Worth Its Weight in Gold

I’m struggling with inspiration for starting new projects. I only have a couple of UFOs, so picking up an old project to finish isn’t an easy fix. Today I decided to review old posts to see if anything would spark some motivation. The post below from March 2014 doesn’t lend a lot of mojo, but it does remind me that my stash is to use. If it is to be used, I need to use it. Yeah. That simple. Enjoy the rerun…


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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22 thoughts on “Worth Its Weight in Gold

  1. justquiltedtreasures

    I have to say, I am envious on two levels. 1) I have tiny stash. Most of my stash I have only because I got it when my family cleared out my grandma’s apartment. She was not a quilter so she didn’t have much. 2) partially why I have no stash is I have too many ideas. I keep making quilt tops. This also explains the stacknof 20+ quilt tops under my longarm. (These are my winter goal). Thank you for helping me feel better about never having a huge quilt stash.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It sounds like you make the most of what you have! For me (and we are not all alike) having a stash much bigger than I have would be uncomfortable. I don’t like having stuff (of any kind) that I don’t use. At the size it is, it’s all pretty familiar, but there is variety and I can often find just what I need for a project. I don’t need to start a search of stores (online or real world) to find a piece to work. If my stash were a lot smaller, I’d spend a lot more search time than I do. So I’ve found a pretty good sweet spot for most of my quilts. Now I need to get back at it…

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  2. katechiconi

    Funny you should revisit this post right now… I’ve been reviewing my stash! Having discovered a new passion for postage stamp scrap blocks, I’m looking at those boxes and boxes of small-to- tiny pieces of scrap with a new eye. They, too, are stash. It doesn’t have to be yardage, or even fat quarters, it’s *all* asset, and I’m rediscovering tiny treasures of beloved fabrics I thought I’d used up years ago…

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      1. katechiconi

        I just keep cranking out small blocks of little squares. Two hours for each one, that’s easy fill-in work, and it really eats up the scraps. You have to do a bit of work balancing the colours, but otherwise it’s fun and very satisfying. I’m not in a hurry – which means it’ll probably be a quilt in double quick time!

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  3. mosaicthinking

    Thanks for the thoughts. I recently sold a piece of furniture that had come down to me from my grandparents. I never liked it so I finally sent it to auction. Now I’m on the mailing list for the auction house and I have come to appreciate how much ‘stuff’ is out there. Apart from sentimental items just about everything we have can be replaced. Fabric, too. So get out that rotary cutter. For inspiration, I just bought Elizabeth Hartman’s fox block pattern and its going to be a great stash buster.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yay for you! Your furniture is now in the possession of someone who wanted it more than you. Everyone wins! Have fun with the fox quilt. I’ve seen the block and it is very cute.

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  4. KerryCan

    Nice post, Melanie! I like the analogy a lot and I’m sure people need to be encouraged to use, rather than horde. It’s funny, I don’t have a fabric stash–I tend to get a quilt idea and then buy fabric, rather than the other way around. But I DO have a growing stash of weaving yarns and I definitely need to follow your advice!

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      My stash evolved partly from stash-building purchases and partly from buying more for projects than actually used. Right now it feels like a bit much, so I need to get moving! Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. snarkyquilter

    I just learned a new quilting acronym – SABLE – Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. My goal is to prevent that from happening, though I have informed my husband which of my friends should be in charge of distributing my fabric if I shuffle off this mortal coil before I use it all up.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      At different times I buy more or use more. The size of my stash is somewhat larger than my average. But it wouldn’t scare most people, I think. Still, it makes me a bit uncomfortable, and yet my mojo still remains illusive and my focus remains on other projects.

      It’s good you have a back-up plan in case you’re not able to use it all. More people need to think on that some, too.

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  6. Thread crazy

    For years I always thought my small amount of fat quarters that I had been collecting, we’re not a stash….that is until I started working part time at a quilt shop. Theread you would find yourself ALWAYS taking that last little bit of yardage left on a bolt. Sometimes if the boss placed a favorite piece on the sale rack, I’d always have an excuse for buying! However, in my defense, I usually created kits with my yardage, and I STILL have 20+ kits. Hmm…maybe it’s time I break some of that fabric out!

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  7. acreativeengineerinnevada

    Perfect time for this to come up. Our mom died in April and had a trust (and I happen to be the executor). Since my siblings didn’t really want any items I have spent the last few months having to find new ‘homes’ for all the items (a lot went to thrift stores). I am making a mental list of all the sewing/ quilting projects I want to work on. Time for me to use up some of my small stash.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m sorry for your loss. It’s a big job to deal with almost anyone’s estate, regardless of how well they planned or how much they had. Simply filing all the paperwork is a big task! Yes, I’m with you. One of my goals is to not leave messes for other people to clean up. Better use it!

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