Clean Up

This is a really long post and you’re forgiven for not reading it all the way to the end.  I needed this post.  I needed to review the reorganization I did and make plans for the future. Writing is a way for me to think. I needed a lot of thinking.

I’ve not been posting, but I have been doing things sewing wise.  First, I needed to clean up. There came a time when the creative process got so frantic  my rooms became untenable. OK not that bad, but hard to move around it. Things stacked on things. Little in its appointed space. I did the typical pick up and put away. Thankfully the robot vacuums everyday.  Now it was free to vacuum in every corner. Once straightened up the room, I could see how badly out-of-order  my fabrics had become.

Partly, I have too many fabrics. My fabric storage has become  tight.  When I pull fabrics out for consideration, I also manage to pull a few forward, just a bit.  Just enough to eventually create a mess. Since the storage is crammed, it’s also difficult to put fabrics back and do it neatly.

I was storing fabrics on the utility shelves on the North, East and West Walls of my stash room.  East and West fabric storage occupied 2 shelves (each).  I’d rather slowly expanded to these other shelves and moved knitting yarns (which currently aren’t in demand) to other places to ease the tightness of the designated fabric storage of 2 full shelving units on the East Wall.

I’m surprised at how nice the shelves look in the pics above. Believe me, in real life they were embarrassing.

I took two days plus the better part of a third to remove fabrics, refold and sort before placing back on the shelves.  I was using a 3″ template to folding fabrics neatly for stacking.  The heavier, thicker fabrics tended to end up as rolls.  Which rolled around not helping the neatness factor. 8 years ago,  I chose that size template after some experimentation.  I felt that a 3″ template created a fold which kept low yardages and thin fine fabrics visible. It’s hard to explain, but those fabrics would visibly just disappear especially since I organize by color. I did a little more experimenting and decided upon a 5″ template for most fabrics, 4″ for the thick ones.  With a 5″ template, the thick fabrics would finish to a 7-8″  foot print.  I wanted to keep all my stacks in the 6″ neighborhood. Judiciously using the 4 and 5″ templates greatly helped.

I shuffled things around and finished by storing all my fabrics neatly on the West Wall and 3 shelves of the North Wall:


I also changed my sorting order.  I still like to keep my fabrics by color. But I’ve found it to be immensely helpful having pieces under 2 yards separated. They’re further separated into fabrics that work for shorts; fabrics that work for tops (sleeveless and short sleeve); and scraps that make pocket backs and facings.  I had a stack intended for ribbings and bindings. But the fact is  I rummage through this stack and then chose something from the main stash (where there is enough yardage that a couple of inches cut from one end won’t be missed.).  So ribbings were the first fabrics slated for rehoming.  I’m also finding that I need muslin fabrics.  I pulled numerous fabrics out of the main stash because I never use them. I mean I look at them and think ‘yuck’; or ‘why did I buy this?’. They now occupy about half of the top shelf on the North Wall. Also on that shelf are all the fabric purchased with visions of shirts of DH.  Maybe now that they are visible, DH will get some lovely silk, wool and camouflage additions to his wardrobe.

Not only has my life changed, retirement, but my sewing has changed as well. I’m more business casual with a few dressy items. Most days I wouldn’t hesitate to go anywhere in what I’m wearing at home. But that means I no longer need the fabulous wools and boucles I accumulated for work jackets and suits. I kept a few. OK I kept 2 full stacks that will work as vests which I do wear.  But about twice that much was carefully boxed up for Goodwill.

As I looked at what I had ‘sorted out’, I realized when I was working I sewed outfits, whereas now I sew collections. At one time I was focused on mono-chromatic outfits. I’m sort and over weight. Mono-chromatic was a definite boost to my height which in turn helped with the visible weightiness.  My wardrobe now has collections in basic black, blue and brown i.e. I have pants, coordinating 3rd layers and accessories in these 3 basic colors.  I indulge my desire for embellishment and color in my tops and sometimes my third-layer vests. I do keep some tops in the basic colors as well. When I sew, I’m nearly always looking at adding a specific garment.   During 2015, I’ve needed to refit all my patterns. Which meant multiples of one pattern until I got it right. Fitting is still a challenge I’m working on and when I want a new pattern I still go through a few fabrics getting it right. Point is, I love the rainbow effect of sorting my fabrics by color but I think part of the mess has been generated by hunting through the rainbow for the fabric that would work for the garment I wanted to make.

I stacked my robe and caftan making  selections separately. WOW, I’ve got two full stacks.  If I double my current production and make 2 per year, I have enough fabric for 8 years.

I also separated  coat fabrics to include polar fleece, velvets and wools. I didn’t count but I know without question I’ll need to whittle this stash down as well as the robe stash.  But not now.

For now, I started sorting by color and then stacking my pant fabrics apart from the same color tops. Some stacks, like the yellow, the pant fabric is on the bottom of the stack with fabrics for tops, well on top. I can still color coordinate or go all the way to monochromatic but this sorting will help me find the fabric I want quicker and hopefully with less muss.

I created one other category: sweater knits.  I was so excited earlier this year when the sweater knits hit the internet vendors.  I knew there were a lot of ‘thin’ knits out there. Which I wanted to avoid but did not.  In all my purchases I have 1 that I consider a real sweater knit. I have a few that I’d call light knits. But most should have been described as semi-transparent and were not. They were called sweater or Hitachi knits and at most hinted their true nature with a description of  “semi-opaque”.  Hitachi knits I’ve bought in the past were wonderful.  These were pretty but not exactly what I expected. As for semi-opaque, what does that even mean?  If the fabric is transparent, why not admit it?  I assumed that it would be a light knit maybe a little shadowy. I did not expect to hold it up and see clearly through it.  Why didn’t I send these back?  Well, I assumed they would be nice knits. When I received them ,they were folded double, triple, whatever and definitely were opaque.  I didn’t unfold and examine but I did pre-wash. Out of the laundry, I could see these turkeys were going to be a challenge. I folded them and put them on my shelf. Now I decided to separate to see if I could work with them. If not, their all gone. Hear me, GONE. I want sweaters that are warm.

I’m pleased that my fabric is all in one place, instead of stored in both rooms or throughout the house, as has been the case in previous years. Equally happy to only be using 2.5 shelving units. Not thrilled at the number of fabrics I put in the Goodwill boxeS.  Towards the end of this clean up, I went back through the muslins asking “would this really make a good muslin?”  About half the original ‘designated muslin’ stash is going to Goodwill.  I’m sure a number of coat and robe fabrics will be making the same journey in the future.  I’m embarrassed at the amount of money I’ve spent on fabrics I won’t use and therefore packed into the Goodwill boxes.  I am a firm believer that one should pass along things that are no longer useful in one’s life. I’ve found it to be a cleaning up that opens up new experiences. Somehow, clinging to the past has a dampening and narrowing effect upon the present.  I have to admit that a number of fabrics donated were purchased from Walmart 20 years ago.  Most of the fabrics I purchase now are in the closet within a year. It’s those that I purchase long ago which continue to marinate.

So I know I’m not really done organizing the stash.  No doubt, it will need straightening in the future and I could change the way I sew, again. After I finished reorganizing this time, I went up stairs and unsubscribed from all the fabric and craft sites. Sometimes the only way out of trouble is to avoid it in the first place. I have an issue in that I need a stash. I’m 3 hours from any store; and then I have to drive home.  I always shop for fabrics when I’m close to a fine fabric store but I don’t always find things I want or need for my sewing.  Despite buying from on-line stores for over 4 years now, it’s still hit-and-miss for me.  Fabric descriptions are not equal to seeing and feeling the fabric itself. Even swatch services are not 100% satisfactory. I don’t want to buy-and-return. They keep a list of such people and you can find your credit card unwelcome at some stores solely because of too many returned items.

Ah well, all’s good for now.


2 thoughts on “Clean Up

  1. Bev: Congratulations on your newly sorted sewing area. I, too, have far too much fabric and now that I am completely retired, I don’t have any call for such fab. fabrics. I need to send much of my stash somewhere – GW here doesn’t seem to carry much fabric; but Salvation Army does. Both are in the same shopping area. I have been sending sewing books and smalls to GW – will take a good look tomorrow (Black Friday) as I have another load for them. Nothing like a reorganized sewing room – you go girl!…..Lydia

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