Sewing Machine Suitcase

Sewing machine cart
Sewing machine cart

I was very fortunate to receive a nice gift card. I have wanted a suitcase in which to put my machine. SIL #2 and I share a wagon, but it is often overflowing so I didn’t think a suitcase would go amiss. I saw one that Amy has and really liked it.  It is called the 360 Crafter’s Bag**. She and I have been looking for one for me at Tuesday Morning, but never found one. This gift card was my way forward. I bought the aqua. 

Sewing machine cart - main compartment
Sewing machine cart- main compartment

I tried it out today and my small on-the-go machine/ Janome DC-5100 fits nicely. I measured everything before I bought it, but when it arrived, I didn’t think the machine would fit. It does exactly, as you can see.

There are several pockets on the inside. I haven’t figured out what to do with them. You may also be able to see some of the clear plastic pockets housed on the inside of the main compartment. I don’t know if the stuff in those pockets will get smashed when the main compartment is closed and I am on the go.

Sewing machine cart - front pocket
Sewing machine cart – front pocket

The suitcase also has a separate front pocket area with more pockets. This area is on the front of the main compartment. If you look carefully, you can see a separate zipper on the sides of this shown compartment.

Again, there are more pockets and pouches and I still don’t know what to put inside. I am thinking of putting the items from my Quiltmaking Go Bag in the various pockets so I just have one thing to take to class or Sew Day and to store. I am reluctant to make such a big change, especially since I don’t always bring my sewing machine to Sew Day. My Go Bag is getting pretty ratty, though, so it might be time to make a bold move.

Sewing machine cart - sides
Sewing machine cart – sides

The sides have even more pockets. I kind of wish there were some taller pockets like for scissors, but I can see the benefits of only having short pockets – items don’t get lost in the depths.

Another bonus is that the Quiltessa bag’s suitcase slip handle (not sure what to call it) is a snug, but good fit on this suitcase.

The one thing I don’t like about it is the handle on top. It is attached to a pocket that can be unzipped. I am afraid it doesn’t have  enough support and will rip away. I plan to hold it as much as possible by the retractable handle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item you click on. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.

 

The Things I Need to Do to Get Ready for Quiltmaking in 2020

In no particular order:

  1. New Goodreads shelf
  2. New blog photo folder on my hard drive
  3. Move old blog photo folder to archive folder
  4. Organize projects so I know what to cut in 2020
    1. Once I decide, make a list for my cutting table
    2. Write a post about what I am cutting in 2020
  5. Add a new blog category for 2020
  6. Set up posts I work on all year long.
    1. all donation blocks
    2. Year in Review
    3. All donation quilts
    4. Gift Bags in July
  7. Update my fabric usage spreadsheet
  8. Organize FOTY 2019 units
  9. Decide on a shape for FOTY 2020
  10. Update my fabric/quilting purchases spreadsheet

UCAB Pockets

Lynette and I met about the BAM Bag-a-Long  at Sew Day the other day. We went over the sketches she made for cutting and she also made a test pocket.

It turns out, from the test, that we need to make sure the participants buy the zipper sizes that are given in the pattern. The way Natalie finishes the zippers is a lot easier with zipper tape than it is with zipper teeth. This thought/method of making is contrary to the way most bag patterns are written.

UCAB test pocket
UCAB test pocket

It was interesting to see the large pocket finished, because you can see the flange (look for the WonderClips) in a big way. It is very clear that there is a different construction going on to finish the secondary pockets and keep them away from the edges.

Lynette said that it made the directions a little difficult to understand. Still, the thought of keeping the bulk away from the edges is a good one.

The bottom of the pocket also has a pleat so that larger non-flat items can be included.

I plan to make a sample of the small front pocket so I can test out making a WonderClip holder. I hope to get it done by the next meeting.

Resources

  • Purchase the pattern and sew with us-N.B.: we will not be providing step by instructions, but will be posting here with tips and tricks
  • Tour of the bag -Instagram
  • Bag-a-Long project post – 9/27/2019
  • Thoughts behind the bag – 8/7/2019
  • Free video instructions
    • UCAB episode 1 : preparing for sewing pockets
    • UCAB episode 2 : sewing pockets, discusses thickness of pockets
    • UCAB episode 3 :badge holder pocket technique
    • UCAB episode 4 : Large pocket, installing zipper
    • UCAB episode 5 : installing a swivel hook, front and back of bag, front and back pockets
    • UCAB episode 6 : insert pockets into side panels
    • UCAB episode 7 : very brief video showing how the piece looks after installing the pockets in the side panels
    • UCAB episode 8 :Brief video showing the finished bag. No sewing.

Sewing Room Organization Tips and Ideas

This article was originally posted on the Redfin site on August 21, 2019 by Jennifer Karami. It was updated on October 13, 2019. I have permission to repost it here.

___________________________________________

 
fabric scissors sewing tape

A sewing room is a space where you can concentrate and indulge in your passion – whether that be sewing, knitting, quilting, or another form of crafting. It’s the perfect place to keep your supplies organized, plan projects, and concentrate without interruption. For those who take clients professionally, the sewing room may be your show space for completed projects or a private spot for fittings and consultations. If you have small children, it’s also the best way to ensure that curious fingers aren’t hurt! Regardless, a dedicated area is a must if you’re serious about crafting. These sewing room organization tips will give you guidelines for what you need in your sew zone, what you don’t, and how to create the sewing room of your dreams.

What you need in a sewing room

You don’t need a ton of space to establish your sewing area. If your square footage is limited, like in a smaller home or apartment, your sewing room could simply be a corner with a table and some storage shelves. Your particular needs will depend on the specific type of work that you’ll be doing, but there are a few universal basics all crafters should know.

“We highly recommend a full-body mirror or three-way mirror in your sewing space. This is extremely helpful if you’re planning to tailor clothing for yourself or others. If you know you are going to be working on a lot of formal gowns and dresses, make sure you purchase a small step stool to have your clients stand on during fittings.”

– Aladdin Hussein, Owner of Artful Tailoring 

sewing tape wrapped around mannequinn

Sewing machine

Obviously, you’ll need a good sewing machine. You may also wish to have a serger or industrial-strength machinery for leatherwork. If your sewing projects include embroidery or beadwork, then you’ll need an embroidery machine and specialty equipment, while quilters may find a long-arm machine useful.

Electrical outlets

If you’re able, have a few extra electrical outlets installed in the space. You’ll be surprised how many things you’ll need to plug in! If that’s not an option, invest in some industrial-strength surge protection power strips, and make sure that they can accommodate a three-pronged plug.

Sewing table

Cutting and sewing projects can damage a regular table, so a sewing table is a worthwhile investment. The surface should be sturdy and able to handle the movement of the equipment without shaking. You can buy one or make a DIY sewing table relatively affordably. 

“The worktable in my sewing area is at desk height, but I also have a large work table at a counter height that is perfect for fabric cutting. The height saves my back and makes pattern layout a breeze. Can’t invest in a counter height table? Just put some bed risers under any table to bring the top up to a comfortable level. “

– Alice Smith-Goeke, Owner of Fabric Ninja

Opt for a folding table with wheels – that way, you can expand all the leaves into your space when you need it, then fold them up and roll it away when not in use. This prevents you from having to use your dining room table, where you may either damage the wood or get your fabric dirty. Invest in a high-quality rolling office chair – preferably one without arms – for maximum mobility at your sewing table.

“Make sure to select a stable table that isn’t going to bounce around as you sew or work. If possible, have tables with adjustable legs so you can find the most comfortable height.”

– Michelle Stoffel, Co-Owner of Style Maker Fabrics

antique sewing machine

How tall should your sewing or cutting table be?

The “standard” table height is between 24 and 28 inches for sewing (sitting) tables and 36 to 40 inches for cutting (standing) tables. However, these measurements are based on a person who is 5’3?, so you may need to adjust if you’re taller or shorter. Your ideal table height is based on a.) your height, b.) the height of your sewing machine, c.) the type of work you’re doing – i.e whether you’ll be sitting or standing. The most important thing is that you are comfortable.

“The table height should make cutting and pinning easy to do without stretching up to your tippy-toes or leaning down super far. You should make sure that you aren’t hunching over while sewing too. You don’t want your crafting to be a painful endeavor.”

– Megan Boesen of Knit & Bolt

Storage bins

Storage is essential to sewing room organization. Choose clear bins that allow you to view the items inside. Bins that are stackable and square, instead of round, help maximize the area in your storage space. If you don’t have a designated closet at all for your fabric, consider pre-shrinking it and storing it under your bed in opaque containers.

Shelves and cabinets

Make use of vertical space! Instead of simply stacking tubs one on top of one another, invest in some shelves. This will make it easy to grab what you need without having to pull down and restack containers each time. You can purchase plastic storage shelves from your local hardware store, or you can DIY your own shelves. You may go a step further and install some cheap kitchen cabinets along the walls of the room to hold your fabric and supplies. 

“Look for lots of natural sunlight and storage. Closed cupboards with glass panels will let you show off your fabric collection, and wood panels will hide any clutter. Make sure everything in your space has a home, and inspiration will continue to strike as you sew!”

– Amy Ellis, Author at  AmysCreativeSide.com

Pro tip: Install a garage bicycle holder into the ceiling to keep a dress form, cushion forms, or rolls of batting out of the way when not in use.

Labels

Buy some clear sign holders and write the contents on index cards – for example, the number of buttons, or the yards of each piece of fabric. This makes it easy to find what you need for a project and to see what supplies you need to restock.

“To display and store thread, buy a sheet of MDF Hole board and use pegboard hooks to rest your spools on. You can paint the board in any color to liven up your space and show off your creativity! This frees up floor space and makes it easy to see your supplies.”

– Aladdin H.

thread and yarn spools

 

What to avoid in a sewing room

Clutter

Avoid overcrowding your workspaces. Make sure that each piece of equipment has room behind it for the sewn fabric to fall without damage, and that you have enough space to navigate the room comfortably. If you’re creating a corner sewing nook, be sure to reinforce the surface with weight-bearing table legs or something similar.

“Think about the flow of your activity. Arrange your workspace so it’s easy to move from one station to the next. If you do this, your project will come together more quickly and with less frustration.”

– Penny Lai, Owner of Gala Fabrics, Victoria, BC

Darkness

If you’ve ever threaded a needle, you know how important lighting is! Be kind to your eyes and incorporate plenty of bright light into your workspace so you can see what you’re doing. Natural light is a great option. You may also want to install wall lights with long, moveable arms to position over different spaces for close detail work.

“Good light is essential for color matching and close design work. Try to pick a spot by a window that has lots of natural light. Incandescent lights can add a yellow or blue cast to your projects, which can taint the color of your projects. Full-spectrum light bulbs are a good substitute but can be expensive.”

– Penny L.

Sunlight

While natural light is a great way to brighten a space, direct sunlight can actually damage your fabrics. For this reason, it’s best to store fabric in a clean, dry, space like a closet – away from direct sunlight. 

“Display your yarn in a way you can see it. It can be easy to have an overwhelming stash, but even easier to lose those special skeins when you can’t see them. You can display them in a bookshelf or glass case, or even see-through boxes if you’re tackling humidity or critter (moths!) problems. That way your yarn is stunning AND safe!”

– Chantal Miyagishima, Owner & Designer at Knitatude

colorful fabric cloth

Quick organization tips

Your sewing room should be a space where you can readily access everything you need, or see if you need to restock anything. Here are some tips to organize your space quickly:

  • Create an inventory spreadsheet of your supplies so that you can take a fast look to determine what you need on each shopping trip
  • Pre-shrink your fabric and store it away from light
  • Remove the cabinet doors and closet doors (if your fabric isn’t in the closet) for easier access – and to avoid bumping your head!
  • Use a laptop for pattens instead of a larger desktop computer
  • Create a “dream board” of the projects you want to start or as a collection of ideas and inspiration
  • Add a small speaker to listen to your favorite tunes or soothing white noise
  • Hang photos of your favorite past projects on the walls, or snapshots of your friends, family, or clients wearing your creations

Expert advice

Decorate & Design

“Designate a space in your home where you are free to make a creative mess. Even if it’s a small table in a corner or a closet, it’s crucial to be able to walk away from a project when you’re feeling uninspired – or to be able to dive right in when inspiration strikes. If every time you want to sew, you have to lug the machine up from the basement, and then tidy up completely at the end of each session, it will be much harder to keep a consistent creative practice.”

– Samantha, Seamstress at Fluffyland.com

“When you finally get a space to call your sewing room, it’s tempting to use every last bit of it for storage and work. While those are important and necessary, try to carve out even a tiny spot for décor. It makes the room feel more fun and personal. I find I feel more inspired if I have a few things to look at that are finished, instead of being surrounded by a to-do list. Bonus points if it’s something you’ve made yourself!”

– Staci Wendland, Owner of CraftyStaci.com

“Every workroom needs a good design wall. Standing back and viewing your quilt or fiber art from across the room is critical to successful pieces. For garment sewists, a dress form does the job. The larger the design wall the better, because you can look at multiple projects or large quilts without pieces falling off the edge. There are a multitude of websites out there showing how to make a design wall and a variety of design walls that don’t even require a trip to your favorite DIY store. Check out your options and get one so your projects will be easier to review.”

– Jaye A. H. Lapachet, Principal & Designer at Artquiltmaker.com

Get creative

“Storage is the most important element of your craft room. However much you think you will need, double it! Try to use every inch, especially little bits of space that might normally be wasted:

  • Above the door or window, you can add a useful shelf with storage boxes or baskets
  • Add a row of hooks on the underside of a shelf to hang scissors, bags or storage tubs
  • A pretty pegboard can be both decorative and provide storage for small items
  • See if you can find a shelf unit to tuck against the wall under a desk. If it’s not too deep you’ll still have room for your legs”

– Julie Nyanyo from Sum of their Stories

sewing room organization

Practice self-care

“Start thinking about your sewing space as a self-care studio. It’s not just about function, it’s about how you feel when you are there. Try keeping your tools off the wall and in storage containers or drawers. A thread rack can seem beguiling, but most other notions are not visually soothing for many folks. I have a practice of clearing the surfaces and walls at the end of a project so I can hold space for the next creative endeavor.

“Lighting is a necessity while sewing, so don’t skimp on this detail. You can rarely rely on an overhead light to provide you with the brightness that you need. Bring in an adjustable lamp or wear a comfy headlamp if you do a lot of sewing at night. Once you have your primary light sources squared away, invest in a string or two of warm LED twinkle lights. String them above your machine(s) like a garland, and your happiness level will increase by at least 64%, guaranteed.”

– Meg McElwee, Owner of Sew Liberated and The Mindful Wardrobe Project

Use the Tri-Space Method

“No matter how much (or little) space you have or what you make, I like to organize my sewing room using a tri-space method. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  1. Space to work – flat surface for cutting fabric, sewing, laying out, etc. And don’t forget a comfy chair.
  2. Space to dream – shelf for how-to books, wall space for inspiration, and window, too!
  3. Space to stock – drawers, shelves, or bins to organizing your supplies.

“You don’t need a lot of space — it’s nice but not necessary. You just need a plan.”

– Jessica Bonilla, Owner of Bloomerie Fabrics

All artists and crafters know the challenge of staying organized. Between pins, needles, thread, yarn, buttons, glue, and fabric, there are many moving parts that can lead to a big mess! By organizing your sewing room, you’ll free up space to tackle even the most ambitious projects. There are many ways to create a functional and beautiful sewing room, but first and foremost, your sewing room should make you happy. Let it be an inspiration and reflection of your creativity.

How did you create the sewing room of your dreams? Let us know your sewing room organization tips in the comments!

More on Go Bags

Reader Colleen was kind enough to leave a comment about her experience with quiltmaking Go bags. She wrote, which reminded of more detail I should have included: “I do have a go bag. It’s one of those big, flat bags they sold about 10 years ago that holds an 18×24 cutting mat and a 6×24 ruler, plus lots of pockets and sections for smaller tools and a project.

I don’t actually like it for carrying projects. I got plastic lidded totes that are about twice the size of a shoebox, that seem to work well.

While I do have some duplicate tools, I have created a list of what I need to take, so I can grab the items quickly when packing up. I just joined my quilting group last year, so I also wrote down everyone’s name and a brief description, so I could refresh my memory before going the first couple times.”

Best Bag Ever
Best Bag Ever

A go bag like the black one I showed doesn’t include everything I need to sew at Sew Day, on retreat or in a class. This bag includes basic supplies. I also have a flat bag like Reader Colleen describes. I probably wouldn’t have made myself a bag like this, but I got it in a swap. I find that it is very useful. It keeps a large rotary mat flat, a few rulers and a flattish, portable ironing board ready to go on a moment’s notice. I don’t always take this bag, but I have it available if I need it.

The point, however, is that I can’t just grab the black bag and go. I need to pack. The black bag does not include projects or fabric, specialty supplies or a sewing machine.

ArtBin Project Box

As Reader Colleen says I also put some of my active projects into ArtBin project boxes. I just started this practice in the last year. I also use larger bins (larger projects, quilting) from the Container Store. As I said in that post from last year, I like the fact that they are stackable and I can keep all the stuff for one project (or a group of projects like the Crafty Gemini Organizer Club bag supplies) together. This helps A LOT with Grab & Go.

Whatever is leftover and loose, I toss into a Chubby Charmer. Sometimes, these items end up in the project box/bin later; sometimes not. On a good day, I have 4-5 bags and boxes with me plus a sewing machine sometimes. This is a lot of stuff, but it is much more organized than having to cannibalize the supplies from my workroom, hunt through fabric for a project and find notions. I like to be organized in this way, because it gets me sewing or working on my project faster.

Quiltmaking Go Bag

At Sew Day the other day people were asking to borrow various items from each other. I dont’ mind loaning thing, but am a huge proponent of  quiltmaking Go bags. Even if you have a Go bag, there is always something not included. One of the advantages of Sew Day and group sewing is being able to continue with your project because you can borrow something. This whole scenario led me to think about quiltmaking Go bags.

A ‘Go’ bag is just like what they talk about in spy films except with quiltmaking supplies you take to class, retreat or Sew Day rather than clothes and new identity credentials. I have one that I have developed over the years. It is a great help to just pick up the bag and know I have a rotary cutter, mat, rulers, snips, and other basic supplies that I need for my projects. I like not having to hunt for them around my workroom to take to class. I like not having to cannibalize my workroom supplies to go on retreat. The downside is that I have duplicates of a lot of tools and they have to live somewhere.

Small Go bag supplies
Small Go bag supplies

The way my system works is that my Go bag has static supplies. As mentioned, I consider static supplies to be things I won’t use up like fabric or thread. Rulers, mats, rotary cutters, scissors, etc are all static supplies. I can just grab this bag when I am packing for a class or Sew Day and know that it is ready. For supplies like fabric and thread, patterns, etc, I toss all relevant items for a project into one of my Chubby Charmers. When I return, the Go bag is slotted back into its home and the Chubby Charmer gets unpacked.

I don’t like to have to hunt around for static supplies, which is why I have worked on gathering duplicates. Having duplicates is also helpful when someone comes over to sew.

Quilting Go Bag
Quilting Go Bag

My current, actual Go Bag bag, made of some kind of washable slick-ish fake leather/plastic, was a premium from some makeup I bought about 1,000 years ago. It has one main section and six pockets around the outside. The main pocket zips closed although I have no idea when it was last zipped closed. It can be set down on a damp surface with no harm to the contents. It looks ok, but it is showing its age. The handles are getting especially worn.

Small travel sewing supplies
Small travel sewing supplies

In the bag I have a Tupperware box that has a removable tray. This box holds all the small static supplies I might need such as rotary cutters, snips, writing implements, latex gloves, WonderClips, etc. All the small things that need to be corralled are contained here. This box is starting to be too small and I am considering replacing it. I made the Tool Tote last year with the intention of replacing the box, but never made the exchange. I am not sure why. The making drama I experienced sewing the Tool Tote, perhaps?

Runs with Scissors Tote
Runs with Scissors Tote

After the Sew Day discussion, I started to think again about replacing my Go bag and the Tupperware box. I think I really need to upgrade my bags and totes. The problem is that they are working fine, except for the Tupperware box tight squeeze, but are showing their age.

During this thought process, I remembered the Runs with Scissors tote I mentioned in a January Various & Sundry post last year. Mrs. K was kind enough to gift me the pattern. It might be the right tote to replace the Tupperware box. The problem is that I need a bag that will hold the tote. I need this imaginary tote to be large enough to fit everything currently in my Go bag and made of a material that will not allow damp to seep through. A special Chubby Charmer might work, but I am thinking that I might need to buy something.

Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag
Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag

The other bag I am thinking of is the Ultimate Carry All by Quiltessa Natalie. Natalie was kind enough to allow me to post one of her photos. I bought the pattern and have started to assemble the supplies, but haven’t dedicated much time to this project yet. In terms of going to class, I am thinking that the Runs with Scissors tote could hold more flat items like scissors and this Ultimate Carry All could hold more dimensional items, such as the small iron, extension cord, light, pincushions, etc. If I used both, I would still need a larger bag in which to place them.

This is still a work in progress, as you can see. Questions:

  • Do you have a quiltmaking (or other craft) Go bag?
  • Do you have duplicates of your static supplies or do you have a system for swapping them in and out.

2019 Cutting Chart

Once again, it has been awhile since I showed my cutting chart. It is something I meant to do in January, but it never seemed to get done. The same thing happened last year, so it has still been a year, which is my actual goal. Once a year.

2019 Cutting Chart
2019 Cutting Chart
  1. Spin Wheel – 3.5×4.5 rectangle – all fabrics except background fabrics
  2. Blue Lemonade – 2×2 square – blue, green and purple
  3. 30 Something – 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle – foreground and background
  4. 30 Something -1.5 x 2.5 rectangle
  5. 30 Something – 2 7/8 x2 7/8 square
  6. 30 Something – 1.5 x 1.5 square. I also cut one of these for a friend and send those off when I have a chance.
  7. 2.5″ squares for different projects. One square is for the 16 patch donation blocks, one is on spec and one is for FOTY 2019
  8. 5″ squares – no particular project, but I thought it might be a good idea to start storing some up for a future project. The impetus was that DH got me a 5″ square keeper for my birthday. That’s as good a reason as any, right?
  9. Half Hexie Stars – 3.5 x 12.5 rectangle
  10. Blue Gradation quilt – 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle – this has been on the Dream Projects list since at least 2014. It might be time to put up or shutup.
  11. Pink Gradation quilt – 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle –
  12. – this has been on the Dream Projects list since at least 2014. It also might be time for me to put up or shutup about this project. I am not sure how many gradation type projects I can do in a row.

As you know, one of the major aspects to my quiltmaking is hunting and gathering. I prefer to make quilts, usually, that use a lot of fabrics. I think many different aquas will be more interesting than just one. This means that many projects, I need to cut a lot of patches from a wide variety of fabrics. It doesn’t work for me to decide to start such a project, open up a fabric bin and start cutting. I don’t want to always stand that long, I get bored and the whole situation results in me hating the project or just stopping about halfway through. Also, if I use that strategy, I get tend to have too many of one color and not enough of others. None of this is good for my stress level and definitely not they way I want my quiltmaking to be.

My system, which I have explained in similar terms before, is that once a project is in my queue, I decide if it requires a ton of cutting. If it does, I can figure out what kind of cutting I need to do (coordinated fabrics or scrappy fabrics as well as size). Either requirement can work with my system. Then I put the shape and color on my list, which I keep the list near my cutting table.  When I have a new piece of washed and ironed fabric I have a good list of exactly what to cut.

Also, I don’t know of another way to really randomize this type of fabric selection. Cutting from fabrics I buy new or pull out to use seems like as good a way as any. Also, as an added bonus, I use fabrics that I like right now -> immediately.

Another problem I had was that I would take fabrics out of bins and find that NOTHING would be cut from them. Not one square. Shameful! This problem was alleviated by the Fabric of the Year project. You can read about the beginnings of that project for me in a post from 2008. Using this method for cutting started the solution to my Hunting and Gathering.

As I got use to cutting one shape, the Fabric of the Year shape, out of new fabrics, it became easier to cut more than one shape. I thought it was a good idea and it became easier to use this new system to make progress on projects I was not yet ready to start sewing. Pretty soon I was up to the number of pieces I am cutting now. And the stacks of those pieces were piling up.

I also found that the fabrics became less precious. I started not to save them for a better project. This meant that fabrics that I loved RIGHT NOW were in a project RIGHT NOW.  I also found out, which I have talked about in terms of the FOTY projects, which fabrics were going to work for other projects. I could go and buy more before it was 3 years later and too late to buy more.

Now, there are many fewer fabrics that not been cut into. When I buy fat quarters, there is not much of them left after all this cutting.

One of the great things about cutting pieces from new fabrics is that it is a great warm-up. Sometimes when I need to get started, pressing fabric and cutting new pieces from new fabrics is a good way to get started. If I have 10 minutes, I can cut, feel like I made progress and got a little stress relief in.

Sewing Machine Table Mats

On Instagram, @Lillyellasworld has a sew-a-long happening for the Undercover Maker’s Mat. The pattern is free. People have made the whole mat and they are showing some great versions of this pattern. I also saw one with a heart instead of a butterfly. Despite the foundation piecing, I am thinking of making one for retreats. I can’t see using it at home, but it would be really useful to keep everything organized while I am away.

As a result, I was thinking about sewing machine mats in general. Before I madethe Undercover Maker’s Mat, I wanted to see what else what out there.  As I am wont to do, I did an image search. I found a lot. Still, after sifting through the duplicates, I found a few that were interesting.

I know you are wondering about the Crafty Gemini Sewing Machine Table Mat & Organizer. I made it (and am not showing  it to you yet, because it will be a gift, so stay tuned) and am not super happy with it. I didn’t do a crappy job and it isn’t ugly, but it isn’t for me. It’s possible I won’t like the Undercover Maker’s Mat either in which case I will try one of the other free tutorials that are available.

One that was interesting was a tutorial from Michelle of Creatively Blonde. I like the way it looks tailored and hangs down in the front of the machine.

I also like the way the We All Sew tutorial has a long length. I also like the rainbow.

Katie from Katie’s Quilting Corner has a tutorial that clearly shows how to customize the tutorial for the size of your sewing machine.

The thing that is great about the Crafty Mummy pattern is the scissor loop.

I like the pattern in issue 35 of Love Patchwork & Quilting – free pattern not available. I like the way the front hangs down. I don’t know that I would put all vinyl in the front, but I know why the vinyl is used.

And then, I found that someone did a list of table mats already.

Indulgent and Pragmatic

Accuquilt Go!
Accuquilt Go!

The other day I wrote about using the Accuquilt to cut up some scraps. SherriD asked me some questions about the Accuquilt and it made me realize I had never really articulated how I use my Accuquilt. Perhaps I have and I just can’t find it in the blog?

I bought the Accuquilt on sale in order to cut about 10,000 strips for the Renewed Jelly Roll Race quilt. I felt like it was an indulgent purchase, but also somewhat pragmatic. It worked really well for that type of cutting (as long as I was able to straighten the fabric accurately). I don’t have a large cutting table so cutting long strips can be a nightmare of folding. The Accuquilt works really well for this purpose.

I determined, early on in my Accuquilt ownership, that I was not going buy every die. I also did not plan to buy the applique’ dies. I don’t do much applique’ and I saw no reason to clutter up my shrinking fabric closet with dies I would never use. Having a complete collection is not important to me.

I also decided I would buy basic dies – squares and strips. I want dies that give me as many options as possible, so I buy sizes of squares, mostly, that I can use in various quilts. 2.5 inch squares is the die I use the most for ‘on spec’ cutting. I also use the 2 inch die as I am still collecting blue, green and purple squares for the Blueberry Lemonade quilt I plan to make at some point.

Accuquilt-HRT die
Accuquilt-HRT die

I have branched out a little. I have an HRT die. Never used, but I have it. It is a great example of why I try to be careful about the dies I buy. I bought it thinking I could pair it with 2.5 inch square a la the Spiky Stars quilt. It isn’t the right size. That is an obvious drawback for dies. With rulers, you can cut whatever size you need. The dies are usually limited to one size. I have seen dies with multiple shapes or sizes, but that isn’t always the case.

I often use SIL’s Peaky & Spike die, so much so that I have thought of buying my own. Up until now using hers is fine. She and I coordinate die buying now that we live near each other. That expands both of our collections.

Triangles are a pain to cut, so I either use the Triangle Technique or some other quick cutting method. Triangles are great to cut with the Accuquilt, but I haven’t invested in the dies. I have a few, I think, but I find they often aren’t the right size for my project.

I probably would have bought the electric version if it had been available when I was shopping. If you are thinking of a die cutter, see if a local shop has one they rent. Some shops do and that can be a good way to try them out.

The bottomline is that there is no one way for me to cut. I use rulers, dies, templates and whatever else works for my project. Do what works for you.

 

Cutting Scraps

I am in a little bit of a quiltmaking funk at the moment. Not sure why except work is taking a lot of brainpower. One of the results of these feelings is that I tidy. You saw the column quilt I posted the other day. That was the result of leftover pieces and blocks.

Accuquilt work on scraps
Accuquilt work on scraps

At Craft Night on Monday, I brought down a drawer full of scraps and cut them up with my Accuquilt. I made it through the whole, mostly white, drawer and came up with, perhaps, 80-100 2.5 inch squares. I’ll have a good supply for donation block backgrounds.

Project Organization

Project boxes
Project boxes

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had bought some project boxes. I have few boxes and baskets that I used for various things, mostly gathering fabrics together for various reasons that I often quickly forget. I hadn’t really used project boxes before. After I brought the boxes home, I actually did put projects in them almost immediately.

While this is a teetering stack, it actually works a lot better than the stack of fabrics I was using before. First, all the stuff for a project is all together. I can even put smaller trays of cut pieces inside the larger boxes. Second, they are much easier to move. I pick up one or two, put them aside and then the step stool is usable again. Finally, I don’t have to hunt around for materials. All the materials are in one place (3 might be the same as 1, but they are different in my mind).

After I got the larger boxes organized, I cleaned out the smaller boxes and re-purposed them to organizing projects as well. The small box with the handle has all of my Crafty Gemini Organizer Club supplies in it except for that fusible foam stuff, which doesn’t fit. It would fit in one of the larger bins, but all I had was the smaller one. Needs must.

Two bins have fabrics and such for the Stepping Stones n.2. That is a lot of organizer bin real estate devoted to one project, but scrappy projects will do that to you. I hope to finish that project soon (though I haven’t worked on it recently, so not sure how it will happen.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with this solution. I need to sew more to get through projects, but that is a completely different issue.

2018 Cutting Chart

It has been awhile since I showed my cutting chart. It is something I meant to do in January, but it never seemed to get done. The previous post describes my process very well.

2018 Cutting Chart
2018 Cutting Chart

I am still working on some of the same projects as I was the last time I showed my cutting chart, but others are off the chart and finished. I think the number of patches I am cutting seems very paltry, but at least I have some organization. I think I should add grey windmill pieces to the list, because I still don’t have enough for that project and I would like to get going on it. I didn’t think of it until now.

 

Organization Update

Someone asked a question in a comment this week about organization. This sent me back in time to review my posts on organization, as it is always easier to point someone to a previous blog post than to write the whole thing over and over. Not that you aren’t worth it, of course. 😉

Organization of Fabric Closet: Plastic Bins
Organization of Fabric Closet: Plastic Bins

I am not sure I ever said, but I store most of my fabric, primarily, by color in plastic bins. Occasionally, I will put a special group of fabric together. For example, I have some silk fabrics in one bin (bottom right). I can’t buy those bins anymore, which is too bad, because I like the flat tops, but in an ideal world I would have some other system where the fabric wasn’t confined like it is in the bins. I am grateful to have the bins, but if I need light blues, there is a lot of manhandling that has to happen before I can get that bin out.

Fabric Closet Drawer System
Fabric Closet Drawer System

Some fabrics have spilled over to other parts of the closet, so I can’t just look in the orange bin if I want orange fabrics. I also have a drawer system, holds a lot of my dots. Not all, but a lot.

TFQ helped me pick out this as well. I like it and it holds a lot.

One issue I have is non-fabrics and non-patterns. I have pre-cuts waiting for me to make my intended project. I have blocks from the City Sampler project. I also have blocks from the quilt class with Frances. These are still a problem I haven’t resolved. I put them where I can find some space. This isn’t an ideal solution. The pictures in this post from 2008 make me sentimental for the good old days when this closet was clean. At least, I am continually removing fabric I no longer want to use for my own projects and making it into donation quilts or giving it to the guild. I am also paying more attention to fabric I buy so I don’t buy things that will end up in a donation quilt sometime.

Translucent Office Storage Boxes
Translucent Office Storage Boxes

One of the posts I wrote talked about organizing projects in project boxes. I have a couple of project boxes like the ones pictured and I don’t use them for projects. I want to use them for projects, but they take up more space than file folders. In my current space, with the current furniture, etc, it isn’t possible. The ones I have I use for patterns, especially bag patterns. And they are full, which means that I have to start churning out bags. HA! We’ll see since I have two bags on my to do list and all of those patterns are bags on my ‘someday’ list.

As I mentioned in another previous post, I still use the hunting and gathering method to make quilts. At the moment I am hunting and gathering for at least the following someday quilts:

  • FOTY 2015
  • SpinWheel
  • Blue Lemonade
  • Windmill
  • Pink gradated quilt
  • Blue gradated quilt
  • 30 Something quilt
Patch boxes
Patch boxes
'Free', but unstable organization
‘Free’, but unstable organization

There are other patches as well such as 2.5″ squares (you just never know when you will need some), donation patches, random HSTs and others.

I still use the scone boxes for hunting and gathering, though that trickle of new boxes has slowed. The company changed the cranberry orange scone recipe 🙁 and they just aren’t as good as they used to be. Not bad, but not worth the 360 calorie commitment. The scone boxes are a good size, but they have some issues. The rounded edges don’t poke me, which is not. They also don’t stack very well because of those rounded edges. Also, being disposable, the plastic is pretty thin and tends to break easily. Still since they come into the house filled with something rather than empty, they are economical.

Of course, I probably shouldn’t stack them 8-10 high. Fortunately they don’t open and spew fabric patches everywhere when they do fall. One thing to think about would be not to have so much hunting and gathering going on all at once.

I have a few miscellaneous plastic, former food containers as well. Good ones, for me, come from chocolate covered cherries and spinach.

At some point, I plan to replace these with more stackable and sturdier boxes.

There is a lot of other stuff to organize in my workroom, but it is all badly stored if adequately organized and I don’t want to show you photos. I really want better shelves or something for my books, embellishments, etc. I think I will be able to work better and get more day.

Off to buy a lottery ticket!

Rethinking Scraps

I was reading Pam’s recent Sunday Stash post after listening to her podcast and thinking that perhaps I should rethink my scrap storage. I bought a little drawer system some time ago, which works pretty well.

Scrap Organization
Scrap Organization

Still, random sizes of scraps doesn’t work that well except for mosaic piecing. Piles of scraps shoved in a drawer are not fun.

Pam and Bonnie Hunter cut their scraps into certain sizes. Pam has talked about the sizes she uses, which differ from Bonnie’s slightly. Bonnie calls her system the Scrap User’s System, which is a good moniker. I have just never embraced that method, because I never seem to have the right project for some of the sizes. And I don’t want to make projects just because I have certain sizes of patches.

Bonnie Hunter Scrap Saver Systems:

  • strips in sizes of 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″ and 3.5″. These are strips 12″ or longer.
  • Patches 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3.5″ squares
  • bricks in 2″X3.5″ and 2.5″ X 4.5″

Bonnie Hunter writes “*Note* Just for your information, did you know that you could get three 1.5″ strips, three 2″ strips and three 2.5″ strips all from a 1/2 yard of fabric and it would be out of your nagging stash, into your strip bins and ready to be used? If you really want to slice up larger pieces, this is the way to go. Cut a few slices of different sizes and feed them into their bins! You’ll be using those strips in no time.”

Pam’s Scrap System:

  • 2″, 3 1/2″, 5″ and 10″ squares
  • 2 1/2″x WOF strips
  • random 2 1/4″ strips (since I got rid of strings I will keep 2 1/4″ wide strings to use for scrappy bindings)

As I was cleaning out my magazine pile, I came across the magazine I bought last year and was reminded of Joan Ford’s system. It is a little different and much simpler than Bonnie Hunter’s. I did a pretty thorough review after I bought the magazine. With this system we have the following sizes:

Joan Ford ScrapTherapy / Scrap+1 System:

  • Squares: 2″, 3.5″ and 5″

Of course, I do cut certain sizes from new yardage and have let that practice bleed over to some scraps as I make them. I don’t usually go to the scrap bin later and do a bunch of cutting, though I do think that would be a good idea. Generally, I cut the following out of new fabric:

  • 1.5″ squares – all colors
  • 2″ blue, purple and green squares
  • 2.5″ squares – all colors
  • 3″x3″ squares – used fabrics (for FOTY)
  • 5.5″x3″ rectangles – new fabric (for FOTY)

I do use the scraps from the actual scrap bin for various things. I sew my scraps using the mosaic piecing method to make journal covers and other small items. I also fill in weird places on the backs of quilts using scraps.

If I make a scrap quilt, I want it come out like Scrapitude in its cheerfulness and fun style. I do NOT use Bonnie Hunter’s method of just grabbing any color and using it. I want my quilts to look good and that means choosing pieces carefully. That is designing.

I do believe in using up my fabric. I have a working collection and not just a collection so the above would make sense for fabrics that I like, but aren’t going to be used for a project.

The other sad part is that my scraps are bugging me and I need to do something about them. Pulling all of these systems together

One Hour Basket #2

One Hour Basket #2
One Hour Basket #2

I wanted to make some progress on something. I felt like I wasn’t making progress on anything, so I got out my To Do list and looked up what I felt like doing. The first thing I did was make progress on the Pinkalicious Journal Cover.

Once that project was well on its way, I made a second One Hour Basket. I don’t think it took me an hour, even if I subtract the time it took to sew pieces of Soft & Stable together. It didn’t take much longer, though. I was pleased to get something finished.

Sewn together Soft & Stable
Sewn together Soft & Stable

I had some weird pieces of Soft & table leftover that were on the small and thin side. I decided I had enough to use as stabilizer for this pattern. I sewed them together much like I would sew a piece of Frankenbatting together. I was able to use most of the leftover S&S, which pleased me.

The pattern is free on Craftsy, I think and the directions are fairly good. The weird part is that the pattern uses 3 different seam allowances for this one pattern. I think there is something off as the lining seems a bit baggy when the whole piece is finished. It is fine for my purposes, but if I were going to give it as a gift, I might use a slightly larger seam allowance for the lining. If I make more I’ll have to play around.

One Hour Basket #2
One Hour Basket #2

I am pleased that I got something done and have something I can cross of my list.