Thursday, August 23, 2018

Archaeological Accomplishment for the Month of August: I Have Unearthed My Cutting Table and Rediscovered a Window!

There Was a Cutting Table Hiding Beneath Those Mountains of Fabric!
Does your work space ever get so cluttered that it's literally paralyzing?  Mine had gotten to the point that I was stalled out on several works-in-progress because I only had about a square foot of this table surface available for cutting and measuring.  That was fine for making those decadent little string triangles, but I didn't have anywhere near enough room for:

  • Measuring and adjusting the pieced borders of my almost-completed Jingle BOM quilt top
  • Measuring, cutting and piecing the backing fabric for my Paint Me a Story Bear Paw quilt
  • Measuring the backing fabric for a couple of charity quilt tops, which will likely need strips of fabric added before I can load them on my quilting frame properly

My Beloved 6" Time Timer, Available on Amazon here 
I thought I had taken a "before excavation" photo of the disaster that was my cutting table, but apparently I was too ashamed because I can't find one.  Anyway, it was bad enough that it took me at least EIGHT hours to organize everything and pack it all neatly away.  I know this because, to keep from getting overwhelmed, I used my handy Time Timer and would just set it for 30 minutes or an hour at a time, and then just focus on putting things away until the timer went off without thinking about the WHOLE mess.  And folks, I had to reset that timer MANY TIMES over the past couple of weeks...

I bought this timer for one of my kids, by the way -- a special ed teacher suggested it as a way to help my then-elementary-age son develop better time management skills for homework.  The 12" version is popular for classroom use as well -- it's great because the kids can see how much time is left visually in a red "pie" that gets smaller and smaller.  My son was annoyed with me for buying it and refused to even try it, but I love my Time Timer and I use it any time I need help staying on track with a tedious task that I don't really want to be doing.  Dusting, vacuuming...  I can do anything for thirty minutes, right?

If I had dumped everything off the cutting table into a big box and then hid that box in a closet under the stairs, I could have been done in 10 minutes.  But these were piles of new fabrics that had been carefully selected and coordinated for upcoming but not-yet-started projects, backing/binding/batting picked out for WIP quilt tops that are almost ready for quilting, and of course the BAZILLION leftover 1.5" strips of fabric that I'd carefully cut for my pineapple quilt...  If I just shoved those strips in my scrap bins they would be a wrinkled mess when I wanted to use them and I'd have to iron them.  I wanted to store everything in a way that I could find what I needed and use it easily when I wanted it again, so I undertook a reorganization of my stash of (mostly) fat quarters in hopes of finding the perfect fabric that I already own more frequently rather than continually buying all new fabric.

And so the fabric strips from the laundry drying rack have been neatly packed away in shallow wire drawer bins where they are ready to go when I need them again:

ClosetMaid Shallow Wire Drawer Bins for Folded Strip Storage

I cannot tell you how great it felt to finally get that laundry drying rack out of my studio.  It has been in my way, serving the purpose of keeping those strips organized and visible for the past five years as I S-L-O-W-L-Y pieced my pineapple log cabin blocks.

And my stash of fat quarters is now organized by color in deeper wire bins, like so:
Fat Quarter Stash Organized By Color in Deeper ClosetMaid Wire Drawer Bins
Those wire bins are great, by the way.  They allow air to circulate so my fabric doesn't get mouffy, and I can pull them out and easily see what I have in whatever color I'm looking for.  As I said, these are just stash fabrics, not earmarked for any particular project.  I also have certain wire bins designated for all of the fabrics that were purchased to be used together in upcoming quilt projects.  It is definitely time to start finishing some of these stalled-out projects and turn more of my stashed fabrics into finished quilts!

With the butcher block surface of my cutting table finally visible again, I gave it a good wipe-down with mineral oil and allowed that to sink in overnight.  Now I just need to knock down a few cobwebs and give the studio a good dusting and vacuuming before I get back to sewing again.

Do you have any favorite tips for organizing and storing your fabric stash and supplies for different projects?  Or, better yet, any tips for STAYING organized so your studio never gets so cluttered up in the first place?  I'd love to hear fabric solutions in the comments (unless your suggestions require me to stop buying fabric, 'cause THAT ain't gonna happen!).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

I'm linking up with:


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

right now my fabric is mainly small pieces and they are sorted into shoe box size boxes by color and labeled so if I know I want red fabric I know which box to look in they are all stacked on my very deep shelves in the sewing room - I also have one narrow cupboard as I go into the bedroom that is all but the top shelves of fabric - again I do not have near as much as some - this fabric could stand to be rearranged but maybe in the winter I sure do not have time now. The sewing room I try to keep my cutting table empty except when I am cutting so I can also use if for layouts or other things. I prefer a very neat room and can not work in clutter so everything gets put away constantly.

chrisknits said...

Sorry, I NEED all the tips you can gather, I have none to give. Although I just used a wire basket and a woven basket to display Fat Quarters on my computer desk. Other than that all the fabric is crammed into Iris carts and hidden in a closet. Except for the scrap bin I have of various sizes and the plastic bags I have of planned project collections. And they are just all over the place!

Yvonne said...

I'm envious of your clean cutting table. I've heard that it's a goal that's achievable but you'd never know from my cutting table it was. Thank you for the inspiration.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

I love that clean table and the clock! I have been using Alexa to time tasks and to tell me to take breaks. I may have to get that clock though-i love that visual.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately I have no tips for you. My cutting table is such a mess, big pieces I cut on the floor. But you give me hope to overcome the chaos. Thank you for the tip with the timer

KaHolly said...

You certainly put a smile on my face this morning, as my work space is exactly as you’ve described! As a matter of fact, in order to have a little bit of room on my cutting mat. I filled a quart size baggie and set it aside, but in view. Good job organizing, and good idea to use a timer. Taking the time, then becoming overwhelmed, is what discourages me from doing it right!

Yvonne said...

I'm envious of your clean cutting table. I've heard that it's a goal that's achievable but you'd never know from my cutting table it was. Thank you for the inspiration.

Louise said...

Your table looks great! And I love the wire baskets storage. So clean and open. The flatter ones for projects are a really good idea. That's what's missing in my studio: storage for in progress WIPs. I've been using big ziplock bags, but they are a pain.

The 15 or 30 minutes at a time technique is a great one for tacking big messes. The only thing that works for me to keep the mess smaller is to force myself to completely clean up after each finish. That includes cutting and sorting all the scraps every time. It's so easy to get distracted by the next thing, though...

Vicki in MN said...

Yes I have the same problem as you, I have U shaped counter tops and right now I can hardly see that they are blue anymore!! I have loads of projects in the works, but I do need to buckle down and finish up a few that are just sitting on the counter to make myself feel better. If we were all really good we'd clean up after each and every project-but we are in to much of a hurry to move onto the next one!!

SJSM said...

I have two of the ikea Alex rolling drawer chests. One I keep by my machine that has all those little things you need as you sew such as pins, needles, scissors, pressor feet even tools to open my machine and all that I need to clean it. There is a lot more in there such as seam gauges, some threads commonly used, tweezers, extra cone holders. In the second chest are Notions for sewing, I have different types of stay tape, zippers, marking tools, and serger threads on the bottom. A third custom made chest holds my specialty threads arranged by color. They lay flat so I can see which colors I have at a glance. I can pull the drawer out and carry it to where the fabric and light is better to make my thread choices. One closer has my WIP in the translucent colored boxes by art bin. In there resides my Accuquilt Go products, my machine Trolleys are on a narrow shelf at the top of the closet. My patterns envelopes and directions are in binders by clothing type. The pattern tissues are in clear comic envelopes with a comic board to keep them upright in a file drawer. They are put in numerical order. Fabric is on Polar Notion boards and filed on shelves behind doors. I do have a crammed bookshelf. I still struggle keeping it all from overflowing with new purchases. I need to sew more and plan less new projects.

Brooke said...

oh my goodness sakes!
you are an inspiration!
love your set-up!

thanks so much for linking up!

LA Paylor said...

awesome! I'm loving the neat way you're storing the strips. I'm trying to set up a new studio space, not enough space, and enjoyed reading about your excavation.

CreationsbyPaulaMu said...

What an inspiration!! Mine is a disaster and has been since wedding gown maheim and I need to take that deep breath and organize before I get going on my collection pieces! Yikes, my show is 6 weeks away!!

PaulaMu said...

What an inspiration!! Mine is a disaster and has been since wedding gown maheim and I need to take that deep breath and organize before I get going on my collection pieces! Yikes, my show is 6 weeks away!!

Run 'n Stitch said...

I'm always looking for organization ideas. Your strips looks so tidy.

Jasmine said...

I guess that I’m the opposite. I’m a bit OCD about a clean room. I usually sew until I run out of time. Then the next day I have to clean and put extra things away before I start sewing. (Sometimes making it so I don’t see.) I just can’t think in clutter. I guess my advice is to do a little each day so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Yippy skippy! Your subscription has been successful!

Let's Keep in Touch!

Sign up to receive weekly quilting inspiration from Rebecca Grace Quilting by email, and never miss out on the good stuff.