Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Evolution of my sewing space

While I procrastinate (I should be basting Wandering Geese) I have tidied up my sewing room.  Since it's now so tidy, I thought it might be a good time to invite you in for a tour.  While I was thinking of that, I looked through old photos and was reminded how much my space has changed over 18 years.  So this post has evolved from a tour to a peek at that evolution.

First, here's where things stand now.

Sewing room September 2017

Now let's look back to where I started.

Sewing in 2000

When I first started sewing in 2000, there was no sewing room.  I used the kitchen table, and my machine was put away in the bedroom closet and taken back out again every time I wanted to sew. There was no stash.

Sewing in 2001


I moved up a bit when a friend brought me a desk she found at a yard sale for $3.00.  The sewing machine could stay out of the closet.  The kitchen table was still the cutting station.  There still wasn't any stash, just fabric for quilt numbers 2 and 3 in progress. (I had cute kids though. My 2 year old son built that colorful "sewing machine" from building blocks so he could "sew" along with me!)

In 2002 we moved, to a smaller space, the desk was pressed into service to hold the TV and stereo, and I went back to the kitchen table/closet combo.  In 2003 we moved again, and I got the sewing desk back.  In 2004, we bought our house and I laid claim to a tiny corner of the playroom/family room.  The kitchen table remained indispensable as my cutting station. The stash came into being, filling about 2 square cubbies of the wire shelving we bought to hold the kid's toys.

Then came my new sewing machine in spring 2010. It was such a joy to work on that I ramped up my sewing.  Well, I guess the kids were getting older. I think that helped too!  At any rate, the little corner you see below stared feeling confining.

Spring 2010

By fall, the kids being older and all, and at school most of the day, I had relegated the play area to the darker half of the room and claimed a whole half of the room as my own playroom. You can see the slowly growing stash in the wire cube shelving on the left.

Fall 2009

Things moved around.  The stash started to grow, though at least half the stuff on those shelves you see below on the right belonged to the kids, not to me.

January 2013
All this time I was still running up and down to the stairs to cut and trim on the kitchen table.  I suspect I might have been a tad healthier then.  The physical fitness started going downhill when we found this great table free for the taking at the curb a few blocks from home and moved it into the sewing space. It isn't the prettiest, but it is sturdy and it makes a great cutting table. 

August 2013

Besides switching the position of the computer desk and sewing desk, nothing changed (except the growth of the stash and the addition of a dog bed under the table for my faithful quilter's companion) until this past March when I was informed that I should close the room off somehow so the kids (now well into their teens) would not feel so much like they were watching movies in my office/studio.  I have an office? A studio?  OK!

That brings us to the lovely blue wall currently behind my cutting table.  After much discussion of how to hang a quilt as a divider, or maybe curtains, I settled on fabric pinned to the box that encloses the duct work in the basement ceiling.  It was cheap, easy to put up, and gives me a place to display orphan blocks and small unquilted tops to remind me to quilt them.  Plus, when I get tired of the blue, or I manage to claim the entire downstairs, I get to add it to the stash!

September 2017

The newest addition to the room cost less than $10 and is one of those things I should have done years ago. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.  My husband and daughter drove to the home improvement center (daughter has just started driving and finds any errand is a good excuse to get behind the wheel) just to get 4 landscape pavers/bricks/slabs/what-do-you-call-them to put under the table legs.  It isn't fancy, but those 5 inches of extra height have made a world of difference for my back.  I didn't realize how much I had to bend, just a little, to cut and press things.

And what about the stash?  It outgrew the little wire cube shelving.  That shelving wasn't very efficient anyway.  When the back-to-college sales were in full force last month, I sprang for new shelving and spent a weekend getting organized.  I even managed to de-clutter under the cutting table because I could fit more on these.

Old shelving with small bins stacked two deep so I couldn't see them all at a glance
New shelving.  Nothing is hiding anymore!

Can I say I love my label maker?

Because you just can't be sure what colour is in those clear bins unless they are clearly labelled!


I did label the less obvious bins too, with project names for example.

I also hung all my ruler on the wall.  Most are hanging from 3M Command hooks that can be removed and repositioned easily if I need to rearrange to make room for new rulers.  A couple are hanging on nails because the hooks just wouldn't stay stuck to the wall.  I didn't think those rulers were heavier than the rest, but I finally gave up and reached for the hammer.


And after all that, I still use that $3.00 desk that Carol found for me.


I would love a sewing cabinet with the machine set into the desktop.  That would make a huge difference for quilting, both free motion and walking foot.  However, when I eventually get one, I'll miss the stories this little desk can tell.

Time to use this lovely space to baste a quilt.  Wandering Geese is not basting itself, unfortunately!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ticking things off the list

I didn't have as much time to sew this week as I would have liked, but I did start ticking things off the list from my last post.  I didn't start in order!

First up is my orange butterfly for September for the RSC Challenge.  Find the tutorial for the basic shape here.)

September - Orange RSC butterfly block

I struggled with this one.  This is not what the wings looked like initially.  I spent way too long trying to make something else work.  I should have taken a picture of that too, but I was too focused on getting this done to remember pictures.  Anyhow, arriving at this simpler version required careful picking and reconstructing because I didn't want to waste the  background fabric that I had already trimmed for the failed version.  Anyway, it's done.  I think I may make a pink one next month, and call the nine butterflies enough.  I spent some time this week playing with new layouts using just 9 instead of the anticipated 12 blocks. I may throw in a few Spring Blooms to fill in some blanks.  We'll see.

Here are all the butterflies so far. 






Next, I finished the binding on the Samoyed baby quilt.  Hubby delivered it this week and says it was well received.  Good, because they almost didn't get it. I kind of wanted to keep this one!


Combination of Building Blocks by McKay Manor Musers and Midnight Wolf by Robinson Pattern Company


I even like the back.  I needed just 10 inches more than the width of fabric for the backing but I really didn't want a lot of extra of this fabric in my stash.  Enter the scraps from the top!


Then, instead of finishing something, as in quilting one of the four unquilted tops on the list, I started something new, but it was on the list so it's OK, right?


These Lemoyne Star blocks came together quickly using the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler from Studio180 Designs.  I spent a long time not wanting to spend money on rulers if it was at all possible to make the block without the specialty ruler.  I caved on this one.  I can and have made it without the ruler.  This just made it so much faster and the points are all just where they should be. 

I have made a few more, and some alternate blocks as well.  I can share the finished top soon.  If I get off the computer now, I can probably have all the blocks together into a top by bedtime.  But first, supper!  I have to be fueled up for sewing.

Linking up with
ScrapHappy Saturday at SoScrappy

Friday, September 1, 2017

Small changes, big impact

When I sewed new samples for my trunk show last month, Jelly Bean Stars was one of the quilts I needed to remake, because I had given away the original.  I played with a few little details. Here's the original.

Original Jelly Bean Stars quilt by Canuck Quilter Designs

I made fewer blocks for the new sample, partly to see how it looks in baby-size, partly because I was short on time, and partly because that's all the ISU fabric I had and I wasn't making another trip to the shop (see the part about time).

Cyclones baby size version of Jelly Bean Stars

I'm sure you can spot the design differences.

1. There is a more unified color scheme.
2. Small stars in the sashing match the color of the larger stars.
3. Star centers are simplified (more due to time constraints than design preference!)
4. Small star points extend into the border.

I love the way those small stars pop now!  My husband looked at both pictures and was convinced that I had changed the proportions of that small star somehow.  He thought the original quilt had an X at each cornerstone rather than a star.  I think the reason is that, against the white sashing, the colored cornerstones looked like extensions of the colors in the blocks. Also, the large stars are pretty strong.  Making the small ones the same color helps visually pull them forward a bit.


Extending the small star points helps with the pop too, and is just more visually interesting, I think, than cutting them off at the inner border.  It wasn't even very hard to do, so it was definitely worth the little bit of extra piecing.

I still love the original quilt.  How could I not, with all those beautiful bright colours?  I have leftover fabric from remaking Wandering Geese and had planned to make another Jelly Bean Stars with them, just as the original was made with leftovers from the original Wandering Geese.  Here are the two together.

Wandering Geese and Jelly Bean Stars by Canuck Quilter Designs
Now I am wondering if I can tweak this colorful version a bit.  I definitely want to extend the small star points into the border.  I think I would also like to make those small stars white, like in the Cyclone baby version, but then I'd have to choose a different color for the sashing and I'm stumped.  What would go well between any of the color combinations and still let the small stars pop?

I'll put this remake on hold for now and see if the solution comes to me while I'm not looking for it.  I have plenty of projects to choose from in the meantime:

  1. Quilt Cyclone baby quilt
  2. Quilt new Wandering Geese
  3. Add final border to and quilt new Starlight Wishes
  4. Quilt both mini Sparkling Trail quilts
  5. Make a new RSC butterfly or two
  6. Finish hand stitching binding on Samoyed baby quilt (yes, I have let that slide, but it is almost done now!)
  7. Start brand new Lemoyne Star quilt (or two - I have fabric options to work out!)
  8. Start Anne of Green Gable quilts (two of them, one for me, one for daughter)
  9. Start a snowflake quilt - I've been thinking of all 26, and maybe a few new ones, all together in a single quilt...
So many quilts, so little time!