Colette

Killing your darlings

89

Last week, I mentioned that I have a lot of trouble getting rid of stuff. Be it clothing, fabric, notions, or anything around the house, I just always have this feeling that I could use it for something.

But when it comes to getting rid of stuff I’ve made, there is a special kind of resistance.

You’ve put your time, your energy, your heart into making something. Throwing it in a donation pile just feels like such a defeat.

There’s a phrase you may have heard if you’ve ever take a creative writing class that I think applies well here: “Kill your darlings.” This phrase was originally attributed to William Faulkner, and it means that a writer should have the clarity and courage to edit, even if it means getting rid of something they are attached to. You may love something that you’ve created, but if it doesn’t add to the whole, if it’s not useful, you should have the stomach to get rid of it.

Ok, so I quite honestly suck at this. I’m pretty careful about planning what I make, but getting rid of them after the fact is a whole other matter. I love my darlings, even the less-than-perfect ones. Even the downright ugly ones. I don’t want to kill them.

What about you? Do you hold onto stuff you’ve sewn simply because it was made with your own two hands?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 89

Jane janessewandtell.wordpress.com

I recently cleared out a lot of hand knitted sweaters; I’ve been knitting for about 30 years so there were a lot. It was getting to the stage where it was the sweaters or me -we couldn’t both fit in the house.

Before I took them down to Oxfam I took a photo of them all to remind me of the wonderful things I had made (modesty isn’t my strong point). I am still sad they aren’t around but to be fair I had too many to wear even in the coldest of winters – and I now have loads of space to fill up with new things!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I am way worse about knitting than sewing, even. It takes so long to knit a sweater that it’s really hard for me to part with. Though on the plus side, I can always recycle the yarn into a new sweater, which doesn’t feel quite so bad for some reason.

Nadia Lewis

Last time a friend and I decluttered our closets, we had a big Naked Lady party. It feels better seeing someone else fall in love with the piece you are falling out of love with.

Gaby gjrichards.wordpress.com

The first few items I made were difficult to part with, even though I had grown in my sewing talents and didn’t wear those first things anymore! But they’re gone from my wardrobe and I don’t even think about them, let alone miss them. Getting rid of the bad/unloved/unused things makes way for new, better things, and with those other items gone I stop feeling guilty about not wearing something I put so much effort in to. So go for it :) ! Get rid of stuff!

kim george

It’s so satisfying to complete a project.
whether perfect or not and with so much blood sweat and tears (more tears) to discard like an unwanted friend

didyoumakethat didyoumakethat.wordpress.com

Interestingly, I can be as ruthless with my own made items as with shop bought. When I’m bored of something, I’m bored of it. Move on! I have no qualms about getting rid. Though I don’t think I’ll ever throw out the very first top I ever made. It’s still so pretty. For something that looks like a maternity top!

Carolyn brocadegoddess.wordpress.com

I feel much the same way about purging me-made items. Perhaps it has something also to do with the fact that I VERY rarely buy clothes anymore – I have so much fabric and so many patterns I feel I can’t justify it except in very specific instances. So most of my clothes are me-made and if it just doesn’t work anymore (or never really did) it has to go.

I really do wish, however, that I had kept my first sewing project. It would be fun to look at it occassionally for comparison purposes. I jumped into the deep end with sewing: my first project was a spring dress with a fitted bodice (waist and bust darts), sleeves, a zipper and lace-up back, pockets, gathered skirt, and neck facing. It looked ‘ok’ from the outside, the inside was a total mess! lol

Nina toftsnummulite.blogspot.com

I am also terrible at getting rid of things, but am consciously working on it. I think part of the key for me is making sure I give things away in the right way – for instance, I made a top that turned out not to suit me at all, but it looked great on my sister. I was happy to give it to her but I also took time to finish it all off just right and adjust the belt loops to where she wanted them, etc., so I didn’t feel like I was just dumping it. I also de-stashed slightly by giving some vintage trims to my mum, but I wound them all neatly onto cards first so it was more like a gift and not just an off-loading. Some things I’m happy to give to the charity shop but, for example, I had planned to give my old toys to a refugee project instead, and was upset when my mum took them to the charity shop instead. You have to feel good about giving your stuff away, otherwise you can’t keep doing it. Sometimes that just means waiting until you’re ready, as long as it takes, but it can also be about finding a different way to do it. Instead of donating your handmade things directly, have you thought of selling them on Ebay/Etsy, and then giving the money to charity? Maybe that would sit better with you? And I’m sure you’d raise more money that way as well.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Agreed, it’s so much easier to get rid of something if you know that it’s going to someone who will love it and make use of it. I try to tell myself that when I donate too.

Morgan

Sarai, I can’t even imagine what beautiful dresses are in your closet! What with your reach into the public you could do an online sale with the proceeds going to a charity or even your Kiva team. I’m not assuming you have the time to do all of this, but it’s a thought.

Lindsay howsheflowers.wordpress.com

I love this idea! Maybe you could at least take pictures and do a ‘dress parade’ for us of all the garments you’ve sewn! Just think, one day you will be famous in sewing history and they might be collectors’ items!

(says the girl whose grandmother saves old pantyhose and candle nubs)

Nina toftsnummulite.blogspot.com

Yes, I do like to think that someone will buy things I’ve donated to the charity shop and really enjoy them – and that maybe they couldn’t have afforded to buy them elsewhere. I find that even easier when I donate something to a refugee project, knowing that someone who’s had to leave everything behind will receive it.

Stephanie star-spangledheart.blogspot.com

I have a much harder time getting rid of me made things than store bought things. I have a few that have barely missed getting tossed in the last few culls but I think they need to go. If it doesn’t fit, and I don’t wear it, I probably don’t need it. But I’m still so attached!

StephC 3hourspast.com

I re-purpose continually… I even try to build it into my garments.. And then even when they’re tattered or the fabric is fraying, I put them into an English paper pieced quilt of one type or another. It means I can still keep pieces of the fabric and the memories with me…

Sarai colettepatterns.com

That is so lovely. I need to do this… keep the whole lifecycle in mind.

Mika savorystitches.blogspot.com

I haven’t been sewing long enough to wear out the things I’ve made, but I have gotten rid of a few things I’ve been less than happy with – sometimes it feels good to just get rid of a failed project, if I’m only going to think about the failures when I wear it.

Bold Sewist toboldlysew.wordpress.com

I seem to be locked in an endless battle with too much ‘stuff’ in general and very little in the way of storage space. It is hard to get rid of things I’ve made but I recently made successful first steps – after all, did I really need a sweater I knitted 20 years ago that could probably fit 3 people in, even if I loved it at the time? Or the first dress I made, a (way too big) size 20 sack made in super flimsy purple silk lining? I don’t think so! Funnily enough, my husband was more resistant to me getting rid of my creations than I was – it’s doubly hard having to fight against someone else’s hoarding as well but I’m determined to live a clutter-free life one day soon!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Ack, yes. I’m lucky that Kenn is a bit of a neat freak, because I really, really am not. It’s made me a much less clutter-loving person.

Rachel houseofpinheiro.blogspot.com

Im resistant to trow things away and i normally will try to fix it before its time to kill it..
on shop bought if its doesn’t fit well its time to go… hard when things you make tend to fit so much better..

Jordynn sewingschool.org

I have gotten rid of a few things that I had made for myself. Usually because I have worn them into the ground, which you would think makes it easier to get rid of (it doesn’t!) One time though, I sold a shirt that I really wanted to love, but just didn’t look right on me at a garage sale. The girl who bought it looked lovely in it though and that made me happy. At least it wasn’t through being loved!

Becky sew-and-so.blogspot.com

I do find it much harder to get rid of things I’ve made rather than bought, especially when it comes to clothes. Sometimes I can psych myself up to send them to the thrift store, or throw them out if they’re just falling to pieces, but if they’re still in good condition and just need some TLC, I’ll usually refashion them into something that suits my current wardrobe and tastes better. (I’m actually in the process of doing that with a skirt right now!)

Suzie su-sews-so-so.blogspot.com

How timely this post is, I was literally looking at a photo of a dress I made last year and telling myself that in my head I know I will never wear that dress. But my heart won’t let me give it away!!!

Anita anitafendrock.com

I am terrible at parting with things; but especially with something that I’ve made. I made the gown for my senior prom from yards and yards of the most beautiful silk I’ve ever seen, and it still upsets me that it got misplaced during a post college move. Since then, I hold onto everything! Unless I make something for someone, or decide that something I’ve made for myself is better suited to a dear friend. Then it’s okay. But only then!
xo, Anita

Corvus corvustristis.wordpress.com

I’m with Nina- I have a much easier time if I’m giving something I made to someone who will love it than straight donating it. Besides, as awesome as thrift stores are and as much as donating is better than trashing, it isn’t without problems of its own- there are a lot of worries floating around about how first-world cast-offs shipped to third-world nations undermine local industries, which is a good way to stay third world.

I’ve been aiming for a combination between repurposing/restyling and gifting myself, but so far it’s just led me to a pile of pieces to redo hiding in the corner of my closet, which I never get to because I’d rather work on some other project. Some day I’m just going to set aside a whole day, get some wine and munchies and music, some good crafty friends with the same problem, and have a combination clothing swap/sewing party.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

That’s an excellent idea. “Naked lady parties” are a really fun way to get rid of stuff, and see it go to a good home. I never thought about combining it with sewing, but that would be cool!

Lynn Mally americanagefashion.com

I just had a big life change–retirement! Since I started sewing again about fifteen years ago in order to make jackets for work, I had a lot of formal looking jackets in my closet…and not many places to wear them. Slowly I have been giving them away. It’s hard but also liberating.

Clare azigzagpath.blogspot.com

I tend to hang onto things I’ve made if the fabric is ‘special’ in some way, printed tops, dresses etc. Otherwise I’m quite happy to give away what I’ve made – I’d rather things got used than went into early retirement!

Jill laughbutnotloudly.blogspot.com

I think burning some of my early work might be better than unloading it on some poor charity.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Haha, so funny. :D

Casey elegantmusings.com

I used to be really bad about getting rid of anything I had made, until I realized that I wasn’t hanging on to the garment because of the material, but because of the memories. Considering I get pictures of most of my finished pieces, I’ve started to feel okay about giving away things that don’t quite work for me. The pictures keep the memories at hand, but the physical piece isn’t cluttering my closet, unworn. There will always be a couple things that I keep regardless, simply because they have a level of work in them that I’m proud of and would like to preserve, but for much of my “daily wear” sewing, I try to be a bit more objective about whether I need to keep it or not!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

This reminds me of a comment left last week, about photographing objects so you can keep them but still have the memory trigger. It’s a lovely idea.

Kimberly smolderingwickdesigns.blogspot.com

It is sooooo hard to get rid of stuff i’ve made, even if i know i’ll never wear it again, even if it’s from long ago and no longer in style, even if the fabric is hideous. i have very limited space for clothing and have no problem getting rid of purchased (or hand-me-down) items that I don’t wear anymore, but I still have trouble giving up clothing that I’ve put my time and energy into. I should though. Take photos, put it in the donate pile, and move on….

amisha

i have this same struggle for sure. this past fall was the first time i had the courage/ determination to get rid of some handmade things… for me, the hardest was the knitted pieces, because of the many months of making that went into each one. i dropped some at goodwill and some went at a garage sale. mind you, these weren’t well-loved pieces– these were from the early days before i really understood fit and shaping, so none of them really fit and none were flattering! yet still, it was a struggle. the surprising part was that i haven’t missed any of them. i know that the garage sale pieces went to people who really liked them, so that made me feel good. and i feel like i can move forward in my craft without the burden (mental + physical) of these artifacts!

Jill

I am a quilter and I made 2 quilts several years ago for family members for Christmas. I finished them and wasn’t happy with how they turned out, so I thought I had donated them to a local thrift store. Fast forward about five years and we recently sold our house and moved to a small townhouse and out in the garage at our new townhouse I saw some material hanging out of a box and here my husband kept the two quilts and I brought them in and wondered why I ever thought they were so terrible. We now are using them. I felt like I had discovered an old close friend. It will much harder to part with things I have made after this experience.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Yeah, I can see that this might be the other side of it. Sometimes (actually, almost always), we are much harder on ourselves over the things we make than we need to be. It seems so easy to toss something aside if you’re frustrated with the way it came out, but the reality might be that it’s perfectly fine!

Andrea foursquarewalls.blogspot.com

I don’t think my reason for keeping handmade clothing is sentimental. I’m usually just ashamed of the quality of my past projects and don’t think they’re worth donating or consigning. And if I’m trying to be sustainable, I don’t want to throw away fabric, but if it’s cheap fabric (which most of my projects ARE) I don’t want to repurpose it, either. Very frustrating.

Maryann

Oh yeah, I feel your pain. I am currently reorganizing my sewing room. It is 24×24 so it is not an easy task. I have managed to fill the room. I find that I am emotionally attached to my belongings. I watch the ” hoarding” shows and worry. It is just my sewing room, so I think I am “ok”. And I can walk around an there are NO vermin or dirty dishes. After all, I was a Home Ec. Teacher and an RN. I do have my standards. ” CREATIVENESS IS NEVER NEAT”. Teehee

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I think that serious hoarding is one of those mental health issues that many of us can identify with, even if we don’t take it to that level. Much like disordered eating or other serious mental issues that are, unfortunately, fed by our environment. Many of us can sympathize on some level.

Sandy keepsakecrafts.net

I know exactly what you mean. One of the first things I ever knit was this horrible skier style sweater. The yarn was entirely acrylic, so it wasn’t so much warm as it made me sweat. The style was totally wrong for me… yet it hung in the back of my closet for years, because I’d MADE it.

I finally got ruthless in a closet purge not too long ago, by reminding myself that I hated the color, style or fit just as much in rtw as in things I’d made. Also, it really helped me to picture someone else getting some use out of garments I would never wear.

However, if the garment is something in which I can reuse the fabric, then that goes into my “re-do it” pile.

Lauren lladybird.wordpress.com

Oh no – if I saved every garment I made, I would not have room in my house to stand! I am RELENTLESS when it comes to purging, so much that my mother started hoarding some of my handmade clothes that were destined to Goodwill, saying I might want them someday to look back on. Or something. It doesn’t hurt that the majority of my early sewing projects were made up in cheap fabrics, very ill-fitting, mostly falling apart. Just awful stuff. I had no qualms about giving that stuff away.

It has been harder lately, because I either made something in expensive fabric & know I won’t wear it (like the blue strapless dress I made a couple of years ago – what was I thinking? I don’t wear strapless dresses! But yeoooww that fabric was expensive), or it’s something I really do love but the fit is just all wrong. It also hurts when I know that my clothes were adjusted to fit *my* measurements, and the likelihood of someone finding them, fitting into them, and loving them enough to want to wear them is very slim. I don’t mind passing my stuff onto someone who will love it as much as I did (or planned on), but the thought of it never selling & eventually ended up in a trash heap makes me feel weepy.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Argh, yes. I feel the same about things made from expensive fabric. Maybe we need to be more clever about refashioning them, I don’t know. Those cases are tough. On the other hand, at least something made in a nice fabric is less likely to end up on the hate pile.

Maryann

Refashioning may be the answer.

Sara

If I could just constantly purge stuff from my closet/home I’d be totally happy. I adore getting rid of stuff, probably because I used to be a pack rat. Most of it goes to the donate bin but when it comes to nice pieces of clothes – handmade or not – I host a clothing swap with my girlfriends. It’s a great excuse to get together and drink wine in the afternoon… not that you need an excuse!

Amanda symondezyn.wordpress.com

Every once in a while, I love to do a great big purge. I live in an apartment, so accumulating a bunch of stuff just leads to clutter. I hate the feeling of having a huge wardrobe full of stuff I don’t wear. I’d rather look at an empty one and know that it more accurately represents what I actually use.

Learning to sew now, I’ve made three garments so far, only one of them wearable, due to sizing issues. I’m now having the problem of whether to try and fix the issues they have, now that I have a bit more knowledge, or to chalk it up to a learning experience and toss em, in order to make way for new projects. I don’t want to end up with a giant pile of ‘salvage’ items taking up space because clutter tends to negatively affect my productivity. It’s definitely a tough call.

Maria M.

To keep or not to keep, that is the question. (Sorry; couldn’t resist.)

I’ve gotten better at purging things that I’ve bought, but getting rid of something I’ve made is a bit more of a challenge. Luckily (or not) my sewing skills aren’t on par with yours so I don’t have lots and lots of darlings to wave goodbye to. Similar to another poster, I repurpose as much as possible. Some examples include my lovely linen jacket, (never did get the lining right) which became a lovely linen envelope clutch — lined no less. Ha! A few of my Sophia-Lorenesque full skirts became beautiful tote bags that I use regularly or have gifted. And so on and so on with other items. Even the bits of fabric that really can’t be useful have become quilt squares, or even fashions for the handful of Barbie dolls that my nieces have acquired.

knitmo portraitofawannabedomesticgoddess.blogspot.com

As a knitter if I make something that I will be unhappy with, I will rip the project out and salvage the yarn or give the finished project to someone who will love it. I am more ruthless with my sewn projects. I will say that I treasure the mohair cardigan I got at a thrift store. Obviously it didn’t fit the person who knit it, but it fits me just lovely and I treasure that find and hope the knitter knows in her heart that the sweater she knit found a happy place, even if it wasn’t with her.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Makes you want to sew in a tag with your email address for the future owner of handmade castoffs, doesn’t it? :) Probably a bad idea, though.

krissy

When I first started pottery, my teacher told us to save the first vessel we made as a reminder of how far we’ve come. I still have that terribly off-balance and wonky vase and just now have the fortitude to get rid of it. If you don’t edit your collection every once in a while you’ll run out room (physically) for new creativity. Find someone you know who is less fortunate and deserves some handmade love-giving your pieces to them might make you feel better about making room for new creations :-)

silvia redsilvia.wordpress.com

I’ve got no problem getting rid of my precious creations. If I don’t wear them for six months, they’re gone. Just like the stuff I purchase and not make. It’s very liberating after you take that first jump ;-)

Ashley at The Feisty Redhead thefeistyredhead.blogspot.com

Oh yeah, I hang on to everything. That’s why I still have a pair of elastic-waist gingham/watermelon print shorts in my drawer! I find that the best way to overcome something like this is to trade with a friend. My friend sews, and we have clothing swaps all the time. I feel better if an item I made goes to someone else who will actually wear it. And if she cuts it up and turns it into a pillow, I get over it pretty quickly!

Laura

What an interesting discussion. I actually have no problem getting rid of things I’ve made since I usually am unhappy with the garment for one reason or another (fit, construction issues, fabric choice). I get rid of many things I’ve made to make room for the new projects in the queue (and there’s always a long queue!). Speaking of it, I should go do some purging now to make room for the Peony dress I am making….

MB@Yarn itunes.apple.com

I’ve thrown away things I’ve sewn. Gasp! Largely because they just don’t fit at all. Like they cut off circulation in certain body parts. That’s a good reason for a toss. I’ve also tossed things that I’ve made that have really faded. A beautiful stretch lace top I made landed in the garbage because it lost a lot of color and stretch. I’m considering tossing a black and white print jersey top because it too has faded. I only wish I had more of this fabric because I would remake the whole shebang if I could in the same exact fabric!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Fabric fading is such a bummer. I find this happens a lot with cottons in particular. I actually had a printed canvas that faded horribly just after the first prewash. Ugh.

Pamela

I feel guilty just having 3 small bins filled with fabrics another 3 filled w/ yarns ( but it TAKES so much yarn for a sweater and w/prices going up up up??)
My mentality right there,,,,prices are going up, can something be made for one of the kids??? Unlike so many sewists my stash is not that high and my closet only holds pieces that are pretty timeless, I never was into fads~
I have even heard of people doing actual spread sheets of their stash inventory which is good for them if they have a considerable stash,b/c they shop from their own inventory first!
However when it really does come to my wardrobe and the amount of planning I put into it ( and my deeply held belief in having no ” orphans” ) I plan everything around certain basic colors and everything must work together well or it wont work/stay there at all,
I learned this a LONG time ago from a Threads article from Loes Hinse on how to plan a wardrobe ( she was big into seprates if I remember correctly from the article) and helped the sewist plan season after season flattering clothing w/ basic colors,,,,,hmm, wonder if I even have that old Threads magazine anymore?? ( you can only keep so much!)
I use TNT patterns over and over again also , there are sewists that will only use a pattern once!( gasp ! how long did it take to get the Clovers to fit me perfectly?)

And this is what I LOVE about Colette patterns BTW, they are timeless~ Audrey Hepburn would have worn them!

If one sticks to that theory it works,, it has worked for me, and since I do spend good money on high end fabrics~ I like simple patterns and let the fabric do the speaking, same w/ knitting)
I look to update every season if I can,,,,if I cannot work,, things go, that is what works for me and I always wear a LOT of nautical colors in summer every year b/c we boat on the Great Lakes and it works for me year after year ( consider your lifestyle in planning garments too)
Another thing is old wool coats etc , I have made many pieces of doll clothing for a niece’s gift and I clip the buttons as mom and grandmother did b/f tossing,, b/c some of those buttons are pretty incredible~ just go to a thrift shop and take a look at some of the very old buttons! I have been known to purchase a thrift garment just for the buttons! ( or fabric at times)

I kind of giggle at the word” re purposing” b/c I was brought up that way as was my mother ,,,,,NOTHING went to waste, it was necessary and called frugality back then, but they have given frugality a whole new name now ! LOL!
Just watched a quilt DVD where the woman was showing pieces of the front quilt being used for the backing saying that this was so and so’s ” signature” look,,,,guess what?? I we were raised that way, to use scraps creativly,,(this was not a signature look but once again frugality years ago) they remembered what it was like to have little and not eat, so they could not bear to NOT ” re purpose” things, it was part of life and in the end, they did end up quite well off thru plenty of hard work, frugality and saving / re using things,,,,,,( and I am glad I learned what I did from my parents!)
The moral of the story here is think b/f purging, if that fabric cost you a lot of hard earned dollars such as a dress,,can you make a pretty tank from it? Can you somehow re purpose to the positive?? Or do a few of your favorite nieces need some pretty doll clothes for Christmas or their birthdays?? I am most certainly the odd one here, its ok, it works for me~ ( I just cut the fabric from an older out of style dress 2 days ago, and made a cute skirt that I am happy to wear now~

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I don’t think you’re the odd one at all! I think a lot of us would like to repurpose things more, but it can be a challenge to come up with creative ideas for things you’ll really get use out of. Add to that the limited time many have… I don’t know, it’s just tough!

Agree on the nautical thing, by the way. It’s funny, because every summer you see magazines touting the new nautical “trend.” If it’s a trend every single year, it’s not really a trend, is it? Anyway, to me their classics and I love them.

By the way, Threads has a wonderful DVD of past issues they sell! It’s searchable and really useful and takes up no space!

Cindy

It depends on the garment for me. I’ve kept some things to be remade later, donated, tossed the pitiful & worn, and have some I keep for nostalgia’s sake.
If the fabric is fabulous, & I Love it, I won’t part with it for anything!

Juli sweetlittlechickadee.com

Yes, lol, I can be terrible about this whether it is with sewing or crafting! It’s worse if it’s something I’ve made it more recently… Then I try to justify it by thinking that I can use it to look at to improve the next item that I make, sort of like a prototype to improve upon. I do reach a point though where I will get rid of what seems like impractical stuff so there isn’t clutter all around our little apartment!

maddie madalynne.com

I do hold onto things that I have made, regardless if they are good or bad. There’s a story behind every piece or garment I’ve constructed and I never want to lose that memory, even when I’m 80!

Jen mommymadebyjen.blogspot.com

I tend to hold onto clothing I’ve made, especially when the fabric is particularly beautiful. I have a sort of cocktail dress that I made when I was pregnant with my first child, 12 years ago. The thing is, part of it is a lovely burnout silk velvet that I found at (of all places) Walmart! I really want to reuse this fabric for something. I have a lot of things that I’ve sewn that have been remade into muslins or used for other things. A few years ago I took an old silk skirt that I never wore anymore and used it as a lining for a bag. I try to repurpose as much as possible when I love the fabric. And there are some garments that I just can’t part with, even though I’ll never wear them again. My wedding dress is one of those. And I’d love to lose enough weight to fit back into the red silk evening dress I made 8 years ago. It’s been worn twice but the military always has some formal occasion at least once a year that could give me a reason to wear it again.

I think the thing that drives me to hold onto garments that I’ve made (especially the ones I love and have worn to death) is that there are memories that I associate with those clothes. I’m a wretched hoarder but part of that comes from not having a whole lot of money to spend when I was younger. When my oldest was born, I had stopped working and my husband was only making enlisted E-5 pay. I knew we were going to have more children, so I saved every single item of baby gear I possibly could. My middle child was born 6 years after the oldest and yes, I carried all of the clothing M. had outgrown (bins and bins of it) to and from Europe, to WV, MD and now to WA. I used everything. My friends would have all gotten rid of the baby stuff in that 6 year space and just bought new when they needed it but I couldn’t. I had crib sheets and a dust ruffle and curtains that I’d made. I had all kinds of clothing. And every time my younger daughter, G., moves up a size in clothing, I get out another bin of her sister’s clothes. If she gets anything new, it’s just to supplement what’s there already. And every time I get out another bin, I inevitably spend an hour or more going through the clothes and checking for wear, but also reminiscing about when M. was little and the things she did when she wore certain pieces. For me, everything evokes a memory of something, even if my daughter doesn’t remember it.

When I know that I’m not going to have any more kids I’m sure I’ll get rid of most of the things. But I’ll probably keep specific garments that I’ve made, simply because they’re beautiful and I’m hoping that in the future I’ll have a granddaughter who can wear them. I’m specifically thinking about a silk dress I made for my oldest when she was 5 – a Vogue pattern that I love.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Jen, this was just a lovely comment. It really illustrated the connection between material things and memory for me.

emily rose takofibers.com

Since I am plus size, I always try to donate things that I’ve made to shops and organizations that focus on bigger girls. It makes me feel good that someone like me, who has trouble finding awesome used clothes, can find something special that is one of a kind and handmade. But, to be honest, I don’t do that often because I hold on to everything!

Meg megthegrand.blogspot.com

I just don’t have the heart to throw away anything I’ve made…yet. Some of my refashions have gone by the wayside, but those garments I’ve made from scratch? My friend once called them my “art” and I haven’t had the willpower to pass those along, even if I don’t wear them as often as I should.

Amy clothhabit.com

That’s a hard one. I once had a friend come over and help me do a purge. There were so many things I was randomly saving–not just sewn but other old clothes too–and it was nice having someone being really honest, who didn’t have all that emotional attachment.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Caitlin has helped me with that, at least around the studio. She is so much less sentimental about my little bits of trim and whatnot.

Ali wardrobereimagined.blogspot.com

A few folks have mentioned it, but for me it has to do with sewing skill. I started sewing garments in 2009 and only last fall did I finally start to feel like I’m making clothes that I can wear without being self-conscious. By being intimately involved in the process of making, we’re so attuned to what’s working and what’s not in a garment and frankly there was so much about early garments that just weren’t working. Shoddy craftmanship, etc.

Take the Denim Rooibos that I was wearing when I met you at Sew L.A. – I love that dress, I how the pattern makes a basic denim dress into something special. But the bodice is too tight and it’s sort of jerry rigged so I can breathe, and the hem is funky from constant unpicking. Do I love it? Yes. Do I wear it? Rarely. I’m often tempted to just make it again, applying all my knowledge about fitting and fabric.

So these old darlings have been easy to kill (the Rooibos being the most recalcitrant!). But with your skill — and the amazing skill of many of your readers — I imagine it’s even harder. Because although we all make mistakes, I bet these clothes look pretty darn good, but aren’t working for one reason or another. I would try to make myself think how much someone else could love love love it.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I say remake it! That dress looked so cute on you, it’s really too bad it’s not entirely comfortable. But if you love it, make it again!

Janice meladori.com

No, I have no problems with killing my darlings. Space is at a premium in NYC and I don’t want my closet to be stuffed with things I hate and don’t want to wear, even if it’s something I made. Being like this has made me think more carefully about each project and plan more.

I do blog about each project (even if it’s a total fail) so I have photos and posts to remind myself about each project.

Hazbo hazwoolwillknit.blogspot.com

I’m not only bad at throwing out things I’ve made, I also always end up buying other people’s handmade clothes when I see them in charity shops. I just think it so sad, and I’m worried someone who doesn’t sew would appreciate all the time and effort that has been put into making an item!

Christina fernfrisbie.blogspot.com

I started sewing again recently, and although I am a bit of a “hoarder,” I have surprisingly not had too much trouble donating items that I have made. In some cases I give them to friends, others I just donate to one of the local thrift shops. I just hope that someone else finds life in and love for the things that no longer wear.

lisarae

I am such a sentimentalist. Just recently I was cleaning out kept things and found (again) a top I had made over 30 years ago. I was so pleased to see it. It took a lot of time and effort to make and after all these years, it still looks stylish! It s made of wool from a now defunct New England woolen mill in a safari -style pattern ( breast pockets, roll up 3/4 length sleeves and a cinched elastic waist) . I may even wear it again this year !
I think what made me keep it was the blood and sweat (no recollection of tears) it took to make it .
I regret ‘killing one of my darlings’ from a slightly earlier period; it was a pretty little peasant blouse that i took the time to embroider across the front and back with rather large flowers. Really sweet. I would wear that blouse again today , certainly. It would look so perfectly retro but i can’t change that decision to have moved it along. May it be dancing somewhere !
Now, my distinctions for keeping things are if the piece is of organic material and seemingly of classic design.
and lastly , there’s nothing that can change my mind if I am plain and simply in love with a piece. Fortunately i have an attic ANd a basement and each are somewhat organized.

Anne flamingoquilting.com

My mother taught me to never give something you are not happy with to somewhere you’ll see it again. For example, that painting where the colors are not as good as you like to your sister who lives two blocks away.

Sophia sophiasews.blogspot.com

I must be a heartless jerk, because it’s really not very difficult to get rid of clothes that I made. Maybe it’s because I know they’ll go to someone who may actually wear it, or maybe it’s just that I’m over the garment and it can go now.

Pictures are great because of this propensity to rid myself of unworn clothing. It’s nice to go back through the archives and see the first few garments I made and reminisce.

Sallie sallieoh.blogspot.com

I’m one of the relentless purgers. My husband sometimes thinks there’s something wrong with me because I have NO sentimental attachment to things (well – some things I do, my wedding rings and my great grandmother’s signet ring come to mind because I’m looking down at my hands !) But really, who needs the baggage?! Emotional and actual! I’ve donated my first garment I ever made (but I still have the pattern) – I agree with Casey’s comment – I have pictures of it, and it was a mess and I never wore it anyway!

Hank Wood

I definitely hang on to garments I make. My oldest is a dress I made to wear to a prom 40 over years ago. I just liked the dress and only wore it one time. I also made and kept my wedding dress for when I married my first husband. I kept this dress even though I did not keep the husband. When my son got married, I made a handbag for his bride to carry on their wedding day out of part of the dress. I felt vindicated.

Along the way, I have gotten rid of a great many garments I have made myself and my children. I did keep a coat I crocheted (sp) 35 years ago for my sons. When one recently had a son, I gave him the coat. Since the yarn was polyester and I had occasionally washed the coat through the years the color was still good.

I guess I keep those that really mean a great deal to me. As long a hanging on to something doesn’t interfere with today, I think it is okay. I am glad now that I kept the wedding dress and the little coat. I have more happy memories.

Anna Nicolle

I recently made a jacket to wear to work. While the colour and the style were wonderful, the fabric was not and that affected the fit. I spent hours and hours making this little darling and then wore it to the office. After two hours of sitting at my desk shifting, tugging and straightening I gave up. This pretty pink jacket is just not meant for this world. Last night when I got home, I tossed it in the trash , retrieved it twice and then finally tied up the bag and threw it away for good. I can’t say I felt liberated by this little purge but I did feel like I learned an important lesson. I will never cheap out on textiles again. My precious sewing time is worth a good fabric.

Lindsay howsheflowers.wordpress.com

This is a great point for people like me who tend to use whatever we can get our hands on. I also try to cut corners in the fitting process and that leads to me not being as interested in wearing a project– I guess if I’m so reluctant to get rid of things I should just use it as an opportunity to learn why I no longer want it, and try to avoid making that mistake in the future! (fabric, fit, fads, etc.) Good point.

the_kcar

A friend and I came together on quite a number of outfits [I designed, she sewed. Someday, I’ll get it together to figure out the assembly to the Sears &Roebuck ancient sewing machine I’ve inherited, and I’ll start learning how to sew.]

At any rate

On many of the projects she and I collaborated on, I just turned around and passed them back to her. She, in turn, would pop seams, put in contrast rails to expand the seams, add details, remove details, and/or refashion the old pieces to make them “hers”, or would refashion, perhaps, an elaborate blouse to turn it into a christening gown for her niece, etc.

If all else failed, they would get donated to the Salvation Army Domestic Violence Center Shelters, or, if in disrepair, the fabrics would get refashioned into quilts to donate.

Of course, she grew up in a decidedly frugal environment. She is the one who would collect outgrown denim, match up grain with contrasting grain, then make of the jeans a denim maxi skirt in multipanel, with matchy-matchy bolero jacket.

Skills I will likely never hold a candle to, but can admire, nonetheless.

Leah strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

I’m a writer, so I think I adopt that mentality to everything I do, and yes, I slaughter my darlings like impudent sheep. I have to. I only started sewing two years ago, and while I’m so proud of so much of what I’ve made, there are things I made before I knew about seam finishing or how to really insert a zipper or how to fit, and those things I have cast off into the world. But I don’t throw anything away, I give it away, because I figure, so many things that I love I have snagged from vintage stores and thrift shops, maybe someone else will see this and love it and wear the hell out of it.

I recently started making a quilt with scrap fabric, because I can’t bear to actually throw anything away, the enviormentalist in me wont allow it. I have to say, I don’t honestly really love quilting, but the sense of virtue I feel using all those scraps of fabric is addictive. And as I look at what I’ve made, I realize it’s a roadmap of many of the projects I have made so far, little bits of each thing I’ve done dating back to my first ever sewing project. I like the idea of using all that scrap for something useful. Isn’t that the whole point of quilting, anyway?

the_kcar

I still have two quilts my grandmother made when I was little, and a quilt my mother made from not-so-gently-used clothing I had outgrown. The former two, I have memories of sprawling across, or tucking in. The latter, a dozen or so memories pop up with images of me wearing some of those clothes.

Alice

I’ve had so much trouble getting rid of clothes I’ve made! My daughter and daughter-in-law came over and heartlessly “helped” me to put many things into the giveaway bag! That’s the only way I’ve been able to get rid of my own creations, unless they have been utter failures. Ready-made, no problem, into the bag they go if I haven’t worn them all season.
I’ve recently had to down-size my entire sewing stash; 50% of all my patterns and fabric had to go. Ouch! But I did it and feel 100lbs. lighter.
Now how do I resist buying more?????? Help!

Shannon

After I read this I went through my closet and took out a bunch of items I had sewn for myself and stuffed them away to be repurposed or adjusted. I think I’m pretty good at sewing now, but I’m still relatively new to it and while I have several lovely and functional items that I’ve made (often for other people! alas!) I have quite a few shirts in particular that just didn’t work out. Most of these were poor fabric choices rather than design or fitting issues. Quilting fabrics– not designed for clothes! Shocking, I know! If only your book had come out before I started sewing…

Anyhow, it’s good to have them out of the closet. Some just need minor fixes, others will have to be repurposed completely. It’s good to clear out the deadwood, and some bought items as well, because it really shows how few functional and professional blouses I really have. One of these days, I’ll solve that problem by going through my stash of (now mostly not quilting) fabric.

Pauline paulineguillet.blogspot.com

I do feel the same. That’s why I try to take time and think carefully about the pattern and the fabric, see if they match, see if I have things that I could pair with the project. But every piece of clothe I made is a favourite of mine.This is also why it’s still difficult for me to make clothes for other people.
Don’t throw the lovely things you made, even if you don’t wear them, they show how much you improved your skills or they document your style changes.

Leslie Cumming

I’m pretty brutal. I go through everything every six months or so. Clothing (bought & sewn), knitting, fabrics, etc. If I haven’t worn it or used it in six months or a year then it goes in the pile for goodwill or a charity that I know will find a good home with someone who has less than I do that might actually use any of it. I have to say I wasn’t always this disconcerting, however after living in about 550 square feet in SF for almost a decade I really had to be brutal about space and use. Thankfully it’s carried on since my move to Portland several years ago. I feel less cluttered and that maybe, hopefully sharing my abundance with someone who might be in a place where they can’t afford it, but would like.

Jen mommymadebyjen.blogspot.com

I’ve been reading these comments with interest and find it strange that people would just throw a garment in the garbage bin.

If you don’t want to donate it or something, why not reuse it? If I have a garment whose fabric is too worn to use, I cut off the buttons to use for another project. If it has a lining, I try to save it to line something else. Some people use fabrics for quilts or to make a muslin.

As someone who hoards fabric like a squirrel hoards nuts, I have a hard time parting with fabric but once a piece has gotten too small for a garment or if I don’t like it I donate my scraps to schools or Girl Scout troops to use for craft projects. Sometimes nursing homes like extra fabric for their residents who like to do patchwork or make quilts. The same with yarn for crocheting and knitting. Girl Scout troops or camps often use yarn for projects, too.

Which brings me to the issue brought up by someone else who said she saves fabric from unwanted garments to make quilts, even though she doesn’t like quilting. I suggest donating your scraps – it will still give you the feeling that you haven’t wasted them and free your time up to do more sewing for yourself! :)

S sewstyled.wordpress.com

Oh yes, I have problems parting with any article I have knitted or sewed. I know the hours of work put in to create it.

Nyssa Jayne shoesandblues.com

I was recently at the thrift store and spotted this yellow skirt, the yellow skirt I had been dreaming of. I took at look at the seams on the inside (I’m sure all sewers do this with RTW clothing) and was thrilled to find a handmade piece. It needs a bit of work — to be honest, it needs finishing, lol! — but I was so happy to drop all of the $6 on it (I’ve spent another $11 in supplies to finish it).

It has made me feel so much better about donating the pieces I don’t wear anymore, even if I made them. My friends can’t believe I do it, but I can’t keep everything. I’ll try and give away pieces to people I know if I can, but if it has to go to the op shop, then so be it.

In order to reign my sewing in, I try to make more pieces for others in the first place, rather than just soley sew and knit for myself.

Jessica

Yeah, it can be so hard to get rid of things you’ve put so much time and effort into! The only piece that I’ve decided I won’t get rid of for sure is the first dress I ever made. It doesn’t fit anymore, but it doesn’t take up much space, either.

Lindsay howsheflowers.wordpress.com

I’m making a quilt from some old garments and fabric my mom had lying around, plus some boyfriends’ old shirts and ties. The ties are the only really high quality fabrics, but it’s neat the way each piece has a story.

I haven’t finished that many sewn items, but there is a dress I ruined that I want to use for something else. Repurposing fabric is a great idea if there’s enough of it, but if not I think resale shops are a great idea. Some high-end consignment places might even be interested, if you did a good job!

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