The Quest for Clean – Craftiness

I consider myself a textile artist – I use fabric and other textiles (yarn included) to create. Everything, even the practical things, should be creative and unique. But herein lies the problem with being an artist – you have to walk a fine balance between having enough creative components around you to function, and not being a scary hoarder. I’ve heard horror stories about kids cleaning out houses of women who did quilting or sewing and had piles and piles of fabric sitting all over the place. I desperately want to avoid that!

I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve ceased taking trips to the fabric store “just because” and buying any type of pretty fabric that caught my eyes. Nowadays, I usually only buy new fabric if I have a need for it. I still run into trouble with used fabric (what! a whole bag of quilt squares for only $4?) but I’ve started to filter that as well.

Life might be easier if I chose just one specific type of sewing – garment construction, home decorating, or quilting. But alas, I don’t think I’ll ever be content limiting myself that way. So I end up with big panels of nicer fabric for clothes, vintage linens and canvases for home stuff, and lots of little bits and pieces for quilting-type projects. If I let things get out of hand, it can easily become nightmarish. And do you know what happens if I let a space get crowded and cluttered? I don’t want to work in it. So, nothing gets used.

Here is my plan to tackle the fabric stash:

  • So no to scraps. I keep scraps almost compulsively. But do you know how often I actually pull out the scrap bin and rifle through it? Almost never. I’m going to sit down one of these days and shred my scrap bin into smaller pieces, bag it, and use it for stuffing pillows and such. It would free up some space on my fabric shelves, and I’m all about that.
  • Say no…in general. When people find out that you’re a textile artist, they tend to want to give you fabric/yarn/crafty things in abundance. Some of it might be really nice wool yarn or vintage fabrics. And some of it might be crappy acrylic yarn or weird flannel from the 1980’s. Regardless, I just need to learn to say “no” to things that I honestly know I won’t use.
  • Be ruthless with the refab bin. I have a bin of clothes that either Jason or I discarded but I kept for the fabric. Again, I hardly ever touch the stuff, and I need to be honest about this.
  • Purge, purge, purge. I oftentimes buy fabric for a specific need (Christmas stocking for my in-laws, pajama pants for my nieces, etc) in patterns that I wouldn’t really use for anything else. I typically keep the leftovers. I need to go through and get rid of these things. Which brings me on to my next step…
  • There is no such things as “just in case”. Seriously. I need to stop keeping stuff that I’m not in love with “just in case”. Because the truth is, I’m almost always getting coupons or gift cards for the fabric store and if I really, really need something, I can go out and buy it. Or, I could be the creative artist I always say that I am and make something awesome with what I have.
  • Make more, make better. I made some bunting for a party we threw this summer. It was something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, it used up a ton of scraps, and I liked it so much that I left some up in the yard all year. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. Once a week this year, I want to commit to making one thing that either makes our home more beautiful, has a practical purpose, or can be worn by one of us on a semi-regular basis.
  • Start selling again. I talk myself out of selling my homemade wares all. the . time. And I just need to stop this. I can knit a really awesome hat. I can sew cool things. It doesn’t hurt me to throw this stuff up in my etsy shop here and there and maybe even make a couple of bucks.

My end goal is to have no extra piles of fabric or yarn on the floor or in boxes anywhere in the sewing room. Right now, I have some of that going on and it’s grossing me out. Ideally, I’d like to get things into tip-top shape before I start making stuff for Christmas. Which means I should really start plotting out what I’m going to make everyone for Christmas…(yes, I know it’s September).


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