Decluttering, Stashbusting, Use What You've Got

Declutter and Stashbust

We all feel the need to declutter our houses at times, and all you crafters and sewers out there, I'm sure there are plenty of you like me that have an enormous stash of fabric and 'resources' that is probably far bigger than your needs and every now and then you do a bit of  'stashbusting'.

Well, I do a lot of both decluttering and stashbusting, but I still seem to have just as much 'stuff' as I did a few years ago! 

What I have in my stash

My fabric stash consists of 5 x 55L boxes of larger pieces of fabric. That's 575L of fabric!  Sounds (and looks!) like an awful lot!!

Then there's my boxes of fabric scraps - those smaller pieces that I'm sure will be useful for plenty of little projects. All nicely colour coded and packed into 6 smaller boxes that sit under my sewing desk.

Then of course there's all the other things I keep for crafting projects. I see all kinds of cool projects on Pinterest that I think I'd like to try. I also save things that I don't want going to landfill; that seems like such a waste, when I could instead create something cool with them!

So I have lots of..

Plastic Bottle Caps.



Bread Tags and Bottle Caps

Pieces of Drainpipe

Of course endless notions for sewing - zips, buttons, clips, rings, anything that might be useful.

And then there's the clothes - always so many old clothes that I can't bear to through out or give away. Plus, a lot of my friends know that I upcycle clothes and they've started passing their old ones on to me, saying, "I thought you could make something with this"!!

Previous challenges

Back in 2011, I started my clothes upcycling with a month long challenge. I looked at the pile of old clothes I was accumulating and decided I needed to do something about them. I completed that challenge, sharing something every day in May that year that I'd upcycled. Finishing off with a stuffed fabric monster to use up the last of the scraps on the final day! One month, a large box of clothes - success!

Then last year I set myself a challenge to upcycle a HUGE pile of clothes I got from our school carnival, into things to sell at the carnival the following year. Here's what I started with.

I spent about 9 months sewing and creating. I had lots of fun, produced plenty of new sewing tutorials and in the end had a whole stall full of upcycled things to sell.

You can read about how that all went here if you're interested.

So I thought that I've done it before with a big challenge to 'use things up', why not try doing the same with my enormous stash of fabric and crafting resources?

Where did the stuff come from?

My fabric stash has largely come from charity shops, remnant boxes and a large chunk from a lovely old lady I used to know from when I had a market stall at the local shopping centre. She also had a market stall where she sold kids clothes that she sewed.  She quickly learned that I used up fabric scraps, so used to bring bags of hers to the markets and pass them on to me.
A few years ago, she moved away from Cairns to live in a retirement village further south near where her children live.  When she was preparing to leave, she was clearing her house out, and had a very impressive fabric stash to get rid of.
She showed me through her house - all the cupboards and drawers were crammed with fabric. She told me that when her husband died, she just filled up his sides of the cupboards with fabric!
I left her house with a whole car full of all kinds of fabric - and sewing and crafting books too!

I was thinking about this lady, my stash and my constant feeling just now that we have 'too much stuff'.  
What am I saving it all for?  It's not as if I'm looking forward to my retirement where I can sit and craft and use everything then.  When our girls grow up and leave home, we want to travel, go and explore, do, see and live an active and exciting life! Crafting and sewing is more what I'm doing at this stage of my life - with my kids at home to share that and learn things with me too.

Too much stuff

I like the idea of having a clear house, with lots of space and not so much 'stuff'.   

I thought lots about this when my parents visited us recently from the UK.  My parents always want to help us out where they can, and kept asking if they could buy us things - just small things and gadgets that they thought might make our lives easier - gadgets for the kitchen, new mugs to replace the ones we have that are chipped, new  things to replace those that are getting old and less efficient.

I felt a little ungrateful turning these offers down, but I just don't want or need more 'stuff' in our house.  I'm working on slowly decluttering and getting rid of things, the last thing I need is people working against me filling our house up with more stuff!! I have two kids to do that!!

Use what you've got

So that leaves me with my fabric and crafting stash and what to do with it.  I don't want to through it away - too wasteful and damaging for the environment.
Neither do I want to give it away for it to just sit in someone else's cupboard for years.  
So I've decided to use what I've got!  To make all these cool things I've saved oddments for, try out new crafts. Sew more things for us, for family, for friends or to sell or give away.

The size of my stash makes it quite overwhelming to set a time limit on it just yet, so I'll start with just using something up every week - and I will post about it to keep me accountable.

Maybe you have things stashed away too for projects that you've wanted to try for a long time but never gotten around to it!
Then why not join in in some SERIOUS STASHBUSTING!

Use what you've got 

and finally get 

A Round Tuit!!  

Do you think it's too large a goal to use up my stash completely?
Am I crazy?
Would you attempt to use up your entire stash?
I'd love to hear your thoughts - and if anyone is inspired to do any stashbusting of their own, no matter how small!


  1. I think you can do it, but you might need to add in some bulk destashing strategies. What about making kits for people to create their own crafts with, and give those kits away or sell them at your next carnival? A kit to make something specific like a snake would use up a lot of bottle caps - you could include instructions with the kit. Wishing you happy decluttering, Jill!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Mich! That's a good idea to make up some kits - I'll have to get my thinking cap on for those!

  2. Love this jill. I think of my nanna in this post. I don't think she took in anymore thinks to use rather just using what she had. For example, if my grandfather's shirt became thread bare, she saved the buttons and any fabric that was good enough to be reused. She didn't take in anyone else's stuff or bought stuff to reuse. I'm the same as you though. I buy buttons and other craft stuff from the op shop when I see it. I think I'm going to stop, unless I have an immediate use for it. Good luck xx

    1. Thanks Anne! I'm quite excited about this challenge. So many projects that I've seen and wanted to try will finally get done!

  3. You've set yourself quite a challenge there, Jill. If anyone can do it, you can! Me, I'm actually in that stage where I enjoy having a stash to shop from.

    1. Thanks Pam! It's nice to know that others think I can do this!!! :)

  4. That's quite some challenge! And I have the same problem, I think, I have more fabric and old clothes than I have never time to use. With two small kids around, the time is very limited... I have also noticed that if I throw away something, I need that thing the next day! So I have gone through my old clothes, just a while ago actually and simply took to eco-center the old clothes that could still be used as clothes (and I didn't think I would need) - or taken/bought by some other crafter. Now I can walk in my room! Your goal is very ambitious, it won't be easy but if you set your mind to it, you can do it! I think that it would help if you do some things in series, sew more similar things to sell for example at the same time. Would make it faster. :)

    1. That's a good idea to make lots of similar things together! I've also done the same of giving away bags of old clothes that I'd kept to sew with but finally realised I was simply collecting too many. I'm trying to only keep those with special memories now - or ones that can't just be passed on and reworn as is! I think I've just reached the stage that I need more action and less talk! :)

  5. Great blogpost and quite a challenge. I'm doing a similar thing with my fabric stash. It is almost as big as your stash. It feels good to make something out of what I already have. I used old polar fleece instead of batting recently. I also save the spare buttons that come with clothes and use them.
    Good luck with your challenge, I think you can do it.

    1. Thanks Annika. I've done that same thing using polar fleece for batting too! :) I'm certainly looking forward more and more to this challenge!

  6. I know you can do this but I'll wish you luck anyway! I try to use what I've got but I have a bad habit of giving in when the clearance shelves go on 50% at my local fabric store. And then there's all that fabric that's waiting for the PERFECT project. I can't wait to see what you do with all your fabric. I hope it inspires me to make more of a dent in my own stash~

  7. Thanks Tamara! I think we all have that weakness when things go on special and in great sales. I'm getting better at resisting though - and try to avoid looking as much as possible! :)

  8. Since you've been wished sufficient "luck" already, I will instead wish you the best of creativity, stamina, and commitment on this tremendous undertaking. I believe it can be accomplished by stick-to-it-tiveness and truly admire your goal. May we all come back at some point and marvel at your accomplishment!

    1. Thanks Rochelle! I'm starting out with lots of enthusiasm - just need to make sure and keep it up!

  9. Thanks for sharing this post with us at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.

  10. Haha, some great tips here! :) Love them!

    I'd love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, and tips:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    1. Thanks Jessica! Will pop over and share it there!


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