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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Culling the closet

I have come home with my usual post travel resolve to simplify my life.

But this time I mean it.


Also I have been trying to unpack for three days.

One of the issues is that since it is still the old season here I have more clothes than I can fit in my couple of closets (note the sneaky use of the word couple). 

In addition I like my new and newly sewn clothes more than most of my other stuff. So I have been doing a big fill up of bags to take off in my car and force into the Diabetes Society bins late at night.

Now I know there are many many organizational and wardrobe consultants out there. They provide worthy and similar advice about what to keep and what to get rid of.

Over the last few days I have come up with my own system:

  • If you take it right off the minute you get in the door from being out it should go. If it's that uncomfortable you shouldn't be wearing it at all. (The exception would be black crepe pants if you have a Golden Retriever, then I will give you a pass.)
  • If it requires any safety pins anywhere at all (neckline, straps or where the buttons part to expose your navel - a fault of a blouse of mine that I was foolish enough to wear to the sewing guild meeting where they don't mince words about buttonholes) it should go.
  • If it has been on your to alter list for more than a week it should go. I mean it. Sewers have two altering defaults, while they are still in their underwear in the sewing process or never. A week is generous.
  • If it is very good fabric but not a great colour. Clothes are not like government bonds, value does not make up for boringness.
  • If it is a great colour but not very good fabric. This will be an easier call for a sewer to make than the above. Unless you are going to wear it to feed toddlers or pat Golden Retrievers, fabric that is not up to scratch is going to wear on you so much you won't wear it at all.
  • If your reason for holding on to it involves the word "save." As in, "saving it in case I am invited to a black tie dinner" (who doesn't want something new for that?), "saving it in case they come back into style" (I just ditched a drawer full of shoulder pads in my sewing room that you could recycle as breast implants). You get the drift.
  • If no one has ever told you that you look great in it. The thumbs up does not include totally solicited opinions like "Honey will you please take your eyes off that screen and tell me what you think of this?" However if the person who told you you looked great was yourself on the other hand as in "Damn I look great" then it is a keeper.
  • It is on trend and you are trying to update the outside to hip and edgy, despite the fact that the inner you is reading Better Homes and Gardens Guide to Home Canning while she eats her lunch. Trends work only if you are trending that way yourself. In my experience.
Now what have I missed? When do you decide something is past its due date?


Shiny Green Penny said...

Thanks for getting my day off to a great start. You made me spit my cereal while giggling...the part about alterations. Fun post!

ReadyThreadSew said...

If I've got it out of the wardrobe, tried it on, then taken it off and put in back in the wardrobe a total of three times then I get rid of it. Not wanting to wear something probably means I don't really like it :). The only exception to this is if the garment is an orphan and I only don't wear it because I don't yet have a partner for it.

I also ask myself if I would throw on a pair of shoes and walk to my local shop to buy a pint of milk in it - if the answer is no then it means the garment or outfit is not good enough to keep.

LinB said...

Stains and rips. If it is too badly torn and stained to wear out, but could be worn to sleep in, I sleep in it one time, then throw it away. That way I have kept my promise to salvage it for another use, but still kept my promise to throw away useless garments. Unless I can turn it into rag yarn for rugs and hot-pads ... fortunately my daughter likes to make these, so even the rag yarn has a new home now.

wendy said...

"Sewers have two altering defaults, while they are still in their underwear in the sewing process or never. A week is generous."

OMG. yes. haha... i am laughing here, i am soooo guilty of this. ;)

Claire R. said...


Thanks for posting it. I will go forth and cull!!!

Charlotte said...

I love this list, I want to post it in my closet!

Anonymous said...

I love novelty prints and make camp shirts out of them but I have a bad habit of keeping them around when they are past their "wear" date. When I take a well worn shirt off and before it goes into the laundry it is subjected to the pull test from shoulder to shoulder. If the fabric gives, it goes. If it doesn't, it's good for washing and at least one more wear, even if it's just around the house.

Love your alterations criteria, but I'm not ready for that yet.

Theresa in Tucson

kbenco said...

I have the morning off, and was tidying my closet, which is the sort of exciting thing I do when I am not sewing.I now have to go back and remove several items from the alterations pile. You are right, the donations bin is a much better place for them.

Bunny said...

If I haven't worn it in one year, outahere!

Mary said...

If I have to wear a particular bra with a garment, I'll send it on after a short while. If I have to keep my stomach sucked in, out it goes. If the entire garment moves around as a unit on me while wearing, it is gone.