Life has got in the way of my sewing for the last few weeks. So instead I found a spare hour to get to grips with organising my hoard.
Being organised and tidy is very important to me. I try to follow minimalism as a concept, not just because it leads to a healthier take on life, but actually mess and clutter make me feel incredibly stressed. I try to follow two mantras;
- If it’s not useful, beautiful or seriously sentimental then get rid of it.
- Collect experiences, not things.
So the idea that piles of fabric were collecting in a cupboard upstairs was playing on my mind. Sewing is the only area of my life where I keep things “just in case”. But I had my hand forced into sorting it out by a plumbing disaster. Unfortunately, my boiler gave up on us this summer. But the guy on the phone I called to “get a man in” tried to help me fix it over the phone – could just be the pressure, we thought. Like something from a seventies sit com, a valve came off in my hand shooting water directly over me, the phone and my beloved fabric stash! Meanwhile, the toddler was enjoying herself spreading cat biscuits around the spare bedroom. I managed to stop the water and long story short we had no hot water for the next month while we waited for a new boiler. Thank goodness for gyms with showers.
Now the stash needed washing and organising.
I have a long term goal of converting a corner of the spare bedroom into a sewing space. Looking in there I had a set of shelves with a cupboard underneath. The books on the shelves were culled and after some reshuffling I had some space to fill!
I folded my fabrics into little parcels and laid them on each shelf, one for cottons, one for jerseys, one for randoms and the other for denim and muslin. The shelves sit behind cupboard doors so the fabric shouldn’t get damaged by sunlight. What surprised me the most was that I still had room on the shelves, surely that means I can do some more fabric shopping, no?
I was strict with my box of left overs. I’m not into quilting and while there may be some uses for smaller pieces, I can’t keep it all “just in case”. So my rule is if it is roughly a metre or more, I keep it. As I can use that for Hazel sized clothes or facings. I folded these bits into smaller parcels and stacked them upright in a clear plastic box. My wooden box is for little bits like zips, ribbon and the turtle. I keep my buttons in a clear glass jar – because there’ll forever be something magical about a pot of buttons!
Now I feel at peace with my fabric hoarding and while I know that this might not look like much of a hoard compared to some sewing obsessives, but it’s a hell of a lot of stuff for a minimalist. Opening the cupboard doors makes me feel happy. I love seeing exactly what I have and knowing that when I do find the time, I’ll be able to find what I need quickly. I’d love to replace this flat pack thing with an old bureau bookcase that I can paint up, but that can wait.
I’ve got a lot of patterns too. These have mainly come from magazine freebies. I am fairly ruthless, I don’t keep anything if there is no way I’d wear if I made it. When I use the patterns, I store them in these A4 pockets. It stops me having to refold the paper like an ordinance survey map and I can keep any notes or traced patterns all in the same place. When I’m using the pattern, I often put little bits like buttons and spare cotton in there too. The A4 folders sit neatly on the shelf and the unopened ones stack in this basket. When I want to play offices, I can flick through them like a rolodex :0).
For anyone who thinks they have too much I urge you to read Becoming Minimalist.
For anyone who wants to build a shoebox full of patterns I recommend buying Love Sewing Magazine.
And if you want to know how to fabric into neat little parcels – I’ll post some instructions shortly! Cat optional.