Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creative Spaces: Taming the Stuff

Welcome to the second installment of the Creative Spaces Link-up series! You can find the rest of the series here.

What do repurposing, thrifting, and clearance sales all have in common? They're great ways to score craft supplies inexpensively! They're also great ways to end up in the madhouse when those same craft supplies devour your creative space and inhibit your crafty pursuits. Okay, maybe it's not as dire as that -- but an overabundance of crafty goodness can make it more difficult you to actually work on the projects you love.

Cheri commented on this post that she's been using the "six-month question" to pare down some of her supplies -- "Have I used this in the past six months, or will I use it within the next six months?" While I'm not prepared to toss my collection of antique buttons and buckles just because they're not slated for immediate use, that question works wonders for non-essential (or no-longer-essential) craft supplies.

Here are a few more tips on taming the stuff in your creative space:

1. Be Honest With Yourself
Ask yourself the question, "Am I really going to use this? If so, will I use it within a reasonable time frame?" Maybe six months is too short a time frame for some items, but the principle remains the same.

2. Reevaluate Your Taste
Maybe you bought that fabric a few years ago, when your taste was different. You never used it, but you've kept it because you used to like it. Or maybe you were really into jewelry making at one time, but now you've moved on to doll making. I know I have several such offenders in my collection! I just recently pulled out all of my aida cloth -- I haven't cross-stitched in years, and don't intend to in the future! Those items take up valuable room in my creative space, and the reality is that I'll likely never use them (or won't like what I make with them, if I do use them).

I know for me, the hardest part of getting rid of fabric is that even if I don't like it, it could be used for muslins to test out patterns. Oh, and then there are scraps... don't even get me started on scraps! Sometimes I need to remind myself that it's just stuff.

3. Decide What Your Essentials Are
Each of us tends to have a "specialty;" for me it would be sewing. Take a look at the gizmos and gadgets you have, and figure out which ones are actually helping you achieve your goals. If your bias tape maker is rusting away in a drawer, perhaps you should say "Adios."

4. Sell or Donate Your Unneeded Items
Etsy or your local charity shop could be the ideal place to offload your unneeded supplies. Or think more creatively and find a local service that could use your donations (nursing homes, etc.). Perhaps you have a friend who'd appreciate what you no longer need! It's easier to let go when you know you'll be making someone else happy.

5. Set Limits
Is your fabric stash (or any stash -- scrapbook paper, beads, etc.) too big, but you've culled until you're blue in the face? I've put myself on fabric "fasts" before, during which I only buy fabric that is absolutely necessary to my current project. Also, I try to limit myself to projects that work with what I already have, and "stashbust" until I'm at a better place. I'm always surprised by how much stashbusting challenges my creativity! Putting limits on how much you store (and therefore, how much you buy), can help keep your supplies under control.

Of course, how much you can store and how much of a stash you need/want will be determined by the size of your space and your particular needs. The crafter who runs a cottage industry will probably need more than the casual one-weekend-a-month crafter.

Okay, here's the fun part! If you have ideas on taming the stuff, please share them! You can use the link-up below, or add your ideas to the comment section!

Creative Space: Taming the Stuff Link-up


  1. ::ahem:: I should let you know that I haven't applied "the 6 month rule" to my sewing room. That is, not yet.

    I have been sorting through and getting rid of patterns that I bought because they were on sale, or because it looked "cute" but then never used them. I'm down to maybe 15 or so, not including vintage/historical patterns.

    My stash of yardage has dwindled to maybe 2 pieces, but then my bin of scrap fabric (under 1/2 yard and/or various remnants and cut outs from garments) is so full to overflowing. Someone once commented after seeing my scrap bin that I probably have enough fabric to make at least 3 quilts. The problem? I don't know the first thing about quilting. But somehow I have a hard time thinking of just tossing the whole kit & caboodle!

  2. Cheri,

    Oops! Well, I still think your rule is a good idea! :-) You've inspired me to pare down my pattern collection even more -- I gotten rid of dozens (I've inherited a lot from friends and family), but I know more could go. Why have them if the chance of using them is minimal?

    I'm afraid my yardage stash is still in a pretty desperate state -- definitely my biggest craft room challenge. Maybe I'll tackle it again tomorrow! :-)



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