Cyndy's Blog

A Sewing Room Renovation...

Day 1

I have been working to organize my sewing space for so long I really don't remember when I actually started to think I could have an actual sewing studio like the ones seen in magazines and Pinterest.  Well, my journey has taken quite a turn, and this date I remember.  It has been exactly one year since I decided the problem was my sewing area was not user friendly.  A visit from a carpenter confirmed my diagnosis and suddenly I was on a mission to rearrange, declutter, debunk and organize the basement in my 
old house so I could finally have an improved sewing space with better lights, more outlets, and storage.

Days have been spent sorting and moving items from my sewing area so the 
carpenter can work his magic.  My last hurdle was to tear out the ugly fireplace that has served no purpose other than taking up space.  This monster measures 9 ft long, 4 ft deep and almost 5 ft high.  Can't wait to reclaim the floor space and surely a weekend will do it.

Well day one was demoralizing.  Turns out I was battling a solid brick and mortar chunk that was unbelievably solid.  My husband attempted to help and was the first to succumb saying there was no way it was coming out and  what was I thinking anyway. He made it clear that I should have never started this job in the first place.  My dreams and plans had just been hit with the sledge hammer.

Day 2

I moped for awhile and made a half-hearted attempt at a plan B.  Being bull-headed was finally paying off.  After googling how to remove a brick fireplace, I grabbed TEKTON and started swinging away.  To my surprise I started to have success.  
TEKTON is my hero and we make a great team.  TEKTON is my4 pound sledge hammer that is just right for me.  The mall was just too large and  my husband's hammer was too heavy. 
My plan was alive.  My husband was surprised to see the loader bucket full of fireplace bricks.  He came down to help clean up knowing that there was no stopping me. Yeah!!

Day 3

So much for having the fireplace demolition as a weekend project.  TEKTON is holding up well and is such a hard worker.  Progress is slow and laborious but there is progress.  Keep thinking how much money I am saving doing my own demolition.  My husband still thinks I am a bit crazy and he didn't seem to buy my argument that I will be more productive with the fireplace gone.   He actually laughed out loud and mumbled  something about whatever makes me happy.  I worked my usual 6 hours or so and finally called it quits.  Funny thing was that my husband kept showing up to help a little.  I knew he wouldn't be able to stay away.

Day 4

Day 4 already and all I can say is it is a good thing I am sturdy.  TEKTON and I went super crazy today. Starting to think it will be possible to finish this demolition within a week and the carpenter is stopping by tomorrow evening to check on my progress.  My day was a little shorter at 6 hours.  I made what seemed like a
zillion trips up the eight basement steps with heavily loaded 5 gallon pails to go 
bucket. Ridiculous I know, but I never would have been able to tell anyone 
how many basement steps to the back door four days ago. I gave up counting 
5 gallon pail loads, but the tractor loader has been dumped 5 times.  I am 
really pooped tonight.  Think I will read the new issue of Sew News that arrived 
in the mail today.

Day 5

Today was slow.  If you look at the day four photo, you might notice it looks like the end of the fireplace is filled with debris.  Well it was.  It was such a gross job scooping out what seemed like an endless pile of broken bricks, wood scraps wire, metal pieces, cigarette packages, twigs and items I couldn't identify.  
Actually a few creepy thoughts entered my head, but luckily nothing but junk.  
The meeting with the carpenter went well.  He was amazed at the bomb 
bunker style construction of the fireplace and praised my demolition 
skills. (Probably relieved he wasn't doing the demo.). Reviewing the plan 
to make my sewing space more user friendly was a nice end to a long day.

Day 6

Yeah!! TECKTON and I finished one side this afternoon.  What a huge pile of bricks hauled out again today.  I kept thinking about those doorstop bricks that crafters used to make and wondered where they got the bricks.  Any crafter needing a 
brick, let me know!  The upper ledge finally dropped down hard mortar finally succumbed to the repeated pounding of the hammer.  Was so glad to have my hubby power swing the final hammer blows.  Having help with the cleanup was also a boost as I was starting to fatigue just thinking about making more trips up the stairs and out of the house with those loaded buckets.

Day 7

The bricks, concrete blocks and mortar put up a fierce battle, but I finally managed to destroy the fireplace.  My husband had the honors of knocking out the last of the concrete blocks.  I have to say that it was the longest day yet and most of the 
cleanup will be for Day 8.  Besides the loader bucket is full and it is dark outside.

There is a lot of dust to clean up.  Drop cloths cover just about everything and still dust   Is everywhere.  Small price to pay for what will hopefully be a very user friendly sewing space.   The carpenter has been notified that the fireplace is gone.  I will sleep well tonight.​

Day 8

The fireplace is finally gone.  What a crazy accomplishment.  My 
sewing space is probably cleaner than it has ever been as you 
wouldn't believe the dirt that was hauled out with that fireplace.  
Most of day eight was spent cleaning up dirt and dust which has 
filtered everywhere in the house. 

There was mortar still stuck to the cement floor so TEKTON and Spike got a final workout as the remaining mortar was chiseled away.  Only a couple buckets to haul out of the house today.  Easy peasey.

Day 9

Well sometimes I should leave well enough alone, but I just don't seem to have the ability to do that.  I have wanted the old cold air return to vanish about as much as the fireplace.  This project was like making a pattern that says easy 2 hour jacket.  What looked like an easy project turned into more work than I had anticipated.  Things were going pretty well until I knocked down some duct work.  Someone is not going to be thrilled when they get home.  Maybe the duct work needs to be re-directed anyway.  A happy accident.  At least that is how I see it.   Amazingly it only 
took another hour and a hacksaw to get the cold air return out of my sewing 
space.  More cleanup and I will be ready for more cleaning tomorrow.

Day 10

Today marks the beginning of another dirty job, removing old insulation.  Mask, hat and gloves are my unfashionable accessories of the day as I set to work pulling out the old insulation.  It took me several hours and then the rest of the day was spent with more clean up.  My re-modeled space should be so clean when all is complete.

The carpenter stopped by with additional floor samples that are not at all what I was expecting.  So I will have to make do with a floor color that is way darker than I originally selected.  The lighter color flooring turned out to be outrageously expensive; a bit disappointing.  At least the name of the flooring color that will 
eventually grace my floor is enticing--Rocky Road.  I'm thinking 
ice cream sounds good about now.

No photo today...see tomorrow!

Day 11

Finally the new insulation is put in place.  I am so glad to have that job finished.  Now more cleanup and maybe I can start sorting through more fabric and other sewing stuff. I have spent so much effort cleaning out the sewing space that I have 
decided to be very selective with what goes back in.  I am a little hesitant to share a picture of some of the stuff I am sorting through, but oh well, it is all part of the process.  The pic may not do justice to the task at hand, but there is a lot of stuff to go through and this is only a small part of my stuff.

My extra storage area is in good shape started the demolition of the fireplace.  
When all is complete, I will take a picture My extra storage area is in good shape 
of my extra storage space which is now, and that job was tackled before I 
scheduled to have a new door installed.  The problem is I can't even get to that 
area because of other sewing furniture and fixtures moved in front of the space.  
Sometimes, I think I am spinning my wheels, albeit in a less dusty area!

(The DeWalt miter saw is being used as a storage stand and is not part of my 
sewing equipment.  However, it was a Valentine's day gift from my husband a 
number of years ago.)

Day 12

Blogging took a hiatus a few weeks before Christmas and so did progress on my sewing room.  Some progress was made in December.  The wall being framed in front of the old chimney will be my new design wall, eventually.  I don't know how anyone builds a new home as the dust and mess created renovating my sewing area has drifted through the entire house.  All this mess was supposed to be done in November and it is just now really starting to take shape.  Oh well.

Day 13

Much to the dismay of my husband, some of my sewing paraphernalia has taken over our dinette.  I could no longer work in my torn up space in the basement and with Christmas projects to finish, well it was inevitable.  It has been a long time 
since I had to use the kitchen table as a sewing surface.  Actually kind of fun.  I have two sewing machines and a serger, ironing board, my iron, and a sewing cart to hold a cutting mat and whatever else I need.  It is amusing to think of how many 
trips I have made to the basement to bring stuff upstairs.  I have to laugh or I would go insane.​

Another shot of my temporary space (left).  It is really cold as one can see from the view out the windows. (Windows providing the natural light that I don't have in the basement).  Anyway, since it is one of the coldest days of far this winter, guess that makes it the perfect day for the sewing room flooring to arrive.  Out in the snow and cold and wind we go to get the loader to off load the flooring from the semi.  It is nice to be set up for large trucks and such at our farm.  My husband was so good to help get the loader and tractor right to the back door.  It didn't take too long for us to get the flooring carried down the basement stairs.  Yea progress, almost.

Day 14

This is the start of my open storage area which I have plans to stash sewing stuff that I use often.  My vision is a tidy and organized space.  Time will tell.

Day 15

This picture shows the framing that will close off a storage area for stuff that no one should have to see.  The plans are to have sliding doors so floor space is preserved.  The door opening is wider than standard to allow easy access and move oversized 
items with ease.  I spent days sorting and organizing several weeks before the fireplace demo to make room for some of my sewing items to move them out of the way while the work was being done in my sewing area.  It will be a useful storage area when all is done.

Day 16

This photo shows one of my most favorite features, the storage area.  The sliding doors are not up yet, but there is light.  There has never been light in this area and I have to say, a lot of spiders are now homeless.  There is also an outlet and I there will be humidity control so my stuff stays mold and mildew free.

Day 17

No more ugly plywood wall.

Day 18

My extra cutting table is serving as a cutting table for the new flooring.  We started cutting any laying the flooring last Friday afternoon.  The flooring is a rubber type tile product that looks like large puzzle pieces.  The tiles are impervious to moisture, mold and mildew.  The tiles require no subfloor or adhesive, and they lay easily over the imperfect old cement floor.  My husband is helping and as noted, home improvement projects are just not his thing.  By the end of the day we were just about done and the floor looks pretty good.

Day 19

This picture shows the new floor almost complete.  You might be able to see the edge showing where we stopped.  There is only a single line of tiles to lay and of course they all have to be trimmed.  I am so surprised that the dark flooring looks so nice.  The lighter color I thought I wanted was just too pricey so I settled for the Rocky Road color.  Maybe a really good thing as it seems to make the entire space look brighter.  The room is beginning to look so neat and clean with the industrial  look suiting me fine.

Day 20

Three afternoons and the floor is finished.  Being able to piece just about anything allowed me to even use the few leftover tiles and scraps to cover a good part of the storage floor.  Ever have things turn out better than expected?  The new floor is 
one of those moments for me with this project.  I can't wait for the  carpenter/contractor to see our completed job.  Installing the floor ourselves saved us a lot of $$$$ that I used to have the ceiling and walls painted while I was away for the holidays.  I know the carpenter worked so hard to get colors that I wanted.  He took the picture I have of a shoe and had the paint store match the colors, a white color for the walls and a soft black for the ceiling.  Now that the floor is complete 
and some of the furnishings back in place, I am newly energized.  Not sure I have  ever seen my cutting table without nothing on it.  Looks really spaceous.

Day 21

This picture looks a little stark, but I am just starting to move sewing furniture back into place.  There is a lot of cleaning to do as everything has to be vacuumed and wiped down.  Today was actually fun and it was so nice to have things moved so 
the rest of the basement is passable.  The sorting and pitching is nothing short of brutal, and I am being very selective as to years of organizing come to an end so I can start getting more sewing done.  The shelves for the open storage area are 
scheduled to be installed tomorrow.  That will really help me get things put away.

Day 22

The shelves were installed in the open storage area today and it is a sight for my eyes to behold.  I just looked in awe at the nice, sturdy, well-spaced shelves in my storage area in my sewing room.  Have to pinch myself really.  I had shown a 
picture of a storage closet to the carpenter and like magic he made it happen.  Now the fun begins as I carefully and strategically place only the most worthy of sewing essentials on the new shelves.

Day 23

The new shelves n the open storage area are complete, and what a nice addition to my sewing space.  The shelves are easily accessible while not being totally visible.  I am being selective as to what earns a place on the new shelves. My goal is to keep the items I use most neatly organized so I can find what I need when I need it, thus eliminating the time wasting searches that so frustrated me in the past. Besides, I really enjoy seeing my treasured sewing trims and notions looking so smart.

Day 24

The design board is at last a reality.  Such a simple thing to make and so fun to have.  The photo really doesn't do justice as I found it difficult to find a good angle to showcase the simple beauty of this addition.  The foam board measures four feet high and five feet wide.  Believe it or not, I had a partial bolt of wool/rayon felt 72 inches wide that was perfect to cover the foam board.  I had purchased the felt and a boatload of upholstery trim at an estate sale for $5 several years ago.  Most fabric 
sticks to the board without pins and I can use pins easily to attach other items. Why didn't I make one of these years ago?

Day 25

Well it has been awhile since I have blogged. I had to take time to catch up on a little sewing and some of the cleaning and organizing has been anything but exciting.  Getting down to the nitty gritty of organizing is really work.  I even looked into professional organizers, but decided that was going too far and I would rather spend my money on fabric.  Organizing an extensive sewing collection has eluded me for years, making a little progress at times, but never quite getting to organizational utopia.

I decided to be very selective as to what sewing items are allowed to move back into my remodeled space.  What a challenge it is for me to throw stuff out.  That is why I first considered a professional organizer as it seemed like I needed professional intervention.   Utilizing all available inner strength, I threw away, gave away, donated to charity and repurposed some of my stuff.   I did survive and getting rid of clutter is really a freeing experience.  Now I have a working storage area stocked with items I use frequently and I am pleased with the results.  There is even open space on the shelves.  Finally, an organizational success!   ( I need to get the construction dust picked up off the floor. Really shows up in the photo.)

Day 26

Here is a pic of the clipping and note mess on my table.  It was a battle, but after almost three days, I almost have it whipped.

Am I the only one with piles of clippings, old magazines and sewing notes scribbled on bits of paper that seem to accumulate into unorganized piles?  I suspect that I am not entirely alone.  I have made attempts to organize magazines by filing them away in magazine file boxes.  This keeps things neat, but eventually space begins to run out as there is only so much shelving real estate to be had.

Years ago, I was able to turn loose of my extensive McCalls Quilting magazine collection and several other quilting publications, and I survived.  The past couple of days, I managed to get rid of more quilting magazines, other old publications that I hadn't looked at in years and several large piles of old notes and papers that no longer served a purpose.  But, I still cling to Threads.  I have most of the issues since the magazine began all filed neatly away.  And I rarely look at them, but somehow I just cant part with them.  Gathering up several years of magazines on 
my cutting table, I began to rip and save articles.  

This plan has created such a mess as I have to rip out just about every article to save.  A sure sign of a personality disorder or some undocumented affliction.  I have spent the good part of three days sorting and organizing clippings and notes and finally after several hundred page protectors have been put into binders, the battle may be about over. But was it worth it and did I win?  Time will tell.  If I don't utilize these saved clippings, maybe I will finally start tossing stuff.  I discovered that the same articles are revised and printed over and over by the publishers.  It was 
amusing, and a bit frightening, to see that I have clipped and saved, over the years, multiple articles on the same subject.  One repeat was even by the same author with the same pictures.  At least I am consistent.

One thing is for sure, soon there won't be any paper piles left in my sewing room, and the notebooks will look organized on the shelf.  And finally, when the time comes and my family dumps it all in the dumpster, it will be a really neat pile!

Day 27

I had to take a break from the clipping and note organizational battle, and decided to finish up sorting my book collection.  This has also been an ongoing saga as I started giving books away to new homes last fall before the carpenter showed up.  I have a good friend who has enjoyed a large number of my old quilt books.  I also 
relied on fellow ASG members to take some of my old sewing books and the rest of the discards went to the thrift store.  

Here is how I organized my titles.  First, all of the quilting books that I use, but not as often as my sewing books, went to shelves in mycold storage area.  They are accessible, located all in one place and they don't take up space in my sewing room.  All of my hand sewing and needle art books are neatly placed in my working 
storage area right next to my embroidery threads.  My sewing manuals are located on shelves right under my sewing machines.  The sewing books I use most often are located in the bookcase, which supports the end of my pressing surface.  The titles are arranged basically by subject and I can easily locate the book I want.  There is even a little empty space.  So much neater than the crammed shelves of just a few months ago.  Success!

Day 28

Well, the clipping carnage is over.  I have created somewhat organized sense of all my clippings.  My personal notes from classes, tv shows and seminars still need some work but at least they are all in one place, and I am motivated to get them in more usable form.

The biggest challenge was trying to organize the clippings.  I finally divided into handbags, knits and t-shirts, serger projects, and sewing techniques and inspirations.  I ended up with two handbag notebooks, and two sewing techniques and inspirations notebooks.  Included patterns in the handbag notebooks and that helped clean up my pattern drawer.  The clippings about knits and t-shirts went in 
the back of a knit sewing book I had.  I also had quite a stack of clippings about making scarves and those also went into a scarf book that I had forgot I had.  Several other misc clippings were placed in appropriate books and that left my collection of sewing techniques and inspiration to fill a couple large binders.

Not sure it is worth tearing up magazines and I may see about tearing out the table of contents and putting those in a binder.  I did that with some quilting magazines and it is handy and doesn't take much time, effort or space.  It is then easy to locate the magazine in a file box.  Regardless, the notebooks are a nice reference, they 
look neat on the shelf and it cleaned up a huge stack of stuff that has been accumulating for years. I have collected enough project ideas for several lifetimes, so now I need to get busy and sew.

My next project is to create a pegboard to hang some of my most used tools next to my cutting and drafting table.  I am getting close and will keep you posted.

Day 29

I talked my husband into going to Menards to help me get the materials for a peg board to hang my rulers and pattern drafting tools.  Our cart was full of peg board supplies and then we spotted a metal peg board for less than the materials in our cart.   This metal peg board would not rust, mildew, crack or peel.  It was complete, needed no paint and easy installation with screws included.  It coordinates with the industrial look of my sewing space.  The only negative was the width, less than what I originally wanted.  I could get more than one.  Let me think.

Meanwhile, my husband was ready to check out, so I decided to try one and see how it worked out.  Only two screws were needed to put it up and presto a place to hang some of my tools.  I probably spent 2 hours planning placement, but I do like the metal board and it is nice to have my rulers up and out of the way, but easy to find.   I discovered my piping ruler that I had forgot about, and found a fan 
ruler that I have no idea what it was originally purchased to do.  

Now on to fabric organization.  I have most of my stash ready to fold and put back on the shelves in a more orderly fashion.  My quilting cottons are a work in progress and I am still not quite sure how to store them.  I am trying out an Art Bin extra deep super satchel.  So far, the red cottons are sorted and stored in the super satchel and it looks neat and organized on the storage shelf.  The bins are pricey and I need at least seven more.  Not decided on this yet.  Managed to throw out three more cardboard boxes and a small pile of fabric scraps.  My helpful husband said "ooooooh what progress". He makes me laugh, most of the time!