Sunday, June 2, 2024

Rebecca's New Sewing Room Tour

I don't have much appreciable progress on any of my personal quilts in progress to share with you.  I have been really busy with remodeling and furnishing our new home, since we got rid of so much worn and outdated furniture when we moved.  I'm still working on piecing those double nine patch Tilda blocks that I wrote about in March, just in 5-10 minute increments here and there when I get a chance.  I've managed to finish piecing only two of the six double 9-patch blocks that I cut out eight weeks ago.  How's that for "slow stitching?!"  

Two Nine Inch Blocks Completed, Four More In Progress

Much more progress has been made in the Herculean task of trying to fit all of my sewing and craft goodies from our 3-story home in North Carolina into our MUCH smaller home here in Florida.  The solid maple butcher block top that I had for my giant 97" x 42" cutting table in North Carolina underwent a major amputation in order to repurpose it for a cutting table that would fit in my new 11' 4" x 11' 6" sewing room:

Bernie Sawing My Butcher Block Cutting Table In Half

You can read all about my old cutting table in this blog post from 2013 if you're interested.  

New Cutting Table, 42 W x 61 L x 39 H

My new cutting table utilizes the same custom MDF base units that Bernie built for me in 2013 in a different configuration, and it measures 42" wide by 61" long.  I'm about 5’7” tall and my cutting table height is 39".  Since this is Florida and cotton fabrics fade from UV exposure, I've situated the wire bins containing the bulk of my FQ (fat quarter) and half yard quilting cotton stash on the side of my cutting table that does not get any direct sunlight.

Peg Wall Storage for Rotary Cutting Tools

I previously had a kitchen drawer base cabinet under the larger cutting table for storing my scissors, rotary cutters, and all of the little tools and gadgets (BlocLock and other squaring up templates, appliqué supplies, etc.) so I'm having to find new storage solutions for everything that used to be in those drawers.  In addition to storing my cutting rulers on the peg wall like I did in my last studio, I have also got my rotary cutters up on the wall as well, with everything visible and close at hand for cutting out quilt projects.

Back Side of Cutting Table, Awaiting Storage Unit for AccuQuilt GO! Die Collection

This cutting table is still a work-in-progress, though.  That metal frame thing that I've highlighted in pink in the photo above used to hold my wire scrap bin baskets like the one on the right, but if I put those bins there now I wouldn't be able to open them to get at the fabric.  Ultimately that metal frame and its baskets will go into the closet, but for now the frame is just helping to hold up that back corner of the table top until Bernie gets a chance to build a sturdy MDF storage unit for my collection of AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutting dies to go in its place.

Behold, the Closet!

We added wire shelving to this closet and I've got clear plastic storage boxes in there containing my threads for quilt piecing (100% cotton), home dec and garment sewing (all-purpose polyester), and hand stitching (silk, lighter weight cotton, and all the heavy decorative threads).mmThat plastic 3-drawer storage unit on the bottom left is completely filled with my collection of serger thread, with 4 cones of each color.  The metal IKEA cart with the removable wood top can be pulled up to whichever machine I'm working with to keep additional supplies handy or just to give me a safe place to set a cup of coffee.  I have just barely enough clearance to operate those bifold closet doors without smacking into my sewing cabinet.  

Also taking up real estate in this closet are project boxes containing my patterns, templates and fabrics for all of the projects I have planned but never started:
There's also a project box full of completed blocks, partially completed blocks, and supplies for my FrankenWhiggish appliqué quilt that I started in 2014(!!!) and haven't touched since last October, a box for the Tilda Scrappy Celebration quilt that I started during my move and am working on right now, and a box for the Deco quilt I'm also working on right now, begun in 2021.  

You guys -- in listing all of that out right now, I searched back through my old blog posts to find out exactly how long ago I fell in love with each of those projects and revisited how excited I was about making them.  It's shocking to realize that last year I quilted hundreds of other people's quilts to help them turn their works-in-progress into finishes, but only finished one quilt and one skirt for myself.  Meanwhile, all of these other projects I want to make for myself have been accumulating and sitting untouched in closets and cupboards.  

Back to the sewing room tour!

Home Depot Husky 52 inch Adjustable Height Workbench for Sergers

One of my priorities in designing the new sewing room was that I wanted to have three machines set up and ready to use at all times: my primary sewing machine (Bernina B790+ Crystal Edition), my serger (Babylock Acclaim), and my coverstitch machine (Babylock Euphoria).  I have found that machines needing to be hauled out of closets and set up at the kitchen table don't get used as often as machines that have a dedicated workspace, and I would like to do more garment sewing with my sergers.  I purchased this adjustable height 52" x 24" Husky workbench from Home Depot for my sergers.  Since it's meant for use with woodworking tools, it's rock-solid and will not allow my sergers to bounce when sewing at full speed like a plastic utility table would do, and the price (about $300) was way less than any sewing cabinet.  

52 x 24 Koala Artistry Drawer Center Cabinet for my Bernina B 790 Plus

I bought a new Koala Artistry Drawer Center sewing cabinet for my main sewing machine, however.  I'd looked at Koala, Horn, and other specially-designed sewing cabinets years ago when planning my big studio in North Carolina and decided against them because I didn't need the adjustability features of a cabinet that expanded and folded up for storage and it was more cost-effective to build something custom using kitchen cabinet furniture.  However, in my new 11' x 11' sewing room where every inch of real estate matters, those features make a big difference.  There's a big extension leaf hinged to the back of this cabinet and the whole thing is on locking casters, so if I need more space when it comes time to add borders to a big quilt or sew some drapery panels, I can pull this cabinet forward and put that extension up just for that one project and then put it back the way it is now when it's finished.  Another major consideration is that, although Bernie is capable and willing of building me a custom sewing machine cabinet, there are so many more important projects on his Honey Do list already and ordering the Koala cabinet got my sewing machine set up and ready to sew in a matter of weeks rather than waiting months (or years!) for my husband to have time to build something.  (We still have purple walls in two bathrooms and in the laundry room...)

Sewing and Craft Supplies Still Needing a Home

I would love to tell you that, three months after moving to Florida, I've unpacked and found homes for all of my sewing and craft supplies, but alas, the boxes you see above remain unpacked because I still don't know where to put what's inside of them.  The hot pink bag on the left is full of ironing supplies like pressing cloths, sole plate cleaner, etc.  Then there are my appliqué supplies, like template plastic, Perfect Circle and AppliPop templates, starch brushes, Clover bias stem makers, etc.  Two big boxes not even cracked open yet contain all of my garment sewing patterns and garment fabrics waiting to be sewn, as well as elastic, fasteners, and my garment sewing reference books.  The opened box on the right is only about 1/3 full and it has a motley assortment of items from other unpacked boxes that didn't find a home yet.

Here's what really needs to happen to make these last few boxes go away.  I know that I could fit all of my general tools and supplies into my sewing room closet -- IF I got rid of all of the kits and project boxes full of works-in-progress and works-not-yet-begun.  I've got to look at each one of them critically, and then either commit to actually making the project or rehome it to someone else who will.  Easier said than done!

Meanwhile, 4 1/2 miles away at my father-in-law's house, I've been working on emptying out my late mother-in-law's craft room and getting it set up as a long arm quilting studio.  Here's where we started back in February:

Soon-To-Be Quilting Studio in February 2024

I am extremely grateful that my father-in-law agreed to let me have this room for my long arm quilting machine, because our new little house in Florida does not have ANY room that could accommodate the big 13' frame, let alone fit the frame with the required additional space around the frame needed to load a quilt and actually use the machine.  In the photo above, do you see the children's artwork on that back wall?  Those were made by my sons when they were little, and I was touched to see that my mother-in-law hung them up right there in her craft room where she could see them all the time.  The boxes and knick-knacks got piled up in here after my in-laws sold their house in New Jersey; mostly the contents of the kitchen and formal dining room that never got sorted through after moving them down here.

Same Room, 3 Months Later

If it wasn't for the bright yellow walls, would you even know that's the same room?!  I'm still looking for that cool Rebecca Grace Quilting sign my father-in-law gifted me and when we find it, we'll hang it up above my thread shelves.  I kept the boys' preschool art and all the family photos in the room, just moved them to different walls to make room for the thread and quilting rulers.  The yellow walls are a challenge for photography because light bouncing off yellow walls distorts color -- white or neutral wall colors make for much more accurate color rendering in photos -- but the yellow is going to stay because my mother-in-law picked it and it's important to my father-in-law.  I'll just have to edit quilt photos for white balance correction.

Here's a photo of me and Bernie standing in the yard outside my quilting studio at my father-in-law's house.  We have ZERO yard at our new home, so this is where we bring our dog Samwise to enjoy running around off-lease at "Opa's Private Dog Park."  He loves it, and my father-in-law enjoys having Sam there, too.  

The Yard Outside My Studio (Not at My House)

I think we can all agree that this is enough from me for one blog post!  I'll be back in a few days to share some Big Decisions I've made about my longarm quilting business.  Enjoy your weekend, and I hope your weekend plans include some time to sew!


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

Rebecca so glad to see you finally post I have wondered how you are doing and all that unpacking to do. It looks like you have made great in roads on all of it - it takes time of course and adjustments but it looks like you are working really well on it. You must have found a good hair cutter too as your hair looks great in that photo.

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

I'm glad that you are making good progress on many fronts. I think it's amazing that you are able to use your mother-in-laws space for your long arm. So good to see you so happy!!

Kathy R. said...

Enjoyed the tour of your sewing room. Good luck with trying to decide what to do with the projects you have.

Sandy said...

It's so good to hear from you after such a long time and such a major move! I'm glad things are coming along and that you've found a good place for your longarm, as well as organizing your sewing studio in your new home. I understand the trials of trying to fit everything into a small studio; mine is quite small, too, and must also house my computer desk. If it weren't for the back "flap" on my Koala cabinet, I'd never be able to quilt anything larger than a placemat (slight exaggeration there). As it is, with the flap up, no one can come into the room with me, as there is literally nowhere to stand/walk! LOL! said...

What amazing progress you have made in a short time!!! I know it feels like you've been in the painting, unboxing, set up stage for eons; but, WIW! you've come such a long, long, way! You'll be back at stitching phase soon. What an interesting point you had about finishing all those quilts for others yet finishing so few for you. . .I bet you figure out a better balance between the two soon!

RSLoyd said...

It’s good to know you are settling in and making the necessary adjustments for your business. It will be more difficult to run your business out of your father in laws home, but with perseverance, you can make it work. Good luck on whittling down your project boxes, I find that next to impossible! Looking forward to your future posts!

Cedar Zpark, TX

Ellen Levesque said...

I have missed all your postings. Happy to see you are getting settled. I moved 4 years ago and understand the settling into a much smaller space.

Preeti said...

Oh my sweet friend, how you were missed. Love the amazing progress you have made. Your (and Bernie's) happy picture is the best part of this post.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Hi Rebecca, so happy to read you! Your new studio at home looks great, even if it's smaller. And the longarm studio with the parc is perfect! It looks like you are doing well, I love this photo of you two! Hugs

Anonymous said...

I’ve missed you so much! Seems my address has been lost as I no longer get your newsletters. You’ve done a great job with the move and renovation. Love seeing the pictures of your progress - keep them coming!


dq said...

I truly enjoy seeing the way other quilters set up their sewing spaces. Your white wire bins look very pretty. My room looks pretty, but I cannot see what is in my bins. I am too messy inside my bins for that kind of look. I desperately need to reorganize the sewing space. I need to organize scraps by color. You are inspiring me (as always).

Linda said...

I'm sorry I haven't kept up with your posts and had no idea you had moved! I'm sorry to read about your MIL's passing. I hope your new place is a dream for you. Do you miss NC?
LOVE the way you've plotted out your new space. I got an idea for my tools thanks to you. I have pegboard, but it is only 2 x 4. The bigger version makes much more sense! Your Husky workbench is genius. I like my Arrow, but my machine does bounce. I'll keep the Husky in mind - I could sell the Arrow on Marketplace! :D Good luck to you with your new house and new job!