Like most sewers, I do a self-deprecating routine about the terrifying extent of my fabric stash on a regular basis. But, much as I joke, the clutter of fabric, trims, habdash, books and the rest, really does cause me quite a bit of anxiety and frustration. Here’s why:
- I feel guilty that there is stuff there that I *know* I will never use – why did I buy it? I am such an idiot and so wasteful… blah blah blah (I am specialist at negative self-talk – something else I am working on this year…)
- I don’t have the space to store loads of stuff I will never get round to using
- It’s always messy and unmanageable – I am not great at working in untidy surroundings – I find it distracting
- I can’t find the lovely inspirational fabrics, haberdashery and trims that are definitely there, in amongst all the rest
All of this clutter-related negativity really gets me down. So, working towards my goal of moving forward in the positive, unapologetic pursuit of creativity this year, I’ve given myself permission to spend some money on storage, and I’ve started a big declutter.
I started yesterday, working through the contents of one of my big storage baskets. At first I hummed and hawed, dithering about how to sort things in a way that made most sense, and, in a weak moment, almost decided to put it all away again. But, spurred on by spotting lovely fabrics amongst the clutter, rendered unusable by my inability to find them, I reminded myself that done is better good (no, it really is), and got started.
As I worked through the fabrics, I started to develop a system. I haven’t read Marie Kondō’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I have friends who are very deeply enthusiastic about it, so I know all about her idea of only keeping the things that bring you joy. Although I wouldn’t necessarily choose to apply this idea to the contents of my garage (the car would definitely have to go, and that could be a problem), I really see the value when it comes to sorting through the materials I use for my creative work.
I have been building up a stash of magazines, fabrics, haberdashery, notions and books relating to sewing, crochet and textiles for over ten years now, and a fair proportion of what I have relates to other enthusiasms and interests. They feel irrelevant to me as I move forward, so I am putting them to one side, enthusiastically, choosing to give them away to people who will be inspired by them anew. Hopefully they will bring joy to other people, even though they don’t do it for me any more.
As I was working, I thought more about creativity and how it works for me. The more I read and research, the more I am coming to see that creativity is born out of curiosity – a spirit of ‘what if?’. I have thought of this, with typical negativity, as my butterfly mind, but actually, it’s about me pursuing ideas with interested enthusiasm – and sometimes these ideas (which often involve acquiring materials to work with) go somewhere, sometimes they don’t. There are many failures along the way, and that’s ok, I’m learning all the time.
So some of the stashed away materials are reminders of those old ideas that didn’t work out and it’s good to get rid of them and just move on. But sometimes, as I work through the boxes and baskets, I find stuff that reminds me of ideas that I wanted to pursue, but didn’t because I didn’t have time. Or I find materials that could be re-purposed, or half-made pieces that could be used in other ways. I find it is really important to have a notebook to hand, to record the ideas as I work.
So I’m going back into the studio tomorrow to do some more sorting. Although I’m not exactly enjoying the process, I am beginning to feel a sense of freedom and clarity that will hopefully increase as I get closer to the top (bottom?) of the fabric mountain. Keep checking back because I’m hopefully going to sort out some fabrics to give away over the next few weeks, in the hopes that dispersing my collection can bring some inspiration elsewhere.