I’ll be the first to admit, I have an awesome studio space. But even awesome studios have their issues.
My issue is that the studio is so large, that you can keep stuffing it with things and not really notice how out of control it is until you can no longer work in it. This process happens much faster in smaller spaces.
Also, my habits have changed; instead of buying fabric by the yard, I now purchase it by the bolt. Instead of only having one die cutter and a few dies, I now have 6 or 7 cutters and probably upwards of 500 dies. I used to do all sorts of crafts – garment sewing, home dec, crochet, paper crafts – and now I am almost exclusively a quilter. The problem is that I haven’t really adjusted the studio for that, and it has gotten to the point where I wonder how I get any quilting done at all.
Last year, I bought a lot of new furniture for the studio in anticipation of making a change, but most of it is still sitting in my garage. That’s where Intern Kaity comes in. The main goal for her has been to help me get the studio redone, build all the furniture, and get me working effectively again.
I thought I’d share a few photos of the progress. It’s hard to do “before” and “after” photos because this happens in several stages. We’re working on one area at a time, building furniture in place, and so we end up displacing stuff or putting it in a spot where it’s not going to stay long-term, just because we needed to put it somewhere. So all of these places are still works in progress, but I wanted to point out some of my favorite things shaping up in space.
This is probably the best photo of where this started, around this time last summer. You can see that every surface and cubby is absolutely stuffed, and I have precarious piles – bins on top of bins on top of books, and so on. It was about this time that I was expecting Cleopatra (my Sizzix Big Shot Pro) and I needed a space to put her.
Obviously things didn’t fit the same way after building these two cabinets, and so this is really where the displacement began. The cabinet at the far end does indeed have Cleopatra stored on it, but she is at present buried under another pile of stuff. The gap between the bookcases was also filled with another shipment of bolts, and it still was really stuffed with things. Actually, the shelving unit I thought would be able to store my dies, but the shelves are about 1/16″ – 1/8″ too short. That was mighty frustrating, let me tell you! That’s how that shelf of dies ended up above.
So I bought another shelving unit, thinking I could maybe sand my way to die storage. But to get another shelf in there, more bookcases and bins had to come out. They had to go somewhere! We’ve actually been moving things to the living room and dining room (temporary storage and a workspace) so that we have room to work (and I can still sew).
We’re also doing work in my office, turning it into more of a spot where all the store products can be listed, plus the fabric that I don’t use as often. So the bookcases are being stacked and clamped together to make really awesome fabric storage.
You might think this is a nice problem to have until you realize we’ve moved this Kona about 3 times. It’s not fun moving 30 bolts.
Anyway, the Kona is supposed to stay in the main studio, but I can’t put it there right now, because there are several other rearrangements to be done before it will have a spot. Meanwhile, we got another couple of bookcases cleared and moved to the office, which actually required my bookcase with actual books to move up to the guest room. Here is what the office looks like now:
I am loving, loving this tall bookcase here. What we were able to do with the addition of this bookcase is open up all the various boxes that I have stored in my office and put everything out. So now I can find the stuff that should be listed in the store, the kits for my classes, my brochures and handouts, and all the magazines that have been piling up. Kaity has also been listing things in my online store – have you checked it out lately?
At one point, she asked me to help her, so I woke up from my nap and proceeded to assemble things upside down and hammer nails in crooked. By the end, we had to call in her dad (he’s a pretty talented carpenter) to help us finish. He had to drill new holes and use different screws to attach the top, but we did manage to save it.
Oh – and the really, really, really exciting part, speaking of Kaity’s dad, is that he’s going to build me a custom cabinet to store my dies. How AWESOME is that? There’s a lot more work to be done to get to that point, but since I’ll have a custom cabinet, I don’t need to worry about using these shelves for die storage. Yippee!
Now Kaity is on vacation, and I got a bright idea to try to do more work in here. There was one more cabinet to build for this space, actually a rolling cart, to finish off this wall. This is in the corner behind the door to the studio.
Right now, there’s a whole bookcase full of dies, mending projects (as if), a basket full of selvages (those will go in the shop soon too), and just a bunch of random crap stacked on top because it’s behind the door and no one can see it.
I really love this space too (although it’s still unfinished). I relocated all my yo-yo makers and templates to one of the hanging bins, and all my scissors and rotary cutters to another. The bin with the lid keeps my pouncing chalks, and right above that was the perfect place to relocate my stencils and acrylic templates. I forgot I had those, because they were hidden underneath a bunch of other stuff.
However, this isn’t just an opportunity to move stuff around; I also took the opportunity to really go through my books, magazines, and patterns, decide which ones were worth keeping and which ones should be sold/donated, and how they should be organized. The only magazines I kept whole were the ones where I have an article or ad inside; the rest I went through and clipped photos of inspiring projects. I also saved some tips pages if I thought they might be handy to refer to later, like applique techniques.
I also put my label printer to good use, so I know what’s in every bin and drawer.
I’m pretty sure this was a charity project for a local domestic violence shelter; they wanted these large pillows for the kids to have story time, so I made these pillows with funny faces. I wrote the pattern so that other people could help me sew them and buy materials.
Now that all the cabinets are in on that wall, I decided to bring back the fabric we moved to the living room. Before I put it on the shelves, I laid down more vinyl to protect the fabric from the wood surface (the wood is oiled and I don’t want that leeching into the fabric).
It’s so great to have these fabrics all in one spot, and up higher so I can see what I have. It’s roughly organized first by style, and then by color (so all the batiks & ethnic fabrics are together on the upper shelf; the solids are grouped at the far end, and then the commercial prints.)
I think my favorite, favorite part about this reorganization is that I am not stuffing things to the gills; I’ve found places to tuck in my pillows, buttons, and pin cushions for decoration, and I’ve left out a small selection of books.
These dies won’t stay on this shelf, but there is literally no place to put them right now. Well, there might be, but then I’d have to displace something else, and I’m not quite ready to do that.
I keep telling myself that it gets worse before it gets better, but holy cow is it bad right now. Good thing we moved my sewing machine upstairs, although I forgot to take the cutting mat upstairs before we buried it.