The Great Fabric Destash : How to Purge Your Fabric Stash

Destash Fabric in 3 (somewhat) painless steps

When I was pregnant with my third kiddo I decided it was time to start purging my stash. I was going to lose some space to baby, and I was starting to feel like I had too much just- stuff. It was time to destash fabric. Not long after she was born we learned we would be moving across country and the purge became more important. Did I really want to pack and move all this?

I thought it would be easy. I didn’t think there was really THAT much. I started by sewing my small stack of unfinished projects and making an effort to use fabric I owned while establishing a no buy rule. I honestly thought given that I had some lead time that would be enough.

Then I couldn’t find my Kam Snap. I was sure I knew where it was- but it wasn’t there. And the resulting search left me near panic attack. It seemed the deeper I looked the more stuff emerged. Half finished projects that stopped fitting a child two years ago. Fabric I didn’t remember. Fabric I didn’t like. Tissue pattern pieces without patterns. PDF pieces unlabeled with sizes or designer names. Rolls of ribbon, balls of elastic, bags of scraps to be saved for scrap projects. More bags of scraps……

I got serious about my purge. Here’s how you can too.

Get Real (Seriously)

Look at your stack of work in progress, to be mended, and potential upcycles.

Destash Fabric in 3 (somewhat) painless steps


Is it still going to fit the child it was intended for? Will it fit another kid? Is it for you, is it something you would still wear? If the answer is no to any of these questions- it goes.

Half finished projects zap my energy and make me feel anxious. After I had cleared out my nos I put what was left at the top of my sew list and made it a priority to get sewn. Anything still untouched when I got back around to packing up my sewing room went.

To be Mended

You gonna fix that hole? Really? …..Really? Most of this stack went for me too. Anything that stayed was dealt with immediately. I didn’t give myself a pass, it either was mended and put back in circulation or taken out permanently.


I had acquired a really big pile of potential upcycles. Anything that I didn’t truly love went in the Goodwill bag. I also started saying no to more upcycle stuff. I didn’t keep stuff just because it was fabric. Which leads me to,


Give yourself Permission….

To say NO.

Now I’m pretty lucky, I don’t have a lot of people in my life who give me stuff because I sew. But I know some people who get loaded up this way. Guess what- you don’t have to take it. Say no thank you!

To get rid of things “gifted”.

You do not have to keep things because someone gave it to you. I get it. I have held on to gifts, hand me downs, etc way longer than I would have if they hadn’t been gifted to me. Just because someone gave it to you does not mean you have to dedicate limited space to storing if it is not something you love and will use. Destash fabric you’re keeping out of obligation or guilt.

To get rid of things you inherited.

This one is trickier. When someone passes and you inherit their stash it comes loaded with emotion. Pick some special things to save, consider taking pictures to save instead of stacks of things. Would they really want you to be overwhelmed and loaded down with their things, probably not. Try to start shifting your mindset, getting rid of a thing does not get rid of the memory tied to it.

 Destash Fabric in 3 (somewhat) painless steps

Purge Once, Twice, Three Times

The first time through your stash you may want to keep ALL THE THINGS. Give yourself some time. When I decide it’s time to clear things out I plan on going through it at least three times.

Give yourself a few weeks in between each time through. The first time you pass through you may have things you know you should purge- but you can’t let go of. The second time through you may find it way easier to put it in the out pile because the thought has been percolating for a few weeks already.

I always find more to purge each time I go through things.

Is your stash really overwhelming. You don’t have to conquer it all at once. Start with your knits, or wovens, notions, heck maybe just your buttons!

Where Does it Go?

This is the big question right? I sent my in a couple directions.

Donate it.

You’ve been excited to score fabric at the thrift store right? Make someone else’s day- donate it. Check for local organizations, schools, even pet shelters may be in need of fabric or supplies and be happy to accept yours.

Sell it. 

I had limited energy for this. But I did garage sale some of my stash. This was a good way to sell bundles of small cuts.

There are groups on Facebook you can sell on to destash fabric. If you’re feeling real motivated host an Instagram sale!

Give it to sewing friends! 

Found a stash of half finished projects that don’t fit your kid anymore? Reach out to your sewing community, you may find someone willing to pay you to ship it- it will fit their kid!

Toss it. 

Ok so in a some cases I had to get real about my fabric destash. The chunk of knit scrap running against the stretch- not going to get used. That piece of fabric I wasn’t using because it bled everywhere, shrank like crazy, shredded when sewn etc. it just had to go.

Bottom line isn’t it better some one be using the material instead of spending the next ten years buried in your house?

Destash Fabric in 3 (somewhat) painless steps

What’s Next?

I’ve decided to not keep as much fabric on hand. Kids grow, their preferences change. If I want to buy something specific for a project I don’t feel as bad.

Sale price on a fabric I’m not going to sew with is not a good deal- I don’t care how cheap it is.


Have you destashed fabric? What is your best tip? Are you planning to destash fabric- what do you dread the most?



{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Elizabeth September 27, 2016, 8:47 am

    Great post! I really need to go through my fabric stash and decide what to keep and what to donate/toss. I didn’t realize how much fabric I have until I was attempting to organize it all recently. I keep some of it on my room and some in the sewing room, so I never see how much I actually have. The hardest part in letting go for me is that I think I will use the fabric someday or that I got it free/cheap. I do have a friend that gifts me wool fabric and I never say no. Your ideas of what to do with the fabric are helpful as that’s another thing I struggle with when purging my stash.

  • JessiBerry September 28, 2016, 4:45 am

    That third baby sure does take up space! I got rid of a ton (a huge tote over full) of denim I was planning on using for upcycling and still barely made a dent in my stash. Now that the sewing room is in my bedroom after baby three arrived in don’t have the space for all that fabric. I need to be ruthless. It’s hard.

  • Emily October 5, 2016, 12:25 pm

    I just opened your email at I was sitting in my sewing room staring at piles of fabric! Great suggestions and motivation! I’m going to get busy now. Thanks!

  • Mona Dykhouse October 10, 2016, 10:20 pm

    This is the best article I have read yet on de stashing, I needed permission and some guidance and you gave me both!

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