Tag Archives: sewing room

Time For A Sewing Room Tour!

29 Jul

Finally, a tour of my new sewing room! This post has been a long time coming – honestly, this room has been set-up and fully functional since the first couple of weeks after we moved (because I have priorities), but I’ve put off sharing the big reveal until I felt that the room was “finished.” As always, I’ve realized that this room will never really be finished – I still want to hang some more lights, make a new ironing board cover, get a couple more rugs, etc etc – but it’s as finished as it’ll be for now. And now it’s time to share!

Soooo – welcome to my new sewing room, the Kingston Springs edition!

Sewing RoomThis room is funny shape, so getting photos was a little difficult. It’s basically an L shape – there are two little nooks off each end, and the corridor between is wide enough so that you can shove furniture against the wall and still be able to walk through. Here I have drawn you a shitty not-to-scale diagram to give you an idea of the layout. I used Comic Sans as my font choice to make it extra obnoxious. sewing room layout So, as you can see – two nooks with a bit of a walkway. The hallway going off the photo leads to our bedroom and bathroom, and the diagonal line off to the side of the cutting area is a doorway leading to our private living room/Landon’s office. The rectangles are windows and doors – one window in each the sewing and cutting nook, and the door is to the side of the desk. Our apartment is in the basement of the house, so the stairs lead up to the main floor. I’ll admit that when Morgan asked if I wanted to move into her BASEMENT, I was like, “lol no fucking way I ain’t your kid.” But, forreal, this is a pretty happy basement – it has windows and a door that leads outside, so it gets a good amount of light. Although it was a little scary when I first saw it, and it definitely took some TLC to get it to the point that it is now. The room is quite smaller than it looks – my rough measurements put it around 130 square feet. My old sewing room was about 200 square feet, so there was some downsizing and furniture Tetris in order to get everything to fit. It was a little brain-bending at times, but I think it turned out pretty awesome!

Before we moved in, we had to fix the basement up a little. We were really lucky that Morgan moved into the house a few weeks before we did, so we could do this at our leisure (and not live in the middle of a construction zone). The basement is finished and was fully carpeted. We tore out the carpet in the sewing room area – it was completely soaked with cat urine and was beyond saving. The carpet in the bedroom and living room, as well as the stairs, was ok, so that’s still there. Since the unfinished concrete floors were pretty beat-up looking (although thankfully not stained with pee odor! THANK GOD FOR THAT) and nobody wanted to invest in flooring right now, we simply stained them with.. um, some shit from the hardware store haha. We also installed the screen door outside; eventually I’d like to replace the door with one that has a window, but I ain’t got the budget for that now.

I painted the majority of the room by myself – the color is “Aquatic Mist” by Valspar, and the insides of the windows is some color called “Blanket” (I don’t recall the brand, but I will fully admit that I bought the color based solely on the name alone. Who names a paint color Blanket?? Michael Jackson?). Well, majority except for the long hallway leading to the back half – that stayed unpainted for like 2 months, because I wanted Landon to help me with rolling and we kept putting it off. He actually painted it for me as a surprise while I was in Peru, which might very well be the best welcome home gift I’ve ever been recipient of. Ok, I think I’ve talked enough! I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story :) Sewing Room

Starting with general layout photos – here’s the desk area.

Sewing RoomThe hallway leading to the back of our living area. And that giant wall that Landon painted! Sewing Room

The top photo in this post is the sewing area – here’s a view of the wall behind the machines. That tiny nook under the stairs ended up being exactly the right size to fit my pattern cabinet.

Sewing RoomThe opposite nook is the cutting and pressing area, as well as my fabric stash along the wall. Sewing Room

The ironing station. I REALLY wish I’d been able to find a way to keep the ironing board closer to the sewing machines, but the room layout just wouldn’t work around it (and I wanted to keep my desk in the center of the room). It’s not so bad to walk to the ironing board, I guess – I tell myself that a little exercise won’t kill me haha.

Sewing RoomMore of the cutting area. Sewing Room

Standing behind the cutting table, looking back toward the desk.

Detail shots:

Sewing RoomThese bookshelves are below the wall shelves in the cutting area – I keep my collection of sewing books here, as well as my yarn stash (it’s ALL in that basket! I can’t keep my fabric stash under control, but I’ve managed ok with my yarn stash!) and embroidery supplies (in the 70s floral filing box). The blue metal basket up top is where I keep my lingerie sewing queue, and the wooden FL box is my regular sewing queue. I’ve found it’s easier for me to do all my cutting at once for a few projects, and then I can work through the bundles without having to stop and cut another project. Sewing Room

Over the bookshelf are these two wall shelves that I hung ALL BY MYSELF (like a boss). I wouldn’t normally get all riled up over hanging a wall shelf, however, these were heavy AF and I somehow even managed to get them level idk. Anyway, the boxes are for small notions/tools that I have masses of – mostly lingerie supplies and zippers. I haven’t filled all the boxes quite yet, but I figure that’ll happen in due time haha.

Oh, and the plants on top are fake. Obviously. They are the only fake plants in this room, though… for now.

Sewing RoomI love this pattern so much, I hung it in a frame so I could admire it all the time :) Sewing Room

The wall at one end of my cutting table is where I have my cork boards and tools. One board is for general inspiration/love notes – just things that make me happy. The other board is my project board – I’ve found by having a visual running list with swatches and sketches out where I can actually see it (i.e., not in a book or lurking on the internet), I can more easily keep track of my make list. Sometimes I forget what patterns or fabric I have in my gigantic stashes, and this is really helpful!

Sewing RoomHere’s the other end of the cutting table, and one of two windows! That plant is totally alive and not fake, btw. Sewing Room

This is the view from the window. Ahh! We are totally ground-level and I look straight into the woods. Amelia loves to sit in this window and watch the birds, and sometimes Turtle (the beagle) will come sniffing around when she’s outside and it always freaks Amelia out because they are eye-level haha.

Sewing RoomA little more about the cutting table! I built this myself (well – I use the term “built” loosely; it’s IKEA furniture that I screwed together haha) and it’s pretty awesome! I used two Kallax shelves and a Linnmon table top (there is a whole list of links at the bottom of the post for the specific products I used), and 4 sets of Kallax casters to raise it to counter height/make it moveable. One end, I installed 2 drawers on top, and bought 2 little fabric boxes for extra storage (if you were wondering – one box holds swimsuit fabric, and the other holds a mass of vintage zippers still in their packages – too big for the cardboard boxes on the shelves). I also installed a rod to hold my scissor collection on S hooks. They do sit in front of the drawers, but it’s easy to slide them out of the way when I need to access the drawers (which isn’t terribly often). Due to the width of the rod where it screws in, I could only install it on that side.

Those of y’all who have seen previous sewing rooms of mine (we’re on #6 as of this writing… I’m a dedicated woman for sure. I also live in an area with a low cost of living. Yay!) will recall that I had a Norden Gateleg table as my old cutting table. It was ok for a cutting table – I liked the size and that it folded down to be very narrow. However, the height was always bad for me, even when raised on blocks (and, again, I’m 5’2″, so I don’t have extra height to deal with here). I also hated that I couldn’t fit anything under the table due to how the legs were arranged to raise the leaves. And the drawers were a funny shape that I never found useful. I like this table a lot better – it’s pretty much countertop-height with the casters, and I have lots of storage options with the shelves/drawers/boxes. Plus, if I ever give up on sewing (lol no), I can always disassemble it and use the pieces individually on their own. Or sell it – Nashville doesn’t have an IKEA (we have to drive 4 hours to Atlanta), so people here seem to think that shit is made of gold and will pay top dollar for it haha. Which is exactly what I did with the Norden. Bye, Felica!Sewing Room

The inner side of the cutting table has more storage boxes – silk scraps, leather scraps, craft supplies, knit swatches, and my dye pot.

Sewing RoomThis little cart fits perfectly under the table as well. I keep a bunch of weird stuff here – cutting and marking tools, pressing supplies, extra pincushions, my hammer and a spray bottle. Sewing Room

The ironing station is right next to the cutting table. My iron is a silver star ES-300, which is a gravity feed iron and it’s AWESOME. The one thing that seems to scare people the most about using a gravity feed (other than the sheer steam power behind it) is that it doesn’t have an auto shut-off, and they are afraid they’ll accidentally leave it on and burn the house down. I solved this issue by plugging my iron into a power strip that also has paper lantern lights running from it – so if the strip is on, the lights are also on (and, thus, the iron is on). It’s pretty easy to tell if the iron is on that way! That overflowing box of fabric houses all my scraps from cutting. I try to find homes for that shit as quickly as possible because the pile can quickly get overwhelming otherwise.

Sewing RoomNext to the ironing board is my fabric stash – organized somewhat by type/color (jerseys/knits on one side, wovens on the other). I installed little cabinet doors on the bottom, to hide unsightly stash (fabric scraps and linings) and boxes for the unfoldables (interfacings and lingerie fabrics). The roll of paper on top is super handy for pattern tracing or if I just want to make a giant doodle of something. As far as *how* I stash my fabric – I used to fold, but now I roll. Folding looks really pretty, but I could never seem to keep it neat (mostly because my attitude went somewhere along the lines of “ah, fuck it.”). Now I roll my fabric and just stack it in the little cubes. It much easier to keep everything organized this way!

As you can probably tell, this area is also Cat Central. Amelia likes to hang here – on the rug, in front of the screen, all up in my silks – so I keep her scratching pad here, and there’s always at least one toy lurking around.Sewing Room

I like having my desk in the middle of the room, so I can easily hear music/videos while I’m working. It’s also close to the door (which is open 99% of the time, bc fresh air lol yay). I work from home a couple days a week, so it was important for me to have a nice workspace to sit at. I also hung those shelves above the desk, also by myself. I really love shelving. And boxes, for that matter.

Sewing RoomTo the left of the desk is the sewing area. This is where I keep my machines, patterns, and a bunch of notions. Sewing Room

And here’s the view out of that window, in case you were curious :)

Sewing RoomOn one table, I keep both of my standard sewing machines – I have a Bernina 350PE and a Pfaff 7570. The Bernina is my main machine, but it’s really nice having 2 when you are working on a project that requires a lot of thread changes (such as jeans). For those, I use the Pfaff for construction and the Bernina for topstitching. Above the machines are buttons, notions, and thread racks. Sewing Room

More thread racks, plus my favorite sewing room art :D

Sewing RoomThe dedicated serger table has additional storage, which is handy. My serger is a Babylock Imagine, FYI. Sewing Room

Behind the sewing machines, in the weird little nook under the stairwell, is where I keep my pattern stash. On top of the cabinet, I have storage for trims and elastics, plus a running queue of the patterns I want to make next (before I cut them and put them in the cut queue box by the cutting tables. Man! All these systems!). That bag hanging on the lemon hook is my knitting bag.

Taking photos of my sewing room is hard because it's such a funny shape! Here's a shitty panoramic to give you an idea of what I'm working with.

Finally, here’s an Instagram panorama of the room!

SHOPPING LIST:
Most of the stuff in this room is either thrifted or from IKEA. I’ve tried to compile everything here, but feel free to ask if you are curious as to where I got something! If it’s not on the list, chances are I bought it used (like from the thrift store or flea market). Like I said, I’ve had an on-going sewing room in every house I’ve lived in for nearly the past 10 years, so I’ve had a LOT of time to collect stuff and learn what works best for my set-up and organizational needs. Oh, and one more thing, because I’m always asked this – yes, it does always stay this clean! “Messy” for me is if there is a project on the cutting table. I never lets piles accumulate and I’m pretty good about putting stuff away when I’m done with it. I can’t stand to work in a messy room, plus, this area is the walk-through to get to the rest of our basement suite, so I have to be mindful of that for Landon’s sake.

Wall paint color: Aquatic Mist by Valspar

Sewing nook
Serger table: thrifted + painted
Sewing machine table: family hand-me-down + painted
Pattern cabinet: thrifted + painted (for info on the boxes inside the cabinet, check out this post!)
DMC thread organizer: thrifted
Thread racks: given to me by Elizabeth, but here are some similars on Amazon- thread rack + serger thread rack
Turquoise hanging shelf: thrifted + painted
Chairs: thrifted
Sewing room art: Joanna Baker, via Madalynne giveaway
“I’ve Made A Huge Mistake” chalkboard sign: Custom made by Kaelah
Rug: Old Time Pottery

Desk area
Desk: Nashville flea market
Chair: Nashville flea market
Ceiling light: KNAPPA
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Mesh drawer unit: LENNART
Rail/basket (above desk): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL BASKET
Dressform: Professional female dressform with collapsible shoulders (also: full review here!)
Rug: Nashville flea market
Sewing machine print: Madalynne
Kitty Cat clock: gift from Landon

Fabric // Cutting area
Fabric shelf: KALLAX with 2 doors
Industrial paper roll: Given to me when my old job (advertising) was downsizing and clearing out the art room!
Paper lanterns: IKEA, like 10+ years ago
Rug: Nashville flea market
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Bookshelf: thrifted
Cutting table: 2 KALLAX shelves + LINNMON tabletop + 2 KALLAX drawers + 4 KALLAX casters. Scissor rail is BYGEL RAIL + s-hooks
Tool baskets (under the corkboards): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL container
Turquoise utility cart: RÅSKOG
Yellow storage boxes: DRÖNA
Large white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Small white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Fake plants: FEJKA

Ok, I think that’s it! Let me know if you have any questions :)

Organizing My Pattern Stash

3 Oct

I freaking love sewing patterns, y’all. Love them. I snap them up at an alarming rate – indies, big 4, vintage, whatever I can get my hands on. I love to collect them for the artwork, the instructions, even the odd pocket or facing piece that I might need later (ok, that’s a little hoardy, but whatever). The vintage ones will fall in my lap en mass – either someone gifting me a huge box of whatever belonged to their grandma and/or they found in their attic, or I’ll find them for the flea market for less than a dollar a pop (at this point, I’m kind of convinced that I can sniff them out).

So, yeah. I have a lot of patterns. Over 300, to be exact – ranging from printed to PDF, and, lord. There’s just a lot of them.

Sewing Room

Previously, I stored them in open boxes that I sat on a shelf – that way I could easily see them and sort through them (I’m the kind of person who needs to see something to remember that I have it). This was fine when I had 20, 30… even 100 patterns. Nowdays, not so much. Despite my patterns taking up most of an ENTIRE CABINET (the photo above is from about 2 years ago, so – while I had plenty of patterns then, I have about 3x as many now, and they take up way more shelf space), there wasn’t enough room. They were crammed into boxes, which made sorting through them difficult (if not destructive, especially with the delicate vintage ones), which meant I never sorted through them at all. Which, in turn, meant my ~open shelving concept~ was BULLSHIT, because why bother if you don’t actually use it?

It was time to find a new organization system.

No doubt most of y’all have read Sarai’s post on pattern organization over at the Coletterie. If not – you should! It’s where I got this entire post idea from, ha :). Anyway, I was inspired by the post and decided to get my pattern stash under control, once and for all. Drumroll, please…

Pattern Organization

Yeah! How do you like THEM apples?!

Pattern Organization

Here’s another sexy shot, because – sexy.

Anyway, here’s what I did –

I started out by sourcing the supplies – I bought plastic bags, cardboard backing boards, plastic dividers, and cardboard boxes with lids. All of these things are made for comic book storage, but lucky for us – sewing patterns are pretty much the same size. I know Sarai had luck with getting her supplies at Bags Unlimited; I can’t personally vouch for that site as I bought all my stuff here locally, at The Great Escape, which is conveniently located right by my house. (upon linking this, I just noticed that they have an eBay store! They’re also cheaper than Bags Unlimited, because they rule). I started out with buying enough stuff to house 100 sewing patterns… then went back again. And again. This is how I know a rough estimate of how many patterns I have, ha!

Pattern Organization

Anyway, the patterns are stored in a little plastic comic book bag, with the backing board added for stability. I really love this because you can cram and push and shove the patterns around as much as you want – and even the delicate ones won’t rip, because they are protected by the bag.

Pattern Organization

You can also shove pattern pieces in the bag itself, instead of back in the envelope, if rips are a concern.

All this talk of shoving makes me sound like I’m super violent with my patterns, hahaha. Promise I’m not *that* bad!

Pattern Organization

Once I got the patterns in their baggies, I could start organizing them in the boxes. I used the plastic divider boards to separate them by type, in a way that made the most sense to me.

Pattern Organization

Even if you cram them in the box super tight, it’s still relatively easy to find the pattern you’re looking for – especially with the tab dividers.

Pattern Organization

I also labeled the boxes so I would know the contents at a glance. I used scrapbooking paper and just taped the labels on – that way, if I need to switch things around, I can just peel it off the box and make a new label.

Some things to note:
– I agonized for WAY too long about what size bags to buy. I don’t know anything about comics, so I had no idea that they came in different sizes! I ended up buying the bags for regular size comics, as well as the regular size backing boards.
– The boxes, at least at my store, come in 2 sizes. I bought the smaller size – they were $5 a pop, lid included, and they are short enough to fit in my cabinet. I would estimate that each one holds around 50 patterns, give or take.
– I also played around with resealable vs non resealable bags. My personal verdict: get the resealable. You’ll end up taping the other ones shut. Just pay the extra dollar and get on with your life.

Ok, so that’s part one of the pattern organization! Next, I had to deal with patterns that didn’t fit in the boxes – PDFs, the big Vogue patterns, and my collection of Papercut Patterns.

Pattern Organization

For the Papercut Patterns, I decided to take them down from the wall (the sheer amount of them was taking over the wall and starting to look extremely sloppy!) and stack them on the one stupid shelf that I couldn’t adjust. The patterns don’t have their names printed on the sides, so I wrote it on the bottom of each one so I could sort through them in a glance.

Inside the basket is my tape gun thingy that I use to tape PDF patterns, as well as some cardstock pattern pieces (like shirt pockets) and extra bags.

Pattern Organization

The bottom shelf holds all my PDF patterns, big Vogue designer patterns, and a couple boxes of random fabric scraps.

Pattern Organization

The manhandling of those PDF patterns into submission is my FAVORITE part of this makeover! Before, I stored each one in a large manilla envelope (I scored boxes of them from my old job when we switched to digital filing for our job jackets). That was, to put it mildly, a clusterfuck. It was hard to sort through the patterns, they didn’t all fit on the shelf, they looked like a hot mess, they were always falling out of the shelf, AND THEN I ran out of envelopes (and ew, wow, those things are expensive!). While I was debating what to do about this, I came across Andrea’s Craftsy post on organizing PDF patterns. Solution #1 – that was my answer!

Pattern Organization

As with the printed patterns, I agonized for forever over what supplies to buy for storage. I know Andrea gives specific products, but they were a bit out of my budget. Plus, I have like 40 PDF patterns – so I needed to keep the budget way down. I ended up getting these clear plastic sheet protectors and these 3″ 3 ring binders, both from Amazon. As with the printed patterns, I organized them according to what made sense to me, and labeled the outside of the binders. Since my plastic sleeves are not resealable, I just paper clip them closed. Haven’t had a disaster yet (fingers crossed, tho).

For the Vogue patterns, I found that they fit perfectly in magazine-sized plastic sleeves (and they also make backing boards this size!), so that’s what I used. I didn’t even buy a whole box – my shop sells them for pennies individually, so I just took what I needed. They are stored in one of my old pattern storage boxes – which actually looks kind of nice when it’s not so full :)

Pattern Organization

Finally, I keep a running “list” of the patterns I want to sew on top of my sewing cabinet – they’re just pulled from the boxes and stored in their cd case holder (omg I love repurposing things hahaha). This way I can still see things to be reminded of them, but not overloaded with seeing OMG EVERY PATTERN I OWN.
(also, this picture is old. I’m not sewing that McCall pattern. Actually, I scrapped it because the very smallest size was like 4″ too big for my sad little rack. And yet everyone keeps making beautiful versions of this pattern and I’m super jealous, so stop already).

Next, I’d like to digitally organize my patterns. The second half of Sarai’s post talks about creating a digital database using Tap Forms, an app that costs like $9. I’m embarrassed to admit that I bought the app (mostly because I was so sure that actually paying for it would ensure that I actually USE it) and then uploaded like 10 patterns (so much for that theory). It’s kind of a huge time-suck! Argh! But I can’t think of a better solution, so I really just need to suck it up and deal with it.

deal with it

I don’t want to say this entire process was difficult – but it was very very time-consuming. It was also a bit more expensive than I had originally budgeted for – I think, all in all, I spent around $100 for all the supplies. It was spread out over a few paychecks, so the cost didn’t hurt *that* much – but still, that’s a chunk of change for organizing a mess! Anyway, it was worth it. It’s so much easier to find what I’m looking for (without destroying it in the process), and the clean white boxes and red binders make my entire sewing room look SO much better than the original messy piles. Woohoo!

Anyway, that’s my organization story! What about you? How do you organize your patterns? Or are you one of those cool minimalist people who has, like, seven? (ps, please teach me your ways).

Me-Made-May ’14 – My Pledge

18 Apr

MMM14logolarge

Hey everyone! Have you heard that Me Made May is open for 2014 and currently accepting pledges? Woohoo!! I admit, MMM is one of my favorite parts about keeping a blog – while taking daily photos can be a huge pain at times, it’s a wonderful exercise to keep myself on my toes as far as actually using and wearing my handmade wardrobe. Although the majority of what I wear is handmade anyway, I like this opportunity to find new ways to wear outfits and bring out old pieces that I may have otherwise forgotten about.

ha!

I’ve been thinking about my pledge for the past couple of weeks. Although I tend to wear mostly handmade (I rarely, rarely buy new clothes – they are usually thrifted, and even then, I’ve been slowing that game down dramatically – and try to make everything that enters my wardrobe), my supply is dwindling thanks to my ever-changing body. After swapping out my summer clothes and trying on everything, it’s pretty apparent that I’ve got a lot of wardrobe gaps that need to be filled asap. So, with that being said, I am modifying my pledge to suit my current closet statistics and try to keep things realistic.

‘I, Lauren of LLADYBIRD, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2014, with no 100% outfit repeats.’

Last year, my pledge was no outfit repeats whatsoever. Y’all, that was hard. I quickly learned throughout the month that there are lots and lots of pieces in my wardrobe that simply don’t get worn anymore for whatever reason – either I don’t like the style on me, I don’t care for the fabric, or the fit is off (this is the main offender – the fit was good when I made it, but my body has changed and now I’ve got some glaring fit issues in many of my older garments). As a result, nearly every single one of those pieces ended up in the donation pile. I love the freedom of having an empty-ish closet that is no longer holding stuff I don’t wear hostage – but it also makes things a liiiiitle difficult when you’re trying to plan an entire month of only wearing handmade! Especially when you can’t dupe an outfit. So for 2014, I’m allowing myself partial outfit dupes – as in, I can wear the same dress during the month, but it must be accessorized/shoed/jacket’d differently. Hence the no 100% repeats. I think this is still enough of a challenge for me to really stretch myself, as well as find some wardrobe gaps to fill while I’m at it. I’m excited!

I call this look ~2nd Grade Teacher Chic~ ✏️

If you’d like to participate in Me Made May, you can view all the info here on Zo’s blog. If you just want to watch from the sidelines, I’ll be posting my daily outfits in the Flickr pool, as well as on my own Instagram. As with prior years, there will be a weekly round-up post every Friday in May. Expect to see lots of mirror-shots like the one above :P

As a side note, I recently got a new phone that includes a panoramic camera (say what!) (yeah, y’all, I’m behind on the times). As I’ve been working on updating my sewing room – to remove clutter, reorganize what I’m keeping, and include an actual desk so I stop camping out at the dining room table – I jumped at the opportunity to take some giant, poorly lit shots. What do you think?

Sewing Room

Sewing Room

My sewing room is totally my happy space ♥

“How Do You Find The Time To Sew So Much?”

14 Aug

One question I get asked a LOT – in comments, emails, tweets, real-life conversations, you name it – is how I manage to churn out all these garments at a seemingly rapid rate. Apparently, “Uhhh, idk I guess I sew fast lol” isn’t a satisfactory answer, and after one too many gentle nudges from various people, I think it’s time to unleash a discussion post!

happy dayz

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have any of the following:
– A Vampire’s need for sleep, or lack thereof
– A collection of enslaved sewing elves tucked away in my sewing room
– A machine that stops time
– A job that lets me sew all day (but, I mean, if you want to offer me one…)

Guys, I work a full-time, non-sewing related job. I go to bed at like 10pm. I don’t have kids or a particularly needy boyfriend, but I do hang out with my friends, I ride my bike, and sometimes my after-work schedule means I don’t sew at all for an entire week. So where does the time come from?

Well, for one, I do sew fast. I’m sorry, but I just do! I’m very comfortable with my machines and most techniques I use, which means a lot more sewing and a lot less unpicking. I also just tend to do everything fast (people are very amazed when I join them for lunch and inhale my sandwich in less than thirty seconds), so don’t be discouraged if you’re not ol’ Speedy at the machine.

queue

Another big one is that I always have something in the works – once I finish a project, I immediately start the next one in my queue. The queue changes around based on current needs/wants or if I get a shiny new pattern that week… but the point is, I have a queue. Speaking of which, I found the easiest way to keep the queue in check is to pull out the patterns I plan on sewing and store them separately from the rest of my stash. On the front of each envelope, I pin a little swatch of the fabric I plan on using (see above photo). Much easier than yanking off the whole yardage and piling it on the table with the patterns… which was what I was previously doing. Anywaaaay, back to what I was saying – I literally work projects back to back to back. This means that during weekends where I have a couple marathon seshs in a row, I could easily end up finishing 2 or 3 projects – or even more, depending on how simple they are (knit tshirts, I’m looking at you). Obviously, I don’t want to post them all in a row – I think you guys would get real bored of my face real fast – so I try to spread them out a little. This is not always the case when I’m posting like I’ve got a fire under my butt, but a lot of times it is. Sometimes those Finished Objects are kind of old!

I know this is a sewing blog, but I want to point out that I also do this with knitting. What can I say – I really love knitting, I don’t want to *not* have a project in the works (same with sewing)! Not having any creative downtime may make me sound like I’m working some kind of bizarre sweatshop with horrible self-imposed deadlines, but honestly… I just really love making things, and I feel lost if I don’t have a WIP that I can tinker around with at any given time.

So anyway, here are some tips that will [hopefully]help you accelerate your sewing progress.

sewing room

#1: Have a Dedicated Sewing Space

I realize this leaves out a lot of people as not everyone can afford to set aside an entire room – or even an unused corner – dedicated only for sewing. That sucks! I’m lucky that I have the space (and I make enough money/live in an inexpensive enough area where the second bedroom is totally a dealbreaker when looking for places to rent), but I know not all of y’all have that kind of luxury. However, this is single-handedly the #1 reason why I can get so much done – I don’t have to spend half my time setting everything up and then later taking it down. My machines have their own tables and they are always plugged in, my ironing board never gets folded and stored, and my cutting table does not work part-time as a dining room table.

stash

Having a dedicated sewing space means that I can indulge in my favorite part of sewing (other than the sewing itself): STASHING. Wooohooo I love my stash!! Actually, my stash has shrunk considerably this year (this happens when you stop adding to it and start sewing from it!), but, it’s still a stash. My pride and joy when it comes to stashing isn’t actually my fabrics, though – it’s my stash of notions, trims, interfacings, linings, and all those other little sewing goodies that make you stop in the middle of a project because you don’t have one on hand. I won’t say I have enough stuff on hand to open a store, but I do have a lot. You don’t have to break the bank to build up a supply – just buy a little extra something or two when you go to the fabric store. For a few months, I concentrated on serger thread – I bought 4 spools of whatever color every time I stocked up on fabric. Eventually, I had every color of the rainbow – without having to drop mad $$ on it all at once. Most of my trims and zippers come from ~vintage~ stashes – the flea market, thrift stores, yard sales (I have friends and parents of friends who keep an eye out for me, too!) – which, if you’re not shopping on Etsy, old sewing supplies are practically given away. I have so much shit in my stash, I can make entire outfits without leaving the sewing room to stock up on something.

Obviously, pointing this out is not going to magically grant everyone access to their own sewing room (I wish!), but I do want to point out that this does give me quite a sexy leg up on the competition.

happy dayz
#2: UFOs Don’t Exist in My World

Ah, UFO – or, Unfinished Objects (altho if you want to talk about aliens, I’m down for that too), the bane of most sewer’s experiences. How many times have we started something, only to shove it in a box when something with a little more sparkle catches our eye? Guys, I know it is tempting to embrace your magpie tendencies – but it is murder on your productivity! Starting up a project takes precious time – from determining your chosen pattern and fabric, to cutting and marking the pieces, to all the boring pre-work like staystitching and fusing interfacing… and we haven’t even gotten to the actual construction! What is the point of wallowing through all that, just to set it aside and start the process over again? Not to mention, I’ve noticed a lot of people who tend to pile up UFOs rarely stop at just one.

To me, UFOs just contribute to wasting time. It’s one thing to set something aside if it’s frustrating you, but you shouldn’t make a habit of picking up a new project and starting over, because it can quickly get out of control. I made peace with myself a long time ago and decided to eliminate the UFOs in my sewing room and finish every.single.project, even if it killed me. Sometimes it does make me want to destroy things – but I soldier on and finish that fucking garment. Occasionally, it actually speeds me up because I’m so desperate to finish and move on to the next shiny object. So maybe in a way, it’s kind of bad for my productivity since I occasionally will find myself cutting corners in a desperate attempt to just be done. But on the flip side – I don’t have those half-sewn pieces creeping around my sewing room (is it just me, or do they nag at you and make you feel all stressed and sad? Say it’s not just me!), and I have a finished object to show for it! Yay!

muslin
#3: Make a Muslin

I know, it’s like toootally contradictory. When you’re short on time, ain’t nobody got time for a fuckin muslin. This is NOT even true and all of us need to collectively reprogram our brains, like, now.

Besides obviously avoiding the trauma of spending your time on something, only to discover it doesn’t fit – muslin-makin’ is also good for increasing your speed, as it will give you a chance to practice a little on the garment before you start hacking into the good stuff. This means you will spend less time pulling your hair out over the instructions – because, dude, you already did this! – and less time ripping out your seams when you inevitably made a mistake due to sucky instructions. I also feel pretty confident, post-muslin, in that I know the garment will fit (since I basically already tried it on), which means less futzing with the fit during construction-time. Of course, I do fit-check throughout my sewing process (and you should too!), but it’s one thing to put half a bodice up against your chest to ensure things are coming along smoothly, and quite another to suddenly discover you cut the wrong size… halfway through.

One point I do want to make is that muslins do NOT take a lot of time to put together, especially if you speed up the process. Unless the skirt is something that needs to be fitted, I generally only sew the bodice. I do include a sleeve, but only one. I sew all my seams with a long stitch so I can quickly rip them out if I need to (and it pushes through the machine faster). I don’t bother with facings, collars, or buttons, although I do baste in a zipper. Also, this should go without saying, but once you make a muslin and get your fit down, that’s it! You can churn out multiples of the same pattern and skip the muslin.

happy dayz
#4: Sew Whenever You Have A Chance

I’ll admit, this is probably gonna be real rough for those of you who don’t have a dedicated sewing space :( But I do think it’s important to maximize your time – so what if you only have 20 minutes to spend cuddling your sewing machine? You could use that 20 minutes to stay stitch some curved seams! Mark your pattern pieces! Thread your machine and decide what buttons you want to use this time! Skip ahead of your pattern and assemble the collar! The point is, there is SO MUCH that you can do in small chunks of time, so don’t waste it by subscribing to the thought that you *only* have x amount of time to do anything – think of it instead like you have enough time to sew your bodice darts, or prepare your sleeves to get set in, or whatever.

This is pretty dorky – and y’all are totally going to make fun of me for this – but I actually get a lot of my little sewing bursts done in the morning, before I go to work. I don’t necessarily get up any earlier than I need to (although sometimes I do, ok, sorry I’m a dork!), but sometimes getting ready doesn’t take as long as I need, so I try to utilize that time in my sewing room instead of just chasing Amelia around the house for 20 minutes. I set a timer on my phone so I KNOW when I have to drop everything (the timer is important, you don’t want to get carried away and make yourself super late!), and I actually listen to it when it goes off. I don’t try to rush myself – if I only have 10 minutes and I only get some stay stitching done, who cares? That’s one less seam I have to stay stitch when I get home, awesomeee!! Which brings me to my last point…

cat
#5: Enjoy It!

I treat sewing the same way I treat a bicycle ride – I’m doing this because I enjoy it, not because I’m in a hurry (if I was in a hurry, I’d take my car. Or shop at H&M. Whatever!). When I catch myself trying to rush through the process, I force myself to stop and slow down. Sometimes this can be hard because I’ve basically ingrained it in my head that I HAVE to post new stuff every week, and oh god people are going to stop reading my blog and the world will end and ughhh… but, you know. That’s not true. I’m sewing because I love the entire process, not just the finished piece (although that’s a nice bonus, let’s be real). In my experience, rushing only leads to stress, tears, and a lot of fuck-ups. Stop, take a breather, and just slow it down. It’s fine. I promise.

Anyone else have protips to share for increasing your sewing output? I’m still stuck on the couch and I’m bored as hell… let’s have a discussion!!

Introducing – My New Sewing Room!

24 Aug

I should really call this a sewing studio – it’s a HUGE room! Huge, I tell you!

Let’s back up a little. When I last left off – three freakin’ weeks ago, eeeewww! – I was still living in a sorry state of moving purgatory. You know what I’m talking about – everything is packed except one of each dish, getting anywhere requires maneuvering around piles of boxes & there are weird outlines on the wall where artwork used to hang. Pretty depressing living situation, if you ask me! We actually did not move until the end of that week, on the 10th. And lucky me – the power company refused to turn our power & water on until the following Monday, so we spent a couple of nights sleeping on the mattress in the middle of the old bedroom (I can handle living a couple of days without one or the other, but not both!). Then there was a full week of unpacking – and I refused to let myself do anything fun until the house was put together (mostly because I know me, and I know it’ll never get done otherwise. Hey, at least I’m honest haha).

Then my old landlord called & said the paint colors in the house were all wrong, and I needed to paint them back. Not wanting to spend $200+ on neutral paint, Landon & I went to Lowe’s & bought out all their OOPS paint, mixed it all together in a 5 gallon bucket & crossed our fingers. The end result was something that closely matches my flesh haha. So I had a painting party with a few awesome friends, PBR, pizza & 90s jams. We knocked out 3 rooms in about 2 hours and told ghost stories and yes, it was as fun as it sounds. And I just found out yesterday that I’m getting my full deposit back! Yay! Money!

So now let me show you my new sewing room!

Sewing Room
Standing in the doorway – aren’t the hardwoods gorgeous?! Unfortunately, this room doesn’t get as good natural light as the bedroom does. Pretty sure I’ll manage ;)

Sewing Room
Turning just a bit, my sewing & ironing stations.

Sewing Room

Sewing Room

Sewing Room
There is actually a closet & more wall that I’m not showing; Landon still hasn’t unpacked all his clothes so I’m not going to show that section because it’s a MESS. Instead – cabinet! Patterns & books & yarn, yay!

Sewing Room
I edited down my stash a bit before I moved, but I still have a metric shit ton of patterns. They are organized by garment type, fyi.

Sewing Room
Speaking of things I have a metric shit-ton of – fabric!!

I forgot to take detail shots, sorrrry! Here are a couple of close-ups:
Sewing Room
Hanging space for rulers & scissors & things that strike my fancy.

Sewing machine art
Have I posted this yet? I made this using an old frame (25¢, painted mint green), a fabric remnant & a sewing machine charm. It makes me so happy haha :)

Some notes on the sewing room, if anyone is curious.
– The cutting table is the Norden Gateleg (Ikea). It is on wood blocks because it’s a tad short for cutting. Eventually I’d like to buy castors, but those fuckers are expensive!
– The fabric shelf is the 4×4 Expedit (Ikea)
– Pretty much everything else (glass cabinet, sewing table, shelves, chairs, even the ironing board) was either thrifted, dumpstered, or a hand-me-down.
– The wall color is Behr Mint Majesty – my landlords painted it for me, but I got to pick the color woohooo!

Here are some other bits & pieces of my house, for those of you who want to be nosy without actually admitting to it (hey, no shame, I’m the same way :B)
Living Room
This is the living room (I’m standing by the front door). I am looooooving these hardwood floors, even if they do make my feet filthy at the end of the day.

Here is an Instagram pic of the other side of the plant:
This is the only part of the living room that is finished haha
Someone asked me the other day if the dude bust was Jesus with his hair blowing – I WISH!

His name is Saul.
His name is Saul, actually.

Living room
This is an ugly picture (I need to hang that mirror, haaa), but I’m including it so you can see the layout of the house. The turquoise doorway is my sewing room (!!), that’s the dining room straight through, and then the kitchen is farther back. The bedroom door is on the other side of the wall.

Dining Room
Here is the dining room! The table/chairs (their matching hutch is in the previous picture) & the curtains are from the flea market. There is a pile of stuff in the floor because Landon’s desk is out of the frame; he’s still organizing that mess so I cropped it out of the picture. Oh, and the lady on the wall is not Marilyn Monroe :)
I don’t really care for that wall color, but it does go well with my curtains.
Sorry about all the bandannas everywhere. Wtf is up with me & bandannas?

So that’s it! I’m really loving my new house – and new neighborhood!! – and I’m looking forward to actually being able to start sewing again. It’s been too long! I just started a new project last night, actually-
REUNITED AT LAST ❤
Good stuff!

a new sewing room for LT!

12 Sep

sewing room eye candy time!

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yes, that is very much a duran duran poster on the door.

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i feel like everyone has an ikea expedit at this point. gah, it’s so handy for storing fabric & patterns! don’t plan on it ever leaving the room, though. i’m actually really surprised this thing survived another move, tbh.

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it is a *very* small room, so getting the furniture in was a bit of a challenge. i had to forfeit my white serger table for lack of space… not sure if i’m too keen on keeping both machines on one table, but oh well! we all make sacrifices sometimes.

the paint is “refreshing pool” by behr, i had it mixed into glidden paint (NEVER AGAIN.) it is very blue-blue in these photos, but it is a definitely tiffany blue in real life. very pretty, i love it so much!

because i was feeling super crafty yesterday, i swatched out the fabrics i want to use for my fall/winter sewing:
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sorry ’bout the giant piece of boning. that piece of leopard print is over 5 yards! DUDE. what should i make with it??? it’s very drapey & flowy. and five yards.

and because i feel so gushy & lovey for my new house…
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my kitchen :)

the paint is “tropical bloom” by valspar, the cabinets are “vibrant white” and i really really love back to the future.

many of these supplies purchased using these home depot coupons.

lladybird summer 2011: done!

28 Jul

just finished the rest of my stuff for lladybird’s summer 2011 line and i feel gooooood. like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

here is the last piece to be photo’d (not the last piece made, but i realized i forgot to take a picture!), plus a quick recap:
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