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National Sewing Month: Soft Stuff

Sep 15th 2020

Happy National Sewing month! All month long we are celebrating by sharing some of our favorite sewing projects right from our books!

The following information is from Love Your Creative Space by Lilo Bowman.


MY STUFF

If you have something, but can’t put your hands on it when you need it, do you actually have it?

Fabric, yarn, thread, and batting are all soft items that can become beasts to deal with or find if left on their own. It’s time to tackle that stashed-away stash. You know what I’m talking about: bags of purchases, found treasures, gifts from others you have stowed away in the back of the closet, under the guest room bed, or in cubbies in any spare space around the house. Once it’s packed away, it’s hard to remember what you purchased, much less what it looks like or where you put it. That stuff needs to come out into the light of day.

SOFT STUFF

With so much soft stuff to deal with, the idea of taking it on in one fell swoop is daunting for anyone. Make the job easier by tackling just one of the soft things at a time over the course of several dates to make the job more manageable. A suggestion is to start with the big stuff and work your way down in size. Break-ing down a mountain of fabric clears out an amazing amount of storage space.


Plan and Set a Date

Mark a date on the calendar and stick with it. Don’t say to yourself, “I’ll get

to that next month.” Next month very quickly moves to next year and you’re right back where you started. Break that circle of frustration by just getting it done. I promise, the result will be well worth it.

Doing a bit of homework before a sort-ing day helps to make deciding what you do with discarded items much easier. 

Ideas for passing things on include:

  •  Give to family, friends, or recycling organizations.
  • Bring to your guild’s “Put and Take” table.
  • Donate to a church group that makes quilts for the community.
  • Donate to an animal shelter.
  • Donate to your school’s art department or to a retirement or outreach center.
  • Sell on consignment.

  • Sorting and Purging the Stash

    Find a place outside of the studio (but still close by) that will serve as a sorting station. This can be a dining room table, folding tables, or a hallway. Getting items out of their hiding places will clear out some room, let you see your collection at once, and allow you to work in bite-size tasks which is much less over-whelming. Grab assorted laundry baskets, cardboard boxes, or grocery bags to serve as sorting containers. Label the containers by type (Keep, Donate, Gift, and so on).

    TIPS:

  • Sorting helps you have a better idea of what you have.
  • Sorting means not spending money on something you already own.
  • Sorting saves valuable time spent looking.
  • Sorting and purging allow for more usable space.

  • As you go through your fabric and yarn, ask yourself questions about each item.
  •  “Does it still appeal to me?”
  • Or is your reaction more like, “What was I thinking when I bought this?”
  • “Will it fit with my current style?”
  • “Is it a look I still work with?”

  • If your answer is no to most of these questions, that item should go in either the donate or gift pile. You can change your mind later, but the idea is to get a handle on what you have and whittle it down. If you haven’t set eyes on a piece of fabric for five years, chances are it’s not going to rock your world now, but someone else will love it. After quilting for 30 years, Nancy Arseneault’s style of work changed. Rather than taking up room in her studio, she donated her entire fabric collection to her quilt guild.

    This should be a speedy process; don’t over-think or take items out of their individual packaging for the moment. Put on fun music or a movie to make the process seem less like work. If your stash includes a wide variety and assorted sizes of fabric or yarn, break the job into manageable groups by sorting major categories first.

    Quilting / Sewing / Embroidery

  • Yardage
  • Batting rolls / packages / pieces
  • Embroidery/needlework fabrics by type (Aida, Hardanger, and so on)
  • Fat quarters
  • Fat eighths
  • Scraps smaller than fat eighths

  • Crocheting/Knitting
  • Yarns by weight
  • Yarns by fibers (wool, cotton, and so on)
  • Novelty yarns (eyelash, chenille, and so on)
  • Once the entire collection has been divided into major categories walk those donate and gift babies to the car, and then (after a journey) place them into the hands of another who will love them. Turn, walk away, and don’t look back.

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    Shop Love Your Creative Space for more tips and tricks on how to get your sewing organized!
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