Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, that season associated with fasting. A friend on a sewing chatlist has challenged us to “fast” from buying fabric and instead sew down our stash. I’ve taken the challenge to heart and began going through bins of leftovers from prior sewing projects – banners, clothing, quilts, etc. While rediscovering these bits and pieces was a trip down memory lane. I couldn’t believe the variety of fabrics I found. What was I thinking when I bought some of this stuff?

The mountain of fabrics on my cutting table has been reduced to three-layer six-inch square sandwiches and arranged into as harmonious a quilt composition as whimsy will allow when you are combining jewel-tones paisleys with burgundy and gold Florentine florals, flamingos and Veggie Tale characters. When stitched together, and the seam allowances frayed, it will become a bed quilt for the homeless shelter associated with The Lighthouse in Oxnard. Sorting through my green and purple fabric bins produced enough fabric to prep a second rag quilt in shades of lavender and grey greens – also destined for the shelter. The invitation to fast from buying fabric has given me the opportunity to refashion my leftovers. . .and to explore other areas of fasting. Plus the concept of enough, such as, when is enough enough?

Several years ago a teacher friend told us about an assignment he’d given his high school students to count the number of clothing items they owned. The count included pants, tops, dresses, outerwear, underwear, sleepwear, shoes and accessories such as belts, hats, purses, scarves, etc. The average number of items reported by the teens was individually over 350 and was in sharp contrast to third world averages of well below one hundred items. That sent me straight to my closet without passing Go or collecting $200. At the time it prompted me to make a ruthless sweeping purge of favorite-but-out-of-fashion garments; I pared my clothing and accessories down to about 150 items. Counting them again today, the number is nearly the same; a number that seems too large to me in my fasting frame of mind. I’m challenging myself to a “fashion fast” as well. I won’t purchase anything new without purging three older garments.

I’ve seen a license plate once that read “She Who Dies With the Biggest Stash Wins.” If I believed that, I’d be in sad shape. In a culture that worships materialism and encourages us to buy, buy, buy, it feels good to be sewing down my stash and thinning out my clothing. At some point, ya just wanna scream enough. . .already! I have enough!

Fast forward to the end of Lent, what will have been your “fast challenge?” As you look through the stuff of your life, is there an “enough. . .already! calling to you? What is enough for you? If you were to draw a mountain of what you’d like to get rid of, recycle, or repurpose what would it look like?

Enough. . .already! Enjoy!

11 comments to Enough…Already

  • Maureen

    Love this post. Enough … I will pass your wisdom on to others I know who would love to consider the concept of enough.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I remember one Christmas when my parents were still living in Orange County, specifically I remember cleaning up the dishes after the meal. There was this pyrex dish that needed to be put away. My mom explained that she kept this dish only for the purpose of making her Christmas salad (a salad she rarely made on Christmas), and then she told me that the dish’s proper storage place was on the bottom shelf in the back right corner, out of the way of those dishes she used on a regular basis. I sit here and smile while writing this, knowing full well that I have cupboards full of stuff that I only use — say hum, when did I use them last <:-).

    Thank you, Lynne <:-)

  • oh dear
    i am a hoarder and try as i may
    make very little difference when i weed out
    i need to try harder
    thanks for this useful posting
    it encourages me

  • cynthia thomas

    at the sewing retreat this year, 4 of us made a committment to abstain from buying any new clothing or fabric from traditional stores for 3 months. we’re only allowed to shop at thrift stores, yard sales, or our stash. it’s been interesting; i’ve stretched my creativity as a result of this committment. i hadn’t thought about purging my closet of clothes. maybe that is the next step for me. i certainly have things i don’t wear that could be repurposed or passed on to someone else. i commit to do this by palm sunday. thanks for the idea. cynthia

  • I’ve been amazed at how fashionable it’s become lately to fast buying things. One friend went on a week long fast from spending any money. Another person has gone on a year long fast from buying anything but necessities. Then here is your great post. I wonder if the Holy Spirit is whispering corporately to all of us to set aside the things that so easily entangle us.


    I had a sister in Vermont who belonged to three quilting clubs. They made quilts for charity, and it was a wonderful place for her to meet people. One time she took me to see a quilt a woman was making of men’s old ties. It was beautiful. I used to enjoy watching Dottie buy material for either a quilt or clothing. She would feel it, look steadily at it, look up and dream what she could do with it. She was very talented and enjoyed the craft.
    And now I need to clean out my closets. Haven’t done it in a few years.

  • Bryn

    Great post. About once a year I force myself to go through my closets & garage and donate, gift or eBay. My rule is, if I haven’t used it in 3 years or longer, then I probably don’t need it. When we moved to NCAL, I ended up donating 10 boxes of books to various friends and libraries.

  • Julia Leeth

    Great post! Loved it!

  • Robin Rice

    Yes, yes, yes! I have decided that I have SO much stuff. There is no other word for it. Just stuff. I love the challenge of purging and using what I have already. Gone are the days of running off to the store to by another….what ever. (Especially with gas prices going up and how far from anything I live). I am enjoying using up what I already have, three great art projects have come of it in the last month.

  • Lee Hodges

    Thank you for this challenge Lynne. I was wondering what to give up for Lent, and since I am already giving up flour and sugar, was not wanting to do more food. This idea is perfect. I love to rummage at the thrift store, but think I will take 40 days off and work on purging the closets instead. I think Fawn might be right about the Holy Spirit though.

  • Ginny Starkey

    I have been on an organizing binge lately as our lovely, spacious, new to us 7 years ago house has become a cramped, over-filled clutterdome, thanks in great part to the legomaniacs and stuffed animal collectors who share our home, but also in part, thanks to the mom. But, interestingly enough, it isn’t brand new fabric that I have been cluttering with – it is saved items that I keep meaning to repurpose in a mad frenzy of green living. Saved blue jeans to someday be a quilt or braided rug, saved t-shirt and jersey fabric to be made into fun stuffed toys, saved paper ephemera to use in scrapbooks and making our own journals, saved fabric from the boys outgrown dress shirts to be quilts….and the list goes on. DO NOT OPEN THE HALL CLOSET if you come to our house. You might get stuffed into a bin to await your refashioning!!
    So it is not ‘enough already” only to spending and buying, but also to saving, hoarding and to unrealistic expectations of what we can do and accomplish. Enough already of coming up with new ideas and starting projects and expecting myself to keep up with…hmmmm… Lynn Farrow for instance. As soon as I read her post I thought about making a rag quilt. But I already have sewing projects waiting for me….and also 4 kids who want to be fed, played with, loved and listened to. Oh yeah – and a husband too!! And three dogs – see – I do kinda have a problem with enough…
    So my fast will be from collecting new ideas of what I should or could do for a few months – I have already thinned out my stash of saved stuff so it fits in the bins and now I will pick one project and do it. And then pat myself on the back and maybe let that bin stay empty. Or give it away…. Too bad we can’t do that with a dog… but that’s another story.

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