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Tips & Techniques > Spring Cleaning the Sewing Room All Year Round

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Posted by: monijo

About monijo star
Member since: 7/5/08
Reviews: 25 (tips: 23)
Skill level:Advanced
Favored by: 4 people
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Posted on: 4/23/12 6:59 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 17 people   

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, 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.

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MissMaddiePi said... (8/19/13 11:58 PM) Reply
Like Denise Perry stated in her comment, I did not expect to shed tears while reading a PR tip. Thank you so much for sharing your pragmatic approach to cleaning in the form of an inspirational, wise, and beautifully written personal meditation. I feel as though I must have been guided by a force greater than coincidence to this post; I have recently lost - in short, my life as I have known it, 35 years short or not, it's been a rough time . . . However, I have gained a few things from this change; I have for myself a space, both physical space and personal space, a space of time that I need not work, nor care for others, and my physical needs are provided for. I have struggled to accept these as gifts in face of so much loss, but I know they are gifts, and that healing will only occur if I accept these gifts and use them to care for myself, however foreign it feels. I have begun to build myself a sewing space because it seemed the right thing to do, and your post has given me an even greater appreciation for what I have and a deeper reverence for the meaning of these gifts. I shall print this out and post it in my sewing room, and any time I start to feel self-pity, I will read this and remember how blessed I am, and how grateful I am. And in gratitude - to you for these words, and much, much more - I will always keep my sewing room immaculate. Thank you.
Barbalou said... (9/20/12 5:00 PM) Reply
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.
hazelandginger said... (7/29/12 9:32 AM) Reply
Thank you so much for sharing.
j222b said... (6/5/12 0:23 AM) Reply
Beautifully written. Thank you!
Mc Donna said... (5/19/12 7:33 PM) Reply
Thank you monijo for sharing with us. I too feel the connection to my mentors when I sew. Your story is full of grace and wisdom beyond.
monijo said... (5/3/12 10:47 AM) Reply
Yes, they now know. I was fortunate to have the sisters in my life. Because of them, I learned to look at people and situations in ways much different than if I had been left on my own. I thank God for that and the wise decision my parents made in placing me in the sister's care. God bless and be with all you beautiful, caring people. Thank you for your responses.
magpie57 said... (5/2/12 4:03 PM) Reply
Thank you for your well thought out advice. So sorry about the Sisters. I'm glad they were able to direct you when you needed guidance. They know now how much you appreciated them.
magpie57 said... (5/2/12 4:01 PM) Reply
Thank you for your well thought out advice. So sorry about your sisters.
Lizz said... (4/24/12 12:39 PM) Reply
Thank you for adding a bit of joy to my life today.
Lizz said... (4/24/12 12:39 PM) Reply
Thank you for adding a bit of joy to my life today.
Laurie Lou said... (4/24/12 11:36 AM) Reply
I hope Deepika takes this and posts this where everone of us sewing sisters can read. What a wonderful sentiment with much to think about and appreciate in life...that truely is where many of us have our greatest joy...our sewing space.
Pj3g said... (4/24/12 8:28 AM) Reply
Your tip brought tears to my eyes too. I grew up living by the nun's house and being taught by them in elementary school. Such beautiful loving women just like the ones in your life. I don't have a dedicated sewing room but the feelings are the same when sewing. Beautifully written helpful tip.
carolrv said... (4/24/12 6:45 AM) Reply
Thanks for an inspiring, philosophical post.
Denise L Perry said... (4/24/12 6:01 AM) Reply
I didn't expect to shed tears reading a PR tip! This was very moving. I also had Sisters who were my mentors, and they are all dying as well...Thank you for the memories and the wonderful tip.
kathi s said... (4/23/12 10:48 PM) Reply
What a beautiful post. Those are thoughts we all can profit by. As I organize and clean my sewing room I will think of you!
skier2 said... (4/23/12 8:32 PM) Reply
What a lovely and touching message! I never before thought of the sewing room as a metaphor for life in general.
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