The Bite of the Spring Cleaning Bug

There was no vaccine and I was not immune to the bite of the spring cleaning bug. After spending much of the fall and winter trying to sort through my mother’s years of art, craft and sewing accumulation, the bug became highly contagious, passing back and forth between my sister and I. When she bought us both copies of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it became a full blown epidemic.

Since the book has been written about on many blogs, you may already know calling it “Tidying Up,” may be a little misleading. It is really about getting rid of our excess and keeping only what “sparks joy.” Instead of doing a room at a time, Marie Kondo breaks your work into categories, beginning with clothing, then books, papers, miscellaneous, and saving mementos  for last. You gather all items from each category all together, which gives you a good visual impact of just how much stuff you have. It’s is eye opening. Starting with clothing and breaking it into sub-categories, such as tops or skirts, you handle each item and evaluate if it brings you joy.  I asked myself if I was excited to wear something, or just keeping it because I thought I should. This really worked. Here is what I purged just from clothing, shoes and bags.

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Yes, I even purged some things I made. Bags, jackets and skirts.

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One of the first items I made when I returned to sewing about 5 years ago was a camel hair jacket. I was clueless about what was needed for tailoring and structure and it shows. Beautiful fabric, but sad construction. It had no joy. The dresses included two that were showing wear and the disappointing clown inspired polka dot dress which was never worn.

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I barely had room in the car for all I took to Goodwill and gratefully said goodbye to my excess.

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On March 31, this is how my tidy closet looked. I used to have a jumble of shoes on the floor and a mass of sweaters on the shelves. One month later, it still looks like this.  Yes, this gives me joy.

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The KonMari method for folding clothes has you fold them into rectangles and store them vertically, not stacked on top of each other. It actually makes for much less wrinkling and you can see everything.

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Maybe going slightly out of order, I’ve also completed the household linens and all the kitchen related items. The house is starting to seem lighter and more open and I do not miss anything I have eliminated.

The sewing room came next. All my fabric went into one pile, including a bunch of upholstery samples I got at work and just stuck away.

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I forgot I had these silks because the closet was too full.

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I had the closet stuffed, plus home dec fabric in a large wicker chest. It was hard to see what I had.

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After determining what I really wanted to keep, everything could fit in the closet and I can see it all.

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The eliminated fabric, plus 50 patterns from my stash has been donated to the American Sewing Guild to use in some of their charity sewing. Eight shopping bags filled the back of my car.

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It can take up to 6 months to get through you whole house with this method. Right now I am working on books. I was able to greatly reduce my amount of books, with the exception of my sewing and fashion books. Those bring me much joy, so I kept them all but one.

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “The Bite of the Spring Cleaning Bug

  1. Wow! That’s some deep cleaning, very impressive! I got rid of 5 bags over Easter’ just by my own methods, but it was slow progress. It’s liberating getting rid of it all 🙂

    • I was so excited to find I new home for all my excess, I loaded the car the day before I dropped it off. I just wanted to see how the sewing room looked cleared out and better organized. I found I bought multiple pieces of very similar fabric. Now that I have it cleaned out, I’ll have to be much more careful with my purchases. Getting rid of scraps helped too. I had almost 3 bags full of scraps to throw away.

      • I donate my scraps to my school home economics department and I’m trying desperately to keep my natural hoarding habits at bay with regards to fabric. It’s not too bad at the moment, but I need to keep a close eye on it…

  2. Wow. Deep cleaning, indeed. I’ve never read the Kondo book, but love the look of the folded clothing in drawers. I’m going to have to try that, as I currently roll everything to prevent wrinkles. Isn’t it fun to find things you didn’t know you had? It’s like shopping without spending a penny. 🙂

  3. It really is. I am already trying to decide what to make with one of the silks. I always thought it was just grey with darker gray leaves, but after photographing it, I can see the shades of pink, purple and blue it in. I may line it with pink to bring it our even more. More time for creativity with better organization.

    • Has it been helping? I’m currently stuck in trying to get ready for a garage sale to get rid of some of the books, décor items and furniture. So my phrase has been, “will it sell?” I look forward to getting back to “does it bring me joy?”

  4. Did she explain what is it that makes some of us hoard so much, why some of us want so much? I find joy every spring in cleaning out what hasn’t been used or needed in the last year, yet a good friend of mine hasn’t moved in twenty years and has hardly removed one bag of unneeded items from her home. Actually if she saw the bags I was filling, she would probably be sorting through them taking things out!

  5. She does get into the emotional side some. Much of what she says will make sense to you and me, but there are others who would not be open to it. My mother was so caught up in keeping things, her house was overwhelming her. She is an artist, crafter and sewer. We moved her to assisted living because of declining health/memory issues and she could only take a small amount of belongings. She was angry at first, but is now very happy and much healthier. She is more social and actually painting, sewing and crafting again. She thinks most of her things are storage, but is quite content living her new lifestyle with less stuff. There is no way we could have cleaned out the house with her there. I felt guilty about it at first, but she has improved so much, the guilt is gone. Dementia will eventually take her over, but she is being well cared for and has many happy times these days. I’m grateful she has these good days instead of all that stuff.

  6. Thanks for the inspiration. I just bought the book. I haven’t felt organized since living in our last home. I purged A LOT before downsizing to a condo but there is still work to be done! It’s hard to think where I will find the time, but the results are clearly worth the effort.

  7. Time really is the hardest part of this, but a major life change, like downsizing, is a good motivator. I’m still plugging away on the book category. My husband and I both completed our books, it’s finding and getting through all the ones the kids left has been a challenge. I’m still enjoying my organized closets. Good luck, if you learn any great tips along the way, let me know.

  8. I’m still working on it. Right now my living room looks like an episode of Hoarders. There’s a big street sale in my neighborhood next Saturday, I’m hoping to sell off a good bit, have much less stuff in the house and have more in my budget to furnish the new house. 🙂

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