Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Studio

I see pictures of many quilter's studios, and drool.  They are in pretty rooms, with good light, heat, windows, rugs, and appropriate cabinets and things for storage, etc.  Mine?...nope.  I was lucky to get access to the basement 4 years ago.  My kids would have much preferred having it as a play space.  Gradually, I have taken more and more of it, claiming it as my own, and little by little, the area is getting neater and neater.  I'll never have windows or heat -- but in all seriousness it doesn't get that cold even in the dead of winter.

I could only find a couple of "before" pictures, and these were taken about a year ago.  You can see in the first one where I was priming the walls for painting them.  The battleship gray concrete was so dank and dismal looking.   I was doing what I could to increase the brightness, to make it more like a work room and less like a concrete cell.
I don't mind the pre-school foam mats on the floor.  They keep it warmer, and soft under foot.  It might be nicer if they were all one color, but the only way they come like that is if they are all brown or all gray.  No thanks. Crayola colors, here I come.  The shot below shows how my thread was stored...these June Tailor thread cone racks, strung together with carabeaners and hung with chains.  Kinda tacky, agreed, but the function was there.  I'm telling you, the concrete walls limit everything.  It is very hard to get anything attached to concrete.  There's my old (small) sewing machine, on the wooden table, with a desk we no longer have next to it for extra space.  I also had another 30"x6' table behind these where the cutting mat lived.  It was not enough storage or work space and honestly, it looked hideous.  It was a mis-match of epic proportions.  Fortunately, an ugly studio didn't limit my ability to quilt beautiful quilts.

Last winter, I painted the walls bright yellow, and got matching yellow sheers to cover all of our personal storage areas.  I just wanted to see my space.  I'm by no means a fan of yellow, if fact, I loathe yellow.  Don't wear it, don't sew with it, and definitely don't paint the walls upstairs yellow.  But here it was for reflecting the light.

Flash forward a year or so.  This panorama which may be hard to view shows where I am now.  There are subtle improvements, not the least of which are less clutter, and more space.
 My husband made one half-joking comment about my ribbon collection last year (which was hanging from a 24" mini-quit in our bedroom) - he kidded that the wall was going to come down with the ribbons soon.  I liked having them upstairs because it reminded me of where I have come in 4 years (then 3 yrs).  I promptly moved them down to the studio that was under renovation.  This year I had to add a 2nd row.  The ones on the bottom are from this season.  Soon I won't see the bright yellow walls.
 The machine hasn't moved, and you can see the yellow curtains hiding our family stored stuff on the far left.  My thread is now hung on the wall.  There are rolls of batting stored to the far left (and one is on the bar under the machine).  Every inch of this place (all 900 square feet) has function.
This is such a drastic improvement over the previous crappy system, which knocked off cones if you inadvertently bumped the racks!  But, I kid you not, it took my husband 6-8 hours to predrill the holes in the concrete wall for those 4 furring strips!  I don't have the heart to tell him I need 2 more racks (and they can't go higher or I can't reach them!).
 My new machine that I won at MQX East sits here now.  It's like seeing a full size cruise ship by the smaller yacht variety.  I have also acquired a couple of new tables.
 Unfortunately (or fortunately) one of them was a very economical deal that my husband got from his office, which they sold off really cheap, but it was shorter than what I ultimately wanted.  My mom heard this, and got me the black one on the far left, which is fine for storage, but too wobbly to cut on, and just doesn't match the rest of the tables.  Life, I guess.  And the chair, which is ugly, has never bothered me in the least.  I moved my cutting mat to just left of the sewing machine because I was doing some paper piecing.  I plan to make a small ironing surface to use there too, someday.  I still plan to get a 30"x60" cutting mat, but other areas of life have taken precedence.
A couple weeks ago, I drafted plans and bought the lumber for my husband to make me an ironing table.  I even had Lowe's cut the plywood to the right sizes to save him time.  I found the canvas at Mardens for a whopping $2 per yard, or I might have searched for something more matchy for my studio.  Last weekend, he was persuaded to make the table for me.  It will eventually get a shelf on that lower area, but I haven't sanded the wood yet.
 Nobody likes or needs to iron quilts on a conventional ironing board.  It is constantly on the floor, and that pointy end was only designed with clothing in mind.  Ours may never get used again...I got out the power stapler and 2 layers of batting, and whipped up the top in about an hour.
 My fabric shelves are still being organized.  I let them go totally messy so it is taking a while.  I got another rack this past week too so that they are not overloaded, and I can keep better organization.
All of my small scraps are in the little tubs that are on this (above) shelf).  I used to use the scraps quite a bit, and wonder how much they will be used.  Sometimes it is hard to part with fabrics that you like.   The unit of drawers on the top of the shelf is also new.  It arrived yesterday.  It is really for storing screws and hardware, but I am using it for bobbins.  Perfect! Gone is the cardboard box that held 30 bags of bobbins, which made finding the right color a challenge.

One area I still lack is a design wall.  Right now, a quilt I am pondering lays on the floor in pieces.  I need to investigate hot-gluing a flannel-backed table cloth onto the concrete wall.  My competition quilts are all layed out on the insulation board that I block on.  Within a couple days the last of these will be on their way to the September shows.
Lastly, I will leave you with a little banner I quilted nearly 4 years ago.  It was printed by Spoonflower onto a fat quarter.  It's just pinned onto the sheers.
 Perfect studio?...Not even close.  Furniture doesn't match, it has one casement window, one overhead light that has died (to be replaced this weekend!), but it is mine and slowly but surely it is becoming more organized and functional.


17 comments:

Susan Lawson said...

Doesn't it seem sewing/designing areas are always a "work in progress"? Love your ironing board!

Sewing Junkie said...

If it is workable for you then it is perfect. You will change it many more times. I have worked in a closet on the kitchen table in several basements now I have a small bedroom. No area is perfect all the time. Your work is the evidence you make it work. Chris

Lorette Cole said...

Creative studio space evolves from experience. Your space looks functional and well organized. I'm like you with yellow but it has brightened up the drabness of the concrete walls! I LOVE to see your ribbons and must say that on the yellow wall, they shine! Keep up the beautiful quilting you do. I check your blog every day!

Brenda said...

Thanks for sharing this, proving that beautiful quilts don't have to have beautiful spaces to be born in! what I want from my creative space is adequate storage and table space, good lighting, and some good ergonomics. all the rest is nice, but not necessary. good luck with your new show quilts.

mlcquilts said...

I just recently started following your blog. I really like how you made your space work for you even if things don't match, you just make them work. I started out sewing on the kitchen table. Now I use 2 bedrooms (SR1 and SR2) I also made an ironing area like yours and it is fantastic. Good luck on getting more ribbons.
Mary

Queenie Believe said...

You got a great space. Good amount of room and I love your ironing station!
Have a great day.
Always, Queenie

Gramma Quilter said...

Great post! I love see people's work spaces. Love the ironing board!

Leeanne said...

I think it is a great space, that you use well. I don't have a fancy studio either, but that doesn't mean we can't keep our customers happy with our quilting! I like your floor covers, bright & cheery!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I love my ironing table (re-purposed my grandfather's dining room table and DH added a topper which is batting/fabric covered like yours).

Love the new bobbin holder - lots of cool stuff for quilters at the big box "hardware" stores!!

Thanks for showing us where you create - and the banner idea is awesome . . .

Terry Blevins said...

Love your space, proves yah don't need designer furniture or space to create beautiful quilts. my design wall is on my sewing room floor too along with the mish mash of tables and storage just as long as my machines keep purring I be happy. Terry

Janice said...

Perhaps a combination of 3m command hooks and dowel rods with flannel could overcome the concrete for a design wall?

Valerie the Pumpkin Patch Quilter said...

I love seeing where you work, thank you for sharing. I've been following you for years and remember when your ribbons were a modest but impressive little bunch - now look at them all!!! I think you might need to invest in a room just for awards! :)

Gail said...

About your design wall...
Here's what we did. Working on the floor on a 4x8 sheet of Homasote, I alternately sprayed it with 3M permanent spray adhesive,and wrapped Warm and Natural batting around it in a similar fashion as you did your pressing surface. Homasote is tackable and fire retardant. We got it at Lowe's.
Using 3x1's, we put up a framework on the concrete wall and blocked out a 4x8 area. Then we nailed the covered Homasote board to that framework using roofing nails.
It's still good as new 12 years after we built it. Friends have even copied the design for their studios.

Vicki W said...

I think it's perfect. I am totally function over form when it comes to my work spaces.

Heritage Keepsakes said...

I love your studio! It looks amazing with it's 'makeover'.

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

I like your new pressing table! Always nice to see that working in a basement isn't a problem. We've been looking at houses here in Cheyenne and they all have basements - some even have lots of light and are walkouts. It's good to have a space of your own, especially one that's large enough to house your Fusion and DSM.

The Knotty Lass said...

You should check out the Velcro that is made for concrete and brick. That might be just the thing for your design wall. I actually used it for a trellis and it stuck like it was nailed up there. Lowe's or Home Depot should have it.