Five years, I say. You ask, so “where’s the short cut”? They’re throughout the quilt you see. And the cumulative nature of all of the supposed short cuts made a project that could never end and that I despised working on… right down to binding the blasted thing. Here is a list of the mistakes I made and the “short cuts” thought I was taking to fix them–which resulted in more mistakes–which resulted in more shortcuts–lather rinse repeat.

  • Picked a pattern and cut pieces over several weeks as I had time–at some point I started making my cuts not from the instructions but by looking on what I cut in the last cutting session. Which evidently at some point I had screwed up on, so the blocks were no longer going to be proportional for the pattern I had wanted.
  • No biggie, right, take what I have, sew it up and see what we’ve got. But when you don’t know where you’re going, sewing up it a wee bit more challenging.
  • Stop sewing and start arranging the mismatches and decide on what I’m doing.
  • Re-sew several not comporting with my new plan. Finish sewing the rest.
  • Lay them out. Have my then four-year old insist that she wants the squares arranged a certain way. Detest the layout. Detest the red. Detest that fact that I had long ago destashed all of the fabrics that made up the pieces I was using–no extras, so use what I have. Detest the Red.
  • Sew together. In incorrect order, evidently without precision in my 1/4 inch seam. Sigh. Unpick, re-sew. Do this 3 times over the course of a year and a half while I’m in law school.
  • It’s together. Hooray. Let’s slap some borders on it. Let’s play it by ear. Let’s take my then 5-year-old to the quilt shop and as I’m looking at fabric, in innocence answer her when she asks what we are looking for. She has a decided opinion. I hated the fabrics she wanted then. One of them I’m still lukewarm on but it actually goes well with the quilt. The polka dots I originally hated–too bright! I love now.
  • Slap them on the quilt, study it and think–I don’t think that’s square.
  • Bring then 6-year-old daughter to get backing fabric–have her insist on some unplanned for flannel on the back with monkeys and other critters. See the quilt that could have lasted her until her teens now have a more childish shelf life. Buy–just enough. (See the monkeys under this other blanket??? At my old house even!)
  • Sigh. Extra sigh. Still be living in our postage stamp sized place and decide to baste it with 505 spray on an autumn afternoon on our porch. With dead leaves swirling everywhere. With dead leaves falling onto the 505’ed areas as I struggle to get the layers squared. After a particularly huge gust of wind, decide that it is “good enough”. Realize later when I go to quilt it that the backing is too small on one side. Decide we’ll cut the borders down to match later.
  • Start quilting one afternoon in our postage stamp sized house–even with my fancy new machine, the quilt is hanging over the edges of my sewing table in a way that is pulling on the needle as the fabric is going through. Try stippling though it’s been years and years since I did any. Disaster. Disgust. Roll it back up and put it in a tub.
  • Move.
  • Have phenomenal sewing room. Have unsightly tub that won’t close because the quilt is in it.
  • Decide to quilt it. Unbloody pick the bit of stipple I did and instead try Oh Franson’s loopy flowers. But on my quilt they’re “sloppy flowers”. Have my 14-year-old niece comment that it’s so cool I wasn’t fussy and making them look exactly perfect because that wouldn’t look cool. Right. I totally planned that. Go to Oh Franson’s tutorial a few times and covet her ability to make things look like she didn’t freehand. Remember to do some half flowers falling off the borders so it looks like they extend to the edges of the quilt. Get tired of making the flowers pretty fast. Do them a little too far apart.
  • Finish quilting and remember to cut the borders… by just over an inch on most sides–effectively destroying the half flowers I had made in the prior step.
  • Take purchased bias binding strips I’ve never used before (I have historically always rolled my own). Pin it on, discover that I’m roughly 30 inches too short. Since I didn’t roll my own–I don’t have any of this fabric to make more from. Sigh. Decide it will be a whimsy (which I hate) corner with interest and use a different fabric. Spend a bazillion years and unpicking time before I admit that I no longer remember how to sew down binding or mitered corners  before I get a book out say “Ooooooohhhhh!” and finish. Stay up late on a work night hand sewing it down. Throw in laundry. Have it NOT bunch up all crinkly and lovely.
  • But have the child loves it just the same.
  • Feel like a free woman out from under the weight of unfinished project.
  • Turn to baby blanket I MUST finish!

I finally got it. It’s been awhile, but I finally have it–my father in law built me a “cutting table”. I said “make it this big and this high. And I’d like it to be able to store my fabric underneath. And I already have a dozen or so clear plastic tubs about 6-7 inches high. So, ideally, it would somehow house those.  But I’m not married to them. And, I’d like to be able to re-arrange my sewing room with relative ease. So, it can’t be huge and heavy and super permanent.”

And this is what I got:

It has a corian countertop and there are four white “pillars” for lack of a better word made of melamin–that make shelves that perfectly fit two stacked clear tubs at a time. And none of it is bolted together. The weight of the top and the lip going over the towers hold it in place. I can rearrange the towers to make standing space or stool space wherever I want.

I’ve rearranged my space to accommodate it, and it’s not quite right yet. But it feels really open and functional when I’m in it. My first project was to whip out some fabric and cut a bias strip to make this super cute headband for the bunny I sent to Yellowstone with her grandparents this week. Bliss. Plenty of room to move the fabric, big rulers etc.

Tonight, I didn’t have it in me to sew after work, but I did, the hard way, without geometry equations, figure out that to make that cute shirred headband, which requires 15 x 4.5 bias strip of fabric, you have to have a 14 inch square of fabric–hello fat quarters!  We can discuss (make fun of me) my inability, total mental block related to math of all kinds, but especially geometry some other time 😉

Now, the only thing this room really needs (other than pictures on the wall, to hang up my thread organizer mabobs) is my beloved Bernina and serger back from their week at the Bernina spa. 🙂

p.s. I *finally* got my pix to go in side by side! Thanks Beth!

p.p.s. can someone explain to me why all of a sudden the pix I take on the same settings as I always have are turning out dull instead of crisp. Poo.

Remember when I said after we painted it that I took pictures from all angles? And that I went down the hall so I could peek around the corner because I was giddy with excitement and just in awe of the warmth of the space? Yeah, well I had almost forgotten, so here is the peeking pic.

And my sewing corner there.

After working in this lovely space for a bit, I still had random fabric totally disorganized. I have all of these clear plastic tubs–have had since we lived in Texas, which was well, now 5 years ago. In our last two rentals there was, as you know, no time for sewing, but in the few moments there were, trying to keep track of what I had and where in the way of fabric, notions etc. was a joke. And the tubs were banished to a cubby hard to get to and nigh unto impossible to lift out all alone. My point being–I had 5 years + fabric, fabric from the past several years and no clear idea of where it was. So last weekend, I spent several hours (not just 2, I mean several) emptying every one of those blasted tubs and sorting fabric as you see below, kind of, into scraps, 1/4 or less, more than a 1/4 yard to just under a half, 1/2 yard to just under 1 yard, 1 yard, and more than 1 yard piles.

Then I went through and acknowledged that while I once loved Thimbleberries and still do enjoy some of it, I’m not the die hard that I was.

I feel like I’m slowly starting to come into my own with regard to style. I was a traditionalist before in both patter and colors mostly because I was so lacking in confidence about my sewing and personal style with it. So it was easy to do the “hospital corners” type of sewing where there was “the way” to do it. I’m still fairly attracted to traditional types of patterns, but I’m much more comfortable with lots of color. Even as I sifted through my fabric I would remember ordering something or buying something and cutting and starting to make something and feeling, well, uncomfortable the entire time–I think because I knew it wasn’t wha I *really* wanted to make.

Here are the post-org pix–see the tubs labelled with the different quantities of fabric?

This is my give away pile. An immense amount of fabric that I bought years ago. I’ve learned through this process that I can’t ever have a bunch of stash–evidently I’m fickle. 😉 We won’t discuss how much money was in the fabric I gave away 😉 But see the small tub and bags ?

There’s still more to come. My father-in-law is making me a custom cutting table 36 inches high (no more back pain!) and with a surface about 4 x6 feet. It will have shelves custom fit to be able to hold my bins on the sides and a “lip” on the end so I can sit with a stool for designing etc. I plan to affix those thread organizers to the wall and put up a few floating shelves once the table is there. So there’s a whole lot more to be done before it’s house beautiful, but it is completely functional and ready to sew in. Stay tuned for this year’s twirly skirts.

That would be the name of my sewing space if I were to name it… or maybe Contentment. Seriously. I finally, finally, finally finished organizing the room (ok, not everything is all done but everything has a place and is in it 😉 and I remember where that places is 🙂  So I sat down yesterday, planned bunny’s summer wardrobe and got to sewing.

Maybe it was the “gracious! it finally is warm enough to feel like a spring day” or maybe it was the perfect temperature with the perfect amount of a slightly chilled wind flowing through the window sin my bay window as I ironed some fabric. Or maybe it was the way my chair zipped across the room to a notions drawer on the hardwood. Or maybe it was the perfect paint color for the color of my hardwood floors in the soft lemony light. But whatever it was–it’s nirvana and it is in my house. Who knew?

I actually woke up this morning and became bitter thinking I wouldn’t be able to be in that room sewing up a storm today–instead having to go to work. Sigh. What a great problem though, no?

Tonight, I’ll do some sewing after work. And maybe, just maybe post a couple of photos I shot yesterday of my little piece of heaven.

In our new house, last night, I put down the first coat of the most gorgeous pale grey-green paint in the room destined to be my sewing room. it is so very lovely and all that I had hoped for–which has happened exactly once before to me in the paint color-picking lottery. 😉

After midnight (which is when you finish painting a coat when you don’t start until 8 pm because, hey, you work), I kept admiring the loveliness of the color. From in the room, from the hallway, from the corner of my bedroom where I could just peek at it down the hallway. Sigh. Dreamy.

The room is on the enormous side for a sewing room–definitely much bigger than a sewing nook, cranny or even “space.” I think it is meant to be a formal living room–for which we have no furniture and we would have no regular use. It has 12 foot ceilings with a very large bay window letting all manner of bright happy light into the space. Joy of joys, it has a hardwood floor as well–no more losing pins into the carpet only to find them after I’ve impaled my foot on them. 🙂

So, yes, a house. With room for everyone and our hobbies. I’ll keep you apprised of the painting as we go–move in should happen in the next 2-4 weeks depending on my work schedule. And finishing bunny’s quilt that I started years ago should happen our first full, non-moving, non-painting weekend in the house.

We have been house hunting–finally ready to get rid of our cracker box sized rental where I sew in the living room only hwne there is time and room to unearth my machine. Right, that’s pretty close to never.  Sigh.

We actually had found a house and put an offer in, and you can’t hold it against me if I admit that I never got past thinking fixatedly on the downstairs large bedroom  that I had declared my sewing room. I looked at paint. I draftd various layouts. I contemplated lighting changes, a flannel board–and even decided that my dear husband (and his father) would make me a gloriously large, personalized cutting table, with cubbies. This is one of my favorite posts from the domestic diva for sewing room ideas, especially this part where she links to a bazillion sewing rooms (ok, not quite that many, but still) for their colors. Swoon.

Alas, alak, we took the offer back. And are now wearily house-hunting again. And my sewing room dreams must be put to rest for a while.

The answer is: I just don’t sew much more than a few hours each weekend. Sigh. I recently went back to full time work. Well, I’m a lawyer, so more than full-time work. By the time I get home, spend time with my daughter and get her to bed, well, I’m about half an hour behind her getting to sleep. When I used to work full time it wasn’t a big deal to sew for just 20 or 30 minutes in the evening. Unwind a little, make a little progress. But that was before this:

Yup, that’s my “sewing space” in our house. My cabinet, on which I keep my current projects and fabric (looks awesome in the living room when company comes over, don’t you think?). I put the pile on the couch when I work, take over our dining table and open my cabinet. The set up, if the living room and dining table are already clean (um, as if), takes about 10 minutes. So you can see how if I only have 20-30 minutes, I’m not going to sew. Especially when you consider it takes about 5 minutes to put everything back as it was.

When I worked before, we were in a different state with our own house, and it wasn’t huge but it wasn’t a postage stamp sized place either. I had what should have been the “family” room as my sewing room. I had no real appreciation for it then. There, I would leave the ironing board up in its place, I had a cutting table that we had rigged up at a good standing height. My cabinet, with plenty of room around it to open it in place and several storage drawer/dolly things that had everything I needed at hand. Now, if I need a snap, I have to go in the basement and rummage through  a box. We have no extra space… in fact, we have “negative space”. Everything encroaches upon everything else. And it makes me a wee bit cranky. Sigh. Alas, since the market is doing oh-so-well these days, we are disinclined to move to more space either renting (as we do now) or buying (as we did then.)

One day. One day I’ll have my super deluxe sewing room back. Or even just a corner of a proper room would do.