confession \\ downsizing

downsizing \\ yellow spool

downsizing \\ yellow spool

downsizing \\ yellow spool

Over the past five years or so, I’ve become what might be verging on minimalist.  I don’t know what qualifies someone as an actual “minimalist”, nor do I care, but this is a topic that I’ve had on the mind quite a bit lately.  I’m almost constantly analyzing my space and wondering what I need and what I can do without.  Are my minifying habits unhealthy?  Ungrateful?  Irresponsible?

As newlyweds, my husband and I had a lot of stuff.  Clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets, clothes, books, shoes, more clothes… you get it. After several moves I started to feel silly about the large boxes dedicated entirely to things like winter accessories, and picture frames.  Things that we didn’t NEED.  I started to get rid of things.  A lot of things.

At first, Rauland thought it was a little silly.  So while I purged my un-necessaries, he hung on to his trinkets.  Soon he started to see that maybe less really is more, and together, we made a lifestyle choice.  If we didn’t need it or use it, we didn’t really keep it.  Boy Scouts everywhere would grimace at how ill-prepared this mentality is.  (That said, we do have basic camping gear, 72 hour kits, and a decent food storage).

The photos above show our clothes rack.  What you see is both mine and Rauland’s entire wardrobes.  That’s not entirely true, our jackets are in the coat closet, and we have a few items in the laundry, but basically, yes, that is what we wear.  My personal wardrobe breakdown is as follows:

Shirts: 10
Sweaters/cardigans: 5
Dresses: 5
Skirts: 5
Pants/shorts: 4
Pajama pants: 3
Pajama shirts: 5
Shoes: 6 pair (running, loafers, sandals, rain boots, 2 dress flats)
Sweatshirts/coats: 4

You think I’m crazy, don’t you?  The truth is, I love having a simple closet.  Getting ready is easy.  I love the things I own.  Laundry is never a real hassle.

But this trend extends farther than my wardrobe.  For instance, we only have 4 dinner plates.  We decided if we were ever going to be feeding more than four people we’d just assume use paper plates, because we’re lazy like that.  I don’t want to wash more dishes than I have to.  With the exception of a few wall hangings we got for our wedding, we don’t have decorations.  We “decorate” with the things we use.  I think it’s part of what drove me to open my shop.  I see beauty in functional art.  And to me, quilts and pillows are absolutely functional.

See, the way we see it we’re simplifying our lives by only keeping the important stuff.  But I don’t think outsiders always see it that way.  I worry that our friends and family find us difficult to shop for, because they know we’re particular about the things we keep around the house.  This.  THIS is the entire reason I ever question our lifestyle choice.  I hate feeling like we’re ungrateful recipients.

So here’s my question: does downsizing make someone a big fat heartless jerk?  Or is it understandable that we all choose to live our own ways?
And I’d love to know: are you a hoarder or a purger? What’s your story?

“in the works” bin

Creating requires time management.  Serious time management.  Most of us don’t have all day everyday to work on our projects.  That’s why I have an “in the works” bin in my sewing table.  I allow myself to have up to 2 projects “in the works” at a time.  Without this restriction, I’d have 7 million things going on at all times, and none of them would ever get done.

Right now I’m in the middle of one of the more time consuming projects I’ve worked on in a while.  So if you haven’t seen much of me lately, it’s because I’ve been lost in this…

What do you have in the works?

hanging your notions wall

We’ve gone over all of the tutorials for the embroidery hoop notions wall, now I’ll just give you a quick how-to for hanging it.

First, trace each piece onto newspaper and label them.  Locate the studs in your wall and make sure the wall hooks and the thread rack are on studs (these are heaviest).  Arrange the newspaper circles and tape in place with masking tape.  Nail directly above each circle, and hang the embroidery hoops.  Oh, and take down the newspaper!

It’s been so much fun sharing these tutorials with you!  I hope you actually take the time to put one up yourself, it’s completely worth it!

embroidery hoop shelf

embroidery hoop shelf

There is only one truly sentimental item that I hang on to.  We move every six months or so from school, to work, and back again.  Because we always seem to be packing, I don’t like to keep more than I need, but my yellow spool is that something special.  If you’ve never read up about me, you may not know why Yellow Spool is named such.  I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with my husband, a pretty ring, and a big question.

It’s just a little something I like to stare at when I’m in a creative funk.  Do you have something small and sweet that you like to keep around?  Maybe you just have a neat spool or thimble of your own that you’d like to display?

MATERIALS NEEDED

2 or 3 embroidery hoops (all the same size)
wood glue
1 nail (if you’re displaying a spool of thread)

INSTRUCTIONS

Start with 2 or 3 embroidery hoops, all the same size.  The more hoops you use, the deeper the shelf will be.

For a standard shelf, skip this next step.  Because I keep a spool of thread on my shelf, I chose to nail through the bottom of the inner hoop on ONE embroidery hoop.  That nail would help keep the spool of thread from falling off of the shelf.

When you layer the shelf, the hoop with the nail should be either on top (for a 2-hoop shelf) or in the middle (for a 3-hoop shelf).  Before you glue the layers together, make sure the fasteners at the top of each hoop are loosened enough to be able to hang onto a nail.

Glue the sides of the bottom layer of the shelf.

Layer the next hoop on top and press.  Put a heavy book on top to “clamp” the glued pieces together.  Let it dry for several hours, according to the instructions on your wood glue.

If you would like to add another hoop for extra depth, just repeat.

If you remove your heavy book and notice that you maybe might have gone a little glue happy, not that I can relate… ahem, just use a blade to cut off the excess.  OR, you could skip a step, learn from my mistake, and go easy on the glue.  Apparently it still does it’s job even if you don’t plaster it on in heaping mounds, who’da thunk?

***NOTE: Someone expressed concern about the way I cut towards my fingers.  Bad habit, I know.  For safety reasons, cut with the blade moving away from your body***

Hang the shelf in place, and display your favorite things.

Believe it or not this is the last of the Notions Wall tutorials.  Has it felt endless?  Tomorrow I show you how to hang them and announce the winner of the Notions Wall Giveaway.

embroidery hoop thread rack

embroidery hoop thread rack

Before I put together my notions wall, I kept my thread in a divided container (like for beads).  It worked for my limited space; I could pack it up and put it away, but it was a pain in the kahootz.  Now that I have my thread all up at eye level, it’s so convenient to just grab and go.  Plus, it gives the wall that added “yup, these are my sewing things” feel.  One rack for my thread, another for my bobbins, and I’m set.  I will confess, having my thread displayed made me wish that spools were still made of wood, rather than plastic, but it is what it is.

MATERIALS NEEDED

Embroidery hoops (one for each thread rack)
1/8″ dowels
Wood glue
Blade

INSTRUCTIONS

Start by cutting your dowels down.  For my spools, I cut 3 1/4″ pieces.  For my bobbins, I cut 1 1/2″ pieces.  To start, just make an indentation with the blade all the way around the dowel, then snap.

I used 15 pieces for each rack, but depending on the size of your embroidery hoops you may want more or less.

The idea behind this tutorial is that you’re going to wedge the dowels in between the two layers of the embroidery hoop, and in order to do so, you’ll need to loosen the fastener at the top of the hoop as much as possible without screwing it all the way out.  This should leave you with enough space for the dowels.

Now it’s all just a matter of spacing the dowels correctly.  You’ll want to start by putting dowels on the top, bottom, and sides- think 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock.

The spaces in between the dowels are going to be tighter, so you’ll want to put your next dowel in right next to one of the dowels you already had in place, and then slide it over.

Keep doing this until all of your dowels are in, spread around the hoop fairly evenly.  Then you can space them perfectly even.  The dowels on my spool rack are spaced 2″ apart, and the dowels on my bobbin rack are spaced 1 1/2″ apart.  Again, this will just depend on the size of embroidery hoop you got.  To figure out the spacing, measure the circumference of the hoop and divide it by the number of dowels you want to put in place.

Once the hoop is set up how you’d like it, set it upside down on some newspaper and place a small amount of wood glue at each joint.  Start with a small amount of glue, and if you decide you need more later, you can go back and re-glue it.

Let it sit for a few hours, according to the instructions on your wood glue.

Once the glue is dry, it should be strong enough to hang on the wall and dress with your spools and bobbins.

And they can easily be taken off of the wall to use at your sewing table any time – you know, if you’re working on a project that requires an obnoxious variation in thread color.

Just joining this series?  Find the other Notions Wall tutorials HERE.

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