A Blunt Question to Ponder

Do you have a plan for your stash? Not for while you’re using it, but for when you are not?

I’ve heard the old joke, “She who dies with the mosts stash wins!” But it’s not really true, is it? At some point, all of us will be done quilting, whether that comes because of a loss of interest or ability, or due to death. Be prepared for that day.

Will your family look hopelessly at your shelves, cupboards, closets, bins, and tubs, full of fabric and kits and unquilted tops, wondering what to do with it all? I have read too many stories of people whose stashes were discarded because family members were not interested and had no idea of the value. Sewing machines are expensive. Here again, family members may have no idea of value. Would you like your $1,000 sewing machine sold for $75? It might be able to be sold back to the dealer for a better price.

Have an estate plan for your quilting or crafts studio. Consider how you want your stash and equipment distributed in the case of your untimely death, or your loss of ability to use your precious quilting resources.

Will one of your family members be glad to take it? Will they pay your estate the value of it, or assume it should come to them for free? Remember, a pound of fabric is about four yards. These days that would retail for about $40-50. How many pounds will they pay for at that price?

If you want your fabric donated, consider who will receive it. My local Mennonite relief store is glad for fabric donations, and the customers who shop there are more appreciative of fabric than the typical Goodwill customer will be. Perhaps your local quilt guild would like donations, or maybe not! The women’s prison about 50 miles from me has an ongoing sewing project and appreciates help. You may find similar needs in your community.

Make a plan. Write it down. Tell your family members – and those who are to receive items – of the plan. They can’t do what you want if they don’t know what that is.

Have you thought about an estate plan for your quilting resources? Who will receive your fabric? Equipment? What is your greatest hope and worst fear about this?

24 thoughts on “A Blunt Question to Ponder

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Jim and I try to get rid of things regularly. One of my greatest dreads is the idea of leaving a mess for other people to clean up. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  1. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com

    Thank you for following my blog. Your question is opportune, as I’ve had a few scares already.

    My stash is not huge – I rarely buy yardage, and my drawers (!) are full of FQs and biggish scraps, plus a bin overflowing with what I call crumbs. My daughter is a yarnaholic, and will happily take over wool and needles plus crochet materials. I would hope she can use my Bernina. I followed in my mother’s quilting footsteps, so perhaps my daughter will do the same when she has more time. She’s already picked up the blogging baton!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You’re welcome! I took a look and thought — this woman is someone I can relate to, for multiple reasons. I expect we’ll get along fine. 🙂

      Yes, it’s something most of us would rather not think about. One thing I know for a fact, I do not intend to leave a mess for my children. That requires care in a few different arenas. Quilting is just one of them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  2. FreeFormQuilts

    Reblogged this on Free Form Quilts and commented:
    Melani is right about doing a little planning. A little planning is all about loving and taking care of those we love after we’re gone. I have quite the collection and I know my hubby wouldn’t do it justice, nor would it be fair to leave the mess to him to deal with if I were to go before he does. Quilting is just not his thing. I’m 100% sure I’d be better at dealing with his horses than he would be with my quilt hobby collection. So, I must thank Melanie for this reminder… to write a letter and include it in our disaster folder.

    Reply
  3. zippyquilts

    Good point! I do, in fact, have a plan and we are about to re-do our wills, so I plan to include it. However, I hadn’t even thought about those high dollar machines–glad you mentioned them!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Our attorney recommended making a list to include with the will, of where material household (and other) goods would go. It would serve as information but not be legally binding. I think the reason for that is because we can change our minds fairly easily about a lot of *things*, or things go away when people downsize, or things get destroyed in one way or another. If they are in the will, it creates a lot of complexity for the executor of having to track down specifically what happened. (That said, we don’t have that list made…) You might want to ask your attorney what they recommend.

      Reply
  4. Brenda

    My mom just passed away & left a HUGE amt of sewing stuff. Fortunately, she made sure that her 3 daughters would get all of it because not a single wife of the 4 sons know how to sew & want nothing to do with sewing. Also, we’ve taken a few hundred yards of her fabrics to a quilter & are having 12 memory quilts made for the 7 kids, dad, mom’s only sister & 3 other very close family members. We’re hoping to get them all back to us by her birthday (Feb 12th) when we celebrate her special day with a gifting ceremony from dad, at their house. We’ve never all been back home at one time, since her funeral, so I’m sure it will be very emotional for all of us. We’re a very close & loving family & this was the 1st death in our family – ever. Cancer made it a difficult passing for her & all of us. She & dad were married for over 61 years & we all miss her terribly.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I am sorry for your loss. The memory quilts will comfort you and your family for a long time. Jim’s mom’s birthday is today, and though we don’t think of her everyday, our memories are still strong.

      Many blessings on you and your family.

      Reply
  5. shoreacres

    Imagine the biggest storage bin you can. Rubbermaid will do. Now, imagine twenty-seven of them, stuffed to the gills with yarn. That’s what my mom left. Knitting yarn. Tapestry yarns. Fancy needlework threads. Half-finished sweaters. Needles. Gizmos. Things I couldn’t even identify.

    I stil have some of the needlework yarns and threads, but most of it got sent off to my own friends who knit. Some went to crafters, and some went to the knitting group she belonged to. As a matter of fact, they knit a bag for the box containing her ashes, from her own stash.

    But, yes. There needs to be planning. With Mom’s stash, it worked out fine, but only because I had some knowledge of what she had and who might want it.

    An unrelated note (or not). I just found out that licenses for Kindles, etc., aren’t transferable. Real books can be passed on. E-books can’t. That’s pretty interesting.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I am sorry about your mom. I hope that having some of her yarns is comforting to you. Your story reminds me of my dad, in an odd way. He was very careful. He’d been in and out of remission with lymphoma for several years when he decided to move to a different state. He only took things that were actually important to him, either functionally or aesthetically. (Ask me about the teddy bear some time. I think it was functional…) So when he died we had a pretty easy time of dealing with his things. Most of the “remainder” was stuff that sold pretty easily at an estate sale. But he had a custom made bike frame and parts, oh so many parts… I’m not sure how my sister finally dealt with the bike stuff. Maybe we all leave something behind like that, even with good plan.

      And yes, I’d heard that about ebooks. And in terms of all your online accounts, they can be impossible to close by someone else, even after you’ve died, even if the someone else is the authorized executor.

      Reply
  6. snarkyquilter

    If I go before him, my husband has instructions to call my best quilting friend and leave disposal of my raw materials in her hands. If he goes first I guess I’d better start using it all up.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      We can’t know what will happen, either way. I’d like to use it all up, but I’d also never want to be without a stash, as long as I’m quilting. So … what’s the line on that? Sorta like money. Wouldn’t want to spend it all down and be left with nothing before I die!

      Reply
  7. Lauren aka Giddy99

    OMG, I think about this all the time, especially my fabric and my mid-century modern furniture, because I travel so much for work. I’ve told family NOT to drop it off at the Goodwill, to have a MCM dealer appraise it first. I should be more specific about the fabric, though… Good idea.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      There’s only value if it’s recognized, right? So yes, be specific about the fabric, too. It’s worth a lot. It would be a shame to get rid of it thoughtlessly. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  8. mari

    This was such a good post! I have been known to stash and stash…now, I am using everything I can or give it away… now! before something happens and my family is stuck with it – :0( thank you so much for sharing… thoroughly enjoying these posts!

    Reply
  9. allisonreidnem

    Thank you for raising a blunt question! Members of our local quilt group have often been called upon by bewildered family members faced with a stash when a patch-working family member dies. It is good that the fabric and equipment is put back into circulation with people who will appreciate it. But we do need to face the fact that our own stashes will need to be dealt with!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Right now my guild has more stash than it can store already. I don’t think they would sign up for another a few thousand yards. My sister and my best friend (both quilters) would have first dibs at mine. Anything left I think would be donated. Better that than the dumpster.

      Reply

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