Austerity Measures & Simplification

The household crafting budgetary committee (ME) has reviewed the spending of the last couple months and has voted unanimously to impose austerity measures for the month of June.

For my part, Me-Made May ’12 was as much a challenge of production as it was a challenge of outfit creation. In order to meet my goal of 2 items per week, I knew that I would need to complete at least 4-6 new items that month. I am proud of my accomplishments, both in knitting, sewing, and pattern drafting. Yet, I think I will take the end of this challenge as a punctuation to this phase of sewing and evaluate my crafting priorities for the rest of the year.

The Crafting Budgetary committee’s decision to cut funding was based primarily on my spending habits when it comes to crafting (I don’t include it in my month budget). There isn’t the room (physical of fiscal) for new sewing and knitting supplies. I would like to make a couple of costumes for this year’s Ren Fair and convention circuit, but if I am not careful those projects can end up costing my $100 or more each. But sewing and knitting have is also become something of a distraction from other life priorities. Many people will attest to the meditative qualities of crafting, and that is something that I thrive on. But when I get home from work, I make a bee line to the sewing machine, and ignore other aspects of my life (chores, correspondence with friends, learning other skills, exercising, etc.). I’ve just enrolled in a certificate program for Autumn 2012, and that is going to drain my finances and my time.

There is also an issue of space and usability of the items I am creating. I’ve been struggling with my wardrobe for a while, and creating the MMM outfits forced me to confront my mediocre feelings about my wardrobe as a whole. I’ve tried multiple times to establish a different style, but my habits, behaviors, and comfort level usually reset my clothing style after a couple weeks. It is like hair cuts. It always comes back to the same default style that gets swept into a boring ponytail. (Note: we will see how long my current new haircut can maintain itself.)

The result is a closet with a few things that get worn a lot, and others that just look pretty on hangers. Some items no longer fit, some items never fit (but I swore I would get them altered). I noticed that the closet shelving is starting to buckle under the weight. So, before I create (or thrift) more clothing, I need to cull my existing wardrobe.

Thank goodness for the blogosphere:

The brains behind A Good Wardrobe, A Wardrobe, Reimagined, and Project 333 have all tackled similar issues. (These are my favorites so far, but these are not, by any means, the only blogs in the sewing/creative communities that are covering these topics.)

Lizz at A Good Wardrobe is taking the approach of creating unique, interchangeable wardrobes for each season based on a color palette. In addition to her sewing adventures, she spends some time contemplating what makes a good wardrobe and how to establish or find your personal style. It was through her blog that I stumbled upon the idea of a 30-piece core wardrobe.

I only recently started following Ali’s blog, A Wardrobe, Reimagined, but when I have time I want to go back and read her blog from the beginning. She has been on a journey  since 2010 to re-imagine her wardrobe and find her style, and I think I am where she was she began her blog. Also, her creations and thrift finds are inspiring. (Ali is co-hosting a June sew-along that encourages us to create one item in June that we will wear all summer. I MIGHT participate, since I already have all of the .) 🙂

The Project 333 allows 33 items for use each season (3 months at a time). The idea at the heart of this project is simplification and living with less–an idea that is in sync with my sustainability goals. If I look at what is in my laundry hamper, it is usually the same dozen shirts and the same three pants. I am unbelievably turned on by the idea of simplicity and living with less. I would like to be able to regularly wear the majority of what I own and maximize interchangeability of clothing and outfits. I’m going to give this 333 project a try. I’ll pack away the clothing that isn’t being used that season, and see if that makes choosing outfits in the morning easy. (Less selection = more happiness…yeah, there is science to back that up. Just listen to Radio Lab.)

My mantra: Need what I own and own only what I need (with a few exceptions for sentimental value).

Ultimately, when I’ve trimmed my clothes down to what I regularly use, I will be able to identify the gaps in my wardrobe and return to sewing, knitting, or thrifting as my means of procurement.

Come July, I plan to reunite with my craft supplies, with the hope of turning my existing fabric stash into Christmas gifts. For now, I’ll be simplifying the chaos that reigns inside my shelves and drawers.

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