This Wellness Wednesday I wanted to write about something that I’ve been doing a lot lately- clearing clutter- and generally pairing down on all my material possessions. This is something that I feel is really undervalued and can make a huge change to your life and can be incredibly stress relieving – taking a literal weight off your mind.
This has been a big focus in my life lately, mostly brought on by the process of moving. When I moved from the apartment I lived in for my four years of university to my current apartment, I really had to come to grips with the sheer amount of material possessions I had accumulated. The move was mostly stressful because of all the furniture and kitchen things, but I also realized that I had too many things, too many clothes, too many knick knacks, too many books, just too much stuff. And it was with slight bitterness at myself that I carried the numerous boxes down three flights of stairs and into the moving van.
So I resolved to change and I have been going through all my things in my room at home and my current apartment and donating everything I can part with! It is especially important since I’m anticipating moving home this summer and having to fit all of my things into my home bedroom! eek! And I refuse to be stuck moving a million boxes of things that I don’t need again!
Generally I’m not an overly sentimental person, nor do I get overly attached to material things, so this hasn’t been too overwhelming for me- but we all have our weaknesses- my biggest weakness is definitely fabric, as you can see from my sewing room post I did yesterday, especially fabric that was my grandmothers- also I get weirdly attached to vintage children’s sewing patterns, I don’t know, don’t judge me.
I also acknowledge that this is a lot harder for some people- my mom for instance has a hard time getting rid of things and sorting through things and gets overwhelmed making all those decisions herself and I’ve known a lot of people who struggle with this too. I do believe there is a small (or moderate sized) hoarder in many of us.
Anyways I have been really successful with going through my things and helping my mom go through her things and I have figured out a few tips and tricks that make the process easier and more successful! So without further chatter: my 6 big tips!
1. Clear your space– make sure that you have clearly defined piles that won’t get mixed up and that you can easily clear away after you’ve sorted.
For example when I go through my clothes- I throw them all on my bed – then I have bags behind me on the floor- one for donations, one for garbage of things that are worn out, and another bag for things that I want to take to a consignment shop or offer to my friends. Then when you are done- you can label your bags and tie them up and take care of them easily. If you are sorting through glass wear or delicate things you can do this with boxes instead. It makes it so much easier after- the worst is when you don’t have a clear system and you just get bogged down and you aren’t sure at the end what things are supposed to stay or go and you feel like you got nowhere. Also once you have done all the sorting work- get rid of it quick! take it to the thrift shop the next day, plan a visit with your friends to give them the clothes- take out the garbage right away!
2. Get help from a friend– Have a friend or family member help you sort through your things- they are way more objective than you are, and can help you think logically about your things.
It’s hard to be completely objective about your own things and someone else asking questions like ‘when is the last time you actually wore that?’, or ‘are you really going to get that reference book out or are you going to google it?’- and when you have to answer to someone else it is not as easy to just brush it off like you would if you were sorting through it yourself. Also I find having another person sort through your things and hold them up for you and put them in piles is somewhat less stressful than doing all that yourself, because you don’t get as overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things and you can just focus on the individual item.
3. Try it on- This is specifically for clothing/ shoes- I cannot tell you the number of things that I have held onto in my closet that have a lot of hanger appeal but just don’t fit me right or don’t translate very well when I wear them.
I find these things are the worst because you look at it and your mind says ‘oh that looks so cute- I should keep that and I will wear it more’ but you forget that the reason you don’t wear it is because when you actually put it on you don’t like it- the proportions just aren’t right, that colour washes you out, or those shoes are just a little too tight around the toes and you know you’ll get a blister- but they SHOULD be so cute. When you come across one of these ‘oh so cute’ pieces in your wardrobe that you can’t understand why you don’t wear – try it on, right then, right there- you might actually find a gem, but more likely there is a reason you don’t wear it and you will know right away when you actually put it on.
4. Do it in two steps- What I found to be really good was going through my things in a two step process- an overall bulk going through session first where you can clear away everything that you’re completely comfortable with, then again a few months later for those items that you held onto in the first round, but still haven’t used since.
When I went through my things for the first time in October I found that I got rid of a lot of things, but there were a number of things that I considered to be ‘on trial’ that I wasn’t quite prepared to part with yet and the deal I made myself was- if I don’t use them or appreciate their presence in my life by the next time I go through my things then they are out. This worked SO well for me- because I found the things that I actually did want to keep- I would remember, use and incorporate in my life like lost treasures, and the things I didn’t remember I was so much more prepared to leave behind and almost excited to get rid of because after the first round of clearing clutter you realize how nice it is not to be so weighed down by things you don’t actually want in your life. An embarrassing fact- I can’t even remember 2/3 of the stuff that I have donated over the last few months. I have donated upwards of 10 large garbage bags of stuff and I don’t think I could make it past 20 trying to list them- you really don’t need this stuff in your life.
5. Is it really sentimental?– Some things we keep for sentimental reasons- and that is totally legitimate but I think a lot of people have to take a harder look at what is truly sentimental.
I keep my stuffed animal kitties (and their small wardrobe) from my childhood because they are very sentimental to me. My mom keeps the baby clothes she made for us. That is fine, but the problem comes when everything becomes sentimental- ‘oh I can’t get rid of that [insert large, awkward, ugly, inconvenient, object with no use here] because it reminds me of that thing I did one time’. Well my opinion is – if you need that object and can’t just remember ‘that thing you did that one time’ then maybe it wasn’t really that important. Alternatively – could you take a picture of this object? add it to a scrapbook to remind you of that great time? Perhaps you have pictures of that ‘thing you did that one time’ and you can add a picture of this object in with them? because a picture is a lot less bulky and overwhelming than keeping whatever object. I also feel like having fewer sentimental items makes each sentimental item you have more special- if i kept a whole bin of my favourite stuffed animals would my kitties really seem that special?
6. Can you give it to someone who will appreciate it?– I find it easier to part with things that have more value to me when I know I’m giving them to someone who will appreciate them.
A good example of this for me is some of the stuff that my grandmother left me. She had a excessive number of vintage dresses and accessories, but it would have just been completely overwhelming to keep them all, not to mention they weren’t all my size, nor did I really have an occasion to wear all of them- but I felt really guilty at the idea of just anonymously dropping them off at a thrift store, since they belonged to my grandmother and were special- so I gave them to my friend Marina who owns the Boretski Gallery, which I did a post on in November, where she sells all sorts of vintage dresses and accessories, and every time I bring her things we have a great conversation, and she gushes over the things I bring and I can tell that she really appreciates them- and in my mind I can imagine a cute 17 year old girl finding my dress for her prom and feeling like a 50’s princess!- all while knowing that I’m supporting an amazing local business. And I feel nothing but good after that- no regrets about giving away my grandmothers things, because I know that they are so much better off now! So if you have things like that, that were maybe an expensive purchase or special at one time and it’s making you hesitate- try to find someone who will really want it- and then you can have the added benefit of feeling good about giving it to them!
So those are my 6 big tips that have helped me tremendously through the process of clearing away the clutter from my life and I have to say that I feel so much better for it- you really don’t realize how much stress comes with drowning in stuff until you clear it all away! And my new goal now is to only add things into my life sparingly and only that are worth having! Which for me means clothes that I’ve made myself or that are vintage that I really love, artwork that my sister makes me, books that inspire me or make me more creative- things that actually add value to my life.
I hope this helps someone out there- I know just how hard this can be! but I promise it is SO worth it!!
Hope your Wednesday is full of Wellness!
Second post of the day *does victory dance in head*!!
So the past couple weeks that I was sick (I am better now 😀 ), I left my apartment to the warm comfort of home and my mom taking care of me- which meant a lot of time spent in the home headquarters sewing room. A room that until very recently looked like it belonged on an episode of hoarders… but through some determination and organization, my mom and I managed to make it inhabitable again and ready for all of our new sewing endeavors! So I thought I would give you a little tour and show some of my favourite parts and generally allow you to nosily look through my stuff like I like to do with other people’s stuff lol.
The biggest challenge to our sewing room is definitely space- it is a corner of our unfinished basement (think cement floor & duct work overhead) that is shared with a hot water tank, water softener, washer&dryer, a fridge, 2 freezers (mom has a food freezing addiction) and the furnace…. so not really one of those super posh big open spaces to work with, but alas, I will take what I can get!
First order of business was organizing the fabric stash on our shelves. This was a challenge- as I have a huge stash of fabric that I inherited from my grandmother, who was a seamstress/fabric hoarder. This shelf contains a large amount of the fabric at home.
So the top shelf is denims, corduroys, and some woven wool types. (kind of like jacket/purse stuff)
Next is all the ‘Home Dec’ fabrics to use for seat covers/ pillows/ curtains etc.
Next is my fav- fashion fabrics ranging from cotton to linen, crepes, rayons and some knits, all intended to be used for clothing
Next is kind of more of a type- on the left is all cotton velvet (with the velvet side in), and on the right is a bag with really nice fine wools that my mom and I bought and are waiting for a perfect project!
Now this bottom bin is full of wool, mostly light jacket weight, but there is some boiled wool in the bottom and other slightly heavier jacket weight.
Now above this shelving unit I have stacked all of our bolts of fabric, which range from a collection of satins, to poly linings, and wool plaids, with some denim.
The other shelving side is not quite as full- containing mostly knits
This very disorganized top bin contains all swimwear- because there really is no way to keep swimwear folded, and the two bottom bins contain other stretch cotton knits and very slinky fabrics that cannot keep themselves folded lol. – Also under this in a larger bin (not pictured here) is a huge amount of sweats type fabrics, like fleece, flannel and stretch cottons to make sweaters, pjs and leggings.
These shelves hold pretty much all the sorted fabric- although I am slightly embarrassed to say that I also have more than one large piece of hanging silk velvet, that our very large bolts of denim, canvas, flannel and cotton underlining are under my bed upstairs, and that in my apartment I have upwards of 10 bolts of fabric, along with under bed bins and tubs of fabric….. *Hi, my name is Erin and I have a problem*….. anyways
Between these two shelving units is a short filing cabinet filled with patterns- mostly vintage- and I may or may not have some in storage too..
On top of this cabinet is a very well cushioned basket for my dog to lay in while I sew- perfect petting height when I am at my sewing machine- and he likes to just chew on his little frog.
That is when he isn’t sitting directly on my lap like he seems to enjoy while I’m sewing
Now moving on to the desk! The wall above the desk is the thread/inspiration wall! And yes, there are two home-sew Berninas, which, with my Bernina at my apartment and the industrial brings the total to 4 Berninas… I think I have an addiction…
This is where all of our threads go (except for some serger thread) and my cork board where I pin sewing inspiration!
Yes – you saw right, in the bottom right corner of the cork board there is indeed a picture of my grandmother riding a camel.., which may or may not be my favourite picture of all time
Below this pic is space for some bead trims, vintage pin cushions, our seam binding collection and a very essential hammer (sewing women are tough women)
And to the left is a shelf that contains serger threads, sewing machine oil, sewing magazines/ manuals and little organizers with sewing machine feet, needles, snaps, studs, hand needles and all manner of other things (can you tell my mom has an addiction to labels?) – And hanging on the unfinished wall are yard sticks, curved rulers and a fly swatter- nobody likes a fly…
Then there are the desk drawers- which I can proudly say are organized AND that only 5 of the 6 drawers are actually occupied! leaving a little wiggle room for future!
Inside drawer #1 we have: elastics- narrow elastic, wide elastic, clear elastic, fold-over elastic, lace elastic….. my mom is really into elastics….
Inside drawer #2 we have trims & ribbons- lots of lace, lots of velvet ribbon, lots of kinda 70’s looking stuff
Inside drawer #3 we have zippers (organized into the sadly separating, truly invisible and regular varieties), also in this drawer we keep velcro, interfacing and the glue gun stuff.
Inside drawer #4 we have fancy threads, and other vintage buttons and really fancy delicate vintage lace and trims from my grandmother.
And finally inside drawer #5 we have ‘home dec’ trims or other large quantities of trims, along with some purse handles.. just cause I didn’t have another place to put them…
I found that after going through so many of our trims and ribbons (and there was a mountain that we ended up donating)- there were so many ends and little bits of pretty ribbons that I squashed all into one bag for inspiration and to get out when I have little projects!
And with that concludes the official tour of the home sewing room- and I feel like even in this long post I missed out on some parts! I realized sifting and sorting through all of our sewing things, that I really does take a lot of things to sew- from patterns and fabrics, to scissors and pins and rulers, machines and manuals– whew–
Anyways I hope you enjoyed snooping through my sewing room- I know I love when other people do posts on their sewing rooms and sewing stashes or shopping hauls – maybe I’m just really nosey lol.
Hope you are all having a wonderful Tuesday! and that you have your sewing space under control too!