Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Organization... What?

I was surprised by some of the reactions to my "studio tour." I didn't think my studio was worthy of all that praise. It was simply a room I have arranged to help me work better.

Then I remembered something that happened at my very first job. I was asked to do something - I think it was stuff envelopes with about five or six different items.  They were all spread out on a table in front of me. "So how do you work?" my supervisor asked. "Left to right, or right to left?"

I had never thought about that before.

"Arrange everything so it suits you. So it makes sense to you and you're not expending excess energy."

It was a piece of advice I never forgot. Arrange your tools so it's easy for you to get the job done. It sounds so simple, yet in our belief that there is A place for everything, we think there has to be only ONE place for anything.

Example One:

I am five feet tall, so it stands to reason that I can't reach things that are very high up, so I have a step stool. Mine lives behind the hallway door. Which means it's a real PITA to walk halfway through the house and lug this thing back to the studio use it, and put it back.

So I keep a small step stool in the studio. It's a small price to pay for convenience.

Example Two:

Probably every household has a measuring tape and many have painters tape. You can usually find them in the tool chest. Usually those are in the basement or in the garage or some other place in the house. I have them there too. But I also have some that live IN my sewing studio. Because it's a lot more efficient to have a set in the studio than run all over the house. Besides, a sixteen foot measuring tape is more appropriate for a sewing studio than a thirty foot one normally sold in hardware stores. And mine is a lot lighter to carry.

Example Three:

I didn't show you on the tour, but I have three wastebaskets in the studio, each of them at arm's length from each of the stations where I work - the cutting table, the sewing machine or the small cutting table.  Why?  Years ago I read a book on organization that suggested there be a wastebasket in every room in the house. The rationale was that it would keep the house cleaner. This works in the sewing studio as well, with a wastebasket within arm's reach. The key point is, I don't have to move to get to one of them.

It's the same with the spray bottle and the measuring cup full of water in the studio. They are always there, always ready. I don't have to do run around the house to chase them down.

I  may have some good ideas that work for me. But every one of us is different. Don't just slavishly follow my organizational ideas. Figure out how you work, and adapt your workspace and your tools  accordingly.

One final thought... When I'm done working, I put my tools away. Every. Single. Time. Sure, I leave fabric strewn about, but my tools are my bread and butter, and if I can't find them when I want to work, it's just a waste of energy. So when I'm done sewing for the night, I put the rotary cutter back in the drawer, hang the templates where they belong, empty and unplug the iron and put the pin tin back in the cabinet. 

***BTW, the grey thread I use is Presencia 60 wt cotton thread, color # 352. It is a 3 ply 100% mercerized Egyptian cotton. I buy a cone of 4882 yards.


Nancy J said...

My fabrics might be in a mess, but my scissors are always put back in their own bag, every one of them, 4 in different sizes.My rotary cutter gets the blade locked and is upright in a wooden letter stand. I loved your studio tour. Specially the slanting tables.

Pat said...

Interesting. I also have a step stool in my sewing room; at 5'2", I don't have much on you for height. :-) My tools return to the same place when they return (I'm not as disciplined as you) and I also keep water for my iron and a spray bottle in the sewing room. Nope, I don't want to go tracking those down. Your fabric organization is wonderful and that's something I still haven't mastered. Tried many approaches but never found what really works for me.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I, too, am a firm believer in having the essentials close at hand and I have LOTS of wastebaskets so that "stuff" doesn't go on the floor to be picked up later. In addition to my own tendencies, much of my "always put it away when you're done" behavior comes from working in an office where my desk/workspace was in the hallway (yes - truly - the last THREE law firms) meaning ANYone who wanted ANYthing would simply BORROW whatever was lying about from MY desk. I learned quickly to put MY things away so they would be there when I returned.

Mari said...

My mother-in-law, who was 4'10", had a stepstool in every closet and two in the bottom cupboards in the kitchen. it worked--she could always find one!

Tine said...

I don't have a sewing room (or even a designated sewing area) so I take all my stuff out of a closet, set up my machine on the only table large enough - where we also eat dinner, so I have to have it all moved back by then - and sew. So I pretty much need to set up the entire room every.singje.time! That's what downtown apartment life with 2 kids is like 😆
I would love to have a room like yours!

stitchinpenny said...

The tape measure - I actually have 3 lengths - an 8, a 12 and a 16. They came as a set of 3 on a Christmas closeout at a big box hardware store for less than the 12 foot I wanted. The 16 has become a favorite even though I thought it was excessive. The blue tape and even some stronger masking tape for some things. There are a full set of screwdrivers and Allen wrenches used in machine maintenance. Neither take much space and give me a lot of freedom when I am looking for an odd thread or just doing a deep cleaning and oiling. The foot stool is across the hall though - my sewing room is 10 x 11 and the area behind the door stores so much stuff that I need access more often. My storage shelves are shorter with boxes on top that have backing fabrics, and projects that I bought as projects and don't want to cut so they are out of the stash. I keep buying and never get to all the ones I want to do. I have told all the people that ask for quilts that for a while they can ask, but they will get a quilt that I want to make and already have coordinated stuff to make it with. Please excuse my grammar tonight. Love your use of space and simple concepts. Please keep inspiring us in all ways crafty and quilty.

Megan said...

Um, well ... I unplug the iron. That's about the extent of my tidying up and putting away.

Sydney, Australia

Millie said...

Megan, you crack me up!