The Blue Gardenia

Sewing spaces: Oliver + S + Liesl = one enviable studio. Indeed. September 23, 2010 17:41 5 Comments

Liesl_gibson_ssNot all of us have two sewing spaces. Not all of us are talented designers. Not all of us have our own pattern line. But that does not mean that the rest of us cannot learn a thing or two from those who do. Because we can. Certainly. And we will. Won't we?

Today, let's enjoy vicarious thrills as we ogle the sewing room of Liesl Gibson. Liesl is the chief designer of the totally fun children's pattern line, Oliver + S. She also authors the firm's tutorial-packed, lovely-to-look-at blog. Need I add that I am a fan? Of course not. You know I am.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

When I started Oliver + S several years ago, sewing became my business. I realized early on that I couldn’t run the business from my small New York City apartment and that I needed to rent a workspace. I’m fortunate now to have two dedicated sewing spaces: a tiny one in our home in Manhattan and a larger studio in Brooklyn where we run the business. They are about 20 minutes apart on the subway.

At home, we converted a closet into a space that doubles as a sewing room and a small closet for our daughter. It’s just large enough that I can keep my machine set up to pop in when I have a few minutes.

Liesl_storage_ssAt the studio, I have a large cutting table as well as a long counter where the machines are lined up, ready to go. And lots of shelves for storage. That’s crucial, in my opinion.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

I like it that I can sew conveniently either at work or at home. And, given the size of our apartment, I’m just happy to have a dedicated space at all!

 

What would you change about your space?

Well, the closet could be bigger. But so could the entire apartment! Both spaces suit me fine, though. I can’t complain.

How is your space organized?

Almost everything is kept at the studio; all my fabric and materials are stored there. I keep just a small sewing machine, a sleeve board (which serves as a mini-ironing board), and an iron at home with a small set of sewing tools.

Liesl_gibson_books_ssAt the studio, I have shelves for fabric and books, and each project is kept in an individual box on the shelves. So when I’m developing a pattern, all the materials for that pattern are stored in one box. It makes it easier to keep everything together. I keep a lot of tear sheets, too, and I sort them into boxes according to theme: clothing inspiration, print inspiration, styling inspiration, etc.

Liesl_stash_ssIf you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

I really try not to keep much of a stash, but I do need fabrics to draw from when I’m developing a pattern, and I always have a wish list of fabrics I purchased for things I want to make when I have the time. Most of the fabric is folded uniformly and stacked according to color, so it’s easy to find something, and it looks neat.

Liesl_patternsHow are your patterns organized?

I keep all my patterns (both vintage patterns and current Oliver + S patterns) in wood crates on the studio shelves. I don’t really sew from the vintage patterns much, but I’ve been known to read sewing pattern instructions in my free time. (Weird, I know.)

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

We archive the Oliver + S patterns in both paper and digital formats, but I keep my own sewing patterns in plastic sheet protectors inside three-ring binders. It makes them easy to find.

Do you have a mannequin made to measure? If so, do you find it helpful?

I do. I purchased Betty, my adult mannequin, secondhand after I graduated from FIT. She is larger than I am (especially on top!) but sometimes helps out. Petal (actually, “Pedal,” named by my daughter for the pedal that raises and lowers the form) is a size 3T children’s mannequin who helps a lot when I’m developing new patterns. She sometimes poses for photo shoots, too.

Liesl_cutting_ssWhat do you cut out your patterns on?

I cut almost everything at the big cutting table in the studio. At home, I use the dining-room table or the floor. I sometime use a rotary blade and cutting mat, and sometimes use giant dressmaking shears, depending on my mood and the project.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

That’s tough. My favorite tool ever is a mechanical pencil. I’m very picky about pens and pencils, and I prefer one particular brand. I’m lost without it.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

In addition to a reliable sewing machine, I recommend a really good iron (good doesn’t mean expensive ­– just quick to heat up and gives lots of steam), good quality shears, plenty of pins and a measuring tape. You can certainly buy lots of additional tools to make life easier, but it’s difficult to sew anything without these basic tools.

Liesl_machines_ssWhat kind of machine do you use?

I’m partial to Janome. They make a terrific machine, and I love all of their machines that I own and use.

What do you like about it?

The bobbin is exceptionally easy to load, and the machines are reliable and easy to use. I used my inexpensive travel Janome (the one I keep at home) to make a winter coat for my daughter last year. It didn’t have any trouble with the bulk and kept up me without complaining at all. It’s a terrific beginner machine and can be taken anywhere for classes, etc.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I recently got my first serger (a Janome), and it’s really wonderful because it’s fast and finishes seams beautifully.

When I don’t have access to a serger, though, I’m perfectly happy with a zigzag stitch. And I prefer to use a French seam when it’s appropriate to the fabric and item that I’m making.

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

Being as busy as I am, both spaces have evolved over time. I make improvements when there is time. I just added bulletin-board doors to the shelving in the studio, and I always have ideas for the next improvement.

The closet at home has had many lives: as a closet, as our daughter’s first tiny bedroom, and now, as my little workroom. It gets ignored when I’m not using it to sew — I just try to keep it neat so it’s ready when I am.

Do not miss our next Sewing Space adventure. Yes. I'm being bossy. But it's for your own good. Monday, we'll travel to the Portland studio of Sarai, owner and designer of Colette patterns. It's so luscious. Really. You won't be disappointed.

 


Sewing spaces: The Cupcake Goddess stitches in one sweet area. September 06, 2010 11:13 1 Comment

Sure, she's the goddess of cupcakes. But she's also a goddess of stitching. Sunni, The Cupcake Goddess , has been kind enough to open the door of her sewing closet and to let us peer inside. It's so organized! I'm shaking my head in wonder. I am. And, yes, I do covet her red vixen dress. It's made from a vintage pattern. Naturally. All the best clothes are, don't you agree? But enough about patterns. Let's see what Sunni does with a small space. I think you will be very impressed. I do.

Sewing_space_cupcake
Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Yes, I do. It’s a small corner in a small apartment. My space is right next to a sliding glass door that leads out onto our balcony. Normally, this would be the dining area. However, with our limited space, it turns into my sewing area. There is a small closet in this area where I try to keep all my sewing supplies, fabrics and tools under wraps.  And can I just say, it’s a hard job. I’m an avid stitcher. I have a true passion for sewing that encompasses my entire outlook on life. Having limited space to store my creativity can be hard, but also can lead to spurts of inventiveness as I try to find a home for my tools and give life to my next sewing project.

Sewing Space 2
What do you like best about your sewing area?

The lighting. I am a person who needs to have natural sunlight, and with the sliding glass door next to my sewing area, I receive ample sunlight.

What would you change about your space?

Well, I would love to have an actual sewing room. A room that is always at the ready for my creative thought and energy. I would love to have my computer in my sewing room, along with my ironing space. It would be lovely to have a comfy chair where I went to meditate and think creatively about projects I want to try and techniques I need to work on.

How is your space organized?

I have Ms. Prism, my dress form, in a corner. Opposite this corner is my small sewing closet where I keep all of my fabric, tools, supplies, and sewing patterns. In the middle of this space, I have my sewing table where I keep my sewing machine and cutting mat. My ironing spot is in a different space of our apartment, but not far, so as to make the task of pressing while sewing easier. I’ve found that in a small space, organization is key, so I try to keep everything localized.

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

I have a serious addiction to collecting fabric. Fabric is my magnificent obsession. In fact, for me, it is more about owning the fabric than actually cutting into it. I love getting my prized fabric possessions out just to look at, though fun as this is, my stash has become too large for my small closet to hold. I keep my stash in a small bureau of drawers and plastic tubs. I try to keep like fabrics with like fabrics and also pick and choose the fabrics that will be upcoming in my next two projects. These fabrics I keep in my “next project box,” a box dedicated to all of the tools, patterns and fabric I need to do my next sewing project.

How are your patterns organized?

I am very choosy about my sewing patterns. I try to pick up patterns that are different from any of the other patterns that I already have. I find that I tend to pick the same pattern over and over again, only it seems to have a different pattern number or possibly is even made by a different company. I try to be very careful about the patterns that I buy and double check to make sure that I don’t have anything similar. My patterns are kept in a canvas bin with no rhyme or reason, and I find it fun to randomly sort through them from time to time trying to find inspiration for a new sewing project.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

I don’t feel that I have enough patterns to actually archive, though now that I’ve “discovered” a new fetish for vintage patterns, it might get to that point.

Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

Ms. Prism is from Fabulous Fit. She acquired her name from one of my favorite characters in the Oscar Wilde play The Importance of Being Earnest.  When I purchased her, she came with some padding that does help to create a nearer version of me. However, I am looking to create an even more similar version of myself by covering Ms. Prism in a new dress-form cover made from my personal measurements.

Sewing Space 1
Do you find Ms. Prism helpful?

Oh, yes! Ms. Prism is most helpful. I find it most helpful to take a step back and look at the garment's progress, how it’s looking on a body and where alterations might need to be made. Not only that, though she has no head, she gives me awfully good advice on fabric choice, pattern choice, trims and such that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. Being able to pin fabric onto Ms. Prism is a dream as I get to test certain color combinations together before diving into a sewing project.

Sewing Space 3
What do you cut out your patterns on?

Typically, on my sewing table, but sometimes, it's great to watch a movie while cutting out patterns.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

My cutting mat. I’ve not always had this tool, and I’ve not always believed in having one either. I decided to buy one and a rotary cutter to go along with it one day. A bit of a splurge for me. The mat is incredibly useful for cutting and measuring. I had no idea I really needed one until after I had it and used it for nearly every sewing project. Wouldn’t live without it now. Surprisingly, there are so many parts in dressmaking that have to be cut into perfect squares, strips or other shapes, and this tool has proved unbelievably helpful in this area.

Sewing Space 9
What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

An expensive pair of dressmaking shears, a delightful pincushion, a good iron and ironing board, and a good reference book to get you started. One of my first sewing books was The Vogue Sewing Book. It’s gone through many revisions over time, but this is the book I go to first whenever I have a problem that needs solving.

Sewing Space 7
What kind of machine do you use?

I have a Bernina Activa 230.

What do you like about it?

I love my sewing machine! Silly me, my favorite part of this machine is that the bobbin is a conventional bobbin located below the stitching plate. I’ve found that this type of bobbin works best in helping maintain the thread tension and not throwing the tension into fits.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I don’t have a serger, because I don’t sew with knits all too much. I would like to get one eventually, but for now, it’s pinking shears and wovens.

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

I’ve developed my sewing space over only a few years time. It’s been 5 years since I picked up the art of stitching again, and since then, my space and sewing experience continues to evolve.  I find the most important aspect of my sewing space is the ability to create and think creatively in it. I’m able to do that for the most part here. I love the feeling of sitting down to my machine, with Ms. Prism at my side, staring at the beautiful fabrics I’ve amassed over the years. It’s really good to the very last stitch.

 


Sewing spaces: The Selfish Seamstress unselfishly shares with us. September 02, 2010 17:08

Once again, I am shamelessly releasing my inner voyeur to peek inside someone else's sewing area. Come with me. Do. Because today, I offer yet another real treat: Elaine, the Selfish Seamstress. (And, darn it, once again, I see no dust bunnies! Can it be no other sewing blogger allows them residence?)

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Sewing_rooms_elaine I don't, and I've never had one, unless the fact that the living room floor is constantly covered with sewing stuff means it qualifies as "dedicated!" But my partner and I are in the process of moving right now and are definitely looking into getting a place big enough to accommodate a proper sewing space. For now, I make use of the aforementioned living room floor and one end of the dining table.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

All I can say is that I like the sewing that goes on in it, and I like the garments that come out of it. Other than that, there's really nothing all that exciting about that particular end of the dining table.

What would you change about your space?

I actually don't mind sewing in our living space, but the biggest problem with not having a dedicated sewing nook is not being able to keep everything in one space. Ideally, I would love to have all the shelves and bins and racks in one place, and keep the sewing clutter out of the rest of the apartment.

Sewing_room_iron_elaine
How is your space organized?

Poorly even on the best of days :) The machine sits on the edge of the dining room table and gets tucked away when we need to use the table for nonsewing purposes. I haul the mini-ironing board and iron out of the laundry closet as necessary and set them up on the living room floor. Fabric has a shelf (err, more recently it's taking up the better part of a second shelf as well) on the same set of shelves as I keep my clothes in the bedroom. Sewing books and magazines share the bookshelves with our other books, and envelope patterns are in a big covered bin under the bed. I have a lovely sewing box for my notions, tools and thread, but lately, my collection has begun to outgrow the little box.

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

Order is imposed in a cyclic fashion. Every once in a while I take everything down, refold it nicely (fortunately my stash is not that big), and group the fabrics on my shelf by function - coatings together, suitings together, shirtings, linings, dressy stuff, etc. Over time, it becomes disorganized because when I put things back, I just tuck them where there seems to be space. But it never gets too bad, because there isn't that much, and I reorganize fairly frequently.

How are your patterns organized?

The envelope patterns are in a covered tub under the bed. I have a ton of vintage patterns from the 1950s (mostly evening gowns) and they're mostly together. Then my contemporary patterns (believe it or not, I don't have that many) are mostly together. Fortunately, most of my pattern collection is in the form of magazines like Burda or Patrones, and it's easy enough to keep them organized on the bookshelf.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

When I trace out patterns from magazines or download a printable pattern, I write the pattern number on each piece and then store the entire pattern in an envelope. I'll label the outside of the envelope with the pattern number, source and size, and often draw a little picture of the finished garment on the outside, since "Burda 2-2007-105 Dress" isn't all that descriptive. These traced patterns also go in the tub under my bed. I also have a big flat portfolio for my sloper and some other things that I have drafted onto craft paper (they're too big to squish into envelopes).

Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

No, alas. Maybe someday I'll spring for a custom form. I used to borrow a styrofoam one from my sewing teacher but had to return it when I moved, and I haven't yet found another one small enough to be useful. (I don't like the way duct-tape ones smell and get your pins gummy, and I don't like that I can't pin into paper-tape ones.)

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I use paper scissors to cut envelope patterns. Working with the big sheets of tissue, I feel most comfortable just sitting on the floor so the paper isn't hanging down. For fabric cutting, I have a big Olfa cutting surface and rotary cutter which I use on top of the dining table, or else I use scissors on the floor.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

I rely heavily on the usual- seam ripper, good quality Gingher shears, my seam guide. But that's probably old news to most sewers. The thing that I can't sew without that most people probably don't know about is Butterbrotpapier (literally translated from German as butter bread paper.) This is a kind of paper meant for wrapping food that can be purchased at German grocery stores in rolls like aluminum foil. It's heavier and stiffer than tracing paper, and much more transparent than parchment paper for baking or copy paper. It doesn't have a wax coating, so it's easy to write on. I use it to trace patterns, and it holds up really well. It costs about 99 cents a roll, and anytime I go to Germany, I stock up. I also have friends bring it back for me when they travel.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

Ha ha — if you can't already tell, I'm really a minimalist when it comes to tools and equipment. I get by on a lot of makeshift tools. I'd say the most important investment is a good pair of fabric shears. I do just fine with a cheap iron, and up until recently, I made most of my projects (even wool coats!) on a sewing machine purchased for 50 Euros in a grocery store with fine results. A beginner can go far with a simple, reliable machine. But great shears are a must!

Sewing_room_mags_elaine
Do you keep a sewing library? If so, what book would you recommend to beginners?

Most of my library is vintage sewing books that I keep because they're charming rather than informative. I mean to pick up a few good resources for tailoring and fitting but haven't yet. I rely on the internet a lot for techniques. The book I rely on most for technique is one put out by Burda called Nähen leicht gemacht (Sewing Made Easy). I find that it has a lot of information that other sewing books don't have for conveying important practical knowledge, like how to edit a pattern if you're one size on top and another size on the bottom. I don't know if there's an English version of it though. Sorry, German is my "first language" for sewing!

What kind of machine do you use?

I have a Husqvarna Platinum 770 that I got used off of eBay. It is my first "nice" machine, and I adore it!

Sewing_room_machine_elaine
What do you like about it?

I'm actually not a connoisseur when it comes to sewing machines, and it's the only machine I currently use. I love that the sewing action is quiet and smooth. The stitching is lovely and even, and the machine also has a great coverstitch that I use frequently. All of the feet for it are also really nicely designed and engineered, particularly the invisible zipper foot. It also has neat convenience features that feel lazy and luxurious ­— like bobbin winding from the needle and automatic threading.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I don't, but it's on my list! Someday. . . .

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that I "developed" my sewing space. It just sort of crept into whatever nooks and crannies it could find in our little apartment over time, until it took over the whole place like kudzu! But I'll happily report back in a few months in our next home, where I hope to have something more inspiring to show you :)

Next week, Sunni, the Cupcake Goddess and Elle of It's a Sewing Life open their doors to us. So. Come along, dear readers. Do. They will not disappoint. And as an additional lure, next week, there's a giveaway. Is that exciting? I think so. I do.

 


Sewing spaces: Wanna see Diary of a Sewing Fanatic's room? I do. August 30, 2010 12:30 6 Comments

Today, let's glimpse inside the sewing space of Carolyn, who pens the fabulous blog, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. DSF was one of the first sewing blogs that I discovered, and I am still quite fanatical about it. Absolutely. Carolyn makes sewing look so easy. She does. I am in awe. Totally.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Sewing_room_carolyn No. I don't. I sew in my bedroom, but I really don't mind . . . it's convenient on Saturdays and Sundays.  I can literally roll out of bed and be at my sewing machine.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

My sewing machines!

What would you change about your space?

It would be a lot more organized. Every time I think I have enough organization going on, I buy too much stuff and max it out.  It's at that point again . . . needing more organization.

How is your space organized?

Sewing_room_carolyn3 Right now, I'm using an armoire to hold trims, buttons and notions . . . several drawers from plastic to hold patterns, those plastic car cases to hold thread and a cutting table with lots of wire baskets beneath it to hold supplies too.

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

My fabric collection has its own closet and the latest of the season resides in a Rubbermaid bin in my bedroom. Again, though my buying habits mean that I do have fabric everywhere . . . *sigh*. . .  all over the living room and even sitting on the couch.

Sewing_room_carolyn4 How are your patterns organized?

Most of the ones in the bedroom are in the drawers, just in there.  The newest ones are on the top, so if I want a new one, it's pretty easy to find.  The older ones require some searching.  All of the TNTs are in folders and stored in a drawer under the cutting table, so they are always easy to lay my hands on.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

I do have several boxes of patterns in bankers boxes stored in my daughter's closet.

Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

I do have a mannequin . . . Lulu . . . who is presently missing her legs.  I keep saying that I need to do something about that and never get around to it.

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I have a wonderful cutting table made from pieces from Ikea.  I love my cutting table!

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

Mmmm, I don't have an answer to that one!

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

First, a good sewing book . . . then buy all of the recommended basic tools in the first chapter of said book!

Sewing_room_carolyn2 What kind of machine do you use?

My sewing machines are Janome and Brother.  My serger is a Babylock.

What do you like about it?

My new 6600 is a quilting edition, and I like that it stops precisely.  I love the up/down feature, the scissors that cut the threads, the long bed and that the foot lifts higher to accommodate heavier fabrics.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I do own one and use it primarily to finish seams.

Sewing_room_carolyn5 How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

No matter where I've lived since leaving my parents' house and that includes college, I've managed to make a place to sew.  Sewing is that important to me!


Sewing spaces: Kristy of Lower Your Presser Foot passes the test. August 26, 2010 17:04 7 Comments

Shelves of fabric
In today's installment of Sewing Spaces, we'll put Kristy Idle's sewing room to the white glove test. Kristy, of
Lower Your Presser Foot, makes me green with envy on a regular basis. Why, you ask, dear readers? Because. Because she simply will not stop making fabulous garments. And guess what? I'll let you in on a little secret — her sewing room passes the test, and then some. Absolutely. So. Color me green. Again.

Sewing_spaces_kiDo you have a dedicated sewing space?

I sure do. ­When my husband and I recently undertook major renovations to our house, I insisted on building a special room for my sewing space since the recent birth of my daughter took away the bedroom I previously occupied.

Theoretically, the room is also supposed to be a home office and possibly a future playroom, but I can't see either of those things happening!

What do you like best about your sewing area?

My room is really bright and sunny, having windows on three walls, which makes it lovely to be in there. It's also mine, and only mine, which is great, too.

What would you change about your space?

A bit bigger room would have been nice, but council building restrictions made us scale it down. The only real downside to my sewing room is that it is separate to our house as it is built above our garage. Which means that when my daughter is having her lunchtime nap, I can't go up to my sewing room to squeeze in 30 mins of sewing time, and sometimes it's hard on these cold winter nights to leave our warm living room to go up there, too!

Sewing deskHow is your space organized?

In the centre of the room is my cutting/work table with storage underneath, along one wall is open shelving with my fabrics, along another wall is a built in desk for my sewing machine and overlocker, and along another wall is a bookcase that is crammed full of books, magazines and sewing supplies ­but not in a pretty way. I have my button collection stored in vintage kitchen canisters which are pretty to look at though.

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

I have a ginormous fabric stash, way more fabric than I could ever use in my lifetime, but I just can't pass by a beautiful piece of fabric especially if I unearth them at op shops or garage sales. I've been building my stash for about the last 10 years, and the majority of it comes from op shops and garage sales, but I have purchased a little bit of it retail, some inherited from my gran's stash, some stolen from my mum's stash and some gifted from others.

Shorter lengths are stored folded on open shelving lined up along one wall of my sewing room, and longer lengths are stored on cardboard rolls sitting upright in a drum. I have been thinking of covering the shelves with fabric to protect from dust, but I like to look at it too much to hide it away! It's ordered by color sorting, although I have started photographing new pieces and keeping a list of length, fabric composition and date of purchase.

How are your patterns organized?

My patterns are separated into each pattern company, and then in numerical order. For patterns traced from Burda magazines, I put them in envelopes the same size as sewing pattern envelopes, print out the technical drawing from the (now defunct) Burda website and glue it on the front so that I can store them the same as any other patterns.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

Pattern storageMy patterns are sort of archived. I have scanned the cover of each and saved them in files such as "dresses", "skirts", "childrens". etc. This way, when I want to make something, I can just flick through images on my computer instead of physically flipping through the patterns. The patterns are stored in two Aneboda chest of drawers from Ikea. These fit patterns in perfectly, even the big designer Vogue envelopes.

Do you have a mannequin made-to-measure?

I have a mannequin I bought in an op shop years ago. It's not made to measure, but it is adjustable to my measurements. I also have a plastic display mannequin that has a removable pregnancy belly that I bought off Ebay because I have been toying with the idea of starting a maternity fashion label.

If so, do you find it helpful?

MannequinsI can't say I do find the mannequin overly helpful, because its posture is so much better than mine, and it also doesn't have the sagging lumpy bits I have either! I do use it for pinning up hems after first deciding the length while I'm wearing the garment, and then measuring off the floor to get the hem straight.  What I use it mostly for is storage of works in progress. . . .

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I use my old dining table as a cutting table. I replaced the legs with taller ones so that the table is at the correct ergonomic height for me which happily also meant that my pattern cupboards fit underneath the table. Under the table is also a big trunk that my grandparents used when they emigrated from England to Australia 60 years ago that I use to store clothes for refashioning and UFOs (of which I have many). On top of the table, I just use one of those fold-up cardboard cutting mats with a grid on it, which is also a good surface for tracing out Burda magazine patterns using one of those spiky tracing wheels.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

Hmmmm, my unpicker is my most utilized tool, but I would say that a thread snipper is my most useful tool, because before I bought one I would often nick my fabric when trimming threads using scissors and end up with small holes in my nearly finished garments, which was soooo annoying, as you can imagine.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

A good quality pair of really sharp scissors for use only on fabric makes a big difference, I think. They may cost a fair bit, but if you look after them they will last for a long time and make it so much easier and more comfortable for cutting out your pattern pieces (which is the most tedious part of sewing, I find). I also recommend that beginners buy a mid-range sewing machine but the best they can afford, because the budget sewing machines are often lacking features that make sewing easier such as a one-step buttonhole. My previous machine was a basic Brother that had a four-step buttonhole process. It was difficult to sew a good buttonhole, and as a consequence, I hated doing them. Starting out sewing can be hard enough as it is, so why not use as much technology as possible to help you out?

What kind of machine do you use?

My current sewing machine is a Brother NS-30, which I only bought earlier this year.

What do you like about it?

I like so many things about this machine compared with my previous basic sewing machine. It has 70 stitches (most of which I don't use, but I like having the options), it does an easy peasy but beautifully perfect buttonhole in one step, it has a little thingy that threads the needle saving me from having to squint and poke the thread through the needle, and it also sews automatically via stop/start touch button instead of the foot pedal, which was useful recently when I was sewing long straight seams while sewing 20m+ of curtains.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I have a Toyota serger which I've had for ages, and until I recently had it serviced, I didn't like it all, but now we seem to be working through our issues.

I like it because it's the quickest way to neaten up the raw edges of seams and looks professionally finished like ready-to-wear clothing, although I do admit that Hong Kong finishes and French seams are prettier (but I'm too lazy for those).

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

I've been in my sewing space for about a year now, but it's still very much under development.

I'd like to personalize it a bit more with some more artwork, put in some better, stronger lighting because currently I only have those energy-saving lightbulbs which have a yellowish cast, and I'd also like to neaten up my storage bookshelf, too.

Next week, we'll peek inside the sewing spaces of Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) and Elaine (The Selfish Seamstress). Can you wait, dear readers?  I can. But barely. I am goose-pimply with excitement. Absolutely.


Sewing spaces: Erica B.'s D.I.Y. style. (Martha is smiling!) August 23, 2010 19:04 6 Comments

Sewing_room_erica_b

Dearest readers, I have been pondering sewing spaces. My machine is in my office. I cut at Marticia's. I need organization! I do. I need inspiration. Absolutely. (And I could do with some extra energy, too, oh great sewing genie!)

So. I decided to query other sewing bloggers about their sewing rooms. I did. And today is the first of a series on the spaces where my blogging dressmaker idols sew. I hope you find this info as helpful as I do. Really. Truly. Sometimes, I am so unselfish.

The first glamorous blogger: Erica Bunker of Erica's D.I.Y. style:

Sewing_rooms_eb_pic Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

I do!

What do you like best about your sewing area?

That it's mine! It's my own personal space. It's the only room in my home that is completely mine. If I'm working on a project, I can just stop and leave everything as is, cut the lights off and return the next day.

What would you change about your space?

I'm currently adding more storage space and my cutting area. In my next home, the space itself will be much larger to accommodate those things.

How is your space organized?

When I worked in corporate America, I worked in a cubicle just like a lot of people. I grew accustomed to having everything at arms length. I wanted my sewing area to reflect that as well. I can just turn in my chair and have access to everything I need. It's a small space, but functional.

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

I really don't maintain much of a stash. If I see something I love, I'll try to visualize what I'd like to do with it and by yardage based on that. I'm really not that good at predicting a future project, so I really don't buy fabric to stash. But the small stash that I have is folded in a large RubberMaid bin.

How are your patterns organized?

My patterns are organized by pattern company in numerical order. I've been saying that one of these days I'll sit down and create my own database or spreadsheet, so that I'd be able to do a query or sort based on category. That day has yet to come!

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

Yes. And they are stored in small filing cabinets. But since my pattern stash is growing by the moment and every sale at Jo-Ann's and Hancock, I'm looking into something larger to store them.

Sewing_rooms_mannequin_eb Do you have a mannequin made-to-measure?

Not "made- to-measure. But I have a PGM-Pro that is very close!

If so, do you find it helpful?

Yes, I love her and couldn't sew without her.

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I use a Sullivan Home Hobby Table - 36" x 36" x 59.5" and a rotary cutting mat.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

My iron! Next to my sewing machine, it's the best tool I have! It's a Consew Silver Star CES-300 Gravity Feed Iron. When sewing, you spend just as much time (if not more) pressing your garment as you do sewing . . . well, at least YOU SHOULD! You have to have a quality iron.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

A great reference book! I recommend The Complete Guide to Photo Sewing - Singer. It tells you everything you need to know to get started.  I've been sewing for years, and I still refer to it.

What kind of machine do you use?

A Bernina Activa 130.

What do you like about it?

She's a little workhorse! And the stitch quality is impeccable!

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

Yes. I have a Brother 1034 D serger. I'm really anal about the inside of my garments. When I sew something, I proudly show the interior. I always want the inside of my garments to look "finished". . . never the homemade look.

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

I would call it "still under development," LOL! But I've been developing it since around 2006!

 


Sewing spaces: Would yours make Martha Stewart smile or sob? August 15, 2010 07:59 6 Comments

Sewing_room_pink
Today, I'm overwhelmed. Well. Not really. I'm exaggerating a bit. But only a wee bit. 

Sewing_room_antAs you probably recall, dearest readers, I want to finish my Mad Men skirt. I want to wear it. I do. It's cut out. Completely. And so I face my next task: marking all those darts. All 10  of them. Gulp. Now. This must be accomplished on my breakfast table. And that is why I am demoralized. Because. Because my breakfast table is a mass of magazines, bills, flyers. And let me not forget the salt shaker. Obviously, the table needs to be cleared anyway. It does. It's a mess. But tackling the darts and the table in the same day? Oh, fright.

So, dear readers, here are my questions:

Do you have a designated sewing space?

If so, how did you organize that space?

What do you like about your sewing space?

If you don't have a designated sewing space, how do you cope? How do you keep from pulling every hair out of your head?

Please share your thoughts on this. Do. I beg you.

(And, alas, the pink sewing room featured above, in all its girly glory, is not mine. It belongs to the Domestic Diva. And I am green. I am. Absolutely. The Anthropologie shot is likewise courtesy of DD. Gorgeous, but perhaps not so practical. I love those high ceilings though! Truly.)