The Old Coat…

Last weekend I did a bit of sewing that I didn’t share. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to anyone by me but I thought I’d share the story as it might motivate you.

annie-spratt-137960-unsplash.jpg

Twenty years ago I was fairly fresh out of college and working in my chosen field of radio broadcasting making about $5.50 an hour, working odd overnight and early morning airshifts and the odd DJ gig at various bars and roller skating rinks. If it sounds glamorous let me assure you it was! I was being paid in fun and for a 21-year-old you really couldn’t ask for more. I needed a nice winter coat and it had to look smart because working in radio in the 90’s with deregulation and small stations being bought up by larger companies you never knew when you came in for work each day if you would have a job or if your station would have new owners and would have fired everyone. Hence I had to look good for my constant hobby of interviewing for new jobs. I went into TJ Maxx on a mission and found the most beautiful burgundy wool coat that was tailor-made for me it seemed. It was double-breasted, knee-length with a fabulous weight and the perfect color. It was also $60 so I thought long and hard about buying it as it was easily half of my take home pay that week. I bought it and never once regretted that purchase. I rarely carry a purse so my keys would rip holes in the pockets which I mended. I replaced buttons after they gave out from getting caught in the holes of my laundry baskets from my pre house owning trips to the laundromat and later getting caught in shopping carts lifting my kids for cart to car seat. That coat saw me through many adventures.

About 2 years ago I had to face facts, the pockets could no longer be mended and the lining was in tatters. Mending might not be able to cut it this time. Feeling fairly competent I bought a couple of yards of burgundy satin (for $8 at Mardens-a local discoutn fabric store) and a matching spool of thread and decided I would sew a new lining for my coat. Now, I am the type of person who needs to jump in and do a project the moment I get inspired because If I spend to long thinking about it or researching different ways to do it I get overwhelmed. I read too many tutorials, I asked to many proper sewists how they would do it and ultimately I did nothing.  The coat sat in my closet unworn while I grabbed lesser coats to wear outside. Because I felt fat and dumpy in my other coats I didn’t want to go out often in the cold. I didn’t pop into the library to grab a book and chat with the librarian when I was out, I didn’t feel good about myself in those coats so I would simply wait in the car to pick up my kids, heaven forbid if anyone saw me. All that wasted time, even if it was just a few minutes it was wasted.

annie-spratt-102804-unsplash.jpg

As you know over the past year I had held each of my possessions in my hand and asked if they “sparked joy” and my old red coat still made me happy yet I kept those other very “unsparky” coats because I needed something I could actually wear outside (and quite frankly if you are going to do any serious work or play outside in the snow you want a machine washable parka.) Because of undergoing the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I had fallen down the rabbit hole of other mindfulness and minimalism bloggers and last Saturday I happened to be reading an article about fast fashion. The article referenced a documentary on Netflix and I had a burst of motivation. I grabbed my sewing kit, beautiful coat and fabric and set to work on mending my coat as I watched the documentary. I started by cutting out the pockets and using them as templates to make new ones out of satin. I sewed them on my machine then hand stitched them in to my coat. I examined the lining which was the most overwhelming task and realized that most of the tears were on seams so I hand stitched the small awkward rips and machine sewed the rest. Turns out it was not as big of a project as I thought! By the end of the hour and a half documentary (which was not that great) I had a fully functional coat! I dug out my Dryell home dry cleaning kit that I haven’t used in over a decade and cleaned my coat (and I was super excited to see they still make Dryell! It is such a fantastic invention!) and it looked fabulous. I realized it had lost a button at some point but I had a matching one in my stash so I stitched that on and it was as good as new. Maybe better than new because the satin I made the pockets from was thicker and sturdier than the original. It also made me glad I didn’t rip out the lining because I think the satin might have been too stiff to work as a lining fabric. Here is my 22-year-old coat as good as new and still my favorite!

28767917_10211267357705157_1468809379_o

The old saying goes: “They don’t make them like they used to…” and in this case I agree. I had tried on other coats over the years thinking that I could just replace my old beloved red wool coat but the coats I found felt cheap, flimsy and just didn’t feel right or make me feel the way I wanted to in them. I think we often try to buy something because we think it will rekindle the feeling we had when we bought a similar thing. That’s why fast fashion has such popularity, you can buy something new and cheap to replace something old and dull but the novelty soon wears off. I think that the amount of thought you put into a purchase is related to the enjoyment you will get out of it.

I have grown a lot over the past year of decluttering. Two years ago when I bought the fabric and spool of thread to take on this project I thought I was being smart and thrifty. Turns out I already had a spool of thread in the exact color I needed and I only really needed enough fabric to make pockets and not replace the entire lining. I could have done this repair with 1/4 yard of fabric at $1 vs the 2 yards of fabric plus spool of thread for $10. Also I would have actually done the project quickly because I would not have been hung up on what I thought I needed to do instead of what I really needed to do.  Still its way less wasteful and less expensive than buying a new coat of that quality which would cost about $200. I hope this post inspires you to tackle a task you have been meaning to do but overwhelmed by. Do what needs to be done and enjoy life now. It’s usually less work than you think it will be and always worth it because even if you mess up a project you learn something new! What are you going to do today? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

Advertisements

Current Craft Room Tour (After KonMari)

Hi friends! I have been asked to do a craft room tour of my space after decluttering. It has been quite a process because after the first konmari clean out I thought I was done but things evolved. I got rid of more ruthlessly (although the video will show that I still have plenty) and I corralled the sprawl of art supplies thought the rest of the house and basement and integrated what I kept back into my art space. It opened up the possibility of using the rest of our basement in a more practical way. We were wasting the space on storing when we could be using it for living! Funny how decluttering can change your whole perspective on things and open up new possibilities huh? I filmed this video before I took down my binder storage shelves and uprooted the jewelry storage wall to move it in about a foot because I wasn’t sure what it would look like after.

Video tour!

After the video I tore this corner apart. I rebuilt the shelves to fit in 12″ less space so there is some strange geography on my “map binders” now LOL! because my art “room” has no real walls, aside from the two walls that make up the cellar foundation, I can rearrange as needed:)

room1

I applied a fresh roll of contact paper to the stamp binder bench and my main workspace and it really brightens up the place! I took these photos this morning because I’m not sure if or when I might do something permanent or drastic to my studio space.

room2

Next to the stamp bench is my dresser with brushes, printmaking and pastel supplies, Above on the shelves are canvasses. Under the mannequin are my yarn totes. I moved my easel to the corner to give the room a more open feel and because I needed to shift the stamp bench down to bring the jewelry wall in a foot. Next to the easel is my die cutting bench. I moved my Scan n’ Cut machine to this area with my other die cutting things, it just made sense.

room3

You can see the end of my die-cutting bench. I moved my pen racks over my cardstock storage cabinet because I really want my main workspace to be clear and open. I didn’t mention it on the video but the birdcages hold lace trims, it works great, i just pull out what I need but sometimes I need to shake the dust off LOL!

room4

Behind my workspace I have paper, colored pencils, ribbon, washi tape and lots of often used goodies in drawers. I moved the filing cabinet back in here and it was the same height as my two plastic drawers of paint supplies. I have a large white sheet of paper clipped behind there and lights on the paper so I can get photos or my artwork daily. This used to be in the middle of the basement (the aforementioned sprawl) and it hold magazines I have been published in and office/business stuff. You can still see my wood stamp storage shelve that I am going to go through again because it can’t stay there. I considered unmounting them and putting them in binders but some stamps I think are just like art to me and I just like how they look on the blocks. Many I have forgotten I have so I really need to have a look at them again. There is not point keeping things I won’t use. It is a hard collection to downsize though (those joy-sparking stamps!)

If you need help decluttering I recommend The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It was really helpful for me anyway. Are you decluttering? Let me know how it’s going for you and til next time happy crafting!

A Minimalist Craft Haul???

Hi friends! As you know I have been on a massive declutter of my home and craft room over the past 6 months. It has been life changing to say the least. I have accomplished so many things that I have not had time to do before (such as creating my first watercolor course ) because I am not overwhelmed with so much needless stuff stealing my attention. Up until now I have managed to resist shopping, I was never a big shopper before, and the only “new” stuff that had entered my craft room has been supplied from clients for freelance projects. So last week when my friend Kathy asked me if I was going to check out the big sale at Joann Fabrics (there was a 40% off your total regular price purchase coupon) I was conflicted. I didn’t want to go back to my old hoarding ways but I actually needed a pack of thin black cardstock as I had used up my stash and even all of my scraps so I decided to take her up on the offer. Did I fall off the wagon? Find out in today’s video!

Video!!!

Hooray, not only did I not fall off the wagon I was able to find the two things I actually needed! I valued the experience of shopping with my best friend and that was enough, I did not need to come home with a car full of bargains to justify the trip into town. I feel like decluttering has given me a whole change in mindset and I credit the Konmari method for this. If you want to learn more about how I used the Konmari method from the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to declutter my craft room you can see the blog post and video here. The reason it worked for me I think is because you gather up all of your possessions by category on the floor in a pile and pick each thing up and ask yourself “does this spark joy” if yes you keep it, if not you get rid of it. I used to think it was the “joy” that made the method work but now I think it is the fact that you confront the big pile of abundance. I think I used to hoard supplies because I felt a scarcity. “What if I use it up and can’t get any more?” “What if it becomes really expensive and I can’t afford to buy more?” “What if zombies take over and all the craft stores go out of business?” This exercise, while it may seem silly or unnecessary, showed me that I had an over abundance to share and after getting rid of what I did I still have plenty. I have plenty and I am content. This thinking about a future of scarcity also leads us to be anxious. You should totally plan for the future but don’t obsess about it, besides our future will be more secure if we have more money in the bank and less crap in our house to trip over.

Tips to avoid over buying (from a gal who used to love stocking up on bargains “just in case”)

  1. Don’t look at the price. Look at the item you are considering buying, determine how much value it will add to your life. Look at the “real cost” of the item (the real cost is the price of the item plus the maintenance and storage) and determine if it is worth adding to your life and then look at the price and see if it is worth the cost. *BTW if you did not know this item existed before you saw it in the store you probably don’t need it.
  2. Determine how much you can actually use. I will stock up on some items I know I will use, If I see a great buy on Arches watercolor paper and I have room in my under bed paper storage I will snag it but you need to make sure it is something you will use up. Also factor in the savings vs losing that storage space until you use it up. In many cases the storage space is more valuable than the item over time. *This was the hardest issue for me because I used to teach art full-time professionally so I was always looking to stretch a supply budget.
  3. Where everyone else is getting the hot new product and you are feeling caught up in the “gottahaveits!” ask yourself if this new thing just duplicates something I already have (do I need the Gelatos, Prima Oil pastels and Distress Crayons or can I make do with one?) Look at stamp and paper designs this way too, every year there are new cupcake, butterfly and botanical stamps coming out. Are you buying the same things over and over? Make sure your new purchases are really adding value to your stash and perhaps weed out the duplicates.
  4. Ask yourself “Why do I want this?” Think about the things that we didn’t even know existed and then Bam! we want them. If you have trouble with this you can unsubscribe from sales emails and place the catalogs right in the recycle bin as soon as they come to avoid temptation. Don’t worry, theses products will still exist in the future if you need them.
  5. The next time you are tempted to shop play with the supplies you already have. The real joy is in the creating, not the acquiring.

I hope I don’t sound like a buzz kill. I totally know the “high” of finding fun new art supplies and getting a screaming deal but you can replace that high with the high of creating awesome stuff with the supplies you have and the thrill of using something up. I used to be afraid of using something up (what if I can’t get it again) but there are always more and newer things we desire and if you do use something up you can get something else and enjoy a cleaner home in the meantime! We worry about “wasting” our supplies but the real waste is letting them sit on a shelf unused gathering dust, we buy these things to use them, not to have them so go and make a beautiful mess already! That’s what I am going to do today:) Happy crafting!

minicrafthaul.jpg

%d bloggers like this: