Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Retired

Every once in awhile someone will ask how much closet space do I have because of all the garments I sew.  I can understand the question especially since on average I make about 50-55 garments every year.  That's a lot of clothing...I'm sure a lot more than I would purchase in a year.


So how do I store them?  Do I have a magic closet that expands and contracts?  Do I have some secret way of packing them all in?  No...in actuality I m a relentless purger because my closet is a normal size, double door affair with one very long shelf on the top.

Earlier this year, I purged sweaters, turtlenecks, twinsets, pieces that were old, worn, never worn much or just not what I was wearing anymore.  Since I purchased quite a few new twinsets this winter, the old needed to make way for the new.

This time around I tackled my dresses and skirts.  Over the last three years, I've made quite a few (stop laughing...I know that's an understatement!).  So some had to go.  To be honest this was the hardest purge that I've had to do in some time because ALL of my dresses are made by me (not a purchased one in the bunch)...and they've come to be my babies.  But as you must push your children out into the world to make their own way...it was time for these to move aside...journey to new homes...so that new loves could be stored.

Here are some of my dresses that have been retired:

(L-R:  print silk sheath dress, blue/white print cotton dress, silk flower wadder,
one of my original TNT dresses from a cotton pique print,
brown eyelet dress & jacket,
reversible dress and red crepe dress from SWAP 2007)

And now two large green garbage bags are waiting to be picked up by the Salvation Army...and I think I'm going to go through my shoe collection and add a few pairs to the pile!  Especially since some new (*shoegasm* - thanks Clio for that word!) has been added to the collection.



So do you retire garments?  Donate them?  Or do you have a closet full of several sizes, and several decades? I know the closet specialists tell you that if you haven't worn something in a year it should be purged.  I'm not quite that strict anymore...I mean I have a lot of clothes and sometimes the season gets away from me before I can wear them.  But I do subscribe to the if it doesn't make you happy to wear it...if it's too fidgety on...or if you are holding onto it for sentimental reasons, maybe it's time it should go theory.

Tell me...do you retire and/or purge?  It's the question of the day, so talk back to me!

...as always, more later!

60 comments:

  1. "if it doesn't make you happy to wear it...if it's too fidgety on...or if you are holding onto it for sentimental reasons, maybe it's time it should go theory"

    And yes, I purge and find it's like getting rid of excess, heavy baggage I've been lugging around at airports. It's very free-ing.

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  2. Last year, I bought a new closet so I had to take all my stuff (and my boyfriend's, which is a pathetic amount compared to mine) out of the old one, impose order on it and place it in the new closet.

    I was ashamed at how much stuff I had.
    I sort of thought I purged my closet on a yearly basis and threw out anything which hadn't been worn in two years. But I guess I didn't.

    With the closet change, I threw out most of my purchased items, with the exception of sweaters, t-shirts and tank tops and I took a lot of 'early creations' out of the closet. However, I find myself unable to really get rid of them. I haven't worn anything 'goth' in 5 years and by now, the very thought of wearing 100% polyesther creeps me out but those long satin and lace mix-and-match skirts were my first 'self-drafted' garments...

    Your post is encouraging in the sense that it helps me over the thought that the only responsible answer to having lots of stuff would be to cut back on sewing for myself (a thought which I find rather depressing)

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  3. I love to purge my closet! It is always worth it when a week later I can't remember what I gave away, proof that I was no longer wearing those pieces and they are better off in a new home.

    However, I still have trouble letting go of the ones I make. I do eventually, but it is usually after I haven't worn the garment for several years, much longer than the normal life cycle for clothes I have purchased but no longer wear.

    Thanks again for your wonderful blog! I am always fascinated and inspired by your work!

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  4. Yes I purge my closet about twice a year. I read in a book once turn all you hanger backwards at the beginning of a season. What every hangers remained backwards are items you no longer where. Normally I'll than pull those items and put them in a drawer. If they sit in the drawer 6 months they end up in the donation bags. It's a small system that has worked well. One thing I notice more and more my items removed are RTW items that I did not like the fit or did not live up to what I thought..

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  5. About a year after I stopped working, I packed up all my (newly drycleaned) business clothes, including coats, shoes, bags, and most of the costume jewellery that went with them and took them to a women's charity that helps women enter/re-enter the working world. I keep a bag in the hall closet for things going to the Salvation Army which is good as otherwise, things would never make it out of my closet permanently. The problem is, sometimes there's not much left in the closet. The odd time, I'm so in love with a fabric that I keep the garment to remake into something else. Sometimes, I change the buttons if I've used special or vintage ones. I'm still getting used to being home all the time, and the colours I wear have changed, so purging is easier than it used to be. When I was working, usually it was only the mistakes that made it to the Sally, like the blouse that was too slippery or not quite the right colour, or wasn't super comfortable.

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  6. OK, I have to admit your title struck fear in me at first...I'm at work and just took a quick break to snoop online. I saw your title "Retired" and thought...retired what!!! I thought, she'd better not be retiring from bloging, then I thought, how awesome if she's retiring from her job (more time to sew) and I felt jealous for a second. Then I took time to read your blog...WHEW!!

    Now that I have my senses back I can answer your question HA! I do retire clothes from my closet now & then. My problem is currently I don't sew fast enough to replemish much needed items. So I find myself wearing RTW far to often and wearing some things way too much and not wearing other items because I've outgrown them (both size & style). But bottom line if I don't wear it or dislike it for some reason I send it off to one charity or another. I want to get to the point that most of my items are things that I've made, I'll get there soon. I enjoy your thought provoking questions...but don't scare me like that.

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  7. Since I switched closets and opted for the closet in my sewing room which is small I purge more now than in the past.

    At the time of the switch I did a major purge of garments that no longer fit or were just not liked anymore. I donate a portion to a church via my mom's friend and the others go to family & friends.

    Actually, I need to purge again, I store all my sweaters, tops & dresses in containers at the bottom of the closet and it has turned into a menage a trois... everything is mixed up and I spend too much time looking for something.

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  8. To stop myself wearing clothing that I love -- but which is too shabby to wear in public! Too big now! Too small now! You've never liked to wear that! -- I purge often. Some things go immediately into the on-the-way-to-Goodwill-but-my-sister-or-mother-might-want-them bag. Some things I take a pair of scissors to, scavenging zippers or buttons, because they are too awful to inflict on the deserving poor. I then shred the remaining fabric if I can't rescue any of it for another project, and put it in the trash, sealed up with the cat's litterbox gleanings, so that I will never be tempted to pull it back out of the garbage and wear it again.

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  9. I am a definite purger and did a lot of it also the past two weeks. I try to do a purge every spring and fall when I change over the clothing. However, you know the type of sewing I do, and any garments that took a lot of creativity and hand work I store away for posterity. I only have one stuffed tote so far. I want my grandchildren to know what their grandma made. I grandmother made lots of garments for her grandchildren and one Auntie kept them all. Now her grandchildren wear these classic heirloom garments on holidays and for church. I think it is a lovely tradition. Other than that, if I haven't touched it in a year, out it goes. I just wish I could get DH to do the same with some of his George Costanza knock-offs.

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  10. Mostly I donate. That being said, I am one who is guilty of several sizes and I have TWO closets full of clothes. I have recently given my husband a small space in my main closet...I know, I'm generous that way. I Have big plans to go through everything this summer and weed it out...I'm just not ready yet...I have to have the right mind set or I will end up keeping everything I love your blog!

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  11. When I wore professional work clothes, I donated them to Career Closet - I wear a plus size and they were always very much in demand. Perhaps there is an organization like that where you live? They help women re-entering the work force to have nice clothes for interviews, etc.

    For a while, I sold my better clothes through a consignment shop. That worked out surprisingly well, but in retirement, I don't have much that they would want.

    Now I just donate to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul. I usually go through my closet every Fall and Spring. I love the "suddenly I have enough hangers" feeling.

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  12. Nothing makes me feel better than letting go of clothing (sewn or purchased) and shoes that I know will benefit other women. Giving happily and willingly is what it's all about.

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  13. I purge. Often if it is a garment I have sewn it is so worn that I can't feel good about donating it, and I do something I used to think I would never do - I trash it!

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  14. My sister has a rule that for every new item that comes into her closet one must go out. I don't really have enough clothing, my closet is mostly empty because I had three serial babies and my shape is completely different and my size is still changing so a lot of clothing was donated. I have two charities that come by my house once a month each and I try to make sure that I have at least a box of stuff for them each time (but that includes baby and husband stuff, and not just clothes and shoes).

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  15. I've long been one of those people that are curious about your closet.

    Hmm. I find I can get rid of RTW clothing pretty quickly. However, I haven't bought any significant amount of RTW clothing in a couple of years, so I'm mostly just getting rid of well-worn things.

    With self-sewn clothes? Ah, so much harder, for the following reasons.

    - Any dress, I feel like I can at-least refashion into a top or a skirt. So, they sit in my mending pile forever. (Mending is not interesting.)

    - I wonder if Goodwill/Salvation Army will just throw them away because they are self-sewn, and I feel bad about the implied waste. Instead, they sit unworn in my closet. I know that isn't better, but it somehow feels better.

    Right now, I have a couple of suitcases sitting with things I should just throw away, but can't bring myself to, for the above reasons.

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  16. Just last night, I was going through my two closets trying to figure out which garments need to be retired. So far I cam up with about three. Mind you, there are a few more to add to the pile. I was too tired to go through everything.

    This is a process that I go through about twice a year. It allows me to make room for more and to give gently worn garments to someone else.

    This was a good post and it's interesting how we handle the retirement of our custom garments.

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  17. I'm a clothes hoarder AND purger if that's possible. I have clothes in multiple sizes that I keep, but when it's time I am happy to rip through my closet and donate moutains worth of clothing. My last purge was a year ago and I donated 20 full-size garbage bags to the Salvation Army. (The fact that I had accumulated that much before purging is ridiculous).

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  18. If I haven't worn it in two years, it gets donated. Very few exceptions to this rule.

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  19. I'm constantly purging. Sometimes I think I enjoy the sewing part more than the wearing part :-)

    I go through my closets twice a year - spring and fall. If I didn't wear it the previous season I likely won't wear it this season and it's gone! It's pretty rare that I miss something once it's been donated.

    Now, my shoes...I have a little harder time letting go of those babies :-)

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  20. I'm a donator, for sure. I purge the closet about every six months... and I'm always amazed at what I previously thought was worth keeping that suddenly hits the yard bag. I figure someone else might enjoy it when I don't.

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  21. I have some nice shoes that are 20 years old - sImple low pumps in a classic style -I am SURE that when I lose this weight, they will fit again. I have purged a lot, but there is always more that should go.

    My problem is that I have a few items that I really love and wear a lot, but are getting a little bit tired. In an ideal world, I would turn them into patterns for TNT new items - but realistically, that's not likely to happen - lots of tiny tucks? HA!

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  22. I donate. I do go through my clothes every season and get rid of things, even if I made it and only wore it once, if they don't get worn enough, etc. I know there's stuff that I should move on in my closet at the moment, too. The problem is that at one point I had a career and now I don't and am not sure if I'm going back. I've saved all the basics just in case. With the exception of Sunday church only clothes, I have a pretty casual wardrobe, but even that needs weeding out every once in a while.

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  23. Count me in the "purge" group. I purge at least quarterly. My neck of the woods has 4 distinct seasons. I do have a wonderfully large closet area with many extra shelves, but like your single shelf, they are filled. I confess to a single large tub with creations I don't wear, but just can't let go.

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  24. I purge if I haven't worn something regularly because of fit, style, etc. I don't purge if something's being kept for a different occasion, like the work wardrobe I made but didn't wear and now need again or the "skinny" jeans that I feel compelled to keep trying on from time to time. I also tend to purge ruthlessly when I'm out of space to hang. I'm due to purge now, and that will happen before I move to an apartment.

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  25. I love a good purge and do it often because then I love everything that is in my wardrobe. Although, I find that my will starts to weaken when it comes to things I've sewn and fabulous shoes.

    Like others, I donate everything that is still in good shape. My professional clothing and accessories go to Dress for Success (www.dressforsuccess.org), which helps disadvantaged women who are struggling to get on their feet.

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  26. I have a big closet (including an external rack for summer dresses), but I definitely still purge, and fairly ruthlessly. I have a LOT of clothes and so each item only gets worn a few times per season. But if it wasn't worn at all, it's gone, even if I love it. It's probably time to do this again...

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  27. Purging is an ongoing process in my closet. I'm quite good at getting rid of things, but then there's the dilemma of what to wear. I'm trying to fine tune a system which will still leave me enough of a choice of outfits, without overloading the closet. And whether I admit it or not - it is difficult to let go of things, because a lot of time and effort went into making any given item. (Most of my wardrobe is me-made.) It does help to think that perhaps someone else will be happy wearing something that just doesn't work on me. Unless an item is really "garbage" - everything gets donated.

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  28. I occasionally purge my closet of old clothes. Sometimes these include clothes that no longer fit, but often I wear my clothes OUT, frayed edges and all. It's about time for me to go through my clothes again. I take them to a local thrift store.

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  29. I know that I've done one or two purges in the last year and there are still things that need to come out.

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  30. My closet is very small so I do seasonal rotations which is a good time to purge. However, living in a country where I have almost no RTW options, I'm often leery of getting rid of things, yes I sew, but I've yet to tackle jeans, coats... and my pace is slow. Adding to this problem is the fact that Japanese thrift shops generally won't take my stuff because it's not J-size. And they would much rather have something that has any kind of "brand" label attached than something handmade. So I end up with a lot of my cast offs in bags, some of them eventually get thrown out and some of them get adopted by friends.

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  31. I definately purge and even though it is hard for the ones I have made, if they haven't been worn or need replacing off they go.

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  32. Gee.....I do a little of both!
    Have a wrap skirt I once made when my daughter was 3...she's now 20...that I just can't part with, even though I've out grown it years ago!
    I have a few other pieces hard to part with that are just like the wrap skirt. It tells a special story.
    Other than that, I purge every Spring and Fall.

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  33. I purge, although I still have a couple of items from 70's and 80's which I don't wear right now. I donate anything wearable and in good shape to ARC, or Salvation Army once in a while. Garments that are stained, faded, ripped or badly sewn should not be donated, that is not charity, but garments that just don't sit right on your body will probably fit someone else just fine.

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  34. I clean out my closet at least once a year and give the clothes to other family members. They are very happy with the results. Each year, I've gotten more ruthless cleaning the closet. I have purged shoes and need to purge more. The only issue is that I purge more than I sew so I am still trying to build a new wardrobe.

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  35. This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately because it is time to clean out my closet...and there are sewing bloggers like yourself who sew SO much more than I do! I just assumed you guys had magical closets. I just reorganized my fabric stash tonight, so my clothes closet is next! I will be donating.

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  36. I've only just started sewing for myself again, so most of my closet is RTW that I've altered -- even that can be hard to get rid of. I actually just bought more hangers last week. Sigh.

    Does it count that I like to purge hubby's clothes? (=

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  37. I also purge. I hate a stuffed closet. But I've also wondered, like Reethi, if Goodwill/Salvage Army is interested in handmade clothing.

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  38. I should purge or donate as I have so much clothing in so many sizes that I'm using up all of our considerable household closet space. I have a problem now with going into our packed main closet and so I wear the same few things over and over again.

    I'm realizing though what a drain having so much has on my psyche. You can't really enjoy it. As Hellene points out--and I know this from past experience--purging is "like getting rid of excess, heavy baggage." Since I'm not working this summer I am planning to take the time and energy to clean out my closets and donate clothing I no longer fit or need (business suits and shoes, for example) to those who could use it.

    The few times I've done a massive purge, and taken the advice to throw out or move out clothing I haven't used in over a year, I've found myself "needing" some of the stuff. Part of the problem is what I call my "poverty mentality." I need to have faith that, if in the future, I truly need something I'll be able to buy it or make it at that point. The universe will provide.

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  39. I keep it minimal to begin with -- I don't have a lot of clothes, and because I've moved a lot in the last few years I really think about whether I need more fabric or another garment. That said, I really need some new clothes! You ask whether there are decades worth of things in our closets, and I am a little embarrassed to say I still have some clothes from high school... 20 years ago! Besides looking a bit dated, they are getting threadbare and really need to go.

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  40. Yes, I definitely purge from my closet but most only goes to the spare room. (And yes, I do have a LOT of clothing.) Then, bits and pieces sneek back in when I'm not looking. So I guess I must still wear/like it.

    I've only just come back to sewing so most of my clothing is RTW which doesn't fit well as I'm short. The thought of retiring these items is hard to come to grips with when there is a large dollar amount involved. After having read many blogs and discovered that lots of people re-fashion bought items I'm looking at my 'retired' clothes with new eyes.

    So... I guess, I'm a wanna be purger.

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  41. I am not good at purging. I do it but a lot gets kept when it shouldn't and the last lot purged is still in bags in the garage..lol.

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  42. I did a major purge a few years ago, and as Hellenne Vermillion said, it was very free-ing. I'd been lugging around some of those ugly, but technically wearable clothes for several years and through a couple of moves. It was wonderful not to have them weighing me down anymore!

    Now, I do what I think of as 'editing' twice a year, one for fall/winter clothes and one for spring/summer. I only keep the things that make me happy when I see it in the closet. I'm still a beginner sewer, and don't have much time to devote to it, so most of my things are still RTW. Sometimes, I have things that I don't love, but fill a niche in my wardrobe. These go in a separate 'wear only when necessary' spot until I can replace with something I love. Funny though, it often turns out they weren't so necessary after all, and then I can let them move on to a new home.

    I also have to admit to hanging on to things I've made even when they didn't turn out so well. I've even done the 'I made it and I'm #*&%# well going to wear it!' thing. But as I make more, it gets easier to let the not so good ones go.

    I also thought you were going to tell us you retired from your job. I was going to give you a big cyber hug of congrats!

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  43. I'm a relentless purger. At times my closet has been small and at other times small, but too much stuff is just too much. I purge or retire the things I make just as much as the things I buy. When I sew again I could never manage if I didn't purge. It becomes too overwhelming.

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  44. Unless something I make is a complete wader I try to give it at least a few wearings before letting it go. Then I purge at the end of each season anything I'm not loving. I'm sewing more for myself lately so I'm sure I'll have to do more as time goes by. Most of mine goes to charity though some gets upcycled for my daughter.

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  45. Yes, I do purge. And am way overdue for another. If it's still in good condition, it goes to a mission for low(no?) income run by a church nearby. Otherwise in the trash it goes.

    Have you thought about adding a 2nd (maybe even a 3rd) shelf at the top of your closet, Carolyn? It makes organizing so much easier. Not to mention easier to get that sweater on the bottom out. I keep a small folding stool in the closet.

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  46. We are in purge mode here at our house. We electively downsized our home by over 1000 sqft and made a vow to get rid of 50% of our stuff. The conspicuous consumption was just overwhelming us. It has been a great experience. The closet was first and I only kept one thing that I don't wear and that is a LBD that no longer fits, but managed to get me a marriage proposal 21 years ago. I love that thing more than my wedding dress that went out the door years ago.

    I have always purged clothes though because it allowed space for more and as my daddy said I am a "clothes horse".

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  47. I make an effort to donate most of my things although I usually wear things out.

    I've never thought about donating my own me-made clothes. I think I'd freak out if I ever saw someone wearing my things.

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  48. For those of you who worry that charities don't want handmade things, relax. Even if the clothes don't go onto sales racks -- and many do! -- unusable clothing is bundled and sold to rag merchants, who recycle it for making paper, or carpet padding, or cardboard, etc. The charity still makes money on your donations.

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  49. Carolyn, did you see Angela Merkel of Germany at the state dinner with your President last night wearing I swear on high the same dress as the one you just made? Hers was all black and had the same neckline! I just about fell over.

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  50. I do purge and retire things, though I must in all honesty admit that I haven't got enough clothes to fill half the hanging space on the closet rod. Some of it is weight loss, some of it is lack of money, a lot of it is just getting more picky about how things fit and being unwilling to tolerate badly fitting garments. RTW rarely suits me so that leaves sewing, which I am just getting back into after several years hiatus.

    I do also throw things away when they get worn (holes, stretched out, too pilled, etc.), otherwise I'll just keep wearing them!

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  51. I only semi-purged for years, kept a bag in the closet but just put in things when I pulled them out and decided they could go. This past winter, I decided to clean out my two closets and paint and reshelve, then try on EVERY single thing. It took me ages, but I only put back what fits, what I like, and what is ready to wear now. If it needed a repair or something, I did it and then either donated or put back. I've taken two truck loads to The Sal, and I have more boxes waiting to go. Then I did my pantry, and I'm getting ready to do the linen closet. I've learned it's very satisfying, but certainly easier to do seasonally or annually! K

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  52. I am always in the process of retiring and purging my closet, It feels good. Then I flat-out donate it all. I used to offer it up to friends at work or family, but then you end up having it hanging around until someone picks it up or you end up with the leftovers after they go through it. So now, it's delivered directly to Salvation Army or City Mission clothing drive.

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  53. Good for you - you get to fulfil your hobby of sewing and to give stuff away to help other people. Win win!

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  54. I've just moved and brought all my clothes with me without hardly any purging and frankly I'm overwhelmed. As I live alone now all the closet space is mine and its full. I also have stuff in different sizes, lots of RTW as well as home sewn garments of various sizes and skill. I find it MUCH harder to get rid of things which were expensive or took a lot of time or expensive fabric.

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  55. I confess to heartless purgery. One in, one out. Anything that's fussy, ill-fitting or too hard to clean: out. I keep a bag next to my closet to deposit rejects instantly, and I never look inside. Once in, never out. Now, if only I could get Mr. Wonderful to join me in this practice....

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  56. I purge clothing about every 6 months or so. There are a few special things that I have made that I keep but mostly I purge. My closet is very small (as is my 1938 house) so space is extremely tight. I usually get new clothes in the spring & at Christmas, so I purge then. I wish that I could get my daughter to do likewise.

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  57. I winnow out the stuff I don't wear. I try to be ruthless, but I don't always succeed. Depending on the condition, I trash (all fitness clothing--it's pretty thrashed when it's on is way out the door)) or donate. One would expect that since I'm sewing most of my own clothing, I wouldn't have a lot of unflattering garments to toss, but sadly I do.

    Rose in SV

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  58. I just today started purging my "spare stuff" closet, so I can move the things in my real closet that I don't wear very often but am not yet ready to give away. It's amazing how after a year in the spare closet I can see those things objectively, even if I made them myself. I have more stuff to get rid of, but this has me feeling like it's OK to make more things and finally use those gorgeous fabrics!

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  59. I've got a really nice sized closet (especially for a house that's almost 100) but still end up taking over another one for my out-of-season jackets and dresses. And I purge at the change winter spring and summer to fall.

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  60. To those commenters who mentioned being wary of donating home sewn clothes.... I specifically look for plus size home sewn garments at my local goodwill outlet (where you pay per pound, not per item)! Often a beautiful plus size dress has enough fabric on the grain to make myself a beautiful skirt or sheath, and the quality of the home sewn plus size clothes seriously blows the RTW outta the water...

    do any of you know of any web ring or way for home sewists like you with those yards and yards of high quality fabric able to offer donating/low cost purchase for other sewists???

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