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 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.