Sewing Spaces: Love her gorgeous fabric. Love her studio.

Ann's_pic Ann, of the Gorgeous Things blog, insists she's not a very organized person. Harrumph, I say. In fact, I'll say it again. Loudly. Harrumph!! If she's not organized, she's certainly managed to disguise that fact in our tour of her studio. And how. Ann, who owns the to-dream-for fabric shop Gorgeous Fabrics, looks extremely organized to this clutterbunny. What do you think?

And I don't see a dustbunny anywhere. Not one. And I even got my magnifying glass out. Look closely. Do. I bet you won't find any either.

Ann's studio
Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

I have two, actually. One is at home, and the other is a studio/classroom. Let's talk about the studio today.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

It's big! I use it for classes and for hosting other teachers. Also, it's away from home so I can escape to it on weekends if I want, and no one bothers me.

What would you change about your space?

If I could, I'd change the floor. The floor is carpeted, so pins and needles get stuck in it. I would prefer hardwood or laminate flooring. But it's in an office building, so I can't do that.

Ann's studio_tools
How is your space organized?

Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Snort!

What was the question again?

Seriously, I'm not a very organized person. I see friends who have beautifully organized sewing spaces where everything is within reach. I tend to operate in barely controlled chaos that sometimes devolves into down-and-out pandemonium. But once a project is done, I do a cleanup and get things back to barely contained chaos again. I like to say that my space is always very welcoming, but it's never very tidy. Plus, I almost always have some project going, whether it's a project to put up in the Gallery at Gorgeous Fabrics, a sample for a designer, or something more mundane. So it's usually a happily disorganized place.

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

We're talking about my private fabric stash, right? I generally keep that arranged by fabric type and color. I have a big Ikea cabinet (I <3 Ikea!) that I use for storage. I keep it arranged with interfacing on the bottom shelves and fabrics above that. I keep leather on the top shelves, and I have a couple of hides that I keep in a bin on the top. Those are from when I was manufacturing handbags.

I have an even bigger stash at the warehouse, but I try not to raid that too often!

Ann's studio_patterns
How are your patterns organized?

I have a 3-drawer Ikea bureau that holds them. I keep the "Big 4" patterns in the top drawer, smaller independents like Silhouettes, Kwik Sew, J.Stern and others in the middle drawer, and Hotpatterns, Jalie and other large-sized patterns in the bottom drawer. 

Ann's studio_mannequins Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

No. I have three mannequins that are standard size. At home I have Shelley, a size 6 Wolf dress form. I pad her out to my measurements. In the studio, I have Mutt and Jeff. Mutt is a Size 10 full-body (including legs) dress form. Jeff is a size 8 standard dress form with a broken stand, so she's about a foot shorter than Mutt. I am very close in size to Mutt. I just need to pad her at the bust. I use Jeff mostly for display and for classes.

Do you find your forms helpful?

I love my dress forms. They have been incredibly helpful to me in fitting, teaching and design work.

Ann's studio_cut What do you cut out your patterns on?

I have a big cutting table that my husband built for me. It's not quite industrial-sized, but it's big enough for my needs. It's a 4' x 8' melamine board that he finished with banding and mounted on Ikea table legs. It was featured on the website Ikea Hacker! I have a large Mega-Mat on it. I'm a big fan of rotary cutters, so I need the mat.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

Number one would definitely be my gravity-feed iron. I am an absolute fanatic about pressing during the sewing process. I love the gravity feed because it is heavier than most home irons, so you don't have to push down to get a good press. It also gives a "dry" steam, if that makes sense. The steam is very fine and produces great results. And the 5-liter reservoir means I don't have to refill it very often. I also have a whole set of pressing forms, including hams, sleeve boards and rolls, press cloths, a pressing mitt, and a Press Bock that my friend Els sent to me from the Netherlands. These make pressing and shaping easier and give a great finish.

Ann's studio_iron I recently bought a fun tool at Marshalls. It's a standing magnifying mirror. It makes doing close work much easier. And it's quite funky looking!

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

Beyond the sewing machine, of course, an iron is the most important tool in your sewing arsenal. Bobbie Carr used to say, "Pressing is sewing." That is so true. A good set of shears and scissors is essential. I had a student who came to class with a pair of scissors that looked like they had chopped through lots of cardboard boxes and packing tape. She started to cut into her fabric, which was a nice fabric, and the scissors were chewing it up! I was over on the other side of the room when I saw it, and I ran over to her and confiscated her scissors. I gave her a pair of shears that I had and told her to keep them. I use those scissors to break down packing boxes now. They will never hurt another fabric! I am partial to Kai shears, but there are lots of good brands. I keep a pair of 4-inch tailor's points and several thread snips around the studio.

Other tools that I think every beginner should have: seam ripper (I have several ? well, lots), a good supply of machine needles in various sizes, marking pencils or tailor's chalk, hand-sewing needles, thread in shades that can blend with different fabrics and colors.

Ann's studio_machine
What kind of machine do you use?

In the studio, I have a Juki DDL-8700 straight-stitch machine, a Juki 5-thread serger and an antique industrial coverstitch (I call it "the beast"). The DDL-8700 is my workhorse.

Ann's studio_fabric What do you like about it?

It's fast, it makes a beautiful stitch, and it sews equally well through silk chiffon as through denim or leather.

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

I love my serger. It makes sewing knits a breeze. It's also great for finishing seam allowances on woven garments. It's fast, and it makes a beautiful seam.

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

I've been in it for two years. It's still evolving. I call it a work in progress.

Did you enjoy the tour? I did. Absolutely. And be watching later this week for a giveaway featuring luscious wool crepe from Ann's online boutique.

Coming up in the Sewing Spaces: Debi of My Happy Sewing Place  and Robin of A Little Sewing. Don't miss these stitching stops.