Organization Station: Managing Sewing Stashes

If you are a hobbyist or DIYer, you well understand the need to have a collection of materials waiting to be put to good use–and the need to get a handle on storage of said materials before your garage/attic/basement/guest bedroom/linen closet becomes the Monica closet, or perhaps a cemetery for best laid plans and good intentions. Here lies industrial shelving attempt #1,  behind all the tile samples underneath all the wood for the Ana White farmhouse table covered in two inches of dust and sand from the beach toys used three vacations ago..or was it four?   You get the picture.

People of the cloth, and I’m not talking clergy here, have a compulsive need for All of the Things! a fabric stash. These stashes vary in size based on a number of factors, but most crafters agree that you can never have too much fabric. Of course, when trying to store said fabric, those of us lesser mortals with limited storage must be more circumspect with our fabric purchases. I learned this lesson after being overly ambitious when I started quilting and couldn’t choose between fabrics, which resulted in buying All of the Things! enough fabric  for two and a half quilts when I had set out only to buy fabric for one. This resulted in a modest stash that I hauled with me from the city to the beach. It has been languishing in one of the guest bedrooms while I have been working on school things, and by languishing I mean that it has been piled on the bed and various shelves and shoved in random baskets. My quilt is not quite finished.  And by that I mean I have 1/4 of the quilt top sewn. It’s a king size quilt, so cut me some slack. 😉

Since last May, I have been struggling to find a place where all of my art and craft supplies could be kept and to find a prime place for working on my school stuff. The desk I use for schoolwork right now is also the desk I normally use for my sewing machine and supplies, but both cannot occupy the same space at the same time. #physics Enter the mail center.

IMG_4505    This mail center was a housewarming present to us from Chris’s paternal grandmother eight years ago when we bought our first house. It came from Pier 1, and it served us well in our first house and later in the townhome in the city. For some reason, it has not been functional here at the beach, most likely because it is not conveniently located to the entryway of our home. Rather than serving as a mail/paper processing station as usual, it is a clutter catcher, with piles of mail and other random things. In fact, the mail center had become the junk (drawer) center of late, which was unacceptable.

Inspiration hit when I realized that the cubbies in the mail center would be perfect for storing yards of fabric–and for controlling the quantities that could be stored, resulting in a more manageable stash. Better use of mail center? Check.  Better storage for fabric? Check.  Less compulsive spending and buyer’s remorse? Check. Check.IMG_4499

This solution would probably not work for people who sew regularly and need to store vast swaths of fabric, but for an on-again, off-again project crafter like me, this was an ideal match.

My sewing machine fits snugly in the bottom cabinet as if it were made for it. Very snugly. I think I can fit my pinky finger in the space between the sewing machine and the shelf bottom.IMG_4501All my fabric has a tidy, colorful home…note the quilt squares cut and ready to be sewn together…

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and there is even room for the jewelry box one of my great-grandmothers gave me, which I am currently using to store binding I have already cut for the quilts I have yet to make. #gettingthere

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My sewing supplies and scraps fit in the drawer or on the top shelf of the bottom cabinet in glass storage containers we got as a wedding gift almost nine years ago that used to be in our kitchen.  We don’t have room for them on our counters now, but this is turning out to be a great way to repurpose them.

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The mail center is not intended for a heavy machine to perch precariously on the end of the pull-down desktop, so I do not plan to sew here.  However, on the other side of this rather useless pass through area in the center of our house is a hand-me-down sofa table that I had been temporarily using for sewing anyway when I had the time. Nearby is our dining table, so I can just pull a chair up to the sofa table, set up the machine, and sew to my heart’s content while watching, er, listening to reruns of Fixer Upper. Watching might result in bleeding fingers. Not recommended.

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Best part? When I’m not sewing, it all closes up, and no one will ever know that this is a mail center fabric hoard sewing station.

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Except for all of you. Oops. 😉

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Tidbits: Pumpkin Pincushion

Happy fall, y’all!

Okay, so it’s not fall yet, but it’s almost September (close enough, right?).    As a former educator, back to school time conjures up plenty of sights, sounds, and smells (fresh crayons and stacks of Post-its, anyone?).  I am a sucker for school/office supplies.  Remember that line from You’ve Got Mail, when Tom Hanks’ character types, “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils” to Meg Ryan’s character?  Love. it.  Especially a bouquet of yellow Ticonderoga pencils!

Confession: I actually hate writing with #2 wooden pencils.  I just love looking at them.  Have you ever noticed that brand new sharpened pencils are like daisies?  They arrange themselves in their container (if you have enough to look like an actual flower arrangement). But I digress….

Anyway, once school is back in session, fall seems to be just around the corner.  I am totally one of those people who breaks out the fall decor on the inside of my house on Labor Day weekend.  The outside decor goes up on the first official day of autumn so at least the neighbors don’t think I’m too crazy.

For some reason (despite the ridiculously hot weather we are having), it feels like it should be fall (maybe because I am wishing for cooler weather).  Don’t get me wrong.  I love summer.  But there is something wonderful about autumn.  And pumpkins.  And crisp leaves.  And cool evenings.  And hot cider.  And baked apples.  And pumpkins.  And hooded sweatshirts.  And football games.  And sweaters.  And pumpkins.  Did I mention pumpkins?

Speaking of pumpkins, to satisfy my ridiculously early craving for fall this year, I made this pincushion:

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I followed the Fiskars tutorial (from http://www2.fiskars.com/Sewing-Quilting/Projects/For-the-Home/Organization/Sewn-Pumpkin-Pincushion#.UhjPE2RBKHc).  I first saw this project when I purchased some sewing supplies from Jo-Ann’s and immediately googled it when I got home to investigate further.

Okay, I mostly followed the tutorial, but made a key modification: Instead of sewing the leaf inside out, reversing it, and stitching closed, I actually sewed it by hand right-side out.  Yes, this meant that the rough edges are exposed, but this makes the leaf look a bit more realistic.  If you look closely at pumpkin leaves, they aren’t “perfect” along the edge either (no, my leaf is not shaped like an authentic pumpkin leaf–my fabric cutting skills aren’t that impeccable just yet).  Plus, it also allowed me to pull the thread taut in such a manner that it made my leaf curl, giving it more dimensionality and character, I think.  Like a leaf that is starting to shrivel up just a wee bit.

Check out the tutorial if you are an “autumnut” like I am–very cute, very fun, fairly simple.  My pumpkin is not quite as segmented as the tutorial’s, though, which was a bit disappointing.  The directions said to make sure you stuffed your pincushion with enough filler to make it plump, but I think I must have overstuffed (overachiever that I am)  because each time I pulled the embroidery thread around the sections tighter to make the sections plump out, my thread would break (and I wasn’t using cheap thread!).  I suppose I could undo my stitching and take some stuffing out to see if it improves things, but I’m reluctant to destroy it.  At any rate, it’s good enough for the first pincushion I’ve ever made and is cute enough to be a fall decoration.  Apparently, it is also tempting as a cat toy, as I saw one of our sneaky littles pawing at it a couple of days ago. That gives me an idea for another tidbit, though: cat toys…maybe filled with catnip instead of loose threads? Meow.