Donate your leftover fabric to the women of Cooperativa El Nido


I am always looking for ways to put leftover fabric to good use. For those of you that subscribe to Snippets, you might remember a tip a few weeks ago about donating leftover fabric as one solution to the eternal sewing question: What do I do with these bits that I’m not using?

I recently learned about a wonderful organization from Panama, and Cooperativa El Nido is seeking donations of your fabric pieces!

Cooperativa El Nido is a self-sustaining community of women in the hills of Capira, about an hour from Panama City. This group of 14 families has worked for 10 years to maintain control of their own farming community, producing all of their own food. But in addition to farming, these women seek alternate sources of income through their beautiful traditional needlecraft.

Sewing techniques have traditionally been passed from generation to generation. Due to low demand, some of their most precious stitch work is lost. Cooperative El Nido encourages preservation of this tradition and financial gain from it.

This opportunity to give thrills me for several reasons: (1) It’s a chance to make use of otherwise unused fabric, (2) I believe strongly in personal giving whenever we can, and (3) It is wonderful to support an intentional community working for a self-sufficient way of living.

I think those of us who sew can feel a special bond to those women trying to establish a livelihood based on handcrafts. It is hard work, but work that preserves traditions while allowing more independence for women and their families.

If you’d like to donate your own pieces of fabric, please send all donations to Kathryn, who works with these women in Panama. She has kindly provided a US mailing address for those of us here in the states:

Kathryn Wellemeyer
5542 Silverleaf Court
Haslett, MI 48840

You can also email the cooperative at cooperativaelnido at with any questions you may have.

And if you know of other organizations seeking fabric donations, please feel free to post about them in the comments!

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 37


do the scraps need to be big or will very small scraps work too? i have lots of various sizes.


I’ve asked Kathryn to clarify if there are particular fabrics or sizes that are most useful. I will let you all know.


What a great opportunity to get involved in a worthy cause, and to bring some order to the stash at the same time. Thanks for sharing.


What is the minimum size of fabric preferred? Also, what type of fabric? Just quilting cottons or are flannels and such useful?


Thanks. It is a great organization. Would love to know my beloved stash is going to something so useful!


Address for those of us who are not in the states?

Jane W.

What a wonderful cause! I have at least 3 yards of high-quality cotton at home.


This is a fantastic idea. Thank you. I love to see the ways we can use our overflowing first world stashes to help women around the world.
If you’d be interested in sharing another, similar venture, there is an American Army officer who runs Iraqi Bundles of Love, distributing fabrics and notions to Iraqi women to help them with their sewing businesses (and outfitting their families), that is certainly helping to improve relations and build goodwill in the region. A quick google search will turn up all relevant info, and he utilizes the military postal system to do this, which also gives a US address for shipping.


What a wonderful idea. Another way to pass forward goodwill and keep others sewing as well.


This is brilliant! I always figured there was a good use for my fabric scraps but didn’t put enough effort into finding out what exactly to do. I always throw away the tiny slivers from seam-trimming (unless I’m planning to make a pincushion or knitted toy to stuff) but I can’t help but hang on to the larger, mostly useless-to-me pieces. I’d be happy to contribute my leftovers if they’re large enough or the right kind of fabric. I know there are yarns made from the smaller fabric scraps (like Rowan’s Revive or Berrocco’s Remix) but I assume that they mostly use mill ends and industrial clothing-manufacture waste… at any rate, I’d definitely be interested if you find more information on size/type of scraps to send!


as a South American, it always gives me such a warm feeling to see so many helping people of my continent.

I come from a long line of dressmakers. Sewing is something that is taught and seems to come naturally to everyone.

It is a very good idea!


Ohh, very cool. I am always looking for ways to help and share with someone the sewing crafts that give me such joy. Mind if I blog about this too? Please do post what fabric types and sizes are most needed. (I need to go through my stash a bit!)

Lauren Kropf

Please let us know if their are size requirements. I have lots of pieces that are fat quarter and smaller. Thanks for the info. I would love to help!


I have over 25 pounds of fabric scraps, most fat quarter or larger. I would love to donate. Are these sizes OK?

Keren Duchan

This is great!!! I have a surprisingly huge stash, of all sizes of fabric. I would love to donate much of it! I live in Israel and I hope the shipping won’t cost too much. It would be helpful to hear what fabrics are needed, and especially if small scraps are useful.

Kathryn Wellemeyer

Hello to everyone!!

What an amazing response – I feel very honored that so many people are interested and willing to give a little from your own pockets to donate to this group. So thank you so very much in advance! I was not expecting such a huge response but am pleasantly surprised!!

I know there have been a lot of questions about sizes and types of fabric and I apologize for the delay! However, before I give you a definite response, I want to consult with the rest of the team and get a consensus on what would be best and what we will actually be able to use. So I ask for a bit a patience (enough time for you all to start sorting through your stashes!) and I promise to post something by Sunday at the latest answering all of your questions.

As far as the question from Kate regarding an address for those not in the states, if you would like to contact me directly and let me know where you are, perhaps we can arrange something. Honestly, the mail system here in Panama is not all that well organized and that was the reason that we provided the address in the US, to ensure that your treasured scraps were not lost in the end. But we may be able to work something out. So you can email me at or send an email to the general email –

Again, I don’t know how to thank you all enough – I feel very encouraged by the enthusiasm of each and every one of you!

Happy sewing and I will report back soon!


This is fabulous. I have a bunch of scraps that I would prefer to donate to someone who can use them.


This is awesome! I’ve been trying to decide what to do with my fabric scraps and unused pieces, and couldn’t think of a better home for them! Thank you so much for sharing.

Kathryn Wellemeyer

Hello again to everyone!

Thanks for patience – I have consulted and we have decided that the most useful pieces for us are going to be lightweight to midweight cottons or upholstery fabrics, fat quarter size or larger. Also, as you can see from the photos, most of the fabrics that we use are bright, colorful, bold fabrics, so if you have things similar in style to that or any solid colors that we might be able to use as lining for some of our pieces or interfacing, we would really appreciate it!! Your donations are going to help these women immensely to get their business off the ground and to begin expanding the products they are creating!

We are currently in the process of developing our website and are looking to be able to sell items online so keep an eye out for Cooperativa El Nido in the future – who knows, you may be able to purchase a one-of-a-kind item made from your own scraps put to good use! Also, if you haven’t done so already, check us out on facebook – Cooperativa El Nido. Finally, if you would like to be included on a mailing list so that we can update you as we continue to grow, please send us a quick e-mail at, expressing your interest and we will be sure to keep you “in the know” with new developments.

Again, thank you so much to each and every one of you – it truly does mean a lot to us! If you have any further questions, feel free to post here or send us an email at the email listed above. We look forward to seeing your generous donations!

Wishing you all the best!

Kathryn and all of the women from Cooperativa El Nido

CP Smith

I just want to make sure that you are still accepting fabric donations for Cooperativa El Nido and that the following US mailing address is current:

Kathryn Wellemeyer
5542 Silverleaf Court
Haslett, MI 48840

Carolyn Severson

I am cleaning out my fabric stash from previous quilts that I’ve made. The address in MI is still current?

Jo Countley

I am a quilter with lots of excess fabric and would like to donate some to a group who can use it to help their community. My quilting friends have much excess but we have nowhere to donate to a good cause. Let know if this a current and valid source. Thank you

Rebecca from Cooperativa El Nido

hello all! We are so blessed to see such interest in donating fabric to the cooperativa!!

Back in september 2011 we had the opportunity to receive fabric in Michigan, US and then Kathryn from our team would bring it down to the women in Panama.

At this point, she is down in Panama and unable to regularly transport the fabric. That means that packages would have to mailed to a Florida postal service that then would send the packages on to us in Panama. We have found that the cost of this additional step required by the fact that Panama has no postal service that delivers directly makes receiving packages down here really expensive. It´s charged by weight and there are import taxes added on top of that!

Again, we are very grateful for your desire to donate to us, but it has become difficult. We are in search of another worthy cause to refer all inquiries to, if anyone has found one that they recommend, please post and let us know :)

thank you for your interest and support!! We have indeed grown, the women are benefitting tremendously! We opened a shop and headquarters in order to generate even more traffic for Cooperativa El Nido artistry.

We are grateful for LIKES on Facebook so that others may find us…and our bags are now on ETSY! come have a peek!!



blessings from all of us to yours!!


Hello, I have a ton of fabric swatches for curtains and upholstery. I just wanted to know if you would be interested in any of these? I am going to be able to hold on to them for about a week and then I will have to get rid of them. Please let me know. I would love to donate them! Thanks!


Would love to donate a sizeable amount of fabric that I have used for
quilting projects. I have some larger pieces and lots of smaller pieces.
Are you still collecting?



Any tips on where I can donate unused fabric in Toronto, ON? We have lots’n’lots!



i have alot of dress fabrics to donate please call me at 660-351-5058. leav a message an i will return your call


I have a lot of left over draperies material and I will like to donate
some are big pieces


I have a fair amount of yardage in upholstery, quilting and fashion fabrics that I would like to donate to a worthy cause can you guide me to how to go about this? I am in Michigan

My name is Molly Condon and I work for a hospital curtain manufacturing company. We manufacture and supply the privacy curtains for hospitals, doctor offices, etc, nationwide. We have spending the last couple of weeks doing major inventory on our stock fabrics and have accumulated quite a large pile of fabric that we are looking for a place to donate. We have a wide range of patterns and yardage that we would like to give.

When I was searching for a company to donate to, I saw that you accept fabric donations. Would our fabrics (healthcare/hospitality) be of any good to you? If so we would love to send them to you.

Please contact me with any questions or if you would like to know more about what exactly our fabrics are.

Thank you for your time.

Molly Condon
800-725-3266 x200
Covoc Corporation

Sally Bergman

I have 96 pieces of quilt in multiple solid colors measuring approximately 24 X 48 ‘ that have been sewn with a plain cotton lining. They were intended to be used as golf cart covers, but did not work so would like to donate the fabric. Would you be interested?

Shirley B Bard

I have many larger-sized scraps of different kinds of materials to donate. Are you still accepting donations for Panama? Shall I mail them to you? Any suggestions? Thanks, Shirley

Jean Howey

I would like to donate all kinds of fabric I am trying to find someone who can use them. We are moving to a smaller home and don’t have room.


Hello, my name is Gloria Lopez

I am a senior at Immaculata University. A team member and I are working with an independent designer in Philadelphia Pennsylvania who is willing to donate fabric scraps to your company. I would like to discuss this further with you.

candace krotzer

I am wondering ifyou are still interested in receiving fabric for El Nido? Please let me know and I will send you a huge box of fabric I can’t use. Thanbks


Are you still up and sending things to this organization? I see no posts for three years…

We’re sorry, comments for this post have been closed.