Clearing Out Crafting Clutter

A new garage door led my family to finally face our clutter problem. The decision to replace our broken automatic door required us to clear out the garage, which was completely filled with storage boxes, household items, toys and sports equipment. There were more storage boxes than anything else, and the majority of them were neatly packed and labeled with my craft materials, craft patterns, and unfinished craft projects.

After the garage door was installed, the boxes stood in several formidable stacks on the patio. Since it was summer, I vowed to clear them out and not move them back into the garage. I was emotionally ready to rid myself of this mountain of stuff. The amount of time I spent in recent years looking for things and reorganizing things had ironically taken away what little free time I had for crafting. There was no free space in our crowded house for crafting, and nowhere to leave a project in progress. The stress of dealing with the ‘stuff’ was taking its toll.

I’ve been crafting for years (decades, actually) – drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, fabric painting, polymer clay sculpting, scrapbooking. Altogether, there were thirty-four legal size file boxes. My ‘fabric stash’ alone was impressive, consisting of at leaft fifty separate 2-3 yard cuts of fabric, all swatched and categorized in a loose leaf binder. Each represented a garment which I had planned to complete at some point in the past, but had never gotten around to. I had also saved remnants and scraps from every garment I ever made. Someday I planned to make them into some sort of patchwork quilt, but that someday still hadn’t arrived.

Over the years, I’ve finished dozens of craft projects and garments, but there were many half-finished, abandoned projects neatly stored away. Some had faded, many looked dated, and some were just disasters. As I went through the boxes, I only found a few unfinished projects that I would ever want to pick up again.

I’m a big fan of articles and television shows about the decluttering process, so I knew it was important for me to get to the roots of my crafting clutter. As I sorted through the boxes, making piles for Good Will and the trash, I came up with some theories about why crafting clutter seems to multiply.

I’ll get to it someday…

There is a time management element in crafting that is often ignored, causing some of us to take on more projects than we can possibly complete. My long, uninterrupted days of crafting had ended after high school, but I kept on planning projects as if I had unlimited time to work on them. Now I’m a mother, have a full-time job, and do some volunteer work, so I need to carefully plan exactly what I can and cannot complete before taking on a time-consuming project.

Holding on to the Past

Many people with a clutter problem are trying to hold on to the past by holding on to the clutter. I realized this is what I was doing by stockpiling fabric remnants. I didn’t need to keep all those bits and pieces to remember how much fun I had sewing over the years. The larger remnants I gave to Good Will, the smaller scraps I threw out. They would have made an ugly quilt, anyway.

Gotta Have It!

There’s a deep dark secret of crafting – sometimes it’s more fun to shop for the craft than to actually do the craft. It’s definitely a lot easier. We love the excitement of finding just the right items in the craft store or fabric store, or of finding a fantastic item on sale. We get a false sense of satisfaction from shopping and hording. As I filled box after box with new and nearly new items for Good Will, I couldn’t help but think of the amount of money this represented, and of how much more use the money would have been to my family in a savings account.

The Results

When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, I was left with half a dozen crafting boxes. We had some new shelves built in the garage, and the boxes are now stored out of the way. Before buying new items for crafting, I’ll do my best to make use of what’s in the boxes.

The real payback is that our garage is now a clear area with orderly storage. We’ve created a pantry area, a sports equipment area, and I’ve set up my old college drawing table. My sewing table in the laundry room is no longer a catch-all. There’s now room to work on projects, and now that I’ve simplified things, I actually find myself with some spare time for crafting.

Tips for Avoiding Crafting Clutter

Crafting materials and projects which are packed away in boxes will most likely never be used. Keep your current projects at hand.

To keep yourself form getting too many projects going at once, keep a notebook with a list of current projects and future project ideas. It’s OK to have 2 or 3 projects going at once, but try not to start too many new projects until you complete projects that are already underway.

If you want to try a new craft, don’t invest in a lot of equipment and materials until you have a better understanding of how long it will take to become proficient in the craft, and if you have the interest in keeping with the craft. Taking a beginners class may help you learn more about a craft before you make a big investment in it.

Once you’ve put a project aside, if you don’t get back to it within a few months, consider tossing it or donating it to a charity.

Establish a budget for craft shopping and stick with it.

Once a project is completed, donate leftover materials that you won’t use again to charity, or swap them with friends.

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