Category Archives: My Studio

My Studio: Looking Back

My sewing space is one of my favorite places to be. It has evolved over the years from a rarely used guest room to a full-blown quilting studio (the only thing missing is a long arm! Dear Santa…) It’s changed so much over a relatively short period of time that it’s hard to remember some of the phases I went through in organizing and decorating it. And there were many…

This year will make for a big change in our household with a fourth member joining our family and as nice as it would be to move to a bigger place, the reality in our housing market is very few properties selling in 2 or 3 days and renovations at nearly every price point.  After 8 years of constant projects (the first 4 years were filled with MAJOR projects like re-wiring the house and gutting the kitchen), I don’t have the heart or energy to renovate right now.  So what that means is less sewing room for me, I’ve been slowly making room by destashing and donating and reorganizing so that little miss can have a spot in my sewing studio. A nursery/sewing room seems like an odd combination but I think it will work out nicely. And honestly, it’s been rather liberating to whittle down my crafting supplies and fabric stash to the things I truly love.  My parents are coming to stay for a week soon to help me finish the transformation so I thought it would be fun to look back at the way it used to look around here…

2009 is the year I started quilting but my sewing space was mostly focused on home decor and garments.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

By 2010, you can see quilting has taken over..

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I changed things around a lot in 2010…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

And how it looked last time I took photos in here…

Aug-2012-04

This midcentury modern desk was a great addition to the space…I do miss it. I ended up selling it because it was so large.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Things were messy at times…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

A lot going on with that desk!

VMQ Studio Through the Years

But I loved this wall best with my cutting table…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

This corner of the room went from quite sad…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a pretty spot to hang out…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a fabric storage area…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Back to a pretty spot to hang out…and finally with matching drapes! Did you notice I could never seem to finish that yellow set from earlier photos?

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I wish I’d taken more pictures through the years, but it’s the kind of thing you just don’t think about. It will be fun to share again once I’ve finished the nursery side of the room. Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!

Simple Art from Bella Solids

Color cards for fabric solids become dated at some point…I’m on my third version of the Moda Fabrics Bella Solids color card. Now that I’m on this kick to clean out my sewing stuff, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the first one I bought in 2009.

Bella Solids

I hated to just throw it away though, so instead I trimmed some of the strips off and put them together into a little piece of art:

Bella Solids

I used a frame I already owned and some cardboard backing to glue the swatch strips on. That’s it! I’m thinking about hanging it in the nursery.

 

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

I have an infatuation with small, cute storage containers and retro graphics so I could not resist this sewing tin:

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

(order one for yourself {here})

But in a studio space filled with jars, baskets, tins, and bins…I’m not sure what to use it for.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

The instructions inside indicate that I should use it to store small treasures, keepsakes, and curiosities.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

What would you put in it? It measures 7.25″ x 5.5″ x 3.5″ – not too big and not too small.

Featherweight

Pale Celery

Meet my new sewing machine. It’s a 1964-ish Singer Featherweight.

Pale Celery

I never wanted a Singer Featherweight until I saw the “white” ones. It’s hard to tell in photos but they actually have a greenish hue and Singer called the color “pale celery” which is pretty dang accurate. There is just something sort of mod and cool about these. I can imagine the woman who used to live in my 1954 house sewing on one of these.

I almost bought one on Ebay right before Christmas for around $500. I’m glad I didn’t because I found this one locally for $275. It has fewer presser feet and the case is not as pristine but it sews beautifully.

Pale Celery

The name Featherweight is a bit of a misnomer because for such a tiny thing it is pretty heavy. The threading took me some getting used to and this is probably one of the only machines ever made that needles have to be inserted sideways. I read it in the manual but my brain thought it couldn’t be right. I can’t tell you how many times I re-threaded it thinking that was the problem before I finally turned the needle.

I joined a Facebook group for vintage machine owners and it seems to be a bit of an obsession. I’m not sure that I want a whole collection of them.  Do you have a vintage machine? And are you now addicted to buying them?

Table Top Sewing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very much like me in that you’re obsessed with quilting (and fabric). We all want to sew as much as possible and actually finish projects. I have some big things going on in 2014 that will limit my personal sewing time to a degree, but I still want to make time for some just-for-fun projects.

My solution? Table Top Sewing. I changed things around a bit in my sewing space (tour to come soon) so I now have a lot more surface space. That means more room for stacks of fabric and papers and notions and other random junk, right? NO! I’ve set up five baskets on my table tops with sewing projects mostly ready to sew.

Table Top Sewing

Top Center: Mini quilts. Currently working on Camille Roskelley’s Mini Puddle Jumping quilt

Bottom Left:  Scrappy 4-patches. All scraps!

Bottom Right: Economy/Square in Square Blocks with my Munki Munki stash

Table Top Sewing

Left: APQ Quilt-along Tone It Down quilt (still need to finish cutting this one out)

Right: Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks. Lots of them.

How is this different from what I used to do? Most of my WIPs are in bins in a closet and out of sight is out of mind. I pulled several projects that lend themselves to being sewn in short stints (i.e. nothing with complicated instructions or fabric placement that needs a design wall, etc.). My thinking is that I can sew one or two blocks from a basket each time I go in my space (whether its to work or to sew) and I”ll slowly whittle down each project.

Since there are likely going to be large gaps of time in between when I work on these projects, I’ve made a check list to help me keep track of where I am. This is a good habit to start for any sewing project you’re working! I usually make a post-it or keep track on the pattern page – never quite as formal as the this:

VMQ-table-top-sewing-3

I am a super nerd for organization though….

RESOURCES: Mint berry basket {World Market}, Bird tray {IKEA}, Teal baskets {Target}, white bins {IKEA}

Quilt Photography

I love photography and I have a fairly nice camera. But having never taken a photography class (I have pinned a lot of good advice on Pinterest that I’m sure I’ll get to someday!), I’m always sorta winging it/fumbling around in the dark. I love the magic of a beautiful photo and improving my photography is a resolution I’ve committed to for 2014, but no matter how good you are at operating the equipment, you’ve got to admit that quilt photography is it’s own special challenge.

Lighting, angles, lenses….blah, blah, blah. I won’t even go there, but I will tell you the one thing that has made my life so much easier INSTANTLY! A photography backdrop stand.

My husband is not always the best quilt photography assistant (my parents are surprisingly good and quite entertaining) and it’s hard to take photos by yourself. Add to that the challenge of a yard that is mostly shaded by a huge live oak…but now I can move the stand to the perfectly lit location (in complete shadow adjacent to complete sunshine FYI).

Photo Backdrop Stand

The stand is lightweight, but definitely not flimsy. I can lift it straight up in the air with two hands while assembled with a quilt on it. And I’m very wimpy. I don’t recommend using one when it’s windy unless you like to see your quilt and stand go flying away like a giant kite.

I obviously still have some improvements to make (like, why didn’t I center the quilt over just a brick background?), but I’m super happy with the stand and it will make pattern photography much easier. It’s also pretty inexpensive – definitely cheaper than I expected when I went searching online. I bought {this one}. Just under $65 and free shipping with Amazon Prime. You will also need a set of clamps.

Jumping the Gun

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I’m trying to get ahead of my New Year’s resolution to organize by starting before this year is even over.  How is that for motivated? My sewing room had gotten so messy that I didn’t even want to be in there. What’s a quilter to do? One word: destash. That mountain of fabric below is all from my latest destash sale on Instagram. It looks like a lot (and it is, let’s be honest) but I still feel like I could have purged a bit more. I’ll save it for the next sale, I suppose.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

Now my studio is about 75% tidy…I still don’t have room for all of my fabric so some is in bins on my sewing table but that will probably always be the case.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I can live with that. It reminds me to sew faster!

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Those bins are from IKEA in case you’re wondering.}

I added a bit of decoration while I was cleaning up…hanging up some old things that were just taking up room in drawers.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

And these putting out these cute new tins…

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{available here}

I don’t have anything in them yet but I  could not resist the vintage look. They’re from a company called Now Designs that also makes a few other retro-styled items for the home, like these tea + coffee tins.

All of this cleaning up is very motivating and I have lots of new projects tumbling around in my brain. Fabulous fabric combinations are everywhere.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Lush Uptown + Botanics = YES YES YES! Just ignore the Urban Cowgirl bundle on the lower left.}

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{April Showers + Color Me Happy = Made for Each Other}

Ice Storm 2013

We had an ice storm just after Thanksgiving and you’d think that would be the perfect opportunity to sew but I hardly did. Four days in the house was rough on all of us but especially my Christmas quilt. It was peed on twice so I had to wash it. In the middle of quilting. With the safety pins in it and everything.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

It came out just fine and I’m almost done quilting it but I’ve now marked the whole dang thing twice. Horrid dogs.

Around the Studio

{If you’re here for the Classic Modern Quilts blog tour, hop down to this post}

Studio Scenes

I’m sewing a little bit every day – mostly new projects and some little holiday things. It’s all very erratic and unfocused because I’ve quit using my planner and stopped making lists. Those two things are key for me to be productive.

Studio Scenes

But I’m okay with not “getting things done” right now. This time of year is made for just coasting along and enjoying the moments.

Studio Scenes

I’m sewing up pinwheel blocks and ordering fabric for an hourglass quilt top. A just-for-fun project.

Studio Scenes

I flip through these two books almost daily. And I think about buying this book just as often.

Studio Scenes

I’m leaving broken toys sitting about until I come across the right glue to fix them. It will just come to me, I know it. ;)

Bad Dogs

I’m even laughing at my naughty dogs.

Bad Dogs

What else can you do, though? I love them, good or bad. Moose’s punishment was wearing that moose costume. And Will is too tenderhearted to be punished. All I had to do was show him the basket he peed on and he hung his head in shame.

What do things look like around your studio? If anyone is sewing up holiday projects, link up in the comments. I’d love to see them!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking Up

Breaking up fabric bundles that is. It’s no secret that I love fabric (what quilter doesn’t?) and I also love bundles of fabric! Beautifully organized, folded, tied, rolled…however they can be prettily bundled together, I like it.

But I struggle with Moda fat quarter bundles. They’re so perfectly tied and I know the fabric is irreplaceable. It’s a lot of pressure to open that sucker up and use it! But I have to use one of them this year. It’s getting to be ridiculous in here.

20130802-DSC_2708

{PB&J by Basic Grey, Wonderland by MoMo, S’More Love by Eric and Julie Comstock, Dear Mr. Claus by Cosmo Cricket, Lush Uptown by Erin Michael, Recess by American Jane, Urban Cowgirl by Urban Chiks, Sweet by Urban Chiks}

I’m thinking I need to use one of the older ones first.  Which one would you pick? And what would you make? No holds barred. Let’s hear those fabric fantasies.

Organization = Chaos

2013-07-18_1374188511

My lovely long vacation at the lake is over. I’m officially back at home this week and it has already been a bit of a kick in the pants with something planned every day through the middle of next week. Teaching, designing, working, socializing, and speaking at the Dallas MQG meeting (tomorrow night at Half Price Books on NW Hwy. 7 pm)…But how awesome is it that I am doing all of those things and staying home with my little munchkin every day instead of working for the man? Pretty awesome.

My husband came home two weeks before Ben and me and I was impressed at how tidy the house was kept in our absence. He’s a better housewife than me. The two of us rapidly turned our spaces into utter chaos. Ben’s tools of chaos and destruction are books and toys and poky plastic things.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

My chaos is fabric and paper and patterns.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

The chaos comes not only from the obvious sources of working/designing/quilting that happens in my sewing room but from organization itself. I always seem to be stuck in some state of partial organization.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

There’s a plan and some stages of execution, but I lack the focus/energy/time for completion. Organization creates mess! Did you know that? Organization Creates Mess. It’s like a law of physics.

I added a long-desired second fat quarter storage shelf to my sewing room this week. It’s above the computer in a space previously occupied by arty quilty things. I needed the storage more than I needed the arty quilty things.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

It’s another Pottery Barn Cubby Organizer to match the one I bought a few years ago.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

They don’t make the cream version anymore so I begrudgingly went with black and now I like it better than the cream one. My plan was to hang them side by side so my rainbow of fat quarters would be continuous.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

The Hubs said he didn’t think that would look right. I think he was not actually all that concerned about the aesthetics but more with having to measure and hang two of them.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

Can’t blame him since I hung exactly zero of the shelving units in our entire house. But I just might outsmart him and get a second black one and then have him hang them black-white-black on the opposite wall. Better let him have a few months off DIY first though (he just built a super awesome loft bed for our son.)

VMQ Studio | July 2013

Plus I’ll need some more fabric to fill up a third one.  ;)