Spring Cleaning Your Wardrobe

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My wardrobe has reached capacity and needs a good old sort through and it’s a great time of year to do it. When faced with a clear out, which is in no doubt a mammoth task, where do you start? We’ve put together some helpful tips to get your wardrobe organised and looking fresh. After all, you’ll need space for all those new sewing projects!

I can’t remember where I read this this but i’m sure there is a statistic which claims that we wear only 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. I think this is not just down to all those party dresses we keep for special occasions but more to do with things we no longer want to wear or don’t fit. It’s time to clear out the clutter and have a wardrobe you can be proud of and happy to open the doors of every morning!

Make it Fun:

As we’re settling into an afternoon of sorting we might as well make it fun, refreshments are key.. whether it be tea, cake, sweets or even wine. We’ve got some pretty good playlists if you need something to get the party started or what about getting a pal over so you can do it together. For the podcast nerds amongst us why not listen to Love to Sew or Stitchers Brew, so you can think about your next sewing project whilst sorting.

Where to Start:

Take EVERYTHING out of your wardrobe and all the other places clothes might be hiding: under the bed, in your ‘to mend/refashion at some point in my life’, UFOs (unfinished sewing objects) and even coats from your stand. I find the best place is to pile everything together on my bed, before the big sort begins.

The Big Sort:

First off, separate everything into piles of the same item, so all your jeans are together, vest tops are together etc. This allows you to see how much you have of everything, it’s often surprising! You don’t want to double up and if you’ve got a few similar tops, you might not want to keep all of them or refashion one or two to make them a bit different from each other. This way you are more likely to wear them.

Do you Still Like it?

Next, taking each garment type in turn, try them on. Yes, EVERYTHING. Make no assumptions! Now this is both the exciting part but could also be a bit depressing. When you try something on that might have been lurking in the back of your wardrobe for months (or years!), you might be delighted to discover it looks great and you tell yourself you must wear it more often or it might look terrible and just not fit anymore. Either way, to organise your wardrobe to be a collection of garments you want to wear is much more of a positive experience each morning than opening the doors of your wardrobe in despair (does ‘I can’t find anything I want to wear’ sound familiar?) If you like sewing your own clothes, then clearing out your wardrobe will give you room for new clothes, which means a fabric shopping trip is in order! What devastating news.

Decision Time:

Keep it:

This is everything you want to wear, in good condition (doesn’t need repairing etc.) and fits. These garments can start going back into your wardrobe. At this point my mum always reminds me to give my wardrobe a good dusting! Make sure everything is neatly folded and has a coat hanger, if necessary. Make a list at this point of anything you are missing e.g. black jeans or vest tops. Also anything else you need, like extra coat hangers. Try to organise your cardigans, vest tops, jeans, jumpers etc into piles and hang all your skirts and dresses together. This will make it easier to find things and put an outfit together on a daily basis.

Refashion/customise/repair it:

Did you try on something you love but some stitching has come undone, button fallen off or are you bored of a plain vest top and want to customise it? Gather all these together and if you have the time make a note of what you want to do to each garment, then when you have some spare time, you can select a repair or refashion project from the list. Also, very important at this point, ask yourself if you actually have the time to do all of these repairs or refashions? I have things that have been waiting over a year to do! Or would the space be better used for something else? If the repairs are too complicated, try taking them to a local shop that offers a repairs or alterations service (try your local dry cleaners). If you want to hear more about caring and repairing for your clothes check out Clothing Care Co. She has lots of interesting articles and useful tips.

Knowing when to let go:

Finally you should have a pile of clothes that you no longer like, don’t fit or have simply been worn out and you don’t want to keep, even to turn them into something completely different. Be very careful at this point if you are reconsidering keeping any of these items, otherwise you will end up putting a few of them back into the wardrobe! It is best to decide what to do with them instead. Don’t feel bad about clothes you no longer want, there are plenty of other people who can use them.

Recycling Your clothes: 

First of all, divide them into two groups, those that someone else can wear and those they can’t.

Those that can’t be worn again:  

Recycle Banks: For those clothes that can’t be worn again because they have worn out or are damaged, find a recycling centre or clothes bank to take them to (often at your local supermarket or community car park). Don’t bin them, otherwise it will add to the 30% of all our clothes than end up in landfill. They can be made into padding for furniture and cars and industrial blankets. Some local organisations do textile collections to raise money for charity too.

On the Highstreet: Some clothes shops such as Marks and Spencer and H&M have drop off points for unwanted clothes in store. The clothes are then recycled or passed on to charities.

Those that can be worn again:

Clothes Swap: Make an night of it and invite your friends round for a clothes swap! Make sure you don’t end up with too many new things though, otherwise you will fill the space you’ve just made in your wardrobe! This can be a really fun way to give clothes a new lease of life.

Charity Shops: You can find charity shops on almost every high street in the country, they are always looking for new good quality stock. You can feel good about yourself that you are helping to raise money for charities and someone else will get use from your clothes.

Sell It: You can easily sell your good quality clothes online through sites like eBay and make some cash to buy fabric for a new sewing project!

Freebies: Take the hassle out of finding somewhere to take your unwanted clothes and advertise them on your local Freecycle website.

If you want a little more info on all of this check out Love Your Clothes which has loads of great resources.

What Now?

Now all the hard work is done and you’ve got some space to fill it’s time to think about what you are going to sew! Having spent all this time getting rid of things you don’t wear why not think a little harder about what your wardrobe needs. What are the gaps that need filling?  We’ve got some great resources below so that you can start thinking about creating a more curated wardrobe.

Curating your Closet:

Looking for Sewing Inspiration:

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  1. sarahsews123

    I took a week off work to do exactly this…. And obviously to start sewing the things I needed. I did a good few repairs too whilst it was in my mind. Two dresses and an Agnes too have been returned to my wardrobe and I’ve started sewing a shirt dress. Even though there is so much less in my wardrobe than there used to be it’s so much easier to get dressed in the morning and my ‘to sew list’ is in priority order. Now I just need time to sew between children and work! This clear out really felt like therapy 🙂

  2. psychicsewerkathleen

    While reading this post I was remembering helping my aunt clear her closet. She was moving to another country and simply had to deal with every item in her house including her clothes. It was the most daunting task imaginable. So daunting I still remember it clearly almost 40 years later! I couldn’t even get my hand between the clothes to pull one out – that’s how stuffed it was. We did finally manage to wrestle the mountain out of the cave and I would hold up an item and ask, “Have you worn this in the last year?” If the answer was no, it went into the charity shop pile. After a few hours we had a manageable pile to put back in the closet. Ever since that experience if I make an item to go in my closet something must be donated. I’ve discovered that if I haven’t worn it in the last year I’m not going to – there are so many reasons why we don’t reach for a garment – fit is certainly a big one, colour (orphans), style, changing tastes. It’s far less time consuming and frustrating to do this OFTEN rather than leaving it for one grand finale 🙂