I make things., I sew.

The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge

Because Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Because sometimes we have to build some fences in order to jump over them.

Because there is so much good stuff to work with, right here.

Because I don’t think I could fit another new thing in this studio without a shoehorn.

Because it’s winter here in the northern hemisphere, and Mother Nature tells us to mindfully eat what we’ve squirreled away.

Because I think I could probably work off of this stash for a whole year without running out of things to do.

Because it will be so much fun replenishing it all with shiny new things next year!

Because it’s time to focus.

I’ve issued a challenge –  to myself and to anyone else who has a stash to burn.  The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge. It’s simple: what can you make with what you have on hand?  How long can this stash sustain your creativity? What materials have you been socking away for that magical moment when you’d make ____?  The moment has come.  It’s time to see those projects to fruition.  Time to excavate, slowly, project by project, the goldmine of things we’ve been intending to make and set them free.

For my part, I’d wager that I’ve got enough here in my studio to keep me going at full speed for the rest of the year.  Whoa.  How about you?  Could you go a month? Two? Six? Join me, for as long as you’d like, as long as you can stand.  I’ll be here all year.

There’s a year’s worth of sewing in here, no doubt, but I’ve also got some other projects that have been waiting for a chance to make it to the work table – some creative repurposing into home decor and who-knows-what-else.  I’m choosing not to include my knitting stash in my own challenge, but that’s because my stash is surprisingly small.  Your fiber stash may be the perfect spot to focus your attention, so go for it!

I’ll be checking in here every Friday to report how I’m doing, what I’ve made in the past week.  Join me and share your own triumphs.

There is, of course, a flickr group to document what we’re making.  Find it here:   http://www.flickr.com/groups/rumpelstiltskinchallenge/

I’ll also be concocting themes for each month, which you may find useful in kick-starting your creative process.  Follow the themes or not – your choice.

Let’s begin, shall we?  Grab the button and pin it to your own blog, share this post on Facebook, tell your mom, whatever.

Copy and paste this for the button:

<a href=”http://fivegreenacres.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-rumpelstiltskin-challenge/”>
<img src=”http://fivegreenacres.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/rumpelstiltskin-button.jpg”>

January’s theme:  Low-hanging Fruit

Pick the easiest, already-started, laying-on-top-of-the-pile projects and start whipping something out.  Sew a button on something, felt that bag that you finished knitting ages ago and start using it. (MOM!)  This is the time to build up some momentum with quick, easy, satisfying projects.  I’ll be tying up some loose ends and opening up a little bit of breathing room in my studio before moving on to more complicated things.

So, are you in?

26 responses to “The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge

Kari E

Ha! This could be just what I need to get upstairs and start burning through some fabric. The whole house needs curtains. I have the fabric I want to make them with (from an estate sale, of course). What was I waiting for? Apparently this. 🙂 Hope to see you in March – maybe it wouldn’t break the rules to trade items from our stashes???


You must be reading my mind. I have started a “sewer do” jar of all my unfinished or planned projects and will be pulling the first one out as soon as I finish organizing my sewing room.

Amy Sue

Yeah! you have read my mind also!!!! I will be joining your challenge…and starting on my stash burning tonight!!!! What a motivator you are! Thank you.
Hey MJ and Kari, I know of an estate sale first weekend of Feb…let me know if you need details : )

Oh I am just thrilled…I need to find the crafty time now!!! Miss you.

I’m in! I’ve just grabbed a button. I can easily work out of my room here for one year. In fact all of my projects for the last six months have been made, from here, with that very quote in my mind. I am impressed by your workroom, I have just cleaned mine up last week as well, however I was not game enough to show before photos on my blog. You are very brave. What a difference it has made for getting things done. I’ve made nine things in a week, it usually takes three months to make one thing. I have plans for more in the next couple of days. A clean space is a creative space.

I am in Australia and organising a dolly drive for dolls and softies to be given to flood victims. I would love it if you would join us and make a little something from your stash! Or maybe add my button to your blog. You can read more on my blog.


Enjoy your winter crafting:)

I’m in!
I’ve been dusting off and stitching up low hanging fruit all week but now, although it is washed, it is also wrinkled so into that pile it goes!
Will try to get some photos up & over to Flickr soon!!


Wonderful idea! I’m in for a month at least. I used the same challenge for myself this past Christmas and made tons of gifts from my stash. Very satisfying. I just cleaned, purged and organized my sewing room. Donating a bunch to thrift shop today.
I have a useful tip for anyone with soft knits or cotton pieces to burn up scraps too cute to toss. Twenty years ago I started making “uh oh” cloths to include with baby gifts. They are simply serged pieces about 8×8 to 8×10 used for all the little “uh ohs.” (Low hanging fruit)
I like Kari’s idea of a fabric trade too.

This is a great idea – I’ve absolutely run out of storage room in our tiny flat, so I need to get making. Somehow the finished objects take less room than the supplies did, even when they don’t 😉 It’ll also be a good way for me to keep my NYR to lurk less and comment more.

The badge is awesome, thanks – I’ll be grabbing it and getting going as soon as I get home!

okay, i’m dragging my heels a bit (i LOVE buying new fabric) but i definitely have a lot in my stash to work with–and making do with what you have does force you to be a little more creative. and kim, i love your idea of a “sewer do” jar! i can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Right on! And you sure don’t have to commit to a huge stretch of time! I’ve have a few moments of panic at the thought of running out before my year’s through. Is that just the shopper in me? We’ll see.

once again you have made me smile! Great idea, one I can do, am currently doing and is a constant source of guilt, the studio. I’m in I’m in I’m in! And I want a print of your challenge image !


This is so cool. I’ve been cleaning and organizing my workroom too and working on a 52 week challenge to finish already started projects. I also need to make a dent in my fabric stash!

I’m in too – currently working on a table runner. Not exactly low-hanging fruit as I just started it, but it is using up some of that ‘really nice so i was hesitating on putting to use b/c i was sure a better, nicer, more perfect project idea was going to come along’ fabric. I’ll show it off in the flickr pool when complete.

I love this idea! I’m excited to join you. I think that using up what I have will help me be more creative. First, I plan to make some baby wipes to give with baby gifts. They are definitely a quick and easy project.

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