Is clutter taking over your sewing space? You can have lots of great ideas and sewing projects you want to complete, but if you’ve got clutter blocking you from working on your projects it can be a challenge to get things done.
As a professional declutterer (and quilter and sewist!) who works with creative women who love to sew, I’ve created a unique framework that explains why clutter accumulates in our sewing rooms (I’m no exception! I still have clutter build-up from time to time, although I’ve learned how to keep it to a minimum). My framework is based on the habits and behaviours that trigger the accumulation of clutter. My philosophy is that in order to clear the clutter, you need to understand HOW and WHY it got there. In my experience, most quilters and sewists will be familiar with at least two or three of the Seven Clutter Triggers. Which of them might be affecting your sewing room?
TRIGGER 1: OVERBUYING.
You often bring extra items into your space – items that eventually become clutter because you can’t use them fast enough. Buying tools and notions because they’re on special offer or buying fabrics that appeal to you (without having a project in mind for them) can lead to this kind of clutter.
Combat overbuying by practicing CONSCIOUS SPENDING. Set a budget, only shop for fabric when you know you’ll use your purchases right away, and remember that sales and special offers happen all year round so if you miss one there will be another one coming soon! Spend your money consciously and bring in only the things you know you need right now.
TRIGGER 2: SCARCITY THINKING.
You may tend to over inflate the value of what you have, thinking it’s worth more to you than it actually is. You’re reluctant to let go of fabrics or tools that you secretly don’t care much about, because they ‘might come in handy one day’ or they’re ‘perfectly good’. Scarcity thinking comes from us unconsciously repeating a story about lack that we’ve learned sometime in our life – either from our own experience or our family’s experiences.
Work on transforming scarcity thinking into an ABUNDANCE MINDSET. Look around at all the wonderful items that you have in your sewing room that you actually use! Those tools are serving you well and you love them – you have abundance in your life. Now take a look at those ‘someday’ items – are they really as valuable as the ones you use all the time? If not, let them go.
TRIGGER 3: SENTIMENTALITY AND NOSTALGIA
Sometimes we treat things as a substitute for a person that’s dear to us (like a sewing machine passed down by a loved one), or a happy memory of a past time in our life (like fabric we might have picked up on a fabulous holiday, or a garment pattern that used to look great on us but no longer is our size or style). If you’re reluctant to let go of these sentimental items, you may end up storing items in your sewing room that you would never actually use - but sometimes it feels too hard to let them go.
My suggestion is to LOOK TO THE FUTURE. Take a photo of some of those nostalgic items and let them go, and then think about your future projects – the ones you really want to do. If you’ve got real sewing heirlooms, give them an appropriate future by using them as art in your home instead of letting them into your sewing space where they won’t be of use.
TRIGGER 4: SENSE OF DUTY
Like many sewists and quilters, you may get requests from family or friends to make them something or teach them how to sew, and you might feel obligated to do so even if you don’t want to. You might also be hanging on to projects or ideas because you feel the duty to ‘finish what you started’ – even if the project no longer appeals to you!
Remember to PUT YOURSELF FIRST. Make sure you prioritize the time to work on projects that bring you joy, rather than doing favours for others or finishing an unwanted project. Find a way to say no to the requests that come in, unless you’re truly happy to do them. And here’s a challenge: look through your sewing projects, find one that is no longer fun and enjoyable for you – and toss it! Make room for what you really love now.
TRIGGER 5: SENSE OF IDENTITY
If you have a less-than-clear sense of your creative identity, you may not really know what types of sewing projects you truly love, and you may accumulate projects that reflect trendy styles or mimic the work of someone you admire – but then end up not finishing them because they’re not quite your style.
To transform this identity crisis into DEEP SELF-KNOWLEDGE, do some thinking to find out what kind of creative elements you truly love – whether these are colours, styles, types of garments, or other elements. Incorporate them into your next sewing project to boost your creative self-confidence.
TRIGGER 6: DISORGANIsED THINKING
Although you may love and need all the items in your sewing space, they’re not organised in any particular way – so you end up wasting time searching for things and are unsure of what you have.
Restore order by creating HELPFUL SYSTEMS: group items like by like, store them in clear containers, and let go of any multiples of items. Make a note of which supplies you need to top up for specific projects, and – most importantly – create a routine of putting things away as soon as you’ve finished using them.
TRIGGER 7: OVERWHELM
You have a huge amount of ideas for sewing projects and want to do them all! But you tend to start things and not follow through on finishing them, so you accumulate unfinished projects that eventually lose their appeal because you’ve left them too long.
Conquer overwhelm by creating a MASTER PROJECT LIST: make a list of every sewing project you intend to work on, including current projects, partially-completed projects, and ideas for projects. Then rate each one a scale of 1-5 for excitement level (1 means you don’t like it much; 5 means you can’t wait to start working on it). Cross off everything that only rates a 1 or a 2 and declutter it from your workspace, and from the remaining list pick a maximum of five projects to work on right now. Every time you finish one, bring another up from your list. Prioritising your projects and limiting the number you work on at any one time will stave off the overwhelm.
So, which were your telltale triggers? And how did it feel to let go of some of the items you realised were clutter? By becoming more mindful of your habits and behaviours, you’ll start a huge transformation in both the way your sewing space looks and the way you think about the materials and tools you own.
Nadia Arbach is a professional declutterer at Clear the Decks!
She loves helping creative women clear the clutter in their sewing spaces so that they can do their best creative work.
Her podcast, ‘Declutter and Organize Your Sewing Space’, has helped sewists and quilters around the world start decluttering their sewing rooms.
For a limited time you can purchase four of her best-selling courses and e-books in the Creative Woman’s Decluttering Bundle, at https://clearthedecks.teachable.com/p/declutteringbundle. and for a limited time she is offering Stitch Sewcial (my free Facebook group ) members a discount of £5 using the special code - hop on into the group to get it! - thanks Nadia!
Sewing. pattern cutting, teaching, tea and Jelly Babies!