Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bringing peace and order to my place of work...

We live in a rental.
We are not allowed to hang anything on the walls.
And we live in the tropics.
Those clever adhesive strips that renters use to hang photos and frames, and which are supposed to peel off when you move out leaving no marks or residue, don't work here. The chemical composition of the glue changes with our high humidity and heat, and we discovered that because in the last house we rented, Mr E had to re-plaster the whole wall from the damage done by those strips holding one cork board in Blossom's room.
I'm explaining this because when I show you the photos of my creative space/sewing room makeover, you'll notice it's rather bland with those large and empty cream spaces called walls.

However, the reason for this makeover was not to make the space pretty.
In the past I've focused on prettiness to inspire me - a variety of sweet button jars, pretty displays of fat quarters and vintage doilies, small vignettes of stitched sweetness, baskets and baskets and baskets of stuff on display - but over the last three days I looked at my everyday work space with new eyes.
You see, as I took the photos earlier in the week for my 5-day tutorial on the Elefantz design process, I couldn't escape the fact that I'd become overwhelmed again with the lack of usable space to make anything larger than a framed stitchery. 
It frustrates me. Every weekend I try and clear away the mess I've made sewing all week, but with nowhere to store things in plain site I tend to throw up my arms and make a few stacks at the end of my cutting table instead. A few weeks pass by and there are so many stacks on the table that I am unable to cut anything larger than a 12" block.

This week with Mr E away, I left sentimentality at the door and set myself the task of pulling apart my sewing space. Over the course of two days I purged! Anything I'd owned for more than two years and not used went into boxes for the Salvation Army op-shop, as well as impulse buys I knew would only sit around looking pretty and take up space.
What I have now is what I want, what I can work with, and what fits inside my creative space.
So can I welcome you into my 'new' humble sewing and design room?
Let's start at the doorway...
I'll make a cover for those two plastic tubs above. They contain large pieces of fabric for quilt backings, plus solid fabrics that I use for stitcheries, bag linings and backings on wall hangings and table runners.

Inside the door...

The bookcase holds embroidery threads, vintage and mother of pearl buttons, arty and ceramic buttons, sewing tools, orphan stitcheries, projects-on-the-go (in the little plastic containers), a few Christmas fabrics, Tilda fabrics (in boxes), and my beloved collection of genuine vintage laces (also in boxes).
My sewing table is an old desk with eight drawers which is brilliant for storing my machine threads, bobbins, scissors, rotary cutters, sewing machine attachments, and other essential hardware.
 I love my sewing machine cover. Blossom designed and stitched the little Garden Angel design on the cover about four years ago.
The little blue and white chest of drawers stores all my paper patterns, photo props, and kits. It also serves as my new ironing station. Removing the ironing board from the room has given me more space to move about and one less place to stack my homeless bits and pieces...
My cutting table is a large folding table which is easily transported during our numerous house, town and interstate moves! Under the table I store my tub of ribbons, regular laces, and embellishments, plus a tub of cotton wadding and Pellon, and my light box.
The blue spot basket holds the pattern bits I need for my current 'design-on-the-go' and my notebooks for keeping track of pattern writing and layout graphs.
 I was already beginning work on a new design when I took the photo above, and the wonderful thing is that I was able to clear that table of almost everything before closing the door for the night! What a lovely feeling of triumph and satisfaction I felt.
One permanent essential on my table is this basket of important things - rotary cutter, tape measure, pin cushion, pencil, scissors, and Zig Millenium pen...I use them every day, so they must be close at hand all the time...
Finally, we turn left to the door again, and these are the two new shelves I built from flat packs to store my fabrics in. I can close the wardrobe doors in front of them to protect them from the shards of bright tropical sunlight which escape through those vertical blinds no matter what I do to hinder them...
Apart from quilt backing and my small Tilda stash, these are all the fabrics I own. Now that I can see them clearly in front of me - divided into categories and on their appropriate shelf - my mind  has been bubbling over with new project ideas. And most importantly - I breathe calmly when I walk into the room and smile with delight!

Lessons learned this week...
 
Remove the clutter.
Keep only what I want and know I'll use.
Make the space work for me, and not distract and overwhelm me.
Only own what fits within the space.
Everything in the room must have its own place.
Be content with what I have today - the woman with the biggest stash of 'stuff' does not win anything but a headache.

I hope your weekend is a fun one.
Think you know where I'll be?

hugs
Jenny
xx



39 comments:

Love Bears All Things said...

Jenny,
I don't have a big stash either....and I find that I work best when my space has less clutter so I try to work on one project at a time and keep works in progress inside a box or basket.
Have a good weekend,
Mama Bear

Stephanie said...

It's easy to get boggled down by stuff. I'm having that problem and have also started to address it. I'm lucky to have a huge space -- more stuff happens. You have a sweet space. Enjoy!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

I need to take your advice for sure. My house is overwhelming me, but so does purging it.....what's a gal to do???.....:D

Anonymous said...

I can see that is what I'm going to be doing this weekend. You are so right there Jenny, the clutter is suffocating.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Enjoy your new found space.
Sue

Melanie said...

Love the work space. I was going to have a fabric sort out bit you have inspired me to do a proper job and re-home a lot of the fabrics I will never use to my friends. Thanks for the nudge I needed. xxx Melanie xxx

Karen said...

Looks great - so clean, tidy and clean looking.

Heather said...

Your room looks wonderful, now you have inspired me to clean out mine!

Sharon said...

Jenny,
I wish I could fly you down to do mine... I have the same problem as you and living in a rentals have the same rules too..I know what I am a hoarder with a capital H My sewing room is a splinter of a room which is turned into a 'cupboard' for everything else and has turned into 'a land of the lost'.
Yours looks great peaceful and calm - good fortune with your new designs...

Jo in TAS said...

Inspiring post Jenny! I'm a piler and hoarder, I need to reduce the amount of useless crap I have. I attach myself to lots of things and sometimes the sentimentality I associate with those things is overrated...time to look at them with new eyes!

Jo in TAS said...

PS This behaviour only affects my craft space, the rest of my home is minimalistic, almost bare!

Darlene said...

Your space is wonderfully organized and tidy. I know you feel much better.

Lurline said...

You need to be so proud. I'm into my 'studio' this arv, but can't be too ruthless as I really 'need and want' most of what I have. Maybe I need about a week to organize and another room too, lol!
Hugs - Lurline.

Lurline said...

You need to be so proud. I'm into my 'studio' this arv, but can't be too ruthless as I really 'need and want' most of what I have. Maybe I need about a week to organize and another room too, lol!
Hugs - Lurline.

retdairyqueen said...

It still looks pretty enough

quiltygal said...

I have de-stashed a heap but still need to get harder with myself I am moving sewing rooms soon so will have another big clear out :)

DIAN said...

What a lovely room. I have found,like you, that I need to be free of the clutter that I once loved.

I am sure the Salvos were thrilled with your donation too.

Thanks for inspiring me to clean my work space.

Noela said...

It must be tidying time as I have been trying to sort out my room as well. Seem to get in such a mess, then can't find anything. Have to work on mine a bit longer I'm afraid.
Yours looks lovely . Hugs......

Alicia said...

Looks like a beautiful, peaceful place to sew!

Jeanne said...

LOVE YOUR SPACE~~That being said, I am exactly the same way, I have lots of "Pretties" you know that facebook saying "I Can't clean my sewing space because I get so sidetracked looking at all the pretty stuff I find" that is ME THRU AND THRU!!!!! I too need to sort thru my stuff and "PU:)
RGE" but I LOVE all my stuff so it is hard to do, but I know I would Be SOOO MUCH HAPPIER IF I COULD FIND THINGS when I am working on something. :) Congrats. on your beautiful sewing area.

Capi said...

Must be the season! I am feeling overwhelmed by the stuff as well. My dear mom is coming to visit for three days and help me attack the sewing room. I hope to be as focused as you were and actually make some progress. Thanks for the inspiration to be hard on myself.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I love this Jenny - I'm working on my own space trying to do the same thing. Use it up or give it away...that's my motto. :) May God bless you in your work today! blessings, marlene

Sue said...

Oh Jenny.. you have inspired me to really get on with getting my space sorted out. It is on it's way, with all my stash sorted into plastic boxes in colour order, but I still have FAR TOO much of everything! I am blessed to have a spare bedroom to have as my sewing room, and I end up sewing out on the dining table all the time! May I ask how big your room is please? As I am getting some great ideas from your "purge" etc. Thankyou again for being willing to share your ideas with us. Hugs n Blessings from Sue xx

Gwen said...

It is lovely! I am so sorry though that you cannot display any of your work on the walls of your home. The only thing I would change would be to raise the cutting table height. Bed risers are good for that is you have access to them or plastic pipe cut to an appropriate length for each leg to fit in works well too. Love your amazing work.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What you need is a design wall that you can hang things on with pins. A the lumber yard, you can purchase insulation board, cover it with pretty fabric, put it against the wall (like behind your sewing desk) then you can hang whatever you want on it, and not touch the wall. Win-win! You get to hang something, the landlord doesn't get any holes in his walls.

Deb said...

Thanks for the honesty about your sewing room. I suffer from the same malady. Add to it grandkids this week who were also "creating" in my space and I was reduced to about 6 inches of usable space! As I took pictures of them, I realized what a wreck my room has become! I need to follow your example and purge!

Carol Hemmingsen said...

One thing for your cutting table...because I have a bad back, it would need to be higher. I use bed risers that my son had when he lived in a college dorm for extra room under his bed. They work great to make my dining room table a cutting table. They are about 6" tall and the table legs fit on top of them. Other people use PVC cut to raise your type of table legs. Just a thought!!

Tammy said...

Great job of cleaning and organizeing.Love your space. It is so bright. ALthough I have lots of windows they don;t seem to catch the sun much as it is very shady outside with all fo the trees and forest

Deb R said...

Spring must be in the air, I spent the day decluttering my sewing room too. I am yet to cull my sewing stash but tis on my list!!

Jennifer Reynolds said...

Carol, that's a great idea for you taller girls!
I'm a wee 5'1" so no need to raise the table. :-)
hugs
Jenny

Jennifer Reynolds said...

Sue, the room is 10 feet x 10 feet...not very big, and so very important to keep it in order.
hugs
Jenny
x


margaret said...

your room looks so good to work in and having things on shelves is great to spot what you want. Re de cluttering, I am not sure so often I ahve given things away and lived to regret it! Mind you yesterday I gave a friend 24 paint sticks that I have not used for years, now will I regret that I wonder! Like the idea of a desk for the sewing machine, maybe I will keep an eye open for one of those myself. Re the cutting table, I cut on m y work tops as I find a table is a bit low but your table is a great size, giving me ideas here as well, maybe a couple of books under each leg would work for me.

Jodi said...

Such wisdom and so true. Hope you enjoy your clear space with less "Stuff". I am working on getting less "Stuff" too. Learning to let go seems not to come naturally to me despite not being from my grandparents generation I seem to have inherited some of their habits.

Jenny said...

A lovely space - I'm using the dining table! But so excited that this afternoon I finally got to start your Shabby Roses Home BOM! It's probly time for the next 2 blocks!

desertskyquilts said...

Some good ideas there for organizing. I have more fabric, but I do a lot of regular quilting as well as stitching. I have a space for it all - but my son is currently occupying that space on a return-to-nest trip. =) Another year ....

Nita said...

Your studio is so nice and bright! I can't think amidst clutter, so what you have created would be ideal for me. :)

Debbie Kelly said...

Love your room just a lot like mine I mad things work from flea market finds and I love it and a lot of freebies also.I got shabby chic credenza dresser and repainted it got it off the street for free. Its great to re-purpose things and keep them instead of in the trash or the land fill:( Thanks for sharing.I will have to use of of your designs and make a sewing machine cover is so cute!!!!!Debbie kelly http://somewhereinstcitches.blogspot.com

Joy McD said...

You room looks great Jenny! I have just moved into a small apartment, after being in a huge house with fabric shop in the front :) You can't imagine how much "stuff" I have, lol!!! I have been sorting through everything... and getting rid of lots... but I still have too much I think... anyway, you have inspired me to keep at it :) xxx

MissesStitches said...

Your studio looks wonderful, Jenny. You've given me some inspiration!

Shari said...

It's lovely to see your space and know that it will bring your creativity forward and keep your heart at peace. You've given some great advice here. Hopefully I can take some of it (I am not a hoarder, I am not a hoarder...)