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!


A Challenge

Posted On February 3, 2008

Filed under Inspiration

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February is one of my favorite months. There’s just something about all the pink and hearts that gets me thinking about the people I know and love. Really, it’s just an excuse for me to surprise people with a card or gift or little gesture.

And that, dear friends, is what I’m going to challenge you to do. That cute little graphic over there is a challenge to “Share the Love” this month. Here are the rules:

1. Do a little something sweet for someone who would not expect it by March 1.

So many steps! The pressure! The posting! The reporting! I know; it’s complicated. But I think you’re up for it.

The Saturday Night Ramble

Posted On September 23, 2007

Filed under Confession, Inspiration, Ramblings

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While I was sewing recently, I listened to some of the podcasts I have missed (darn iTunes does not always update them, it appears — grrrrr). I think I may have gleaned more from them by listening to them so much later than I would have closer to air date.

Both Halfway There and the Creative Mom Podcast episodes I listened to touched on writing and journaling. As a writer and a blogger, I find the idea of writing prompts intriguing and a little daunting. However, I am the world’s worst procrastinator when it comes to writing. How badly? Let’s see … in early May, I brainstormed the plot of a book. Mentally, I have it about halfway outlined. How much is written? Ummmmmmm ….. none. I don’t think I’ve even started a file on my computer for it. And now I’ve come up with another plot and really need to write down both of them so I can start working on one or the other before it all disappears into the ether.

I also caught the Boutique Cafe episode featuring Sandi Henderson. I think my biggest “aha!” moment from that podcast was something Sandi said about designing fabric and how she hoped that would inspire someone to try her hand at sewing. It really struck a chord with me because that’s kind of the path I followed to resume sewing. All these beautiful fabrics and ideas, and I just had to sit down and do it. Goodness knows some of my ideas have been tossed in the reject pile but the sense of accomplishment I get from seeing my daughter wearing her “mama made” more than makes up for any disappointment  related to projects gone wrong.

In true craft-addict fashion, I recently acquired two new books. Both are embroidery books, something I’ve long admired but really have not done since I was much younger. I actually eschewed embroidery for cross stitching, largely because it was easier to follow the “rules” related to cross stitching. The cool, hip embroidery I’ve seen lately has renewed my interest, hence the book purchases. I’m excited about having a more portable craft, one that will also let me embellish and personalize other things that I make.

Oh, and my serger is home and running like a dream. I hope to make tomorrow a productive day!

To Market, To Market

Posted On April 15, 2007

Filed under Inspiration, Ramblings

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I had my first experience at The Market today. While it was incredibly overwhelming, it also was really fun to see what so many clothing manufacturers are doing for fall (and winter, in some cases). I have a stack of business cards and catalogs and postcards, many of them showing the clothes that will be selling in boutiques in just a few short months.

It was kind of neat, actually to meet one of the designers for a company who recognized the fabric on my purse (the as-yet unphotographed stripwork purse featuring all Amy Butler fabric) and then pulled out a dress in her fall line that incorporates the same fabric. (She also had kind words to say about my purse, which made me blush.)

I spent three hours at the Market and probably saw 1/12 of what’s in just that one building (there are three). It’s really pretty massive and a little overwhelming — but I’m going back, for sure!

Sweet Tooth

Posted On April 5, 2007

Filed under Inspiration, Ramblings

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Eeeeeee! AnnaMaria Horner’s new line, Chocolate Lollipop, is up at Free Spirit. Oh, the ideas I have!

How To

Posted On March 7, 2007

Filed under Inspiration, Sewing

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Katie stopped by my blog recently (be sure to check hers out!) and I spotted some too cute patchwork quilted purses she’s made. (She recently went to a taping of the Martha show — color me jealous!) The discovery led me to Google for tutorials and I found a bunch of great sites for making purses — just what I need, since I’ve been winging it with mine. Sure, they look cute but I know the construction could be better.

Actually, it’s kind of nice to see that even though I’ve been just guessing at the way to sew a bag, I’m actually on the right track.

I’m really excited about Creative Little Daisy’s zipper tutorial. Woohoo! As I’ve admitted before, zippers are  just a real challenge for me (although Angela has done a wonderful job of helping me). Between the two sets of instructions I know have, I may actually attempt a zipper again.

Field Trip!

Posted On February 22, 2007

Filed under Inspiration, Ramblings, Sewing, Shopping

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I was reading Anna Maria Horner‘s blog the other day, drooling over her upcoming Chocolate Lollipop line. Anyway, it somehow led to me looking for fabric sources and I ended up at the web site of a local quilting store.

I’ve known about this place for years. I used to drive past its previous location twice a day — on my way to and from work — and last year I cursed it for buying the building of the best comic store I’ve ever shopped. And yet it never crossed my mind to actually, you know, go there and shop for fabric. I guess part of it was the image I had of quilt shops (musty, dusty, full of old ladies and old lady fabrics). I stand corrected!

Were I not accompanied by the 2-year-old, I would have spent much longer in there. Like, the whole day. As it is, I spent about 30 minutes picking out two fabrics (and realized around minute 25 that I’d left at home the fabric I needed to match for another project). I’m looking forward to my return trip this weekend, although I’ll need to practice some restraint. OK, a lot of restraint! ha ha ha ha!

My big challenge remains finding the time to sew. Heck, I don’t even have time to clean my house. I’m determined to carve out some one-on-one time with my stash and machines this weekend, though.  I’m especially eager to work with some gorgeous Euro fabric I bought from Fabric Hound. There’s an outfit in a back issue of Ottobre that I think suits it perfectly.

Special Delivery from UPS

Posted On February 16, 2007

Filed under Inspiration, Ramblings, Sewing

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It has been a crazy week at work for me because we’re on deadline and had two magazines going out the door. On top of that, there was a rising-freshman parents meeting at the high school and I had a Junior League meeting last night. All together, it means I’ve had very little crafting time this week.

I guess that’s why I was extra excited to get home from work this afternoon and find the big brown Amazon.com box. Inside were three new-to-me books: Sewing 101, Amy Butler’s In Stitches and Simple Sewing with a French Twist. I haven’t had much time — OK, any time — to really look at them but I can tell from just a quick flip through that there are quite a few projects to add to me gargantuan to-do list.

In other news … I sold my first sewing work today. It really was inadvertent. I made my daughter a twirl skirt at Christmas and a friend asked if I’d make one for her daughter (who’s about the same size). I told her I planned to  make one in more Spring-y colors and would be happy to make two then. And I did. I also threw together a matching purse. She insisted on paying me, although I would have been happy to be reimbursed for just the fabric (of which I still have a ridiculous amount since I tend to overestimate the amount needed to clothe a 2-year-old!).

With any luck, I’ll get to hop on the machine tomorrow and finish up the latest dress for baby girl. I can’t wait to share the results!

Attack of the Fontaholic

Posted On February 15, 2007

Filed under Confession, Inspiration, Shopping

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I was reading Melissa’s Buzz Off yesterday and found these gorgeous alphabet blocks. I’m such a font junkie that it really took a lot to not order them, even at $100 for the set.

I love the color and the concept but mostly I love the letter forms. Just look at them: the taper of each spiral and curve, the graceful shape of each straight line — not too light or too heavy.

My love affair with type goes back decades, literally. I was obsessed with fonts when I as in high school and that only grew when I became a graphic designer. Between my two laptops, I have thousands of fonts — more than I can keep loaded on my computer. I just can’t help myself!

I’m a huge fan of serif faces. I probably use Hoefler more than just about anything but I also like Caslon, when it works with the project. Of course, I have a soft spot for scripts, too. Poetica with all of its ornamentals can keep me entertained for hours!

It’s a crafty mag

Posted On February 10, 2007

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Craft coverI was cruising the magazine offerings at Borders today and stumbled across this delightful periodical. Probably the only thing I’m addicted to more than crafts is magazines, so finding a magazine — especially a cute, fun-sized magazine — all about crafts made me swoon.

Seriously, the felted fruits and veggies have me itching (ha ha, itching — felted wool, itching … ) to give it a whirl myself. Of course, I own absolutely no felting supplies. No needles, no yarn, no nothing. And I have about 100 sewing projects in various stages of design-cutting-sewing, so it’s not like I’m lacking for something crafty to do.

Right now the mag is only quarterly but there’s a blog and a podcast so I think that can tide me over. I can already see that I’ll be checking out the website regularly. You know, because I’m lacking craft projects.