Friday, July 28, 2023

How to Destash on Instagram / Beauties Pageant 224

Destashing is an idea I embrace periodically. Sure, I love my stash, but every few years it gets unwieldy, and I cull through it, weeding out those prints I don’t love anymore or am no longer excited about sewing. Passing these pieces on to other quilters reins in the chaos a bit, reignites my creativity, and makes me some money in the process. I’ve had good success selling on FeelGood Fibers, a marketplace for secondhand fabric, and on Instagram

I’ve written about my experience on FeelGood Fibers here. That platform is an especially good option if what you’re selling isn’t in high demand, if you’re willing to wait a bit to make a sale, or if you hope to sell something at a premium price.

The Changes to Instagram Hashtags

Instagram is a different story. On Instagram, certain designers (e.g., Tula Pink, Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, and the like) can sell quickly, as can well-priced fabric. For years, quilters have bought and sold on one hashtag in particular: #TheGreatFabricDestash.

The beauty of selling on Instagram used to be that users—no matter how new their IG accounts were, no matter how few followers they had—could get their posts in front of people interested in buying fabric. As long as a post included #TheGreatFabricDestash, people could search for the hashtag and find the latest listings. 

Then, about two months ago, the algorithms changed. Now users can search for #TheGreatFabricDestash (or any other hashtag, for that matter) and see results that Instagram deems (1) popular or (2) popular and recent. That means, as a seller, I could post something today but have the algorithms bury it in the results, preventing people from finding it easily. As a buyer, I could view the hashtag and see beautiful fabric for sale in the top results. Due to the algorithm changes, however, those posts may be months old and that fabric may already be sold. 

When a friend mentioned that she was drowning in old bundles of Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink collections, I thought I’d see if I could work with the newly revamped algorithms and destash for her. The sale, which I held a little over a week ago, was super successful. I sold 25 bundles of fat quarters (almost a thousand dollars’ worth of fabric!) in a few days. Here is how I did it ...

Attracting an Audience

First of all, I have two Instagram accounts: my main @frombolttobeauty and my secondary @fbtbdestash. Before I promoted the sale, I had about four thousand followers on my main feed and about a hundred on the one dedicated to destashing.

Because of the way hashtag results are now presented, I committed to holding the sale on a specific time and date and started promoting it a few days in advance on my main account. (I was afraid that it might otherwise go unnoticed by buyers.)

First, I posted a pretty picture of a quilt my friend made with Kaffe fabrics and included the #TheGreatFabricDestash hashtag. This quilt doesn’t contain the fabrics that would be featured in the sale; the purpose of the post was to get people’s attention, accrue a bunch of likes (and get better placement in the hashtag results), and tell everyone when the sale would start and what would be included in it. The beautiful quilt encouraged Instagram users to read the post to learn more. Here is that pretty picture ...

Then I followed up a day later with a post of all the bundles lined up. This second post indicated in the picture itself that I was destashing at a particular time and day, and directed those interested to my destash account. The first post garnered more likes, but this second one served a purpose, too, just in a more direct way. No one had to read the accompanying comment to understand what I wanted to convey.

This strategy worked. I almost doubled my destash followers, and there were people at the ready when I started posting bundles of fabric.

It helped that I have a few thousand followers in my main account. If you’re new to Instagram or don’t have many followers to promote a sale to, you could always ask friends to help spread the word. It’s worth mentioning, though, that it’s not necessary to have hordes of quilters following a destash. In the end, just 12 people purchased the 25 bundles I listed. I didn’t need hundreds of people to show up for the sale—a dozen did the job.

General Rules for Good Results

I have a few other pointers for quilters who are considering hosting an Instagram destash event ...

Use a destash account. 

If you’re going to post many fabric-to-sell posts, I recommend setting up a second destash account. The people who follow you for your lovely quilt pictures may not want to be bombarded with a few dozen sales posts. Using a secondary account to destash is good manners.

Upload a rules post first. 

This initial post will help your sale go smoothly. It’s where you indicate which country or countries you’re will to ship to, how much people can expect to pay for shipping, and how payments will be made. 

In my post, I explained that I was shipping to the United States only and using the U.S. Postal Service’s flat-rate envelopes and boxes. I wrote that invoices would come from my friend’s PayPal account and that payment was expected in 24 hours. Check out that rules post here ...

Prepare in advance for shipping.

I swung by my local post office before the sale and scooped up a bunch of padded flat-rate envelopes. (I’ve been told that those envelopes are available only to those who order them directly from the U.S. Postal Service, but one of the two post offices I frequent regularly has them available.) I also had a roll of packing tape on hand for any boxes I would ship.

Take good pictures. 

All of the pictures I posted were styled against a white background, free from clutter. (See the pic at the top of this blog post.) Although they were taken in good, natural lighting, I still adjusted the brightness on every single one. Because I didn’t want to open up any bundles, I posted a second picture, downloaded from the manufacturer’s website, to show the individual fabrics included ...

Be specific. 

People should know exactly what they’re buying. Measure the pieces you’re selling. Is there a chunk missing from a cut? Has the fabric been washed? Do you have a pet-friendly or smoking household? People should know those things upfront.

Clear your calendar. 

I allowed this destash to interfere with my life for a few days. 

I spent two hours posting pictures and following up on claims on bundles that first day. (I guess I could have waited to check on the sale’s progress after a few hours, but Instagram’s time stamps aren’t super specific. I thought the best way to note who scored what accurately was to monitor the posts.)

After someone was done shopping, I invoiced her through PayPal, printed out a packing slip, and packaged everything up. There were a few times when I could save buyers money by opening up the bundles they bought and fitting them in a padded envelope instead of a box. In those cases, I asked them whether they wanted that option before determining the shipping cost and invoicing them.  

I made five trips to the post office on five different days to ship everything—not because there were tons of packages, but once something was claimed and paid for, I wanted it out of my dining room!

I didn’t keep track of all the time I devoted to these activities, but I’d bet I spent close to eight hours on this sale (mostly in 45 minutes here, a half-hour there). But eight hours to help a friend sell almost a thousand dollars of fabric? Worth it! : )


If you have any stories from reselling fabric, the rest of us would like to hear them. (In particular, have you sold on Facebook? I hear people have had success on that platform, too.) Please share with us in the comments!

Also: I will likely help my friend destash more this fall. To stay up-to-date on that front, follow my destash account: @fbtbdestash.

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Friday, July 14, 2023

The Ergonomics of Quilting / Beauties Pageant 223

If you had told me when I started quilting that it would be hard on my body, I don’t think I would have believed you. But repetitive stress on my wrists and shoulders? Ouch! The wear and tear (and subsequent discomfort) is real. 

My Advice

Most recently, a paper-piecing project that required a lot of trimming caused me problems. I was working on a deadline and trimming a lot day after day. By the end of it, my quilt was done, but so were left wrist and thumb from applying so much pressure to my ruler while cutting.

The experience caused me to get smarter about how I quilt. For me this means … 

  • Being more mindful of my body’s positioning at my sewing machine, cutting board, and keyboard (as a pattern designer and blogger, I spend a bunch of time at my computer)
  • Getting up from behind my machine to toggle between tasks more frequently
  • Breaking large jobs (like cutting a new project) into smaller chunks and tackling them over a course of days or even weeks instead of all at once
  • Icing my wrists or shoulders or elbows preemptively—just because I know I’ve used them that day, not because they hurt yet
  • Stretching—I especially love stretching my wrists, and I can do that virtually anywhere
  • Investing in more dies for my AccuQuilt Go! system (I recently purchased the die for 4-inch half-square triangles—sewing HSTs without trimming is a luxury I cannot recommend enough!)
  • Using my Gypsy Gripper (it’s a handle that suction-cups to quilting rulers) when I use my rotary blade

Others Chime In

I also asked quilters on Instagram what advice they would add to the list, and I was reminded of some of my own strategies as well as introduced to new ones. These additions include:

  • Standing on a gel mat while cutting or ironing
  • Sewing while standing up
  • Investing in an adjustable-height table
  • Hand stitching in short sessions

They’re all worthwhile suggestions, right?

The Bottom Line

It’s never too soon to start taking care of ourselves. I’ve had friends end up in therapy after messing up a shoulder using the rotary blade or injuring a wrist while English paper piecing. I am a big believer in physical and occupational therapy, but I would also like to avoid heading to a specialist if I can.

That being said, what would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments below.

About the Pictures

I couldn’t bear to post this without some pretty pictures, so I dug into the From Bolt to Beauty archives for the ones included here. From top to bottom, you’ll see ...

  • My 2021 Quilt Buzz Bingo project. You can read more about it here and here. There is a bingo QAL happening now, too. Check that out on the Quilt Buzz website.
  • Last night at a guild meeting, I identified these hearts as a WIP I want to finish this year. They’re not hard to sew, but getting the WIP to the top of my priority list is. You can read more about this quilt, and click through to the free pattern I’m sewing it from, in this blog post.
  • My patriotic Love Boldly hasn’t made an appearance on the blog recently, and it’s one of my favorite finishes. Learn more about this project here, and check out the pattern in my Etsy shop (there’s also a cool video there about how I piece the Love Boldly block). 

I realize there are two heart projects in these pictures. Yes, I heart hearts. ; )

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  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Click here to enter