Studio Spring Clean

For decades I’ve sewn in a corner of my bedroom, in the basement, in the kitchen and in the living room. But last year I inherited the big studio in our loft when Luke moved to Kansas City.

I had moved down to Los Angeles in 2016 with my sewing machine and a few boxes of fabrics and tools. Since then I’ve used a mish-mash of tables and storage found in the hall, left by Luke, or bought at IKEA. It’s been less than ideal.

Here’s proof:

I am a crafter, sewist, and quilter so I have a big variety of fabric–everything from cotton to leather, in everything from rolls to scraps. It makes finding a way to organize it even harder, in my opinion.

Another big issue is the table. It’s a great standing height but it has a weird curve in the one side and no storage underneath. I made do with it but I knew I needed something better. And I had just the partner to help me out…

We took a trip to the absolutely gigantic IKEA in Burbank and picked up two each of two different size Kallax shelves (the 2×2 and the 2×4). Then to Home Depot for a couple sheets of plywood, one with a melamine top, five table legs, aluminum for the sides and bolts to hold it together.

{This is when I feel especially grateful: I have a space that’s larger than anything I could’ve hoped for; I have a guy who cares about me enough that he’s willing to drive all over Los Angeles for me to buy stuff then haul it back in his truck and help me build the damn thing. Life is good.}

While Hawke ran some work errands, I broke down the old table, moved everything to the side and built the bookcases in the middle of the room. Then he came over and cut the plywood sheets down to size. The bottom is the same size as the bookcases. The top is 1 1/2″ wider on three sides and 12″ longer on the fourth side.

The leftover from the plywood was the perfect size for a ironing board and I’d lost space for the standalone. I used Leah Day’s tutorial, using two layers of batting covered with canvas. In a weird coincidence, the fabric is actually from IKEA, as well, it’s just been sitting in my stash for about five years.

I started getting stuff put away ASAP but there’s been a bit of shuffling and as I use it I’m sure it will move around even more until everything finds its happy place.

My machines (Bernina 350PE and Pfaff 130 Industrial) live under the window. My serger (Brother) lives on the table for easy access, with plenty of room for cutting mats, ironing board and my new Sizzix die cutter.

My books and magazines and precuts make for a pleasant view when you enter my studio and are way easier to access in these shelves. I don’t love the power cord coming down from above but it totally works, so I can’t really complain.

I finally bought a spool holder for all my thread, which made me realize that I have more than 120 spools of thread, in addition to the dozen cones I have, as well. I might have a problem with collecting thread.

In lieu of buying fancy cupboards, I just hung up a white sheet to cover the piles of random denim, minky, knits and linen on the shelves. Visually it helps a lot to not see the mess. Or at least so much mess.

I’m not finished but it was such a dramatic improvement I couldn’t help but do a little happy cry. I think is going to help my productivity, my happiness, my concentration and creativity by adding the table and storage. I’ll check back in with you later, but I’m pretty optimistic about it.

Follow along with the rest of the Studio Spring Cleaning crew:

April 23 – Lori Crawley Kennedy –

April 24 – Jennifer Thomas –

April 25 – Robin Koehler –

April 26 – Andi Barney-

April 27 – Misty Cole –

April 28 – Carolina Moore-

April 29 – Heather Pregger –

April 30 – Linda Bratten –

May 1 – Lisa Reber –

May 2 – Teresa Coates –

May 3 – Lisa Chin –

May 4 – Jamie Fingal –

May 5 – Sam Hunter –

May 6 – Jessee Maloney –

May 7 – Randa Parrish –

May 8 – Sarah Vedeler-

May 9 – Jessica Darling –

May 10 – Melody Crust –

May 11 – Debby Brown –

May 12 – Cheryl Sleboda –

And thanks for inviting me to participate, Cheryl. It was just the kick I needed!

I love a good swap

I joined up with Victoria Wolfe‘s 15 Minutes Play swap this month, my first in so many years that I can’t really remember the last time I swapped fabrics with a stranger.

We set up swap partners in the first week of December and I’ve been gathering bits and pieces here and there. My swapper said she likes smaller pieces and batiks, so she’ll be getting some that I’ve acquired, but never seem to find a proper use for. Plus some fun new fabrics I got just for her. So while, I’ve been gathering, she was super quick and -surprise!- I found a box of fat quarters sitting on my doorstep a few days ago.

I love these bright colors and can imagine making all manner of things for my little nieces. I especially love the blue-green floral. Not sure what I want to do with it, but it will be something just for me.

Thank you, Ellen!

And just for fun, here’s a shot of the box o’ fabric as it landed on the table in my sewing studio. What a mess!

I’ll be so glad to have some extra time in January to get the place back in order and seriously hoping that the injuries from my November accident have healed to the point that I can be active for more than a half hour at a time. Until then, it’s a bit of chaos down there.

Strings and Things

I have a love/hate relationship with thread. I need the variety, really, because there is nothing more frustrating that having to drive to the store in the middle of a project just because I didn’t have enough thread. I want to have it when I need it, but that means I need a bunch on hand. And I need a way to keep them easily accessible and inventoried.

It’s always been a struggle. I used to just keep them in plastic boxes, but then that just gets out of control and it’s hard to tell what I have. Later I kept them in drawers. That system worked okay, divvied up by color and tucked away out of sight. But sometimes I wouldn’t notice that I’d used the last of the ecru or that I was dangerously low on the always-necessary black. Then one day I stumbled onto a new organization idea.

I’d had this little shelf sitting around for the longest time before realizing that it was totally usable! The thing had hung on my grandparents’ living room wall for years, but when my grandpa died, furnishings were weeded out and I snagged this shelf without a purpose in mind. I just liked the look of it, even when it was still wood-toned. But I had no idea what to do with it, so it sat there for (I’m ashamed to say) years. Until I realized it was good for piling thread into.

Leftover white enamel was used to paint it and I filled the diamonds with color. I love the way it brings something bright to the wall and makes it easy for me to keep track of which colors I have plenty of and which ones I need.

How do you organize your thread?

P.S. Someday I want my fabric organized like this.