Monday, November 26, 2012

Studio Talk - Minimizing the Clutter

My quilting studio (a reclaimed bedroom approximately 12' x 14') had become a "catch-all" of late, a place to put things, any "things,"  just to get them out of the way.  Working in the studio meant pushing those "things" aside.  It meant not being able to find notions, tools, swatches without a great deal of effort and frustration.  It had to stop, or I was doomed never to create again!
After three trips (and about $87) to Walmart, I figured I had enough totes of varying sizes to plan my attack on the studio.  So quietly and deliberately, I began my war against clutter.  With slow, methodical pursuit, I was able to go through all of the nooks and crannies, sorting, storing and throwing away anything that was in my path.  And after a week long siege, I was done.

Here's what I did:
1.  THREAD:  Because I love to create art quilts, I have a LOT of thread. I used to store my thread on spindle racks mounted to the walls; I had a huge Wall of Thread."  To minimize the visual clutter, I took the racks down, and I now have my thread color coded in small plastic totes that stack well on the shelf. 
2.  RULERS:  I purchased a ruler caddy to store my rulers on top of my design table.  It's a flat piece of wood with grooves carved in it.  The rulers stand upright in the grooves where they are easy to see and grab.  I used to keep all my rulers in a big canvas tote and would have to dig and dig to find the ruler I wanted. 
3.  UFOs:  I could write a book on this subject.  Suffice to say, all of my UFOs are in one spot, and my goal is to finish or get rid of all of them.  More on this later.....
4.  FABRIC:  I organized my fabric into medium-sized plastic bins by color and style. I have a bin for blues, yellows/oranges, reds, green, white, black.  I have a large bin of Laurel Burch fabrics. Because I make quilts for my two beautiful golden retrievers, I have a bin of animal prints.  I have a large bin of batiks, juvenile prints, seashore prints and several medium sized bins of civil war reproduction fabrics.  I also have a bin labeled "Large Cuts" as I use these pieces to back my quilts. 
5.  NOTIONS:  I store most of my notions and tools in two "rolly-style" plastic stacking bin systems.  Pins in one drawer, scissors in another -- you get the picture. 
Now, with everything in it's proper place, I'm able to spend great quality time in the studio creating to my heart's content.  I'm able to find the notion I need, that fabric I want or a pattern I know I have without a frustrating all-out search.  And if my good habits continue, I figure I should get through another year before I have to reorganize again. 
Here are some "after" pictures of my studio.

My sewing table.  Thread in bins on the right, notions in rolly bin on left.
Design table.  Ruler caddy & bins to the right.
My sewing tables are all very portable, I use a SewEzi table for my machines.  (One of the best investments I made for my studio set up.)

Vintage 1939 Singer sewing machine that I purchased for $25.  Works great!
Design wall
Design table with plenty of light!

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