It Took Over My Entire Life

In my last post, I revealed plans to move to primarily an online presence around mid-year, after the spring shows are done, and I talked about cutting back the product line I keep on hand. Neither of those were easy decisions to make. I have come to really enjoy getting out and meeting people at the shows, talking to them about my soaps, and being able to offer a wide product line. However, as my hope to make this a viable business started to wane, I began to resent certain aspects of running it. Between resentment and disappointment, the joy began to seep out of the entire process, and that’s where the depression started.

I am no stranger to depression; I’ve dealt with it off and on for a good portion of my life. And really, I think everyone deals with depression at some point in their lives, some of us becoming clinically depressed, and some of us dealing with just plain old depression. But regardless of how it’s classified, I almost always realize that I’m depressed when I lose interest in doing things. The one that usually gets my attention is when I have the desire to sew or quilt, but not the ability. I realized last week that I had a problem when I thought about making a quilt but then decided it was too much work to clean up the studio. It’s not really that bad to begin with; there are some things on the cutting table that I need to put away but it’s not like I’m walking hip deep in crap or anything. I thought at first that maybe I was tired, but it happened again. And again. And then yesterday, before I made the decisions about the business, I thought that sewing would be a great way to take my mind off of my troubles, but I realized that the business has sort of sucked the joy out of sewing, too. As I sat here thinking about it, I realized that what I really need to do is create boundaries with my business. Even a smaller scale operation will get out of hand if I let it – and I think that’s where my primary issue is in the first place. I try to do more than I can, and that stresses me out, which then begins to wear on me, and after a while I find myself where I am now – depressed and irritated and wishing I’d never started a business in the first place.

Chris and I were talking about this yesterday, and we agreed that it’s out of hand. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my work space when I started this business was my office. My desk was in there, and I cut and stored the soap there, too. When I started with the embroidery business, I needed a place to store the blank products, so I installed three large plastic shelves (think garage storage) in our bedroom. Somewhere around September, I realized that there wasn’t really enough space in the office for everything, so I started to store some of my soap in the hallway between my studio and the garage, which leads to my studio. By the end of the year, I’d moved my “office” space to the studio, and started to turn the former office in to a storage room. But that wasn’t enough space, either, so now a good chunk of stuff is in my studio, and under the bar in our dining area, not to mention the wagon I have that holds my big pails of oil. Every time I turn around, I’m out of space, and the business has taken over half of the downstairs area, and moving up the stairs in to our bedroom. There is not a place anywhere in this house that I can get away from it, because everywhere I go, every place I look, there’s some bit of my business.

And because I require the use of a stove and sink (and sometimes the oven), my kitchen is always in use, either by my business, or to prepare meals. I don’t do both at the same time – one is done before the other begins – but it creates a LOT of dishes to be done, and sometimes I feel like I am NEVER done with cleaning the kitchen. There have been days when I have done dishes six times and still couldn’t keep up completely.

I want – I NEED – to claw back space that shouldn’t be used for business, and to create areas of my home where it’s just not acceptable to store business related items. I was so gung ho for a while there, I lost sight of the need to maintain a work-free zone for myself and my family. It’s going to take time to get to the point where I’ve “de-businessed” areas, because I’m not going to just throw that stuff away or donate it. But my current goal is to not add to the mess by buying more things I need to store. I will be doing some embroidery work on some t-shirts in the hopes that I can sell some of them at upcoming shows, in my Etsy shop and on my website, so keep your eyes open for them.

 

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This Studio!

Most of the time, I love my studio. It is my happy place, my escape, my wonderful corner of the world. Well, it used to be all those things. These days, it’s more like a dumping grounds for anything business related. And I have to tell you that I’m more than a little sick of it. I lost my design wall to bookcases for storage of soap related items. We dump everything in there when we come back from shows because a) we cannot get into the garage right now; b) it’s right at the front door; and c) where the heck else are we going to put it?! At least some of this will be alleviated if we can ever get the garage door fixed (it broke in like, I don’t know … March?), but until then …  I’ve added a couple more bookcases to hold stuff for business, one of which is still in my studio, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And until I’m making enough from the business to move to a store front, this is my life.

But I’m doing my level best to get it cleaned up this week, because I have this overwhelming desire to SEW. I want to finish the Star Wars quilt, and I want to make myself some clothes, and it would be nice to get started on some holiday items. I feel like I’m drowning in work and school right now, and I NEED the release sewing provides, but right now, this is what I’m dealing with at my sewing cabinet …

I'm embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

I’m embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

That’s probably the worst of it, but I also have this cedar chest that my parents gave me when I graduated high school that’s sitting right in front of my cutting table, waiting to go upstairs. However, I can’t take it up there just yet because there’s an old tv stand where the chest is going to go. But I can’t clean that up because … oh, let’s not even get into how bad my master bedroom is right now. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I’m not planning to move any time soon, because I assure you … it would not be happening this year!

Anyway, in between making soap, cleaning and trying to keep up with this insane tax course I’m taking at school, I’m making a list of things I want to make myself for the Fall. So far, this is what I have on the list …

B5300 McCall's 6084 B6070

Also, this new McCall’s pattern looks super easy and fast to make …

McCall's 7432

McCall’s 7432

I would maybe be interested in something from Simplicity, but how would I know, considering how horrible their new website is?! Someone should tell them to fix it (oh wait, I HAVE).

I’m also interested in some skirts – I hear the hemlines are going to be longer this Fall – and some pants. I haven’t worn dresses or skirts in many years, but lately I’ve been wearing some skorts I purchased and I LOVE them. I love how cool they are, and how comfortable they are. And since it rarely gets that cold here in the Houston area, I figure I can get decent wear out of a couple of dresses and skirts pretty much all year long.

So, that is my goal – clean up the studio so I can maybe try to recapture some of my sanity. It works like that, right? Right?? Oh, please tell me I’m right! 😉

How did I ever find time to work?!

Today marks the two month period since I left my corporate job. I really cannot believe it’s already been two months! It seems like only last week, I walked out the door of that building for the very last time. Admittedly, the first week or so was pretty rough for me; I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself, because I’d already decided to return to school and work toward a CPA. I had a little more than a month until my first class started; what, exactly, was I supposed to do until then?!

Well, two months later, I can honestly say that I don’t really know how I ever found the time to get up every morning, get dressed, go to the office and work for eight hours. One day, I may have to do it again, but for now, I’m keeping myself busy in a million different ways:

  • I’ve started a business making soaps, candles, and beauty aids
  • I’m taking a refresher class in accounting principles
  • I’m trying to work out my school schedule for summer & fall classes
  • I’ve done more sewing in the last two months than the last two years combined
  • I find time to walk on the treadmill most days
  • I have time to read, even though a majority of what I read is either sewing, accounting, or business related
  • I spend time with my husband; he had surgery in February and I was able to be at the hospital with him, and take care of him when he came home without worrying if I was missing anything important at the office
  • I have taken care of my grandson a few times (who can resist an adorable toddler who is usually pretty happy?)
  • I’ve taken time for myself – I’ve attended a class or two for sewing; we take long drives in the middle of the week when it’s less crowded; I’ve been able to get together with my mom a few times

Overall, I’m busy, and I’m happy. In fact, I made a comment to my mom the other day that I have difficulty making time for things I used to do regularly when I was working – like laundry! Oy vey, is my laundry out of control! Ugh!

My hope is that my business will take off enough that I won’t have to go back to work for Corporate America. I really want my days there to be done. But if I have to go back down the line, I’ll make it happen. The only thing is … I’m really enjoying the way things are now! I love getting up in the morning and making soap or candles. I really enjoy taking a day off and going to see my mom when I feel like it. It makes me so happy to spend the day with my husband, or my grandson, or by myself in the studio.

How I ever found the time to work is completely beyond me …

New Year Incoming!

I have realized that I am not so good at the finishing thing when it comes to sewing. I am very good at the starting thing, but not so hot at the finishing thing. This is evidenced by all the projects I have “in progress” that should have been finished long ago, but are still languishing in one state or another in my studio. From clothing to quilts to home decor, I am an equal opportunity procrastinator. I don’t know if this is the result of too many ideas, not enough time, or maybe adult onset ADHD, or just too much going on in general, but this year has been one of my all time lows in completions. And it makes me very sad.

Not only that, but I really have not spent enough time sewing in general. I moved my studio downstairs this year in the hopes it would make me more productive, and it did for a while. And really, I have spent more time in the studio this year than I have in recent years but still not nearly enough, and not focused at all, as evidenced by my lack of finished projects. I would like to pretend that I don’t know what’s causing the issue, but I do, and it’s nothing more than a mental block. A mental block I need to get past and stop letting it interfere with my creative process. My kids are grown now, which I always thought would mean more time to pursue sewing and other hobbies, but instead it’s resulted in less time in the studio. I really need to get my head back in the game … err, studio. And I need to quit messing around about it and just do it.

I really don’t like to make new year’s resolutions; I think they lead to bad feelings and they put a lot of pressure on you when you probably really don’t need it. But since I know there are areas of improvement I need to make, I am going to set some goals for myself, on a monthly basis. Actually … I think I’m going to make the goals on a weekly basis, at least to start out. For my purposes, the week will start on Fridays (convenient because tomorrow is Friday and it’s also the first day of the year; see what I did there? 😉  ).

So … goals for the week commencing January 1, 2016 …

  • Treadmill at least 20 minutes, four days
  • Sewing at least 30 minutes, four days
  • Catch up on laundry
  • Remove & put away Christmas decorations
  • Re-arrange bedroom to better fit treadmill

I won’t say, “Now, how hard can that be?” because we all know how hard it can be to commit to something like this. Or to commit to anything, really (except my husband; that wasn’t difficult at all). I’ll report back in a week and let you know how it’s gone, and then I’ll set new goals for that week. I’ve even set a reminder on my calendar to come back and do the update, so I don’t forget.

Wish me luck. 😀

Catching Up

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been working on several things over the last few weeks, and time just got away from me. But it’s been a busy month, even though I don’t have a lot of “progress” to share. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been up to lately …

  1. Craftsy.com had a promotion for the month of October where you could sign up for a set price and have access to all their classes. Of course, I had to sign up and I’ve been watching classes on cooking, sewing, machine embroidery, baking, and other great subjects. I heard about this on PatternReview.com, and I understood that it was a test environment to see if a subscription service would be viable. I also heard that the people who were invited got an email with one of three price points – $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99. I signed up for the $9.99 price point, but I would have no problem paying $14.99 a month for unlimited access to Craftsy courses. At the $19.99 price, I’d have to give it some thought, but overall, that’s still a great value. With the subscription, you don’t retain access to the courses you take after your subscription lapses, but overall, I think it’s a great way to explore new skills.
  2. I really am getting desperate for some new clothes. Last month, I went through my closet and made a list of the basics that I really need – some blouses (not pull over tops, but real blouses with buttons), a lightweight jacket, a pair of slacks or two, and a few other things. I started pulling together fabrics and patterns to make these items, and the first one is underway – a fleece jacket made from Simplicity 2208, view A. I’ve never worked with fleece, or plaid, and I’ve never made a jacket, but I’ve been told this particular pattern is fairly easy, so I’m hoping to have it done before the cooler weather hits Houston next week (according to Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle). I finished tracing off the pattern last night and I’m hoping to start laying it out on the fabric tonight.
  3. I’ve been doing some research on sewing cabinets for my Viking Opal 690Q. I know a lot of people really like the Ikea tables for their sewing machines, but I am not one of those people. In fact, I really have an intense dislike for it. My Opal doesn’t get used nearly as often as I want to use it because to me, it’s just an awkward set up. I guess I’m just too used to the Horn of America cabinet I have for the Brother DreamCreator VM5100. Right now, I really like the Kangaroo K8605. I would totally go back to Horn, but they seem to have moved primarily to electric motors for their cabinets instead of hydraulic lift, and the prices have skyrocketed as a result. I don’t NEED an electric motor and it’s just unnecessary cost.
  4. I’ve been doing a little free motion quilting (FMQ) practice, trying to decide between the Brother and the Viking. I think both do a really good job with the FMQ, but the Brother has a much better set up, and the throat is wider, so it makes sense to use it over the Viking. I really want to spend more time doing this, because I would like to finish the Cat in the Hat quilt that’s just sitting here. You may remember, if you’ve been reading for a while, that I started to do FMQ on this quilt back when I still had the Janome. Yes, the Janome that’s been gone for more than a year now … /blush

So, you can see that I’ve not been sitting around eating spoonfuls of whipped cream or peanut butter, watching tv and neglecting the sewing room. There HAS been activity, but nothing that I deemed exciting enough to share. I’m just not one of those people who turns out a new garment every night, or who makes massive leaps in quilting on a daily basis. I am trying to make an effort to get into the studio every day for at least half an hour, and I’ve been surprised by how much actually gets done when you spend thirty minutes in there every day.

Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to share on the jacket construction by the weekend. And I’ve thought about a series that documents my progress by spending at least thirty minutes in the studio each day. Maybe I’ll start that this weekend … hmmm. Watch this space for the beginning of that series!

It’s Time …

I’ve been gone for a couple of months, and for that I apologize. I have this habit of taking time off from sewing – it seems to happen in the summer months, almost every year – and it allows me to regenerate. Unlike others who seem to have a never-ending, unswerving focus on sewing, I tend to drift between several interests. Sometimes, I can co-mingle my interests and maintain my focus in several or all of them at the same time. Other times, I need to focus on one or the other, or just let one languish. The last couple of months, sewing has languished. For the last couple of years, it’s been photography (with the exception of our vacation earlier this year, that is).

But I think it’s time to pick up both of those things again. So watch this space in the coming days for posts about either and/or both of these interests. I’ve had a lot of inspiration lately for both of them, so I’m hoping to translate that into some real, live action and blog posts. Stayed tuned!

A long absence

Sorry I’ve been quiet the last couple of months. I think the rain and the grey days and the cold weather just got to me this year, in a way it usually doesn’t. But the sun Has been making frequent appearances lately, and I’ve used the time I’ve been away from here to do a few things that will really make sewing more enjoyable, hopefully a little easier, and definitely more likely.

We moved in to this house about three and a half years ago, and one of the things that I never really adjusted to was having my studio area in the master bedroom, where we also sleep (obviously). I felt isolated up there, often alone, and it was, frankly, a bit of a pain in the backside to be constantly up and down the stairs. A typical weekend sewing day would go something like this:

7:30 am – Wake up, have some caffeine, catch up on internet stuff (Facebook, blogs, forums)

8:30 am – Housework

9:30 am – Start thinking about sewing, but DH isn’t awake yet, so wait a little longer to see if he comes downstairs soon

10:15 am – Start getting antsy and ready to start sewing; go upstairs and find DH either in bed or on the couch, but almost always awake. Get a little irritated that I’ve wasted time waiting on him

10:30 am – Run DH out of room and start getting ready to sew; start project

11:30 am – Realize I haven’t eaten anything and I’m starving, so head downstairs to get some lunch

12:15 pm – After spending the last 45 minutes talking to DH, get ready to go out for lunch and to run errands.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it just goes downhill from there. By the time I get back to the studio, it’s dinner time, or even later! So on an average weekend day, I was getting about an hour a day in sewing time. So I decided it was time to make a change, and although it wasn’t a very popular idea at first, after trying out the new sewing space for a while, I finally made the switch last month. And it is truly a BIG change for all of us!

This house has a nice, open layout downstairs, with a formal living & dining room, and separated by a wall, a kitchen, den and breakfast area. There is also an office that’s tucked out of the way. The formal living/dining area previously housed a pool table I bought before I ever met my DH, primarily in the hopes of giving the kids a place to hang out back when we had a massive game room upstairs in our old house. More recently, my DH was the only one who used it, and that was rare, so we decided to sell it and clear out that space to be used as my new studio.

I spent the last several weeks cleaning and getting things organized. What I haven’t done yet is to add some art to the little wall space I have, but I’ve waited long enough to share photos of the space, so here it is …

Here’s what it looked like before we sold the pool table …

IMG_3889

Before we sold the pool table, this is what the room looked like.

Before we sold the pool table, this is what the room looked like.

And here’s some of the transformation …

Decisions, decisions. Where will I put everything?

Decisions, decisions. Where will I put everything?

Starting to get things set up ...

Starting to get things set up …

Two of these Ikea Hermes dressers, back to back, form the new cutting table. It gives me TONS of storage.

Two of these Ikea Hermes dressers, back to back, form the new cutting table. It gives me TONS of storage.

This new cutting table is probably my favorite thing in the room!

This new cutting table is probably my favorite thing in the room!

Then, once I got the main storage ideas worked out, I needed to figure out how to store things like thread.

This is just a small sample of the thread that I've managed to collect over the last few months.

This is just a small sample of the thread that I’ve managed to collect over the last few months.

I had been keeping it in the big blue Craftsman toolbox I bought a few years ago, but I was quickly running out of room. I mean, that toolbox IS used for other things. So I went to The Container Store. Chris cringes every time I go in there, because he knows it’s going to be an “investment.” LOL I have long been a fan of the Elfa basket system (I had two from there, and one cheaper one from Home Depot or Lowe’s), so I was thrilled to find these solid drawers, which have available lids. The single runner baskets are perfect for embroidery thread. So of course I added another set of baskets …

Elfa Smoke Solid Drawers are perfect for storing thread.

Elfa Smoke Solid Drawers are perfect for storing thread.

Then there is the wall of Billy Bookcases from Ikea

These bookcases are sturdier and maybe a little taller than the ones you can buy from Walmart.

These bookcases are sturdier and maybe a little taller than the ones you can buy from Walmart.

You can see my fabric stash on the far right, and below that are some ArtBin cases that I use for “works in progress.” The ArtBin cases on the top of that bookcase are empty and waiting for projects. I also bought two cases of 10 men’s shoe boxes from The Container Store to store things like old sewing machine pieces (bottom right), fat quarters (top left) and other things that aren’t pictured here, like scraps and bias tape, zippers, and the like. I left out one of the shelves in the middle bookcase so I could store fabric bolts. In this photo, you can see my new Viking Opal 690Q, which I’ve not talked about here, but I will write about it soon. To the left of that machine is another set of Elfa baskets that contain things like hand embroidery, patterns, and other things I don’t have another place to store.

Another machine I’ve added recently is this Brother 1034D serger, which I love.

Brother 1034D Serger

Brother 1034D Serger and more baskets, of course!

George is living down here at the end of the room next to the big window.

 

George, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100

George, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100

This is where the Elfa for thread storage lives, and the Craftsman toolbox that I love so much. That toolbox is awesome, and if I had to move into a super small space and could only keep one storage element, this is what I’d choose.

Behind George, at the end of the cutting table, I have this ClosetMaid Cubeical shelf that’s really useful for small-ish things.

ClosetMaid Cubeical

ClosetMaid Cubeical

This is where my miscellaneous stuff, and my fabric dyeing supplies, are stored.

And last but not least, here is my design wall, which currently features a small throw I’m making for Chris.

Design Wall

Design Wall

I’m sure I’ll make a few tweaks as I go along, but so far, I really love the layout of the new studio space, and it’s incredibly functional. I no longer feel isolated, and I can sew when I want, how I want without worrying about anyone else’s schedule. I really hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing the space, and I’d love to know what others think!

Happy sewing!