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Portland, OR


Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Use It or Lose It Stash Challenge

Surrounded by Scraps

Use It or Lose It Stash Challenge

Linda Nussbaum

Since recovering from the hullabaloo of the late-December holidays (ours were actually very mellow, just the way I like it), I have been overtaken with a strong desire to ORGANIZE. Shocking, I know.

It might have been helped by the receipt of this perfect Christmas gift:


which helped me take this...


... and somehow get this:

You may be asking, "How does this relate to the post title? When is she going to talk about this challenge thing?" The thread sorting is where the studio clean-up started, but I'm not quite ready to explain the title. Gettin' there, I promise!

During the process of sorting and organizing my spools of thread I came up with almost as many comb-over spools as useable ones. If you can't picture what that means, take a look:

And I wonder — what compelled me to hold on to all of these guys? Laziness? False expectation of restocking? An uncanny pack-rat mentality that doesn't allow me to let go of anything that I could possibly get some sort of use out of at some time in the future? Yep, that last one sounds about right... so keep that logic in mind as I continue my recounting of my studio clean-up.

After successfully attacking the thread I decided to turn my attention to my overwhelming stacks of fabric. Perhaps somewhat inspired by the usual instagram New Years' resolutions and pledges about sewing from stash, revisiting UFOs and just starting the new year off right I tried to be brutal about culling the unused from my stash. The problem is, I'm not so good at brutal or at culling.

Near the beginning of the purge. Those fabrics on the floor are NOT to be purged, just moved from piles on top of the shelving units. 

Near the beginning of the purge. Those fabrics on the floor are NOT to be purged, just moved from piles on top of the shelving units. 

I will be the first to admit that I have an obscene amount of quilting fabric. I blame the dangerous combination of being a genetic pack-rat/collector and working consistently at various quilt shops for the last 9 years. This means there was a LOT of fabric to sort through. I stretched myself to be ruthless.

Just the start of the Donation pile.

Just the start of the Donation pile.

And while I managed to weed out an impressive number of those fabrics, there were several that gave me pause.

So I started my "Use it or Lose it" pile. I kept coming across fabrics that I could't justify keeping in my stash at this point, but for a number of reasons I couldn't just toss away either. Whether for sentimental reasons, practical reasons or just because I really LIKE the print (but have had it for too many years without actually USING it) they got set aside. 

I'm not a New Year's Resolution person. I don't get behind public pledges, especially ones that depend on a change of habits that have been with me for 40 or so years. But I feel like I came up with a friendly little personal challenge that is approachable and might even be fun. And the best part... NO PRESSURE. 

So here are the self-imposed rules:

EITHER come up with a project (or projects) and begin said project(s) with any number of the "Use it or Lose it" fabrics within the first 3 months of the year OR add them to the purge pile. No harm, no foul. They are all fabrics I haven't been using for years, ones that I considered tossing in the purge pile on Monday but couldn't bring myself to do so without giving them one last fighting chance, so this way they either get a new life or continue on the path for which they are destined. No pressure, right? So meet my eclectic mix of "Use it or Lose it":

I welcome input. However, if you think one of these fabrics is ugly, don't even bother telling me - I probably already know. (Actually, feel free to tell me. I'm okay with it.) And if any of you is inspired to give this challenge a try on your own, let me know! I've got an Instagram hashtag going, #useitorloseitstashchallenge. A mouthful I know. Please post potential challenge fabrics of your own and we can exchange project ideas, crazy comments or maybe even end up doing an ugly-fabric swap! The world is our oyster... at least for the next 3 months.

And I have to say that I did make quite a bit of progress during that one day of studio clean-up. Granted there might be a couple more days in store to really do it well, but for now I cannot complain.


Still an obscene amount of fabric, but a much neater, better curated group of them. Oh and off to the right is my collection of novelty fabrics and (not shown) my Kaffe and Friends collection, which takes up 3+ cubbies all on its own. And NONE of the Kaffe Collective gets purged. EVER. Used, yes, but never purged. Just so we're clear.

So here's to a Fresh New Year and the fun adventures that it brings! Who's with me?