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Sell or Swap Your Stash

Guest Author - Megan McConnell

You’ve done it – you’ve gone through your stash and decided that you have no interest at all in doing any of the accumulated projects (and, for some of them, wondering what you where thinking when you bought them!). Problem is, you can’t afford to buy any new ones, and you’ve run out of things to stitch.

You have two options here – you can sell your stash on one of the online auction sites (such as E-bay) or you can get together with your friends and have a Stitching Swap Meet.


First of all, look at the condition of the items. You may find that you have kits where the charts are in great condition, but the thread or fabric isn’t. Provided the Chart has a legend of threads to use, and the sort of fabric to use, then you can probably sell or swap it as a pattern/chart only - always specify if this is the case. Or, you can get rid of it as a whole, but note that the fabric/thread is in bad condition.

The same with your charts and patterns – don’t try to sell any that are ripped or held together with cello tape. Never, ever sell photocopies of charts or patterns. It’s breaking copyright laws.

Wash all fabric and then iron it to make sure it’s clean – this is especially vital if you smoke in your house, or have pets. Once the fabric is clean and ironed, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper and then put in a plastic bag. This will help keep it clean.

How’s your thread stash? Need to get rid of some of those 60 or so skeins of sky blue? If you’re going to sell the threads, then your most cost effective way is to sell them in bundles. Some people sell a bundle of 10 or so skeins in the same colour family. Some just grab a random bundle. Unless the colour is a “ground” colour (usually black, white or cream) then you won’t be able to sell a bundle of the same colour. Always keep your bundles of the same type and brand of thread – people will be more inclined to buy a known than an unknown. Don’t sell part skeins of thread.

Listing for Sale

I will give some general recommendations here, but our Online Auction site is a great place to start to learn how to list your items for sale.

Take clear quality photographs for your listing. For charts/patterns/books/magazines, you can usually just take a straight scan of the cover/front. Remember – a picture is worth 1000 words, so make sure that you can see the condition.

When you list, be honest. If there is some damage, say so. Tell people that the fabric is newly laundered and then stored as I recommended above. Most importantly, if you do smoke or have pets, state that in your listing.

With threads, say what brand and what type of thread they are. Give a colour description and also the “number” of the colour, so people can check against their needs.

The more information you give, your customers can make the better-informed decision.

Always be prompt in responding to questions, and post promptly. If you get a bad reputation as a seller, then you’ve wasted your time and money with listings as people are far more discerning than they used to be.

Always receive cleared payment before you post the items. I only ever accept Paypal for my sales – that way I have the backing of their guarantee for clear funds, and don’t have to give my bank account details out to anybody.


The rule of fabric for selling is the same for swap. What would you rather get – nice clean fabric, or dingy smelly stuff? The primary rule for swap meets is to offer the same quality as you would like to receive.

Again – never ever offer photocopies. It’s still a copyright infringement, even if you don’t sell it. Remember – our favourite designers have a make a living from these!

At swap meets, you can offer charts and patterns that are a little more “used” – but again, any that you can’t read the chart/pattern or are in really bad shape, you are better off to bin them, rather than try to offload them.

Thread is the really big difference at swap meets. There, you will find people are quite happy to swap single skein for single skein and most people, if they want a bundle, will want to pick and choose. Again, keep your brands and thread types separate. If people are happy to mix and match, then they’ll do so themselves.

On the day of the swap meet, I like to keep a notebook that shows what I swapped with who and for what. With charts and patterns, I also like to put a slip in them showing when I stitched (if I stitched!) and any issues/problems/idiosyncrasies that arose whilst stitching.

Organising a Swap Meet

These can be as small or large as you are prepared to organise! It may be that there are 4 or 5 of you at somebody’s house – or you can have 50 or 60 people in a school or hall.

You may be able to work with a local needlework store, or needlework club to organise the swap meet.

If you have decided to have a large meet, then find out the cost of the venue, and advise people up front that there will be a cost to have their goods there. Find out what people need to bring – some places have tables and chairs, some don’t.

Some swap meets allow people to purchase items – so this is a decision you need to make, and it needs to be communicated to other attendees.

If you do decide to allow sales, remember to take along a float of small change and a lockable cash box.

Don’t forget to take water with you.

For large meets, you may want to instigate a “buddy” system so that people can make toilet breaks during the meet – or even visit stalls.

Most importantly, have an “umpire” on hand to adjudicate for any disputed swaps.

Swap meets can be a great way to meet new people who share your interests – and who knows what you will find!

More importantly, they are a great way to renew your stash at little or no cost.

Recommended Reading

The Official eBay Bible, Third Edition: The Newly Revised and Updated Version of the Most Comprehensive eBay How-To Manual for Everyone from First-Time Users to eBay Experts

eBay For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))

Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please contact me with your suggestions.

Happy Stitching

Happy Stitching from Megan

© 2009 Megan McConnell

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This content was written by Megan McConnell. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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