Thursday, April 25, 2013


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm "claiming" my blog on Bloglovin.   Weird term, but I think it means that I'm linking my blog to my profile.  Or something.  Anyway,  I'm hoping it means more readers will find me.  But that also means I'd better write more frequent posts, huh?


I promise!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Studio Tour

Nina Marie is hosting a link party for everyone to share their studio or sewing spaces, and since I love peeking at everyone else's photos, I figured it's only fair to share my own.  I've done several different posts about the evolution of the new studio, from February of 2012 when we first bought the house up through January of 2013 when everything was finally, finally, finally done.  But I thought it would be fun to show the whole process consolidated in one post, at least as much as I have photos for, from start to finish.  So here we go!

The house as it looked when we bought it.
 The back yard slopes so the basement studio has at least a little natural light.  I don't have a picture of the back from the outside at the moment.
Hubby inspecting the floor drain before we committed to buying the house.
 I think this yellow was meant to be cheery but it was really just icky and dingy, IMHO.
A couple plywood shelving units were left behind.
I appropriated the larger one, the small one
went to the workshop.

The fireplace is not functional (yet).  But I have hopes.


Wow that's white!
 At this point I had some misgivings. Maybe it's too much white? I'm starting to paint the shelves here.

 I couldn't wait to unroll my old oriental rug as soon as the paint was dry. The cabinet off to the right was something the owners left upstairs that we re-purposed.  The little rolling cart houses my bead collection.

 Here I've positioned the two pieces of furniture from the old house to act as room-dividers, and to keep everything handy.  You can see the old shelves, painted white. I painted plywood light blue and attached it to the back so things couldn't fall off, and so there would be something besides white in sight.  If you want to see the old studio/dining room/parrot habitat,  it's here.  


Here I'm starting to assemble my old drafting table, that had been in the attic for 20 years, due to the space shortage.


Fully functional! 
 We moved into the house in June, and by mid-July or so I was able to actually start working in the space.  I thought I would need to move furniture around as I settled in, but so far I've really been enjoying the work table as island.  I positioned it precisely so that I would have good view from the sewing machine out toward the woods in the backyard (rather than the underside of the deck that you see in some of these photos).   This position also gives me the best view of the design wall while I'm working.  I find that while I'm sewing on one piece I can be ruminating on the others.  It's just my personality to jump around between a bunch of projects.   The design wall that had been temporarily hung in the old house (thanks to hubby making a nice bracket on the back) is just leaning up against the wall here, the other work in progress is held up with masking tape.

A thrift store bulletin board gives me extra pin-up space. 
 I keep my main 24 x 36 cutting board right beside me so I can trim small stuff without getting up.  Or I can stand on the other side and transfer things back and forth to the design wall as I cut them.   The cabinet under the window was empty for a long time (What?! Too much storage?!?)  When I got bit by the dyeing bug, it very conveniently became storage for those supplies.  The larger cutting area on the other side of the machine has so far ended up to be more of a dumping ground for parts and pieces and projects in process.

This view looks over to the other side of the basement.
 I used magnetic clips to hang random stuff on the metal column.  It's right behind my chair, so I've since hung more useful things like my "stitch bible" showing all the embroidery stitches my machine can do.  (That was a great idea from a Craftsy class with Carol Ann Waugh).

New Styrofoam insulation for the permanent design wall. 
The design wall is seven feet high and fourteen feet wide.  I bought three sheets of 2" thick insulation and wrapped each with white flannel.  In the above photo two are wrapped, on the other you are seeing the reflective silver surface it comes with.  I wrap the flannel on this side, because I think the bright blue lettering on the other side might show through.  I read Lisa Call's great blog entry about her design wall construction.  She fastened all the foam pieces together then wrapped them and put them on the wall.  I decided to keep mine separate.  I really don't mind that there is a small seam in them, and it will make it easier to remove and change the fabric when I want to.

At this point it's starting to look lived in and used.  Piles of "stuff" are collecting.  Under the table I keep large flat things like poster board, sketch pads, remnants of old art work, wood dowels for hanging small quilts, and a collection of antique yardsticks for....  something someday.

I absolutely love the way the colors of the bead drawers match the colors in the Matisse print, so I park the cart there when it's not in use.  It also can roll over to the design wall to hold pin cushions and pieces of things I'm in the process of putting up.

At the far left, there is a poster tacked to the cabinet, it says "Peace to all who Enter Here."  I bought this when I was in high school - 1976 or so - and it was still hanging on my bedroom door when we cleaned out the family home after my mom's death in 2005.  I couldn't get rid of it, and this was the perfect spot - it faces the stairway as you come down into the studio.

Here is the final (at least for now) room!
 The design wall panels are held firmly in place by the wood trim, hubby has installed two sets of track lighting, and this is probably as neat is it ever was or will be!

Overall view
 In the background you can see that I've appropriated the space above the fireplace for more small quilts to be hung.
Dye "studio."
Speaking of appropriating, this multi-function table on the other side of the basement is the same size as my work table. It was perfect for spreading out bins when I was dying fabric.  Otherwise it's PlayDoh central for the grand kids, gift wrapping station at Christmas or overflow space for any other project that needs it.

In case anyone thought this was one of those "too neat to really use" sewing rooms, I just snapped a few more recent shots.  (Gosh this is a long post, sorry!)

Worktable and design wall in action.
I love having my books so handy, for how-to's or just inspiration.

I store my thread in old oatmeal containers.
It's not the most practical system,  but I love the graphics.  

I don't really have a lot of fabric... (unless you ask my husband).
Right now I'm focused on using solids so that's what I've been buying.

These little shoe boxes are great for smaller WIP (UFOs).
 In the upper left you can see my annual ring binders. There is no computer in the studio, for a good reason.  So I print out tutorials or inspirations and keep them there, along with instructions from workshops, or any other random thing that is 8-1/2 x 11 and floating around.

Thanks for reading. I'm really glad to have visitors, so if you did stop by, leave a note and say Hi!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Red, White and Black and Blue...

I had a great time this morning and evening with the slashed blocks. After the tedium of assembling them, it was really fun to play with the arrangement.  I think I have one I like, but I will let it simmer overnight.  I had a few glitches with the block size, some didn't go together as easily as others, and I had to make a couple repairs.   I was delighted with the sort of dancing or leaping figure that I saw emerging from the rather static individual blocks.  I think I'll call it "Leap of Faith."

I had many more iterations, but this was the first one I photographed.

I was pleased that most of the blocks actually squared up nicely.  
There were two blocks that were repaired.
In this photo I tried the easy repair.  
It was obvious and clumsy.
It might not have been obvious to others, but to me it was glaring.
I thought this was the final.  I was turning out the lights.... 

When I found one more switch I had to make.  Can anyone else see it?

I wonder if I should try rotating them around before I call it done.....  I like the repetition that comes from this consistent arrangement.  WWND?  She would probably tell me I am being a control freak.  "I can hear her shouting at me -  "Just try it!!  How will you know if you don't TRY IT?!?"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Checking Things Off The List

I'm on a mission to get things off the UFO list, either finished or given up on.
Yesterday I finished Elisabeth's iPad case (hope she's not reading, I want it to be a surprise).  Hard to see (I know, I know, learn to take a #$*& #*$& decent photograph).

And the FFFC Art Deco Challenge (it just needed binding/facing). Two pieces off the list!

  I also finished piecing the Christmas paper piecing project, put a border on it and then this morning sandwiched it.  All ready to quilt! Moving to the quilting list.  

Then I went back to the NC "Busy" strip piecing assignment for awhile, until I felt like it needed a rest...

So I pulled out and nearly finished all the blocks I had cut up in January for a curved piecing exercise (that was supposed to be in preparation for "Lines, Circles, Curves and Figure Ground."
After the photo, I got about 5 more blocks done - and started assembling the final composition   That is the fun part!

I spent Saturday evening watching basketball, and unsuccessfully trying to put beads on another UFO ("Deep Sea Strata"). Could not get needle and thread small enough to go through the pearl beads I'd intended to attach.  After talking to an expert at the bead store today I found out it was not my fault.  It's just that pearls are drilled with very small holes... for whatever reason.  But I bought some finer needles and threads, might give it one more try.

Now for the easy stuff:  Two more coming off the list: Katie's Napkins - never did them, wasn't sure how, the place mats are probably worn out by now anyway.  Shopping bags for gift exchange - no one else did the exchange, so I'm not going to either.

Now I need to get back to the Pink Petunias.  That has been hanging over my head like a dark cloud for too long.  I tackled the most difficult thing, the buds, first.  And when I couldn't achieve what I wanted there, I got frustrated and put it away.  I will start now on the easier part.  Fusing, I think.  But I might want to try to piece it.  That would NOT be easy.