Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Studio Makeover, Part III: Organization

As the floating shelves I ordered find their way to Vancouver, I've been working on other aspects of my studio makeover.  I like modern interiors with clean lines, minimal clutter (more aspiration than reality in my life!), and a place for everything.  I don't mind all manner of creative fabric chaos while there's work in progress, but I want to be able to store things away when finished and start anew with a clean slate on the next project.  For that to happen, in addition to new cabinetry and shelving, my ideal sewing room will also need all manner of storage boxes, bins, canisters, and other containers, so that I can put all of my supplies in order.

In my 10' x 11' sewing room, I have to think about how to exploit every square inch of space.  In order to put away some clutter that's been leaning all-too-visibly against a wall for a few years, I used an old sheet to make a sling.  It now hangs from the back of a door as part of my behind-the-door storage for an extra cutting mat, random bits of tag board, and some boxes:

There are also a few boxes and other items leaning on the wall just to the left of the door.  But with the door open, as it almost always is, everything is nicely hidden away:

For above-cabinet storage, the original plan was to go out and buy some nice boxes, but then I started feeling guilty.  I sew--shouldn't I make them myself?  There are excellent on-line fabric box tutorials (e.g. here and here), and as a start, I came up with this pencil box-sized prototype:

Finally, I did a little trolling around the web for insights about my likes and dislikes.  The quilt studios that appeal the most to me have light colored walls and ceilings, lots of natural light, wall space, and plenty of cabinets, drawers, and other storage to tuck fabric and other supplies away while they're not in use.  Here are links to a few favorites:

Fellow VMQG member Terry remodeled her studio last year and produced a great example of clean and efficient design in a tight and difficult space.  She's been reorganizing more recently as well--for details, click here and here.  Since I also have a relatively small studio, her approach offers enormous inspiration.

I can only envy Carol Taylor's 1570 square feet of space.  For photos of her gorgeous studio, with its multitude of windows, high ceilings, and generous closet space enclosed with large, flannel-covered sliding doors that serve as design walls, see here.

Selvage Blog also works in a wonderful, open, and brightly lit space with plenty of room to hang quilts.  She seems to have a lot less fabric than I do: she must be remarkably self-disciplined!

A builder in Missouri posted photos of a terrific garage conversion.  I love the storage cube unit with all of the bright fabric-covered drawers--it makes the space so lively and eye-catching.

By chance, it turns out that Ellison Lane and The Sewing Loft have also launched a series of Sewing Studio Spotlights that are well worth a look, so stay tuned to both blogs over the next week or so.

I had hoped to show off the heron quilt's progress on a spanking new design wall, but the latter is still a few days away, so the evolving quilt top is lying on my cutting table at the moment.  I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this quilt, beyond an invocation of flight, water, and movement, and maybe a view through a window, or a series of moments caught on film:

It's still Tuesday night here on the west coast, but I'm linking up to WIP blogs on Freshly Pieced and The Needle and Thread Network.  Happy WIP Wednesday!


  1. Aha, it must be the season for reogranising sewing rooms! I love that idea for storing boards. Brilliant! Now I just need a man to drill some holes for me!

  2. I like your heron quilt - are they lino prints?

  3. Thanks for your comments! Karen--yes, the herons are linoleum block prints, done by a talented local fiber artist. I wrote about her in last week's WIP Wednesday post, in case you're interested. Laura, it's definitely the season for studio makeovers--I'm seeing them all over the web right now! The beauty of the back of the door sling is that it didn't require any drilling. The metal hanger doesn't have to be drilled to the door, although it can be for extra stability. I also don't bother waiting for a man when I need drilling--I use our power drill a lot more than DH!

  4. Those are beautiful fabrics!! :) I have very limited sewing space as well... a small part of our finished basement. One day i'll have a "real" sewing room I hope! lol!

  5. Hey, that storage sling is brilliant!

  6. some good progress being made - your sling is a great idea, and I really like that link tot eh converted garage - some fabulous ideas there

  7. first time to your blog! glad to meet you! Sewing rooms, I think are a constant work in progress. I really like the sling idea and am going to put on my list of things to do! Perhaps you would consider a bit of a tutorial, or maybe even measurements and such? I used a garage years ago in a rented house to sew in, but it was too hot in summer and too cold in winter -- the wind would blow in under the door and my poor feet would practically freeze to the concrete!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Carla--I hope you get that sewing room someday before too long. I had to manage for many years with small corners of rooms, so I know how fortunate I am to have a dedicated sewing space.

    Susan--I don't have the photos for a full sling tutorial, but it was pretty simple to make. I used an Ikea "Grundtal" over the door hanger and a 19" dowel that I happened to have around. The finished size of the sling is about 19" wide x 41" (or so) long. Here are the basic instructions: cut a piece of fabric 21" x 84" and hem the sides so that the fabric is 19" x 84". Make four tabs, each starting with a piece of fabric that's 5" x 7". Fold each piece in half lengthwise, and then fold the sides in to the center, so that the finished size of each tab is 1-1/4" x 7". Finish the tabs by sewing down the edges on the long sides, less than 1/8" from the edge.

    Fold each tab in half (now they're each 1-1/4" x 3-1/2"). Place the tabs along the top edge of your sling, on the right side of the fabric, one tab each at the outer edges, and one tab each centered at 6-3/4" from each outer edge. Baste the tabs in place. Then fold your sling in half, right sides together, and sew a 1/2" seam at the top. Turn your sling right side out--your tabs should be sticking out at the top, and it should start to look finished. Press. Reinforce the tabs with a row of stitches about 3/8" from the top edge. Do another row of stitches about 1" from the top edge for a neat finish. Hang your sling on the dowel, and hang it on to the back of your door. You're finished!

  9. Fantastic fabric! Best of luck with your studio makeover, doesn't keeping things clean and accessible cut terribly into quilting time ..........

  10. I love your back-of-the-door storage sling! Looking forward to seeing the rest of your studio makeover.

    The heron quilt is looking fabulous!