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Keeping What You Love

October 6, 2014

Yesterday was the day I dove in, deep.  Into my closet that is.  I was inspired by my husband’s efforts and success the day before at tackling his closet chaos, as well as a few more motivational missives.  First coming from my friend Susan Lucci,  Circle Tender of Centering Circles, who stated recently that when deciding what to keep in her closet or what to purchase new she asks herself, “do I love it?”  The second motivation was a 20 degree swing in our temperatures here in Chicago-land.  Yes, Autumn is upon us!  And lastly, my husband and I are planning a 3-week trip to Europe in a few weeks.  (What to pack, yikes!) So, I held my breath and took the plunge!

Before I go further, I must let you know that I was raised by “depression era babies”.  My parents are very skilled at identifying any potential purpose that an object might someday contain.  My father is an ex-farmer, farm machinery repairman, woodworker and all around fix-it sort of guy.  My mother, is a creative seamstress who has brought to life too many quilts to count with little pieces of fabric and love.  So, I was raised to “save it”.  I also read this recent article about Textile Pollution.   I’m also in the business of creating new garments from the pieces of old, which leads me to hold on to items that I might someday have the time to alter or redesign into something “I might love more”.  These decisions were going to be a challenge.

Here goes!

I started with the shoes, easy.  If I haven’t worn them in the last year, they cause me great discomfort, or they are “worn out”, donating them would be easy.   I still kept the shoes I got married in.  (This won’t be the first time you call me sentimental). I have a couple of pairs of boots that are already in the car for re-heeling.  The rest I taped photos of to the end of the boxes so that I can quickly see what I have in there.  Ok, I can do this, bring on more!

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Next, to my garments hanging in the closet.  It was pretty easy to divide the hanging clothes into piles of “I love”, “donate” and just a few items that I will be taking into the studio to see if I can give them new life in my closet.  An Ella Moss dress in a nice shade of slate blue.  I love the drape and color of the fabric, but the skirt is too long and I don’t like the bodice of the dress anymore.  But, there is plenty of fabric there to create perhaps a shorter skirt.  Also love the pattern on the fabric of this other “strappy” top.  Another skirt could be born.  And this gold lame, Michael Kors dress from a couple of Christmas’ ago could also have some potential, or go to my 19-year-old daughter.  (I had a couple other “younger” styles that I put aside for her to look at).  The closet is starting to look much roomier!

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But now came the tough decisions.  Those things I’ve held onto for over 10 years, over 20, 30 years.  Yes, over 40!  (I know, I don’t seem old enough to own anything that old)  For these decisions I turned to those friends who will always give you the answers you can’t find on your own.  My Facebook Friends.  I posted pictures of a plaid vest that I had sewn in about 1974, 7th grade or so.  I originally made a three-piece ensemble which included plaid gaucho pants and a brown polyester blazer (they are both long gone, whew!) which won me a blue ribbon at the 4-H fair.  I can still get the vest on.  But the buttons and buttonholes do not meet (and it isn’t because my breasts are any larger than they were in middle school).  I was so proud of this outfit when I made it and my Facebook friends supported my keeping it.  So, it is “in”.  I may have to think about wearing it (unbuttoned) with a pair of jeans and plain white tee. (maybe today!)

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Next, I found my bag of the items that I knit for myself during my childhood 4-H days.  Yes, the first scarf I made on size 15 needles which I got from my brother for Christmas! (I still have those needles), created in the Marlette Red Raiders School colors of my youth. The matching mittens and the hat have also gone missing.  This scarf must stay.

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This was followed by posting to Facebook two sweaters that I made.  First a bright pink and blue chunky knit with a simple Fair Isle yoke that I knit in about 6th grade.  I was a stick as a kid and this never fit me.  Even after threading a piece of elastic through the neck to hold the thing on me, I never wore it much.  So, I pulled out the elastic and voila!  It finally fits.  I may see how I feel wearing this with jeans, now too. It’s not bad with the navy yoga pants I was wearing yesterday.  I wish now  that I had chosen the shades of brown yarn that were in the original pattern photos (I remember the special trip to Mary Maxim over in Port Huron, MI to purchase this yarn).

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And then there was the sequined sweater I made in high school from a vintage 50’s pattern.  I still wish I had saved more allowance money to buy nicer wool yarn. But maybe it’s a good thing, as this probably would have ended up with moth holes.   I think it also has some potential to come back into “rotation” in my wardrobe.  It’s a good thing everything I knit when I was a kid was way too big at the time of completion. (knitting gauge is a tricky thing)  And with the stretch it fits too.

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And then there are these two items that I can not wear, but because “I love them” too they will be staying in the cedar chest.  First a knit vest and matching ribbed “faux pleated” skirt.  It took me two years to knit this ensemble. Probably 3rd/4th grade.  And the striped dress made of very nice wool in about 5th grade.  It also ended up way too large on me and I ended up cutting the extra fabric at the seams and making it smaller in order to wear it (all those extra hours of knitting, just cut away-I guess it kept me out of trouble as a kid).  This dress ended up with moth holes, so pictured here I took the fabric a few years ago and “felted” (fulled) it as a smaller keepsake of the original.

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I have two other dresses that I knit for myself that remain in my closet.  One is my wedding dress and after 27 years this month I can still put it on.  I’ve posted about it before HERE.  And another wool rust colored dress that I also designed myself during my senior year of high school.  I still love it and wear it every fall/winter.  I will post a photo next time I’ve got it on (maybe on my Europe trip next month!) My recommendations to everyone:  1. Keep what you love, 2. Knit with the best yarn you can afford and sew with the best fabric you can find, 3. Keep those textile items that have purpose and/or meaning to you (and save our landfill space for paper).  4. Find someone who appreciates your special items and pass them on to them someday.  And on that note, I still have a suit of my mother’s from the 50’s hanging in my closet (under a dust cover, of course!)  I used to wear it in the 80’s when retro was in and I could fit into it.  I’m keeping it too, maybe someday my 19-year-old daughter will want to look “50’s/80’s cool”.

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And despite all of that sentimentality I still created an organized closet and found several bags of nice items to donate.  I even got my dresser drawers sorted (and found time for a nap after all of that!)  I highly recommend it as a cathartic activity for a Sunday afternoon (Although my husband did wonder why it took me so long).

An organized closet.  My half is a bit more colorful than my husbands.

An organized closet. My half is a bit more colorful than my husbands.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 13, 2014 1:16 pm

    I love organizing my closet! I just finished (in September) a year of no-new-clothes shopping, so it really forced me to learn my wardrobe inside and out. Another trick I learned was to tie a rubber band around all your hangers and once you wear it, cut it off! The ones that still have rubber bands after a year (or 6 months, really) should be sold/donated/tossed! Unless they really have sentimental value of course 🙂

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