Thoughts on a handmade wardrobe

Among the sewists of the internet, there's a fair bit of talk about building a handmade wardrobe, creating something that fits your lifestyle (and your body!) and is created solely by you. I've been sewing for about 20 years now (!!!) and I've learned a lot of things along the way. Besides sewing techniques, I've learned what fabrics and silhouettes complement my body. I've learned what clothes I will actually wear. But I've not learned how to keep the quantity of things under control. And my filled to bursting closet can prove it.

I've also seen a lot of articles lately about the capsule wardrobe, which is a paired down set of clothing, about 30 pieces for each season. I think it's a great idea and the wardrobes are beautiful but I also can't imagine limiting myself to so few clothes. I know that really just means that the capsule wardrobe is not for me. But, in this age of consumption and faced with the fact that my closet and dressers are overflowing, I have to wonder, when should I stop making new things. <insert emoji of horror> The thing is I can't stop making new things. Not because I love things. But because I love making. 

Whereas the people who embrace the capsule wardrobe are trying to eliminate the stress of shopping and getting dressed, there is no stress for me when it comes to sewing. Yes, sometimes I make mistakes and I'm frustrated by a project. But the process of sewing is relaxing and fun. So much more fun than going to a mall!

So how does one's closet get to be too full? Right now, I'm making about 1 new thing a week. There are a few reasons for that. First, that's what I have time for. Second, I have a long list of things I want to make so I'm never at a loss. And lastly, I want to create fresh content for the blog. (I know that's not a great reason but it's true.) Also sometimes with a new pattern, I'll make a test garment. And if it's wearable, it's added to the closet too. Two for the price of one!

I should also mention that I can financially afford to make myself new clothes. I work hard with only myself to support and not a lot of expenses. That said, I take advantage of sales and buy most of my fabric at bargain prices in LA's fashion district. Sewing a new garment costs me a fraction of what it would cost to buy one new. I rarely buy new clothes so most of my clothing budget goes towards sewing supplies.

Of course, I could be less selfish in my sewing endeavors or make things that are more time consuming, thus slowing my production. But let's get real. I like making things for myself and I like simple, fast projects. 

So, why am I fretting? Well, my closet is entirely too full. In reality my apartment is too full. And all of those things are making me feel somewhat anxious. I'm torn between wanting to save and wanting to only have things that I actually use. 

Last week, I read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The big idea is to not keep anything that doesn't spark joy. That idea really helped me put a lot of things in the donate pile that I would have kept before. There are also some great tips on folding and storing. Over the weekend, I did a major closet clean out. I took a full car load to Goodwill and still have more to take. 

The hardest things to part with (besides family heirlooms) are my handmade garments. I spent time on them. I thought about them and crafted them with my own hands. And sometimes they turned out the way I imagined. Sometimes they didn't. I'm perfectly ok donating the ones that just do not work for me. But there are some that maybe I wore once or never at all. And those deserve at shot. A chance to have their day in the world. To be worn and enjoyed. Sadly, I might not be the person to do that for them.

But I still can't completely bring myself to giving these treasured pieces to Goodwill. Would anyone truly appreciate them there? I've considered selling them. Places like ebay or instagram just seem like too much work. All that shipping would be awful to deal with. So now I'm considering a place like Buffalo Exchange. So far, though, I just have bags of clothes sitting in the closet. Waiting for me to decide their fate.

The Tidying Up book says if you follow that method you will never revert to your old ways. I have followed the method to the best of my ability and time will tell if my things stay tidy or not. I'm not planning on changing my sewing habits. I still have a list of garments I'm planning on sewing. But maybe I'll try to spend more time on the quilts I have almost finished or simply sketched out in a book. 

How do you deal with the desire to sew versus a very full closet? What do you do with handmade garments you are no longer in love with?