Friday, December 20, 2013

Is it Organized or is it Camouflaged?

If you blink, you missed it...the sewing room was organized for about an hour or so last week...but the new found sense of freedom has unleashed a creative frenzy. And in that frenzy, I have been pondering some of the newfound insights this version of the re-do has brought forth.

I've been quite surprised to read as many quilters on Facebook mentioning a sewing room redesign/cleanup in December as I have.  Earlier in the process, I thought I was the only one who was crazed enough to tackle a project of this size this month...apparently, I'm in very good company.  I'm of the opinion that we all need to take January off. I know the first picture below is blurry...your photographer had had too much caffeine. 

Before I started this makeover/rescue project (like that name?), I would take a project, or a potential project, pull fabric from the stash, the project instructions,  whatever other embellishments struck my fancy, put them into one of my bins, label it (at least I did that!) and then put the bin into the closet.  That might sound efficient - but the system fails when the potential projects begin to celebrate birthdays.  And (unless you look into the bins on a regular basis), you forget what is in there. 

Lather, rinse repeat that failed system...and I had a totally dysfunctional stash.  I couldn't find anything I had, and I was blocked creatively. I knew I had fabric, or a given project  - I just couldn't find it, and it was a pain to look for it.
So here's where I did a complete overhaul - I took a completely honest look at the Project pile and made a decision to finish it - or repurpose it somehow.  I am fortunate to belong to 3 different guilds, and each of their charity projects received donations; I also have a sister in law who's a newbie quilter, so in that case, I texted her to ask what colors she was collecting in her stash, and shared the wealth with her.  It seemed so much easier to look at the rest of the room without the guilt that I was carrying around.  The projects to be finished are now easily accessible...and they're going into the calendar.  I did not say into 2014 or 2015...but they are going into the calendar.

I took apart two projects, reclaimed the fabric and moved on to the fabric part of the collection.

The first thing I learned is that I am NOT a fat quarter kind of looking at the picture of the new shelves that were installed, it's pretty obvious that I'm into yardage.  I do have a secondary storage unit here in the office, which has three drawers.  I split that space between my fat quarter collection for cottons, and my batik yardage.  The good news is that if I had spent my dollars in fat quarters, the stash would be four times the size...and beyond what the space  can handle.  I love yardage...I refuse to think there's a downside.
I folded ALL the yardage in the space using my 6 x 24 inch ruler as a guide.

 It gave me the opportunity to stack and sort the various hues in the stash in a uniform manner.  For both the batiks and the cottons, I did sort the yardage into one yard cuts and two yard cuts...for some reason, there is very little middle ground.  Once I put the fabric into the new shelves, I could see the 'holes' in the color wheel.  That was the biggest indication of the changes I saw in how I use the stash...I also saw the fabric I have in a whole new light.  I saw tons of teal, but little navy; lots of green, but no purple.  It turns out, I do have a lot of purple in the fats, but not in the yardage - before this, I wouldn't have known that. 

Come back next week for the rest of the story...I have a quilt (that I started when I redid the room) to bind today. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's amazing how much happiness you can buy for $23.16

I don't know how, but one of the most memorable events of 2013 is going to be the Great Sewing Space Redo (version 4.5).  I am fortunate to have the second bedroom in the house serve as the combined office/studio space, and it has wonderful light. That's where I sew now - it hasn't always been this large or this sunny. And even though the space is generous, it had layout issues (well, up until Thanksgiving weekend it did).  Kids, I don't recommend doing this on top of every thing else the weekend after Thanksgiving - but I often find the long way around the barn.

I've recently come into possession of about 30 odd years of photo albums and memorabilia - my mom has downsized and I brought them home until we could figure out what to do with them. The plan is to scan them into the computer, and then make a memory book with them.

Problem #1 (solved) was that the ironing board was a permanent fixture in front of the scanner...not much of an issue when you scan once or twice a week, but when you're looking at the volume I am, it is a problem. Mike solved that by retrofitting my cutting area with a discarded island that now serves as both cutting and ironing...and since we had everything in storage, it was a $0 that.

With the path to the scanner cleared, I'm not exactly sure what led to the next step. The fabric storage issue. I had a plan in place about 3 years ago, but 3 years worth of fabric accumulation had outgrown the amount of storage I had. I'm almost embarrassed to share the before picture...
This storage unit started life as a part of our family room - my sons will remember when it was painted Barn red, and the bins held puzzles and matchbox cars. The space underneath was designed by my husband so that they could 'park' their riding toys at the end of the day. I LOVE this unit in the sewing room because it now provides easy access to my rolling cases for machines to take to classes.  And with the new paint, peg board on the side(s) and a new shelf on was perfect. I even added a curtain rod to go in front of the open protect the fabric from sunlight. Or to protect the innocent (?) from dealing with the effects of too much fabric.

When I removed the curtain, this was laid bare in all it's ugliness...with no blue and no batiks visible (there's a large pile on the floor, out of camera range), I knew this had long ago become a mess. My husband is quite handy, and I casually mentioned over coffee in the morning that I needed to hire a handyman, because I needed some shelves built.

One trip to Home Depot, and $23.16 later, we had a solution in the same storage unit. This might be the old gal's best facelift yet.  We now have a large pile of blues on the second shelf, and the batiks have an entire dresser to themselves. Even I was amazed to learn how much yardage I had.  I'll talk about what I did with the other cuts later, but now I want to bask in the neatness. It won't be this neat for long...

For now, I leave you with this Christmas-y corner of the sewing room.  The next blog installment will be..."Hello, my name is Linda and I'm a Bin-o-holic".