Thursday, September 14, 2017

From Chaos to Order

I (Teri) am a person of piles—piles of papers, piles of "to do" items, piles of projects. It is a rule in our house: Don't mess with my piles! My right-brained system of organization depends on seeing something in order to remember to complete the task involved. Mail that needs to be answered goes on a pile. It may be an inch deep, but I know where it is. (In all honesty, this was probably one of the hardest things my husband had to learn about me, as he is just the opposite. It's true what they say about those attractions.)
When we moved this summer, part of the dream of our new home was a roomy space to house my studio. I actually had a fairly large room in our other house, but as you will see, my "stuff" exceeded my ability to keep it organized. Who are we kidding; I just didn't stay on top of it! Every now and then, it would even get to be more than I could handle, and I would do a total overhaul. But not often enough. With some trepidation, I will share a peek of my OLD sewing room mess, so you can see where I started.

My cutting table and sewing cabinet are piled with projects—at least three different things
I was working on at the time. Not very neat piles, either!

A dresser full of fabric, baskets of supplies and unfinished projects,
a suitcase full of quilts for a lecture, and bags of class materials

Needless to say, I rarely worked at this desk! 

The closet housed two book shelves, one shelf for books, and the rest for fabric.
Attempts were made to organize by color, which would last until I started pulling fabric for a new project.

Packing up that mess was my biggest job in preparing to move. I organized as I packed, did a bit of purging (not much!), and vowed to maintain some physical sense of order in my new studio. We were able to determine how the room would be designed, so I really would have no excuses, and my husband, an organization guru, was all about helping me to get the room in order. Maybe it was because he would be sharing the room with me; he has his office in one corner of the room. Whatever his driving force—helpfulness or self-preservation—his help was much appreciated. (I have a gem, for sure!)

It took me two months to get to a functional point, and I still have a way to go, but what a delight to have room for everything to have a place. Oh, and it's pretty awesome to know where everything is when I need it! 

You can see I have at least twice the area now, so no excuses. Now that I've shared my embarrassing mess, perhaps you will be my accountability in staying organized. ☺

Here is a short tour of my new space. The view on the left is from the doorway at the top of the stairs.

The sewing part of my studio—I love my Martelli cutting table!

That beat-up oak dresser got a coat (or three) of chalk paint and now houses vintage treasures, like embroidery and doilies, as well as batting, flannels, and muslin. Atop is an organizer holding charm packs, ribbons, and miscellaneous necessities.
The bin, bottom right, holds my quilt hoop and some UFOs that I plan to finish: in clear view as a reminder to work on them!

My favorite part is this peg board, inspired by Jan Vaine and her sister, Jo Cridge, from Graham Cracker Collection.
It is perfect for organizing my embroidery threads and ribbons, so they are in clear view when I am matching materials for a new block. What an advantage to have it all in front of me. Well, maybe not all, but a lot of it! On the bookshelf to the right are several bins of threads that didn't lend themselves to being hung, like Valdani and DMC.

Another ancient book shelf that I rejuvenated with chalk paint holds buttons, pin cushions, light box, and boxes of patterns.

My cutting table butts up to my sewing table. I have tons of light, but I always add a few more Ott lights in critical locations. One can never have too much light! In the nook in the corner, I have a table and chairs, where I can plan projects, sit and appliqué, assemble kits, or whatever. The table currently holds a pile of quilts that need to be hung. The back wall is a design wall, and hooks on the wall hold my project bags.

My specially requested twelve-foot closet is a dream! All those wire baskets that had been out in the room before are now behind doors. And lined, so things don't fall through the wire. With the extra room, we got another short set to stack, so I didn't have to stuff them to overflowing.

My husband was sure that it would be better for me to have shelves than to use the old bookshelves for fabric, so he installed eight-foot shelving and lined them for my stash. We have no secrets about the quantity of materials I "need."
Did I mention that I married a real gem?

Baskets hold silks, wool, mailing envelopes, ribbon, fancy fabrics, and hand-dyes.
The plastic drawers to the right of the baskets have scraps, organized by color.

We had a built-in desk installed for our computers. I still haven't discovered the box that holds my keyboard, so I've been solely using my laptop. We haven't yet hung all our artwork, but we adorned one wall with some of our old record albums.

And here is my gem, working in his office. I wasn't kidding when I stated that he would have a corner of the room for his office space. Wasn't I generous to give him so much room? Just kidding. I'm sure you've guessed who the generous one is!

I am learning that when my surfaces are not filled with piles, they are far more useful. Like when you get a phone call asking about cutting lace for tables at a wedding reception. How nice not to have to spend a half hour moving piles. Now, I can hide them in that twelve-foot closet!! 

Kidding, again. I hope...


  1. Organizing is so satisfying! Beautiful set up and you will enjoy your quilting more.

  2. a caution about the quilts you plan on hanging on your wall... even indirect light fades fabric. For that reason specifically I am so glad you now have the stash behind closed doors! heheheh!

    1. Thanks! Keeping the fabric behind closed doors is a priority, for sure!