Sewing with the Giggles

Alternative, more boring but perhaps also more informative title: Sewing for Baby!

Sewing baby clothes is impossibly distracting, especially if your hormones are playing havoc with your emotions generally (I.E. You’re preggers.) Every time I finish something (which given how tiny the seams are and that I’m sewing knits on my overlocker is less than half an hour, I just giggle, and if partner happens to be home, I bring the garment around expecting him to giggle too. ¬†He obliges.)

I borrowed a heap of Ottobre Kids pattern magazines from Helen of Funkbunny, and stuck post it notes all over them. I’m a lawyer and we love post it notes. ¬†I think the legal profession keep post it note makers in business. But I digress. Back to baby stuff:

There was one magazine in particular that had a heap of patterns which took my fancy and which could outfit my baby, due to arrive in Melbourne summer: Summer 2013. Each pattern has a number and name to identify it. I traced off the first four patterns: (1) Speedy Girl Jersey Dress; (2) Star Star Romper; (3) Little Whale Onesie; and (4) Summer Sea Jersey Pants

Ottobre 03-2013 All Designs Page

Ottobre 03-2013 All Designs Page. Kinda my favourite part of the magazine!

I have no idea what size she’ll be, or actually, what size is what as Ottobre helpfully suggests that you measure the kid you’ll be sewing for before starting. ¬†I set off for a growth scan, but didn’t get the measurements I needed (perhaps because I did not ask the sonographer to do so …)

However, the Internet is terribly helpful.  Toni Coward of Make it Perfect has provided an age/size guide chart.

This is not foolproof, of course, she could be born a giantess or tiny. ¬†I don’t know. But it’s enough to be getting on with, and I figure, (a) using knits of different characteristics will lead to different results and (b) she’ll fit stuff at some stage (we just have to make sure we catch the right stage).

My nesting instinct (I assume) has manifested itself in a desire to organise our house (which is, admittedly, pretty organised). I did a quick and dirty wardrobe cull of things I knew I would not wear in the next six months, and was unlikely to wear in future. ¬†Many of them were tops that had been retired from being worn to work, or were tshirts that did not quite fit anymore. I also had a number of fail tees and knit tops that I’d made. From these, I harvested fabric and discovered that most patterns in the baby size range fit nicely out of one of my tshirts, and one of my partners could provide one and a half outfits!

The only pattern that would not fit where the Summer Sea Jersey Pants, partially because the trouser part is just one piece of fabric with only a centre back seam ¬†I’m sure it can be pieced, if I wanted to!

There’s nothing really to say about making these up except for the pleasure, speed and ease. Ottobre’s instructions are perfectly clear, although I did not follow them completely, being au fait with knit sewing and discarding techniques I’m not enamoured of (like knit binding rather than knit bands, which I weirdly prefer to sew in the round rather than flat, and using clear elastic to gather).

I am good and do read through all the instructions before starting, so I know what I can ignore. ¬†I’ve decided sewing instructions are like recipes. ¬†If you’re familiar with the process, make it your way (unless the instructions provided you with some awesome revelation. I have just recently discovered a fool proof way to boil eggs, which has consistently worked four times as hard boiled eggs for me, and once as perfectly soft boiled for him). If you’re not familiar with the process, follow carefully, but then make it your own in future.

FYI, I’m a pretty unsuccessful baker because of my receipe following callousness, but I’m otherwise quite a competent cook.

Here are the results of my first foray into baby sewing:

All from Ottobre 03/2013: #2 Star Star romper; #1 Speedy Girl dress; & #3 onesie. #3 The bird appliqué is my own.

Star Star Romper; 2 x Little Whale Onesie; 2 x Speedy Girl dress.

I made the bird appliqué myself; the whale is from Ottobre.

On a different day, I made myself another pair of Hudson Pants, from blue polka dotted fleece, which I had intended as winter trackydacks. I had enough fabric left I’ve for a matching pair for Her. ¬†Then I laughed and laughed and laughed.

How to Maternify All Your Trousers

Yes, ALL of them.

Although if you want to be comfortable, maybe just ones made out of stretch fabric.

As flagged and promised in my earlier Expandable Belly Sewing post, I also made two pairs of Clover trousers, with some maternity modifications.

These are the maternity changes I made:

  1. Used ponte knit fabric, rather than woven with some stretch (as the pattern suggests);
  2. Didn’t bother with a zip
  3. Replaced waistband with a yoga waistband.

In short, as I had previously decided Clovers were just well fancy leggings, I simply treated them as wider-legged leggings.

I made a black pair and a dark brown pair from ponte I obtained from Darn Cheap Fabrics. Each fabric was quite different from the other, having different amounts of stretch (the black had less stretch), appearance (aside from the colour, the brown was more matte) and behaviour (the brown was much easier to work with).

For the yoga waistband, I simply cut a rectangle of fabric that was my pre-pregnancy waist measurement less a few inches (2 for the black, and 4 for the brown, based on my assessment of their stretchy-ness) by ten inches high, and then sewed the short ends together, folded the now cylindrical tube along its length and attached to the top of the sewn together trouser legs.

These saw me through the second trimester quite nicely, and now I’m in the third trimester, I can still quite comfortably wear the brown pair but only wear the black pair if I know that I only have to be in them for half a day. ¬†They are a smidge too tight now, being a fabric with less stretch. ¬†I suspect I’ll be able to wear both trousers post pregnancy, too, they’ll just look a little bit like trackydacks.

Colette Patterns' Clover trousers, in ponte, with maternity (yoga) waistbands.

Black is hard to photograph. Brown not much better.  You can see the difference different fabric makes, though, in the leg width.

However, as we are getting into summer, both are much too warm. I resolved to make some more legging-type trousers to wear for summer, and that I can hopefully wear post-crazy big belly. I had some grey knit fabric that is loosely woven. I had it in ridiculous metreage (perhaps 4?), which tells me I bought it from the Clear It outlet.  Also, there was a huge hole in the middle, so I had to cut around that.

I cut out a pair of Hudson pants (pattern by True Bias), again with a yoga waistband.  I had enough fabric left for a pair of leggings too but knew that if I simply cut boring leggings, I would end up with a weird amount of fabric which I might add to my scrap collection.  Enter the Steeplechase leggings pattern by Fehr Trade, with its well weird pattern piece that turns into a thoroughly awesome pair of leggings.  Again I cut a yoga waistband.

I don’t think I’ve told you, but I’d previously made 3 pairs of Hudsons: light grey cotton knit; green fleece and stretch denim-look knit. ¬†I love the pattern – goes together really quickly, are definitely trackydacks but don’t look too sloppy. I will next have to try it in rayon, maybe.

True Bias' Hudson Pants, in grey knit with maternity (yoga) waistband.

Hudson Pants

I also haven’t told you I’d made Steeplechase leggings. Two pairs thereof. One out of stretch velvet, which was my wearable muslin and practise garment. ¬†I chose the stretch velvet as it had exactly the same stretch properties as Supplex that I had obtained from Stretchtex for the express purpose of making activewear. I then proceeded to make a 3/4 length pair of Steeplechase leggings, with reflective piping in the curved seams. ¬†They are quite awesome, but i haven’t been on my bike since the end of the first trimester (sad face).

Fehr Trade's Steeplechase leggings in grey knit, with maternity (yoga) waistband.

Steeplechase leggings: Yoke detail.

Finally, as I would be threading my ovelocker with grey, I found some grey ponte in my stash. I cannot recall where I bought it from, but suspect it was Rathdowne Remnants, and I may have hoped to make a Morris Blazer from it, until I decided it had too much stretch to work. From this, I cut a pair of jeggings, based on a pattern from Ottobre Women’s magazine released in Autumn 2014 (05-2014-13 Lampi jeggings). Again, I made a yoga waistband. I made real pockets, rather than mock ones but other than that, followed the sparse, but clear, instructions.

Ottobre 05/2014 'Lampi Leggings' in dark grey ponte (maybe?) with yellow contrast stitching.

The left is more true to colour.  Clearly, grey is also hard to photograph.

I really like Ottobre! This is my first made up garment from the magazines I own (3: Autumn 2014; Spring 2015 & Autumn 2015). I have now stopped my subscription, although I will get one more to complete the subscription when Spring 2016 is released. ¬†I had hoped that because we are upside down from Finland, that I would have 6 months to make up the patterns that took my fancy from a given magazine. ¬†Alas, not so, and therefore I won’t keep subscribing. There are plenty of patterns in my current collection to keep me going. ¬†But I might get a subscription again when I am back at work and have a regular income. ¬†I highly suspect I will add the children’s patterns to my future subscription, because I borrowed a bunch from the¬†Fabulous¬†Funkbunny Herself and they are so very wonderful.

What do I like about Ottobre? I like the aesthetic (simple, kinda classic, a little bit daggy … Not as ‘fashion forward’ as Burda!) and that there are a lot of great knit patterns and activewear patterns. ¬†I think I originally decided to try a subscription for the fleece jacket pattern (05-2014-15), but I have not yet found a good source of suitable fleece (preferably Polartec) in Australia. I will need to, soon, however, as my current fleece jacket is, literally, falling apart! I want to sew, rather than buy, its replacement!

I Made My Own Baby Wearing Wrap! Read on to find out how I did it …

Do you know what such a thing is? Probably not if you don’t have / are about to have / know someone who has a Baby.

I cannot promise that this blog is not going to become all ‘baby, baby, baby’, because apparently the little things are all consuming, so I might fail at thinking about anything else at all for a while, which means I’m unlikely to write about anything else. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll just disappear from the blog too. ¬†Surprise!

Anyway, baby wraps are, in effect, just one long piece of fabric. ¬†There are lots and lots of tutorials about how to make one, entitled click-baity things like, ‘How to make a Baby wrap without sewing!’; ‘How to make a baby wrap for $5!‚Äô etc. (I thought I’d give a click bait title a try. Not sure I won.)

Basically, the tutorials are this:

  1. You need a rectangular piece of knit/jersey fabric that is approximately 5 yard/metres long by about 50cm wide.
  2. You can hem or serge the edge if you want, but you don’t need to because knit doesn’t fray, so really that’s it. (Although there are a few tutorials telling you that you do have to hem it in case it frays, and I want to wade in, waving my arms around, but I won’t.)

None of the tutorials told me things what I, as someone who sews and who (sort of) understands fabric properties, needed/wanted to know:

  1. What kind of fabric?
  2. How much stretch?
  3. Which way does the grain/stretch run?
  4. Is it pieced? How did you manage to buy 5 yards/metres of fabric for that little money?!

The last is most significant if you are in Australia.  There is simply no way you will find that much fabric Рof any description Рfor small pickings.  Wraps retail here for around $80 Р$150 or thereabouts, depending on the fabric. This is a perfectly acceptable amount of money for the fabric content part of the wrap, without taking into account the labour involved (fairly minimal, admittedly) in the making of the wrap.  A commercial wrap will be hemmed and have a tag/logo.

I did a bit of¬†online shopping research, but nothing really told me which way the grain ran, or the amount of stretch. ¬†Plenty of wraps were made from bamboo knit, which makes sense if you’re selling to an Australian audience (cool and breatheable), as well as from cotton knits with varying degrees of Lycra/Spandex content. ¬†This meant that the stretch was probably pretty variable, but what was optimal?

I asked baby wearing friends what they liked about wraps, which didn’t actually help my research at all (I already intended to carry my baby in some sort of device; I should say I’d ruled out slings, because I did not like the idea of the metal rings. Slings tend to be made from wovens, and would have been great for summer but no, I just don’t like the idea of them.)

One of my awesome friends has moved quite a bit, and in that time had multiple children.  She has used different wraps, and so was someone who could at least say which she liked more and why.  Her favourite was the Moby Wrap, because it had the least stretch. I decided I would mimic the Moby Wrap.

The main complaint about Moby Wraps from the online community seemed to be how complicated they were to wear. ¬†I looked up instructions. ¬†It doesn’t look impossibly complicated. ¬†Also, I got origami skillz, yo. Also also, I used to be a rock climber; I can do complicated things with rope type other things (I just cannot call them by their proper names). I’ll be okay.

My next step of research was to get my hands on a Moby Wrap, because I still did not know how much stretch. ¬†We are trying, as much as possible, to not get sucked into the excessive consumerism surrounding all things baby (you can buy a pram for more than the cost of our touring bikes! Insane.) Gumtree had a bunch (yay! But also, plenty of people said that theirs was ‘rarely used’); I picked one that to get to me would be less than half price new.

When it arrived, it was in excellent condition. I didn’t know whether I *needed* more than one wrap (I think Partner and I can trade wraps when we trade carrying baby?) but thought maybe I would if I chucked one in the wash? Apparently babies are also gross.

From the foregoing, this is what I decided were the answers to my questions above:

  1. Fabric: can be any knit or stretch woven, I reckon. ¬†Any at all. ¬†Your main consideration should be breathability, because it’s probably a good idea to not suffocate your baby. I’ve been to antenatal classes and that’s what they said.
  2. Stretch: A little but not too much.  I suggest less than 20%, and only 2-way.
  3. Grain/Stretch line: You want the stretch to run parallel to the long edge of your rectangle, and perpendicular to the short edge.
  4. Is it pieced? No. No it’s not. But can it be? I don’t see why not. ¬†The internet says not to, because you don’t want any weight bearing seams.

Well, tish tosh to that.

I had an approximately 3 metre-ish long piece of technical fabric, that was wicking, breathable and made from a bamboo/polyester mix (57.37% White Bamboo Charcoal (Tax bamboo), 42.63% Wicking Polyester) that I had obtained from Stretchtex. ¬†I had made a Megan Nielsen maternity tee from it for Japan, and though its properties were good, I did not like the colour on me (too see through!) I was going to have no other purpose for it, and could not see me offloading it to anyone. I thought it would be perfect for a wrap, with the right amount of ‘not too much’ stretch.

3 metres was too little for a wrap, even for someone my size. I wrapped it around me fine, but had no fabric left with which to tie it up.  Your girth is relevant; your height is not.

I added a metre of extra fabric to each end of the 3 metres, by firstly overlocking with wrong sides together. ¬†I then turned that into a French seam, and then faux flat-felled the seam. If that’s not a seam that can hold the weight of a baby, I will simply have to develop awesome baby catching reflexes.

Mock Moby Wrap

My baby holding faux flat felled French seam.

Then I overlocked all the edges, using (for the first time ever!) woolly nylon for my two looper threads.  I increased the width of the overlock stitch to its widest, and decreased the length of the stitch to the second narrowest. Woolly nylon is a revelation!

Mock Moby Wrap

Boringest photo in the universe.

Now I have two serviceable baby wraps. All I need is the baby. I’m making that, too.

Sewing Room Shuffle Finale!

It’s done! I’ve shuffled to my heart’s content and will shuffle no more. ¬†For the time being anyway…

I need to sew some clothes that will see me through the final trimester, and which are compatible with the approaching hotter weather, and which I might wear once baby departs her abode in my belly. And I want to sew stuff for baby too (mostly functional things like nappies, burp cloths and face & butt wipes; she’s going to be a summer baby who is likely to be naked most of the time). ¬†I’m sure I’ll do a bit of refining as I sew, based on how I use the space.

I’m pretty pleased with myself that I mostly stuck to The Plan, and managed to do a cull of unnecessary things, too. As it panned out, I have less fabric than I thought, and my patterns take up less space than I expected. Winning at smug.

As presaged, I re-organised my binding and trim from The Hanger of Trims into an old postage box, which I prettified by covering in fabric. This resulted in my trims taking up much less space, and being consolidated with my Elastics & Reflectives.

Box of Trims!

Box of Trims!

I made bobbin shaped cards out of my and Partner’s old business cards, and spent some happy hours wrapping binding around each card. However I fairly quickly got bored of labelling my cards.

Here is the bottom part of my half of The Study’s wardrobe:
SSS Finale 2

  • Bottom Row
    • Left: overlocker thread and wooly nylon;
    • Right: untraced patterns or PDFs not yet stuck together, interfacing, spare folders
  • Middle Row
    • Left: Knit scraps; box of hardware bits & bobs; box of sewing machine feet & needles; box of buttons hiding at the back;
    • Right: Patterns – bottoms (creamy yellow) & dresses (grey)
  • Top Row
    • Left: box of minky & PUL (new acquisition for baby sewing!); cutting & tracing equipment – a very heavy little box due to the washers and nuts & bolts I use as pattern weights!;
    • Right: Patterns – tops (green), menswear (blue – so few you cannot even see the folders!) , bags, babies & household miscellany (orange).

Here is the top part of my half of The Study’s wardrobe:

      • Top Row
        • Left: Woven scraps and box of pressing equipment (ham, sausage, linen cloths plus my duster);
        • Right: stationery and zips (not happy with this storage; want a different solution)
      • On top of the cube unit:
        • Box of binding and trims; box of cables; the iron and the sewing essentials will live here when they’re not on my sewing desk (cup with thread snip, chalk pens, unpicker; pins tin¬†and little thread rubbish bin);
      • On the wall: thread rack and just in sight to the right if you look carefully, my measuring tapes.
      • To the left is my rubbish scrap bag and a bin containing tracing paper, butcher paper, oil cloth and heavy interfacing.

Here is my fabric:

The left cubes are wovens; middle & right cubes are knits except for top right which is my bonus cube, it contains 'muslin fabric' (old sheets, actually) and other specialty things, like bike shorts chamois.

Left column: wovens

Middle column: knits

Right column

  • Top: bonus cube! Contains ‘muslin fabric’ (old sheets, actually), specialty fabrics and a miscellany of specialist notions (eg that bike short chamois I bought that time I was going to make me bike shorts but then realised my current two are doing me just fine.)
  • Bottom: more knits!

I made door snakes / draught excluders for our last house, where the gaps under the door let in so much cold air, it was like we lived in a wind tunnel. ¬†The doors in this house appear to have been cut to the right size for the door frame (imagine that), and I’ve just kept the snakes. The serve no purpose.

And now we can step back and see it all, with my machines:

(Sorry for the saturation & over exposure; it was a beautiful day outside, which made photography difficult!)

(Sorry for the saturation & over exposure; it was a beautiful day outside, which made photography difficult!)

The box underneath my sewing desk contains all my WIPs. It is packed full! (I’m a multiple projects on the go person … or easily distracted by the next shiny thing). Having my projects in a box means I can easily tidy by tossing current project on top and shut the lid. Most of my projects are in ziplock bags inside the box, so they’re not getting all muddled up! On top of the box are magazines & books loaned to my by the lovely Helen.

And, yes, I am guilty of doing that thing where cables are not visible in the photo. This is because this is how I want my sewing area to look, when it is at rest. One day I will sew covers for my machines!

The ironing board gets set up each time I sew, just in the middle of the room somewhere, and ideally is put back on the little bit of wall between my desk and the wardrobe, but I moved it out to take photos.

The right most desk is His Desk, and therefore Not My Problem.

And now that I’ve blogged, I think it’s time to sew! Well, maybe after a quick lie down.

Sewing Space Shuffle Part 3: The Fabric Scraps Dilemma

Fabric scraps. The bane of any sewing person’s¬†existence? Or are you good at either throwing your scraps away or actually using them to make something?

I vacillate from throwing out my scraps, to using them for something.

I’ve pinned many a tutorial that converts fabric scraps into useful and pretty doodads. But pinning, though a sewing term, is not actually sewing. ¬†And I can rarely envisage a personal need for said doodad, so it never gets made.

Except, one day, I will suddenly want to make a doodad, but I recently threw or gave away (to a childcare centre) my scraps, and so have to use (or go buy) a fat quarter to make a doodad, thereby creating more weirdly sized and shaped scraps. Argh!

However, I have developed a system. It’s new, and I’ve not quite yet put it into place … The system is that I keep scraps divided into knits and wovens. One 10L plastic box, and no more, of each.

The Before

The Before (actually, The Sometime After Starting & Then Realising A Picture Might Be Helpful)

For knits, I will keep larger than fat quarter size only of fabric that I will use again. If it’s smaller, but awesome, I’ll keep it. If it’s smaller and one of the colours of the rainbow, I’m cutting it into 16″ squares, and putting it into a little bag, which will one day become a rainbow jersey duvet cover, yes it will. I do keep and use long bits of knit fabric cut into strips for tying up tomatoes, and other gardening miscellany. The balance of knit scraps go into a scrap rubbish bag, which either becomes filling for something that needs stuffing (like my Scraptember pouf) or gets thrown away when the bag gets too full, and I start again.

For wovens, I’ll keep fabrics thus:

  • larger than fat quarter but less than a yard
  • fat quarter size
  • smaller sizes cut into
  • 5 inch squares
  • 2 inch strips

And I will not budge from this system. Nosirree. If I cannot manage a square or a strip from the fabric, it will go into the knit fabric stuffing bag.

I also keep pretty selvedges, because they’re pretty. But they’re kept with ribbons and binding and a miscellany of ‘trim’.

What will be chucked. Well done, me.

What will be chucked. Well done, me.

Sewing Space Shuffle Part 2: Taming the Fabric Stash

The majority of any sewing space organisation is always: what on earth do I do with all that fabric! I sew with much more knit fabric, than with woven, but in the early days, I acquired quite a lot of woven fabric, including much that is completely unsuited to what I will sew (er, silks, I’m wondering why I bought you…)

I haven’t decided if I’ll swap/ give it away, because I do love it and maybe one day I’ll sew it up? Maybe? Also, I bought some silks in outrageous yellow and orange hues, which may not suit very many people at all.

Also, the awesomeness of prints in wovens is greater by a factor of 23.75 bajillion than in knits (in Australia, anyway). Given that most of my sewing is for my everyday wear, I found it a wee bit difficult to work out how to incorporate hedgehog & fox fabric into a work appropriate outfit… and though I love florals because I love flowers, I don’t often wear them.

However, I have got better over time. ¬†I’ve slowly learned to not buy fabric that I cannot work out what to make with it when I’m at the fabric shop. I’m slowly learning to avoid stripes in knits, because though I adore stripes and would wear them, I hate having to stripe match and I’m not good at it.

My stash is not an outrageous size, but there’s plenty there, and more than I’ll get through in a few years of sewing. I am a bit of a sucker for remnants, and a sucker for bulk buys, but the first part to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem, yes?

I want all of my sizeable fabric to be stored in the cubic shelves inside the wardrobe. Sizeable to me means more than a metre in length, as I’m likely to be able to get at least a top from that amount.

Previously, I had my fabric folded to novel sized and shelved vertically. While I loved this, it would not work in the cubes, because that’s simply too large for the fabric to stand up, so they are back to being horizontal.

This is how I folded my fabric to fit the size of the cubes.

How to fold fabric 1

  1. I cut some cardboard to the width of the shelves, as my folding template.
  2. I then folded each piece of fabric selvedge to selvedge and laid it out across the floor. I used our camping Thermarests to spare my poor pregnant lady knees, as well as to stop the fabric picking up gunk from the carpet (vacuuming beforehand was not an option, nope).
  3. Using the template, I then folded the halved fabric into thirds (usually for 150cm wide fabric), or into the middle (usually for 110 wide fabric).
  4. I then turned the template, and began wrapping the fabric template, smoothing fabric out as I went.
  5. At the end of the fabric, I folded the cut edge in, so it was all nice and tidy.
  6. To finish, I secured with paper clips, the more clashing the colour of paper clip to fabric, the better.
Ta da!

Ta da!

And then I repeated this a zillion and 26 times for each piece of fabric.

I treated my knit fabrics in exactly the same way. I’m considering rolling my knits, because I’m not averse to a bit of pulling fabric out and refolding (fun times!) but I keep worrying about whether rolling will distort knit fabrics? Anyone want to throw in their two cents on this?

The next difficult bit is how to group the fabric. Wovens and knits are kept separate, but how to group them otherwise? I toyed with the idea of making a rainbow, but half my stash is in dark, dull hues (fabric still allocated to trousers…), so I was back to my trusty ‘light and brights’ and ‘dark and dulls’ system. Plus, when you have prints with all colours of the rainbow on them … It’s hard to work out which is the dominant hue to fit into the ROYGBIV spectrum. But you can still sing Rainbow Connection, while stacking.

Sewing Space Shuffle: Part 1 of I Don’t Know How Many

With the advent of a new person in our lives, we have had to do some room reshuffling, and My Sewing Room – being the smallest in the house – will become the new person’s room. ¬†This means the larger spare room – currently the Entertainment Room and His Study – will now become the Guest Room, Entertainment Room, His Study and My Sewing Room. It is about one and a half times as large as my erstwhile sewing room and, in that space, will have to undertake multiple¬†duties!

We’re not too fussed about making sure New Person’s Room is ready prior to her arrival. We don’t intend that she’ll be occupying it for quite a while yet, and¬†l doubt very much that she’ll care what it looks like. And even if she does, it’s going to take her a long while to communicate that to us.

Partner shifted my sewing stuff out, and the room (which I still call My Sewing Room) is a blank canvas for now, with the bones of what we’ll need to accommodate her accumulation of stuff. How does a person who as yet has no independent corporeal existence manage to accumulate so much stuff? It still has the guest sofa bed in it, looking very cosy and minimalist, unlike how it used to look for our guests, when it shared space with my sewing stuff (lots of things got shoved into one side of the wardrobe, with a clear warning to guests to NOT OPEN THAT SIDE!)

Prior to shifting my sewing stuff out, Partner reorganised the garage, to accommodate stuff from His Study (mostly our camping gear, actually), and the study, in order to make room for my sewing stuff. He then shifted my stuff in.

There’s a reason I’m so absent in all this reorganising and shifting around of stuff, which is that I’m under instructions not to do too much, and certainly not to lift things etc. My sewing stuff is presently in no state to be used, as it is mostly piled around the place. ¬†Now that I will be occupying a smaller area, and a shared one, I need a better organisation and storage system, and I’ve spent rather a lot of time thinking about how best to fit everything in, in a compact way, and to have it all easily and quickly put away for guests, without the usual stuffing the random bits and bobs into half the wardrobe…

In effect, I’m going from spreading my stuff all over one room and two tables, to one table and half a wardrobe. While I don’t have a lot of stuff, and my sewing space has always been reasonably well organised; it had not been especially compact, because there was no need for it to be.

Now, there is a need!

My usual reorganisation strategy is to simply dive in, move stuff around and work out what works, setting off to get what I need when I realise I need it. Given my restrictions, and the fact that I want to keep the ‘study’ (we really need to come up with a name for this room!) fairly tidy as I go, that strategy is not going to work.

I had to craft a plan. Preferably a cunning plan.

First, I thought long and hard about what I had. I wandered into the study and stared at my piles of stuff and made lists. I’ve been resisting the lure of fabric for a while now, to try to rationalise my stash somewhat. It helped that pregnancy hormones sucked up my energy and sewing mojo. I do have almost twice as much knit fabric, than woven, and I have lots of reasonably sized scraps that are not quite large enough for even a top, but too large to simply discard. They might be good sizes for this new person entering our lives, who has proven to be so disruptive already!

Not a storage solution.

Not a storage solution.

This is the Stuff that needs re-homing:

  • Patterns
  • Sewing books, manuals and magazines
  • Fabric, which has sub-categories of:
    • Wovens
    • Knits
    • Fabric scraps, of which there are
      • Reasonably sized bits
      • Pretty quilting cotton bits that I must surely be able to find a use for even though I haven’t for 4 years now
  • Bias binding and ribbon, to be boxed (Goodbye Hanger of Trims. We had fun times, no?)
  • Zips, to be boxed
  • Buttons, already boxed but might need a bigger box. Uh oh.
  • Elastics, including Fold Over Elastic, to be boxed, maybe with the bias binding and ribbons?
  • Thread
    • Sewing threads on a rack
    • Overlocking threads, which are presently just all over the place (to be boxed)
    • Woolly nylon, of which I just bought 30 cones (to be boxed)
    • Embroidery thread, which is already neatly in a box
  • Pressing ham, sausage and cloth (which I keep losing!)
  • Sewing machine feet and needles, presently boxed
  • Rulers
  • Scissors & Rotary cutter and cutting mats
  • Tracing paper, interfacing and batting
  • Pens,¬†sticky tape, glue
  • Other craft bits and bobs (origami, calligraphy, glass cutting), some of which are boxed; some of which are just … around the place.

Second, I measured the wardrobe space and spent plenty of minutes just staring at it, trying to work out what would be the best way of using it to store my stuff.

I then drew the wardrobe space. Good thing it is pretty much just a rectangle, because my drawing skills leave much to be desired.

Like almost everyone else in the sewing world, I thought cubic shelves would be the best way to keep everything. I must admit that I’ve coveted cubic shelving for a long time, but it didn’t seem necessary when I had a wardrobe and a bookshelf. I ruled out the IKEA Expedit/Kallax shelves because IKEA is simply too annoying to go to. We only go there for Ivar shelves, because that’s the entirety of our furniture pretty much. Instead, we got some cubic shelving from Bunnings, which is a mere one kilometre from our house and just much less annoying to go to. The cubes are a bit smaller than the Expedit/Kallax cubes, but that works well inside our wardrobe.

We have some of the Bunnings cubic shelving already, so I could go look at it to see what configurations I though would best house all that stuff up there.

This is what I’ve come up with.

The Plan

Now I just actually have to DO IT. (Best laid plans and all that jazz)

I’ve been inspired by The Fabulous Dr E’s recent blogposts to outline my organisation process. ¬†I probably won’t be as thorough, however.