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Destash Baltimore Recap and Tips For Your Own!

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The first ever Destash Baltimore took place on Sunday and it was epic! I’ve always thought about hosting a regional event that would pull in sewists who have fabric they no longer loved or didn’t fit their lifestyle. I also increasingly heard from our community that we had more fabric and patterns than we knew what to deal with. But, the returns on eBay and Etsy are low but the effort high. What if we had an event where you brought in what wasn’t you anymore but got to look through someone elses stash? You’d bring people together for community and also make sure your fabric went to someone who would love it back.

I was a complete wreck the week before. I was worried no one would like it, there wouldn’t be enough stuff to swap, they wouldn’t like the fabric they got and everyone would blame me for wasting their time. I slept about three hours the night before  wondering why I thought this was a good idea.

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Guess what? It was a TOTAL blast, completely exceeded my expectations and was better than I imagined. I’m a mess and you should ignore me, lol! We had attendees from all over: Virginia, DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It was truly a regional event.

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Top is Burdsatyle 5-2010-104

I’ve been asked on Instagram and Pattern Review how to put one of these together and I thought I’d share my planning process along with suggestions from attendees that I received post event. I’m so grateful for the feedback as I’d never done this before.


Above is a great video from Crystal who talked about how the swap worked and shows what she got. This is not for the faint of heart! Literally every piece of fabric she shows I would have taken had I seen it.

I was so busy chatting that I really didn’t really shop until it was all over. And, as we have discussed, I get a little overwhelmed by too much choice and kind of zoned out on shopping. But, thankfully a few volunteers saw fabric that was ‘me’ (i.e. Tina C. with wool jersey) and put is aside for me. Also, after watching this video I think I may need to pitch this tunic (Burdastyle 5-2010 #104) as I easily look four months pregnant (around minute 24:00). I am not.

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Here’s what I took home! Less than I gave 🙂

From the start I figured we could get 50 people if enough word got out.  A week before the event we hit that number with a waiting list. The day of the event I was still getting tags on Instagram about having missed it. That tells me there definitely is a market for a community Destash (or restash as a IG friend called it).

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I personally brought in three blue IKEA bags of patterns, fabric, yarn and a few books. I left with less than I donated and I’m calling that a big win. I knew this event was going to be a be amazing when hand carts of boxes started coming in.

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What to Destash and Swap

Fabric, yarn, books and patterns were the largest categories. We accepted home dec and required a minimum of 1/2″ of garment fabric and a fat quarter of quilting fabric. One suggestion I had was to up the minimum of fabric for garment making because we ended up with a few small pieces that weren’t super useful. Or, to set them in a different category so they weren’t with the bulk of garment fabrics.

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Identify someplace to take leftovers

Prior to the swap I figured out several places in town that would want the leftover material. In Baltimore, we have The Book Thing which is a free bookstore. We are also home to many design schools including Baltimore City Community College, Stevenson University, Maryland Institute College of Art, and the Baltimore Design School.

I also reached out the Maryland chapter of ASG who ended up taking the fabric and patterns leftover for their own stash sale to raise funds for the organization.

I suggest you have them pick up leftovers after the event. While most everything was taken, we had A LOT leftover. Thankfully, four volunteers helped haul it to ASG’s holding space.

Marketing

You HAVE to design a visually arresting and easily shareable invitation graphic. Period. I used a free app on my phone called Canva. It made it super easy to create the Save the Date, Invitation, header for the Eventbrite and labels.

Event Flyee

I just did a public Eventbrite, posted on Pattern Review, my Instagram, and my personal Facebook. I wanted to do a Facebook event but I needed a business account / page to do so. Same with a sponsored post on Insta. I did ask people to repost and share their #DestashBaltimore plans to help get the word out. It was also fun to see what people were bringing. I suggest picking a registration day and starting to post a few weeks before. I also emailed every person I knew of in Baltimore and Maryland to let them know it was coming. Reach out to your local ASG and ask if they will post the message too. I didn’t reach out to my local fabric shops. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to contact them too.

Hashtag

Get a hashtag. I did #DestashBaltimore and was consistent from the save the date, to the invite to my own individual posts. It makes it easier for people to find information and it’s been fun seeing photos now on Instagram!

Ticketing

I used Eventbrite because I honestly didn’t and can’t deal with a lot of emails. I’d have lost track of who was coming to what. An Eventbrite site also allowed me to have maps, an FAQ and an easy link to share with people. Next year I’ll pay a little more for the platform and allow people to enter their Instagram or blog names so I can include it on their nametags.

Volunteers

This whole thing would have been a massive FAIL without volunteers. We ended up with about 11 and probably could have used 15. Several of my non-sewing friends asked on their own if they could help too. I’m endlessly grateful for the emails, texts and DMs offering help. Honestly, when I started I didn’t even consider volunteers!

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Swap Set Up

Volunteers helped set up and break down the room, staffed the registration table and also accepted all the stuff that came in and placed it on the correctly labeled table. I originally thought about having people come in and put fabric out themselves. But, reversed myself and used volunteers when I realized how chaotic it could be.

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Fabric sorting, keeping counts, labeling

I designed labels for the donors to use that would say how much fabric they had, the width and the content. It’s a massive PITA when you have 30 or 50 pieces of fabric. But, it made ‘shopping’ donations much easier. It also helped volunteers get fabric to the correct table.

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I asked all donors to keep track of the number of items they were donation. Each ‘thing’ donated was a unit.

Based on the number of units you donated, we split them into three groups (the most number of units were in group one, etc) for the shopping.

Swap It Like It’s Hot

After splitting into three groups we allowed each group seven minutes to browse the labeled tables. We labeled the tables by type of fabric (knits, coatings, suiting, bottom weight, home dec, silky, etc). They could take one item in that seven minutes and get a lay of the land. After each group went though, we invited everyone to start shopping.

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I heard great feedback on this. You were able to get your hands on something that really intrigued you. But, also didn’t run the risk of someone ahead of you hogging all the good fabric.

It was also kind of fun to hear who donated the most items!

FAQs

Write one. Here’s the one I wrote:


 

Whew. I’m still processing the excellent feedback I received. Of the say 60 people attending about ten people reached back out with their thoughts. And, I agree with their suggestions!

  1. After donation drop off while there’s about an hour of milling around before the actual swap, there should be some ice breakers. Not everyone knows everyone else, not everyone is online and some people are shy. Suggestions were ice breakers, maybe a handmade Q&A fashion show or food while folks milled about. I think this is a great idea and what I’ll do next time.
  2. Prelabel large boxes for pattern donations. There were an insane number of patterns that came in. I don’t know why I was surprised since I donated 30 myself. Martha and Dei were smart enough to start labeling those boxes as they came in and sorted the patterns into appropriate categories including bottoms, tops, dresses, outerwear, wardrobe, kids, men’s and sleepwear.

That’s the Destash! What this event tells me is we crave community and that our community is awesome. I do plan to do this again. But, every other year. It takes a lot of planning from my end and of the Destashers! So, Spring 2020 it is!

Last thoughts an advice… get a space bigger than you think you need, make sure you have tables, and be prepared for ah-mazing.

I have two ideas of programs in 2019 that I look forward to sharing. In the meantime, I’m legit still recovering.

32 thoughts on “Destash Baltimore Recap and Tips For Your Own!

  1. i love the top that you were wearing. did you make that? where did the fabric come from? it’s very pucci-esque

  2. Congratulations on what looks to be an incredibly successful event! Sorry that I live so far away I couldn’t come. You don’t look pregnant to me, but once you have that idea in your head, it’s hard to get rid of.

  3. I was able to attend the destash, and had a wonderful time! Thank you for taking this on, I am sure that it was a lot of work!

    1. Thank you for attending! I had a lot of fun too. And, like writing this blog, planning the destash isn’t work because I have such a good time!

    1. Thank you! Picturing the fire sale my husband will have on my sewing stuff is all the motivation I need!

  4. You make me want to move back to Baltimore! Next time I’m home, I want to meet you. I’m in CA, I know you were just here…maybe next time, we can meet. Love your enthusiasm.

  5. I had the best time! The community – getting to see sewists I hadn’t seen in a minute and getting to meet new ones was the most attractive part to me. Getting rid of fabric and patterns I no longer needed was a close second. It’s also encouraged me to hook back up with a local high school and give another round of fabric to them especially since I’ve run out of room.

    I like the suggestions and thought the event was well planned out and well run. Event Brite is an amazing platform for hosting events and I highly recommend upgrading because of the additonal features! Count me in for next time too!

    1. Thank you for being an early adopter and supporter, Carolyn! It was good to see so many friends again.

  6. All I can say is: The. Patience. Of. A. Saint. Wow! Absolutely incredible amount of organisation, persistence and drive to get this done. Well done!

  7. I had no idea. Suggestion for next time: I’ll be your personal shopper. Just like at Nordstrom or Bergdorf. Just tell me what you want and I will find it for you while you do something else!!!

  8. Proud of you Miss Celie for putting on the event! As you know, I’m not a sewist, but I appreciate the time and energy it takes to organize such an event and admire you for doing it. Sounds like a lot of fun and I know it’s appreciated by the sewing community as it would be in the case of other groups of enthusiasts. Well done!

  9. Sounds great! Can you explain the “rules?” If someone brought in one thing, can they leave with 50 things? How did you build in fairness or equity? I suppose if the premise is we’re all just destashing, there is no need to deal with rules of acquiring but my guess is that people wanted to get something new and feel like it was a fair process.

    1. There was no limit to what you could take except in the first round. After the first rounds, everyone could come in and take whatever they wanted. Most people were trying hard not to take too much since they just successfully destashed. I also offered two price levels. $5 if you donated and $10 if you were just there to shop.

      If you go back to my post I noted that people who gave the most got the chance to survey the room first. If you check the instagram hashtag, you’ll also see that most people were trying to leave with less than they donated.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed watching your Destash unfold over here in Brisbane , Australia and now I have really appreciated reading your wrap on your brilliant event. Congratulations to you for organising and for all the hard work you and your volunteers put in to making such a successful event. We have a sewing community in Brisbane called the Brisbane Spoolettes and we have an annual high tea with a fabric and pattern destash. I am going to suggest to our organisers we take some advice from your destash to make it fair to all who attend and for a group of volunteers to assist in the grouping of fabric, patterns and books. Thank-you from the world wide sewing community for this very informative and useful blog post. And please never doubt yourself; your organising skills are very much appreciated.

    1. After reading your and Carolyn’s posts, I can only say I wish I could have attended! It looks like an awesome event and you deserve kudos for organizing. (If I lived closer, I’d have been there.) Carolyn hit the nail on the head–sewing is a solitary pursuit but sewists enjoy community. We need feedback from others and we enjoy the friendship of fellow sewists. Events like this help strengthen that community. Thanks for organizing and sharing the experience.

  11. I am SOOOOOOO bummed that I couldn’t make it. This was a definite winner and inspiration for others to DestashTheirCity. Maybe…just maybe…I will try a DestashTheD or something. Maaaaaybe. =)

  12. I’m so glad to hear that you’re going to do this again. Hopefully the date will work with my schedule . . . I’ll load up my car and make the long drive to Baltimore to join you!

  13. Love the idea. We do a fabric resale shop for American Sewing Guild in Atlanta every September. Members donate fabric which is measured and tied, same one yd minimum, i will bag scraps in a zip lock for the quilters, machines books patterns….we opened the sale to the public last year by advertising on Facebook and placing an ad at estatesales.net. great success and it gives us the opportunity to show our wonderful guild to the public. Who can resist fabric at $2 a yard.😄

  14. I think you’re insane and I’m sad I wasn’t there. My only suggestion would be adding wine, but that’s a suggestion I have for everything. Looks like a grand time and you deserve a gold star for starting that ball rolling.

  15. You are seriously such a star for organizing this. It was a great time and such a cool opportunity to trade some stuff out. I think I ended up taking right about as much as I brought (plus additional patterns, because some wonderful donor brought vintage patterns in my bust size and I couldn’t help myself). I made a tiny wish list beforehand of things I wanted so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed (chiefly denim and white woven fabric to make blouses), and I got some of the items on my “shopping list,” so I’d recommend that to everyone next time. It really helped me focus!

  16. Your Burda top is lovely. It doesn’t make you look pregnant. I think it is very flattering as others have noted. I hope you will keep wearing it.

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