My Theme for 2015

Random stuff discovered -

Hi, now that we’re nearly two months into 2015, have you given any thought to what you want  to accomplish this year, not necessarily resolutions, but maybe goals or themes? I’m not really into resolutions but I like the idea of a word or theme for 2015. This has been in the back of my mind for a while, particularly since I got a mailing at the end of December from Flight Design Co., a branding and strategy company. I follow their art director Katrina McHugh on Instagram (@katrinamchugh), which I think is why they sent me the card. (I got an email in Dec., asking for my mailing address, telling me they would be sending me something fun. It was addressed to “CSews,” which is my IG handle.)

The mailer was a New Year’s greeting and thank you – a long rectangular piece of cardstock folded in three. When I unfolded it, it said “2015 is all about” and  then there was a blank area to fill in, followed by an exclamation point. To the right of the exclamation point were the following instructions:

  1. Think about what you want
  2. Find a common theme
  3. Choose a word or phrase
  4. Write it down
  5. Hang it on your wall
  6. Take a picture
  7. Share it
  8. Build community
  9. Make it happen
  10. Celebrate!

I didn’t want to make any New Year’s resolutions but I kept this card and let ideas percolate. And when I read a January post by the effervescent Leila of Three Dresses Project, about her word of the year (freedom), I thought, I need a word! But what word?

Well, it all came together this past weekend when I realized I forgot to bring the power cord for my sewing machine to a Sew Together meetup, an event I organized for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. (The idea was to have a meetup at Lacis in Berkeley (great upstairs classroom space!) and people could bring their sewing machines, patterns, etc. and sew, trace, cut, in the same space.) Luckily I live around the corner from Lacis. I needed to get some measurement forms for the group anyway, so I thought I could quickly pop home and get the two things and be back in a few minutes.

Well, I couldn’t find the power cord. I had brought my secondary machine – my lighter, plastic Kenmore to the meetup. I don’t use it much these days,which is partly why I couldn’t find the darn power cord. But the real reason, which I finally had to face, was that my sewing area, essentially our dining table, was waaaay overdue for a cleanup – as my husband had been complaining about to me for weeks. (My main machine is now a used Bernina I got last year, which I haven’t blogged about. It’s a mechanical one, no fancy electronics.)

I knew the machine’s power cord was somewhere around the table but I couldn’t figure out where it was. We’ve got boxes stored under it, my various sewing carts are on one side of the table, and my husband’s book cases line the walls around the room. So things are rather crowded. You can see my carts in this post on sewing organization. (Yeah, my drawers are organized but that didn’t help me when my work space was a mess!)

After about 10 minutes of searching, I realized it was taking too long and I wanted to get going on that muslin! Lucky for me, I also knew one member, Hillary, brought a machine she was willing to let others use – as were other generous members. So I returned to the meetup – sans power cord – and took Hillary up on her offer. Thanks to Hillary, I was able to put together most of the pieces of my muslin  – a 16-section (8 panels each for the front and back) A-line skirt from Basic Black, which I’m working on for the Japan Sew Along, organized by Tanoshii (hashtag #2015JSA).

Here are a few photos of the meetup.

Sistemas Capilares con lace frontal

When I got home, I started going through the disorganized mess on and around the dining table (in case you’re wondering, we usually eat on a table in the living room – such is cozy apartment living). I’m too embarrassed to show a photo of the mess so I just took a photo of a few of the random things I discovered during my cleanup – that’s the photo above, clockwise from the left:

  • a receipt from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics from December 2014,
  • a receipt from Britex Fabrics from July(!) 2014,
  • testing stitches on the stretch twill fabric I used in my first Chardon Skirt,
  • the formerly missing lid to a box of pins,
  • the pocket pattern piece for my Chardon (gee, how did I not put that away with all the other pattern pieces?),
  • an “O” I embroidered for a drawstring bag I’m making for one of my nieces,
  • leftover bias tape from my Trench, a summer stashbust project,
  • a pink erasable highlighter (I was wondering where that went, rolled under the table),
  • clothes pin, and
  • small polka dot drawstring bag I made.

Whew! And I found the power cord!! It was in a bag sitting on a tall chair near the kitchen island, which is right next to our dining table. Sheesh. I decided to put my Kenmore machine AND power cord away in our small storage area. More table space!

So I decided I needed two words for 2015 – because one without the other wasn’t going to work.

Creativity and discipline- Flight Design -

Yes, creativity and discipline! Because if you don’t have discipline you may not finish anything, not matter how creative you are or how many ideas are in the hopper. My husband Kofi is always saying how important discipline is and he’s right. I know if I’m not more disciplined about carving out time to sew/trace/cut, even if it’s only 30 minutes, a day, it will take me a really long time to complete anything. And if I’m not disciplined about putting things away, I’ll waste time hunting for things – not to mention drive my husband crazy – when I could be sewing or doing something else. I can only sew after I get home from work or on weekends, which means I don’t have a lot of free time.

Meanwhile, I’m going to stick this on the wall. Now all that’s left of the instructions are: build community, make it happen, and CELEBRATE!

What’s your sewing space like? Do you have a dedicated area or is it shared space – as in someone else uses the space, so you need to clean up all the time? Do you put things away or can you just leave everything out? If you have any tips, please share! Do you have a theme or word for 2015?

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Sewing Organization

Sewing organization  -

I didn’t participate in Bimble & Pimple’s Sewvember Challenge – post a sewing photo every day in November – but after seeing all the photos on Instagram (#bpSewvember), I was inspired to organize my notions, fabric, and related books. (Plus I had the additional incentive of the hubster was complaining (a lot) about the fabric: “It’s everywhere! You have to do something!”)

OK, I admit there were about a couple of fabric piles in the bedroom – sitting on top of some large clear plastic tubs, which were full of fabric, my notions were also crowded in couple of small carts, and my patterns needed some organization. It was starting to get messy but really, it wasn’t as bad as the hubby made it seem. The challenge was how to find more space in our cramped apartment. And that’s partly why I procrastinated doing anything.

I don’t have a sewing room (if only!) and nearly all of the wall space was already taken up by bookshelves. The hubster is an avid reader and book collector. His books fill more than a dozen bookcases (really!). I have a few bookshelves, too but nowhere near as many as he does. So I decided I needed the following:

  • a freestanding shelving unit of some sort to store some fabric and other sewing items
  • a place for my sewing and fashion books
  • another rolling cart for notions or sewing projects
  • more plastic storage bins for fabric
  • something to store patterns

I searched “shevling unit” on Ikea‘s website a few times, trying to find something that didn’t cost too much, wasn’t too wide, and didn’t necessarily need a wall to rest against. The website can be a bit overwhelming – too many search  results – so I popped over to the store in Emeryville to see what some of them look like in person and decided to get the Vittsjo shelving unit ($49), which has four shelves with a lot of space between the shelves. I thought they would be good for storing containers of fabric and other stuff. It looks like this after you put it together (yes, like most Ikea furniture, assembly required.)

Ikea Vittsjo shelving unit - sewing storage -

It was freestanding on Ikea’s floor display but it does come with something to attach to the wall at the top. Maybe I’ll use some bungee cords to attach it to the desk. I wouldn’t want it to topple over in an earthquake.

It’s nearly 69 (175 cm) inches tall with metal supports and three glass shelves in the middle, the top and bottom shelves are wood. As you can see, it’s not very wide (about 20 inches/51 cm) or deep (14 inches/36 cm), which was exactly what I needed. It had to squeeze in next to my desk in the bedroom and not block the television.

Here’s a shot of it in the bedroom, right next to the bed. You can’t see my desk because it’s right behind the Vittsjo shelves. My back was against another bookshelf behind me so this is as far back as I could get to shoot it. You can’t see the bottom shelf.

The two larger clear bins (fabric inside!) that you see on the two middle shelves are the deep sweater box from the Container store (dimensions: 15 5/8″ x 13 1/8″ x 13 1/4″ h).  These boxes aren’t very wide but you can fit a lot in them if you neatly fold your fabric. My larger bins of fabric are on the other side of the bed.

Sewing storage - Ikea shelf

I discovered that I could fit several of my smaller plastic containers next to the fabric boxes. This is the side view.

Ikea shelves - Vittsjo - side view -

Some of my notions are in the small plastic boxes, which had formerly been piled on top of my rolling carts in the dining area.

Containers on shelves -

It’s nice to have them out of the way.

Next, I wandered around Target to see what they had and found what they call a small three-shelf organizer – really a small, skinny, cheaply made bookcase ($21.49, assembly required). Part of Target’s “Room Essentials” line of products, it’s made out of that heavy pressed board stuff, except for the back, which is actually a flimsy piece of black cardboard(!). I got it because it fit in the space – on top of a small chest near another bookcase and left enough room to put another stack of books in front of it.

Sewing book case -

I got a purple fabric bin ($6) at Target, which sits on top of this skinny bookcase. The bins are also part of the Room Essentials line; they fit inside of various shelving units. I put sewing magazines and more books in it. They are made of polypropylene textile, which is a very lightweight, nonwoven fabric. (A lot of promotional tote bags are made from this fabric.)

Sewing books and magazines -

Moving onto our dining area of the apartment where I have a row of small Sterilite rolling carts. I  already had two and I needed another three-drawer one, which I got at Target for $12.99. It’s the one on the left, which is now full of fabric and project stuff.

Rolling carts - notions -

These carts are lined up against our dining room table, which is essentially my sewing table. We don’t eat there. 😉

I’ve got three short carts, including one 5-drawer one. which has thread in zip lock bags, fusible bias stay tape, fray check, and other notions in the shallow drawers and fabric paint, glue and other things in the deep bottom drawer.

Notions in rolling cart -

On top of this cart, I’ve put this three-drawer organizer ($8.99), which I also got at Target that day. I’ve got bias tape and seam tape in the top drawer and zippers in the other two.

3-drawer storage - Bias tape and zippers -

On top of the three-drawer cart on the right, I’ve put a fabric file box I got on sale at the Container store earlier this year. I put several sewing patterns (vintage, indie patterns, patterns I’ve traced, and tracing paper) in it.

To the right of my small carts, you can see a tall, 8-drawer storage cart, which I got for $57 last year from Office Depot. At the time, it was cheaper than other multi-drawer carts I saw. I like it because the bottom two drawers are deep and the rest are shallow. This cart is now $74.89.

Here’s a closer shot of it. As you can see, it leans slightly to the left. I don’t know why it’s doing that. I moved some of the heavier stuff to the bottom drawer to see if that would make a difference but no. Oh, well, it still does a good job storing stuff.

8-drawer cart - notions -

I went through it and reorganized the drawers – tape measures, marking pens, sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, scissors, etc.

8-drawer cart - notions -

And that’s my current sewing organization. Now I feel ready for sewing in the New Year. How do you store and organize your sewing stuff?

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