Clearing Clutter


Image Credit: The Big Smoke

As I’ve read through the Fulton County Public Library in the Home and Family Management section (640’s) we have discussed the actual physical dwelling where we live.. We’ve discussed how we can make our homes a comfortable place to live by the hard and soft furnishings we’ve chosen to help make our house a home. Now, we’re going to have an open and frank discussion because we are all human. We can get a little too comfortable even in our own home environment. Once we’re settled in to our homes many of us (myself included) can get a bit lax in what we allow in to our environment.  Today we are discussing clutter.

Clutter can sneak up on us if we aren’t vigilant about picking up after ourselves. Clutter often involves just not putting items back where they should be in your home. For example when your clothing isn’t in use it should be “living” in your closet, drawers, or in the laundry. Other examples would be things such as dishes in cabinets, toys in a toybox, tools in the garage and so on. The point is that the items in our homes should have a specific place where they “live” when not in use. Clutter may also happen from not taking care of things such as mail when it arrivers. We may just throw mail and other items on a table along with notes from the school, papers from work, and drawings from the kids. Sometimes clutter is just keeping too much stuff–even if it’s organized.  Clutter may also result from disorganization. Although clutter begins all hoards not all clutter is hoarding. Hoarding is a symptom of a psychological condition often associated with trauma in a person’s life.

Everyone needs a decluttering skill set. There are many highly effective systems or combinations of systems people can learn. On my read through the library, I came across one that I wasn’t all that familiar with and it was highly informative and interesting. Back in the 80’s a man named Don Aslett was known as a very successful cleaning man. Along the way in his cleaning story, Don Aslett discovered something that he’s been writing about ever since: Americans have a hard time determining what should be kept in a household and what is actually clutter. Mr. Aslett would appear on various media shows to promote his cleaning business and his listeners/viewers would all want him to explain to them how to organize their stuff (aka junk). Although he would have preferred to discuss his cleaning system, Mr. Aslett’s followers wanted to talk about clutter in their homes and what to do about it. After this experience continued to repeat itself, Mr. Aslett  more or less took a “if you can’t bet’ ’em, join ’em” approach and began explaining to the American public how to simplify their lives by ridding themselves of unneeded clutter and junk. His methods were specific which in turn made the cleaning process easier and less stressful. Don Aslett’s books tend to be humorous and have interesting illustrations.

This book includes a test near the beginning called the Junkee Entrance Exam. It is designed to help the reader figure out the level of junk problem they have in their homes. The reader will land in one of these categories: The End is Near, You’re on the Brink, There is Hope, and Your are Pure. In my personal life I’ve been working A LOT at decluttering. Much of my need to do go through this process is because of multiple deaths (and therefore multiple inheritences) in my family, people moving in or out, and storing items for other friends and family who are in transitions of various types. I feel like I have a LONG way to go, but I fell into the “There is Hope” categogory.

Clutter's Last Stand

In his book Clutter’s Last Stand Don Aslett first discuses the reasons people hang on to clutter in the first place and discusses the drawback(s) of each excuse. As there are literally 101 excuses for this behavior, I won’t have time to go into detail, but if you choose to read this book, your eyes will be opened. In the remainder of the book, Aslett dicussses all the whys and how to’s of ridding ourselves of the clutter that’s in our way and holding us back. As always his goal is to simplify our homes and enable easier cleaning for better living experiences. In essence to free ourselves of unnecessary junk is to open up new and wonderful possibilities for living our best lives.

Though the above book is a bit dated, it’s information is still quite relative. I would love to share all of the practical tips I’ve gleaned from it but there’s no way I could in one blog post. Since I always like to share something I will share just one checklist from the book. This checklist  helps you to decided if something is junk or not.

It is JUNK if:

It’s broken or obsolete (and fixing it is unrealistic)

You’ve outgrown it, physically or emotionally

You’ve always hated it

It’s the wrong size, wrong color, or wrong style

Using it is more bother than it’s worth

It wouldn’t really affect you if you never saw it again

It generates bad feelings

You have to clean it, store it, and insure it (but you don’t get much use or enjoyment out of it)

It will shock, bore, or burden the coming generation

If you can check one or more of the above truthfully, then it’s probably junk. Do yourself, your house, and posterity a favor – pitch it! It’s robbing you of peace of mind and space.

It’s not JUNK if:

It generates love and good feelings

It helps you make a living

It will do something you need done

It has significant cash value

It give you more than it takes

It will enrich and delight the coming generation

If you can check several of the above comfortably, then it’s probably not junk–enjoy it and feel good about its place in your life.

Other books that I checked out were

Clean in a Minute

Is There Life After Housework

How do you deal with clutter? Have you ever heard of Don Aslett or used his system? Do you have a clutter story you would like to share?


Sewing Woman

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Thought to have begun in the Paleolithic Era, or Old Stone Age, sewing is one of the oldest known textile arts. It is believed that sewing predates spinning yarn and fabric weaving. According to Wikipedia, “Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with needle and thread.”

Mask Pattern

Image Credit: You Tube

During the Middle Ages, those with means hired seamstresses and tailors to produce clothing. Sewing was considered to be one of the few acceptable professions a woman could have and most women worked out of their homes and didn’t usually make enough money to live on comfortably. For most common people clothing was an expensive investment. The women of the household were tasked with maintaining every family member’s clothes. Sewing was used for mending as well as producing. Nothing was wasted. Old worn clothing was sometimes turned inside out and reinvented. If a garment couldn’t be mended or saved the fabric would be cut up and the better pieces were used to create some new garment or some new thing such as a quilt. Women often did piece work. There are several steps involved in the production of hand made garments and women often developed a “specialty.” If one woman was great at assembling a garment, she might trade her specialty to another woman who could do beautiful decorative embroidery. By bartering in this manner, women could cut their workloads, produce more, and tend to their mending.

Thomas Saint

Image Credit: Fiddlebase

Home made clothing was the norm in most homes until a man named Thomas Saint patented the sewing machine during the Industrial Revolution in 1790. With the invention of the sewing machine it became possible to mass produce clothing. Fifty years or so later, sewing machines were beginning to be available and affordable for most households. The demand for sewing machines began c.1850 which led to the demand of sewing patterns.

Paper Sewing Pattern

Image Credit: You Tube

By the early 20th century a man named Ebenezer Butterick began offering paper sewing patterns that could be traced by home seamstresses. These paper patterns were sold in small packages and were reusable. The demand for these patterns was huge and several companies began producing them. With the advancement of technology modern clothing can be mass produced at an incredible speed and most people can still learn to sew their own clothing as well as perform many other sewing tasks. Sewing is considered both an essential skill as well as a hobby.

Paper Sewing Packets

Image Credit: Sew Obssessed

As you have probably guessed by now, the Dewey Hop blog has moved into a new Dewey Decimal classification category. We are exploring the 646 category, Sewing, clothing, management of personal and family life. Sewing is not restricted to making clothing. Other items that can be made include but are not limited to interior design products such as curtains, bedding, pillows, uphostry, toys, pet items, decorative items, and gifts just to mention a few items. Anyone can sew from beginners to experts and anyone can improve and add new skills to their repertoire.

If you would like to learn to sew there are many books in the library that can walk you through the various stages of sewing. Many libraries, including the Fulton County Public Library, are beginning to offer maker spaces. Maker spaces include sewing machines and areas to work. There are many free online sewing classes for all skill levels. Additionally you might learn to sew from someone you know or by joining a sewing club. The possibilities are truly endless.

Though I wish I could show you all of the books that the Fulton County Public Library has to offer (and trust me that’s a lot of them! It should also be mentioned that many of these books also include paper sewing patterns that circulate with the books.) I will have to settle for just showing you a few of the books I checked out this time.

101 Ways to Use Your First Sewing Machine

Image Credit: Amazon

The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing

Image Credit: Thriftbooks

Handmade Interiors

Image Credit: Walmart


Creative Kindness

Image Credit: Amazon

Is sewing something you are interested in? Do you own a sewing machine? What skill level would you place yourself at?