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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  1. You are both a genius and a very, very good friend. Also, you are so generous to share what you know here on your blog so that other people may know the lightness that comes of unburdening oneself of over abundant fabric.

  2. The change in the Instagram algorithm and how hashtags work definitely has shifted how things work. Your strategy is clear and I'm so glad it worked out so well; thanks for sharing!

  3. I have destashed on Instagram twice and I always used this method. Both times were before the change in the hashtag algorithm. I only sent within Germany and as such had an even smaller possible audience - but as you said a few dedicated buyers is all it needs. Though I did sell for very low prices which probably helped too. But I wanted the fabric gone as it was not helping me. And I thought a nice new home where it might actually get used was a good trade off ;) xo

  4. Thanks for all the info! I am trying to do some of that and if I go that route, I now have a great guide!

  5. I have destashed fabric on Instagram a couple times but not recently. And it was only a couple pieces. They did sell quickly. When I have a bunch of cuts from a specific designer, I have also sold the lot to an Etsy seller (that specializes in that designer's fabric) and let them parcel it out. I made more than I paid for the fabric and they did all the work.

  6. Hi Michelle, good luck on your destashing!

  7. Oh, if only I wanted to part with fabric. :-) I'd much rather use up what I have, or give it away to one of my local quilt groups, than go to so much effort to sell. However, I know that not everyone is in my situation. Good for you for sharing how to do it right. I know it's a popular way to destash, though I personally have never bought fabric that way. .

  8. This is a great post on how to destash on IG now that the hastag search is gone. Thanks!


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