I’ve been musing a lot about PROCESS of late. How I work, how I navigate my space, how I navigate my time.

While I was in graduate school (MFA in Fiber) I was “encouraged” to work in processes that were unfamiliar or uncomfortable… in essence my favorite toys and tricks were forbidden so that I would get out of my comfort zone. It was at times painful and frustrating, but the game afoot was to make me try this other stuff out so that I could either adapt some of it into my process, or return to my process without any of it and at least understand why I do things the way I do them. I’m sure my professors would be happy to hear I kept a few things in the improved toolbox!

Thus, I’m going to describe some bits and pieces of my process (over the course of various posts) to offer some insight into why I work the way I work, and perhaps there will be a gem or two amongst the scraps that could end up in your toolbox too…

One of the things I look at a lot is how efficiently I’m working. Efficiency is important to me, but not in the “I need to finish first” kind of way. It’s important because I have so, so many things I want to work on, so if I can increase my efficiency, I might actually get to more of them! And so, along this vein, this post is about how I have my workspace set up.

I am lucky to have a studio. Now, before you imagine one of those light dappled spaces in the glossy studio magazines, mine isn’t like that! It is a narrow space that was once a storage room in a friend’s studio, and I’ve puzzled it out into something that is working well (and just so you know, I used a similar set up when I kept most of this in the dining room). Here are two panoramic shots (how I love the Pano app on my phone!), one taken from each end of the space. It’s 18′ long by 8.5′ wide, or as a friend remarked, somewhat of a glorified hallway!

There are two principles afoot in this space… on one side is the stuff that doesn’t move – shelves, drawers, racks (the rack does have wheels but there is nowhere to roll it!); and on the other side stuff that can be moved and collapsed to accommodate what I’m doing – the design walls, the tables, my sewing table (I use a Sew-Ezi and love it). The non-moving side has been built to go UP – everything is shelved, modular, stackable, etc. And any surface on top of those is flat for more storage area.

My cutting table is a chunk of particle board across two shipping crates that my friend needed to leave in the space, and in that wonderful happy accident way, they are the perfect height for me for cutting. I made the board on top bigger than my mat so that I had room around it to store tools (I will get into my tool choices in another post), and I taped off the edges of the board to avoid snagging fabrics. The plastic drawer box fit between the crates perfectly, and I keep all my marking tools, pens and pencils in the top drawer.

For tool storage, I have a hybrid mix of things designed for sewists, and things appropriated from the Tupperware cabinet and office supply aisles. Full disclosure here… organizing widgets draw me in like a magpie to shiny. I love me some little boxes! But I would also rather save my pennies than have a full matchy-matchy array of plastic, so I scrounge and re-purpose. My rulers are stacked in a little metal filing thingy; weights in half a plastic box from the dollar store. Cutters, pens and scissors in metal pots from the craft store. The rule at this table is that everything I need to cut is right where I can grab it without having to dig or fuss. Also… I’m right handed, so notice that cutters are on the right and rulers to the left, which is how I actually use them. It might seem a little OCD, but it’s not… it’s just efficient… grab the cutter in one motion (notice the handles are up and ready just like a relay baton) and the ruler in another and I’m cutting.

And in the last shot for this post…. my bookshelf. What would we do without Ikea? This guy holds stacks of things that don’t fit easily into drawers, or that need to be visible (thread) or grabbable (more scissors, pens, note pads, snacks!). I keep most of my thread organized by type, then color, but I keep it in boxes so that it doesn’t get dusty. Only cones of my piecing threads are out, mostly because I use them so much. Next to the book shelf are box/drawers of fabric… more about those in another post!