Stashbuster Challenge

This year, I want to reduce the size of the stash in my sewing room. It is so easy to buy beautiful fabric, and then have a hard time cutting into it. Ever feel that way? It is almost that I am afraid to make a mistake in how I choose to use it, that I might regret cutting it up for a particular project, then wish I had it back for a different design. I think maybe this is why I design so many scrappy quilts, as I cannot go wrong using the bits left over, and I have a lot of bits, LOL! But I also have bolts of fabrics, some background tone on tones that are easy to cut, but also some really beautiful prints that I haven’t yet used.

So, here is how this will work. On the first Friday of the month, I’ll post the Stashbuster Challenge. Leave a comment on that post with the number of yards of fabric you had come in over the previous month, and then number of yards you had go out. No, you do NOT have to inventory what you have on hand. Out means out the door, donated, shipped, gifted or otherwise leaving the house, including bags of scraps or fabric given away, not necessarily used in a project. Use whatever method you want to estimate yardage when you are using scraps. I use a guideline of one quarter yard out for two 12-inch blocks made, three 8-inch blocks made, or four 6-inch blocks made. Is that precise? No, but it will do. Report monthly, and after February, cumulatively as well. Your comment will look something like this:

Month Fabric In – 3 yards, Month Fabric Out – 5 yards
Cumulative Fabric In – 6 yards, Cumulative Fabric Out – 11 yards

The goal is to have that cumulative fabric out number be larger than fabric in. At the end of the year, I’ll draw a winner for a non-fabric prize. I’ll be collecting items for that through the year, but I can promise it will be fabulous. Every month you post progress gains you one entry in the drawing. No rules, you don’t have to participate every month, but I hope you will.

To help you get started, here are a few of my free patterns for some small projects that will jump start you on a year of using up your stash. This Blue and Yellow Table Topper was fast and easy, using some larger solid blocks. This topper has 25 6-inch blocks plus the border, backing and binding, that I would count out as a total of 3 yards. No, that isn’t a precise measure, but it is close enough.

This Road Trip Pillow case with handles and pocket is handy for traveling and will burn up about one and quarter yard. These make great gifts as well.

See my pages at the top of the blog, Sewing Tutorials and Quilting Projects for lots of ideas and free patterns. You can also use the categories on the sidebar of Sewing, Quilting, Scrap Crafting, Tutorials and Mini Quilts, to find more projects like this Low Volume Quick Quilt.

There are also many free projects with my annual Autumn Jubilee category on the sidebar. Looking back over the past several years, you can do any of these projects with fall colors, and many would be great in everyday or spring colors as well. This project could easily be done with spring flower embroidery and pastel scrappy borders.

There are quilt alongs and mysteries beginning this month as well, so lots of opportunities and inspiration to pull out those pretty fabrics and sew. I hope you understand, I won’t be doing a mystery this month, and may not be able to do one this year. I’ll be working on Safelight quilts this month, with lots of fabric out for backing and binding. But, I also have a gift certificate to my local quilt shop, so there will be fabric in. But remember, the goal is not to stop buying fabric, the goal is to have more out than in. This pattern makes wonderful charity quilts, use just 9 or 12 blocks for a Project Linus quilt. I reworked the pdf for this, so now it contains both the detailed instructions on how to make the block, and also six setting designs including the offset diamond (below), mountain peaks and bargello. Download the pdf for it – Scrappy Quilt Project.

One more download for you, the case sets for our annual Safelight project will also burn up a bit of stash. Please use pretty, fun novelty, or bright prints, something that makes you smile and would bring a bit of joy to a domestic violence victim. Download the pdf – Safelight Case Sets.

So, now you have the challenge, some inspiration and a few projects to help you get started.

Here’s a button for your sidebar if you’d like one. Please link to the URL of this post –

Are you in?

48 thoughts on “Stashbuster Challenge

  1. Diane

    Love it! Thanks for the challenge and the fun incentive to have more “out” than “in”! I am looking forward to making a big dent in my stash this year!

    1. This challenge is designed to motivate finishes, not create more UFOs, LOL!! Using stash for backings works perfectly. Out the door doesn’t apply if you plan to keep the quilt for your own bed. But it has to be a finish, not just a flimsy.

    2. Julie

      Oh my, is that really your stash? If so, it’s OK, when you’re in business you need stock! I’m in. Pretty sure the only thing I’ll buy this year is background. There’s enough of the other stuff around the house between fresh cuts & sorted scraps. I’m off to a good start, I haven’t bought anything this year :-), despite one of my few remaining LQS is closing, so there is a sad but tantalizing final sale going on.

      1. Brenda

        I’m in! I’ll try. I really Need to cut my Stash. I accumulated alot of fabric when I worked at 2 fabric stores. With hubby retired now, can’t always get away to projects in my sewing area.

  2. Nancy H

    I’m well on the way, I have 6 tops ready to sandwich and quilt at home and a king quilt ready for my long arm appointment next week. Half of these were using up scraps. Yeah!

  3. Rheanna

    I’m all in! I have been keeping track of the fabric coming in. Thanks for the recommendation on how to estimate the going out. I thought it would be easy to have more going out than coming in but I underestimated the after Christmas clearance and sales stores are having.
    I also decided to do the same challenge but with books. My goal is to only have 1/4 of the books coming in that I read. So for example, for every 4 books read I can get 1 new book in. Since I currently have 65 books to read on my shelves I am hopeful that I can dwindle down the stash.

  4. Jan Snell

    I am in! a thanks for organizing this fun invitation. I appreciate the guidelines for counting blocks made.

  5. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    Sounds like fun, but I think I already have many monthly challenges with IB this coming year! But I do plan to destash by taking part of my hoard of fabrics to our guild meetings for others to use. I have way too much! And with the beautiful boxes of fabric I receive from Island Batik, I have to make room! LOL

  6. Maridee Hargis

    I like this idea. I used fabric the other day that was from Hancocks. I haven’t lived near a Hancocks since 2014. It felt good to finally find a project worthy of some prints I had been saving. And I really like your travel pillow idea. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Joan Sheppard

      I worked for Hancock Fabrics (first Minnesota Fabrics) for 27 years! Sadly I still have some of that fabric! Does that make it an antique? LOL

  7. Kim J LeMere

    What a great idea and I did get a gift card this Christmas for a local fabric store so yes, some new fabrics will come in, but I would really like to send more out the door. I hope to join in with the rest of you.

  8. I definitely need this. I have some (translate – a lot) of tops that need backing so that might help. Only problem, many of my projects extend past 1 month. I’ll try. (But there is so much prety Fabric out there calling my name!)

  9. Some of the Terracina fabric I recently received will be perfect for those SafeLight cases! The prints will be quite elegant for those! That will bring the loose fat quarters under control!

  10. Joan Sheppard

    Fun! In the book “How to clean Anything” she starts with….”have a cleaning buddy” to encourage you – thanks for being our Cheerleader to get us going. I have 3 nieces having babies this month and finished one Eye Spy yesterday, laundered, mailing on Monday.

  11. I’m up for another stashbusting challenge. I just spent all week working on postcards and used less than a yard. LOL Guess I need to work on something bigger,.

  12. I’m in! What a super idea! I like the idea of a scrappy back as that will help my “out the door” number. Thanks for the motivation for a long overdue stash buster! Let the fun begin!

  13. Michele Bretz

    Well I guess I’m in starting with upholstering a blue jean scrappy chair for my daughter’s college dorm. I’ll send a picture as well when I’m done.

  14. Linda B

    Well, this will be interesting! Not positive I am really willing to SEE the in/out actuals so far, but maybe, LOL. There are quite a few dynamics going on with building/keeping a stash, aren’t there. I’m in!

  15. Ginger Michael

    As I am much faster at purchasing fabric than actually using it my sewing room looks like a fabric store—only not as neat! My husband is afraid the room is going to collapse into the garage that it is above. I accept your challenge to move more fabric out than in this year. To that end I have actually gone a whole week of the new year without buying material and the only yardage in was purchased late December and is just now arriving.

  16. Sue H

    I’m in! I would like to see how much fabric I go through. Since I have several projects in the works plus MANY more planning in my head, I really ought to be able to bust the stash. Thanks for the motivation!

  17. Sharon F

    I should have read this before visiting two different quilt shops this week and adding more than a few yards to my stash. But we’re on vacation in Arizona and visiting new quilt shops is so much fun.

  18. Shirley Marvin

    Will be using up my stash but don’t like bookkeeping so will not be giving a count of out the door stuff until,, I get all the NICU quilts finished. Think this is a good Idea though. Will keep following.

  19. Guilitta

    I read your post: Stashbuster Challenge on January 7, 2022. There you recommended the yellow-blue tabletopper among other things. I was interested in it and looked how big it was, because I would like to see if it fits my table. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any size information. There I wanted to comment and ask about the size. Unfortunately the comment section is closed. I don’t like either. 1. if there is no size specification and 2. if something is pointed out, the comment function for inquiries is closed. Now I have finally found an email address and hope that you will answer my question. Thank you very much for your effort.


    1. Hi Guilitta,
      I had to close comments because I was getting hundreds of spam comments on older posts. So I had no choice.
      For the topper, it was just a post on a project of leftovers, so I didn’t do a pattern. But I will do a download and add that when I can. In the meantime, here is what you asked for –
      Total size of the topper is 36-inches square, but you can easily make it bigger or smaller by adjusting the borders you add.
      The nine patches are made with jelly roll strips, and are 6-inches finished, alternating with 6-inch finished (cut 6-1/2-inches) plain yellow squares.
      The white border is 1-inch finished (cut 1-1/2-inches wide)
      The final scrappy border is cut 2-1/2 inches, and finishes at 2-inches.
      Hope that helps!!

  20. Helen

    Where do I find your free patterns? I am going to be making smaller projects from now on as I am not a quilter and it’s getting more expensive to have big things quilted and I do like your smaller items. Would love to get your free patterns for my use only. Thank you! Helen

  21. Domestic Felicity Creations

    I would love to join the challenge, is there a specific Friday post for January to enter my yardage into? I’m estimating that I’ve already purchased 20 yards of fabrics for 2022!!! Slow me DOWN!

  22. I won’t be doing the challenge as you guide it (since I don’t sew and if I have any fabric in the house it’s a spare fat quarter that never got turned into a mask!). But I may well try to do this with some of the materials in my art room that I’m not likely to use again. That includes old magazines with patterns and inspiration, papers, ephemera pieces. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t start till I get a little more of Christmas down, but that should be very soon! Great idea, no matter the medium!

  23. Connie Bryant

    I love the road trip pillow idea. I don’t have the fabric to do it but if I did I would attempt trying to make one! 🙂 Thanks for the ideas.

  24. Vicki in MN

    For the past three years I have kept track of the in and out of fabric myself. So I will jump in, but probably not until April or May.

  25. Sarah

    I am in. Grateful we are only measuring in and out.😀Thanks for the ideas and pattern references to get started with some smaller projects.

  26. Kathryn Laposata

    January fabric in: 0 January fabric out: 0
    I’ve worked on a lot of projects with my stash, but nothing out the door yet. I need to get them quilted. I’m glad I made no purchases this month. Thanks for the incentive.

  27. Carol Preston

    I’m late starting… but I’m in.
    January 0 IN -9.33 OUT YTD -9.34
    Finished a nice quilt for my sister-in-law.
    Made a convergence quilt sample using up an ugly panel.

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