Project Simplify – Part 1: How did I get here?

ProjectSimplifyBannerI recently shared photos of my studio in complete disarray (compared to how it looked when I first set stuff up it’s kinda scary) and it really made me think – I haven’t even been quilting six years and I’ve amassed a huge amount of things in that amount of time. Let me recap just some of the stuff I have and try to not have a panic attack while I do it….

Sewing Machines

  • Pfaff Creative 2.0 (my main machine) “Kismet”
  • Pfaff Powerquilter 16.0 “Anne”
  • Janome 415 (currently housed at my office at work)
  • Singer 201-2 “Betty”
  • Singer Featherweight “Veronica”
  • Singer Heavy Duty (this is in my garage and I keep meaning to craigslist it…)
  • Brother 1034D Serger


  • Rowenta Pro
  • Panasonic Cordless
  • Panasonic regular
  • Oliso Pro (I got this one replaced under warranty and haven’t taken the new one out of the box)

But the rest of the stuff that really takes up room are my books, patterns, fabric, tools, notions, cutting stuff, and machine embroidery supplies. I’ve got a fair number of UFOs but most of those are organized into ArtBin boxes so they aren’t too in the way.

Katie…. how did it get this bad?

Part of my issue is mistaking needing special tools to make projects easier instead of just working on the project and getting it done. I over-complicate things in an effort to be efficient. I love trying out new ways to do things to see if it is indeed easier or faster. The result is a ton of stuff that I don’t need or use but I feel guilted into keeping because I bought it for ___ purpose and I might need it one day!

The other part of the issue is when people find out you’re a quilter they dig out their grandmas leftover fabric bits from the 1970’s and decide it needs to become yours so they can free up closet space. Or… they found some at a yard sale and thought you might use it. Or maybe you found some at a yard sale or a remnant bin and it ended up coming home with you.  I guess my point is we are given a lot of stuff that other people don’t want and end up taking on their clutter because it’s free… and we might use it.

And the fabric…. oh the fabric.

My fabric stash isn’t as bad as some but it’s still more than what I can probably use in several years worth of quilting. I also have lots of warm and natural batting on the roll ready to be used in projects. My precut stash is quite large and pretty to look at but I still am hesitant to cut into those!  I have a large moving box full of cut up denim pieces for a denim quilt that I’ve never even started.

I identified strongly with what Bonnie Hunter wrote in a post a while back when she was sharing about organizing her fat quarter stash. She talked about fabric being more than fabric… we see all the possibilities the beautiful fabric can be crafted into. We often want the perfect project for it so the fabric isn’t wasted on something insignificant.  Then the fabric sits on the shelf or in the bin waiting to be used while more fabric gets piled on top of it.

Tackling the Problem

  • When it comes to accepting freebies from friends…. consider saying no thanks unless it’s from another quilter and you know they have similar taste in fabric.
  • Destash, destash, destash
  • Instead of finding new creative ways to store more fabric or notions consider if you even need them in the first place… no matter how cute the latest new organizing idea on Pinterest is
  • Be okay with letting go of something you once loved but don’t use any longer.
  • Don’t fill up free space with more stuff
  • Donate items to charities

Of course this issue isn’t limited to just my crafting. I’ve got too much stuff kind of everywhere in my home and my garage is full of boxes I haven’t opened since we moved last year. It’s going to be a big project but I feel like it is necessary to clean unwanted things out of my life and lighten the load.

Luckily my cleanup is already prompting some fun sewing… I made another boxy bag on my serger for fun!

Made a weird square bag on my serger last night #serger #sewing

A video posted by Katie Ringo (@magnoliafly) on

And my Bourbon Moth quilt ladder came in so I was able to setup some more quilts on display in my living room.


  1. i can so relate to this! And yet, I just purchased an embroidery machine & will need to purchase embroidery supplies. Sigh.

  2. bobbi dougherty says:

    I so know what you are talking about. And I don’t even have a studio! 🙁 You can imagine. I do donate sometimes, but I also hold on to things that I think I may need, lol. *sigh*

  3. Good for you for tackling such a big project. It is so easy to collect stuff, and so hard to let it go! In the end, we’ll be happier with more room to breathe and create. Take it on a little at a time if a major purge is too overwhelming. Glad to see you sewing again…

  4. I can relate to what you are saying wholeheartedly! I love scrap quilts and have several totes of bits and pieces. Just the other night I was searching for some applique fabrics and began going through the totes, thinking this is ridiculous! I made the choice right then to go through and get rid of the majority of these bits and pieces and let someone else who has less enjoy. Have fun on your undertaking. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful creative day!

  5. I totally hear you Girlfriend! And agree with you a 100%. I just re-organized my sewing room, and although I didn’t really throw anything out, I separated fabrics I don’t really wanna use anymore (they were hand-me-downs from my friend), and will use them for quilt backs. When I’m sewing (which is not too often these days) I’m using fabrics from my stash, and trying to only replenish the colors I run low on. I’m not quiet done yet, hoping to finish it soon now we’re back into the school year routine…