On my birthday, I like to reflect on those things I’ve accomplished and think about what’s ahead. I also like to have a little fun, as in playing with my fabric, as in making some art. However, I looked around at my studio and realized that it could use a healthy cleaning. So I started sorting books and fabrics and notions. Gosh, we quilters, sewists and artists certainly do accumulate a lot. I know I’ll appreciate the open space in which to create. Here are some tips if you are facing that increasing pile, or piles, of stuff.
- Do you really need all those back issue of your favorite quilt magazine? I’ve gotten better over the years, but the stack can get out of control. Now I try to decide when they arrive if I want to keep all of the magazine. In most cases, it’s an article I want to read or a technique I want to try. I’ll tear out the article and then file them in a manilla folder by topic. If you are highly techie, you could even scan the articles and toss the originals. I also have a master list in a notebook of “someday” ideas and projects. I will note the existence of the article and how I filed it. Periodically I go through the files. Something that sparked an interest a few years back, may have lost its luster, and it’s easy to toss now.
- What about the books you have on the shelf? I get lots of books to review and I purchase a fair share also. Again, some that I found valuable in the past don’t hold the same weight today. Look for places to donate books you no longer use. It could be your local guild or your local library. If you want to manage the shipping, you could sell them on ebay. My books find a welcome home at the Virginia Quilt Museum. I know the museum adds some books to its library and sells others to cover museum expenses.
- Is your fabric collection in need of paring down? Of course we need a “palette” as quilt artists. Do we need that large of a palette? And doesn’t our palette need refreshing every now and then? If you’re like me, you’ll never live long enough to use all the fabric you own. You’ve seen the saying, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins!” I’ve decided I don’t need to be in the competition. I regularly donate fabric for charity quilts hoping to make a dent in the stash.
- And, how about those notions? A year ago a friend donated all her mother’s sewing notions to me after she died. Wonderful, I originally thought. Then I looked at the collection. Spools of thread that cost 25 cents. I think that thread is so old it will shred in any quilt I choose to make. So that was easy to toss. It did cause me to look at all the notions I had that probably went back to high school. Yes, I collected and tossed what was not useable and donated the rest.
I know it’s hard to get rid of “stuff,” and it can be overwhelming to do it all at once. If you can’t set aside a full day, block several hours in consecutive days just to clear out what you don’t want. Sort it into two piles – items to donate and items to trash. I know many people say add a third pile for stuff that needs to be fixed. I used to go by that theory, until I realized I didn’t want to fix the stuff.
Please share your tips below about how you get your stash under control.