Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Excavations & Discoveries, Part 2

More on the Great Throw Shit Away Project from last weekend.

Here's what I was looking at when I started to clean out my sewing room.

That's just the doorway. Here's what it looked like inside.

That table? That's supposed to be my work table - you know, for laying out patterns and, uh, working. Here's a closeup.

This wasn't a "sewing" room. This was a "can't sew because there's so much crap in here" room. A "oh, that's where Matthew Fox's career went after 'Lost' ended" room. We've already discussed my congenital disorganization disorder, so shut up. The point is, it doesn't look like this any more. Really. Read on.

Anyway, I designated three staging areas in the house: "Keep," "Donate," and "Discard." Those were my only options. I resisted the urge to subdivide them into cute little piles of "Decide Later," "Mess with It for a While to See If It Can Be Salvaged," and the dreaded "Repurpose." The rules were simple: If it was a Keep, it had to find a place to live by Sunday afternoon. If it was a Donate, it had to actually be wearable/usable/not a piece of crap. If it didn't meet the criteria for the first two piles, it was a Discard. Period. I should have used these rules when I was dating. Hindsight and all that.

Precocious Daughter and I dove in and started sorting. Bless her heart, the child loves to sort. I couldn't have done this without her. I should make her some sugar cookies with sprinkles. (Note: I totally made her sugar cookies with sprinkles last night. They were sprinklicious.)

Here's what the Keep pile looked like:

That's Ms. Thang, my trusty mannequin, at bottom right. Doesn't everyone have a naked plastic lady? She's been invaluable to me when I've sold clothes on eBay. Good for practicing the tango, as well. Definitely a Keep.

After a few hours, I could see my table again:

How's that for before and after? My work table is actually Beloved Spouse's drawing table, and I decided he could have it back. I'll lay out my patterns on the floor or the dining table until I find a purpose-built sewing table I really love.

(Confession: I actually have this wild-hair idea about removing a set of base cabinets from my kitchen and installing them in my sewing room. Perfect cutting surface, lots of storage, all that. This of course would be the start of the Great Kitchen Renovation Project. And that's a steaming pile of madness right there. There may not be enough Prozac in the world to get me through something like that.)

Of course, I also cleaned out the closet. It's amazing how much stuff can fit in a closet. And how much stuff can get lost. To my delight, I found my grandparents' wedding photo, which I knew I had stored in a safe place and/or alternate dimension.

That made the whole project worthwhile right there.

I also discovered that the drawers of the desk I use as a sewing machine stand were filled with things that have absolutely no connection to sewing. Not even the tenuous connection of belonging to me. Among those things were a group of Wallace and Gromit figurines, BelSpouse's collection of army men, and a deck of those Most Wanted cards that came out during Operation Desert Storm. Thus this photo:

If you guessed "Gromit measuring a tank to make sure it's big enough enough to take out Saddam Hussein," congratulations. You win the old broken clock radio I also found in a desk drawer. You can claim your prize at the city dump.

I also found BelSpouse's Gandalf doll action figure. He's now protecting our printer from spilled coffee and Orcs.

I was pretty brutal about sending things to the Discard pile. Sometimes the call was easy to make; anything that prompted me to say "What the hell was I planning to do with this?" got tossed. Or the apricot fruit leather I found in my sewing kit - baffling, but another easy call. Other times, I had to do some soul-searching. It was a struggle, but in the end I decided to keep this:

Yes, children, that's a box of cassette tapes, mostly of the homemade variety. My family exhorted me to get rid of them. BelSpouse wisely pointed out that they almost certainly are unlistenable as a result of age and the general crappy quality of cassettes. PDaughter reminded me that most if not all the music they contain is readily available on CD or Rhapsody. Excellent arguments all. But they're staying.

Several people I love dearly, who I know read this blog, will recognize their handwriting on these labels, some of which go back to the early 1980s. To them I say, I still have the tapes you sent me. Isn't that pathetic? But I'm not getting rid of old friendships, or old tapes. Every one of them has a story behind it. They've earned the square foot of space they take up in my sewing room closet. Rest well, old soliders. *snif*

Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of PDaughter sorting the hangers we pulled out of the closet. There were approximately 12 million of them. You think I'm exaggerating? Twelve. Million. Or a couple of hundred. Something like that. Plastic, metal, and the dreaded wire variety. We threw away the ones that were too badly wounded to be serviceable (apparently, after long years in the dark, hangers turn to cannibalism). Then we untangled the rest and hung them neatly. And by we I mean PDaughter. I hate messing with hangers. Especially wire hangers. Not really, I just like pretending to be Joan Crawford.

Get away from my cassette tapes, bitch!
Then there's this closet find:

That, my friends, is a never-been-worn Anne Klein suit. Here's the tag, still attached to the sleeve.

First: I did not pay $380.00 for an Anne Klein suit and then never wore it. I scored it years ago from Ross for a really excellent price. And then never wore it. Second: It's a 4P, which means I never will wear it. That window has closed and I'm too fat to squeeze through it. Third: I couldn't bring myself to just donate this fabulous brand-new suit to the local resale store. I'd like to see it go somewhere really worthwhile. Auction it off for charity. Give it to an organization that helps abused women. Something. Until I think of it (or my readers suggest something), I'm going to hang on to this item. Breaking my own rule for a good cause.

I haven't even gotten to my vintage collection yet. Looks like there's gonna be a Part 3. But first I want to show you the results of all this work. My sewing patterns have two nice drawers to live in.

The closet is functional (and the doors actually close). Note my Davy Jones tambourine there in the middle of the picture. Again, doesn't everybody have one?

And my fabric stash has been contained, at least temporarily.

Why yes, that is two five-foot stacks of plastic totes filled to the brim with fabric. I don't smoke. I don't gamble. I don't eat in fancy restaurants. Let me have this.

OK, so tomorrow I'll show off the amazing vintage collection I'm parting with. If you thought I was a borderline hoarder up to this point, you'll poop yourself when you see this. Take precautions. Here's a preview for you: my beloved chicken dress.

Take precautions.

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