1. Archive

Organizing chaos

In the course of doing an article for Threads, one of the editors visited me and photographed the garments described in the article. The editor told me, "You know we're just amazed that you can do what you do in that studio of yours." I wasn't quite sure how to take the remark at the time, but the recollection of it recently made me laugh as I undertook a major reorganization.

I've had to downsize my studio space (one of the rooms into which I had expanded now has to serve another purpose), and so I'm once again forced to try to make the best use of the space I have.

To me, the essentials for a sewing room are sturdy worktables, a comfortable chair on wheels, an ironing system, plenty of lighting and storage space.

I added some space by cleaning out an unused closet. I made sure that each garment was hung properly, on a padded hanger, and I put plastic bags on at least the bottom half of anything that was long enough to drag on the floor.

I then bought a number of clear storage bins as I implemented a fabric storage system suggested by a friend; little swatches go into a notebook, which then references the bin in which the fabric is stored. The new system does give me much more storage space and the fabrics are protected from dust and light. And, thanks to the new system of categorizing, I do actually know where things are.

Knowing what to do with paper patterns always is a challenge. Like all who sew, I have zillions of patterns and I'm reluctant to throw any of them away. Something old and unused for years might just have the perfect collar or cuff. But I'm at a loss as to how to organize them.

In the closet, I have a rolling rack. It's great for organizing teaching samples, for hanging works-in-progress and, in a pinch, it's where I hang garments that need to be ironed. The rack is amazingly sturdy and even expandable.

It all looks great at the moment. But, as when I watch one of those home-organizing shows on television in which a crew reorganizes the cluttered lifestyle of a chosen couple, I can't help but wonder how long it will last.