I Work Here

When I decided to take the plunge and buy a new sewing machine and serger (and then my first cover stitcher), I knew I needed to revamp my sewing space before I moved in my new machines.

I think I’m like a lot of other folks when I say that I made do with what I had. I started out sewing in my dining room. That worked when I sewed only occasionally but quickly became a hassle when that pace picked up (and a serger on the table didn’t lend itself to mealtimes). We actually use our dining room, so repurposing it was just not going to happen. Instead, I decided to take over ask Honey if I could use his desk/office area, since he rarely used it anymore.

Our downstairs has been largely unused since we bought our house 4.5 years ago. It’s a pretty big space but oddly shaped (a big L) and poorly lit. My sewing space is at the right-most side of the L’s bottom leg, running along the wall between the door to the garage and the door to the laundry room, right at the bottom of the stairs.

Originally, the space had an L-shaped arrangement of desks (a regular sized desk and a laptop desk), with my serger on the small desk and sewing machine on the big desk. This didn’t work for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lots of wasted space on the corner of the large desk adjacent to the small desk. It just would end up buried in piles.
  2. The rolling stool I used would lower with each spin, so I’d have to get up and raise it every 20 minutes or so.
  3. Add in my cutting table, and the space just seemed really claustrophobic.

Here’s my new, improved sewing space (as seen from the stairs)!

Left: My cutting table was a sale purchase from Joann’s, as was my cutting mat. The little “paint can” on my cutting table came from Archiver’s. I cut some of the paper I used for my sewing table so it would match. The inspiration piece for my revamped workspace is actually on the floor underneath my cutting table: my vintage sewing box, which I won from Lisa’s blog. It’s roomy and fun, and now I actually have a place to put it! LOL!

Right: We have a few 6-foot folding tables and I pulled one out of storage to use as my main sewing table. One of the great things about having lived near a university (while Honey was in law school) was being able to pick up stuff like that on the cheap when kids graduated. I think I paid $15 for one table and dragged the other two home from the trash at our apartment complex. I bought a roll of adhesive-backed paper at Target to liven up the table. It wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole table top, so I overlapped it by rolling it along the long edge on one side of the table and then the other. (There are close-ups of the tabletop further down.) On the left, behind my cover stitcher, is a basket I bought at Michael’s; it stores the patterns I’m about to use, plus current reading material.

Here’s kind of an overview of the space from the other side of the room. You can really tell from this photo how poorly the area is lit. I actually need to go shopping for a new light fixture soon because I can’t stand the cave-like feeling that’s down there.

Continuing the tour … To the right of my sewing table is a trash can. Big deal, right? Well, it is for me! Until now, I’ve relied on the trashcan in the laundry room. It’s actually not that convenient, so I often would just make a pile on the floor while I was working. It’s so much nicer to have a dedicated trash can right there.

For most of the past year, I’ve been using a stool I bought at Ikea. I love it, but the previously mentioned problem with it lowering makes it less-than-ideal for my needs. The replacement is not only more comfortable, it’s also a little taller, which means I can actually sit at my cutting table now (instead of under it).

Underneath the table, you can see my cheapie Brother sewing machine, which is set up for shirring. It handles it better than my old sewing machine, although I have not tried it on my new Janome. Regardless, I do it enough that it’s nice to have a dedicated machine for it.

The door on the left, behind my cutting table, is my hobby closet. There’ll be a tour of it later.

Welcome to Janomeville!

I picked up this two-sided bulletin board on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The right-hand side is a corkboard. I unscrewed the backing, pulled out the corkboard and covered it with a piece of fabric (a Japanese Little Red Riding Hood print), then slid it back in and closed up the back. Easy peasey! The chalkboard side is magnetic and the new home of the cute magnets Amy sent me (she made them!). I plan to use this as a to-do list and inspiration board, but right now I’m just enjoying looking at the pretty fabric.

I have managed to avoid hanging any artwork downstairs and am glad to say I’ve rectified that now. The frames were picked up on the cheap from Big Lots. They needed to be cleaned up a little but were otherwise perfect. I was delighted to not only find these two pieces of art on Etsy but also that the artist (KJ of The Dreamy Giraffe) was able to accommodate my request for same-sized prints. I need to get some matts cut to fit, but that’s easy enough to obtain. Right now, I’m enjoying having such beautiful things to inspire me every day!

Now, on to the shiny clean craft closet!

The view of my closet from the outside. It’s not a huge space and actually occupies the underside of the stairs leading to our living room and other main living spaces. Fabric is stacked on the left and right side of the doorway. I also store my scrapbooking paper in here, some photography gear (backdrop stand and my formerly lost tripod), rubber stamping supplies, Xyron machines and a few other things.

Honey also uses this closet to store his lawyer books. He is far happier with the renovated closet, since now it’s possible for him to open the door, walk in, find what he needs and retreat without commenting on my fabric stash. (That last bit may be wishful thinking on my part.)

We also have things like big coats down here, plus my tutu-making supplies (gotta keep all that tulle somewhere!). When I need to, I can fold down my cutting table and roll it in here, too.

The fabric is sorted by color, more or less. I separated out the corduroy, flannel, linen, silk and Japanese fabrics (both from Japan and Asian-inspired prints). Since reorganizing it like this, I’ve found it easier to locate specific fabric and also to find coordinates.

But enough yapping. Here are more pictures!



Posted On September 8, 2007

Filed under Art, Photography, Ramblings, Shopping, Travel

Comments Dropped 8 responses

Ah, vacation. How I miss you.

Honey and I had a blast in Chicago. Rather than bore you with a play-by-play travelogue, I’ll just hit the highlights (with a few pics thrown in for good measure; see the rest at my Flickr.)

(Read More)

The Artist in Me

Posted On August 14, 2007

Filed under Art, Swaps

Comments Dropped 5 responses

I used to love to draw and paint and create art. It was fun and liberating when I was younger, a creative pastime that I could explore on my own time. Somewhere along the way, life really impeded that love, that process. “Art” was something I did when I was bored, doodles on random pieces of paper.

In the spring, I signed up for the ATC exchange at the Creative Mom Podcast. I thought it would give me an outlet for my inner artist.

I was wrong.

What I’ve found out is that creating a tiny piece of art on a deadline is paralyzing for my creative juices.  I don’t know if it’s the size (2.5″x3.5″), sticking to a theme (rather broad), maybe that it’s going to someone else or just that it’s been too long since I’ve been “artsy.” No matter, each month I struggle to create an ATC.

There are no rules for ATCs; that’s one of the things that appealed to me about joining the exchange, the fact that I can’t go wrong.  Still, I struggle. I procrastinate. And, eventually, I make something and stick it in an envelope, feeling guilty that my recipient will get a card two weeks late.

This morning, after the boys and Honey had left, with hours before Miss L arose for the day, I cut pieces of cardstock for making ATCs, determined to find my groove. As I cut, I gave myself permission to have fun. Why? Because I finally realized that I did not view creating ATCs as “fun.” Rather, it’s been an obligation, something I “had” to do versus “wanted.”

This morning, I made three ATCs. They aren’t perfect and they aren’t exactly what I thought they would be — and that’s OK. They are small moments of art, created by me, parts of me that I am sharing.

And I had fun.

A Modern Fairytale

Posted On August 14, 2007

Filed under Art, Confession

Comments Dropped 3 responses

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to collect crafty stuff. Among her collection, she counted a vast number of colored pencils. Prismacolor, to be specific. Pricey but beautiful, if rarely used.  They made a lovely bouquet in a beautiful glass vase that sat atop her desk where they could be admired and used as the mood struck.

Over time, two evil trolls came to be entranced by said Prismacolor pencils. Although the girl had bought them many a pack of Crayola color pencils, the trolls could not be bothered to keep up with them or even bring them home from school so they could complete their homework. Surreptitiously, they would sneak the Prismacolor pencils from their vase, much to the girl’s annoyance.

One day, the girl decided to use her beloved Prismacolor pencils to complete a project. Oh, she was inspired! The pencils would be perfect. Alas, it was not to be, for her expansive collection had dwindled to ten lonely pencils, many of them broken and only two in the same color family. Needless to say, the girl was angered.

Boy, are those trolls in big trouble when they get home from school.

The End?

The Comic Life

Posted On June 27, 2007

Filed under Art

Comments Dropped 6 responses

One of Amy‘s recent podcasts talked about comic book artwork. OK, she’s actually talked about it a couple of times but I’m behind on my listening. The same day I listened to her podcast, I was in the Apple Store and saw some comic book software. It was pretty cheap — about $30 — but I couldn’t see spending the money on such a frivolous purchase.

My Internet has been down most of today, and I was goofing around on my computer and stumbled across the software! Apparently, it came with the MacBook I bought back in April. Plenty of time on my hands today so I threw this together:

Our son ran the 10K last year and these are just a couple of the pictures I took. I can definitely see some potential for fun with this software, especially after doing some playing with pictures in Photoshop.

Artsy Fun

Posted On May 27, 2007

Filed under Art, Ramblings, Shopping

Comments Dropped 5 responses

Hubby, Bunny and I headed over to our old stomping grounds today to check out the annual arts festival that takes place every Memorial Day weekend. It’s kind of been our tradition since we moved here seven years ago, even though we went from living practically within walking distance to a 20-minute drive from there.

In years past, we have purchased at the festival watercolors, jewelry, clothing and even the lovely framed photograph of a fence in beach sand that’s hanging on the wall behind me.

  (Segue: Seriously, how flipping cool is Photo Booth? I was sitting here, thinking how much better it would be to show you the picture I was writing about and — lo and behold — the handy-dandiness of my MacBook saves the day! Please excuse my end-of-the-day hair, goofy expression and any food stuck in my teeth. End of segue.)

Last year, there was a lot of construction going on at the festival site, which made it a little tougher to navigate and also cut out some vendors. Thankfully, the work is finally done and everything was spiffy and shiny.

I don’t know whether it was the memories of last year or something else, but there were far fewer booths this year than in previous years. I mean noticeably fewer. And, as much as I hate to admit this, there really wasn’t much that felt exciting or new or fresh to me. Maybe I’ve gotten jaded, especially since I see so much cool, handmade stuff online every day.

One thing I did fall in love with — and buy –was a really groovy recycled glass necklace from Smart Glass Jewelry. I had such a hard time narrowing down to “the one.” There were two or three I had my eye on. Ultimately, I chose this one in kind of a turquoise glass, which Kathleen told me came from a sake bottle.  (If I were wearing it, I’d take a picture. But it’s in the bedroom and I’m too lazy to walk down the hall … yada yada yada … you get a link instead.) I love it! Bunny thinks it’s hers. Ha ha ha! She’s so funny!

Since we were all the way in town (not really — “town” refers to Atlanta proper and we were still in the ‘burbs), we decided to luncheon at one of my favorite restaurants, Taqueria del Sol. We arrived a few minutes before they opened, so we actually were able to get in, order, get a table and then our food pretty quickly. There’s nearly always a line and with the influx of folks for the festival, a wait would not have surprised me. Should you ever be inclined to dine there, I highly recommend the brisket taco, the fish taco, the fried chicken taco and whatever the day’s special taco may be. Really, though, you can’t go wrong with just about anything on the menu. And the restaurant just looks cool, too. I think it used to be an old gas station with a service garage attached. They’ve kept the bones but really made it this very hip, fun, inexpensive place to eat.

Only two days left in the weekend and I’ve yet to sew anything but plan to remedy that tomorrow. We may take my little bitty thang to her first movie-theater movie, but we’ll just wait and see. Monday may hold a return trip to the Ren Fest, if the horrid, choking smoke isn’t too bad. We will contribute to the air pollution ourselves when I fire up the grill and make burgers, hot dogs, turkey brats and possibly a veggie burger or two. The spinach dip is already in the fridge so the flavors can blend. I add garlic, salt, pepper and a couple of dashes of Tabasco to liven things up. If I get motivated, we may even have cupcakes for dessert. Am I making you hungry? Because I need to publish this and go snack on something!

Cupcake-y Goodness

Posted On May 16, 2007

Filed under Art, Swaps

Comments Dropped 2 responses

Oh, I am so excited about this cool Cupcake Swap! The fabulous Amy is hosting and I managed to sign up just in time. I have so many ideas for this one. I think my biggest challenge will be choosing just one!

I’m also hard at work on my ATC for the Creative Mom swap. I have a couple of ideas for the card but nothing I’ve sketched out. I really like the size of ATCs, although such a small canvas isn’t without its challenges. The May theme is “Reach for the Stars” and I may end up doing more than one since I have two very different ideas turning over in my mind.

Miss L and I are off shortly to do a little shopping and then a little lunching with friends during a noon outdoor concert. One of the local communities hosts them once a week during May and September; we make a playdate of it and always have a great time. I’m looking forward to taking my camera and snapping a few pics while we are there. Crossing my fingers that the rain and smoke forecast for today stay away!

The Young Artist

Posted On April 23, 2007

Filed under Art

Comments Dropped 2 responses

The little one and I had fun doing art this morning. She’s only 2.5 (as of today), so “art” is rather subjective — but then isn’t it always? This is really a fun activity for little bitty ones (but older kids will enjoy it, too): Tape a large piece of paper to the floor (I used the back side of a roll of gift wrap), convince your child to lie down on it, then trace around him/her.

The “convincing” part took a little work. The independent Miss L had zero interest in lying on the kitchen floor, and especially not on a piece of paper taped to the kitchen floor. We doodled around for a while before she finally acquiesced — and then she wanted to do it over and over again.  She really had fun drawing her features on “her” face. We also traced around our hands and feet, in addition to just doodling/scribbling.

Nothing fancy but the kind of fun I should build into every day.