic . . you know that sometimes it’s just hard to get started.  Even though I love longarm quilting, there are days when I can find every excuse in the world to keep from getting started.  Some wise person said to me . . set aside an amount of time that you know you can spend each day at the longarm.  For some it may be 15 minutes; for others it may be 2 hours.  Just be realistic when  you commit.  Then, do it!

Here’s my challenge for any of you who feel paralyzed by the stash:  Go to you stash right now and pull some fabrics to make some blocks.  Make something simple — plain nine patches, or four patches, or big flying geese . . use those fabrics to make something.  Commit to yourself that you are going to make a number of blocks . . maybe 4; maybe 9; maybe 12 . . and do it!   You may be able to find that some of those fabrics you no longer love . . may just rekindle that flame of desire and you may end up liking them again.

Anyone willing to do this little challenge?


  1. 3


    I have a lot of ways to reduce stash, and have enjoyed riding along on Judy’s coattails to get some stash busted, but I have to seriously work on finishing some of my UFOs! I am drowning in them.

  2. 4

    pdudgeon says

    yep, i know someone like that. unfortunately she took it one step further and decided that she was incapable of following directions (in spite of having her own finished quilts hanging in her home).
    i finally gave up trying to help her quilt a year ago.

  3. 5


    Just ignore me – I did find the pages that include the border, it just was somehow set up differently on my screen. Thanks.

    Ugly fabrics – I think it will take me so long to get to those, they might have disintegrated by then. 🙂


  4. 6


    Wow, this is (unfortunately) so me. Although I’m not paralyzed, I just try to ignore that it is there unless of course I need (for example) a yellow fabric. My problem is also that after reading blogs for the last year and seeing all the cute fabric out there, mine is just so boring. I have been trying to decide what to do with it for a while now. Part of me wants to just chuck it all and part of me is glad it’s there so I can shop there before I shop at the store.

  5. 7

    Another Linda says

    I have been feeling that way about my stash. My problem is everything my friends make, I would like to make. And same here, I love about every quilt shown and would like to make one like it. Problem is, as someone else mentioned, I am swamped with ufo’s.

    I also lack color co-ordination, and confidence. I had pulled some fabric for a project and showed to friends and asked how they liked it, they preceded to tell me I had the wrong blue, the wrong pattern scale on the red, if it were theirs, they wouldn’t use “that green” and so on so forth. I went and bought some other fabric, started cutting but was unhappy and wadded it up and there the project sits, unfinished. I had been happy and excited with what I picked out originally. Oh well.

    so that is why I love scrap quilts, cause it doesn’t have to all match. Or two color quilts.

  6. 8

    Diane H in Alaska says

    A few years ago, I had a fabric only garage sale and invited all the quilters I knew and got rid of lots of fabric and they were happy with what they bought. I also sew quilts for kids going into foster care and people are always donating fabric to us that they don’t want anymore. I still have lots of fabric but those are some ideas I thought I would share.

  7. 9


    Wow, I totally identify with this. I have been collecting fabric for ten years and I used to work in a place that would get fabric donated, plus i’ve purchased scrap baskets online. So consequently I have a bunch of fabric I never intended to buy and never picked out. Compounding the problem is the fact that i’ve recently become a designer fabric snob, and am only made happy by my Amy Butlers, Heather Ross’, Tina Givens’, etc. In fact, my regular quilt store fabrics make me actively unhappy. When I want to make a new quilt I feel like I should use my stash to save money, but then it is never exactly what I want and I get mad at the quilt. I am sort of paralyzed. I will think about what to do and then do it.

  8. 10

    Sandy says

    Has anyone tried string quilts to use up their stash? This is soooooo easy. I use a thin muslin foundation and it is just flip and sew. You can use any size of block and when the fabric is cut into various strip sizes you get really pretty combinations. The fabric doesn’t seem to look so ugly, lol.


  9. 11

    Trish says

    My guild has an auction every year to raise money to pay for teachers, go on retreats, etc. We have an incredible auctioneer (said humbly because I’m married to him) and we raise a good bit of money. This year I’ve gone through all of my old UFO’s and kits I keep procrastinating doing and am donating them to the auction. I feel good about getting rid of the stuff taking up room and it’s going to a good cause.

  10. 12

    Evelyn says

    I use “ugly”, old, no-longer exciting fabrics all the time in my quilts. I allow myself to buy a few new fat quarters here and there to liven things up and yardage for sashings and borders, but this old fabric has to be used! Most of the time I am absolutely, 100% thrilled with the finished quilt once it is all quilted and being used. I will look at some of the fabrics and think… man, that 1 piece of fabric sure is ugly… but it works in this quilt. I show my quilt group the fabrics I pick and some will say they wouldn’t think to use A with B or B with C… but in the end it just might be that A fabric that is the zinger. You never know – so I make what pleases my own eye. You are doing a great job to encourage people to use their stash Judy! Cheers! Evelyn

  11. 13


    I have been doing this with my stash for the past year. I usually make disappearing 9 patch quilts for the police cars and have really enjoyed seeing what happens. I try to combine “ugly” fabric with donated fabric so that I can see movement in the stash. I also am learning to piece backs with fabric I want to get rid of, a la Bonnie Hunter, and that has really helped. I rarely buy fabric for a specific project so I get to “shop” in my fabric for whatever project comes up.

  12. 14


    Something my local quilt shop is doing is posted on my blog…….combining new with old.

    I’m not afraid to use my stash……….I just don’t get the opportunity is sew for myself…..that will change after DD is done with college…but for now I have tuition to pay.

    check out the quilt here

    Karen L

  13. 15

    Marilyn L says

    I’m in a quilting funk and need to take the advice to find time every day to just sit down and work on something. I seem paralized at the thought of starting anything! I have half done projects, with missing pieces. I have quilt tops that need backings. I have a quilt on the frame that needs quilting. I have tons of quilts that need bindings.

    I’m not afraid to use my stash and love the fabrics that have been given to me, I just lack the motivation and energy to get working this last couple of weeks. I feel overwhelmed that there is so much to be done, and so little time to do it in, yet I waste the time I have sitting here on the computer reading about all of the wonderful projects others are doing 🙁

  14. 16

    Mary says

    I think this is a great idea. I am not paralyzed, but I have a lot of frabric that came out of storage recently. I bought lots of solid colors to use in “Amish” type quilts, and now that I look at it, it’s not so exciting. But, just thinking about your suggestion I came up with the idea of making (a few at a time) flying geese with these fabrics and black as the neutral. When I have a bunch, I can put them up on the design wall and sew them together. It probably won’t be my most favorite quilt, but I think it can work. Thanks Judy for your ideas and for your willingness to share.

  15. 17

    carol c says

    Here’s my challenge for any of you who feel paralyzed by the stash: Go to you stash right now and pull some fabrics to make some blocks. Make something simple — plain nine patches, or four patches, or big flying geese . . use those fabrics to make something. Commit to yourself that you are going to make a number of blocks . . maybe 4; maybe 9; maybe 12 . . and do it! You may be able to find that some of those fabrics you no longer love . . may just rekindle that >>>>>> it controls me right now, cause I cant sew, i got a severe cat bite and I cant sew anything
    I was working towards controlling it, but it is all scraps no one else wanted to begin with

  16. 18

    QltnRobin says

    Hey Mary, at post 14
    Why not use Judy’s new stash buster quilt project for the amish flying geese! That would be really awesome in amish colors!

    Im not paralized by fabrics I hate……Im paralized by fabric I LOVE!!!! Its too beautiful to cut into. I like the design just the way it is (yes I do have that book!) Its so pretty and I dont have enough of it to make any one thing. etc etc. I AM slowly getting it used but boy its SO HARD!

  17. 19


    Love to use my stash continually. Click on my name and you can see my 12 blocks from Judy’s newest stash sew-along! I am so pleased that Judy is helping us find ways to use our stash! Thanks so much!!

  18. 21


    Absolutely! I’m up for the challenge. I have been donating fabrics this year and last year. I have also been reading up on scrap quilting, and I plan on combining scrap fabris with these fabrics that I have left that I don’t like as much as I once did. A while back I began piecing what I called a “shabby chic” quilt, I hated it. I decided to use it as a backing! Worked out perfectly. I’ve also group some projects to get started on, but I must finish some more UFO’s.
    Thanks Judy for your inspiration!

  19. 22


    You are so right that just committing to 15 minutes when you don’t *feel* like quilting really gets you going – on days I’m not in the mood – I’ll just pick a small task to do and usually find myself working much longer than planned.

    • 22.1


      This post has me thinking . . wondering if this same commitment would apply to housekeeping chores. Maybe I’d rather not go there! 🙂

  20. 23


    You aren’t limited to eBay any more. At you can list for free and your listing will stay up until it sells or you cancel it. The final value fees are a fraction of the eBay fees and the site is simple to use. I see more quilters and fabric people there every day.

    If any of you need help on the site I am only an email, booth chat or quick text away