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Why Does Cleaning Leave A Mess Bigger Than The Original Mess?

My sewing room has needed a serious cleaning for years. January 2015, I sorted out all my leftover fabric. Part of a mess became 7 large plastic bins and I forgot how many bags of trash. Today’s effort was a continuation of getting stuff away from the closet so I could move the 7 large plastic bins of fabric out of the hall and into the closet in the sewing room. There’s a pain in my lower back indicating that I shouldn’t have moved all those bins. Too late. 

As I sorted through boxes of stuff that had blocked the closet doors, I found treasure. Some of the stuff in the boxes had come from my grandmother’s sewing supplies. We cleaned out her house in 1989 after she had a major stroke and spent the last six years of her life in a nursing home.  When I moved to New Mexico in 1999, I took the sewing supplies with me. 

I found a collection of serious needles I never knew my grandmother had. I’ve no idea what they are for, but I’m sure that I’ll need them someday and I’ve never seen anything like them in stores. I wonder if some of the needles are for making hats. My grandmother learned millenary  skills when she was in high school.


I found a box with 11 balls of incredibly thin ecru crochet thread. The thread came from France. I was saving it for a special project. I’ll keep saving it for the perfect project. I’m sure whoever gets my stuff when I die will love the wonderful crochet thread.

I found a spool of navy blue silk buttonhole twist. The price was painted onto the wooden spool: 25 cents. I’ve never seen buttonhole twist in any store. I’ll need the perfect project for the buttonhole twist. I’ve got some white fabric, a silk/bamboo blend, that I can dye. Navy blue thread, coral fabric? Peach fabric? Soft yellow fabric? Sage fabric? Use the buttonhole twist for fancy stitches on a blouse? Use the buttonhole twist for buttonholes on a blouse? The world will end if I don’t use the precious buttonhole twist properly. I’ll save it some more. 

For some reason, my grandmother had a lifetime and then some supply of hooks and eyes. I don’t use them, but I’m not going to throw them out. I might need them someday. She also had a supply of bobbins which may or may not fit my current sewing machine. As I unwound the thread, I wondered why I was doing that. The best  thing to do with those ancient plastic bobbins is throw them out. Plastic dries out and becomes brittle here in the desert and I have a good supply of new bobbins. 

Some of the stuff blocking the closet doors is from me. A length of off white raw silk that I had intended to use to make slacks. About a half mile of industrial strength Velcro. I’ll need that Velcro someday. Leftover fabric I bought when I moved here. The fabric came from a quilt shop that no longer exists. I loved the fabric in that store. Some of the leftover fabric I don’t recognize. I don’t remember buying it and I don’t remember using it for anything. Mauve denim? I look horrible in mauve – too much red in my hair. Why would I have mauve denim? Why would anyone have mauve denim? 

I found a collection of fabric paints from projects I did when I still lived in New York. To my extreme amazement, the paint is still liquid. This is first generation fabric paint. It makes the fabric stiff but only until about the 8th washing. Maybe I should give it to the ReStore. 

I still can’t walk around in my sewing room. There are boxes of stuff on the floor. Stuff I don’t recognize but I’m sure I’ll use. One huge bag contains an assortment of slippers my grandmother had either crocheted or knitted. Each Christmas, we would all get slippers. I can’t bring myself to use those slippers. If I use them, they will wear out and a piece of my grandmother will be gone forever.

Someday, my sewing room will be neat and organized. Today is not someday. 



I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 21+ years as a criminal defense attorney. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer starting on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at:

4 thoughts on “Why Does Cleaning Leave A Mess Bigger Than The Original Mess?

  1. Hi Deb,
    Being in CBs with you I’ve never seen your art work before. I adore it. The piece with the bullet holes is very thought provoking and the quilt is magnificent….also thought provoking. I’ve never submitted anything for a grant so I have no clue as to what to tell you. Follow your instincts is my first thought though.

    Reading you writings was also very informative. Never had any idea you were an attorney in such a difficult area of the law. God bless you.


  2. Deb I’m pretty sure the straight needle is a leather needle – the curved one is a surgeon’s needle but some fabric sewing jbs are easier – like in hand finished upholstery I think …


  3. Sometimes we just have to accept that things with memories are too important to throw out.
    Not too important to give away to specific people who might love them too, just too many memories to be abandoned.


  4. Those needles are for upholstery work, the long one is for sewing on buttons for a tufted back of a chair, sofa or headboard. The curved one is for sewing , rather than stapling, fabric when reupholstering.


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