my 80/20 challenge for this year + organization as self care
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my 80/20 challenge for this year + organization as self care


I mentioned on facebook that I was thinking about doing a “work only from my stash” this year challenge. For myself, not for you. Don’t start sweating. 😉

One FB friend mentioned that she doesn’t think she could completely abstain from buying art treats/supplies because…well. It’s just too fun and let’s face it, there’s always new and exciting things coming out. And I agree with her. 

I also said that if I were to do a challenge like this, it would have guidelines so that I don’t go stash diet crazy and buy everything off the Blick site. I’ve been giving it a think and here is what I’ve come up with.

  • New artwork must contain a minimum 80% stash materials. That doesn’t mean I have to go out and buy new stuff for it, just means I have the wiggle room to do so should the project need something new.
  • “Need” is defined as the following: this item simply does not exist in my stash or I will want to bury the project in the backyard if I don’t get the proper color/thread/fabric/<insert item of choice> for it. Because no one wants to create art that they hate straight out of the gate (sometimes you end up there anyway) so if I tear the studio apart and still have that “meh” feeling toward my choices, I’m allowed to go buy something appropriate for completion.
  • In person stash enhancement without purpose is allowed only when attending specialty events such as quilt shows or workshops when said items would not be available otherwise.
  • Pattern purchases are acceptable. I have a lot of yarn and have a lot of patterns I’d like to use it on. Not all of them are free so pattern buying to use up the yarn stash is a good thing.


I haven’t yet decided what my guidelines for online stash enhancement are. I do love the magical mailbox portal and don’t intend to let it go cold all year. But…well. I may just lump it into the first two guidelines and call it good. 

I’m also going to downsize the stuff I’ve been hoarding just because. Stuff that’s been in the spare room I affectionately refer to as “The Warehouse”. And honestly? I haven’t looked at it before I got sick two years ago so that tells you right there just how much use I’m getting out of it.

The past few months I’ve been doing a lot of purging and organizing in anticipation of a home renovation that is currently underway. It’s taught me a lot. It’s showed me that getting things organized is not a weekend project. It takes a looooonnnnnngggggg time. Especially if you’ve been living in the same space for a couple of decades. And it’s okay if it takes a while. There are no Organization Police that will haul you off for taking a while to do it.

I’ve also learned that my mind rests so much easier when there is a reasonable amount of order to things. This makes it feel like a form of self care. I am by no means a minimalist. I never will be and at this point in my life, I’ve no intention of working toward that goal. (Marie Kondo and me? Not going to be besties anytime soon.) But this is something I’ve struggled with for years. I’ve got a lot of work to do yet but I think making conscious decisions to use the wonderful items I purchased to create art is a good step in the right direction.

And I’ve really come to value SHORT LISTS. I have a tendency to do brain dumps when I make my to-do lists and then I look at the five thousand things I’ve written down and then go take a nap. Short lists that have a max of five things on them are totally doable and even though I sometimes get frustrated that it doesn’t seem like I’m doing enough? The list tells me otherwise. I swear there is incredible power in drawing a line through a task that you’ve just completed.

This seems like a reasonable and achievable challenge. I will post monthly updates to keep me accountable. Onward!


  • Jeannie Evans-Van Hoff
    Posted at 18:17h, 10 January Reply

    I really like your approach. I hear you on going cold turkey on the magical mail portal. Right now we are facing a repeat of last February which brought feet of snow and an inability to get out and about. So, being part squirrel, I am stocking the pantry and ensuring I have the art supplies I need. Like you, I have a tendency to make lists that no normal person could complete in 3 months and I expect myself to do it in a week. LOL! I have a master list, but I break out a daily or weekly list from it so that I don’t set myself up for failure. Purging and organization is such slow work, but I didn’t accumulate it all in a year, either. Good luck! I love your 80/20 idea.

  • Robbie Payne
    Posted at 21:02h, 10 January Reply

    I am working on a patchwork piece and using stash fabric. To be honest, the only time I buy fabric is in Florida with one of my BFF’s! Since I am not going to Florida this fabric store for me!

  • Denny P
    Posted at 14:20h, 11 January Reply

    This sounds do-able. I see a lot of myself in your experience with fabric and art supply stash. I decided a few months ago to work primarily from my stash for a long while. I have purchased a couple of special fabrics, knowing they will be gone soon. And I Need other art substrates, too– watercolor paper and wood panels. Otherwise, I have plenty of supplies to keep me going creatively for months and months. I’ll keep an eye on your progress this year!

  • Beth Schnellenberger
    Posted at 15:49h, 11 January Reply

    Since my siblings and I have had the task of clearing out my Dad’s house, I have been seriously thinking of getting rid of LOTS of things. If something happens to me, my children could open a quilt/art shop with all the stuff I’ve collected. They wouldn’t have ANY idea what to do with the gigantic stash of things in my studio. My problem is that when I start to go through things, I find things I didn’t even know I had. I’m like a kid in a candy store…I love it all. It is really hard to part with things I still want to do/play with (even if there isn’t enough time left in my lifetime to do it all). I AM working on using my stash. I’m making charity quilts and scrap quilts and “kennel” quilts when I’m not working on art projects with a deadline. It will be fun to follow your progress.

  • sue f
    Posted at 16:56h, 11 January Reply

    It’s that time of year and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my accumulations of just about everything related to fabric and what my daughter will have to haul out of here. I am a perfect example of the acronym SABLE (stash accumulated beyond life expectancy).

    Your plan is so well thought out and doable. I agree with Beth, it will be fun to follow your progress and hopefully gain some insight on my own situation.

    Thanks sister!

  • Marie Strait
    Posted at 18:14h, 11 January Reply

    I have done this challenge for more than a year and will continue. I do allow myself one mid-year splurge. I attend a shop hop with friends, during which I visit my favorite shops. So I budget about $100 to add the latest or a piece of fabric that jumps into my arms!

  • Rhonda Baldwin
    Posted at 18:30h, 11 January Reply

    I have been on this very journey now for 5 years. The 80/2o journey. It’s great! I am even able to purge those things that I really never used easily now.

    BUT! It’s a kind of big but! I rationalized that a completely new “hobby” addition doesn’t count. So now I’m a spinner and a wool dyer and am currently struggling with the addition of weaving. I have to have a way to use the fluff now don’t I! Watch out. All routes have slippery slopes to us fiber enthusiasts! Ha

  • Anne Oberin
    Posted at 09:11h, 13 January Reply

    A dear friend posted this and asked if it was doable for us or should she start laughing now. 😄
    My reply to her…
    “Marilyn darling, start laughing now! Oh wait, good intentions would probably be acceptable to this great lady. Her brain dump lists especially rings a bell with me. She doesn’t mention anything about distractibility though. I start one thing and end up half doing several as sorting uncovers exciting treasures. Laughing. Definitely laughing. 😂😅🤣”
    We are going to give it a go and really look forward to your adventures. ♥️

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