Sooo. Despite some projects tiptoing through the studio, the organisation does stumble along. I now have a big bin of looong lengths of chiffon — from some cool colour-layered curtains in a former house, and a bin of modest sizes of chiffon which also holds a baby bin of baby pieces of chiffon. I also have some small bins with some idiosyncratic collections of fabric: Text, Overtly Pictorial; Pavement-ish Cottons; Jeans Mending; Sentiment; Silk Scraps; Small [pieces of] Prints; Small Wool; Small Silk; Small Synthetics; Sea Bits. Not to mention two more bags in the trash!
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Along with chair covers and a few other little things, I have made progress with the studio organising. On the steel shelving:I have sorted and stacked most of my fabric, although I know there are things lurking in various other locations. Most of it is in the Yaffa plastic cube storage; some of it is in covered plastic bins. For those who are curious, here is a listing of the various categories that have evolved:
velvets; metallic laces/organzas; lame (you know, “lam-may”; how do the French put the accents over vowels in WP?); embroidered laces and organzas; lace; sequinned and metallic thread fabric; cool spectrum organzas; warm spectrum organzas; tulle; sparkly tulle; hand-dyed/printed/batiked fabrics, both silks and cottons; plaids and stripes, various fabrics; prints, various fabrics (may need to break out into warm and cool spectrum, this bin is almost full); groovy synthetics in metallic colours; silks in metallic colours; silk dupionni; silk brocades; silk printed/woven stripes/ikat; “other” silks including vintage saris; cotton flannel and fake fleece; polar fleeces; scarf woolens; scarf other fabrics (silks, synthetics, fine cottons); upholstery fabric.
I also have boxed and labelled my own design patterns and organised project boxes. I sorted through dress-making patterns and have 3/4 of them ready to give away or throw away — are patterns from the ’70s and ’80s old enough to be “vintage”?
I’ve thrown away 5 bags total of fabric and have two densely packed big bags to give away to identified recipient.
And sorting fabric is sort of the easy part — at least it’s all fabric, not flotsam and jetsam. As I tidy up and (re) organise my studio after tearing it up two projects in a row without cleaning up, I am somewhat re-thinking how I do this. The workshops experience gave me some ideas, not only about how to classify and sort, but also about what I can get rid of. I no longer do much garment sewing so I can get rid of some half-finished garments and fabric intended for garments from long ago… I don’t really do anything even resembling traditional quilting anymore so with one exception, a half-finished 18″ or so square wall quilt that I will finish for some small child somewhere along the line, I can ditch a bunch of “quilting cottons”.
My main storage system is “metro” style steel shelving with some lidded plastic storage, a few plastic laundry baskets, and lots of Yaffa
Bubble Crates. http://www.yaffainc.com/products/itemized/60.html . I prefer the translucent, “clear” ones, but have a few in black because when I needed them, that’s all there was. The best place and time to find them seems to be B-cubed aka Bed Bath and Beyond in late summer, when they’re pitching storage to college students.
The only reason I’m posting this next picture is so that I will be shamed, shamed, into making it all better and being able to post an “after” picture. I will say though, that my aim is to make this space WORK better, not be pretty. I was in Joann Fabrics the other day and this lady was buying a gazillion very pretty, beribboned and decorated lidded storage boxes. Very Martha Stewart. Not my style, but to me the main drawback was that you couldn’t see what you had. Her sewing room will undoubtedly be prettier than mine, but I need organised, easy-to-use access, not birds and posies.
I’m sitting here at the computer writing up a proposal. Doing a quick check for other terms for “knotless netting” I come across the following: While doing some research for a proposal I came across this, from “The Material Culture of Needlework and Sewing” by Mary Carolyn Beaudry.
“[discussion of needles v. bodkins] Those [needles/bodkins] of the mid-seventeenth century can be quite large, sometimes more than seven inches long, sometimes with a ear-spoon or *earscoop* at one end. The earscoop was designed to gather earwax for use on sewing thread, to keep the cut ends from unravelling. Well-to-do women were likely to purchase beeswax for the purpose, but earwax was thrifty and readily available…”
I must confess my modern sensibilities are a bit squicked.
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What a rewarding workshop! The Delphi Public Library,http://www.carlnet.org/ , hosted eighteen happy participants who went home with new ideas and showed me some fabric combinations that I never, ever would have thought of. We used Pellon’s Peltex 70, firm, non-woven interfacing for this excercise so that if people wanted to do free-motion stitching they wouldn’t have to worry about using a hoop. We used Dritz’s temporary basting spray which somehow magically disappears from fabric — apparently regardless of fiber content — although it doesn’t disappear from fingers or tables. We had fabrics on a big table in the middle of the room and it was share and share alike.
I learned that one can indeed wind a drop-in bobbin with yarn and use it without running through the tensioning springs, but one does need a zig-zag machine. The yarn is just too thick for the small hole in the throat-plate of an older straight-stitch machine. I think Ribbon Floss would work, but we didn’t try that. I’ll write some more about techniques and fabric combinations later.
Here are five pieces from the workshop, experimental excercises done in an afternoon:
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This is the first sewing machine I ever knew. It’s what I learned to sew on. My mother got it slightly used back in 1954 or ’55, from a high school home ec department. It travelled with her through the Suez Canal. With it she used miles and miles of thread making curtains, pillow covers, clothes, clothing repairs, tote-bags, doll’s clothes… It’s a straight stitch, forward and backwards.
It has the wonderful feature that when you set it to back-stitch you move the lever and it stays put and you can back-stitch with both hands available to steer the cloth. Few of today’s machines do that.
In the early seventies she decided my mother wanted a zig-zag machine and got another that zig-zagged. I was never crazy about that machine — the ’70s Singers are not all that great (but their ’60s era FashionMate machine was fab). If I had to buy a ’70s sewing machine I’d go with a Kenmore, probably. But I lucked out since now that my mother had the new-fangled machine, I got to take the old one to college. I didn’t sew a lot in college, but I was glad to have the machine. I used it sitting on the floor.
After college I sewed suits and curtains and coverlets and eventually a wedding dress with it. And more curtains and pillow covers, and garments and eventually baby quilts and crib bumpers.
Eventually, I too got to the point where I wanted a zig-zag machine…
In my latest “Then, Then, and Now” post I listed the embarrassment of plenitude of sewing machines I own. (Would a car buff own up to embarrassment about how many groovy cars they owned????)
Then I got sidetracked by SNOW, beautiful SNOW, and a really cool program put on by the Purdue Ag School here: Lafayette Science Cafe — the third one I’ve attended. http://www.jconlineBut .com/article/20100209/LIFE03/2090302/Science-cafe-explores-health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate-and-wine and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lafayette-Science-Cafe/206974027344?filter=1
But I am now holding the open-house for my sewing machines for those of you who want to drop in and meet them. Like a mother with many children or a connoisseur of wine, I appreciate each one for what it can do and accept its, um, weaknesses.
My sewing table is actually a huge desk that my brother-in-law was giving away years ago. It’s got a big smooth top, approximately 6.5 feet wide and a little over 3 feet deep.
Why yes, the cat likes the table. The basket on the left is where he is banished when he gets in the way. The little cabinet on the left holds some CDs; it is actually a CD rack, but was intended to be floor-standing. The figurine suspended from the tall table lamp is a Zhar-Ptitsa — Firebird — puppet that a friend gave me. I puzzled over how to hang the excellent halogen lamp from the vaulted ceiling, but… The Gentleman Caller came up with a fine fix for that:
Two lengths of closet pole are mounted to the beams, perpendicular to the lamp, and the lamp is hung from them. That lets me move the light nearer or further from my work area, depending on what I need. Someday I may even get around to staining the wood to match the beams.
One great thing about this studio is that it is lined with light, slightly limed panelling. That means I can use push pins anywhere I want to pin things up. If I stick the pins in the grooves of the panelling you can’t even see the holes.
In this picture the cat is looking modest about his accomplishments.