Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Stashing or hoarding?

Today’s question is something that has been bothering me a lot this vacation.  I am busy taking apart my sewing room shelves and carrying everything on them down to the basement for storage. I’m making a real guest room of my sewing room and reorganizing everything that was in both my sewing/guest room and my office/study area. I need a guest room for my children and grandchildren to have somewhere set up for when they come to visit rather than having to scramble to unfold the futon every time.  My sewing machine will most likely end up in my office or against one wall in the guest room so I can use it, but the fabric stash will have to come up from storage one piece at a time.

So the question is: when you’re a hobbyist, where is the line between stashing and collecting fabric or yarn or hobby supplies and hoarding? Like many people, I watch the shows on hoarders and though my home is full and definitely qualifies for the title “cluttered’, there aren’t the piles of stuff heaped on every surface that make it impossible to use the rooms or to even walk through the house. The sewing room gets messy when I’m working on a project, but everything was put away on shelves and in bins beneath my cutting table besides a few things that were on the floor waiting to be put away properly. I’ve been told by other people I know that sew that my stash is very small compared to theirs.

Perhaps it’s the size of the storage you have available that dictates if it’s good or bad in terms of stash or hoarding?  I have heard some very creative ways of hiding the stash from husbands, mine knows the full extent of my fabric and yarn so that isn't necessary with me.
Contents of one shelving unit stacked in the corner

I think of hoarders as:

1. Unable to throw away even their trash/garbage.

2. Unable to get rid of anything they’ve ever owned.

3. Shopping compulsively but rarely even using what they buy.

4. Creating an unsafe environment in the house through not being able to walk through the hallways and such.

5. Psychologically at need for the things to substitute for something else in their life or a traumatic experience that has not been dealt with as of yet.

I don’t think that I’m any of those things, though I do have extra stuff and clutter that I am slowly working through. I donate things to goodwill about 3 or 4 times a year so it's not that I can't get rid of anything.  I was happy with my sewing room being full of wonderful fabric, but moving and going through it all is really difficult. My organizational skills need improvement.
My "Civil War" closet

So as I go through my fabric stash while taking it off the shelves to move the shelves to the basement, I see fabric that I have kept that I might not ever use, but I don't know if I will or not.   At some point I will be finished with school (again) and have more time to sew.  But what to do with it all now?  I don’t want to just donate it to goodwill or throw it away when there is someone that might be able to make good use of it.

I realize that I might never live long enough to use up all of the dress sized pieces of fabric that I have purchased, especially since with being in school, my Civil War dress production has fallen to just a few a year, and I really don’t have the time to reenact, either. I have piles of beautiful cottons, wools, and silks, just waiting for me to turn them into beautiful gowns. Each year I sell the overage in my closet at a reenactor's consignment store so I have more room for the new ones I have created. They sell really well because they're made from really nice fabric and use period construction techniques, but I don't make a profit from selling them, I just get about what I have in them in terms of fabric cost.  I enjoy making them, it's a lot of fun for me, and I figure any loss is entertainment value.

So, gentle readers, where is that line between stashing and hoarding, specifically fabric?  I'd really love to know!