Another year, another attempt to organize

sewing

If you follow me on social media, you might know that I have a fairly consistent problem with organization. I mean, I can find things most of the time, but not always. I tend to lose my phone in the studio a LOT. It’s become so frequent, Chris bought me a Tile for Christmas so I can find my phone AND my keys! I am more organized in the studio than I am anywhere else in the house, and that includes my office. In fact, my office is so bad, you’d think a paper factory blew up in there and that all the papers started reproducing instantly. It’s really, really bad.

I mean, it’s mind-blowing how bad it is. And no, I won’t share photos because I’m far too embarrassed about it.

walmart

But I’ve realized that part of the reason why I keep having this problem is that I have all these revelations when I’m cleaning, but I promptly forget them as soon as I am “finished.” So, I’m writing this post while I clean and organize so that I can refer back to it when I need help (and hopefully, to keep me from needing help like this again).

  1. I wait until the paper piles on my desk are threatening to fall over and bury me in an avalanche of paper before I will address the issue of filing.
  2. I am really bad about accumulating a bunch of stuff without stopping to think where I might store said stuff.
  3. I don’t take advantage of offers for help. When someone says, “I’ll help you with that,” I either wait for them to tell me they’re ready to help, or I just don’t ask for assistance.
  4. Never start tearing a room down eight hours before you’re supposed to host dinner, even if the guests are your family. You’re never going to get it back in order in time for dinner that evening. Or the following evening, and maybe not the evening after that.
  5. Try to plan this type of project for a time when the weather is supposed to be good, or try to have another area largely cleaned out so you can just pack the room up and move everything out of it. This gives you a blank canvas with which to work, and it makes things SO much easier. If you don’t, you end up moving things in shifts – empty one bookcase on to the table and move it, then empty the next bookcase in to the one you just moved, and move it, and repeat. It’s like a bizarre game of leap frog, and really no one ends. You mostly just end up feeling like a frog that’s been run over.
  6. Organizing costs a LOT of money.

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I started writing this post more than a week ago, and I’m still not finished with the organization of the studio or the office, though I have made significant progress. The studio and office are now combined in to one space, and I am using what was once my office as a storage room. But life keeps getting in the way, and I haven’t been able to devote large chunks of time to this project. I am really hoping that I can, by the end of the coming week, be mostly done with the studio/office area. The storage room might take a little more time, if only because there are a LOT of things in there, and I need to find homes for them all. Right now, it’s usable space, and I can find things, but it’s not very organized. Also, we have plans to add some additional storage elsewhere in the house, but that will require a trip to Ikea, and we have not had the opportunity to do that just yet; I’m hoping that will be possible this week as well.

It is my fervent hope that my next post about this subject will be to share photos of how far I’ve come, and how much nicer the overall functionality of the space is, and I further hope that post happens before the end of the week. So keep your eye on the blog and watch for a wrap-up post about organizing the studio … it’s time to put this to bed!

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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! ūüėČ

All quiet on the western front …

Or at least the home front. I haven’t really been involved in the studio due to some personal things. I’ll be back in the studio this week, though, and I hope to be able to post some new stuff in the coming days. I’ve been more interested in getting past this week than I have been in sewing and doing artsy/craftsy things, but now I can focus on things that are more fun.

In other news, I have a new blog that will document my transition from corporate life into the next phase. I’d be so happy if you’d stop by and take a look.

Until next time …

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!

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!

Confessions of a Quiltaholic

I am a stasher. Yes, that’s a little like a hoarder. I buy fabric even when I have no definite plans for it, to be used at some “future time.” I’ve done this since I first started quilting about 10 years ago, and I can’t see myself stopping now. Last month, I added more than twenty yards to my stash. Some of the fabrics, I’ve been coveting for MONTHS. I fell in love with one piece in particular,¬†the first time I saw it, but I was practicing “restraint.” I don’t know why, really, but I thought I should limit my fabric purchasing. Silly girl! Don’t you know you can’t forget a fabric love? Well, I know that now, so when I headed to that shop for something else, I had my fingers crossed that they might still have some. They did!

I have more pairs of scissors than one girl should be allowed to have (last count, 10), and more rotary cutters than I could ever use (eight). I have one Craftsman tool chest drawer half filled with thread, and boxes of thread on my storage shelf.

I currently have six¬†machines – the Janome 8900, a Brother PC-8500, a Viking #1+ (that is technically my mom’s machine, but … ) and a Brother SQ-9050 I bought from Walmart a few years ago. I also have a White serger They all get used. I¬†added¬†a new machine in March, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100, which is seeing a LOT of use. I love it already.

I have two cutting tables – one for actual cutting, and one I use for various other things – pinning quilts, sorting fabrics, and other quilty type things.

I have one sewing cabinet where the DreamCreator hangs out, and a small Ikea table for the Janome. I’m considering buying a new cabinet next year …

My studio is actually part of my master bedroom. Since the master is H U G E, it isn’t crowded or in any way difficult to work or sleep in. However, I still dream of a dedicated studio that’s at least the size of my current bedroom. Right now, I have a king size bed, a dresser, two end tables, a love seat, a 40″ tv with stand, an ironing board, a set of Elfa wire drawers, a Horn of America 3180 cabinet, a Craftsman tool chest, and a set of nine cubbies in the room. I could put another 3180 cabinet and set up the second cutting table in the room and still have space to move around and not feel too crowded.

I keep trying to convince my husband that we should move our bed into the spare bedroom and let me use the master as the studio. He’s reluctantly agreed, but I really think that’s something I will wait to do once my son is out on his own in a few years.

I sew more days than I don’t, even if it’s just to do a couple of small things. I would sew more, but I like spending time with my husband and he likes being in the living room where he’s more comfortable. I tried to get him to let me move my studio downstairs and he didn’t like that idea either. And truthfully, as loudly as he has the surround sound sometimes, I’m not sure I would want to be down here either.

There’s lots more I could confess, but a woman can’t give away all her secrets! Well, not all at one time, anyway. ūüėČ

A full day in studio

It has been ages since I’ve spent an entire day in the studio, but that’s exactly what I did yesterday. The menfolk were gone from the house, helping Chris’s brother move, so I decided to ignore the housework and spend some time working on the Dr Seuss quilt for my friend Julie.

Green Eggs and Ham Fabric

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about the quilt, so after grabbing some caffeine, I went straight back up to my room to get started – I had a vision and I couldn’t let it slip away from me. I had spent some time the day before cutting apart one set of panels and I’d sashed a few of them with 2.5″ Dr Seuss fabric strips. I finished all of that set of panels in the same manner – 2.5″ Dr Seuss printed fabric sashing, then I cut apart a second set of panels and sashed them using a Kona solid fabric in grass green. After that was done, I put everything up on the design wall to check layout.

Dr Seuss on Design Wall

 

Then I started sewing the panels and rows together.

Two rows of Dr Seuss Quilt

 

So far, I’m really pleased with this quilt. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the green sashing, but I think it is perfect. I love how it gives the eye a place to rest from all the busy-ness of the Dr Seuss fabric, and I think once it’s done, it’s going to look really great.

It’s been years since I spent a full day in the studio, and not once did I worry about the housework that wasn’t getting done, or what Chris was doing, or whether or not I should be doing something else. It was absolutely fantabulous, and I have decided that at least once a month I’m going to schedule a day to spend in the studio. If the guys want to leave the house or whatever, that will make it even easier. But if they stay here, I’m still going to spend the day in the studio. I was impressed with how much I got done yesterday, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy spending the day quilting.¬†

I will get more done on the quilt today; I’m hoping to get the top put together even though I need to go in search of some fabric to act as a thin-ish interior border. It would be wonderful to get this quilt to the point where I can actually start on the quilting in the next week.