Thursdays with Deb J ~ Craft Supply Overload

Deb J

Deb J

In the year 2000 I created my first scrapbook project ever. I had no supplies so I went to the store and bought a few sheets of paper and some embellishments in order to create a small, soft bound encouragement album for my boss who was going through chemo. I made the pages, decorated two as the intro and my page and then passed it among our co-workers so they could decorate a page according to their tastes. When it was done I had nothing left of the supplies. That was good.

Not long after that I was invited to a scrapbook supply selling party. It was fun. I enjoyed what we made. My boss showed me some of her scrapbook pages she had made and I was given the gift of a scrapbook magazine. Suddenly this became a new hobby. Looking back I realize that the shopping for and buying of supplies was more the hobby than making the pages. I was hooked. I took lots of classes online, subscribed to four magazines, and bought hundreds of dollars worth of supplies. They piled up and piled up. I bought things to organize them in and furniture to put the organizing containers in. Even when money was tight I was easily swayed by the sight of new products. It had become an obsession.

I did make a number of albums and many, many cards. I gave away scrapbooked style items to friends and enjoyed it all. Yet I still had this plethora of supplies. Stickers for every occasion. Brads, eyelets, buttons, punches, embossing plates, stamps and ink pads, special scissors, and on and on. Some things I never used. Some things that came in packages saw a few things used and then the rest stored for the duration. I didn’t want the things I did to become too much the same. I liked variety. But I didn’t have that much variety in my life, was single with no children, and came from a small family.

One day, thanks to 365 Less Things, I realized that I had way more than I needed. In fact, I realized that I was actually OVER scrapbooking. So began the decluttering of hundreds of scrapbooking supplies. I sold some but soon came to realize that I just wanted rid of them. I gave them away—to a new mother who didn’t have the money to buy a lot but wanted to scrapbook her baby son’s life. To a friend who scrapbooks what has happened in the life of her huge extended family. To the friend who makes greeting cards and sells them for spending money. Now the supplies are gone and so is much of the furniture needed to store them. Do you have a hobby/craft that is out of control and you need to re-examine?

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I went to an arts & crafts school for adults for a couple of years – and “dropped out” a couple of years ago. I still have several UNFINISHED projects under the bed, including materials for the projects. I never take up any of the projects to finish them even though some of them are very nice – or would be very nice when finished or at least more recycleable. I feel bad about throwing them away, I feel that if I would finish them, I could recycle them, AND I still have a “what if” in my mind: What if I decide to go back to the craft school? “Just in case” I should finish all the projects and document them, for my portfolio. Argrhrhrhrhhrh….

    • Mari, I so understand your thinking. All of those what if’s. What is keeping you from completing the projects? Do you really think you might go back to the school? Do you have the time to complete the projects? Can you think of people to give/sell them to once finished? Are they really good examples for your portfolio? ???? I would weigh the pros and cons then make a decluttering decision based on that.

  2. I got rid of my cross-stitch supplies when I realized my eyes were going bad. I got rid of my scrapbook supplies after making only three books. I have retained two unfinished quilts as SOMEDAY I will finish them. Yeah, right. But, I did get rid of a lot of extra fabric for quilting and plan not to start any new quilts until/unless I get the other two done. I really enjoy quilting, but it takes more time then I can dedicate right now.

    • Michelle, I did the same thing with my cross stitch supplies. I had two quilt tops and 3 quilts worth of already cut pieces. I have a friend who quilts and is part of a group that makes quilts for womens shelters, new babies, hospices, etc. I gave them all to her and she finished them and then gave them away.

      • The really sad part is that one of the quilts is nearly complete. It has been pieced and quilted. I have washed and cut out the binding pieces . . . . but I don’t know how to bind a quilt. LOL The two baby quilts I did I just stitched the edge closed by hand. One of the local quilt shops occasionally has a class on binding and I really should do that, but, well, you know. Life. Gets. In. The. Way. 😉

        • My friend who quilts sits and binds them while we have our Bible Study and things like that. Hope you find out how to do it soon.

        • Hi Michelle, I would be happy to bind your quilt for you. I am in New Zealand, where are you?

        • There is a website called Quilting Board (probably Google is the easiest way to find it) you can join and get free e-mails from. There are a lot of quilters (some men) who comment on different topics, and once a week they e-mail how-to-articles on quilting/sewing. Several times it has been about binding and I think there are archives that have the articles. Most live in the USA, but some are in Canada and a lot of them quilt for their occupation so they are knowledgeable about a lot of things. I enjoy it, even though I gave up on having time to quilt.

  3. I did some of this on a much smaller scale with cross stitch, miniatures (doll house), and quilting. I made one cross stitch chair cushion, never put the doll house together, and made 3 baby quilt for two youngest grandsons. I finally woke up and have donated or given some of it to one granddaughter who has some interest in sewing. I sold or donated embroidery thread, books, magazines, doll house, material for quilting, storage box for embroidery thread, and other odds & ends. However, as you might guess, I still have a lot of material for sewing and the thread, elastic, etc. that goes with it and a quilting hoop.. I keep going through it and each time haul some more to the thrift shop. Material has become so inferior but expensive that I am keeping a fair amount, but do not plan to buy any, unless I run out some day (LOL)–yeah, like that is going to happen.

    • Nana, it sounds like you have the same issues I did. It’s really hard to pass on things you have been collecting, paid good money for, and “might” use someday. I finally realized that someday seldom comes. You are right about material being more expensive yet of poorer quality. So many things are that way any more.

  4. I have spent the last year completing x-stitch projects. I had them framed and then donated them to a local charity for a raffle. The final one is for me. I enjoy x-stitch but my eyes aren’t up to any more, sadly.
    As far as scrap booking goes I am using up the few supplies I have and there’ll be no more of that either!!

    • Good job making and donating those x-stitch projects. My problem wasn’t my sight but I could no longer hold the needle or hoop very long. We still have the thread because we (mostly Mom) use it for other things. But I gave away all the patterns I had.

  5. I agree. I have been scrapbooking and collecting supplies since 1997. It has gotten to the point that I have so much stuff that I don’t even find it easy to scrapbook anymore. I am getting back to basics and going to keep it super simple so that I can actually DO the thing that I love to do. I am going through it all to start getting rid of the excess. Great post! Thanks!

    • Kathi, I have decided that when I want to scrapbook something or make a card I will go then and get what I need for that item. I just had so much stuff and realized that there were so many things I would never use because they weren’t my style. This way I will be finding something that goes with my need for that time.

  6. That sounds so familiar! I just love to buy new supplies and they all pile up in my studio. So I have to buy more furniture to store it…
    I do use a lot of it but I became a hoarder. In German we use the word “messie” for a person like that…
    I do have to declutter in my studio but I hate to do it because I can’t make up my mind. It’s this “you could use it some day”-thing…
    Thanks for reminding.

    • Anne0904, I’m glad I was able to spur you on and get you thinking about getting rid of some of your things.

  7. Great post Deb J! My hobby is crochet and when I got started about three years ago there were so many things I wanted to make and I bought a huge amount of yarn – it was on sale, it was free shipping etc etc. Earlier this year I realized I was falling into a case of SABLE (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy) and decided to use up as much of it as I can. I have just started a second afghan which should make a pretty good dent in my supplies. I am enjoying working through the yarn but my plan is to get to the stage where I only purchase what I need for a project that I actually have in mind to do, and not overload myself with an overwhelming amount of yarn, which was then causing me anxiety about what to use it for. There will most likely always be yarn around to buy, and there will always be sales and good deals.

    • Christine, I sooo understand. I had all that scrapbook stuff and was having anxiety because I wasn’t using it up. Getting rid of it was like having 1000# removed from my shoulders. I”m glad you are getting all your crochet yarn used up. I wish I could get past a chain stitch and learn to really crochet.

    • Love the SABLE idea too.

    • Love the SABLE acronym

  8. My primary hobby is cross-stitch. I’ve been slowly culling those projects and fabrics I know I will no longer use. When my eyes started to fail I bought an Otte lamp and a magnifying headset in order to see where I need to put my needle. I stitch every day and it is my therapy but it can also be a curse as it is easy to accumulate lots of stash. I’ve really slowed down my acquisition of charts, fabrics and threads thanks to 365 Less Things and am concentrating on the projects I have on hand.

    • Alice, I understand exactly what you are talking about. I used to x-stitch and I had so much to pick from. Now it is all gone because I can no longer x-stitch.

      • Hi Alice – I really used to love cross-stitch. I’d get invited over to friends’ homes for football games, which I am not a fan, and I’d bring a cross-stitch project. I’d get the fun of being with friends, but not have to endure watching a game. LOL Makes me sad that my eyes simply cannot handle cross-stitch any longer. Good for you on figuring out a way around bad eyesight. 🙂

  9. I think this idea can be expanded to include other hobbies, not just crafts…let’s include the men (and women) with their piles of tools, do those all get used? I’m pretty sure my hubby has some that have never even been taken out of the box! I did finally get him to declutter his old camera supplies, but now he’s starting with new (digital) camera supplies…sigh. I am pretty proud of myself, I have made a lot of quilts over the past two years by using up what I have and not buying new fabric. (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy…guilty as charged!)

    • Deanna, you are so right about other things besides crafts. When my father died we took the tools and sold them for 1/3 their retail price and made over $1000. We still were able to keep a few things I knew we could use too. Tools, airplane/car models, puzzles, gardening tools/containers, etc. There are a number of things this could pertain to.

  10. Ah yes, craft projects.. Great post! I rounded up all my craft projects a few years ago and created the one space in a cupboard for them – they now have to fit into 2 drawers and a shelf. My trouble is I like doing lots of different things so I knit, felt, crochet, sew (very rarely and generally to fix or make something rather than actually follow a pattern). like those posting before me, and thanks to 365 I have pared down my collection – I had started to collect stuff from other people for all the projects I might do someday. Fortunately I saw sense, rounded up all the amazing embroidery threads, sewing reels, extra buttons, fastenings, ribbons etc and gave them to an upcycling charity. I took pics of all the beautiful rainbows of colours first 🙂 I’ve also finished most of the projects I have started although a few others have emerged requiring completion since as I go through other drawers and my mum downsized so gave me back a couple of things I had made her years ago.

    • Fruitcake, it sounds like you have already seen the light on this. I still have things that might go once I give it some time to see if I will use them. I have a policy now–I will not accept back something I made and gave. If the receiver no longer wants it they can pass it on any way they want.

  11. Oh yes Deb, I hear what you’re saying. I’m a stitcher and I have way to many project to do and goodness it’s hard to let go, but there are things I will just never have time or the eyesight to do. The linens I used 10 years ago are to fine for me to see easily. Thanks for the honesty in this post. I just need to forget the guilt of money I spent on things I now can’t use and just bless someone else with my bits and pieces.
    Blessings Gail

  12. Hi Deb J! I did have a hobby once but ditched it years ago. I think it takes great courage to admit that we lost interest in something or that we are not so “into something” anymore. It all comes down to living the life we have (and can) and living an imaginary life with our imaginary self 😀 .

    • Andreia, you are so right. I love this–“It all comes down to living the life we have (and can) and living an imaginary life with our imaginary self.”

  13. Deb J and Andreia – first off, great post Deb J – secondly, I agree with Andreia. Often hobbies end up ‘owning’ us rather than being something we choose to do for enjoyment. And because of the investment that has gone into the hobby we feel reluctant to abandon ship when its run its course.

    • Moni, you are right. Owning me was what was happening with my scrapbooking. I”m glad it doesn’t own me any more.

  14. I’m a knitter; in fact, I’m a master knitter according to The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA). And I’m a hand spinner and a beginning weaver. Do you have any idea HOW MUCH STUFF is required to be a spinner or weaver? I’m one of the few people in my guild who owns only ONE spinning wheel and ONE loom.

    I decided a couple of years ago to knit down my yarn stash. And I’m well on my way. I’ve been knitting hats and more hats. I offer them for sale and then what doesn’t sell during the year, I give to charity to keep people in cold climates warmer during the winter. The day I have knitted all my extra yarn I shall celebrate!

    • Wow Willow! It’s neat that you are so good. But I also know how much stuff you have if you are spinning and weaving. I’ll celebrate with you when you tell us your stash is depleted.

  15. What are some thoughts on giving scrapbooks as gifts? Scrapbooks are not really my thing and I find that they end up cluttering up my coffee table until I have the guts to throw them out. But unfortunately a couple of relatives are really into them. We were given one for our wedding, which to be honest I hated and my husband can’t remember it so he mustn’t of been that into it either. It got “lost in a move” 🙂 Saturday it is my son’s 1st birthday and I have been told that there is another one on its way! I cant believe it as I have stated that I don’t like them! The Aunt that does them spends alot of time and effort doing them so in order not to hurt her feelings we are obliged to accept it and say it is nice? I guess we have no option but for it to sit around and clutter up our house?

    • Chris, scrapbooks are nice to give as gifts if you know that the recipient likes them. In a case like yours your aunt should understand your dislike and honor that. I don’t know your situation as far as how you aunt would take things but I when she gave it to me I would give it back to her and tell her that since she likes scrapbooks so well why doesn’t she keep it to remember your son’s first year. Then I would tell her again that you don’t really want scrapbooks.

  16. Deb J,
    You are spot on with re-examining the crafts. Sometimes we enjoy doing something for 1-2 projects/gifts, then we are DONE. It is so wonderful when we can finally recognize that not all hobbies have to be permanent. Some can come and go on a whim. Been there, tried that 🙂 metality. I think we should all take the re-examine approach to everything in our lives, including the clutter. It may have served us well in the past, but maybe we don’t need it around any longer. Let it serve someone else.

    • Kinberley, I love this — “It is so wonderful when we can finally recognize that not all hobbies have to be permanent.”

  17. Crafting is something that was encouraged by my mother and grandmothers since I was tiny (pre-kindergarden tiny) so I have lots of hobbies and lots of supplies. It can be hard to admit when you’re over something, especially if you were doing it for a long time. I made a compromise with myself that has reduced the piles a lot. When the craft store was having a $1 sales I picked up a pile of pretty photo boxes. Any hobby that I wasn’t sure I was forever done with had to fit into one box. For example, my primary hobby from the age of 12 until some time in my 20s was dollmaking. Stuffing and fabric and paint are easy to reacquire so they were donated. Specialty tools like 12″ sculpting needles and high quality doll joints were saved in the box.

    It’s not a clean break but sometimes compromise is the only way to make progress. Until I can the hobbies are now small, neatly stacked, labeled and no longer mixed in with my active projects.

    • Mel, I think you had a good idea with this — “sometimes compromise is the only way to make progress. Until I can the hobbies are now small, neatly stacked, labeled and no longer mixed in with my active projects.”

  18. I guess I was lucky – my initial quilting fabrics were gifts from my mother’s and grandmother’s stashes, so I never got in the habit of buying fabrics except for specific projects. I try to avoid having leftovers from projects, but that lands me in messy situations where I run out of a color partway through and have to improvise. Oh well, gives the quilts character or something. 🙂 I think I have about two more baby quilts-worth of supplies to work through, as well as some projects to finish and finished baby quilts to gift. It will be nice to get that into a more condensed state, but I really wanted to make a special pattern for my first niece’s baby quilt, so I bought some new fabrics for that pattern (the spaceship from Firefly). And then ran out of 2 colors and had to improvise the pattern. 😛

    It was a relief to realize that I was terrible at scrapbooking and should get that stuff out of my house to avoid any future temptation to make abominations.

    • Rebecca J, it sounds like you are doing it the right way. I have a friend who has 1000’s of pieces of fabric. She will never get it all used. Just walking down her hallway and into her quilting room makes me feel claustrophobic.

  19. Out of all the arts and crafts I’ve done, mixed media collage has been my favorite. The thing about this is that many of the best materials are free, so going to the recycling center you can get stacks of magazines, old books, lots of different things to use.

    It would be VERY easy to become buried in supplies, but two things helped me—first, a family member moved in with us so I lost the use of my large art room. Had to part with lots of supplies to fit it into a smaller area.

    Second, I just can’t function in clutter, and if you look at the art-creating spaces of most any mixed media or collage artist, you’ll see piles and piles of paper. After awhile all that paper and the various other supplies just started bugging me, and I asked myself which I desired more at that time—the creating of more art, or more clear and empty space.

    Amazingly, because I’ve always loved creating art, this time I chose more clear and empty space, and proceeded to start unloading a lot of my supplies, as well as artwork that I had already done.

    I know that I’ve been “over” for years most of the other crafts I’ve done, and the supplies for them are long gone. (My grandchildren helped me use up most of what I had.)

    I switched over to creating digital art, which has become my favorite—and there’s absolutely no mess, no storing of supplies needed with that, so it works out well.

    I’m feeling the urge to get rid of some of my fabric stash too, so have decided to spend this winter making mats to go in the cages of shelter animals. There is SUCH a need for the cats and dogs to have something warm and comfy to lay on, and they won’t mind at all if the materials don’t quite match, or some of the sewing is a bit wonky.

  20. Decluttering Diva,you sound like you have a handle on all the art/craft clutter. Like you I can’t stand clutter so made sure my supplies were all neatly stored out of sight but they still “weighed” on me. I too have decided to switch over to digital art (scrapbooking) when I need something. Oh how I wish I could afford to switch all of my present albums over to digital album then print them. Sure would free a lot of space. I really like you idea for getting rid of all your material by making mats for shelter animals.

  21. I just thought of something I wanted to add. Before you decide you are done with a hobby figure out why. If I’m just bored of it or decided it wasn’t for me I have no problem disposing of the supplies. But a couple times I figured out it was just a matter of getting a brighter light bulb or clearing a bigger table that made a hobby fun again. I had a quilt sit unfinished for a decade. I enjoyed quilting, I enjoyed the finished product, so why wasn’t I doing it. I realized I hadn’t quilted since I moved out of my parents house. Between owning cats who enjoy “helping” and losing out on the social aspect of it I had lost the fun part. (With my mother’s permission) I moved the quilt to her house. I visit her twice a week and for a few hours we quilt and catch up. I’m now on my third completed quilt.

    • That’s fantastic Mel. I love your analysis of the situation.

    • Mel. you are so right. I think that if I had a group or even one other person to crocheting with that i would learn and then do it. I would love to make little blankets for babies and afghans for women’s shelters and stuff. But I find it hard to learn crochet and would not want to do it just by myself.

      • Hi Deb J, I am sure that you could learn how to crochet! Somewhere I read that if you can wrap yarn around a hook and stick it through another loop of yarn you can crochet. All it would take is for someone to show you, a friend or a class in Jo Ann’s or a local yarn shop. A lady in my Jazzercise class asked me to show her how to do it and I was thrilled to be teaching a grandma what I knew of crochet. We have become great friends, met each other’s families, and continue to get together every two or three weeks to work on our current projects and enjoy a new lunch recipe. My friend says she loves to learn new things and even if she can’t do it very well she doesn’t mind because she is learning and getting better. I know that she found the crochet quite hard at first but now she is really getting the hang of it and has made some lovely blankets.

        • Christine, I am going to try to find someone like you who will teach me. Then I am going to try to find a group of ladies who will come over and craft together.

  22. I was only very slightly into scrapbooking, even in its hayday, and I recognized it for what it was – a time suck and a money suck. The emphasis on crafting a great page kept me from completing albums. No, i couldn’t just slap the photos in; they had to look just so. Despite this, I’ve been reluctant to part with my supplies, but I’m finally letting Audra use them, something I wouldn’t do for years.

    • Cindy, I found that I loved making the layouts when I had something to say and something special to show. Then I ran out of pictures of the past and have very of significance to scrap now. So why keep all that stuff. I’m glad Audra can use yours. Good job of giving it over to her.

  23. You told my story EXACTLY with Scrapbooking. I have gotten rid of everything and it was difficult to do it. I had a whole room dedicated to scrapbooking, now we have down-sized and it all had to go. After investing so much, it was hard to see I had “gotten over scrapbooking.” I am trying to use this as an example of how I approach lots of things. I have the compulsion to get wholey into something (obsessively) and then later am done with it. I am using that to talk to myself before I do it again with some new thing. Now I am trying to figure out where to keep all the big scrapbooks I made.

    • Scrapabbey, you are so like me. When I get into something I want to have all the stuff. But I am learning that I won’t do that anymore. I will get what I need for that particular project and that is it. If I find that there is something I use every time then I might get it if I can’t borrow one.

  24. Dear Deb, great story and “CHAPEAU” for being as honest towards yourself.
    I summarized and translated your story into my (german) blog.
    I really loved to read it.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

  25. I too went crazy with the scrapbooking supplies. I haven’t worked on creating an album or making any pages in four years. I still have a full-sized four drawer filing cabinet filled with paper and photos waiting to be done. I did recently donate lots of stickers and paper to a sister-in-law who is using them with her students to make scrapbooks. Schools might be able to use excess craft supplies. Since I retired five months ago I have been trying to declutter so my kids don’t have to deal with my mess, but I keep thinking “maybe some day….” and the item stays. A lot of my papers are being scanned into the computer, so now I have a digital mess!

    • Hi Deana and welcome to 365 Less Things. Sometimes decluttering is like ripping off a bandaid, the pain is brief and once the deed is done it is soon forgotten. Begin by letting go of a little of your paper and then as you notice the world hasn’t come to an end declutter some more. The more you flex your decluttering muscle the easier it get to do the deed. I had a lot of scrapbook paper that wasn’t being used too. I would say I have sold or given away more than half of it now and I feel better for it. Good luck and happy decluttering.

    • Deana, I can so understand your “maybe some day” thoughts. I too have that going on in my head. I finally realized that I needed a better plan. So I decided to go with divided page protectors and do less in the way of decorating. Here is a link to what I used: http://store.scrapbook.com/ac-380000.html?t2=protectors&t12-13=becky+higgins I put the photos in the 4 bigger spaces and then you can cut card stock or decorated paper to fit the smaller middle spaces to journal. You can also find many decorated journaling cards to fit those spaces. It is a much quicker way to “scrapbook.” Additionally, you can put all the pictures in the pages and then take your time jounaling — like while you are watching TV or setting aside 30 min to an hour a day.

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  1. […] at 365 Less Things Colleen has an article from Deb J about how a simple hobby can get out of control, and the challenges of wrangling it back into shape. If you’ve been mulling over the value of […]