The Fiber of My Being: From Where I Make

My first studio in New York was a 4,000-square-foot living loft directly across from the American Stock Exchange. It was so large that I once rode my bicycle from the kitchen across the room to flip a stack of records on the turntable.

Now I live in an apartment house that was built the very year I was born. How’s that for simpatico? It’s not too small and it’s not too big and it has an intimate sewing room. The previous tenant was not a quilter. He used the space, of all things, as a second bedroom. I prefer to call it a sewing room, not a studio. I’m elated to have it.

Its outlook can be entertaining. There was the time I spotted the window washers. Recently I turned my Denver hotel bathroom into a pseudo-sewing room. The lighting was good but the view was, well, you know.

The empty room below is my sewing room days before I moved in, many projects ago. What quilter gets to leave ongoing projects spread out for days on end? Not me. As a result, I’ve come up with hacks to get the most use of the space I have.

My first tip for saving space is: freezer paper!

I iron fabric to the shiny side of freezer paper. (If the iron sticks, then position parchment paper between the fabric and the iron.) Here's why:

  1. I can evaluate these mockups and easily switch out subunits
  2. The blocks can be stacked and set aside
  3. The units are in order, ready to be lifted from the paper and sewn
  4. I can travel with them
  5. A breeze or cat won’t disturb them
  6. Parchment and freezer paper can be reused

I wanted an overview of fabric pairings I’d made for my next quilt, so I randomly placed blocks on a floor. Not my crowded floor, that’s for sure. I cheated. I used the empty apartment on the second floor.
Do you see an electrical outlet to the left of the air conditioner? It’s in a different position than the one in my sewing room…

Using space economically goes hand-in-handle with efficient block construction. I’ve been deconstructing square-on-point blocks and sewing them back together as stars. I save myself from a lot of work by not making flying geese units for the stars.

I believe there's never been anything like this. It’s one of the techniques in my Bluprint class . I can teach you all you need to know to make them, but I can’t get you into that second floor apartment.

The only spare "walls" in my sewing room are doors. The wide closet has sliding metal doors. The other door is wooden, which once held red and white pineapple blocks .

Tip #2 is: Magnets!

I secured batting to the closet doors with strong magnets. I put a few magnets on the Sister's Choice blocks for when I had to open the closet.

Tip #3 is: Wall Basting

Since I have no floor or table space, I baste quilt sandwiches in the hallway. It works for me.

I'll be posting the pattern for my Ginger and Fred block soon. You might subscribe to this blog to be sure to read about it and grab the download. It's a very efficiently cut and sewn block. You'll feel like dancing...if you have enough room!

Want to learn more from Anita?

Join us in her newest Bluprint class,  Quick Techniques for Classic Blocks: Wrenches, Stars and Twists , where you'll learn easy tricks for stunning blocks.

May 16, 2016
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The Fiber of My Being: From Where I Make