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!

Shhhh! Don’t Tell Honey

Look what followed me home from the Sewing Expo today:

Just kidding about not telling my husband; he’s actually the one who urged me to buy a new sewing machine. My last two machine purchases were from a big discount retailer. Great for the budget. Less so when it comes to sewing quality. Things started out well with my last Brother sewing machine — purchased about a year ago — but I soon found that it could be … inconsistent. Random thread tension issues that cropped up in the middle of a sewing project. Snapping bobbin threads. The complete unwillingness to sew a buttonhole on an actual garment (but willing to cover every scrap fabric with perfect buttonholes 10 times in a row).

I’ve heard great things about Janomes and the price was right, so I handed over the bank card and drove home with my very first Janome sewing machine. It’s currently on the living room floor, where I sat playing with it while watching the most recent episode of Lost with Honey. It’s so quiet, it didn’t interfere with our viewing experience even a little bit. And it sews like a dream, just so smoothly and perfectly.

Yes, I’m in love.

All the Shiny Pretty

The sewing expo is taking place here, through the weekend, and I spent the morning there. I went last year, just for an afternoon, but didn’t take any classes. This year, I got it together and registered for a couple, including a millinery overview and another on finishing touches for apparel sewing.

The hat class was neat. Dawn Anderson brought lots of samples in different stages of construction and covered choosing materials, basic stitching and fitting tips. It was a nice introductory lecture and I really got a lot out of seeing and holding the various foundation pieces. I’m a hands-on learner and that’s always a good thing for me.

After the class ended, I had a little time to go explore the expo floor and see all the goodies available for purchase. Wow!  Pretty much anything you could imagine for sewing, plus needle felting, knitting, crochet, embroidery — even scrapbooking. I was fairly restrained and walked out only $50-ish lighter, with three patterns and two yards of fabric in hand. And maybe a notebook filled with info about a couple of machines.

Sew Sweet

Thanks for all the well wishes and kind thoughts sent my way. I’m happy to say that I’m feeling much better and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things today and through the rest of the weekend. So let’s get back to a little crafty talk, shall we?

We’re off to see the wizard! A friend asked if I could pull this together for her daughter. How could I say no? She ordered the Wizard of Oz fabric from Superbuzzy (oh, how I love that place!). The dress is the Farbenmix Marieke. It’s the first time I’ve made it with both pockets but I think the red needed a little breaking up. It’s also been lengthened, since the sweetie who’ll be wearing it is tall. The polka dot is Jason Yenter for In the Beginning; I think it’s my new favorite dot. Before I received the Oz fabric, I’d thought I’d do a full lining with peekaboo underskirt. It’s such a heavy fabric, though, that I feared too many layers would make the dress uncomfortably heavy (and warm) for a little girl.

This little outfit is the one I was working on Tuesday. It evolved from this one made for Miss L. When I was asked about revamping the top, I immediately knew the above style was more suited for the future wearer. (I’m fortunate to have seen many a picture of this little girl over the past few years.) I did a quick sketch, sent it to the mom and got to work.

I tell you, it’s quite different to sew for a size 5 than a size 2! Lots more fabric — necessitated not only by the size but the style. The halter dress is nearly three full yards of fabric. In comparison, L’s peasant top is about a yard. I think the bottom ruffle turned out to be more than 200 inches of fabric! I’ll be making only one more of these sets, this one a duplicate of the original, which will use up the last bits of my pretty embroidered cream fabric. It’s one of my backburner projects, though, since it’s not needed in its new home until May.

In the meantime, I have quite a bit to keep me busy: a couple of orders from my Etsy shop (cut out and ready to sew! Go, me!), a couple of apron orders from a friend, some Try It! projects and a stack of fun things I’m itching to start working on. Oh, the fun we’re going to have here on ye olde Craft Addict blog!

Hey — if you are in the Atlanta area, you don’t want to miss this weekend’s Shop Hop! It’s going on now and there are some great giveaways to be had. It’s a really fun annual event and a great way to get around to all of the area’s fabulous quilt shops. I may or may not have done a little “hopping” myself today. (Shhhh! Fabric’s in the wash!)

Lazy Sunday

Honey headed into the office today so it’s been just me and the babies. Yes, I still refer to all of them as “babies” even though the older two have towered over me for years. Secretly, I think they like it; after all, they sometimes still call me “Mommy.”

Since conditions were right (a second camera operator) and the sun was actually out, I had J take a picture of me wearing my latest sewing-for-me project. These are the “muslin” I made for my first crack at Favorite Things‘ new Smarty Pants pattern. I did not hem them because I do not intend to wear them out of the house. Or likely ever. Nothing says “I have a big butt” like this fabric print. Why did I buy it? I have no clue. All I know is that I had enough of it to try this pattern without making some sort of hodgepodge clown pants because I had to use two or three fabrics.

But I digress.

I know capri pants are some big fashion no-no according to all those makeover shows but I don’t care. They are comfortable and hide my thighs, and they’re a bit cooler than jeans or long pants during the summer. (It’s not called “Hotlanta” for nothing.)

The pattern also makes Bermuda shorts and there are options for pockets and belt loops but I haven’t tried them out yet. And I’m not sure I will, since that style of pockets draws attention to my hips, which I’d prefer received a little less attention.

This is actually a pretty easy pants pattern. I highly recommend covering up the sizes and looking solely at the measurements to determine the best fit. Go by just your size and you may be disappointed. I know I would have been. Maybe “depressed” would be a better word.

Moving on.

The pants are only six pieces, which sounds like a lot but it’s not. Two front leg pieces. Two back leg pieces. Two pieces for the waistband. The waistband is two pieces because the back band forms a casing in which you insert elastic to fit the waist. The flat front waistband is a flattering look, and I like that the back fits closely so I don’t have to worry about someone seeing my Hanes Her Way.

Because these are a muslin, I didn’t do any serging of seams which did cut down the sewing time. Still, I made these pants from start to finish (cutting, pinning, sewing, fitting) in just a couple of hours. I think future iterations will be faster, especially because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the assembly of the waistband. This is no fault of the pattern instructions; I’m just a hands-on learner and sometimes have to read the directions a few times, then practice with the fabric to get it down.

Favorite Things also makes these in a Little Smarty Pants version (which I also own) and I expect them to be a cornerstone of Miss L’s spring and summer wardrobe if they sew up as easily as I expect.

In other news, I added these Mommy & Me aprons to my Etsy today. I’m still loving the Heather Bailey Fresh Cut fabrics, accented here with a little Robert Kaufman floral plus a touch of grosgrain ribbon. I had originally planned to do the ruffle a little differently but I’m happy with how these turned out.

We had fun with our little photo shoot. I think L expected to keep wearing her apron as she played, since she dragged my mixing bowl and spoon into the living room. Sorry, kiddo!

Etsy Love

I could spend all day browsing the wares at Etsy. It’s the ultimate in boutique handmade shopping. I’ve been spending even more time there this week after opening my own little Etsy shop. There’s so much I want to buy!

I’m completely in love with this bag. Those “beads” are so lovely! (And Lisa is super sweet, to boot.) The fabric on this dress works so well with the pattern (the headscarf is the perfect touch). I love reading Missy’s blog and seeing these cute little bears come to life. I just adore the softies here, so whimsical! Don’t you want to just eat up this shirt from Jen? I love the purse like this that Jessi sent me for a swap and I’m digging her latest design, too. Katie‘s got another winner with this great bag. I want one of these in my size! Speaking of my size … I must own this. I would wear it every day. OK, maybe not every day. But at least once a week.

The Bargain Hunter

Posted On January 25, 2008

Filed under Shopping

Comments Dropped 12 responses

I’ve been thrilled of late in my great finds at Target. First was the Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine, originally $99 and bought for $50 then returned when I bought a second for $25. Even Honey was thrilled with that one — even if the sewing machine is going to sit in my closet for the forseeable future.

The same day I returned the sewing machine, I picked up the great little bargain at left. I’d been talking to my husband about getting a jewelry armoire since November (possibly earlier) and recently had seen some at Target on clearance. Still a little pricey and not quite what I wanted (stained wood). The store also had a Mission-style one in black that would work, so I decided to keep an eye on it (still full price at $100+).

Since not all stores mark down the same things at the same time, I decided to check out this particular Target’s offerings. And almost smacked my jaw on the floor when I saw the orange price tag on my little prize:$17.48.  For that price, I can do a little impulse buying.

Vintage Goodness

Posted On January 11, 2008

Filed under Shopping

Comments Dropped 3 responses

Miss L and I stopped by the antique market in our city’s downtown area after lunch on Thursday. I like peeking in there once in a while to see if anything strikes my fancy. Often, I leave empty handed.

I told my girl we were going on a treasure hunt and that seemed to excite her. She’s 3; I’m sure she was not thinking the same types of treasures that I had in mind.

We checked out some vintage sewing machines and yellowing cotton baby clothes. A few steps away, I found my first treasures of the day: vintage Valentines. No pics yet; those will have to wait a bit.

Instead, you can take a gander at my other finds: an embroidered hankie and old postcard. I think I spent $10 on all four things — not the greatest bargains ever but definitely worth it to bring home some things that I really love. All of my handkerchiefs are vintage and get regular use. This one seems a little more fragile than the others, but the embroidery just grabbed me.

Vintage Goodness

Posted On December 19, 2007

Filed under Sewing, Shopping

Comments Dropped 6 responses

Before she became my swap partner, Jessi sold me a vintage pattern through her Etsy shop. (Isn’t it funny how things work out?) I sprinted to the quilt shop and picked out some fun Michael Miller fabrics (the Dick & Jane series), then came home and traced it and cut it out.

And there it sat. For months. Ah, yes. Another Stash Game No-Sew.

I finally made it a priority and I’m so glad I did. I love it! I’m already planning to make a couple more, including some short-sleeved versions for the spring and summer. Luckily, it’s a bit generous in sizing so it should continue to fit for several more months. Can’t you see it in a pretty swiss dot fabric with lace trim?

A close-up of the bodice tucks. I was a little nervous sewing them but love how they turned out.

“Hey! My feet are dirty! Maybe I should have listened to Mom and put my shoes on before running outside.”

Actually, looking at these pics remind me that I need to add a hook-and-eye closure above the zipper on the back of the dress. Hmmmm … actually I think that’s why we tried it on without: I have none and have failed to buy one in approximately 700 trips to the store between then and now.

Completely Random

Posted On November 5, 2007

Filed under Ramblings, Shopping, Tags

Comments Dropped 4 responses

The lovely and talented Helena tagged me to share some of my favorite things and I never managed to get around to it. Oh, I am just awful at this meme business. And now the equally lovely and talented Sheree has tagged me to share seven random things about me. I think I’ll find a way to combine the two!

So here are the rules of which you must follow once tagged.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).

4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

  1. My go-to, gotta have sweet is, without a doubt, Jelly Belly jellybeans. I’m not so much a fan of traditional jelly beans, but these are perfect little pellets of yum. I’m especially enamored of the Sizzling Cinnamon, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pudding and Marshmallow flavors. And I’ve also been known to enjoy the occasional Tabasco and Jalapeno bean.
  2. Reading is probably my all-time favorite pastime. I read a lot, and I read a pretty broad spectrum of stuff. Sci fi, fantasy, cyberpunk, thrillers (but nothing gory — I don’t do gore and I don’t do horror), trashy romances, historical fiction, humor. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Christopher Moore, having been introduced by one of the dads on my son’s cross-country team.
  3. I really don’t have any friends from my childhood. Or high school. Or, really, past about seven-ten years ago. (Excepting Honey, of course.)
  4. Speaking of high school … my 20-year reunion is coming up and I’d sooner poke myself in the eye with a pen than go.
  5. I know I’m running the risk of offending my dear readers with this but … I love Kevin Smith. He is hysterical, his movies are a laff riot and Clerks: The Animated Series was brilliant.
  6. You know that item up there ^ about my reunion? Yeah, I can’t believe I am that old. When the heck did that happen? I swear, on the inside, I’m a good ten years younger.
  7. More favorites: I don’t work outside the home these days and pretty much live in jeans and tees. My favorite t-shirt is from Peace, Love, Mom (the Rock n Roll Mom tee) and it is perfect in every way — just the right cut, flattering and long enough that my muffin top doesn’t scare the world. I actually met two-thirds of the founders/designers/brilliance behind the company at Market earlier this year and they are so incredibly sweet and just fun, the kinda gals you’d love to go have margaritas with, if you could still drink tequila without flashing back to that Awful Tequila Experience. And I adore my Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (picked up at Nordstrom Rack for the amazing price of $26). I’m seriously kicking myself for not buying two or three pairs for that price!
  8. Bonus randomness: Miss L’s name does not begin with an L at all. Not her first name nor her middle name. It’s actually the first letter of the nickname which she is called all the time (OK, when we’re not calling her Bunny or Bitsy or Bitser or Bunnycakes or a hundred other random appellations.) We had actually intended to call her by her middle name but came across the nickname in a baby name book that said it was a German diminutive for her middle name. Since I’m half German and her middle name is for my Oma, it seemed serendipitous.

And now I get to share the love, so Angela, Katie, Sadira, Capello, Monica, Megan and Melissa — you’re up!

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