Worth Its Weight in Gold


In my professional career I worked as an investment manager with a large regional bank. My clients included both trusts and individuals, and my job was to try to meet their financial goals, balancing potential risks and returns.

A trust is a document, not a human, but it has its own legal identity and ownership of assets and liabilities. The document specifies, in particular, who receives benefits from the assets owned by the trust, and what those benefits will be. In days past, trusts also often specified exactly what assets could be used. For example, it might say that particular farm property had to be held, or that only stocks and bonds could be used.

One trust with which I worked said that gold coins had to be owned by the trust, as well as financial assets. The coins had belonged to the person (human) who had set up the trust. When that person died, the coins transferred in ownership from the human to the trust.

That same trust also said the beneficiary would receive any income generated by the trust. For example, if farm property is held, the farm creates cash flow, and the net income would go to the beneficiary. With stocks, the dividend stream would create income. And with bonds, interest earned would do so.

Think for a moment: what income do coins generate? I suppose if they were rare enough, someone might pay to see them, as in a museum. But they were not. They were just gold coins, and they generated no income.

Now consider, the coins could never be sold because the document said they had to be held, so it didn’t matter what the price of gold was in the market. The coins would never go to market. And the beneficiary could only receive income, but the coins would not generate income. What value, really, was there in the coins?

No more value than pet rocks.

What gold are you keeping hidden, never to be used or appreciated? Your quilting stash, if purchased new in the U.S. today, would go for about $10-15 a yard. Overseas it may be substantially more. Does your “trust” hold a hundred yards? That would be a fairly modest stash, by many standards. A thousand yards?

You could measure it using a simple estimate. Quilting fabric weighs a little more than a quarter pound per yard. In other words, there are about three to four yards per pound. The photo above shows about fifteen yards of my stash, by that measure. Eyeballing it, I might have 400 yards of stash in total. And mine is small…

Each pound, then, might have a value of about $40-60 in the U.S. Perhaps not the value of gold on the market. But there is value, if…

Do you use it? Do you get the benefit of it? Or do you still go buy new, at $13 a yard, rather than shop the stash?

Is your stash worth the same as the gold held by that trust? If you don’t use it, you don’t enjoy cutting it, crafting it, or giving it to someone who will love it. If you do not use it, it has no value.

Use your stash. Shop your stash first. Enjoy the discovery of fabrics you already love. Challenge your creativity by finding pieces that will work, even if they aren’t what you had in mind. Make sure your stash has value, at least the value you paid for it. Otherwise it’s worth its weight in gold, the gold owned by that trust.

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21 thoughts on “Worth Its Weight in Gold

  1. Lorene

    You always make me think with your blog entrys. I have been on a real scrap binge. As in making blocks with scraps. Scrap quilts are my fav. Now I wonder how much space theses scraps are taking up. Can I sew them all? Hmmmmmmmm……

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Good for you. I haven’t done a “scrap” quilt for ages, even though I do use lots of bits and pieces. And yes, I love scrap quilts, too! Guess I need to make that a priority: if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. πŸ™‚

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  2. Doreen

    Interesting, my dear, that you would post this soon after my “Falling off the Wagon” post!!!! LOL! And, I even took delivery of my Connecting Threads order this morning. In it was batting (use that up no problem!!!) BUT also yardage!!! Why?? Well………….cuz no matter how large my stash is….it’s that ONE color that I’m missing!!!! Sigh……..these 2 pieces will go with some stash pieces on my design wall at the moment (and have been there since a week ago “Design Wall Monday”. Justified purchase or just taking the easy way out cuz just maybe I could have found an alternative??? Anyhoo……..great post, Mel!!!!!! Uber hugs……..

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      You have already shown a great knack… the other day you gave me a hug, which was sorely appreciated. And now you’ve given me a laugh, also needed.

      And don’t worry about my posting this as a *response* to “falling off the wagon”! Believe me, I have more stash than I can use, too, and I’m relatively prolific. At 6 yards per lap quilt, if I have 400 yds, I could make 65 quilts without buying anything but batting. Do you think that will happen? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Good to see you. πŸ™‚

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  3. quiltykanuck

    What a wonderful, introspective post! This past November, I was in the US (from Quebec, Canada) for black Friday. My goal was to ransack fabric stores on sale because fabric is so expensive here in Quebec. Came home with over 100 yards and promised myself I would not shop for anymore fabric until I used at last 50 % of it… πŸ™‚ March is on it,s way and I’m still holding strong!

    Again, wonderful post!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Great job! I bought… maybe 40 yards of fabric at my local guild’s auction in February. It is all light backgrounds, not very inspiring individually but all useful. And the total cost was $40, so… I think it was okay. I just need to remember where they are, as it was enough of a blow that I don’t have room with my “regular” stash. And I’ve purchased a few other things that were specific projects. Still, it makes me think. I don’t like having too much stuff around. If it isn’t useful, sentimentally important, or aesthetically valuable to me, I don’t want it. So why has my stash built up so much the last couple of years, while at the same time my output has gone up? Not sure I can answer that question. Oh. Yeah, I can. My taste has changed fairly dramatically over that time. Now I’m buying brighter pieces, and usually larger. Yeah, that’s it…

      HA Bet you didn’t know you were in for a whole new blog post aka comment. πŸ˜€

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I took a look at your blog and am following now.

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      1. quiltykanuck

        Thank you! I love post-like-comments… I feel like I have guest bloggers all week round! My taste have changed as well, but I keep reminding myself that I make stuff for other people too. An what may not be my aesthetic anymore could be theirs! πŸ™‚

        I enjoy your blog very much! Thank you for stopping an following mine. πŸ™‚ I’m fairly new to blogging so any advice is much appreciated!

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  4. Thread crazy

    I just had to laugh when I read your blog today as I’ve already talked about my stash in a previous blog! There’s at least 100 yards of fabric tied up in my stash and believe me I don’t think I’m over estimating. Thankfully, I purchased backing for most of my pending “projects”. I was so proud of myself as I went to a local quilt show last weekend and walked out empty handed. Don’t get me wrong; there was some fabric calling my name but then I remembered my stash and quickly walked away! So maybe there is hope for us!! Don’t know how long my resolve will last as there’s another quilt show this weekend, but I’m hanging in there!!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      The way I see it is, if you’ll actually use it AND you can afford it (not just monetarily, but in all the different ways we “afford” things,) then it’s no big deal to buy it. But for me, there’s no point buying stuff I won’t use. I don’t LIKE having extra stuff around. It makes me feel uneasy. Not everyone is like that. We’re all different.

      But good for you! Sounds like you’re in a comfort zone, at least for the moment! πŸ™‚

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  5. Nann

    Melanie, what a great message! It puts me in mind of a couple of things: the gold coin hoard that that couple in California found on their property, and the ensuing investigation (stolen? finders-keepers?). I read an antiques/collectibles magazine article yesterday about an early American gold piece that sold for something like $7.5 million…..Then, about “in trust”: the Auburn Public Library (where I worked in the 1980’s) had a large (8 x 10 foot?) reproduction of Raphael’s Transfiguration. I researched library records and found when that it was given “on permanent loan” by the ABD family circa 1912. My assumption was that they’d bought the painting in Italy pre-WWI (reproductions were popular souvenirs). When the house was sold or redecorated they didn’t know what to do with it so they gave it to the library. It hung on the wall in the reference stacks for years. I wanted to sell it and that was okay with the trustees — but the attorney said we had to offer it to the family. There was no direct family left! I found a cousin (coincidentally an attorney) who knew nothing about the painting and didn’t care about it……Before the situation was resolved I moved away. [Note to self: find out what happened to the painting!.

    Soooo, back to the topic of stash: I have a whole lot more than the previous commenter! I remind myself (sometimes more successfully than other times) that the fabric is meant to be used — and that they keep making gorgeous stuff, so if I use what I have I can buy more!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Ownership issues aren’t always clear, are they? I could tell lots of stories about them.

      Stash: Yes, use it up. Replenish with new fun stuff. Enjoy it all, the old favorites and the new flavors. I stagger back and forth between using stash and buying. I think my main advantages are that I don’t really like to shop, and I don’t like to spend money on something I might not use. Both those keep me in check.

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  6. farmquilter

    Perfect analogy!!! I love using my stash to make quilt tops…now I need to make backings for 40+ tops and get them quilted!!!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Do you piece your backs from multiple fabrics? Or do you mostly try to use one? ONE is easiest, but I rarely have a piece the size I need that will work. And lately I’ve preferred not to buy new for that (though I have, and I will…) So piecing backs seems to be more and more likely in my future.

      Thanks for reading and commenting today.

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      If you use it, it’s worth it.

      And to be frank, I’m actually all okay with owning stuff we don’t “use,” too. But to me that would be some special pieces that have particular meaning or sentimental value or aesthetic value. That, for me, wouldn’t include closets stuffed with stuff just forgotten.

      Thanks for taking a look today.

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  7. Barb

    My older fabrics are great. I have purchased some new fabrics. The quality is not great. They fray. I feel like the hairdresser clipping and clipping. Yes new fabrics have great colors and design, but using both works out well.

    I am making charity quilts and for the cancer quilts buying flannel for the backs. I wish my rotary blades would last for a longer time. Life without fabric and quilting might be somebody’ therapy, but quilting is a special gift.

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      For me it seems like the quality varies quite a bit. Some new fabrics are GREAT! and others an expensive disappointment.

      I wonder if the flannel is hard on your rotary blades. Yes, sometimes it’s very frustrating with how short their lives are. I had one whole package that every one (of 5) seemed to dull quickly. I switched to a different brand and have been happier. It’s possible it was just a bad batch, but I won’t buy them again.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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