Sunday, 15 May 2016

Thoughts on sewing and having less stuff

This isn't a post with a new project in it - it's for me to marshal my thoughts on having too much stuff and how that relates to sewing/crafting/ making (for me at least).

Like a lot of other bloggers (Katie blogged about it here) I read and enjoyed the Marie Kondo book (not an affiliate link so click away!). I was inspired to start clearing out quite a lot of stuff, starting with my wardrobe as she suggests. She says this is a good place to start as you aren't so emotionally attached to your clothes. I'm not sure this is true of people who make most of their clothes but I actually didn't find it hard. 

The pile of clothes that went to charity (and even prior to this I went through stuff fairly regularly - I wouldn't say that this was years worth of clutter that was purged):

A year on, my wardrobe still looks much like it did and my drawers have never been tidier! Its far easier to keep my clothes in order and see what i have.

Since then i have worked my way through books, CDs, fabric and notions, make up and toiletries and paperwork. My husband and daughter are both complete hoarders so i am still working on them although hubby is coming around to it, seeing how much tidier the house is! We have no junk drawers any more and have got rid of a couple of pieces of furniture we just don't need for storage anymore.

Doing this totally hit my sew-jo for a long time though. I don't want to be making 5 new garments a month so I have stuff to blog about and filling my wardrobe back up again.

So i have come up with a plan of how I reconcile my new "less stuff" outlook with the need to still make things.

Unselfish sewing - I have been making more for the small person - costumes, dresses and leggings. I am also planning a jacket for hubby (belated birthday present since he couldn't make his mind up on the colour!).

I am thinking more about what I wear day to day and what I need to fill in wardrobe gaps or to replace things that are wearing out.

I am shopping the stash rather than buying fabric. When I culled a lot of clutter I went through my stash. There wasn't much i got rid of but I love everything left  in there and want to wear it rather than look at it on a shelf!

The same applies to patterns. Rather than jumping at every newly released pattern, I am trying to see if I could adapt something already in the stash to make something similar.

Following on from that, I want to remake more patterns. I have so many that I love and have done all of the tracing adjustments and muslining for but only ever made one version. It's a better use of my limited sewing time to spend less time on the preparation and fitting and more time on the fun sewing bit!

I have never been that keen on making underwear but its.a great way to open up new avenues for sewing, use up scraps and develop new skills!

Instead of rushing through to the end to have a new garment to wear, i will be doing a bit more thoughtful and slower sewing. This will he another way to improve my skills.

I don't normally adhere to the blogging commandment of asking a question at the end of a blog post to encourage comments but I am interested to know what you think! Is minimalism/decluttering just a current first world fad? Have you been inspired by it? Had it changed your outlook on sewing or sewing behaviour?

If you are interested to learn more here are some blogs i have added to my reader as well as the book linked to above:
The Minimalists
Becoming Minimalist
Miss Minimalist
Be More With Less
Zen Habits


  1. I haven't read the Marie Kondo book, but I already know we have too much stuff. I like the idea of living with less stuff, but I do find that hard to put into practice. I have been trying to sew from my stash more, and am definitely buying fewer patterns. I'm keen to see how you get on.

    1. thanks helen., it seems to be very of the moment - i am totally on trend! but if it helps me shop less and spend less i am all for it!

  2. I enjoyed reading about your process! I've similarly passed on quite a lot of clothes lately, but still seems to have an endless amount in my closet... now if only I could have you come over and help sort my junk drawers! :)

    1. thanks gillian. do you know what is it your junk drawers? when was the last time you took anything out to use? If you have no idea i would upend them over the bin!

  3. Good for you. I haven't sewn a new garment in AGES simply because I already have way too many clothes. I have been washing and bagging clothes for charity and already have 4 bin bags ready for donating. I have had to stop following the social media of fabric and pattern sellers so that I am not tempted to buy more stuff that I can easily do without.
    Best of luck with your declutter, I think it is a good blog topic!

    1. thanks nessa. i have done similar - i have unsubscribed from all of my promotional emails and i really rein myself in on social media when i see lovely things on sale. i have lovely things just waiting to be made up and worn first!

  4. I haven't read the book because I've heard it's very annoyingly articulated (even though the advice is sound). I've always been a declutterer at heart - I'd be more minimal still if I didn't live with 2 other people. I thoroughly support living with minimal amounts of excess because it's easier. But it's hard!

    1. thanks kristin. it is annoying articulated and i don't go for all of it. i don't feel that my socks are stressed when in a ball or that my clothes feel unloved/ not accepted into my wardrobe if i put them away with tags on! i would be way more minimal if i didn't live with a couple of hoarders!

  5. This is something I think about a lot as I'm always de-cluttering, or so it seems. Which I guess means I must always be accumulating if there's always more to de-clutter! I'm currently trying to sew more from my stash, and buy second-hand fabric where possible, for space and environmental reasons. But also because I don't really feel constant accumulation of stuff, be that clothes, fabric, whatever, is all that healthy, so I'm trying to curb it. Like you say, trying to be more thoughtful, and take my time over sewing.
    I'll check out those blogs you mention. I didn't really fancy the Marie Kondo book as all the stuff I'd read about just keeping things that 'bring joy' annoyed me. Have you read the Stashless series on the Craft Sessions blog, I think you'd like it.

    1. sounds like we are in the same place kathryn! marie kondo isn't for everyone but she definitely helped me. i will have a look at the stashless series - thanks for the tip!

  6. I just finished reading Spark Joy, Marie Kondo's second book. I find it interesting that in this book she is less strict about things in the first book. I think that she had to be more harsh in the first one so that people would really take it seriously when they go through their things. In Spark Joy she also admits that things have changed for her now that she is married. I don't see her method as minimalism, really. I see it as being more in tune with yourself and your things. You are aware of how you feel and how the things you have feel to you. If I love every piece in my huge stash of fabric and they all spark joy, then I don't have to minimize the stash. Having only pieces that spark joy does make me want to sew more and use what I have. I have been more motivated to take the quilting fabric that I love, and bought because it was so beautiful and not because I had any clue what I would make with it, and make quilts. Her books have helped me to discover what truly brings me joy. I am not really into minimalism. I enjoy things. I want to be surrounded by beautiful things, but not in a cluttered way. I read about minimalism and there were some people who were so extreme that it meant they only juiced produce once a day- and that was all they ate/drank. It probably helped that he was a single guy. I have also read about families that are minimalist. Their lifestyle doesn't appeal to me, but it did make me think about what is most important to me and my family and how I can get rid of the things that aren't important. I think for some people minimalism is just a fad and for others they will go on with that for life. I find that most minimalists are either single or couples with no children. Minimalist families with children definitely exist but I think there are less of them. As for decluttering, this has been around for ages and I think people go through phases with regards to it.

    1. oh i will have a read of that one laura! yes, i agree that her method isn't really about minimalism, and also that isn't really where i am in my head. i want to have what i need, even though that might be more than a true minimalist would have! but i am totally sold on the idea of only having things i love. i am keeping my art and souvenirs and so on - i definitely don't want blank white walls but i don't want to wish my house was bigger so that i can fit in more stuff that is rarely used!

      there seems to be 2 schools of thought/ camps within the minimalist community. one is about the really severe ascetic type of living and the other is about living with less/ buying/ consuming less. i am definitely aiming for the second. really interesting to hear your thoughts laura!

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