Emotional de-stashing

My previous post dealt with  the studio clean-up.  I  talked about the physical clean up, which is always an interesting read (why do we enjoy reading about other people’s studio organization?).  In this post, I’d like to share with you the emotional how-to.

It took me 3 years to get really into the clean up and clear out.  I spent a lot of time dealing with the emotional fall-out of such an ordeal, including a lot of internal wrangling with varying issues.  I was able to correlate various concepts I read about, watched on tv, and learned from friends.

First and most importantly, I had to decide that enough was enough.  If you watch Hoarders, you know that these people aren’t going to get– and stay– motivated until THEY make the decision to do so.  No amount of eye-rolling or snide comments from other people could push me to positive action.  In point of fact, those comments just made me feel defensive, and protective of my space.  Once that ball rolled, the result was that I was inclined to protect what I had, rather than look at it objectively and clean up.

I would never claim to be in the same position as the people with a true hoarding issue; that would be untrue as well as disrespectful to their issues.  However, I felt chaotic in my space, and that was the one and only motivation I found that moved me to positive resolution.

The next emotional hurdle I faced was the financial price-tag I attached to my stuff.  If you quilt, you know how much fabric costs. (note:   If you are a quilter’s husband, fabric costs $2.50 a yard and isn’t your wife thrifty, clever, and beautiful?)  How in the world do you get rid of so much costly goods?

I’ll tell you how I finally made peace with this issue.  First, an analogy:   if I spend money to go to dinner and a movie, I am paying for the evening’s entertainment. I do not expect to recoup my money from the restaurant, nor does the movie owe me anything, financially.  I paid, I received, end of deal.
When I bought (and bought and bought) fabric, I enjoyed the entertainment of going to the shop with my friends, looking at patterns and pretty fabric, and designing quilts in my mind with the fabric I bought. I had fun looking through the quilt books at home, and I had fun writing up patterns to go with the fabric.   I completely embrace how much fun it is to plan and design fiber work. But sometimes, the “project” only needs to be in my head, not a physical project. That has been so great and freeing for me to learn.  The fabric paid for itself by entertaining me this way, as opposed to entertaining me by physically sewing with it.  There is a definite value to that type of entertainment, for me.  And I feel, in the end, that I got my money’s worth out of the fabric.

As for selling off some of the fabric, I was able to do that with much of the stash, and the rest is getting traded or donated. I was able to recoup a fraction of the price I paid, but it was enough of an incentive for me to continue destashing until I am down to the bits that I donate.  I can’t even begin to tell you how freeing it was to let it go.

When I got to my quilt bookcase, to destash there, I was  having a hard time, just like when I first started destashing fabric.  I went through book after book, looking at beautiful patterns, finding dozens and dozens of flagged patterns.  Then, I realized that even if I wanted to make the quilt from the pattern in the book, I didn’t have the fabric anymore!  I felt a true weight lifting off of me– had I really carried the burden of those unmade quilts around all those years?   I guess so, because  I felt physically happy that I wasn’t obligated to make all of those planned-for quilts.

I am still in the process of selling and donating my quilt books.  With fresh determination, I re-organized my studio floor plan,  moving around my work table, and cutting one of my bookcases in half.  I even hung the large bookcase doors near the ceiling for more storage (out of season patio cushions.  Not stash!)  I love having room to move and room to put away in my studio. I feel way more motivated to keep it neat, too.

I truly hope this helps someone else in the throes of destash. It took me 3 years to get myself to this point, and I’m determined that I’ll never do it to myself again!

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Emotional de-stashing

  1. Susan, I have been thinking of de-stashing as well. Your analogy comparing the enjoyment of dinner and a movie to the pleasure of buying fabric, etc. is a really good one and it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They will help me and I’m sure will help a lot of others as well.

  2. My Cuild chapter has an annual silent auction that raises a few dollars for Chapter activities. I always use that as an opportunity to de-stash things, especially books. I get rid of things, someone else gets something new for a few $ and the Chapter gets some needed revenue.

  3. Gina

    VERY thought provoking especially after going through so many moves.🙂

  4. As you know, I’ve been working on doing the same thing. As I mourned the sale of beautiful fabrics, I also felt elated to have made room for more creativity instead of more stuff! Good thing that I’ve had you to hold my hand in times of weakness, though!😉

  5. Julie Luca

    Thanks for putting my feelings into words. I have struggled with these same thoughts many times. I have destashed 3 times over the last few years because of moves. Each time has been very painful but wonderful when it was over. Now I am in a smaller space and overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF I still have. You have made it easier. thanks

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