Monday, January 26, 2015

Having Two Sewing Rooms Is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Since Lara, of Buzzin' Bumble asked me, about a month ago, how do I manage two sewing rooms, I've been thinking a lot on this.  I even started jotting some notes down for this very post.  Well, I got hit upside the head again today with the woes of two sewing rooms, so I thought it's high time I share some of my angst.

Now don't get me wrong, at first read, "(angst) at having two sewing rooms" is probably, "Like, say what? I'D LOVE THAT!!"

Sewing room in Ontario:
Bella is a permanent fixture whether it's North or South sewing room
I sew in a corner of our unfinished basement.  You can see the insulation and vapour barrier here.  My sewing desk is a piece of melamine laid across two IKEA short dressers.  The machine is not dropped I've done very little FMQ on my it since we moved there a little over two years ago.  Below you see my design wall which is the gridded flannel I purchased several years ago.  I used to have it mounted on 4X8' styrofoam panels and glued to one wall in my sewing room in Alberta. Now it is pinned to the studs and some of the plastic on one wall of the basement corner.

Brady's Christmas quilt in progress
My Avanté is also in our basement, in the other corner.  So technically I have half of the basement!  It will one day become a sewing room much like my last one, I know.  I have a very talented husband.  Who also has many demands on his time, and has hobbies/passions of his own.

Sewing room here in Florida:
A complete bedroom all to myself!

Photo-bombed again by Bella
In our condo I had to share with the guest bedroom.  Here I can spread out and make a mess no problemo.  You can see it is a bit of a mess at one end with cutting pieces for this latest quilt.  For large cutting, I take my big Olfa mat into the kitchen, but for smaller pieces the end of this L-shaped unit is perfect. These are pieces of IKEA Bestå from our condo living room that didn't work in this house.  Oh darn!

So what's so terrible about having two sewing rooms?  Well, here are the issues, in no apparent order.

1.  Hauling:  The obvious is that I have to cart my stuff 1000 miles between them when we leave one place for the other.  I have it down to a science now:  two Rubbermaid or Sterilite tubs, a terrific 2-part rolling toolbox I bought at Canadian Tire, (which stays mostly packed with essentials all year round, paper list inside.  You never know when a retreat might just beckon!), my machine in her rolling case (from Fabricland, a great buy with lots and lots of zippered pockets that can be, and are stuffed), and often a zippered vinyl pouch (from a comforter or sheet set, you know?) containing a project.  Or two.  Here I was in the spring of 2014 ready to head north:

One of the tubs isn't visible here, but you get the idea.

2.  Batting is bulky.  This year I brought down one 1/2 yard or so by 90" with a smaller chunk for perhaps small projects or to Frankenbatt.  I figured I could (and I did) go and buy some if needed.

3.  Chair:  my chair up north is much comfier than my cheap but serviceable IKEA chair I have here.  Both seem to have static electricity build-up! I've taken to wiping my hands from time to time on a dryer sheet which I have wrapped around my presser foot knee lift.  It helps.

4.  Stash:  WAAAAAHHHHH! That is the hardest part of this, period.  I've sewed since I was 12, quilted for 20 years; ergo considerable stash:  yardage, 1/2 yard or smaller pieces organized in stacking plastic sterilite drawers, and then scraps in ziploc bags and in Rubbermaid boxes.  I cannot cart it back and forth, so I have to decide on projects I want to complete, not that big of a deal, especially if I (and I usually do) have them organized with the fabric all together.  This year I brought down several scrap and/or small pieces of fabrics for various ongoing projects, but it's a fraction of what I have.  And it's never enough.

Example:  right now I am madly into, and loving, my next quilt, one I've designed myself!  It's going to a very special recipient... 'nuff said for now.

This afternoon I made the design decision to use many ivory 3" squares, in other words, scraps!  I have tons of neutral scraps in Kingsville.  Did I bring any?  Nope.  All I have is few scraps from the neutrals in Fleurs, and yardage for a winter quilt, as yet to be designed, but fabric is pulled.  Will I cut into the yardage?  Absolutely, for a half dozen or so 3" squares.  Will I have to visit Alma Sue's Quilts?  In all likelihood.  Makes me really depressed, can you tell?

5.  Threads:  not a problem...I pretty much bring 'em all!  I also have a great supplier close by, Sewing Supply Warehouse (online store) and their retail store, Expert Sewing Center.

6.  List of Essentials:  I learned to do this when I was in the guild in Alberta.  We had a weekend retreat once, sometimes twice a year.  Because of working full-time, this simplified and expedited the process of packing Thursday night to be ready to take off Friday right after work for the retreat.  I've carried it over into heading down to Florida in December and returning to Ontario in mid-April.

7.  No Avanté:  this is difficult, to be away from the machine for 4.5 months, especially when it is still very new to me.  However, I used my Bernina and my Elna before her for FMQ, and it isn't that big of a deal, although it is really a treat not to have to manipulate a quilt around a 7.5" throatplate.

Sadly, I always run into situations where I know I have the tool or the fabric, but it's not with me.  I bought Marti Michell's Peaky and Spike rulers last winter for a Christmas trees quilt.  I brought the fabric with me and forgot the rulers this year.  Either I will make templates (joy), I will figure out a way to do it without the rulers, or I won't make it this winter!  Luckily, I'm not out in the back of beyond, (as some of our retreats were, lol) so I can always go and buy something in person or online if really necessary.


  1. I have a solution to your problem. . . build a stash in the south . . . southern stash, northern stash. . . problem solved :) I know, easier said than done. . . and unfortunately I have yet to find that magical store that is giving fabric away ;) Now wouldn't that be quilting heaven?? LOL

  2. I can definitely see the challenges, and I think being without the quilting machine would be the hardest,

  3. I couldn't imagine working out of two sewing rooms. I think the hardest part would be being away from my stash. I enjoy starting projects on a whim. I would need a whole truck to haul my supplies from one place to another!

  4. Oh Sandra, I can see the difficulties. The lack of stash stands out most in my mind. "WAAAAHHHHH" would be what I was saying too. You have got to be Uber Organized, for sure!

  5. As your happy-to-be-non-sewing/quilting-can't-understand-the-attraction-to-it-sister, I can't imagine even having one sewing room, yuck. If I had one, I'd give you mine too, then you'd have 3 LOL.

    You're always so enigmatic....".....for a very special recipient....".. Regardless, it looks like it's coming along beautifully!!


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