Two weeks ago, I had the luxury of spending some time immersed in the pages of my very talented friend and professional colleague's book “Love Your Creative Space” by Lilo Bowman published by C&T Publishing. And what great read it was. Personally…anytime you mix inspiration with studio or sewing room organization it’s a WIN WIN for me!
In October 2017, I wrote a brief article in one of my quarterly newsletters (which you can sign up for here) all about organizing yourself in a smaller workspace. From my own experiences, I wrote about using collapsible tables with rolling feet, keeping everyday small tools close by using portable serving trays and on installing a laminate floor for ease of moving furniture and sewing equipment around the workspace. In other writings, I've talked about purchasing a smaller long arm frame to fit the dimensions of the applicable space available in your sewing room. Today, there are many long arm frame set up options out there which makes owning a long arm a viable option. Also, in my newsletter, I discussed when it might be time to consider expanding into a new larger space. Here’s a photo of my 12’ x 12’ studio back in 2012…
Looking back, I really appreciated this smaller studio workspace because it forced me to be clever about the setup in utilizing a smaller footprint in relation to my daily process. As Lilo writes in the Chapter, “My Space” page 46. Paraphrasing a bit…movement from one workstation to another that your workspace should ideally be set up in what’s called a “work triangle” adopted from the kitchen design world. This makes perfect sense to me. Planning your daily flow in your creative environment is key to the start of a successful, less frustrating day (or evening) of quilting and sewing. In this diagram from Lilo’s book, she talks about the importance of the “Circle of Reach” and I fully agree her. Whether you’re setting up a new studio or organizing an existing studio space, again you’ll want to create a pattern of flow or a circle of reach that matches your quilting or sewing process.
Here’s an excerpt from my newsletter referring to how my former workspace was set up. “Strategically laid out along one wall and only a few steps from each other are my laptop, digital cutter, mats, roll of fusible, tool tray, small iron station and starch. My sewing machine and mid-arm make up the remaining perimeter of the studio therefore the only available space left for a work surface would be in the center of the room. I use a work surface only when I am cutting fabric pieces and assembling a mosaic quilt top.”
I loved Lilo’s discussion on this topic. The most frequently used items should be within arm’s reach and basically less frequently used items should be located further out in that circle of reach. Of course she goes much more into depth on this subject so my suggestion is if you want to learn more pick up a copy of her book.
Lilo also describes other useful tips in her book on tackling and containing cords. In this way crazy world of electronic equipment, let’s face it cords are a nuisance. IPhone's, Android’s, PC’s & Mac books, irons, sewing machines, long arms, power strips, light boards, digital cutters, etc. Cords, Cords, CORDS…. Well, Lilo, I’m adding another useful tip as food for thought. I found this neat product a few months ago…long after Lilo and I chatted about her book. Velcro bundling straps made by Scotch. They come in multiple sizes and it’s an inexpensive way to quickly contain all of those snake like cords around your workspace.
Another one of my favorite sections in Lilo’s book refers to “Personalizing Your Space”. I wholeheartedly agree on this subject matter. You workspace is very personal and it is your place of joy and whatever size that space may be it needs to reflect you and your personality.
I remember working in my prior professional career. We all had cubicle space and I would often run out to Staples or Office Max to find the perfect things to organize my space. Then I would take a trip to the craft store and the ornamental flower shop to find the perfect accents that reflected my personality. Maybe a beautiful frame to show off my loving family or a glass vessel to hold beach sand, seashells and a candle to express my love for the ocean. Either way, when I walked into my office… it was neat, clutter free, organized and it made me feel happy to start my day. Now that’s just my opinion of how I wanted my little office workspace set up. One of my other dear friends and colleagues, well let’s just say…her office was the complete opposite of mine…it was bombarded with crap! She had everything, everywhere! No organization or at least I (and any other passerby) would have thought. But let me just tell you…she knew exactly where everything was! Even how much diet Pepsi was left in her can…LOL! And her cubicle made her happy each day when started work.
So the advice Lilo, and I am piggy backing on… is to set up your creative space in the manner that makes you feel the happiest. Here are some photo’s of my former smaller studio space. It made me very happy. It had calming blue and red-orange colors, a pretty but totally non-functional pendant light, baskets filled with sewing stuff and kid made trinkets, seashells and other beach items lined my shelves. My room also had these awesome multipurpose jam jars that a good friend gave me. I screwed them upside down into my shelves for storing buttons and little things etc. But don’t be entirely fooled by this organizational tip. Honestly, I just loved those red checkered caps!
At the end of 2017, after exhausting every organizational trick I could think of, I had sincerely outgrew my 12’ x 12’ space. I even took over another section of our unfinished basement. I was growing as a professional quilter and I was starting to teach. The amount of STUFF I had accumulated and friends it wasn’t all FABRIC! With these welcomed changes came a realization…I didn't need more organization but instead I needed a larger workspace. A larger space to incorporate all of what I do encompassed into one room verses floating between two different rooms. Thinking again about Lilo’s reference to “Circle of Reach” working in this manner I was way outside that circle for a comfortable, productive and happy quilting day.
Another realization I had was that I was dead serious about my passion for quilting, it wasn’t just a hobby any longer it was a definite path. Because I understood where my journey was taking me. In 2018, with the support of my family, we added an addition onto our home, including a family room and a new larger studio space for me to create and work in. And I use it every day! All of this being said, you need to truly evaluate what your path is, listen to what makes you happy and then set up your space accordingly. Here’s some photo’s of my new larger studio space and some quick idea’s sharing how I utilize and organize my space.
Wide shot of my studio. Work table in center and long arm in the background. Strategically placed so that I could glance out my windows. Oh happy joy!
Corner nook of my studio. Office set up for designing, teaching, writing, social media, photography and ordering supplies etc.
Glass write on, wipe off board for keeping track of things I need…and things I dream about.
Baskets with labels designating the tools that I use. More frequently used items in bottom shelf baskets and less frequently used items in the top shelf baskets.
A rolling cart. This cart rolls around the room with me based on need. It houses, every day tools that I use for the particular workstation that I am working in at the time.
On my window sills…pure happiness! Trinkets that give me joy.
Quote boards…I can’t get enough of them! They bring me more joy.
Rack holders and dispensers to hold my adhesives, freezer paper and stabilizers.
Clever gadgets to hold small, easy to lose items. A color coded pill organizer used to store my digital cutter blades. Each colored container corresponds to the color of the blade type for quick access and to help choose the accurate blade type based on my project.
A multipurpose DIY design wall. I wrote a whole blog on this one. You can read it here
Installed bright flush mounted LED ceiling lights around the perimeter of my studio. You just can’t have enough good lighting.
I never stop dreaming of other ways to set up My Stuff, My Space and to utilize My System because a happy work space fosters my daily routine, boosts my mood, and promotes productivity. Let’s face it if my space makes me happy then that’s really most of what I need to inspire my creativity.
Since I can’t share all of Lilo’s book photos and content. Here are a few photo’s (not in Lilo’s book) that make me dream about additional ways to redesign my studio space. And the free tip here is, never stop reevaluating your process because things change continuously, continue to surf and do your research to make things easier and more productive because even a simple new gadget or tool can make you happier.
Love this rack system connected right to your primary work table.
I see the functionality in this type of wall mounted rack system.
Last few words…recap of my favorites from Lilo’s book: Circle of Reach, Setting Up My Space (the whole chapter), the importance of taking time out to care for your tools, storage solutions, floor stress mats, inspirational tag designing by Jamie Fingal, custom made window coverings by Denise Labadie, totally unrelated, but I loved Spoonflower’s Custom Removable wallpaper to use on a staircase and lastly, I would be a fool not to mention the wonderful featured section on Nola Emerie and her studio, well let’s just say she’s truly amazing!
There is just so much good information and beautifully illustrated photos jammed packed into this 128 page book, “Love Your Creative Space” that I could go on and on…but truthfully, if you sew, quilt of craft or get inspired…consider spending a few dollars to add this fine visual guide and very useful reference book (most of which considers doing these things on a budget) to your list future reads. Here’s the links to purchase it from Lilo Bowan's website store here, at C&T Publishing here and on Amazon here.
The tour continues on through Tuesday June 30th. Here’s the complete line up with links. And remember if you find a blog along this tour that you have enjoyed reading, sign up to receive their blog or newsletters. And please feel free to share this post with others so that more can learn about Lilo Bowman’s new book “Love Your Creative Space” by C&T Publishing.
Friday 26 June: Christa Quilts C&T Publishing Saturday 27 June: Bonnie K Hunter Teri Lucas Sunday 28 June: Mel Beach/Blog Heidi Proffetty Monday 29 June: Deborah Boschert Karlee Porter Tuesday 30 June: Lilo Bowman
Thank you my friend Lilo for all your efforts bringing such a wonderful book to the quilting, sewing and crafting communities. And if you want a chance to win a free ecopy of this book, go to C&T Publishing’s blog here: https://www.ctpub.com/blog/