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Do your cross stitch patterns and projects have a shelf life?

Hi Everyone

Have you ever considered if your crafty collection has a shelf life? For example, the patterns or kits we purchase to stitch and create, state that we can make one copy of the pattern to use as our working copy. When I’ve done this, I’ve held onto the original copy I purchased and put the working copy into the shredder or recycle bin. That way I’ve got a reminder that I’ve done this project – especially if I forget to take a picture of the finished project and have given it away to friends or family. Alternatively, is it your changing tastes or preferences in what you want to stitch that end up dictating the shelf life of your patterns and projects?


Professionally, a part of my role is to appraise information (with the use of resources that has been created by internal and external stakeholders) that has been created by the organisation I work for, to determine how long that information needs to be kept for. The aim of the appraisal is to ensure we are keeping the information that is necessary for the organisation to aid current and future decision making. The retention of the information can also aid the telling of the social history of the organisation and its impacts on the world around it. The outcome of the appraisal can mean the information is ready for destruction now, in months to come or years to come or it needs to be kept forever


I’ve never done a formal stock take or inventory of my personal collection of patterns and kits. The closest I’ve gotten to conducting a stock take or appraisal of my collection, has been when I’m looking for something new to work on or when I’m purchasing something. What I have found however, is that my tastes or interests in what I’m stitching has changed from when I first started stitching to now. For example, the first kits and books I’ve purchased were teddy bears and faeries. Partly because I like both of these themes and I had special people in mind when I bought the kits and books, thinking that I would be able to stitch cards and similar gifts for them. I’ve certainly done that and as the years have gone on, I have found my own interests kicking in and I’ve purchased patterns and kits that I want to stitch for myself. These themes include horses, Christmas, myth and magic, and more recently, quotes I’ve seen on the internet and converting photos I’ve taken to cross stitch patterns.

Are there any consequences?

Professionally, if organisations don’t conduct regular appraisals of the information they hold, then there can be significant issues which include, storage (digital and physical) costs, increased scrutiny from internal and external sources, deterioration of information and loss of control of knowing what is in the collection to name a few.

Personally, the consequences aren’t as significant – i.e. internal or external scrutiny. However, the money you have invested in your collection and to some extent, your health can be affected. You do need to be aware of how your storing your collection and where its stored to ensure you can continue to access it without any issues. And that your collections lasts for as long as possible. For example, have any of your patterns or kits been affected by sunlight, heat, dampness, mites or rodents? If you’re not sure, have you noticed your patterns or books being brittle, discoloured or the texture of them being warped? Alternatively, have any parts of your collection (including works in progress) started growing mold, or do they have little bite marks in any areas?

How do you go about appraising your collection?

There are many different ways you can go about appraising your collection and the aim here is to suggest a few different ways that I’ve found on the Internet and what works for me.

Consider it as a spring clean…

Like you might do it for your wardrobe or on a grander scale, your home, pulling out your entire collection and laying it all out in front of you. You may get a lot of grumbles from your family and friends. If you have pets, they may want to try and ‘help’! Group your collection by patterns, books, threads, fabric, hoops, lights, scissors etc. and putting it into sub-groups such as fabric colours and counts, themes/subjects of your patterns and books and any multiples of your threads. This can give you a visual of what you have in your collection. You will be able to see if you have any gaps in your collection and you will be able to refresh your memory regarding any parts of your collection you haven’t seen or used for many years. From there you will be able to gauge how much of it you really need or want and start moving those parts of your collection to the side.

Another consideration is whether any parts of your collection have started deteriorating because of the way they have been stored, and disposing of those parts of the collection as a result of their deterioration.

KonMarie your collection

Earlier this year there was a lot of hype about the Marie Kondo way of organising areas of your home. This may be a way of helping you to determine if there are any areas of your collection you need to dispose of (if none of it has been affected by the way it’s been stored).

10 Amazing Tips from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – posted on YouTube on 16 January 2019 by Ms Mojo

Disposing of your collection

Are there any crafty people in your life who could benefit from your collection? What about charity stores, schools, or community groups? You could also begin considering if there are any other crafty people you know who could benefit from your collection that you no longer need or want.

Keeping tabs of what you’ve got

If you’re unable to part with any area of your collection and you’ve found things you’ve completely forgotten about, it may be worth improving the way you store your collection and how you keep tabs on it. Thankfully there is no shortage on how you can organise your collection and the tools you can use to keep yourself organised.

Organizing your crafting supplies and creating a stamp inventory using Evernote by ScrappyDiva – posted on YouTube on 27 August 2018

I use a combination of open bookshelves, boxes, bags, my laptop and a four drawer filing cabinet to store my collection. If I’m running low on any area of my collection – especially threads and fabric, I write them down on my hand or a post-it note so that I can pop down to the shops or order what I need on line. Occasionally I’ll have the pattern I want to work on with me to ensure I don’t miss anything and a pen or pencil to tick off what I’ve gathered.

Storage considerations

As I’ve hinted at earlier in this post, if any areas of your collection have been affected by the places you have stored your collection, before you put away your collection, consider if there are any other areas of your home you could store your collection. For example, are there other cupboards, rooms, boxes or shelving you could use to ensure the longevity of your collection? For your patterns, is it possible for you to scan them and save them to your preferred IT device?

Final note…

I hope that there are elements of this post that helps you with your collection or at least, provides you with some things to think about if you want to update the management of your collection!

Happy Stitching!

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I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!