Stuff and More Stuff

Anyone kondo-ing? Several posters on a sewing forum , me included, are trying to reduce fabric stashes. Maybe you’ve been spring cleaning? It’s in the air and it has me pondering the role of stuff.

There was still the tail end of rationing when I came into the world. Stuff was in short supply. Mum went food shopping with a small basket, popping from little shop to little shop. I peered up at the high shiny wooden counter as sugar was weighed out and tipped into a blue paper bag. Cheese was sliced and wrapped while you waited.

Clothes had been rationed too. Learning to make clothes was predicated on new fabric being a somewhat precious, rare thing.

The upside of this way of life are obvious. Frugality, making do, doing a lot with a little, and best of all, not being the custodian of great piles of stuff.

The downside is how limiting it is when trying to create something and can’t lay hands on what you need to carry out the Big Idea.

Now, in these relatively stuff stuffed times, how do you decide when enough is enough, what you will not buy, save or stash? The dictum to have nothing in the house you don’t love hits a snag in my sewing room. Do I love my hoard of zips, every one? No, I hate them all. It’s frustrating to have to put a project on hold for lack of a zip, but they are nasty, scratchy, awkward to insert things prone to breaking. No love there.  Do I have boxes of uselessly small scraps saved precisely because I love the colour, pattern or texture? Yes. They are the stuff that dreams are made of, but the dreams are taking over.

Maybe utility should  be the critical factor in allocating space? What about the Murphy’s law of clear outs?  Anything you chuck as useless will be needed next week. I weeded my self drafted patterns two or three weeks ago, and of course, promptly had to redraft one for the gardening trousers. I wouldn’t care, but I’d kept it for about 12 years.

How about you, hoarder or super organised minimalist in the sewing room? How do you choose what to keep for its possibilities, and what to sling to make better use of the space?





About jay

I design and draft patterns
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7 Responses to Stuff and More Stuff

  1. Steph says:

    I like this post a lot. Growing up my mom had “Use it Up. Wear it Out. Make it Do. Do Without.” in cross stitch on our wall. Her father grew up on a potato farm during the Great Depression and her mother relocated from Toronto to Chicago to find work at the same time. So growing up my mom always taught me to use up every scrap, make and grow food from scratch and take care of things. Such valuable lessons. I think of them as “insurance” in a way, in case I ever am in a position in which I have substantially fewer resources; they served me well when I was younger and studying, etc.

    I live a life of plenty though, of course. A few years ago I realized that I was buying too many clothes and so I stopped that altogether. I took up sewing again, which slows things down, but there’s always the potential to buy. I’m trying to be conscientious about buying only what I can envision making in the near future. I recently got rid of most of my yarn stash (I have a much longer knitting history), giving it to a seniors’ home. I figured that even though I might have someday used the things, someone else could use them immediately. That’s more or less the metric I’m trying to use at the moment – in what horizon do I reasonably think I will use these things?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. seweverythingblog says:

    Its a conundrum we “makers” will have to live with, and agonize over: to suffer the feeling of being buried by stuff, OR to later cry over the inconvenience of needing the discarded stuff. We’ll just have to keep agonizing and making choices……

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m looking at piles of fabric right now, working on yet another attempt to bust the stash. I love the look of super minimalist but that is so not me. I recently used some fabric I’d had since the mid-1970’s and still lament some I divested of ten years ago now that I have the over-dyeing element in my toolkit. The project ideas are stacking up. The problem is that sometimes imagining a thing is as good as actually making and cutting fabric reduces the potential. Still, not bored, so loving ‘the agony’.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Naomi says:

    Tried the kondo thing. Not for me! In the sewing room I am aiming for less waste. That means less accumulation which is hard. I keep everything, even small scraps. But try to find the right homes for them: scraps for kindergartens, bigger scraps for crafters, large pieces and unused patterns for other sewers. For me my sewing scraps don’t meet the Kondo test – they do fill me with joy! And I want to make sure if I’m definitely not going to use them, that someone else will!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Aunt Mayme says:

    This last week I cleaned out my fabric cabinet and am donating the fabric to a store that resells it as well as uses it for sewing classes, some for homeless women. I admit I was coming up more with ideas rather than thinking clearly if I needed it and that’s what put me on the Buying Binge. The pile is about 3 feet high, stacked in a corner of my guest room, until the time comes when I’m able to make the 100 mile trek to the store.

    So I’m moving away from “hoarder” but I’m not ready for “super organized minimalist” yet because I’m too afraid of “Murphy”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. fabrickated says:

    An interesting post. With sewing (and at work) I substituted “does it bring joy” with “do I need this?”. The zip question can be answered. If you are not likely to make anything that needs a short, chunky, purple zip that is the one to let go. The thing I like best about Kondo is being able to see what I have got – like shopping in a nice shop rather than a jumble sale.


  7. I’m trying desperately to use what I have – although I may need an extra lifetime. Even when I tried to clear ‘dead wood’ from my stash it didn’t work as I had plans for the fabric that were still appealing. One day I will get it under control.


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