A BOM Update & Why You Need a Sewing Corner

A tiny upcoming BOM hint.

First – a BOM update in the form of the above photo.  Yes indeed, kits are being assembled and gorgeousness is about to happen, friends!  We’ve still got a little over a month before the July 22nd first ever Serendipity Woods Block of the Month project kickoff and I’m pleased to announce that already – the response has been extraordinary!  Rather than spend too much time reiterating about it (of course if you need a refresher or are newly in-the-know about it and want more info – DO click the link – quicklikeabunny!), I want to inspire some thoughts on sewing spaces and why they matter.

First, let me start by saying I completely GET that for most of us, available space is at a premium, especially in busy homes with children. Often that means sewing machines come out of a closet when needed, only to be tucked back into that closet when we’ve whipped up whatever something we wanted or needed to make.  Sometimes that’s unavoidable and it is what it is; yet its hard to feel inspired to sew when the process of sewing involves SETTING UP all the time.  Ideally, having a space somewhere where all our sewing happiness can live without having to be put away is so great because it allows us to sit down to sew whenever the mood strikes or whenever the free time presents itself (like naptime…oh yes, I remember naptime!).

When my kids were small, my machine was set up in a fairly large space in our basement.  It worked great because for one thing, my sewing space didn’t have to be neat all the time! It was also right off our family room so the kids could be playing nearby and I was close if they needed me.  The other great thing about basement sewing spaces is that often there’s plenty of room to spread out. I took a moment to search ‘Basement sewing room’ (since I just don’t seem to have a photo of mine from the past) and just LOOK what I found:

Miss sews a lot Sewing Space Progress
This space belongs to Miss Sews A Lot and reminds me a fair bit of my (past) basement sewing studio – in a word: SPACIOUS!

Now, while I do miss the spaciousness of my basement sewing studio, I learned a couple of things – first of which is that I honestly don’t technically  need that much space all in one spot (but trust me, I love spare closets!). Not to mention – the biggest drawback to having a basement sewing studio is DINNER; rather, having to drop everything to go upstairs and make it.  I realized what I really wanted to do was to sew some and work some, then sew some and work some more.  I found that with a basement studio, I was less inclined to volley back and forth between the two and more inclined to do one for a long period, then the other. That wasn’t really working for me.

So. Enter a room like this:

Phamplet 1971 Governor's Residence
This isn’t MY formal dining room, nor was it ever (not even in 1965, before I was born, for the record). It’s the formal dining room of the Minnesota Governor’s Residence , just for fun – I picked it so we could all bask in its superfluous, nonsensical (and especially golden) formality.

Formal.  I am not. WE are not. Never have been. But still, for the last few houses, we’ve been graced with a superfluous room – a formal dining room…usually right off the kitchen where clearly I make dinner…or someone (like my handsome Superman) does. Did I mention not technically needing all that much space in one spot?

Fast forward to this afternoon when I took this photo:

Sewing Corner
Yep – you guessed it.  This is a small corner of my dining room, right off our kitchen.  Were it not for the fact that the rest of the room is occupied by bolts (and bolts and bolts) of fabric, I may have more room for my sewing space; but remember – I technically don’t need very much room all in one spot (I could use a little more room for bolts of fabric, however, as evidenced across the hall in Superman’s office. That’s obviously where Bonnie & Camille’s Little Ruby Collection lives).

For sewing – I really just need one corner.  You really just need one corner.

A foldable TV tray covered with several layers of quilt batting and a layer of Insul Bright with my favorite pretty fabric makes for a great block pressing table.  My iron lives on the little wrought iron shelf/stand too, so it’s handy but not taking up space on the mini ironing table I may want to fold and put out of the way.  See my little basket of fabrics I’m using for one of my active projects? And my scrap bowl, for just especially the scraps I’m using for our BOM project (for reasons I can’t possibly share just this very second)?  All handy and only what I need – not what I don’t. Don’t get me wrong – there are nearby closets for the ‘don’t need right this minute,’ and you’d better believe I use them!
A portable block pressing board is a must as far as I’m concerned so I can carry my pieces from wherever I’m cutting (in my case, an adjacent table that always has my mat set up, but maybe yours is on your kitchen counter temporarily for the day).  Mine portable pressing board/carrying tray is a Quilter’s Cut & Press by June Taylor that I simply recovered on the one side with my favorite happy fabric. There are a variety of brands out there, but I like this one best because I can hang the handle from my next favorite studio tool…
3m hooks
Never underestimate the value of the almighty 3M Command Hook . I’ve mentioned it in previous posts – I use them everywhere.
I get it. It may not be practical for you to hang your projects from 3M hooks in your sewing corner, but I love them. What you see are the 3 projects I’m currently working on as well as some clip boards for shop happenings. Even my wire file holder on the wall hangs from 3M hooks. Also, because I can see my WIPs, I’m a whole lot more inspired to spend a few minutes here and there to make progress on them.  It also keeps me thinking twice about starting a new project if I can see the ones that aren’t yet finished. I like to have a few projects going at once, but not too many or my crafty brain gets cluttered.
Two more magical words: Binder Clips. Another one: Brilliant.


Sewing Corner
You’ll obviously see that a good amount of what also occupies this corner is shop stuff – superfluous to your needs as a sewist who just needs a corner of space for sewing.  The printer, the monitor, the patterns on the wall (with more 3M hooks – I’m telling you, they’re genius). The bottom line is that everything is handy and nothing is there that I don’t need to just sit down and sew when I have a free minute or two.  Even my sewing machine…
Charlotte and Jane
…is Jane, my 1956 Featherweight. She’s small, portable, and great for piecing.  I do have other machines and sometimes get them out for various reasons – but I love Jane most because she’s small and usually all I need to sew a nice little seam (or two, or a hundred).

So ‘What’s the update on the Modern Heritage Block of the Month prep,’ you ask? Okay, okay…

Large Cross Block
…one more sneak peek photo of my progress in prepping for our upcoming Modern Heritage Quilts Block of the Month. Of course click on the link if you haven’t yet signed up to join us. It’s going to be incredibly fun!

I’m really excited for us to get started on our Block of the Month project too.  In the meantime though, I wanted you to have a chance to spend a little time thinking about your space and how to make it most inspiring for you to create, JUST when you want to create. I hope you have at least a little sewing corner you can call your own.  I’d love to know more about it, if you feel like sharing.

Until next time – happy sewing 🙂


My Latest Online Order and an Announcement!

Remember all the times I’ve shared recently that my area of Kalamazoo, Michigan is lacking in retailers who carry some of the most sought-after fabric lines and notions in today’s modern quilt market? What that has meant for most of us around here is that we have to travel to find what we’re looking for, or shop online.  Mostly, since I’m a bit of a homebody, let’s just say my mail carrier has come to expect me walking across the yard (so he doesn’t have to trudge to the door) on days he just happens to be delivering a package.  Isn’t online delivery tracking just a magical thing?  Anyway, in the mail today was my most recent order:

I've been dying to try these Clover Quilt Binding clips, fell in LOVE with these Little House Glass-headed pins, and also scooped up one yard of the most lovely Wrens and Friends fabric that was on sale at the same online retailer.
These Clover Quilt Binding clips I’ve been dying to try, some Little House Glass-headed pins I knew I would love (and I do!), and also one yard of the most lovely Wrens and Friends butterfly fabric that was on sale, all at the same online retailer.

Also in the mail today was another item which made me smile from my toes, and shriek a tiny, joyful noise (and made the mailman do a double take, just as he started to pull away):

The tax identification I applied for recently so I can become an online retailer of all the quilt fabrics, threads, and notions I've been talking about here!
The sales tax license I applied for recently so I can become an online retailer of all the quilt fabrics, threads, and notions I’ve been sharing about here!

As the details go, throughout this time since making the switch from my Serendipity Woods site to Charlotte Loves Henry, I’ve continued to learn and share about premium quilt fabrics and notions I now encounter every day.  So with support and encouragement from the peanut gallery (my family), I’m embarking upon a new venture: An online retail shop for all the aforementioned!

Lastly, my family’s cooperation is under one resounding condition: That my shop must still be called Serendipity Woods. I’ll share more about that later (it’s the sweetest story, really), and don’t worry – you’ll still find my blog right here at Charlotte Loves Henry, with a new Serendipity Woods website along with it.  I promise to keep you posted!

Cheers and Happy Quilting,


The Best Sewing Scissors Ever

Happy Monday, All. Though I had not planned it as such (since housework was totally on my docket instead) it’s been a sewing sort of weekend. As for bailing on the housework, all I can say is that sometimes being a mom is really hard, and sometimes housework isn’t what we need to give us the peace we need to ease the pain in our hearts. As I rise this morning to start my day, I’m especially grateful for so many things; my faith, my family, and quilting – because quilting is sometimes the one thing I can do successfully, regardless of my mood. When I quilt, I can be happy or sad; angry or anguished; joyful or relieved. It’s a solitary craft as well, so thinking time is automatically a part of it; but it’s also become for me a way to pull joy into the dreariness that may exist on any given day. That’s a pretty valuable gift and I’m awfully glad of its presence in my life.

Emotional prelude aside, I wanted to share a quilt-related tip about scissors that I thought you might find useful. As I continue to move toward building my quilt business, I’m always reaching for lists assembled by various crafters of what tools are their favorites and why.  Sewing scissors seem to be a bit of an all-over-the-map sort of tool, which seems be a good deal less about what works best, and more about what people just grab on the fly, hoping to cut threads effectively. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve used an awful lot of crappy sewing scissors. The most frustrating ones are those that wouldn’t cut hot butter from the moment I pull them out of the packaging. I could make a wind chime out of the amount of those I have lying around!

Late last week as I was cleaning out a little travel tote I had stuffed full of yarn at some point (likely enroute to another girls’ lacrosse game), I discovered a little pair of scissors I had obviously lost track of. They’d been my grandmother’s and as I think about it, she always kept them in her yarn basket alongside the ‘davenport’ (her fancy word for couch). She too, had lots of other sewing scissors lying around, but it occurred to me that these were the ones she used most and for good reason: They work miraculously well! Except they’re not sewing scissors at all…

Manicuring Scissors for Sewing
…they’re manicuring scissors!
Blunt-tip manicuring scissors are thin and bend upward at the end.
Blunt-tip manicuring scissors are thin and bend upward at the end.
blunt-tipped manifcuring scissors for sewing
The bend allows me to cut my thread nice and close to my fabric, while the blunt end keeps me from nicking my fabric in the process.

Lastly, I have recommended little 3m Command Hooks before – they’re darn handy!

Today's 3m Command Hook installation will hopefully ensure that I never lose my favorite sewing scissors again!
Today’s 3m Command Hook installation will hopefully ensure that I never lose my favorite sewing scissors again!

(note to self: Pick up another pair of manicuring scissors, just in case, the next time I’m at the grocery store…and more 3m hooks).

Cheers and Happy Quilting,