Welcome to my quilt studio!
When my husband and I decided to renovate our condominium apartment last year, I jumped at the opportunity to design my perfect workspace. I’ve been quilting for more than 10 years, and I’ve experimented with a number of storage and workspace options. I had a pretty clear idea of what worked for me, and what didn’t. Prior to the renovation, the furniture in my studio consisted mainly of bookcases, which provided lots of storage, but no horizontal work space. As a result, my fabric and works in progress often spilled out onto the dining room table. There was also a shortage of drawers and doors to hide clutter, which made it difficult to keep my studio looking tidy and organized.
My studio is located in our second bedroom, an awkwardly-shaped room of approximately 220 square feet, which also houses our exercise bike and treadmill. So with a finite amount of room for my studio, I needed to make the very best use of the available space. I prepared an inventory of all my fabric, supplies and other quilting-related possessions to determine how much and what types of storage space I required. I drew a floor plan of the room, and cut out pieces of colored paper to scale for all the pieces of furniture, rearranging them until I felt I had the best possible layout. I turned to the Internet and magazines such as Studios for inspiration and ideas of how to maximize every inch of space.
Carpeting was replaced with hardwood flooring to match the flooring elsewhere in the condo. The cabinetry is all white, the countertop is a laminate in a color similar to the floor. The upper cupboards all have doors, to hide the clutter and provide visual calmness. The walls are painted a soft green; my favorite color. A ceiling fan keeps the room cool enough to work even on hot summer days.
For lighting, there are pot lights in the ceiling to provide good overall light, under-cabinet puck lights to provide task lighting, and two full-spectrum lights I can position where needed. The window faces east and overlooks a walkway along the Fraser River and a railroad bridge – there’s always something interesting happening just outside my window!
I prefer to stand when designing quilts, cutting, ironing – basically everything except sewing at my machine, or working at my computer. So, most of the counters are 37 inches high.
On the long wall, the standing-height counter is 26 inches deep, wide enough for my cutting mats and an ironing mat. (I banished my full-size ironing board to the closet.) Two of my favorite organizing products are hung on the wall above this counter. A metal magazine holder is a perfect place to store my acrylic quilting rulers and I can use magnets to hold notes and photos to the front. A hanging basket from IKEA holds my scissors, rotary cutters and other small items. Now my rulers and cutting tools are easy to find, and don’t get buried under piles of fabric.
I also design my art quilts at this counter. The cupboards above hold my design materials – sketch books and notes about quilting designs, inspirational photos, reference books, graph paper, tracing paper, colored pens and pencils, etc.
Under the counter are a combination of drawers, open shelves, and one of my favorite features – slots for my wire baskets full of fabrics. I bought these wire baskets years ago from IKEA, and found this the best way for me to organize my fabric, which is mostly small pieces of ¼ to ½ yard. I tried stacking it on shelves, but I always seemed to need the fabric in the middle of the stack. I sort my fabric by color and place it vertically/standing upright in the baskets so I can pull out what I need without disturbing the other fabric. I can easily pull out a whole basket if needed, then slide it back into its slots.
On one short wall (above), the counter is only 16 inches deep – just wide enough for the rolling, folding craft table to slide underneath when not being used. When I’m designing a quilt, my portable hinged design wall is open and propped against the counter and cupboards. When I progress to the construction phase and need a larger horizontal work area, the design wall is moved and the craft table is rolled out. Being able to move the craft table around, and access it from all sides is very useful.
When sewing a large quilt, I need additional surface area behind my sewing machine table to support the weight of the quilt. The sewing machine table is positioned against a counter built to the same height. Because this counter cannot be accessed from the front without moving the sewing machine table, it’s open at the end, so that I can easily access the storage space underneath. A small rolling cart next to my sewing table provides additional support when sewing large quilts, and is a handy place to store my thread and frequently used sewing notions. I sort my thread by color and store it in clear Ziploc bags.
The wall in front of my sewing machine has no upper cupboards. Instead, it is designated as gallery space where I display my quilts on a rotating basis (above). I installed two café rods to provide some flexibility in the size of quilts I can hang there. I love being able to look at my quilt gallery while sewing.
One leg of an L-shaped closet was fitted with custom-designed shelving. I store my finished quilts rolled on foam tubes ‘pool noodles’ on sloped shelves so they don’t roll off. There is lots of room for bulky supplies like batting, shipping supplies and extra sewing machines. Sliding doors hide the clutter, and my portable design wall fits perfectly against them, if I need to view a quilt from a distance.
The other leg of the L-shaped closet was converted to a small (37” wide by 27” deep) office alcove. Here I manage my online Etsy shop, keep in touch with the online quilting world, plan which quilt shows I want to enter, and keep track of all the related paperwork.
I’m thrilled with my new furnishings. Everything has a place, and there is even room in the cupboards and drawers for future acquisitions. I feel much more organized and therefore more productive.
My Favorite Organizing Products:
- Wire baskets for folded fabric (IKEA Antonius baskets)
- Magnetic magazine rack for holding acrylic quilting rulers (available from Room In Order, See Jane Work)
- Hanging wire basket with empty raisin boxes for holding cutting and other tools (IKEA Bygel rail and hanging basket)
- Ziploc bags for threads (sorted by color, of course!)
- Rolling, folding craft table (Sullivans)
- Ironing mat (Dritz)
- Iron with retractable cord (Panasonic)
- Portable hinged design wall – I made it myself from foam insulation board, 6 feet by 4 feet by 1” thick. I had it cut it in half, so I had 2 pieces 6 feet by 2 feet. I hinged the two pieces together with duct tape, then covered it with beige fleece on the front and back. That way, I can use both sides if I’m working on 2 projects at once. When it’s not being used for a project, I fold it in half, prop it against a wall or the closet doors and use it as a mini gallery wall