The sewing area seems to be a place were our cleaning and organizing energy runs out. Is it because we get distracted by the possibilities found in our hobby? Or is it because we would just rather sew than clean any day? There seems to be something about sewing that causes over active saving. We save a six inch piece of lace, an old zipper, and an empty thread spool. All of these things take up space in our limited sewing area and they take up our time when we have to paw through them to find what we need. Set aside a time to clean and organize the sewing area. - Start with a big waste basket to toss things in.
Let’s start small. Look at the bobbins. If there is only a little bit of thread on the bobbin wind it back on the spool or just toss it away. Thread may be taking up bobbin space that doesn’t have a spool to match. Are two yards really worth saving? A bobbin only holds 35 to 40 yards and it usually takes 2 bobbins to complete a garment. Free up several bobbins so that they will be ready for the next new creation. Check for rust, rough spots or cracks. These can damage your machine. - Toss out any bad bobbins.
On to the thread spools. If there are any wooden spools they are over 40 years old. That thread is very fragile and will break under the normal stress of the sewing machine. If there is only one layer of thread on a spool there isn’t enough for a mending job. Those spools are taking up space and getting in the way. Buy new strong thread when buying new fabric. - Toss out old thread.
Pins and needles don’t last forever. Machine needles pass through the fabric thousands of times at high speeds. They get worn out. Sew a seam with a used needle and then put in a brand new needle and sew. Listen to the difference and look at the quality of the stitching. The needle passes cleanly through the fabric and the machine doesn’t work as hard. Pins get old and damaged from repeated use, they will snag and ruin fabric. - Toss out old needles and pins.
Take all the scissors in to be sharpened, even the ones in the kitchen and the desk. Properly cared for your sewing scissors can last a long time. Always buy quality scissors. To check, hold them up by one finger bow, they should stay closed. If they fall open they are too loose. If the scissor sharpener can’t tighten them, open the junk drawer. - Toss them in.
Purchase a couple of new seam rippers. Dull cutting edges require more force to open the seam. That pulls on the fabric and stretches the edges. Using more force can cause the ripper to slip and rip right through the fabric instead of the seam. - Toss out old seam rippers.
We turn pattern pieces around and scrunch them tightly together in order to ‘save’ the most fabric for our scrap bins. Those bins become very full and often don’t have any pieces that are big enough for anything. This became very apparent to me when a neighbor asked me to make some clothes for a baby doll. Many scraps that I had so carefully hoarded weren’t big enough to make baby doll clothes. - Weed out the bits and toss them.
If you just can’t toss out all of those carefully saved scraps make a sewing box for a child. Get small tool box and stock it with scissors, pins, needles, and thread (those almost empty spools). Add all of the odd buttons that are bouncing around in your sewing stuff. Gather pieces of lace, elastic and ribbon that are too short to be useful. Put the fabric, trim and elastic in a large bin with a secure top. Place the tool box on top of the bin and add a big ribbon. That makes a present that will spark her imagination and provide hours of creative joy.
For the final step of spring cleaning open up your fabric collection. It is not a stash because stash implies that we are hiding something and that is certainly not true. So dig under the bed, reach to the top closet shelves and pull the drawers all the way out. Place all of your fabric in a pile and look at each piece. What are your plans for this fabric? Do you have enough? Do you really like it.? If you don’t enjoy the fabric you won’t enjoy working on it. If you feel forced to work on it the sewing will not go well. Life is too short and sewing time is too limited to waste it on fabric that is wrong. Take all of those pieces of fabric that you no longer want and hold a fabric swap with your sewing friends
A good way to meet sewing friends is the American Sewing Guild. www.asg.org. This is a non-profit organization who’s aim is to connect people who like to sew with each other. Sharing tips, ideas and fabric is a wonderful way to take what is usually a solitary hobby and make it a shared adventure. Group Sewing is the best form of Group Therapy.
Cleaning and organizing your sewing area will give your creativity a boost and enable your to find things faster and easier. Start the New Year with a new attitude and a new square dance dress.