Marie Kondo meets my sewing space

Many of my friends and coworkers started 2019 with a dash of Marie Kondo (courtesy of Netflix). Some binged the entire series, some were long-time Marie followers, others were just curious.

Just after one episode I was learning to ask myself better questions to tackle clutter. I am now able to ask “why” I am keeping something AND be kind to myself when I provide the answer. Some of us go into a shame spiral when we try to declutter – unearthing more clutter (and identifying it as such) brings on more negative self-talk for keeping “junk”. But Marie helps people recognize the reasons they kept things, and accept those reasons don’t need to follow them forever. It is ok to change our minds about our stuff. That is why she encourages us to thank our socks, our ticket stubs, our old sketchbooks. We are acknowledging ourselves, where we’ve been on our life journey, and the roll these items played in that. (Even if it is learning that specific shades of yellow and green make me look sickly.)

I spent the better part of two weeks moving, purging, and thanking things. I’ve waited until all surfaces in my sewing room were in a near-final state before writing this post. The goal was to get the room into a function state for making things, not as a repository for my clutter. (There are still piles of things outside this room that need addressing.)

The Fabric

Marie gave me permission to say goodbye to a lot of fabric that I’ve held onto because:

  • It belonged to one my grandmothers
  • It was a gift
  • It was free
  • It was discounted heavily
  • It might be useful for a to-be-determined costume
  • It was bought for a project I no longer have interest in
  • It was leftover from another big and expensive project

I reinterpreted Marie’s question about whether an item sparks joy into whether a fabric sparked creativity or inspiration. Many fabrics just didn’t fit into my current sewing plans, wardrobe needs, or current gift ideas. I’m sure if I sat around long enough I could think up some corner case idea for some of the projects, but the fact that the idea didn’t ignite immediate and spark excitement is probably a sign that the project would languish in sewing purgatory.

Some of these sparked different emotions. Most partings left me feeling lighter, and my creative mind feeling more open. I won’t be crowding my “to-sew” list with projects that exist only to use up fabric in my stash.

Did I take a before photo? No. But here is a photo of the fabric I am going to give away:

And here is a photo of the fabric in my stash. I have gotten it down to 4 drawers.

…plus current projects in these two boxes:

The Work Space

This whole project was instigated by a new-to-me sewing table, courtesy of Morgan. This table pushed me to completely rethink my sewing space. For years I have had two Ikea shelves (Kallax) acting as my cutting table and storage, with a separate sewing table.

Kallax shelves, temporarily holding the new table top.

This shelf-table set-up was clever and served me well for 5 years, but had it’s drawbacks. And my back was the most common victim of those drawbacks. Sitting at the shelves left no place for my feet, so I was hunched or leaning awkwardly. (This resulted in Christmas backpains because I had been trying to finish a quilt for my husband.)

Now I have a table that is higher, making pinning and cutting fabric easier on my back, and wider, which gives me space for my sewing machine and my cutting space on one surface. And the floor space is amazing!

Finn has been spending more time in the room with me now that he has space to sleep.

Side-by-Side, not stacks

One of the biggest hindrances to using my creative space was the layers of stuff. Whether we are talking about piles, bins, or things tucked behind other things, supplies and tools were not easily accessible. In a crowded space, dismantling a stack of things means there is less surface space to use. I was moving things from the table to the floor, from this table to that table, and so forth. I lost so much time to this puzzle box of a room.

Now, I am trying to keep everything to only one layer. Visibility is key to my memory. If I see it, I’ll remember I have it to use.

Yeah, yeah…the blue mesh bin is ON TOP of something…

If I have to open the top of something, like my paint caddy, nothing should sit on top of it. I used to have a stack of fabric on top of my paper cutter – which meant any paper crafts involved moving around a bunch of fabric.

I know I will struggle to break the habit of just dropping things on top of a surface when I am in a hurry. I try to keep my clutter out of the shared spaces in the house because I know I am fortunate to have a separate space for my projects. This room had become the Room of Requirement for anything that belonged to me.

A Space to Inspire as well as Make

Sewing room, craft room, art room, creative space – my room goes by different names. I think this new set up has a good balance between my art (painting and drawing) and my sewing supplies. Either activity (oh, and knitting!) can be easily set up when the creative whim hits me.

And when I look around, I’m surrounded by inspiration for both.

I also wanted to carve out surfaces that wouldn’t be used for storage to give ideas space to breathe.

Tidying Up continues

A significant part of the clean-up involved moving things out of the room, and then slowly bringing things back in, put into their places. The hallway, the guest room, and the loft all have remnants of this purge. I must make decisions about those piles before the emotional weight is really gone.

So I’ll sew a little bit, tidy a little bit, and get excited about 2019.

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