Keep Your Place

I think quilters and stitchers love books just as much as they love fabric and thread. Recently I picked up Elizabeth Hartman’s Patchwork City at the de-stash table of the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild and decided to stitch some of the blocks as part of my long-delayed “coffee” quilt. I tried to keep the book open to the page I needed using a variety of items including a scissors, a magnetic pin cushion, another book, etc. Unfortunately, nothing allowed me to see the complete page and keep the book open until I grabbed a large chip clip from the kitchen. I just clipped it to the corner of the page, and it worked like a charm!



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…