Sunday, May 03, 2015

Closet Cull - Part One

The weather is changing here on the East Coast and it's getting warmer. I've been wearing some of my newer dresses along with some of the dresses I made last winter. So with the warmer weather approaching, I'm forced to look at the summer clothing that no longer fits.

Mentally and emotionally I can only do about 10-20 garments at a time. There are too many memories associated with each piece. As happy as I am for the weight loss, the amount of time invested in creating each garment slaps me up side the head as I add it to the pile. Even though the donation pile is getting larger and I know that someone else will get some joy from these pieces, it still hurts as each one is placed in that pile.

Now I just knew that my Vogue 1250 dresses would still fit. I've made 9 of them from some very pretty knit fabrics. They have all hit the donation pile and this was a huge blow. I loved those dresses. I'd managed to make them fit my bodacious body and they kept me on trend. 

Now they are all too big, seriously swimming on me from the waist down. The curved centerback seam is halfway down my backside. To make them work, I'd have to take them apart and resew them...but here's the rip.  When I pull them closer on me, it's just not an attractive look. I now understand why this dress didn't work on some of my fellow sewists.

Here are a few of the Vogue 1250 dresses, all made in 2012-2013, that hit the donation pile ~





This dress also hit the pile ~



Again too big! I thought about trying to save it but fat lifts things up...when it's gone everything just flops. So that beautiful waistband falls in a very unappealing place. Hopefully someone else will appreciate it's beauty.



I removed the embellishment from this dress last year and now it will be donated. Just not worth fixing. I was much puffier last summer ~ 30 lbs puffier ~ and I was actually happy wearing this looser fitting dress but donation is its best fate now.

There were a few more pieces that went into the pile but not worth mentioning. I'm slowly but surely making my way through the closet, determining what I can save, what needs to go and what I may try to make again.

I've found some interesting pieces in the closet that I will keep...some need some simple alterations ~ an hour's worth of corrections at most ~ some fit right off the hanger. Two of the better finds are below ~



I loved this dress and haven't been able to wear it in years. YEARS! It just had such a sentimental attachment that I was unable to give it away. It was made in 2007 from a piece of fabric that I loved. It's a silhouette that I've used often for a dress but the sleeves on the topper got tight and I moved on. To say that I was thrilled to have it fit again is an understatement. Though I'm now 10 lbs lighter than I was in the picture above.

There were two dresses that encouraged me to continue on in my TNT dress journey ~ the first one is a pink silk dress and this one ~



It doesn't fit perfectly now. I will have to remove the zipper and pull in some of the center back seam to give the dress a closer fit. But it's worth the time it will take to keep it in the closet and make it wearable.

There will be more closet cull posts. I want to give some of these pieces the proper goodbye that they deserve. I've spent loads of hours thinking about & plotting how to make them, as well as, sewing them so there is much sorrow at parting with them. I know that I will make more. I know that styles change and everything wouldn't have remained in my closet forever...but they will be missed! 

I have noticed something from this exercise though, everything that I've made in the last six years is now too big. I've been my most prolific in the last six years so quite a bit is being donated. Loads of techniques, hours of thoughts, designer interpretations, etc. are now being given away...*sigh* I know that this is part of my creative journey but it makes me very sad...

...as always more later!


29 comments:

  1. I just recently did the same with garments that are just a bit too small, only I couldn't part with them. Instead I packed them and stored them for hopefully a future time that I can fit into them again. I know that you will replace all these beloved garments with new amazing pieces that you will love just as much and I cannot wait to see what you come up with.

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  2. It is so hard to part with things you've put your heart and soul into....BUT rejoice in the fact that you are slimmer....rejoice about the fact that you are reducing and enjoy the journey!!! You probably still have enough stash to come up with the same again - well almost!

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  3. Carolyn, you look fantastic. I have been back on Weight Watchers the last two months, and am down almost ten pounds. Your transformation has been a tremendous encouragement to me. Your "loss" of clothing will bless someone else. And I can't wait to see your new creations. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog.

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  4. You've always had such a wonderful wardrobe. Now you will have a new wonderful wardrobe.

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  5. It's odd but true that the weight loss journey brings sorrows as well as joys. It's good to acknowledge the losses. They were beautiful dresses!

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  6. I can understand you being sad. Best not to dwell on the sad aspect. Think of all the garments as being test garments for the seamstress you are now. And the space in your wardrobe for new stuff. Love that spot dress and jacket. Fun that it now fits. Thats a celebration. And congratulations on the continued weight loss.

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  7. Oh my, I love the black and white outfit, you look great.

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  8. It is SO HARD to clean out the closet when those things were made with anticipation and worn with joy. Sending cyber hugs and looking forward to seeing the new wardrobe as it is created!

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  9. I see thru your blog posts that lots of thought and energy goes into sewing your garments. All of this is documented so you'll always be able to review and remember them. On the bright side with your new figure I believe you can now wear new shapes which should be a fun reward! I'm anxious to see what you make this year! Karen

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  10. I too understand how you feel. I have lost 64 pounds in the last year. It's hard to let go of some pieces you love! You will make many more wonderful pieces, I look so forward to seeing those creations. I appreciate that you share them with me via your blog! I feel as tho we are old friends!

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  11. Awww. That's so tough, even if it is for a good reason. You have made some amazing garments and you have a fantastic stash just waiting to become beautiful garments!!!!

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  12. Do you have one of those charities that gives clothes to working women just starting out or going back to work after a divorce? Interview suits, etc. I am sure a place like that would love your clothes. It would be wonderful if some mom just going back to work could start out with some of your beautiful and work-appropriate dresses. Just a thought...Junior League used to run ours and then another nonprofit took it over.

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    1. In most cities the organization is Dress For Success

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  13. There will be some mighty happy recipients I am sure.

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  14. Oh I hope some of your recipient appreciate the details you have put into these dresses as they all looked amazing.

    Carolyn, our sewing weekend was a weekend to sew whatever we wanted to. I still have two pattern pieces pinned to fabric for a jeans jacket.

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  15. I've been lurking for several weeks, admiring your work. Thank you for the effort you put into posting. This subject of letting items go from our lives brought me out of the woodwork; it's something that I've been rolling around in my brain for a couple weeks.

    I sewed a lot when I was in my teens and 20s and early 30s, but I gave it up when I had young kids. I was having two main problems: sewing is not portable, and so little of what I made met my expectations. I still have a lot of mixed feelings (guilt?) about how much time and effort and expense I put into projects that ended up donated or I can't remember where else.

    I read Marie Kondo's book a couple weeks ago, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," and one of her ideas really resonated with me. The idea is that so many of our items have a contribution to make to our life, and then when that time has passed, it's okay to release them to their next phase (contributing to someone else's life). And when we release them, thank them for what they have given you. Literally, hold each item in your hands and look directly at it and thank it. I thought this was too touchy-feely for me when I first read it; I may have even snorted. But I really have found it quite freeing. I haven't done any kind of big clean, but I am definitely releasing items more easily now with that idea in mind.

    My feelings about my makes were clearly different from yours. You were happy with them and were, in a way, separated from them unwillingly (as a consequence of other decisions you made, not as a choice in and of itself). But perhaps it can be freeing, or positive in some way, to think of how those items brought you happiness in a certain time in your life, and were the means to your developing greater skill in your craft.

    Anyway, just a thought I had when I was reading your post. Congratulations on your weight loss, and congratulations on your skillful sewing!

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    1. I read Marie Kondo's book and it inspired me to donate 20 garbage bag of high-quality clothes to a local charity. I loved the book and the concept. So carry on with the culling and making room for more of your stylish clothes for your evolving physique.

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  16. I am a big believer in alterations, both patterns and garments. You've been such a detail inspiration to me, another has been fitforaqueen on wordpress. Mrs Mole does bridal alterations in all directions, and is inspiring as to how to make it work, beautifully.
    That said, it's great to let stuff go. I'm never getting that dinky again, so giving up some of those makes has been delightful. And seeing a teenager walking around in my Ralph Lauren yardage 'oranges' dress (the source for my love of botanical prints) this weekend has just made my heart sing. Sometimes its time to move on.

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  17. There is a Dress for Success I think in NY Beautifully made plus size clothing is hard to come by. Clothing that looks expensive and elegant will be much appreciated by women trying to start over. Knowing that someone else will look fabulous in your clothing might make you feel better.

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  18. It's extremely difficult to get rid of things we make, isn't it? I'm getting ready to do another closet cull myself. I do this about twice a year and always feel sad donating my me-made garment a, but know they're going to a new home. It just means there's more room in the closet for for new dresses!

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  19. Carolyn, thank you for sharing another eloquent post about your journey. A good decision to mark your parting with these items but as others have said their time with you is over, they have made their contribution and now I hope they bring joy to others. Well done on your weight loss, you look fantastic in the spot dress and top. You are an inspiration x

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  20. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of these clothes, but then revel in all the new things you can wear/create, and in finding those items in the back of the closet that are working again. Also, just remember that is it OK to be sad. We can't appreciate the good without occasionally dipping our toes in to the bad.

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  21. I find a good clear out is very cathartic, whether it is the kitchen cupboards or the wardrobes, but it is hard letting go of things you have put your own time and love into. Well done on the weight loss, your letting go of hat too!

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  22. What a poignant post. The clothing we make ourselves reflects such a joyous exercise and accomplishment that it really IS hard to part with pieces that no longer fit, are no longer in style, or that are finally showing advanced signs of wear. They're our friends, our cheer-er-uppers, our guaranteed smile when we open our closets to a riot of color and styles that WE proudly crafted with our own two hands (plus or minus a cuss or two and a few botched zippers and seams along the way). It's hard to part with them without acknowledging the contribution they've made to basic sanity, happiness, sense of accomplishment, and self-worth. But do cull away, because you're so wonderfully talented and motivated that they'll be replaced by even prettier, beautifully fitted pieces. Of that, your very large cheering section out here in blog land is quite sure! Creative Hormone Rush

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  23. It's a pity that so many of your lovely creations don't fit any more, but you have regained that beautiful black and white outfit. A definite cause for rejoicing.

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  24. I just recently did a purge of all the garments in my closet that were making me miserable because they no longer fit (for the opposite reason of yours, I might add). I had hung onto them for so long because of the work that I put into them and the expense of the materials. But they were making me miserable staring at me every time I looked into the closet. Miserable!

    So I tried everything on (what a horrendous task - so exhausting!) and put the garments into three piles: 1) get outta sight, 'cuz I am so done with you; 2) minor alterations required to make wearable; and 3) not fitting either me or lifestyle at the moment, but I'm keeping. I am not a keeper of anything. I have serious regrets about a few things that I've sent out of my life during annual purges, so I decided to err on the side of caution this time around. I don't know if my 3 DD's will ever wear any of it, but I love the fabrics and the construction too much to part with some garments at the moment.

    I must say, too, that once everything ill- fitting was out of my closet, I was elated to feel like the sun was shining on the sewjo again. I am looking forward to new makes this summer. Ones that I will be proud of and that will fit me as I am right now, and that will make me happy to make and wear.

    Thank you for sharing your journey, Carolyn. You have a gorgeous wardrobe, a stash that's TDF, and you are going to have more beautiful garments that you will love wearing as you continue doing what you love to do: create well-fitting, well made clothes.

    BTW, Nancy K's comment about Dress for Success echos my thoughts on a new home for your garments. They are sure to bless so many.

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  25. I was thinking about Marie Kondo's book, too. I like her idea that you concentrate on what you are keeping, not what you are discarding. I agree that finding a way to thank the discards can be helpful.

    I wear a size 24 and I know that charities usually are very happy to get large sizes. I feel a kinship with anyone who needs a large size - they are just me under different circumstances that could happen to any of us anytime.

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  26. It's so cliche, but you know the saying, for every door that closes another opens.
    You do have the stash and the skills, and right now obviously some mojo and some time...so by making room in the closet you are making opportunities to create wonderful new clothes. Embrace it!
    I need to call you, you available today?

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