Archive for Getting Organized

Crafting With Kids

As part of my grand reorganisation of my studio space, I have given a small space to my kids.   On the surface this seemed a bit foolish, after all my space is not large to begin with, and having kids underfoot while I am working is  something I am trying to avoid.

But I am finding it is working out great.  Having their own space within mine means that when they come into the room, instead of running around grabbing at things, and poking at the touch screen on the sewing machine, they go straight to ‘their’ space, sit down and start to draw.  (I do have a strict policy about no food, or wet crafts like painting.)   Instead of being underfoot while I try to work, they are able to be close to me,  but happily involved in their own ‘work’.

This was the hoped for outcome, but I am noticing an additional benefit.  I am inspired by the lack of inhibitions they show.   It is so easy for me to get hung up on the end product, is it going to turn out how I imagine, will it be good enough, am I wasting my time?  Watching them confidently put pencil to paper, without worrying about the finished product is a daily lesson to me.  I have a few of the drawings up on my board as a reminder to just jump in and go for it, like they do. 

Comments (1)

Letting Go of Failures

I have reached the point in my organization where I am sorting through the old UFO box.  These are not the items I have been working on recently, that I mentioned before, these are old.  They have been shoved away, right at the back, sometimes from years ago.

I stopped working on these pieces for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I didn’t like how it was turning out.  The are basically fails.  So loath to waste them I hid them away, to deal with on another day.

Over the weekend I went through them.  I found a couple of things I still like, and will finish.  The rest is going to be given away, scraped for usable fabric or thrown away.  I thought this would be depressing.  Instead I feel freed. 

I never realised how knowing I had all my past failures sitting under my desk was affecting me, until they were gone.  What a wonderful feeling not having them sitting there scowling at me.  I am realising that part of experimenting artistically is accepting that not every idea is a good one,  I cannot always succeed.  Sometimes I will fail.  And when I do, I need to move on, by moving that failure right out of my studio.

Getting rid of the old is making room for the new.

Leave a Comment

Organizing – Hitting the Wall

Things have been progressing well as I work through the assignments given by my professional organiser. Most of my things are sorted and some are put away. My space is starting to feel comfortable and usable. But I am hitting the wall. I hear the voice in my head saying ‘Isn’t this good enough? Do you really have any more time to waste on this?’
I look at my almost organised space, and at the 9 crates with incomplete projects from the last few weeks and I realise that I have been using the chaos and my habitual lack of finishing as a shield. As the reason for not operating at full power, for not putting my work out there to be judged. Once the chaos is tamed there will be no more excuses.

Yesterday I posted on scoutie girl that passion is scary and overwhelming.  I think that is because of how I am feeling right now, in this project.  I have gotten to this point, organizing myself so many times, and given up.  But this time I have back up.  I know if I want to finish this time I need to call Claudia for help.  She told me at the start that people are never disorganized because they are lazy.  That there is always a good reason.  I guess I just found mine. 

Is getting organised going to make me a better artist?

Leave a Comment

Tulip Field Quilt

As I am slogging away at reorganising my space (yes still at that), I have been unearthing a lot of unfinished quilts.  I tend to jump around between projects mostly when I get tired of piecing, bored, hit a problem, get a new idea, well pretty much for any reason at all. 

However I didn’t realise I had such a major problem.  I discovered 10 different projects that I have been working on in the last month!  Needless to say this was a bit disheartening, so I stopped and finished one.

  It took me a grand total of 2 hours to finish this quilt, photograph it and list it for sale .

I started this quilt after my dad sent me a link to pictures of Dutch tulip fields, the amazing surreal stripes of colour across the landscape begged to put into a quilt, I immediately ran out to my dye station and dyed the fabrics.  As soon as they were ready to use I dived right in.  I quit when the quilting wasn’t going right.  If you look closely you can see it has a quilted motif of tulips.  When I sat down to finish it up I loosened up the shape of the buds, and it just clicked.

So now I only have 9 current works in progress, but I know most of them are only needing a few hours work, and that makes it seem so much more doable.

Comments (1)

A Crafty Tool Belt Tutorial

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my largest problems in the organization of my studio space is the constant misplacing of hand tools.  The solution is blindingly obvious, a quilters tool belt.  Of course this is not restricted to quilting.  If you move from place to place in your work space, and have small hand tools that need to travel with you, then a tool belt is a great idea.    For me (and I bet most of you too) a standard premade apron was not what I needed.  I wanted specific pockets/holsters for each hand tool I carry, not just the usual tools carried by someone who makes quilts. 

Lucky for me my abilities tend toward sewing, so I custom-made my own.  If you can sew  (you don’t need to be a master seamstress, if you can sew a straight line and make a hem you can probably do this) use this tutorial to create your own custom tool belt. If you don’t sew or don’t have the time right now, I would love to make one for you.

Firstly, gather all the tools you want to carry.  I had to think about this a bit, and mentally go through the motions of a project.  These items are the ones you reach for constantly, and are used in different places.  Depending on how you work you may find it convenient to carry small components as well.

I decided to add an item I hadn’t used previously, the index cards.  This is because one of my current disorganisation problems is that I write notes on random scraps of paper, and then lose them.  Adding the index cards to the belt is part of my larger reorganization.

So anyway you get the idea.  After figuring out exactly what I was going to carry, I laid it all out and took measurements, and decided where to place each item on the belt for easy access.  This is naturally going to be different for each person, but here are some guidelines. 

  • For pens, pencils and similarly shaped items I allow 1 1/4″ width per pen. 
  • For scissors I used a holster loop, rather than trying to fit them in a pocket. 
  • Make the pockets a bit shorter than the items, so you can grab the bit that sticks out, instead rummaging in a pocket.  (the one exception was my tape, which would fall out if I stored it that way)
  • For items with a bit of thickness I add that to the pocket width.   For instance, my calculator is 3″ wide and 1/2″ thick, so I made the pocket for it 4″ wide. 
  • Put each item where it is easiest to grab,  being right-handed I put scissors and pens on my right hip.  I hold an index card or calculator in my left hand when using them, so I put these items on my left side.   
  • Lesser used items can be in the middle, with the more frequently used items getting the prime hip real estate.
  • I decided a magnetic pin cushion was the best way for me to carry pins.  You may find carrying them on a wrist pin cushion more convenient.
  • Cluster similar shaped items together, into one large pocket, but divide it with lines of vertical stitch.  (see the photo with the pens at the top for an example)

Once I had all my pocket sizes and locations figured out I was ready to actually construct the apron/tool belt.  I had some pieces of linen from another project and  I added some bits of lace and rickrack as well as some 3 1/2″ patchwork squares that I found. 

I used the pocket sizes as well as my own body measurements to decide the sizes of the main apron panel and the belt.  For belt take your measurement at the place you want the apron to tie (waist or hip or somewhere in between).  Add 30″ for tying. (I only added 20 and need to add more because it is not quite enough).  Width 4″.  press all edges in 1/2″.  Fold in half lengthwise, with the good side out.

For the main panel length I measured myself from the farthest back on my hip I was comfortable reaching, around to the same point on the other side, the width was the height of the tallest pocket + 3″.  I decorated the panel with rickrack, lace and a strip of patchwork squares, and turned the bottom and sides under and sewed them.

Cut the pocket patches, (adding 3/4″ to length and width for hems).  Turn under all the sides around 1/4″, or a bit more (I just kind of eyeballed it).  Sew across the top edge, then pin onto the main panel and sew around the other three sides.  Mark and sew the dividing lines if needed.

Find the center of the apron panel, and the belt strip.    Carefully insert the main panel into the folded belt and pin along the length.  Now sew along the 3 open sides of the belt 1/4″ from the edge, making sure that the apron panel is sewn into it. 

Lastly add scissor holsters.  I made my own 1″ fabric tape, but you can use purchased tape if you prefer.  Measure the scissors just below the finger holes, add about an inch for overlap.  Sew the edges of the tape together, and then pin it to the bottom edge of the apron.  Sew it in place.

Your apron is complete!  I have found that as an unexpected side benefit, the act of putting on my tool belt helps me mentally switch into work mode.  I would love know how this works out for others, so please let me know, links to pictures of your finished apron/tool belt would be great too.

Comments (2)

Getting Organized. Step 1

view of my studio from dining room

Today I had a formal consult with a professional organizer.  I was surprisingly nervous considering that  she is a good friend who has helped me out in my home many times, but this is different.  It is my studio.  I have a certain fear that if everything is changed I will lose  my creativity.  But it wasn’t scary at all.  Claudia had me think about  the steps I take and what I do at each station in my studio.  She targeted my major problem areas and then we brainstormed possibilities for solving each problem.  I have been thinking about this for a few days and had some big ideas.  She unceremoniously cut them down to size, and made me focus on the immediate instead of the long-term.  (she kept telling me ‘don’t worry about that yet.  It will be obvious once your workspace is functional.’) We came up with this list.

Problem 1.  Fabric is everywhere, my storage system is obviously not working

Problem 2. I have UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) scattered around and mixed in with my fabrics.  I tend to jump from project to project and loose pieces and notes in the chaos so finishing projects becomes less and less attractive.

Problem 3. I can never keep track of my small hand tools, like scissors, unpicker etc.  Or even if I know exactly where it is, it is on the other side of the room, and I waste a lot of time retracing my steps.

Problem 4. Paperwork is never properly filed, add this to my tendency to sketch, take notes and make calculations for cutting and yardage on any handy scrap of paper, and I have a giant pile of paper sitting in a basket with no idea what most of it is for.

Over the next few days I will be tackling these problems one by one, and discussing the solutions my organizer suggested and what I end up with.  I feel like I am on the edge of getting this figured out and I am actually pretty excited.  I am committed to getting this done before sewing another order (luckily I don’t have any due this week or next!).

Comments (1)