Storing a Stash

Having a blank slate to set up my new sewing studio was exciting but overwhelming. I loIMG_4639ve the white walls, the abundance of windows and natural lighting, and simply having a place of my own to stitch, sew, and quilt.

I love my Kallax cutting/storage table, which holds up to 40 bins of cotton fabric, tools, and supplies. Using the storage bins allows me to sort fabrics by project, but I still want to add wheels so I can move it about the studio as needed. I also need to purchase and paint a flat interior door to place on top. The table is just a great addition to the studio that I can use for cutting, crafting, choosing fabrics, designing patterns, and more.

But the 15+ large plastic bins of felted wool and cotton fabric stacked against onIMG_4642e wall was not attractive, it was difficult to get at wool and cotton on the bottom of the pile, and I couldn’t easily see my collection.

Thus, I made another trip to Ikea and purchased a 4×4 cube Kallax storage unit to replace the large plastic bins. I also purchased a few small plastic storage bins for my fat quarter, black-and-white, and batik collections, but I opted to simply place the zippered plastic bags of felted wool directly into the cubby holes. (I keep the wool bagged with cedar balls to ward off moths!) Now I have easy access to my fabric and wool, plus I can quickly locate particular colors as needed.


Redesigning a Sewing Studio

IMG_4251Moving a home – and sewing studio – 1,000+ miles is a hectic and nerve-wracking enterprise. I had to leave some things behind because they just didn’t fit into the truck. Luckily my younger daughter and son-in-law were purchasing our home, so we let them make the decision to keep or dispose of the items left behind.

The trip took us two days – my husband piloted the truck towing one car, and my older daughter and I drove the second car. My sister and brother-in-law moved to the same town a few months earlier and were ready and waiting to help us shuttle boxes and belongings. As the unloading commenced, it quickly became evident that about a third of the truck was stowed with my sewing studio gear. I just ignored all the comments from my husband and brother-in-law. My new sunlight-filled studio was just waiting to be set up.

The first thing I did was set up my thread racks. They added a pop of color to the room and immediately made it feel like a sewing space. As I unloaded plastic bins from their boxes, I knew I’d need new storage systems since all my shelving was left behind. Plus, I quickly found out that a bookshelf left in the home was not sturdy enough for my ginormous book collection.

Thus, we made the two-hour trip to Ikea – the beacon of organization and order. We picked up three Kallax cube units (my daughter found a cutting/storage table hack online) plus three Billy bookshelves. The centerpiece of the room is my mother’s Janome Memory Craft 9900 machine and Horn electric-lift sewing cabinet that she gifted to me. I temporarily set up two heavyweight plastic folding tables – one as a desk and one for my beloved Viking #1+ sewing machine. Another small folding table serves as a small ironing surface and could hold my Huskylock serger as needed. Still needed is a four-high lateral file to replace two smaller file cabinets and a wall of Kallax cubes for additional storage. Time to schedule Trip #2 to Ikea.


How to Downsize a Sewing Studio


Downsizing a 25-foot-square sewing studio to half that size was challenging and a bit depressing. Once we decided to make the 1,000+-mile move from Pennsylvania to Florida, I read all of the articles, blogs, etc., I could find on how to pack and move a sewing studio efficiently. But no matter how much homework I did, nothing prepared me for the physical and mental tasks of purging, packing, and moving.

I was overwhelmed by the size of my stash and spent a lot of time just shuffling items around. Finally, as time ticked away, I had to force myself to sort through my stashes – felted wool, cotton and other fabrics, patterns, books, buttons, decorative threads, beads, tools, and more. I made piles on my six-by-eight-foot cutting table – “keep”, “maybe”, and “outta here”! First, the “keeps” were packed into plastic storage bins large and small. I chose to keep most of my tools and threads, about 75% of my felted and mostly hand-dyed wool collection, one large bin of select fat quarters, fabric purchased for specific projects, and fabric I just couldn’t live without. Then on to the “maybes”. If I had any space in the “keeps” bins, I jammed in some “maybes”. And I think a few bins of just “maybes” squeaked through.

My daughters and sister, all quilters and sewists, had first pick of anything that was not making the move. Then my quilting/sewing friends, then my library’s book sale, my church’s rummage sale, and finally Goodwill. I had a LOT of fabric and a LOT of books. My youngest daughter inherited my beloved cutting and sewing tables, my buddy Joyce replaced her stacks of fabric-filled Rubbermaid bins with my two storage closets, and my oldest daughter took home about 50+ pounds of buttons.

I did make some great finds during the process – about 10 yards of batting, a set of Hoffman Bali Pops that I couldn’t find for about a year, and a number of as-yet-untested quilting tools. But there were some sad moments, too – fabrics purchased years ago for projects for my now-grown children, about a quarter of my felted wool collection that I knew I just didn’t have room for in Florida, and more than half of my beloved collection of books. I’m glad that the items that I could not take with me went on to find new homes, and I like to think that my “losses” have made a lot of people very happy.

More on the move later…