Friday, February 21, 2014


Now for inside photos of my new studio!

Here's something silly about me: we're starting this project, the new doors have gone in and I'm walking through the space, trying to figure out future orientation of the room. As I take in my surroundings, I start to groan over my decision to cover up all the old that exists here; the beautifully-uneven floorboards, the humble tin roof, the smell and character of all this wood (which I'm sure came directly off the property we sit on). This is history here, as simple as it may be, and I hated to hide it. 

After moping to Adam about it, I realized that it needed to be covered to make the space practical; clean, bug-proof, and (mostly) level and even. He was right, and I fortunately got over it once I started to see the results. And I still had the outside of the barn to satiate me.

BAM! Whatta change! (Ok, really don't miss the old interior now)

Remember how I was telling you that reusing old materials can be hard? Yep, these doors taught me that lesson. They wouldn't square up with each other or the door frame and, oddly enough, one of the biggest puzzles we had was how to create a door closure. Being that these were originally interior doors, they were too thin and narrow to fit a standard door knob. The solution became simple pulls and separate locks for the inside and out. Maybe not ideal but it's now keeping the draft out. Can you see where the original knob was on this door? I swear Ma and Pa Troxler were shorties! (We've since gotten over the sensation of feeling like giants in our home)

Another challenge was to figure out what to do with the floor. I would've loved to save these oak floorboards but they weren't tongue-and-groove and being able to see the ground through some of the cracks was not a good thing. It was a challenge because flooring can become a very expensive project and I hadn't failed to remember that I did not own this building and was only renting. We eventually decided to cover the existing floor with OSB and cover it with the cheapest indoor/outdoor carpet I could find. 

Cons: harder to clean, fibers/threads stick to it, seems to be pilling with traction over time. 

Decision made, executed, and moving on.

Check out that table!! Adam built this for me. In my ideal studio, I would have a bolt-width table (50"-60") that I could walk completely around..........not gonna work for this space. Once the machines came in, the dimensions got smaller in the room and for my table. I covered and mounted foam-core board with batting to the wall. Thus, it can function as a design wall (with fabric being able to stick to the batting) and a typical cork board. Also a highly-recommended source of organization for anyone working with fabric is a roll-away bin stored underneath the table (barely seen here on the left-hand side). This is where all errant fabrics go that are too small or unruly for more sophisticated folded storage.

My Yamata safety stitch machine (or serger) and hanging flat patterns for pants. This machine allows me to finish any edge and sew with stretchy fabric.

One of the last projects has been to make these wonderful, red velvet curtains that are working wonders at keeping the space warmer and (as Adam noted) creating the atmosphere of a brothel when viewed from outside at night. Just need to hang a red light to complete the look :)

My Brother industrial single stitch machine. Speed and automatic thread cutting puts this machine miles ahead of any home sewing machine (although I will pull my old one out for the occasional zig-zag stitch).

New purchases for the space were a full-sized ironing board and a gravity-fed steam iron (aka-the IV looking thing hanging in the top right corner). I had been toting around a table-top ironing board for years. It was one of those things where what makes it convenient also makes it obnoxious. The fact that I could move it and store it so easily was nice but that it needed a table and was perpetually getting moved around to various sub-par surfaces made it a pain to work with. We found this great, old board in an antique shop in Asheboro for an easy $28. The steam iron was an indulgent purchase but I was straight sick of the incontinence problem I had with my old domestic iron. Not to mention the taxing, repetitive process of twisting your wrist every time you need to set it down (this one always stays face-down on a silicone mat). And simply, when you get used to working with great, industrial tools at work, it gets harder and harder to go back to your average, made-for-home-use equipment. 

And we've all learned by now that great tools make all the difference!!

A before shot of the back wall. This photo answered a lot of questions after we started mounting the shelves and, through lots of trial and error, eventually found the studs. I mean come on! Just look at that crooked-ass stud there on the right!

I can smell the organizing potential! We didn't run the shelves all the way across simply because a standard length of plywood only goes this far. It just made it all-around easier and, being that it was one of the plethora of projects I was roping my boyfriend into doing, I wanted to keep him happy and sane. Turns out now that extra spot on the side is a great place to store bolts of fabric. I'm hoping to maybe span the gap with a rod to hang patterns from but haven't thought seriously enough about it to go get the materials.


Totally creativity explosion!! I originally planned the center shelf as a working surface; an extension to my table where I could place materials and keep the table top works better as a place to pile stuff... And the turntable is not working as a viable source of music. You can't get any work done if you're stopping every 5 songs to flip a record. I'll eventually get everything set up right!

This is the second real studio space I've been fortunate enough to have, but I've been setting-up and breaking-down many a work space in my time. And, every time, I add something new to the "ideal studio set-up" dream list. Not all of my dreams were possible in this space but, with every move, I get closer and closer to functioning more effectively and efficiently. My last studio was much more suitable for making quilts but now this studio is better for dress-making. It's a give and take when you're limited on space. 

I've been freelancing full-time for over a year now and doing it part-time for much longer. The greatest gift you can give yourself when you do this kind of personal work is to create a separate space to house this part of your life, even if it is just a room in your home. Shutting that door to your to-do list and the mess in-progress projects can bring, is the closest thing anyone of us can get to work-life balance. I am much more tolerant of clutter in my work space than I am in my den.


On that note, Alain de Botton's views on work-life balance and career anxieties has been one of my favorite TED Talks this week. View it here.  (He also has recently written a books titled "Art as Therapy" that I'm inclined to read. I like this guy!)

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