Saturday, January 1, 2022

Decluttering 101

 Happy New Year!! 

It will be another great year of decluttering, sewing, decluttering, sewing, maintaining our new uncluttered spaces, then sewing, sewing, sewing!

I want to outline a few guidelines because this decluttering business is hard work. Not only is it a physical job, but the emotional side is going to be challenging, and you need to be prepared. This can work for your house, in general, or your sewing space specifically. 

  1. You will likely feel overwhelmed, ashamed, embarrassed, or all three as you go through your sewing room. That's OK. You can cry and leave the cluttered space as it is, or you can rise above those emotions and say, "I WILL do it." It's going to be essential to get over those feelings. The past is the past, and there's NOTHING you can do about the money you spent on projects or fabric that you'll likely never use. Just move on!
  2. This is going to take a LONG time to fix. Depending on how long you've been sewing and how diligent you've been about putting things away, the time frame could be prolonged for someone (like me) or shorter if you've been on top of things. 
  3. EVERYTHING needs a home. Clutter results from things not having a home, so you must find a home for EVERYTHING as you declutter. Here are several reasons why items don't have a home -- you don't have space, you don't know what to do with it, you just haven't put it away. 
  4. Put LIKE things together. I'm of the mindset that as you are cleaning and tidying and if you want quick results, put the like items together. Then, when all the things are together, it will be easier to cull through them and see if you have duplicates or don't want or need them. That may require some boxes -- you decide. 
  5. Clean up any visible garbage or empty dishes. That's easy!
  6. Do NOT purchase new containers. This is not a good idea until you know what you need, what will go in them, and where they will be stored. If you have laundry baskets, they work great for keeping the like things until you can deal with them. I have a few extra should anyone need one or two. 
  7. Be ruthless. I'm a Virgo, with some OCD tendencies -- but only when I'm in the mood! You have to set your tolerance level. How clean do you want those surfaces to be? I'm going for the bare minimum, but that's after years of high hoarding levels. 
  8. STOP buying things unless you need them. I know -- all the gadgets are enticing, but what does one do with them when they get them home? I now think long and hard about every purchase, and I've stopped myself cold from buying something by visualizing where it's going to go in my studio. And just because your friend has one or it's the hottest gadget on the market does NOT mean it's necessary. 
  9. Find a friend to help. Sometimes this is helpful as your friend has no emotional attachment to your stuff. It would be easy for them to ask the question, "do you really need/want that?" If you don't have a friend who you want to help, then send me a picture -- I'd be happy to be your friend!
  10. Keep your eye on the prize! Yes -- keep plodding away. This is NOT going to be a quick fix. I've been at it for 6 years now and am still not done -- getting closer, but not done. That will depend on your level of tolerance, but imagine walking into your sewing space and feeling free of the weight of those projects or mess. Having clean areas to work in is a blessing, and you'll be happier and way more productive. IT'S MIND-BOGGLING when I think of the HOURS that I've spent cleaning up. 
  11. A bigger sewing room is NOT the solution, and it just results in a bigger mess. But having a dedicated space just for you is well worth it. If you can wrangle that -- I'd go for it. Kids moved out? Move their stuff into another room or get rid of it. 

Those are the basic rules for our decluttering process. You will get distracted, and that's OK. This is meant to be fun (ish), and well, we're going to get distracted. I've found myself wanting to get to work on a UFO or two that I found, but I resisted. That is what lists are for, and we'll talk about lists another day. 

Task number one is to clean up the space around your sewing machine. Now here's the thing, and you MUST keep this in mind. We each have our own sewing space, and some are large, and some are small. Did you know that Paula Nadelstern sewed in her tiny New York City apartment at the kitchen table for years? When her son moved out, she took over his bedroom. If you have the luxury of a larger space, that's a bonus but NOT a necessity. 

I don't really have a "before" picture because I try to keep the area around my sewing machine neat and tidy at ALL times. Yes -- if I'm sewing something, there might be a few extra things around, but I tend to tidy up afterward - ALWAYS. 

Here's my sewing machine, with the extension table and my three critical sewing tools. I know that some people use those skirts for their sewing machine, and sometimes I have mine there. But I find it gets in the way; the tools don't sit properly, so why bother? I also know that people keep pins, clips, paper, pen, and other stuff around the sewing machine. Do you use them regularly? If your room is small, the sewing machine skirt might come in handy to keep things neat. 

Sewing machine with extension table

You have to find what works for you, but look at the sewing space and ask yourself if you absolutely need everything around the machine and how often you use it. Is that the best place for those tools? 

I also moved my machine over as far as possible on that banquet table. Yep -- I sew with that giant machine on a $50 banquet table. I've sewn on that kind of table for 20 years, and it works for me. I love the flexibility I have with that table. In a pinch, I can shove the machine back and use the front of the table to pin a border on a quilt. 

And right now, the laptop also sits in that same space because I'm hooked to those darn baking shows. 

Sewing on a banquet table

To the right of the sewing machine is a cutlery tray filled with bits for my enders and leaders. Extra sewing tools and my reading glasses should I need them. There's another tray with fabric bits beneath that one. Technically, I should combine them. Maybe, I'll do that today. Why have two when only one is needed? I also keep some pins in that container for the rare occasion I use them. 

And behind that, in that plastic container, are the bits for my sewing machine. All the feet and a few extra tools. It's a travel box when I travel with this machine. Hmmm -- I think I could consolidate some of that stuff into a smaller container. And put those travel tools with the rest of the extras as I don't use them daily. It's all about reducing what's visible in the sewing space. OK --- I thought I was done with this area, but I have work to do today!

Stuff to the right of the sewing machine

The five bobbins that I wind when I've cleaned the machine sit beneath the second spool of thread on the sewing machine. I must say that I LOVE that telescopic thread stand. 

Hiding place for the five bobbins

I don't often use black thread, but the cone sits on the sewing machine and covers up the bobbins. 

Two spools of thread on the thread stand

I know that the fabric thread catchers with pins are cute, but I use a metal tin. One flick into the garbage and the entire container is clean, and it's easy to move around if I need to. 

My thread catcher

I know that a couple of people have already sent me pictures, and I'll post them tomorrow along with my own revised photos. If you have before and after views of your sewing machine area, forward them along -- I'd love to see what tidying you did. 

Here's what else happened yesterday. I got the final customer quilt for 2021 done. 

Customer quilt - DONE


My barn block for the Barn Quilt sew-along at Thimbles and Things is DONE, and I just need to send in a picture to get my points. 

Barn block

The last block for the Kimberbell Candy Cane Lane bench pillow is done. 

Machine embroidery block for Candy Cane Lane

All the other blocks are trimmed and ready to sew together. A job for later today, perhaps. 

The rest of the blocks for Candy Cane Lane

And that's a wrap for today. Lots more happened yesterday, but I've run out of time, so that'll be for another day. 

Now get to work and look at your sewing table. OH -- it's OK if you create a box of things that you need to deal with later - just get that sewing table clear! I have a laundry basket sitting there, and you'll see what I mean tomorrow. 

Hopefully, it won't' take you too long to clean up that sewing table space. I have another task tomorrow  -- or perhaps, I'll post a new assignment every second day, so you have a chance to deal with the stuff that's there. That might be a better idea because no one wants to get behind. We'll look at the before and afters tomorrow and then onto assignment number two. 

I didn't talk about resolutions because I don't think they work. More on that tomorrow. 

Have a super day!!!


1 comment:

  1. Every thing that comes in the door gets managed right away, not set down somewhere. And because I only have 1 surface in my studio, a 4x8 sheet of melamine over 2 small cupboards, my sewing area and cutting mat are consistently organized and clear. I have a Sew Steady table on each of the 2 machines that are always setup. I keep my rotary cutters under the one near my large cutting mat and the accessories for each machine are in boxes and kept underneath as well. These clear tables give me double space and I love them!

    So what did I do?

    I decided to go through 2 of the 3 magazine holders I have with odds n ends of quilting patterns, magazine pages and other quilting fodder. I filled my in-house 3 gallon container with paper that is now out in the recycling bin. I've come to terms with the fact that I will not: paper piece, freezer paper applique or applique in general. I had accumulated 6 patterns plus a set of Marti Mitchell templates. I've offered all to my sister in case she is interested-she does all of those things. I've kept them all through the years of thinning the herd (I do this every year), but decision made! I did not count how many paper patterns, printed ideas and magazine articles I tossed but they are recycled now :-)

    I also listed a few non-quilty items on the FB Buy-Nothing group. 2 already claimed and awaiting pickup. Wohoo!

    Just goes to show that even a decades long declutterer can do more. Decisions made about what will never happen in my studio is a good thing😉

    I hope everyone enjoys the journey along with you. So very rewarding when I look back over the years!