A BOM Update & Why You Need a Sewing Corner

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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.

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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 🙂

Pam

TBT: Pincushion Hygiene, aka – the Liberation of the Pin People

As you may have noticed, I’m in process of merging my previous (which will remain in place as soon as construction is complete) website, Serendipity Woods, with my new blog here at Charlotte Loves Henry. What I’m really saying is that my SW blog will be replaced with this one, and Serendipity Woods will stand as our website and eventual online storefront. With all of that being said, a good many of my blog posts there, will simply drop off into the abyss of irrelavancy; except some that mean something to the realm that is Serendipity Woods as we propel our little boat forward. Enter Throwback Thursday. Therefore, the following post is actually a repost, with which I think many of us can identify. Enjoy 🙂


Pincushion Hygiene, aka – the Liberation of the Pin People

This morning whilst guzzling – err, I mean, sipping – my first cup of coffee and planning out my day, I happened to glance over at the pincushion beside my sewing machine. The glance turned into a double take, followed by a long stare which involved leaning closer and closer, which was then followed by a not-so-flattering facial expression, and an even-less-flattering (rather disgusted) gasp. Pincushion All in an instant, I realized what a catch-all this formerly pretty little studio accessory had become. For starters – I hardly EVER use T-pins, and when I do (for macrame’), I only use one which is already pinned neatly to the top of my macrame’ board that lives nearby the pincushion. Weaving BoardSo why then, are there two standing like dictators in the middle of my center button? SAMSUNG CSC

Then I noticed a little matter of safety pins; four of them, standing one on each side, surrounding my little happy pin friends like guards.  I began to feel sorry for my otherwise cheerful (now dreadfully imprisoned) little sewing companions. Dusty Pincushion The thing is, since my discovery of a handy little lifesaver called Quilt Basting Spray, I no longer use safety pins to baste my quilts together, so their presence in my everyday pincushion is superfluous. My ShelfHow about all that dust? (I won’t share another picture…that would push us all over the edge, straight into repulsion – which might keep us from sewing ever again). My point? I’ve been neglectful. Fortunately, the inhabitants of the little island known as my pincushion have staged an uprising (with the help of my morning companion, Mr. Coffee, to catch my attention). Pin/Marble ReceptableFor starters, the T- Pin Dictators and their Safety Pin Guards have been sent to live in the land of the Spare Marble King. He’s a kind ruler, with much experience as the guardian of the Safety Pin People, without the need for additional rulers or guards. Clean Pincushion A quick once over from the Vacuum Patrol, and the island itself sprouts new life! Happy Pincushion IslandNow all that remains is the return of the Pin People to live out their useful days in harmony. Incidentally, the previously unmentioned Sewing Needle People have been allowed by the pins to reside in the button previously occupied by the T-Pin Guards – as long as they don’t get bossy.  Their accompanying Tangled Threads, however, have been banished to the bottomless pit called the Wastebasket, never to return.

Happy, harmonious sewing!

Pam

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,

Pam

Studio Organization and Precut Storage

I’m one of those weird people that has a really hard time creating when things are cluttered. In fact, as I ponder the condition of the rest of my house as opposed to my studio, it’s a bit embarrassing to recognize out loud that this place, my world of creativity, is the neatest, tidiest, most organized spot in the house! I suppose that’s because the rest of the house belongs to ‘us,’ therefore I have this pie-in-the-sky idea that one of these days, my kids will start miraculously cleaning up after themselves!

At any rate, before I zip off to tackle that pile of laundry that’s overflowing atop the (very large) ottoman in the living room, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some tips on studio organization to help you stay motivated and creative!

For starters, I recommend you get to know my old, extraordinarily useful friend, the 3M command hook.

My most excellent Olfa Splash rotary cutter lives right here, alongside my cutting table.
My most excellent Olfa Splash rotary cutter lives right here, alongside my cutting table.
This is the side of what is now my 'new' fabric shelving unit, which houses all of the fabric I've collected since abandoning my 'old' fabric collection (as detailed in my 'First 4 Posts' Category here at the blog).
This is the side of what is now my ‘new’ fabric shelving unit, which houses all of the fabric I’ve collected since abandoning my ‘old’ fabric collection (as detailed in my ‘First 4 Posts’ Category here at the blog).
Call me an organizational loony, but I'm not a fan of stacking my precuts, especially after I've broken them open. I like to keep the usable bits together with its respective bundle as well, so I don't lose track of which fabric is part of which collection.
Call me an organizational loony, but I’m not a fan of stacking my precuts, especially after I’ve broken them open. I like to be able to see them and also keep the usable bits together with its respective bundle as well, so I don’t lose track of which fabric is part of which collection.
Lastly, see how the binder clips link together, so I can layer the precuts easily and flip through them to find just the right fabric for my project?
Lastly, see how the binder clips link together, so I can layer the precuts easily and flip through them to find just the right fabric for my project? And oh yeah…more 3m Command Hooks that I can easily move if necessary.

My actual shelves look admittedly scant at the moment, since I’ve only begun gathering fabric collections of mostly precuts.  That said, it is organized with purpose so I can find everything I need, when I need it, and it SPEAKS CREATIVELY to me. I think that is the key.

I do currently house some of my precuts in a stacked fashion, since I'm also a fan of cheery little bins and buckets. I found the rectangular wooden box as well as the 'Flowers & Garden' bucket at Target, in their little $3 or less section right in the front of the store.
I do currently house some of my unopened precuts in a stacked fashion, since I’m also a fan of cheery little bins and buckets. I found the rectangular wooden box as well as the ‘Flowers & Garden’ bucket at Target, in their little $3 or less section right in the front of the store.

Fabric Folding

I recently stumbled upon a rather lengthy video detailing how to fold your fabric neatly. I’ve been organizing my fabric the same way for years, with a few other purposeful practices in mind (and I’d rather show you in quick photos than link you to a long video that shows you the same thing):

Lay Each Piece Out Completely
No matter how long it is, lay in out lengthwise with selvedges lined up together. As long as the selvedges line up well, there’s no need to open it completely.
Then Fold it again, width-wise.
Then fold it again, width-wise. This will represent the width of all your stacks, about 12″, given that the majority of quilt fabrics are 42-44″ wide.
Then (no matter how loooong it is) bring your cut ends together.  This way, if you need to ever cut several strips at once, you can cut twice as many at a time, or just one strip, by just laying the top end back.
Then (no matter how loooong it is) bring your cut ends together. This way, if you need to ever cut several strips at once, you can cut twice as many at a time, or just one strip, by just laying the top end back.
As you continue to fold your yardage, try to utilize as much of your shelf depth as possible (so you have the most room for more fabric!). Sometimes that means your last fold will me in thirds rather than in half.
As you continue to fold your yardage, try to utilize as much of your shelf depth as possible (so you have the most room for more fabric!). Sometimes that means your last fold will be in thirds rather than in half.
And Presto. Tidy flat fold.
And Presto. Tidy flat fold.

The last series of photos I want to share are of my cutting table. They warrant sharing as a result of another video I watched recently about a how to make a certain block I’ve been interested in learning.  Though the instruction was excellent, the process throughout the construction of said block made me want to cringe, there were so many scraps flying and bits laying all over. As I said, I can’t create well if my space is a mess – so I reach for ways to keep it neat as I go along.

This is my cutting table. Aside from when I am actively working on something, it almost always looks like this, or not far from it at least.
This is my cutting table. Aside from when I am actively working on something, it almost always looks like this, or not far from it at least.
Ever single time I cut anything, the waste goes directly in here. I think primarily the reason I am so relentless about keeping my cutting area clutter free is that I don't want to cut anything that isn't supposed to be cut, nor do I want anything beneath what I AM cutting, which can affect the precision with which I cut it.
Every single time I cut anything, the waste goes directly in here, immediately. It’s just a good habit I got into in the early days of my sewing experience. I think primarily the reason I am so relentless about keeping my cutting area clutter free is that I don’t want to cut anything that isn’t supposed to be cut, nor do I want anything beneath what I AM cutting, which can affect the precision with which I cut it.
Admittedly small, given that because I'm starting with a new fabric stash, I intend to also have the scraps from said stash, all together and uncluttered by my retired stash.
Admittedly small, this is my scrap basket, which sits right on the other upper corner of my cutting mat. Essentially, if it doesn’t go into my waste bin, it either goes in here, or if it’s a larger piece, along with the fabric or bundle it belongs with. When it gets full, it goes in a larger bin.
I tend to keep my most used books handy, along with whatever background fabric I'm using at the time as well.  The little box? Well, doesn't that just work perfectly for my little 6
This is the other half of my cutting table. I tend to keep my most used books handy, along with whatever background fabric I’m using at the time as well. The little box? Well, doesn’t that just work perfectly for my little 6″ Farm Girl Vintage Blocks, while I make them?

Happy Organized Quilting!

Pam

Next Up:

An update on my Farm Girl Vintage Quilt Along progress, and hopefully a tutorial (if my darn 3.5″ rolie polie would get a move on and show up in the mail already!)