Friday, March 21, 2014

Stash Stories

What to do with all that Fabric when a Quilter Passes!

I don’t know if ever in the history of quilting quilters have had such huge fabric stashes as we have today. It speaks of the great prosperity of our times since the spite of all the ups and downs in the economy during the past 40 years!  

The emergence of these stashes into the market place is only beginning to be felt in the past 5 years. I bet a lot of family members who have to try to unload this “stuff’ are feeling overwhelmed. And it’s not just fabric. It’s books and patterns and tools! 

I began to make note of the number of stories that began to appear on quilt discussion lists about the amount of fabric that was beginning to hit the “secondary” fabric market several years ago.  I have wondered what changes this huge amount of fabric hitting the secondary market might bring about. Would it make any difference in women’s spending habits about fabric? Somehow I doubt that it. I figure they will keep on buying “new” fabric anyway. But it is possible that as this “cheap” fabric (relative to the price of “new” fabric) becomes more widely available, women may simply just ADD EVEN MORE fabric to their stashes!  I think the presence of e-Bay and similar on-line sale sites is only going to accelerate this process.

A Business Opportunity for Someone Who Loves Fabric!

 Someone with a good business sense could start snapping this stuff up by the pound and create a huge on-line business out of it.  This “Secondary Market Fabric Mall” might one day be greatly appreciated by future quilters who want to “sew with vintage or antique” fabrics of our era just as we covet anything from the 1800s or early 1900s today! (Of course, it is hard for me to ever see the fabrics of the 1970s-2012 as fitting into those categories....and yet the 1970s already do!)

Help! What Do We D
When the Quilter in the Family Dies 
and Leaves All Her Fabric Behind?

As to how to put stashes to better use after a quilter has passed, here are some ideas that others have come up with too, I am sure:

Take the stash to her guild and let the members take what they want. What is not taken can then be given to GoodWill or some similar organization. Believe me, there are plenty of textile artists and quilters who regularly check such places for good bargains to extend their own fabric palate.  This is what our quilt group here on Lopez Island does. What is left after everyone has taken what they want goes to Neil's Mall.

Neil tacking up the new sign.

Being an island, we have some unique challenges to getting rid of "extra stuff", not to mention actual garbage. Anything that can possibly be re-used we give to what was loving dubbed "Neil's Mall" many years ago. (Click here to see what Sunset Magazine has to say about it.) This is a covered-on-three-sides-concrete-slab area at our Recycling Center. Volunteers keep it neat and organized. (Volunteers also get first shot at what is left there, too, so it is usually a popular place to volunteer!)

2) Since we started making Comfort Quilts last year to be distributed to families or children in need for whatever reason on our island --including having one at all times in the Sheriff’s car and other emergency vehicles as well as in each school classroom up to a certain age), our group really appreciates these kinds  of donations of fabric.

3) contact organizations like the Linus Project or even Mennonite groups or the Lutheran Relief Society that make quilts for disaster relief around the world. It would be satisfying to think of my stash made into quilts to warm someone else in another part of the world.

4) pass on patriotic themed fabric to Quilts of Valor or other similar support organizations for those in the military.

There really are a lot of organizations out there that gather fabric. I just don’t think there is one “clearing house” yet that makes it relatively simple for everyone to use. But here are a few ideas.

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