Sewing spaces: Steph creates 3 hours past the edge of the world. November 21, 2010 08:56 2 Comments

Sewing_spaces3 Meet Steph of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. If you haven't already. She's an American. Who lives in strange land that is not the United States. (I do believe we have become one of the strangest lands around in the last year or so, a land best approached with a sea-to-shining-sea dose of humor. I love this country. I do. So much. But I would love to see sanity and tolerance and respect restored. "You go, then I go," to quote Jon Stewart. But that's another story. Heavy sigh. It is.)  To get back to today's topic: Steph sews. She creates splendiferous garments. She blogs. Don't miss her post on candy stripes. A delight. Absolutely. But  now, let's tour the space where she creates her gorgeous garments.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

I have half the study. My machines and ironing board stay out permanently. Occasionally, my sewing/experimenting takes over the house, but I do try to keep it contained.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

The cork floor tiles on the wall. I pin up all the little bits that used to clutter my sewing space. Extra pockets, samples, scraps, drawings, pictures of family, orphaned patterns, pretty colors.

What would you change about your space?

Right now I "share" with my "darling husband": his fishing gear, entomology projects and computer. Eventually, I'll have a room of my own: natural light, glass-fronted cupboards for fabric, an outsize cutting table and a kitchenette.

How is your space organized?

I have a comfy desk chair, and I barricade myself behind the ironing board.  My sewing machine sits on a computer table, my computer sits on the pull-out tray beneath.  My overlocker sits on a desk to the right. 

It works pretty well to have the ironing board lowered to sitting height. I can pin, sew, finish and press by just spinning my chair.  I used to think that was lazy, but this set up greatly improved my sewing speed. 

I have a wooden tackle box next to my machine.  Everything for a current project lies within arm's reach that way, no stopping to fumble around finding bits or fugitive tools. 

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

I don't tend to stash, except fabrics of a particularly flattering tone of blue. My sewing goes through phases — I buy a nice pile of fabric, then work on the patterns, then cut, then sew, then buy again.

My stash, such as it is, consists mainly of scrap, inheritance and reclaimed fabrics.

How are your patterns organized?

I keep them in labeled manila envelopes along with any notes or scraps of fabric or whatever I think might be useful the next time I open the pattern. I have an accordion file which holds patterns for my little girl, my husband, crafts and my mother-in-law. I have a few others for my personal patterns, divided by decade. I store them in a little shelf by my sewing machine, sometimes stuffing them under the overlocker desk.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

Since I work primarily from vintage patterns, which are in dwindling supply, I tend to copy a pattern and release it back into the wild via ebay. I never do that for patterns after the early 50s. I have a file on my computer of envelope scans, then I rummage through accordion files until I find it. When I am in the middle of a sewing frenzy, I often end up with orphaned pattern pieces. They go on the cork board until the pattern envelope turns up. Call it controlled chaos.

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I use kitchen counter or "bench" as the Aussies call it. I keep polytrace (for copying patterns), scissors, and some patterns in a commandeered cabinet beneath. My drafting tools hang on a board next to the fridge.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

Can I name three if they all go together? Quilter's rule, rotary cutter and mat. I use it for quilting (obviously) as well as cutting bias strips, for squaring up, for cutting welts, some kinds of cuffs, bags, etc.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

I teach beginner sewers. I know at the beginning, it seems like you fork out a lot of $$ to set up, but try to get the best tools you can afford. It's hard to do good work when you have to fight with your tools.

Scissors: They don't have to be expensive, but they do need to be sharp and dedicated solely to fabric.

Pins: Glass head, so they won't melt.

Chalk for marking.

Seam ripper: Once again, a nice sharp one is easier to use.

Measuring tape

Quilter's ruler: I'm so not kidding about how great they are.

Quality thread: Inferior thread creates inferior stitching. A branded thread is a safe bet, avoid generic like the plague.

Magnetic pincushion: not required, but many end up with one because they're so convenient.

What kind of machine do you use?

I use a Janome 4900 for my sewing and a Husqvarna 905 for my overlocking (serging).

What do you like about it?

I like the way it trills an electronic greeting when I turn it on. I like its get-up-and-go motor. I like the stitch quality. I like its bartacks, eyelets, hemstitching and range of decorative stitches. I like all the crazy feet it came with. I have to be familiar with all those functions as part of my job, so I constantly use the feet and stitching in my own sewing.

My machine is reliable, too. I don't have to stop sewing to fix some machine issue, which is a motivation killer for me.

Do you use a serger? Why do you like it?

I do use a serger, but it's not the be all and end all in my sewing. I use it mostly for casuals, little girl clothes and knits. I find it invaluable for that. However, I like to line garments, I like felled, French and Hong Kong seams, and I find they usually wear harder in the long run.

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

I've been working on my corner of the study for about a year now, but it only recently started feeling "right."

Mmmmm. Note to self: When setting up my space, consider the technique of Erica B. and Steph to keep things within arms' reach.

Next on Sewing Spaces: Karen of Sewing by the Seat of My Pants and Kay of The Sewing Lawyer. Don't miss 'em. Be there, be square. And all that.

And. No. No. I have not forgotten that I promised to update you, dear readers, on my own forays into the world of needle arts. I haven't. Maybe later today. Maybe. It could happen. Absolutely.

(Meanwhile: You go, then I go, she chanted.)