Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does my stash look big in this? (Ten things on the tenth)

Hey there, crafters! Does "stash-busting" appear anywhere on your list of New Years Resolutions this year?  This month, I thought I'd share ten "Spend Less, Craft More" principles for "Ten things on the Tenth".  Whether your weakness is for paper-crafts, fabrics or some other craft hoard, I hope you find some ideas to motivate you!

1. Here's a radical thought:  Do you need a stash at all?
I explained in more detail back here about how I suddenly acquired a stash of wool (knitting yarn) and later wished I hadn't.  The way I knit is to chose a pattern and the appropriate wool together, for that one item, then knit that one item.  End of story.   Beyond a box of oddments for those times when my children want to make a pom pom or the like, I have no business owning a wool stash at all!!
Similarly when I'm dressmaking, I chose one item (or an outfit), then make that garment up before moving on to anything else.  So why did I still have at least ten lengths of fabric in a box after a recent fabric cull?  Hence the 2013 fabric stash challenge!
When it comes to scrapbooking though, I love to pull out some photos and papers from my stash and play around with them.  So a paper stash is OK - as long as it keeps within the limits of my budget and my available space.

2. Organisation is your friend.
Knowing what you have and where you have it is key to using your stash.  But if you're getting out your pen and paper ready to be told how to organise your stash . . .sorry.  I share with Glitter Girl the belief that the organisation system that works best for you is the one that matches your creative process (if you haven't already seen that Glitter Girl Episode you can watch it here.  Incidentally I think that the principles she talks about are equally applicable to all crafts, not just scrapbooking).

OK, I'm not going to give you a prescriptive organisation system, but here's a few things I think are important:
  • I'm a very visual system, so I like to be able to see my supplies as much as possible, and I like all my boxes, drawers etc to be clearly labelled!
  • Your most-used supplies should be closest to hand
  • Having said that, a cluttered work-area can be counter-productive to creativity.  When I encounter a creative block, I invariably clean up my workspace.
  • Make sure you're happy with your organisational system before you commit to spending lots of money on beautiful storage systems.  Otherwise you might end up with a stash of empty containers as well!

3. It's OK to cull.
While you're organising, be honest with your self. Are there items in there you know you'll never, ever in a million years use?  Cull them! Culling might mean recycling or even throwing into the garbage. It might mean donating to your local preschool, or having a swap with crafty frends.  But pretty pretty please don't just give them to a friend with an even bigger stash than yours, just because you know she'll take it!  She probably won't use them either!

4.  Use it or Lose it
I know what you're thinking . . .  but how can I be really truly 100% sure that a particular item really deserves to be culled?  This is where the fun starts! Those items go into the "Use it or Lose it" pile.  Allocate an amount of time and challenge yourself to see what you can use in that time frame.  Then at the end of that time, cull whatever is left.
Of course, if you have a lot of product in this category, you might of course want to break it up into more manageable chunks of supplies, rather than overloading yourself by trying to use everything at once. 

5. Compare your incomings and outgoings.  
Often, when I talk stash-busting on this blog, someone will comment that they try to use stash-busting strategies, but their stash just keeps on growing anyway! If that is true for you, ask yourself this question: How does the product coming in compare to the product you use?  Are you are buying product faster than you're using it? Be honest with yourself about what products you're accumulating, and then you're ready for the next step!

6. Set a budget.
Back in 2010, I set myself a budget of $5 per week on absolutely all my crafting supplies.  I stuck to it, managed to reduce my stash,and actually enjoyed the process!  This year my budget is equivalent to $10 per week, and I can't imagine needing to spend any more.
You might choose to give yourself a per week budget like I did, or limit the amount of particular products you buy.  Some crafters choose to spend no money at all for a set amount of time, perhaps with the exception of certain staple items. (Dressmaker commits to spending no money on fabric for six months, only purchasing notions essential for finishing projects using fabric from the stash) 

7. Keep track of your goals
Invaluable to keeping me on track over the last two years has been a small diary in which I've kept track of all my  spending.  Every time I've completed a project, I've kept track of that also.  Of course making my goals and progress public right here, on my blog, hasn't hurt either!

8. You don't have to do it alone!
Do you have friends who would like to join you in your stash-busting quest?  If not, (and I'm sure you already know this) there are plenty of groups out there in internet land that could help you.  Two of my favourites for paper-crafting:

The Counterfeit Kit Challenge
Here's a quote from their blog:
"If you have ever browsed through those great monthly scrapbook kit clubs and admired their beautiful kits...but knew you needed more supplies, like a "hole in the head" know who you are (you're the one with TONS of supplies and embellishments in your ever growing scrapbook stash)...this challenge is for you!"
The idea is that each month they choose a kit and members "counterfeit" the kit from their own supplies, then offer various challenges to inspire us to use them.  Brilliant!

Let's Scrap has, apart from weekly sketches and regular challenges, a dedicated "Scrap Our Stash" group.

Of course, any blogs or challenges that you already frequent are great too, as long as you stick to the following principle:

9. Focus on what inspires you to create, not on what inspires you to spend.
This was my motto for 2010.  For me, this meant deleting almost all craft-related "saved searches" on Ebay, and giving up regular "window shopping" at my favourite on-line craft stores.  We all know how easy it is to find pretty things we want to buy when that's what we're looking for!  And how much that can eat into the time we might otherwise be spent in the craft room!
Instead, I tried various Challenge websites (sketches and colour challenges being my preference) which enables me to focus on using my creativity with supplies I already have on hand.

10. Have fun!
I promise you that buying less new stuff and using more older product doesn't have to be painful!
In this ten things post back here I share ten current trends that are highly compatible with stash-busting. 
And stash-busting doesn't mean you have to compromise your own style, although you might like to stretch yourself by trying a different style occasionally!

New products coming out at CHA just around the corner . . . whatever.  But a new Scrapbook Boutique challenge released today . . . that's something I get excited about!

Well, thanks for stopping by, and I hope I've given you something to think about!I wish you well on your creative journey this year!


  1. This is a great post! Thank you :)

  2. I'm so going to organize myself this year... thanks so much for the inspiration (and the tips)!

  3. I'm sure your dressmaker comment was aimed at me! I have been known to not add to my stash for more than 12 months at a time, but then The Fabric Store or some other place will have a sale! The last time I stocked up however, I made a new shirt from each piece of fabric that I bought, and I did it all straight away! They did, however, seem to give me a lot more of each fabric than I asked for, so I have enough leftover to make at least 1 more shirt from each fabric.

    I do plan to try and use up some of my stash this year, and not just fabric. Scrapbooking perhaps? I even did some sewing on a teddy bear last night!

    Thanks for the push in the right direction.

    1. No, it wasn't aimed at you, but keep thinking that if it helps . . .

  4. I used to think I needed stash and then in November, I saw it was getting out of control so I made the decision back then to decreasing, using and gifting it out. I just gave away a HUG box of crafty goodies to a middle school scrapbooking club in my how you did the colored groups and am gonna have to try this technique! Great layout!