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Tips & Advice

Out With the Old

When my husband and I recently discussed moving into a smaller house (and decided against it), I started to think about how to downsize my enormous supply of sewing and crafting tools and supplies. It turns out I had a lot to give to others who might enjoy it more than I did, as there were a lot of things just collecting dust on a shelf. Once I cleaned out my studio, I had a very large pile of boxes of books, supplies and tools to donate to a good cause; more room to work in my studio; and a lighter load down the road when we do decide to move into a smaller space.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what to do with everything. Depending on how big your space is, you might try the tricks they love to use on those home makeover and cleaning shows: one pile each for keep, donate, sell and trash. It also might depend on how much time you want to put into the cleanup spree. If you don't mind spending the extra time, sewing, painting and crafting books are worth selling, whether you list them online or take them to a used bookstore that offers trade-ins. You might make a tidy return to save for future projects or supplies you'd like to buy.

Fabrics, ribbons, threads and trims aren't really salable, but you could consider having a swap with other sewing lovers. If everyone brings a few items to swap, you could get rid of items you don't use and pick up some new ones at no cost. It won't give you more room in your sewing space, but if you trade things that you don't want for something you will actually use, then it won't be taking up space for long.

Fabrics are also welcome donations at some charity shops, animal shelters (if they can be used as bedding), or if there is a rehabilitation center nearby that helps veterans or people recovering from strokes or injuries where part of their therapy concentrates on strengthening fine motor skills. Anyone who has done a fair bit of hand sewing knows how much fine motor skills matter when putting in (or taking out) small stitches. Church groups, school groups, some day cares or clubs like the Girl Scouts might also be able to use your leftover fabric stash pieces to teach kids basic sewing skills. The best part is that your old 1980s prints might find an enthusiastic new audience in the tween crowds raised on Project Runway and the like.

Keep the things you love, the projects you can't wait to work on, and get rid of out-of-date fabrics and patterns, extra supplies that aren't used regularly, and that pile of half-finished or un-started projects that you aren't enthusiastic about. Hobbies should be fun, whether you want to relax or challenge yourself.

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