The Great Studio Spring Clean

Most everything in life is good and bad…Facebook has its “good” also.  Recently I was invited via Facebook to participate in a “Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop” orchestrated by Cheryl Sleboda of Quilt Pro Clubhouse.  Timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me!  I’d recently been teaching several classes back-to-back while also working on the Pantone 2019 Challenge quilt, samples for upcoming classes, my sister’s Christmas quilt (ok, yes it was given as a top on Christmas Eve 2018) that includes 20+ free motion quilting designs AND summer dresses for my grand-daughter (which also include free motion quilting).  Upon close inspection I realized I had been working within a small confined space in my sewing studio due to the amount of accumulated “clutter”.  My husband told me flat out, “You’ll never do it”.  Hah!


I thought of the strategies I use to clean the house:

  • start in one corner and work your way around the room
  • begin with the worst first
  • aim to clean out what doesn’t belong
  • once you pick it up you must make a decision about it rather than just moving it to another location.

I decided to clean out what didn’t belong any longer according to categories:  books and magazines, patterns, tools and finally fabric.  You’ll notice I didn’t mention threads…you never know what color you’ll be needing..

I began weeding out my books as I find for the most part I’ve been sketching my own quilt patterns and should I have a question…I head for YouTube.  Perusing each book before saying goodbye to it led me to realize just how much quilting has changed over the years….remember Country calico? I decided to keep “Machine Quilting Unlimited” as they have since gone out of business and truly this magazine was one of my all-time favorites.

Next I headed for my pattern box…which I might say I found sprinkled around the studio…I asked myself 2 questions as I looked at each and every one….had I made this pattern and/or in reality would I make it?  Here again, times have changed…or at least my taste in quilted projects has.

Tools….there weren’t many I was willing to part with.  Mainly, “contraptions” which claimed to assist in better free motion quilting….tisn’t so for me.  I prefer to use Lickity Grip and my own two hands.

Ahhh…my stash.  All in all it wasn’t as hard as I had expected it to be.  Yet again my taste has changed greatly over the last 20+ years.  I also prefer to paint my own fabric now instead of searching far and wide and accepting the best I can find.  I cleaned 3 medium size boxes of fabric out of my baskets.

Drawers…I realized as I emptied each of my sewing drawers that I had been only using items located in the front of my drawers.  To my delight I discovered tools that I believed the gremlins had taken for their own eons ago.

Here is a photo of all of the things that I’ve taken out of my studio:

As I adding them to the “go” pile I told myself three things:

  • once an item was added to the “go” pile it could not be removed
  • I would promise myself to “shop at home”
  • to organize items as I removed them in order to save time later

As I worked I asked myself how things had gotten this bad and here’s what I determined to be my challenges:

  • I most enjoy working on projects that incorporate various techniques, all of which bring their own amount of “clutter”, ie. painting fabric, fussy cutting fabric, thread work, sketching and free motion quilting.
  • I am working on too many projects at one time: I purchased beautifully decorated boxes to hold all of the items needed for individual projects.  Now all I need to do is label them.
  • I leave items on open spaces so I can find them easily as needed
  • I tell myself I’ll make time to clean later
  • I need more surface space (and a skylight)
  • I have too many ideas to manage at one time

So what have I learned after all of this?

  • Daily maintenance, whether I begin my studio time organizing for 15 minutes or end it, it must be done.
  • Shop at home first.  I am fortunate to own a wealth of quilting/sewing items that I loved enough to purchase…I want to use them!
  • Decide what to do with my scraps as I finish each project, whether I organize a few into the next project, share them with quilting friends or donate them, they cannot be allowed to accumulate willy nilly.

If you’re still having trouble organizing I highly recommend the book, “Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter” by Carolyn Woods.  Each quilter will benefit from their individual organization solutions but this book will get you on your way.

And now for the BIG REVEAL!!!

My husband maintains he wants to see everyone’s sewing room in one year’s time!

I found I had weeded so many fabrics, patterns, notions, books, DVD’s and handmade items that I needed to hold a tag sale…which I accomplished last Saturday, May 4th. I had advertised it in my guild’s newsletter (230+ members), on Craig’s list and two other yard sale sites online. Sadly, the majority of the attendees (men) wandered into the tag sale looking surprised and bewildered. They had read the signage but not the first word “Quilters” Tag Sale. Sadly the targeted audience didn’t show as I had hoped but there is a silver lining to all of this…I’m donating all of the items to the 2020 Quilt Show Boutique for the Ct Piecemakers Quilt Guild!

  1. April 29 – Linda Bratten –
  2. April 30 – Sandra Johnson –
  3. May 1 – Jennifer Schifano Thomas –
  4. May 2 – Becca Fenstermaker –
  5. May 3 – Sue Griffiths –
  6. May 4 – Kate Starcher –
  7. May 5 – Jo Westfoot –
  8. May 6 – Sam Hunter –
  9. May 7 – Simone Fisher –
  10. May 8 – Elisabeth DeMoo
  11. May 9 – Sarah Myers –
  12. May 10 – Amy Bradley –
  13. May 11 – Kathy Nutley –
  14. May 12 – Carla Henton –
  15. May 13 – Sherry Shish –
  16. May 14 – Kate Colleran –
  17. May 15 – Pamela Boatright –
  18. May 16 – Cathy McKillip –
  19. May 17 – Cheryl Sleboda –

So I hope you’ll continue on this journey of exploring quilt studios to realize that there doesn’t seem to be any progress without “mess”, however, it really does help to stop every once in a while to weed out what you’ll never need.

On we go….


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