Decluttering craft supplies? - Mothering Forums
Organize & Declutter > Decluttering craft supplies?
cristeen's Avatar cristeen 10:20 PM 01-11-2009
I don't post in this section very often just because I'm horribly embarrassed by my total inability to be organized...

Currently, I have a craft/sewing room that houses my sewing "desk", which is a wall unit with shelves and a fold down table top for my machine. I have 2 towers of Sterlite drawers for organizing my fabric (along with a couple large Rubbermaid tubs).

Then in the "guest room" I have my stash of yarn for dyeing. I was selling it for a while, but haven't done any dyeing in a while. I have probably a couple hundred dollars worth of yarn sitting there waiting to be dyed, along with a work table and chair (bar height).

And then in the living room I have a collection of containers that DH bought to "corral" my WIP and yarn stash for knitting/crocheting.

I would LOVE to get everything organized into one room (my sewing room), but at this point it's going to take some serious decluttering, which is where the problem starts.

I inherited a lot of this stuff, including the desk, my main machine and a whole slew of sewing/quilting books from my mother. I actually have very little from my mother, since my father's new wife refused to let me take most of it when I moved. So getting rid of any of this stuff brings up all sorts of emotional issues for me. I did actually suggest getting rid of the desk to my DH the other day, since it is HUGE (takes up an entire wall) and I'd be able to arrange things more usefully without it. His response was that I'd be regretting it within days because my grandfather made it for my mom (and they're both gone now)... and I can't really say he's wrong.

But even beyond that, all of this stuff has potential as craft supplies, patterns, etc. How do I reconcile that with my desire to simplify? Especially since my chances of being able to replace any of these items any time soon are slim considering our current financial state. And I don't see the point in depositing any of this into a landfill, particularly given the economy.

Donating to a local school is not an option, since our state is in so much trouble that no school around here has any sort of artsy/crafty program left.

Anybody have any thoughts or ideas for me?

Ruthla's Avatar Ruthla 10:28 PM 01-11-2009
I'd go through those books and patterns- there are SO MANY free patterns available online, plus most public libraries have pattern books and magazines available to borrow- you really don't need to actually own all those patterns in book form.

If you can't donate to local schools, try Freecycle. There have to be other crafty people who live near you.

The super expensive dyable wool yarn can be sold, if you don't think you'll be able to use it. I'd invest in Trading Post access for a week (or longer) for craft items that are worth selling. To be worth selling, it needs to be worth enough money to be worth the hassle of listing it for sale, packing it, going to the post office, etc. Lightweight items (such as yarn) also sell more easily as the shipping costs aren't so bad compared to the cost of the items.

Since the craft books are the only things from your mother that you have, I'd save back one or two that really remind you of her, and pass along the rest of them. You can give away stuff that loved ones gave you, and not lose your memories of the person.
tamaralv's Avatar tamaralv 12:16 AM 01-12-2009
Do you have a family member who would be able to use the huge desk for a few years that you could loan it to? You might end up losing it that way, but we do this *a lot* in my family, and sometimes I want the stuff back and am so pleased when I get it, other times a few years pass and I just tell them to use it / lose it as they wish. Amongst uncles, siblings, parents, etc we've held things for *years* (decades!) and later turned them over to the owner. Some people think this is a little petty (why not just give it to that person?) but it works really well for us, and especially helps people who are in transition

ex: DH and I moved into a new house and needed a DR set just as aunt was downsizing her living space. She lent us her DR set, which was actually her son's (he didn't have space for it) and we kept it for 5 years, until my parents offered me their set I'd loved for all my life. I called auntie and she called cousin and he took it for a while. He's now moved into her house and i have no idea if the DR set (which was my grandparents') is even in the family anymore. But by this point people don't have quite the emotional attachment to it anymore. Worked great for everyone invovled!
elsie's Avatar elsie 01:29 AM 01-12-2009
I would freecycle the craft supplies you don't plan on using any time soon. Believe me, I know how rough this is and have a similar situation. Once I got realistic about the things I was going to spend time on, it was a lot easier to let someone else enjoy the things that I could not.

I have a UFO bin. Every month I do try to go through it and finish a thing or two. I have enough crafts and puzzle books to comfortable take me into my golden years.
sunnysandiegan's Avatar sunnysandiegan 04:32 AM 01-12-2009
First of all, HUGS!!! I am hearing the emotional side of the issue more than the "stuff" side of the issue. Perhaps I am projecting, I don't know...

In any case, I would also start with the patterns and books and those items which can be borrowed or obtained for free or next to it at a later date when you ARE ready to use it. Freecycle, Craigslist, friends, public library, and/or thrift stores may be interested in them. I actually gave a HUGE stack of quilting magazines to a community college last year or the year before when I decluttered my sewing room. A friend had lost her mother who had been REALLY into quilting. My friend didn't quilt or even sew, but she kept them for years because they reminded her of good memories of her mom. When she found out I quilt and sew, she offered them to me and I sensed she needed to give them to a friend versus strangers. I graciously accepted them and read through the ones of interest and stuck them away for awhile. The community college teaches quilting classes, so I knew they would go to good use there and I didn't personally have an attachment to them. I did like them and contemplated keeping them for over a year, though.

For awhile, I was working from home creating custom crafts for clients. While I offered a wide array of services, most people hired me for sewing services. A friend had a huge stash of fabric and offered a lot of it to me to help me cut costs and be profitable from the get-go. She paid for shipping and everything, which was super generous and I was grateful. I had no idea how much fabric she really had until the boxes just kept coming and coming and coming. OH MY! My little room was simply overwhelmed, but I felt I needed to keep it since she was so gracious, etc. I kept it all and offered it to clients (free, but I obviously charged for my services) before shopping for specific fabric clients wanted. There was simply NO WAY I was ever going to use all that fabric, even if I was still sewing for a living today (2 years later). I went through it all and gave an entire trunk-full to the same college from above, but a different time and location. The sewing classes (all of them) had a FIELD DAY! They were so happy!!! Many of the ladies (especially the older widowed ones) in these classes sew for pleasure and give the finished items to specific causes (churches often give new baby quilts to each baby, the military hospital receives hundreds of baby quilts each semester, all sorts of blankets go to homeless shelters, and so forth). I felt good giving it to these women who were actually using it.

I need to go through my scrapbook magazines (for the first time ) and fabric again. I am also having a challenge with furniture and space in the designated room. I am contemplating changing it all and getting one of those "office in a cabinet" pieces of furniture and having my father and husband figure out how to attach a shelf with heavy-duty springs in order to store a machine or two (sewing machine and serger) inside and out of the way while making access super simple. Clean up is so challenging with quilting especially. If I were able to decrease the furniture used for the machines, then maybe I would have room for a big flannel board...

In any case, I admire you for tackling this area of your life! It can be quite challenging and overwhelming. Best wishes!
cristeen's Avatar cristeen 04:59 PM 01-13-2009
Thank you ladies, for the change in perspective. I will go ahead and revisit the issue with DH. We have 2 spare desks, plus the bar height work table/bench in addition to the wall cabinet I'm currently using that I could make use of instead (they're just gathering dust), and there is a local company that will come p/up furniture and resell it for the purpose of keeping it out of the landfill (not quite a thrift store, more like a used hardware store).

Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post
First of all, HUGS!!! I am hearing the emotional side of the issue more than the "stuff" side of the issue. Perhaps I am projecting, I don't know...
This is definitely more about emotions.

Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post
I am contemplating changing it all and getting one of those "office in a cabinet" pieces of furniture and having my father and husband figure out how to attach a shelf with heavy-duty springs in order to store a machine or two (sewing machine and serger) inside and out of the way while making access super simple. Clean up is so challenging with quilting especially. If I were able to decrease the furniture used for the machines, then maybe I would have room for a big flannel board...
That's what I have now, the full wall unit. It can close up into what looks like a wardrobe, if I ever got it cleaned up enough to close. If you'd like to see pictures of the worktop and supports, let me know, I can take some. But I will warn you that all the shelving in my unit is fixed, which is part of what limits the usefullness of it.
ArtsyMomma's Avatar ArtsyMomma 06:51 PM 01-13-2009
I think the best thing to do is realistically assess whether or not you are going to use the items at some point. I'm not really sure what to do about the furniture, but I think if you do some decluttering first you might have a better idea once the space is tidy.

For me, yarn is a problem. I had an insane amount of yarn at one point - most I knew I would never use, but I had no idea what to do with it. At first I started crocheting blankets for the NICU - having been very grateful for the blankets we received. But that didn't really use up the yarn. I asked at the LYS - and a woman was running a knitting program at a local childrens home. I have given her 7 garbage bags of yarn - and her students were so grateful. Two or 3 bags went to the LYS for the owner to give out to lower income customers and to anyone who was willing to knit/crochet the yarn into something we could give to charity.

I recently went through all my books and patterns, weeded out the things I was never going to use and organized the patterns into a few accordian style folders.

Fabric and sewing supplies - I rarely sew so I set it all aside, and then a friend took up sewing so everything went to her.

A big part of the whole supply decluttering - not bringing in new stuff! I vow to not buy any craft supplies until I am ready to start the project. I do have some projects planned that I need a few things for (coffee mugs, nyc subway maps, oatmeal containers). I know I want to do those projects so I am looking for the items second hand - or in the case of the oatmeal containers, saving them as I use them. I keep a running list in my day planner.

To organize my yarn? The good stuff is stored on dvd shelves in the living room (the empty places), in re-purposed fruit crates under my end tables and in a hope chest that serves as extra seating. Projects are in decorative baskets (also re-purposed) around the house, wherever I may sit down to knit.

When going though the supplies, I made a 'project' list in the back of my day planner - noting the materials to be used. Now when I want something to do, I chose off the list instead of going to the LYS to buy more supplies.

I think with a bit of creativity you can find ways to store the craft items without spending a lot of money.

You can always take the items you are willing to give up - put them into storage containers out in the garage and keep a list of what is in the containers. Then if you happen to come across a person or organization that could use the items you could donate them then.

I wouldn't put any of it in a landfill either.