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How do you get rid of things you’ve made?

summer-dresses

There’s something very freeing about de-cluttering. As you get rid of the things you don’t need, you start to realize that your stuff is not all that important.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been trying to rid myself of at least one thing a day, and it’s been surprisingly easy. I’ve gotten rid of a ton of clothing that I don’t miss at all.

But there’s one category that I still have a little trouble with, and that’s the stuff I’ve made with my own two hands.

Is it because this stuff actually is important? Or is it something else?

I’ve tried to dig a little deeper and think about why this is. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Why getting rid of handmades is so hard

  1. It feels like failure. Admitting that you don’t need something you made is admitting that you made a mistake. Of course, the same could be said of something you buy, but it feels much less personal.
  2. I am attached. I grow attached to the things I make, even if they aren’t useful. They still feel special.
  3. It feels wasteful. Often, I will still be in love with the fabric I used, even if I no longer love the garment. Saying goodbye makes me feel like I wasted the fabric.

I’m not saying these reasons are logical, just that they are there, buried deep in my brain.

There are a few things I’ve noticed that make getting rid of these precious projects a little easier.

Dumping the baggage

  1. Documentation. First, if I’ve photographed it and wrote about it on the blog, I find it easier to part with. It seems odd, but I feel like it’s been documented and loved and will continue to exist in some form in the world. I learned from making it and can move on.
  2. Transitioning. Second, putting it aside for a while helps. I can pack it away into a temporary holding area before getting rid of it. Once it’s out of my sight for a while, I know I can say goodbye. If not, I can still hold onto it as a keepsake.

  3. Last chance. Third, I can try giving it one more shot. If I wear it one last time and don’t feel beautiful and comfortable in it, it’s time to go.

Do you have any tricks for making it easier to part with your precious handmade garments?

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On , Trisha said:

I haven’t gotten rid of anything I made yet. I’m actually planning on keeping it all, and while that won’t declutter me….I like to think I can go through it all as an old lady and remember. Since my skills are still developing somewhat, I have taken apart all the early unwearables and reused material for other purposes. Sometimes I’ve modified garments by adding embellished inserts like pintuck panels to create more room in the bodice, for example, or adding wide lace on either side of the button placket. I kind of enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to make it work. I went up a bra size shortly after I began sewing, which was awesome, but mildly inconvenient since I had made some things before the change. I made many darts shallower and now I cut new garments a size up for my new measurements.

On , Colleen said:

Wow! Thanks so much for the idea of adding lace beside the button placket. I have a Hawthorn in LIBERTY that is just squeezing me and I just cannot let it go (it’s not even finished)!!!!!

On , Laurel said:

Another way to get needed room in a more fitted top with darts is to remove the back and recut (using the original piece as a guide) from appropriate fabric, allowing for a center back pleat or shirring at the yoke to give extra ease. Sometimes adding underarm gussets from surplus hem material can work to loosen up fit around the bust too. When I did theatrical costuming, all those tricks were used to reconfigure garments for different body types.

On , Katie said:

I’ve been breaking the garmet down and finding ways to recycle the fabric into other projects. Unfortunately, a lot of it just lands in the scrap basket, which just delays the problem.

On , Colleen said:

Because I’m a quilter — or started out sewing as one — I usually put the fail garment aside thinking I’ll use it in a quilt. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of quilting ahead of me.

Some things look so bad on me I have no trouble letting it go. I have a younger colleague who is always happy to get things I’ve made. Otherwise, it’s to the quilt pile…..

On , Annette Tirette said: | annettetirette.com

I’ve been getting rid of a few handmades recently since I’m packing for a move. It’s the second time this year I’m moving (we live in this appartment since september) and I just decided to get rid of everything I haven’t worn since then. Looking back at those things, I realise the chance of them getting worn ever again was pretty slim!

On , Ann T. said:

I have been sewing for a little over a year, and have discarded only one garment so far. I made a blouse that was cute, and finished beautifully, but the style was simply too young for me. I felt ridiculous in it. I asked my housekeeper if one of her daughters might like to have it. It didn’t fit her daughters, but it fit her. Later, she told me that she wore it a lot on her vacation, and how much she enjoyed showing people that it was equally beautiful, inside and out. I felt very good, both about getting a “failed” garment out of my closet, and about passing it on to someone, who was sincerely pleased to receive it.

On , Mel said:

I just sell the things, this way I feel less bad as I know they will be loved and worn by someone else. There are lots of groups on facebook where you can sell your surplus clothing, and a lot of these are specialised e.g. plus size clothing or vintage/retro clothing and people who are not crafty themselves usually love a quality handmade unique item :)

On , Linda Nelson said:

Thank you for posting! I struggle with this all the time. I recently found 2 dresses I no longer like the fit, and fortunately, the skirt parts are large pieces of fabric. I am going to re-purpose them because I love the fabric. I have also tried to see if my daughters would have any use for my clothing…usually not, but it is certainly worth asking.

On , Dianne Turner said:

I have done the same thing for years. When I was a little girl my mother bought me two dresses that I loved the fabric more than the dress. When the top of the dress became too small, Mother removed the top and made them into skirts. Years later when I was expecting my first son (now 50 yrs old) I took the skirts apart and made maternity tops. I wore those tops through four pregnancies. After my fourth son was born, I took the tops apart and made tank tops for my never to be pregnant again self. About 20 years after the dresses were bought I finally retired that fabric.

On , sonia said:

I started using fabrics again, including rtw recently. My daughter made a wreath in a heart shape, using a coat hanger and two blouses, tying strips of torn fabric around the coat hanger over and over. It’s really pretty hanging on her bedroom door, and I love it because the blouses weren’t a success, but I love the fabrics.

On , Teri said:

I need to read your post on clutter because I have a hard time with that. Not just things I’ve made. What do you do with old magazines? They are the worst thing for me to get rid of.

On , Jess said: | sometimessewist.wordpress.com

I am terrible with clutter in general, too. Magazines can be tough to get rid of because there’s a reason you’re saving them. Most of the time for me, that reason is because of an article or recipe.

You can tear out those pages and save them in a binder and get rid of the rest, which is what I’ve been planning for a stack of Martha Stewart Livings in my sewing room, but then I think “how am I going to organize these magazine tears within said binder?” and start to feel defeated (even though it could be easy: “desserts” “entrees” “appetizers” “crafts”)

I will probably just throw them away at some point; I haven’t looked at them in years. I am particularly partial to Martha’s Halloween issues, though, so might save those!

On , Robin said:

The local library is a great place to give away magazines where someone else will enjoy them. Zoos may take them for the chimpanzees, who like to look at the pictures. Nursing homes are good places too.

On , Julie said:

I used to tear out the pages of things I wanted to keep and put them in a notebook…..until the internet proved that there isn’t much you can’t find for free, then I passed them along to friends or doctors offices until the subscriptions ran out.

On , sj kurtz said: | erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

Magazines go to waiting rooms. Our old pediatrician still takes all of ours, because all ages need something to look at there. When he quits, it will be the emergency room. It’s a public service! If you’ve ever done time at the ER, you know what I mean.

Thrift donation shops for clothes. Sometimes swap them with a costumer pal if the fabric is good, sometime sell it off. Stuff that gets worn out goes to the rag guys for pulping. Polyester isn’t useful in any of these situations, so I try not to sew with it.

On , Isaboe Renoir said:

If you have a scanner, you can just make a digital copy of the article you want. I have a flatbed scanner and was able to get rid of not only 7 years worth of cooking magazines, but also over two dozen cookbooks that were taking up precious shelf space. Even if you only have one of those new slim, one-page scanners, you can tear the page from the magazine and make a PDF of it (Cute PDF writer is an excellent free one if your scanner doesn’t come with a PDF creator.)

The magazines were easy, I just flipped through to the one or two recipes I was keeping it for and then scanned it right there. The books were a little harder (I was taught books are “sacred”, so I have a hard time getting rid of them), but I first went through every cook book I have, then made a pile of what I didn’t want, what had one or two recipes to keep, what had maybe a few dozen but still didn’t want the whole book, etc. It took me a couple of hours a week over a couple of months, but it’s done! When I was through I complied a list and emailed it to friends and family who might be interested, said if they wanted one let me know by a certain date, and on that date I brought the books to the book store for a few bucks. Didn’t get much (which proves I was holding onto things not worth much) but it was enough to get the one cookbook I had wanted for some time but didn’t have space for – ha!

On , Lisa said:

I have to ask myself, “do I mind seeing someone wearing this?”, if I donate it. If I love the fabric I’ll cut up the garment and save it for quilting or other projects. I also cut buttons off of garments that are either too worn to donate or I cut up for scraps. I do have garments I save just to save that I’ve made. Not many.
I recently made a jumper, fabric too stiff, so I remade it into a skirt, also too stiff. It’s now an apron. I guess I could keep remaking it till I got a pot holder!
I’m currently dabbling in remaking garments. I have a men’s shirt I’m going to play with. It would be donated but I’m going to have at it.
Then when I’m shopping and I see a wonderful men’s shirt made in fabric I adore and it’s on clearance (I’m seriously cheap) I’ll have a good project.
I’ve been know to buy XXL or as large as I can find garments just to have the fabric (clearance of course).

On , Karen said: | cottagedaydreams.com

Lisa, you are so funny!!

On , Eme said: | lamadalenadeproust.blogspot.com

thank you Lisa! It’s good to know I am not the only one who buys XXL clothing on clearance just for the fabric!

I am seriously cheap too. There are not many fabric stores in my area and it’s almost impossible to buy anything for less than 10€ per yard. So I remake and re-fashion.

I wish I were rich and living in the USA. So many online stores!

On , Beth said:

I used the Sorbetto top pattern to make a shirt for me out of one of my husband’s shirts. I was able to keep the buttons at the front, and even attached the points of the collars flat on the shirt. I think it’s delightful.

On , Ann said:

Hi, Lisa

I’m the same, but I don’t describe myself as ‘cheap’, as a comment to my then boyfriend (now my husband of over 36 years) has come back to haunt me ever since.

Instead I say “I used to be tight, now I’m environmentally friendly!” I tell people I was recycling, reusing and upcycling decades before it was trendy.

On , Anna said:

If a friend can use an item I made, but don’t use, I try to give it to them. That way I can at least visit it now and then.

On , Lady ID said: | peppermintandpaisley.com

After so many years of sewing – I definitely need to get rid of things. Unfortunately some of them were only worn a handful of times for events but for the reasons you listed, it is hard to let go.

I have a similar decluttering process – trying it on to see if it fits and/or needs adjustment, evaluating if it still fits my style, putting it in a holding area to see if I notice the absence and then bye. I do need to document them. I recently got rid of some things I designed over ten years ago that no longer fit but I do not have them documented anywhere but my head :(

On , Kari said:

I have donated several things to the thrift store. If it is constructed ok but the fit is really off (or I don’t actually like the style once I put it on) I donate it and hope it might fit someone else. Also it would be awesome to see a stranger wearing something I made- though it hasn’t happened yet.

On , sj kurtz said: | erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

I have! The fabric was really special to me, so I noticed it right away. I think I shrieked and pointed. I hope I didn’t.

On , kitty said:

Isn’t that what kids’ clothes are for? I often remake my own clothes into things for my preschooler. I’m a button-saver and zipper-saver, too. I re-use things for facings and bias tape. I find I’m much more likely to repurpose the fabric if I go ahead and cut up the article of clothing: a dress folded up in a bin is clutter to my eye, but if it’s been cut at the seams, it’s material.

On , Show and Tell Meg said: | showandtellmeg.com

I think it’s important to keep in mind that if you donate the item someone else will enjoy it more than you did. I have a simple red skirt that was handmade by someone else that I bought at a local thrift store and it’s one of my favorites. It fits me perfect :) It has a metal zipper, combine that with its style makes me guess it’s from the 70s. I’m so glad that person parted with it, and I wear it at least once a week :)

On , Jess said: | sometimessewist.wordpress.com

It’s really hard for me to do, because of all of the time that put into creating a handmade garment. I have done it, though: if it’s no longer used because it doesn’t fit or I just don’t like it anymore, there is just no reason to keep it around.

The only item I have kept and will probably always keep is the first dress I finished. It’s pretty much a shapeless sack of quilting cotton, but it’s special…’cause you never forget your first. ;)

On , Julie said:

When my mom passed away last year, we siblings had a giant garage sale of her clothes and other belongings we didn’t need. To see the look of joy on the faces of many of the women who bought her well cared for clothing changed my perspective. Now, when I donate clothing or other sentimental things, I think of those happy faces and how much better their purpose will be, being used and enjoyed by someone else, then for me to store and cling to them because I fear letting go. It was an awesome experience.

On , Rosanne said:

Since home-sewn garments are usually so much better constructed than most ready to wear, they do tend to last. I donate my gently worn home-sewn garments to a local charity that displays donated clothes in a “store setting” and allows those without the ability to choose clothing for free. I like knowing someone else will enjoy what I made as much as I did.

On , Lianne said:

Sometimes I take, or look at, a photo of myself wearing the garment. That can help me see the ways in which it’s starting to look worn/baggy/out of fashion, and that makes it easier to let it go.

Sometimes I put it in the ziplock bag with the pattern as a reference for techniques. This has the added benefit of being the “temporary holding zone,” enabling a future full letting go.

On , Mary Kay said:

No matter how much I loved the fabric, pattern or the challenge of making a garment, I’ve discovered that if I no longer wear it–doesn’t fit any more, out of style, tastes changed–and it doesn’t inspire me to remake it into something else, it’s really not that hard to give it up. Clothing taking up space in my closet is clothing someone else in my community probably needs. Most towns have multiple options for giving away items that can still be used by someone who has limited resources.

In fact, reading these comments has inspired me to go through my closet again and get serious about those “maybe someday I’ll wear it again” items!

On , Donna Mitnick said:

This is your mother..I will happily take anything you make and want to discard.

On , Laura said:

hahahaha I can relate. Hilarious!

On , Jen said:

I do a lot of transitioning. I’ll take it out of my closet and store it in a box under the bed. If I find that I barely realize it’s missing from my closet, I’m more inclined to give it to a thrift store.

I also think this ability comes with age and wisdom, though. If I were 21, I wouldn’t be able to fathom getting rid of anything I made. I couldn’t even get rid of things I bought back then. Now that I’m approaching my mid-30s, I have a far more laid back attitude about “stuff.”

On , Danielle said: | weirdnotions.com

I feel like I’ve been making a number of garments lately that fit me a little weird or are made out of a “what was I thinking??” fabric… When this happens, if I feel like I’ll absolutely never wear a garment or it’s uncomfortable in some way, I try to hack n slash it into shape. Sometimes, though, I fall in love with the idea of a garment or the amount of time and effort put into it and will then try and donate it to friends or the local thrift store. There’s something really wonderful about the idea of something youve made being loved by someone else!

On , Breyan said:

I love that this really brings forward the idea of repurposing the garment. Either by upcycling or breaking it down for some other use. Fantastic! Although, that may not help with the idea of decluttering…

I hear about others donating their makes, and I wonder if that gets an odd look/??? from those who see the donations coming in at the Goodwill. I mean, they have no sizes and are often customized to fit someone else’s body… it wouldn’t be easy for someone else to take that and use it as is…

On , local business said: | google.com

Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this website needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be
back again to see more, thanks for the information!

On , Deb said:

I started sewing when my daughter was a baby, so as garments were outgrown, I got used to either re-purposing or donating the garments I had made. When I finally began to sew for myself it was hit and miss if I actually liked the garment or not. If the material and construction were well done but for one reason or another I did not like it, I gave it to my mother and she either kept it or found a home for it with someone in her community/church.
I find that if it can find another home to be used I have no problem letting them go. Especially if it someone who needs it or will simply enjoy it.

On , kelly said:

omg.. this is sooo me! Thanks for posting! i will try your suggestions. getting rid of one thing a day sounds much more emotionally manageable than “clear cutting” ;)

On , Jess said:

I donate things to the thrift store. The last thing that I donated I had started to hate even before I finished, so I finished it with the knowledge that it would get donated. It was a little sad, but I didn’t want the unfinished item cluttering up my limited space (and I don’t like not finishing things and I had had this for a something like 7 years (!!)), and I don’t like to throw things away, so that’s why I finished it and promptly donated it.
I shop a lot at thrift stores and I find more handmade clothes then you might imagine. The stores are usually good at taking a rough guess at the size (small / medium / large / x-large, etc.) and honestly, when you’re shopping at a thrift store you kind of need to look at one size larger and one size smaller than you normally wear because there is so much variation even with store bought clothes (especially from stores / lines that you don’t normally wear – I know what size Levi 515’s I wear, but I don’t know my size in other brands), so even if the store didn’t guess exactly, it can often find a good home. I’ve gotten several skirts from thrift stores that were either hand made or significantly altered that became favorites. All that to say, if you want to donate something to a thrift store, don’t feel bad about it not having a particular size marked because some of us thrift store shoppers don’t care. :)

On , Robin said:

And sometimes the alterations are not permanent. I found a designer jacket that the previous owner had rolled up the sleeves on and tacked up with just a few stitches. That was an easy fix. Other times it’s a lot more involved, such as turning a silk circle skirt into a blouse.

On , Carol Hodge said:

Years ago when I first learned spinning & weaving, someone asked my teacher how she could bear to sell things she had created. She replied that, “If I made it, it’s always mine.” I think your comment about the documentation is close to the same point. It’s always yours, even if not in your custody.

On , Jess said: | sometimessewist.wordpress.com

Love this!

On , Clare said:

Really hard to let go of things I’ve made. If I don’t pass them on I often cut them up and save fabric to make into a quilt (saving bits from my daughters favourite clothes to make into a quilt for her 18th birthday). That way I’ve still got a tangible memory. I also realise I don’t keep a diary as such, but do tend to make / collect things with memories and meanings to me instead.

On , Sharon said:

I find it particularly hard to part with items that I’ve knitted. I’ve knitted and sewn a few items that were a terrible idea (wrong colour or style- I was too influenced by the garments on the models). They went to charity shops. Eventually.
I am a terrible clutter collector but find digital cameras are helpful. I take a picture rather than tear out a page.

On , Dee said:

When I first started sewing I didn’t choose the best materials – either quality or best for the pattern – some times both so the clothes never became loved items so I had no problem getting rid of then. Mostly now my clothes are well made and loved and mostly worn to death – I have a 2 year old so I’m often found playing on the floor with her. For my lifestyle I usually only make everyday clothes – mostly in knit fabrics (I’m loving your new knit patterns!). As I have limited time to sew I usually make a few things all at once when I’m in need to replace some existing ones, then I won’t sew for a few months until I need more! If I make anything out of a woven I will usually take out the zip and buttons so that I can reuse them again

On , Danka said: | thepeppermintstore.blogspot.co.uk

I have two big canvas bags in my spare room. One is for not-quite-great makes that I need to put away from sight for a bit until inspiration for a remake hits me (my ‘future projects’ bag). The other is a big to-make-a-quilt-from-one-day bag, where things usually go after they have transitioned through the former.

On , Kate said:

I have been struggling with this. I am de uttering and adopting a “less is more ” frame of mind. But…I have lots of handmade that doesn’t fit quite right or didn’t work out as I wanted and I just can’t part with it. Sometimes it’s the fabric, definitely the cost, sentimental value and the wishful thinking that next time t try it on it will magically morph into a perfect fit.
I like the idea of putting items in transit and if I don’t come back for them, out they go. I am going to learn a lesson from this, sew what I know and sew what will work for me.

On , Abigail said:

Sometimes I knit patterns that I enjoy making, but the result isn’t my style. Those items go into fundraising auctions for a couple organizations I’m involved with (and friends sometimes buy them!). Winter accessories I sometimes donate, either to a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter. Clothing would go to a semi-annual sale that benefits our local library, with tags added to show approximate size, but I’m a new sewist so that hasn’t come up yet.

On , Madeline Chard said:

My mother has been a sewer for years. After a clean out, she donated a bag of clothing to her local school fete. She was so flattered to see some of her handmade creations in a local antiques store labelled as “one off designer pieces” and was very flattered by the price. What a shame the profit wasn’t going to the school she had donated to!

On , Georgeann Jarman said:

I have been making garments, crocheting and cross stitching for ove 50 years. Al ost without exception I know who will get the item when it is finished. So I think about and pray for that person as I make the item. When finished I give it to that person.

The recipients have mostly been relatives and friends. I have made hundreds of things over the years and get pleasure from seeing these things on a wall or someone will mention that I made them something. Just last week end a (pregnant) great niece told me she still had the baby layette that I had made for her first child, 13 years earlier. She said she plans on letting this new baby wear it.

I probably don’t have but maybe 5 items that I have made in my house. My reason and my pleasure is in gifting.

On , Jayne Coney said: | empireroom.com.au

I am sort of at piece/peace with this.
Some things I moved on to the school where I made costumes, because at least I know they are being use & then earlier this year I put a whole lot of things on eBay. I didn’t price them as I would for a m2m garment, because they had been worn, but I did make back my materials costs & more in a few cases. It was really nice to think someone wanted an item that was handmade by me, without it being a commission.

On , Kat said: | coutureacademic.com

I like this post, since I’ve been thinking along much the same lines as of late. I’ve gotten rid of quite a few thing that I wasn’t wearing. I think I’m also still exploring my style with my sewing, which inevitably means that I made some things that are beautiful, that I love, but aren’t me…and I don’t wear, as a result. Those are the things I feel a ‘slight’ pang in my stomach about when I give away, so I give them away. But, those things that I feel a ‘large’ pang about giving away, I keep. I put them in garment bags and lovingly store them. And you know what? I’ve ended up going back to them many months later, relieved that I kept them. That’s minimalism for me – keep only what I really love and know that mistakes happen and that’s OK. If your sewing taught you something about yourself, gave you a new skill or fed your soul, it was WELL worth it :)

On , Constance said: | galantier.com

I started sewing because nothing ever fit right (dang that Boob Fairy, who just could NOT leave my house alone). Then, last year, we discovered a striking pancreas in the house, so we completely changed the household lifestyle. Since then, I’ve misplaced several sizes, including cup. It makes it easier to part with garments that I know will never fit again, because if they do fit, that means illness.

That said, I tend to be selective with what goes where. If I did a crap job on the garment (early projects), the seams get rotaried off and the fabric goes to a friend who does textile arts. If I did a good job, but it is casual, it goes to the local thrift store with a hand-made tag, noting size, fabric content and care. If it’s professional, it goes to the local charity for women leaving abuse, who often need professional clothing, and which often needs plus size, especially tailored plus with boob-space.

I’m a military brat, so leaving things behind is not that wrenching for me. I learned early on that both people and objects enter and leave my life on their own schedule, and to attempt to hold on when the time has come for parting is just a recipe for unhappiness. Maybe it’s a bit of animism in my otherwise skeptical makeup, but I like my objects to be happy and fulfilled. If a thing is gathering dust or not being worn, it is not fulfilling its purpose, and is likely bored and unhappy. I like to think the care and hope and joy I got from a garment infuses that garment, and when it goes to someone else, it conveys some of that care and hope and joy (most especially for the women who are leaving abuse, and need any extra they can get).

I do keep a memento, since when a fabric comes into my house, a swatch gets snipped and pasted into my swatch book, and when that fabric gets used, it gets a notation that it is gone and how. When I look at the swatch book, I recall the now gone garment, hope it is doing well, and its new person is well.

On , Robin said:

Thank you for that. I hold a lot of things captive.

On , Betty said:

In addition to sewing, I often weave my fabric and spin and dye the yarns so when it is time to discard some old items , it is extremely difficult. So I deconstruct. I re-purpose button, leather trims and fabric on new garments. If it is something I feel I’ll never wear, I cut it for rags or give it away. I take pictures of some of my garments and keep a memory book with a sample of the fabric and instructions on the weave structure, dyes and pattern.

On , Amy said: | ladymockingbird.com

I love getting rid of stuff .. But this is soooooo hard for me. I recently moved and made myself get rid of some things I’ve made that I’ll NEVER wear. Most of them were from school, but some were my own experiments, all were difficult to part with. I took plenary of pictures to document them and am even thinking about doing a blog post. You are so right , it does feel like failure. But I just try to think of ot as a learning experience, recognize how far I’ve come and put more thought and time into things I make in the future.

On , Stina P said: | stinap.com

I find it hard to get rid of clothes I’ve made, even if I haven’t worn them for years. But they hang in the closet, as a memento of what I’ve learned since. When it gets cramped in the wardrobe, I sell some vintage instead. So much easier to pass on!

(And for the magazine stacks – I’m working my way through them right now, and cutting out the things I like.)

On , Heidi said: | inchingcloser.co.uk

I have trouble throwing anything away! Especially when it comes to fabric. I think I need to go to fabric rehab! I try and recycle and use whatever I can to refashion into something else.

On , Christianne said:

When I took up sewing again after a long break, I made quite a few mistakes ; primarily using those pretty quilting cottons to make dresses. They were always too stiff, when I love a soft , flowy feel to my clothes. I finally realised that it makes a huge difference to pay more for fabric that really suits the pattern. So I have many “failed” projects that I can’t seem to get rid of, even though I rarely wear them. I never thought of donating them to Goodwill or a thrift shop..I guess I assumed that because they were hand sewn, it wasn’t something these stores would want. Thanks for the tips about donating !

On , Sallie said: |

Oh man! I JUST did a huge closet clean out this past weekend, and a lot of things that went were hand made (although there was even more that was store bought). It was really hard for me to part with my handmade items – in fact I think I’m already regretting one – more out of sentiment than the fact I’ll actually wear it (wonder if the bags are still in the back of the car for me to dig it out, or if hubby already dropped it off at Goodwill…?). I have to say, I’m really unlikely to mend something, even if it’s a simple solution like a hem or a new zipper. And I’m even LESS likely to reuse the fabric to make pjs, cushions, pot holders, quilts etc. Even though I don’t want to be wasteful, my distaste for clutter usually prevails, because I REALLY can’t stand seeing all those piles of fabric scraps and unworn, unloved items just sitting there. Better to donate them in the hope that someone less ‘mending averse’ than me takes them home and gives them a new life!

On , Alice Elliot said:

First, I try to make something usable out of it. After that, I just pass it on to the Goodwill and move on. If something doesn’t fit anymore, that’s easier.

On , Lisa said: | patternandbranch.wordpress.com

This completely makes sense to me and puts into words what I hadn’t fully thought through. Thank you! I like your solutions, too. They are really helpful.

On , Becca said:

Interesting topic! I talked about it with my sister and fellow crafter last night. For me, I have no problems with donating items that I’ve sewn that haven’t worked out. I think its because I’m a knitter and the six hours involved in a dress appear to be short when compared to a sweater that I spent six months on. So I don’t have too many sewing projects sitting around, but I have three knitting projects sitting around and gathering dust
Now if I ever don’t fit into my liberty clothes there will be problems!

On , Jessie said:

I haven’t sewn an overwhelming amount of clothing for myself, and, while I do a lot of sewing, knitting, etc., it’s often for other people. So I suppose I haven’t experienced the full effect of drowning in handmade items. But, that said, I am a middle aged person with all her worldly belongings in a fairly tidy studio apartment, so I don’t think I can be accused of hoarding. And my feeling is, if you don’t want to give it up, don’t. If you really no longer want those things in your life, by all means let them go, but I’m happy to give up some storage space to hang onto the things I’ve made, even when their only value is sentimental. It’s great to let things go if you want to, but I don’t think purging is always obligatory.

On , Imogheena Farandel said: | tropicalthreads.wordpress.com

Great article and comments!
I struggle with this. I’ve got a list of options I work through. First is, try working out out why I’m not wearing it, and what I could do that would make it more likely to be worn. (Mending, refitting, restyling, whatever)
Failing that I try repurposing the fabric. But often if I’m not wearing it, it’s because I don’t like the fabric as much as I thought I did the day I bought it :-P So I take it to an op-shop. That is so freeing, to admit I made a mistake, and get rid of the evidence of said mistake, then move on!
Another tactic is to stick it in a bag in the back of my wardrobe, and if I haven’t thought about it for a couple of months I take it to the op-shop. So much easier than taking something I’ve made so carefully, straight off the hanger to give away.
However I do have a box in my roof (Great storage place, a roof cavity!) a where I put clothes I’ll no longer wear but can’t part with. Like the pair of Edwardian drawers I made embelished with crochet I’d done myself. So beautiful! And SO much work. I figure there’s no harm in keeping the most special to me clothes. And it makes me smile when I go through that box, at the memories, and an appreciation of my own creativity and skill.

On , Isaboe Renoir said:

Thank you for the post and all the comments; these suggestions are great! I do many of these myself – keep the buttons and zippers, re-use fabric for new garments, pocket linings, muslins, etc – but I think too as I read this I need to let go of some of my projects; picked the wrong fabric; the pattern was a wrong choice or a wrong size; or I’m never gonna figure out how to alter it so it will fit better. Too I have to remind myself that some of my projects were just so I could work on a new technique as well a get rid of a fabric that didn’t belong in my stash anymore- if it was just a learning tool, I don’t need to keep it!

On , Jo Three Stories High said: | joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk

So true. I have been on a major decluttering session this week without the children here to get hings back out of bags and I actually managed to say goodbye to a massive knitted cardigan I made that was too big and a crochet throw over jumper I had worn so much it didn’t come clean any more. Until I read your post, I had forgotten about them, but it was time to say goodbye. Jo x

On , HeidiAphrodite said:

Funny story: I made a really pretty dress out of a pale pink border print linen several years ago. The neckline was too low and none of the ways I came up with to fill it worked (this was before I knew how to alter patterns for this), so I ended up giving it to a local charity thrift store. A few months later, I was shopping for costumes for a play and saw a really pretty pale pink border print linen dress that I was irresistibly drawn to. As I got closer, I realized it was the one I’d made that didn’t work on me! I laughed at myself, checked the price, and left it on the rack for someone else to love. Sometimes it’s hard to give things away, and sometimes it’s easy. It helps to know that my local charity stores have good prices and the things I make will help someone else feel pretty or professional.

On , Sally said: | thequirkypeach.blogspot.com

I just got rid of about 15 handmade garments – first time ever! The easy part was that they all went to people I know and love – friends or family – so I know the garment will be loved, and I may even get to see it again :) There’s nothing like seeing a meh garment on you fit someone else perfectly! And the fact that they love it helps ;)

On , Shelley said:

If it has holes that aren’t in a seam, it’s going. The thrift store gets the fit fails after I’ve ‘documented’ them so I know what went wrong.
Kids clothes are different. Most went to the thrift store since my kids didn’t wear them out.

On , Steph said: | myvintageinspiration.wordpress.com

I’m afraid I’m utterly hopeless at giving away anything I’ve made, as everything has a story. :) There’s the sweater I knitted on the bus to work every day after a break up, that is way too long and misshapen and frankly reminds me of the afghan the lead character was knitting and dragging off the back of a wagon as she was taken to an insane asylum in Like Water for Chocolate. There’s the dramatic black Vogue coatdress with shoulder pads and hand-covered velvet buttons that I made in about 1990 and last wore to my grandmother’s funeral. There are the sweaters I knitted when I was really depressed about my doctoral thesis and should have been in the library rather than scoping out what my best friend calls my “sweater porn” on the Internet. :) I did once give away a suit jacket I made out of awesome pale blue damask upholstery fabric when I was moving back to North America from Australia and I’ve wondered where that suit jacket ended up ever since (and wished I hadn’t given it away!). Everyone else is so rational about divesting themselves of their made stuff! :) Funnily enough, my own mother is completely the opposite. She cut up her own wedding dress to make me a Hallowe’en costume when I was about six, which I still to this day think is rather fantastic…

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