|SPRING CLEANING THE SEWING ROOM
ALL YEAR ROUND
I put a letter away this morning that led me to think about spring cleaning and the sewing room. Because of the distance between Nigeria and Washington State, the letter arrived late. That was months ago. I've kept the letter in a corner of the lower shelf of the cutting table. Today, as part of my weekly cleaning routine, I finally moved it to another place. I probably won"t ever read it again. It's gone. Life goes on. The sewing room must be kept clean.
To keep a year round sparkle and shine, I follow a five step routine that I hope others will find useful. The result will be a room that is a pleasure to be in and, just as importantly, an end to complex spring cleaning.
Step One: Take a good look at your sewing space and visually divide it into units. Usually the sewing room can be separated into four basic areas: storage, cutting, sewing and pressing. This partitioning will form the plan of attack for the cleaning routine.
Step Two: Accept the fact that each of these areas, at some point in time, will need to be de-cluttered; waxed, polished or wet-cleaned; dusted; swept or vacuumed. To help things along, keep the needed cleaning items (cloths, oils, etc.) in a bin or basket. Store the container under a table or put it in a cabinet. Keep brooms, mops and such things hidden in a corner or stand them behind a cabinet. To save space, I use a carpet sweeper and find a whisk broom very helpful in cleaning floors and chairs. To eliminate containers of soapy water, I use baby wipes and a dry cloth to clean most surfaces. Keep all in the sewing room where they will be handy. The mood or opportunity to clean can strike at any moment.
Step Three: Set aside a day of the week for cleaning just the sewing room.
Step Four: Decide what needs to be done. Keep a notebook and write in it each task you want to do and how much time you expect it to take. For example: Week 1: De-clutter two cabinet shelves, polish cabinet doors; about 40 minutes. Always add a few extra minutes to each task in case you will need more time.
Step Five: On a daily basis, take care of any cleaning situation that has the potential to get out of hand. Otherwise, you will end up needing to do a long session of spring cleaning. The Fly Lady.com, using the language of firefighters, calls these situations "hot spots". They should not be allowed to burn out of control.
Little by little, you can organize a sewing room into a space that will always be clean enough to work comfortably in and even carry you through those times when you are unable to clean. During bouts of illness, times of sorrow and moments of immense joy, it is soothing to have the quiet space of a clean, pleasant smelling room to sit in.
Not long ago, perhaps a year or almost two, I visited the convent where the sisters who taught me (1952 to 1964) now live in retirement. These were the sisters who taught me how to sew. I remember describing snippets of my life in Nigeria to them and they being very happy to hear my stories. One of them remarked that the sewing room seemed to be the place where my heart is. Bringing out what was precious to her, Sister gave me a picture of Blessed Mother Mary Rose, the foundress of the congregation of Holy Names Sisters, to hang in my sewing room as well as a book of daily prayers. Having such precious memory gifts, I decided to keep the sewing room as neat and as tidy as any room in the convent.
These were my mentors who had stuck by me through thick and thin. In their day, they welcomed those of us who came from the inner city's ghetto and gave us a chance when no one else would. In return, they expected us to strive for excellence. I hope I have become what the sisters wanted me to be.
Because they would have expected it of me, I tidied up the sewing room by de-cluttering the cutting table. This morning, I put the letter away that I had been keeping there; the letter that informed me that two of the sisters had died long before the letter arrived. Africa is a long way from home.
With their deaths, I know that one cycle of my life has come to completion. I'll sit in my clean room and think about that and what a wonderful ride it has been: all the way from the inner city to the University of Washington and then to Africa with many pleasant stops along the way.
Just know that when times are good and life is being kind, that is the time to diligently keep up the cleaning routine. The effort will be rewarded with having a nice room to come home to or to leave your heart in when you don't want it to get broken.