Tag Archive | closet

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

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I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

P1020861With the sorting of all my fabric in the stash finally completed, it was time to start re-boxing it all back up. And I must say that I just hated to be putting all of my lovely fabric back into boxes. I was wishing as I was packing it back up that I had a way of displaying everything in my stash at once so I could see what I have without looking in the boxes. I could have bought the clear plastic totes to box up the stash in, but I am a frugal person at heart and I didn’t want to put out the money for them.

So, how else could I box my stash back up and yet still be able to see what I had in the boxes?

The answer was a simple one of course! A picture of the contents of the box, taped to the outside of the box, would let me see what I had in the box and yet the fabric would be safe and secure in storage inside it’s box. This also went hand in hand with the way I wanted the stash categorized for my needs.

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P1020916So my Organizational Categories that I came up with are as follows: Category 1 is Knits, solid colors, 2 yards or longer. And so in the first box I arranged 9 pieces of knit solid color 2 yards or longer fabric in the box. I had picked darker colors to go into this box. And since I had taken the time to pre-sort all of my fabrics as I unboxed them all, I knew that I had all of my pieces of this type of fabric together.

Once I was sure they would fit in the box ok, I then removed the 9 pieces of fabric and took a picture of them. I then re-boxed up the 9 pieces of fabric, and then I printed out the picture I took and labeled the box and picture 1a. Next I placed the picture in a plastic sheet protector and taped it to the front of the box so I could easily see it from the side as it was stacked with other boxes in the closet. Since I have many more pieces in this category, I repeated the process for the next box but labeled it 1b and so on with the next boxes of fabric.

Now when I decide that I want to make something that will require a piece of solid color knit fabric of more than 2 yards in length, I will only need to look at the photos on the boxes in the 1XX series to determine which box I need to open. And when I remove a piece of fabric from a box, I will pull the picture out of the plastic protector and mark out the fabric on the picture showing that it has been used and is no longer in the box. Also, if I need to condense boxes in the future, I can just retake the pictures for the the front of the box to show the boxes current inventory.

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P1020923Fortunately or unfortunately, depending who you are and how you think about it, I am not parting with very much of the fabric from my stash. I had started this project with the original intent of getting rid of quite a bit of the fabric that I would probably never use while I was organizing and categorizing it. But that didn’t end up happening.

While I was discussing my intentions with the husband, he asked why I wanted to part with any of my fabric that I had spent so long carefully curating, and he was right. Why would I? It isn’t like I didn’t have room to store it or anything like that. And each piece in the stash is a wanted piece of fabric that I was willing to give money for and was willing to store, sometimes for many years on end.

He wondered why I would part with these pieces only to end up going back out and purchasing them again in the end. I told him it was probably the thrill of the purchase, to which, he of course responded with some smart comment about charging me for each piece that I removed from the stash so I felt like I was getting nothing for my money. I promptly ignored his last comment, but I took his other comments to heart.

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P1020873Of course, there are always those pieces that you just adored back when you first purchased them and at the time knew just exactly what you wanted to make from them, but after aging in a box for awhile, they just don’t have the same appeal to you when you next see them. And all of those pieces have now departed the stash and are being sent to a local charity that makes things to sell at craft shows.

Also a lot of my older scraps that I had been storing are finally making their way to the garbage can. I view scraps quite differently now than I used to.

Previously I would always keep all my scraps, just in case, you never know, like aliens are landing on earth and the only thing that would save us is if I could make a rope from the tied together pieces of the scraps and we could climb down from the rooftop using the rope made from the scraps and we would be saved from certain destruction, and on and on. But after storing the scraps now for years, and just never really needing them, they are finally departing the stash.

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P1030024I remember the first time that I ever threw away the scraps from a project, it upset me greatly and I ended up retrieving the scraps from the garbage can, but I then found a bit of bravery and threw them away again. And I did not in the end ever miss or need them. It was all ok.

So, now it is time I have decided for the scraps in the stash to just go away. Now, bear in mind, that I am pretty conservative about what I consider to be scraps. If I can squeeze a baby sleeper or a size 6 month t-shirt out of a scrap, it’s not a scrap. Instead it is still a usable piece of fabric to me. So, the scraps I am parting with really are scraps. Two or three inches here, four of five inches there, etc, but even at that I even kept some or the cuter scraps for appliqués.

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P1020875As I am writing this I am still in the long process of re-boxing the stash. It is a very slow and painstaking process and so I am taking it slow. I wanted to get this sorting and boxing process done right this time, because I want the stash organized and under control for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to be able to easily and quickly find what I want, when I want it. So far it is looking good with my chosen categories and pictures. And I am excited to be done with the boxing and to start on my next project and to be able to find a piece of fabric from the stash without spending hours looking for it as I would have previously. My husband was nice enough to design me a small computer database of the categories and photos so that before I even head to the stash I can see an overview of everything I have without even leaving my sewing room. I have my fingers crossed that it will all work as I had planned. Here is to hoping that I am right!

Stash Busting

P1020833Since it is too early in the year to break my New Year’s Resolutions just yet, I decided to get started on my great stash cleanup of 2013. I knew that my goal was to get control over the stash and I had outlined a few broad steps to achieve this goal, but actually getting started and getting it done had started to become an issue for me.

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Where should I start?
What should I do first?

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I tried to come up with a plan of action to get the task completed, but in the end I was failing to get a working plan outlined. And I noticed that all my time was being spent trying to come up with a plan instead of actually doing something, so I finally just started opening up boxes to see what I had. As my husband always tells me: “Stop over thinking it! Just do it!”

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P1020839Seeing what surprises were discovered in each box worked great for about half a dozen boxes, until I noticed that I had fabric laying out everywhere in no particular order.

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I was becoming discouraged quickly. I needed some order.
Isn’t that was this goal was all about in the first place?

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So I gave some thought about how I had organized the stash in the past. Previously, I had boxed my fabric according to what I planned to sew with it. There was a box of fabric to make myself shirts, a box of fabric to make the husband shirts, a box of baby prints for sleepers and such, a box of scraps, and so on. This worked out for me for many years, but I noticed that this type of organization system failed when there became more than one box with the same label. Now that there are 5 boxes of fabric all labeled as shirts for the husband, I could no longer remember what was in each box. Plus as the stash grew a number of boxes P1020836were labeled mixed fabric. This was really of no help and I had no clue at all as to what was in these boxes. I also had knits in with rayons in with cottons which was fine when there were only two to three pieces of each, but now that there is, well, let’s just say much more of everything, this had become problem too. Another problem was the yardage or size of each piece of fabric. The stash is just an accumulation of yardage I have bought, fabric Mom has given me, pieces of odd sizes purchased from discount bins and at thrift stores, and scraps, some that are more usable than others. So, in the box marked ‘Husband Shirts’ there might be a 3 yard piece of knit I purchased, a 1.5 yard piece of cotton that Mom gave me (not enough for a shirt for the husbands size, but it could be pieced together with something else for say a bowling shirt), and a 5 yard piece of rayon Hawaiian print purchased on sale for that fantastic vacation shirt I am going to make him some day, plus smaller scraps to piece together with the smaller pieces. Previous to this reorganization, when I wanted to make the husband a new shirt and I would open one of his boxes, and then I would end up spending way too much time sorting through the fabric to find what I wanted. It use to be I just saw two or three options, could pick one and get the sewing process started.

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P1020834With these thoughts in mind and seeing an vast array of fabric pieces before me, the plan to organize my fabric started to fall into place in my mind. I have come up with 30 categories to sort and box my fabric into. For example, 2 yards or more knit solid colors, 2 yards or less knit solid colors, 2 yards or more cotton prints, 2 yards or less cotton prints and so on. This way when I want to make something like the little neighbor girl a dress, I will know to look in the box labeled 2 yards or less cotton prints. I think this will work and since I will not be adding anymore fabric to the stash in the near future, nod nod wink wink, there should not be anymore mixed fabric boxes or boxes I have no idea what is in to slow me down. And say on the off chance that I do add a new piece to the stash (over the husband’s dead body), I can then put it in the appropriate box to find it easily later.

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Now that I had a workable organization plan in place, I began to sort the fabric from the boxes I had already opened. And I am now ready to open more of my boxes to see all the gorgeous fabric that I have, and then get it all sorted into its appropriate piles for later placement into the appropriate boxes.

At The Closing of the Year

P1020758As much as I hate to see the year end, I am also excited by the renewal that the new year brings. It is a fresh start. A time of hope. A time of empowerment. My ambitions are high. And I feel like I can do anything I want at this point.

And, with all of this excitement coursing through my veins, I have set only one sewing goal for this new year.

TO GET CONTROL OVER MY FABRIC STASH.

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Sure. It sounds simple you say, but you have to understand just how out of control the stash is. Because of where I live and the fact that I must travel great distances to get to any sort of real fabric store, I must have a stash of fabric on hand. When I want to start my next project, I can’t just run down to the local fabric store and pick out some fabric and notions for that project. There is no local fabric store to run to. My stash is my local fabric store. So, when I make it to a fabric store, and see a piece of fabric that I might want to use to make something at some point in the future, and especially if it is a good price, I must pick it up. NOW! And this is why I have such a large stash of fabric. Well at least this is my justification for the stash.

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P1020761Seriously though, I like every other fabriholic love to get a great deal on some nice new fabric. And I just love to make a shirt with $2 dollar a yard fabric and then brag about how the buttons cost more than the fabric used in the shirt. I just love to touch and feel all of the wonderful pieces of fabric I see at the store, and then to purchase and own them. I wonder sometimes if my hobby is not sewing but instead the practice of collecting fabric, patterns, and notions. I love to add a new piece of fabric to the stash. It enters the stash with such possibilities of someday becoming a great sewn up master piece of art. And I love to buy patterns for just $0.99 a piece. They fill me with hope that someday I will make a fabulous item from them.

And then every once in awhile, the reality of it all sets in…

Somedays I wish there was really such a thing as Fabriholics Anonymous…

I have been collecting fabric to add to the stash for over 25 years now. And yes, I really do still have some of the original pieces that started in the stash back then. I remember the first move the husband and I made together after we had graduated from college. The stash was at that time just 12 apple boxes in total, and that included the notions and sewing machines.

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Wow!

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P1020763The stash now encompasses several large closets and over the last few years has leaked out from those, piling itself against walls and into every empty corner I can find. The stash is so disorganized now that the throw it and run method has been my way of managing it over the last couple of years. Recently, when I have purchased a new piece of fabric, it stays in its bag and is just tossed onto one of the piles. There is no organizing it with other matching fabrics so it can be retrieved easily later when needed. And my latest love of crocheting amigurumi creatures, has not helped the issues with the stash either. The fabric stash has now just taken on yarn too, and this is only adding to the current problem. And so this is why I have to say, the time has come to finally do something about the stash.

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Back when the stash was only at 12 boxes, it was completely under control and organized. I knew what I had and where to find it. The boxes were carefully curated and labeled. It was easy to look over the boxes and know just where what I would need was at. As the years have progressed I had always been able to keep up the organization of the stash, but in the last few years, I have totally lost control of it. I now have to spend huge amounts of time to hunt for every piece of fabric that I think I have and that I think would work for every new project I start.

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This is not working for me anymore. I need to get control of the stash and fast!

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So, how am I going to complete this goal, and get the stash under control? I have decided it will take 3 steps.

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1. Part with what I’m not ever going to sew something with and then organize the rest. I have finally found a local charity that would just love to have all the fabric and notions that I am not going to use. They will take it and put it to good use. This will be the divide and conquer part of the goal, to go through all the boxes and piles and have an open mind as to what to keep and what to give away. The organizing will occur during this stage too. I will then re-box all of the fabric in the stash so I know what I have and where it is at. I am not going to spend my time making spread sheets on my computer of what fabric I own to help me organize the stash. I think doing that would take a lot of time and not really help me out that much in the end. I think just having similar fabric and similar colors in their own boxes with proper labeling on the boxes will do more to help me find just the right piece of fabric to sew next. The husband has offered to build customized modular shelving to help this step if needed. I am unsure yet if I do but I all let you know later how it turned out.

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2. Sew up what I’m keeping. Stop letting all the wonderful pieces of fabric that I have in my possession just set in the stash. Get them out and sew them up and make them into wonderful things. I started doing this last year and I had a lot of fun with it as I made sleepers, and kid’s shirts from patterns that I forgot I even owned. The local charity will also take my finished items and give them to people who really need them and can use them. That way I don’t have to limit what I make to just things for me and the husband to wear.

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3. Stop adding to the stash. This will be the toughest step of all. This is not going to be fun or easy. I know I am going to hate it, and do the “Oh but its just one piece” or “Oh but it’s such a nice piece of fabric at such a great price” and “Oh but I can make …” but I will have to find the strength and willpower to turn and run away from it. With that, I have decided that it will be easier to just not see it in the first place. So, no more perusing Fabric Mart’s web site, no more stopping in at M&L fabric just to see what’s in the $2 a yard bins, and no more slipping over to Walmart’s fabric department to browse while the husband is in electronics. No more. (Except for interfacing, I will allow myself to go to a fabric store and buy interfacing. For some reason I can’t seem to keep the right type or amount in stock in the stash.)

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So, there is the New Year’s goal and the plan. I am excited to get started on it even though I think it will take a few months to finish it. And yes, I know it will take away from the precious little free time I have available that I could be sewing, but having the stash under control will enhance my sewing experiences in the future. So I am ready to dive in head first on the hope of a brighter future!

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Have a Happy New Year everyone! I hope you and yours have a great one!

Let’s Make A Deal

Remember the old game show with Monty Hall called Let’s Make A Deal? I  loved that show! Remember how the contestants were offered either what was in the box, what was behind door number two, or what was in Monty’s pocket? That is how I felt the other day as I opened the three mystery boxes of fabric hidden in the bottom of the sewing room closet.

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When we moved into our current home, most of the fabric made its way from the sewing room into the spare bedroom closet except for three boxes that were tucked at the the bottom of the sewing room closet. These three boxes were quickly covered with everything else, patterns, fabric scraps, UFO’s, mending, ironing, and so on. At this point, they were more of a table in the closet than boxes of fabric. After the devastating trip to the stash a couple of months ago, I knew it was time to pull these three boxes out and see what surprises they held.

On the day of the opening of the boxes, I had to start by clearing off the boxes to get down to them. This proved to be a big job in itself. After I pulled the three boxes from the closet, I opened them one at a time, and found gorgeous pieces of fabric that I forgot I even owned. I piled all the fabric into neat stacks around the sewing room, and then the hard part started. I really did not want to just poke the fabric back into the boxes and the boxes back into the closet, so, I decided to part with some of the pieces. After much touching of fabric and debating its possible uses, I had one third, one box, of the fabric put in the donation pile.

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As I sorted through the remaining pieces of fabric to keep, I ran across 4 pieces that really caught my eye and I decided that they would not be returning to the boxes at all. Instead they would be sewn up next. There was one piece for me a shirt, one piece for the husband a shirt and two scrap pieces of fleece, enough to make a couple of kid’s sweatshirts. The remaining pieces were placed back in the two boxes and moved to the spare bedroom to be counted among the rest of the stash.

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Although I am missing the table they had made, I am loving the extra space in the sewing room closet. Plus I am excited to get sewing on the beautiful pieces of fabric that I had found hidden in the boxes.

DREAD

Doom, despair, overwhelmed, helplessness, discouragement, anxiousness, and panic! That was just a few of the feelings I experienced as I dug through the stash looking for fabric to make my new pattern. Shouldn’t I experience happiness and joy as I touch the many gorgeous pieces of fabric that I own? Aren’t they suppose to stimulate my mind and touch my creative soul? Shouldn’t I get excited about all of the possibilities? Instead I end up feeling despondent, as another bag of fabric purchased long ago, that I totally forgot I purchased falls on my head?

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This trip to the stash was a real eye opener for me. I have been making lots of fabric purchases, especially from the $1 a yard bin at M&L Fabric, and just tossing it in the general direction of the stash. When I actually got into the boxes and started to see everything I had purchased, I felt stunned by the amount. I will never get all this fabric sewn up in my life time. After pulling out a couple of more boxes and finding a bag of flannel purchased on the 4th of July two years ago, I had reached the final straw. “NO MORE!” I said. Then I found three more boxes hidden in another closet, not even being counted as in the stash, and the camel’s back snapped. “REALLY!! NO MORE!!” I said louder.

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I know I have said this before, but this time it is for real. I have said that before too. Then I am good for about three months, then I go back to purchasing more fabric. I am insisting with myself that this time it will be different. I have decided that this time before going somewhere that I might purchase fabric, I will take a quick look at the stash and that will stop me. I hope. I will remember my feelings of dread and despair when I get the desire to buy more fabric, and if I just want to see some great pieces, I will just go to the stash. I am resolute this time in my decision to purchase no more fabric.

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By the way, I found the fabric for my new shirt and I have the pattern traced and I am ready to start cutting. Whee!