Who doesn’t need to spring clean your studio? If you don’t, I applaud you! But for many of us, even if we contain our creative clutter pretty well (most of the time), it helps to take a little time once in a while, step back, and figure out what isn’t working and what could work better.
A Little About Me and My Creative Space
My name is Becca. I’ve tried an assortment of crafts and creative pursuits over the years, but now I’ve pretty much settled on quilting and sewing as my main creative squeeze.
When I moved to a “new” house almost four years ago, I was fortunate to be able to convert the attached garage into my own studio. I added as many windows as I could cram into the two exterior walls and tons of wall shelving, plus plenty of electrical outlets at assorted heights (the contractor even left the garage door opener outlet in the ceiling, which I seldom use but much appreciate). The room contains about 360 square feet of usable space, an interior door that I seldom close (because the dog needs basement access–fortunately, he knows he’s not allowed in my studio and just sticks to the stairs), an exterior door, a closet, and the highest ceilings in the house (over nine feet).
Before Spring Cleaning
I’ve rearranged the space two or three times since moving in, most recently just a couple of months ago. That means that although I’ve already done some reorganizing, some of my old workflows really aren’t working for me anymore. I love having room to have friends come over! Some of my storage hadn’t changed since I moved in.
Spring Clean Your Studio Begins
I took a good hard look around and realized that some of my set-up no longer made sense, plus a bunch of stuff that didn’t belong in the studio had ended up in the studio. The only things that should be in there are sewing-related and fitness-related (it’s the best place in the house to do yoga and the ONLY place where I can store and use my rowing machine). The outside world had been creeping in! We can’t have that, now can we?
I inventoried what I do right and what I could improve. Here’s what I came up with.
- I keep things together that belong together.
- Almost everything is kept in the area where it’s used.
- My workstations (sewing machines, pressing table, cutting table, desk) are arranged logically. I really liked having my machine set up at the window when we first moved into the house, but my family had a tendency to sneak up on me and I hated that. So now it’s on the right side of the room where I can see the door with my peripheral vision.
- Despite the quantity of books and magazines, they’re very well organized by topic.
- My tendency to work on lots of projects at once causes disarray.
- Some of the storage locations no longer made sense–for example, after moving my sewing machine away from the window, I never moved the thread rack. It made it a bit of a hassle sometimes.
- Rather than finding storage space in other areas of the house for things that didn’t belong, I’d been stashing them around the room and contributing to the clutter.
- There was a fair amount of space dedicated to crafts I no longer spend any time on.
- Why are there so many unlabeled scraps of interfacing and fusible web?
- I wanted to work on improving my skills on the Handi Quilter, but I couldn’t even get to the darn thing!
- See number one. It was ridiculous.
M-kay, so it was time to make a plan. I had two goals: to purge the room of unnecessary objects, and to clean up the area of the long-arm. Anything else was gravy.
First, I moved out the stuff that obviously didn’t belong. There were some pillows left behind when I moved some furniture out, there was a violin–not a lot of stuff, but it took up a lot of space.
Second, I worked on the stuff UNDER the long-arm frame. I decided to leave the guest beds (did I mention the studio is also occasionally a guest room? And also that I can’t wait for my kids to go to college?), but to move them to a less accessible spot since they don’t get a lot of use.
I moved the homemade AccuQuilt Studio cutter cart over to the place where the guest beds had been, because THAT gets used and was difficult to get at. While I was at it, I also removed the center shelf where the dies were stacked on top of each other (extremely inconvenient) and set the dies up on their sides in organizing racks instead.
I had all sorts of stuff for surface design and art quilting that didn’t really have a home and was kind of piled up under the long-arm. The cube shelving that I have set up for the ironing and cutting tables wasn’t adequate (too-small bins), but I found some great bins on sale when a friend held a Thirty-One party. So, I moved all of those supplies to the wall shelves. They don’t get used daily, so it made sense to move them up higher.
The really time-consuming bit? The patterns. I had two large utility totes chock full of patterns. They were filed and not disorganized, but there were JUST SO MANY. I took the print patterns out of their clear bags and put them in half-sized sheet protectors and three-ring binders. Then, I sat down with the mountain of pdf patterns and website tutorials that I’d printed and searched for them on my laptop. As I found each pattern, I moved it into a Dropbox file and added its name and Dropbox link to a spreadsheet (also saved to Dropbox), then recycled the paper. By the time I was finished, there was only one tote to put back under the long-arm frame, and it wasn’t full.
There was more rearranging and some throwing-away (I described the phases on Instagram as the “chaos” phase and the “WHERE ARE THE GIANT TRASH BAGS I’VE ABOUT HAD IT” phase) as I cleared the surface of the long-arm frame of piles of stray fabric and a couple of kits and who-knows-what-all. Then it was time to work my way around the perimeter of the room.
There’s really not a lot to say about the rest. I moved from surface to surface around the room, removing what didn’t belong and either putting it in its designated spot or piling it in the middle of the room for later. I decided to leave the fabric shelves and the cube shelves alone for now and just focus on the active work spaces.
I’m so grateful to Cheryl Sleboda for hosting the annual Spring Clean Your Studio event. It’s made a world of difference in my workspace, and I’m looking forward to hosting my friends for sew days again after way too long.
“Drink and Help Becca Organize Her Scrap Bins” Day should be on EVERYBODY’S calendar, ’cause it’s going to be EPIC.
Ready to Spring Clean YOUR Studio? Visit all of the bloggers for tips and tricks!
- April 29 – Linda B Creative
- April 30 – Sandra Johnson Designs
- May 1 – Curlicue Creations
- May 2 – Pretty Piney Quilts (you’re here!)
- May 3 – Duck Creek Mountain Quilting
- May 4 – Katie Mae Quilts
- May 5 – The Crafty Nomad
- May 6 – Hunter’s Design Studio
- May 7 – Simone Quilts
- May 8 – Brown Bird Designs Quilts
- May 9 – The Quilted Diary
- May 10 – Purple Pineapple Studio
- May 11 – Quiltings by Kathy
- May 12 – Creatin’ in the Sticks
- May 13 – Powered by Quilting
- May 14 – Seams Like a Dream
- May 15 – Pamela Quilts
- May 16 – Wish Upon a Quilt
- May 17 – Muppin