Skip to content

How To Destash Unwanted Fabrics And Yarns

It’s easy to say that to be more sustainable, you need to use what you have first. But what if you don’t like what you have – what are you supposed to do with it then? For household decorations, furniture and even clothes, we already have well known options for how to pass on these things to others who want them – but what do you do if it’s fabric or yarn that you no longer want? The answer is to destash.

Why might you no longer want what you have?

Some people might be amazed that anyone would want to get rid of fabrics, yarns or patterns, but there’s lots of reasons why you might want to clear out your stash. Perhaps you’ve inherited someone else’s collection and just don’t know what to do with them, or you’re going through what you have and just don’t like some things anymore. Maybe you feel uncomfortable using synthetic fabrics or yarns now because you want to craft more sustainably.

Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in not liking or wanting to use what you already have, so don’t feel as though you must use it up – that’s a surefire way to lose interest in a project and possibly even your entire motivation for sewing, knitting or crocheting. All that’s needed is a sustainable way of passing these unwanted materials to people who do want them and will use them. So how do you go about doing this?

Prepping what you want to let go of

Firstly, be clear about what it is you no longer want. Set it aside from the items you want to keep, so that it’s easy to find and there’s no way of accidentally mixing it up with the fabrics and yarns you want to keep – this is for your benefit as well as for those interested in what you’re letting go of, as you don’t want to get into an awkward situation involving a fabric or yarn you want to keep!

Take photos of everything in your destash pile on your phone, making sure to photograph or write down information like fibre type, length/width of each piece of fabric or weight of each yarn, collection, brand, etc (if it’s written on a tag or on the selvedge of the fabric, or if it’s on the yarn band). If you’re getting rid of patterns, you should also note if these have been cut out or are otherwise incomplete. If you don’t know all of these things, that’s okay – you just need to have as much information as possible to hand for people interested in the fabrics or yarns you no longer want.

If you don’t know what fibre type your fabric or yarn is, do a burn test. It sounds scary to burn a little piece of the fabric or yarn, but this is a great way to identify what type of fibre you have. Threads Magazine have this great chart for how 10 common fibres react to the burn test. You might not know exactly what fibre it is from the burn test, especially if it’s a blend, but it’ll help to have a rough idea.

It's important to at least have a rough idea of what fibre types you are destashing. Using a lighter to do a quick burn test is a great way to do this
It's important to at least have a rough idea of what fibre types you are destashing. Using a lighter to do a quick burn test is a great way to do this

Decide if you’re going to sell items individually or in bundles. Some items might make sense to be grouped together – such as fat quarters of Christmas fabric, or several balls of the same type of yarn – while others might be more appealing by themselves. Don’t try and sell everything you no longer want as one big bundle though, as you won’t get very far with it, though don’t be afraid to negotiate with folks who are interested in more than one item.

Work out what you want for each item or bundle of items you’re letting go of. This makes it easier to deal with interested people – and it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone who is interested. You could happily give friends and family items for free if they want, but ask for a nominal amount from strangers if you use another method of destashing. The important thing is to be happy with what you’re asking for each item or bundle you’re letting go of.

How to sustainably destash

There’s several options for how to destash. You might find one that works brilliantly by itself, or a combination of them might work out better for you.

Friends, family and local crafty folk

If you have friends and family who craft, ask them if there’s anything they want. This is the first thing you should do if you can, as you never know who among your friends and family might want or need some of the things you’re trying to rehome. If they don’t directly want anything, they may know someone who would, so don’t be afraid of waiting a few days for an answer from them.

There’s also local crafting groups that you could speak to – they may already be holding a destash or swap that you could join, or they might be happy to help you spread the word amongst their members.

If there’s not a local crafting group, perhaps try a car boot sale or a crafting fayre. You never know who is wandering around at car boot sales, or what they’re looking for, so its possible to sell almost anything there – and usually folks who go to craft fayres are of the crafty persuasion themselves. Be aware that you will need to pay an entry fee as a seller though, so you’ll want to try and at least make this back if you go down this route.

You could also ask local schools or children’s clubs if they might want anything for kid’s crafting sessions, or perhaps ask local colleges with fashion courses if there’s anything you have which their students could make use of. This is best if you don’t mind giving items away for free to people you know will use them.

Holding a destash sale is a great way for interested folk to find yarns that are hard to get hold of after being discontinued
Holding a destash sale is a great way for interested folk to find yarns that are hard to get hold of after being discontinued

Using social media

Instagram is a great place for destashing, and there’s lots of ways you can do it. Use an existing account or set up one just for destashing – it’s up to you. From there, announce on your main feed that you’re doing a destash and tell people what the rules are – for example, where you’re shipping to (domestic or worldwide), how to “claim” an item (comments, direct messages) and whether you’re running this on your main feed or on Stories. Make sure to include relevant hashtags to this post so that people can find your destashing event – #destash, #destashsale, #theGreatFabricDestash, #destashyarn, #destashing are all great general purpose hashtags, but if you know things like the pattern designer, yarn manufacturer or fabric collection, add those into your hashtags as well. Try adding hashtags that appeal to the wider community too – like #yarnlovers for a yarn destash, or #beautifulfabric.

Instagram Stories is a good way of running a destash, as it doesn’t overflow your feed and annoy followers who aren’t interested in what you’re letting go of – plus they’re only available for 24 hours. Using Stories also means you can set a date and time for the destash to start in your announcement post and you can easily add an update when things have found a new home.

Facebook is another good place you could try listing your items on, by using either their Marketplace or by posting in relevant groups. You can even post on the Marketplace and share across several relevant groups so that more people have the opportunity to see your post. Make sure that you read group rules if you want to post in there though, as some admins don’t allow sales in their groups. Also be sure to mark items that have been bought as sold or simply remove your posts, as otherwise you’ll still get people asking you about them.

When you’re running your destash on social media, don’t forget to add details like what you want for it, and also remember to factor postage in too – so you could say something like “£10 plus postage”, so that the person wanting to buy from you knows that postage is on top of what you’re asking for. This is particularly important if you’re willing to send internationally, as it’ll cost you different amounts to post to different countries, so you wouldn’t want to be out of pocket on the postage.

If the person interested lives near to you, be open to meeting somewhere so they can collect the items they want from you. This doesn’t have to be your house, it could be a local cafe if you feel more comfortable – but make sure to let them know who to look out for if you do meet anywhere other than your home. Tell them your name, what you look like and what you’re wearing, so they don’t waste their time asking everyone if they’re the person they’re supposed to be meeting. It doesn’t need to be too detailed, just something along the likes of “I’ve got long brown hair, wear glasses and have a yellow jumper on” will be enough.

Online sales platforms

Ebay and Etsy could be useful for selling your unwanted patterns, fabrics and yarns, particularly if you have a lot of one item (for example, if you have several balls of the same yarn and you’ve discovered it’s discontinued). Many people go directly to these sites to look for specific patterns, fabrics and yarns, especially those that are hard to find elsewhere.

Be aware when using these platforms though that you will be charged for each item you list or sell. It might therefore be worth trying some of the other methods detailed first before you add anything to these platforms.

Charity shops

Charity shops and thrift stores are good places to donate items to if you don't want to keep running destash sales
Charity shops and thrift stores are good places to donate items to if you don't want to keep running destash sales

If you still have some items left over and don’t want to keep running destash sales, or perhaps if this all sounds like it’ll be too much for you to handle, you can also donate unwanted patterns, fabrics and yarns to charity shops. Many charities have dedicated craft corners these days, where they sell items like sewing machines or knitting needles, so your items will likely get put together with these other similar items, attracting crafters who visit the charity shop to that area.

Enjoy your destash!

Whichever method (or combination of methods) you choose to use, just remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Also don’t feel as though you absolutely have to destash – if there’s something that holds some sentimental value perhaps, or if you change your mind and come up with a project you can use some items for, it’s totally okay to keep hold of them.

The important part is to be happy with what you’re letting go of and enjoy the process. It’s not nearly as scary or overwhelming as it might seem on first glance, and if needs be you don’t have to do it all at once either. You could do a series of mini destashes at different times or using different methods, if that makes things easier for you.

Just don’t throw things in the bin – that doesn’t help anyone and only hurts the planet. If you attempt any of the above methods the items you don’t want are going to other homes where they will be loved and appreciated, even if it does mean a little effort on your part to help them find those homes.