Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 tips from a professional organizer

I spent a day recently working in my studio along side a professional organizer. It was great to have some fresh eyes in my space. Her ideas about arranging the rooms were fabulous. I laughingly argued with her on a couple of points. Our minds work so differently.  Here are 5 of the tips I took away from that day. It has actually been fun to implement them. I am very close to a full reveal of the new space. Meanwhile this gives you a peek and some helpful tips.

#1 Avoid stashing stuff where you can't see it.


 Say goodbye to the table skirts that allowed me to pile up all kinds of fabric scraps and items I wanted to maybe do something with someday. I could fill a basket or a box with stuff and then set it under the skirt and forget about it. Obviously, that is a bad habit. I am finally ready to be done with that one. I bought the book about life changing magic of tidying up, but I haven't cracked it open. I think the life changing art of making a decision is what is important for me.

Our goal is to know what we have so we can use it, right?

I got a little more ruthless about what I was going to use and what needed to get tossed or donated. Cindy, my organizer, was kind enough to drop off my donations on her way home. That way, they were gone for good. It's nice to have a built-in way to keep me from changing my mind.  I am sure I will have more purging to do before I feel like I am done.

#2  Organize by task.


Pattern making, cutting, sewing, ironing, shipping, writing, photography, I have a lot to keep straight everyday.  I was a little mixed up and random before, but I am starting to see the wisdom of this directive. I will show you photos in the final reveal. My studio has zones now which really work.

#3  Use the shallowest container possible. 


I think the photo illustrates it well. Cute Jar vs. Drawers - Which container makes more sense for ease of use?  I love having the single layer drawers of thread within reach as I am sewing. No more digging around for the right color.  My zippers are separated and labeled now too. No more digging through one large bin to find the right color zipper and the pulls that go with it. Now I just pull out the one box I need. So simple. The drawers are from target. This one looks great too.  The mini photo boxes for zippers are from Michael's. I bought them all.

#4 Keep frequently used items handy but contained. 


That means scissors are not left (and lost) on the table tops. I found this silverware organizer at Ross for $5.99. Now my cutting implements are easy to locate and grab, and blade refills are in one of the pockets too. (Notice how this is organized by task?)

#5 Keep working surfaces clear.


That is the goal. Yearly, I work myself into a standstill by having too many projects going at once, all taking up space on my tables. We have planned a place for all of those projects now, and I can't wait to show you.

What is working for you in your creative space? Checkout my pinterest board for more organization ideas.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How to Have a Yoga Body Part 4

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio, and do yoga with it.
Beth Galis captured this cool angle on my savasana. In the Bikram style of Hatha yoga that we do at Yarrow, there are many opportunities to practise this pose. I like to think of it as letting go. During the standing half of the class, we do very short - probably 5 second - savasanas between each pose. It is the chance to let go of the previous pose and move into the next pose empty of judgement (if I felt weak in the last pose) and empty of pride (if I felt strong in it.) The goal is to be present for each pose. I often find that thinking too much, dwelling on the past or even the future, keeps me from being present. Savasana to the rescue. Time to simply be. Honestly, when we get to the floor, I sometimes think that the studio must be built on top of a lava flow. The floor feels hotter than the air. I have a trick that I use when I am having thoughts of the heat, or anything really that is other than the simple joy of being in the room. I imagine that I am lying on a bridge - like the suspension bridge at Bowl and Pitcher - there is a cool river flowing below me and the space between the boards allows air and sometimes water to cool me. I imagine my thoughts flowing out of me and being carried away by the river, so I can remain as empty and present as possible. Sometimes, I imagine I have a tail that reaches into the river to play in the cool water. We get 20 seconds between each floor pose to lie in savasana. It is here that we soak up all of the benefits of the class. I will gather my thoughts and write more about letting go at some point. It has been transformative for me this Spring and Summer. Thank you to Beth and all of the instructors at Yarrow for teaching me how to benefit from savasana. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Working at Home


Here I am in my work at home pajamas. I don't often wear pj's all day but I could. I was keeping these a secret until after my sister's birthday because I made her a silky rayon set with shorts. Next time I work with delicate easily frayed fabrics, I must remember to add extra seam allowance to make french seams or Hong Kong finish. When I do release this it will be the set, pants, shorts and top. I may have to include a tee shirt as an option since the shirt is so bare.
That puts my patterns in process count at 12, I think.  I did get an intern to learn the Cameo digital pattern making software. Unfortunately she is having as hard a time as I did with it. That means my patterns may be hand drawn for a while yet. I would love to find someone who has a real passion for starting a sewing pattern digitizing business and help them get started. Let me know if you know of someone. My intern is still in high school and I could do other things with her. She is not as motivated as I need for the pattern digitizing.
As you can imagine, the process of working up a dozen different patterns has worked me into a standstill in my studio. I just have never been organized enough spatially to keep up will all of the work I can actually juggle. When my cutting table is covered, it is time to stop and regroup.
This Summer has been all about taking time to regroup. My divorce was final on July 2nd. Before you say "I'm sorry," don't. I am happy. It is something I needed and have wanted for a very long time.
I had a great appointment with a professional organizer, and we have a plan. I am looking forward to showing you my newly organized space. The goal is to make it worthy of the cover of Where Women Create. Hopefully, the work we do here getting me organized will inspire you to tweak your space if you need it. I will post progress on Facebook for sure and maybe here too. Friend me over there and like my page so you don't miss anything.
 Meanwhile, my students at Craftsy continue to impress me with their professional looking slipcovers. If you have furniture to cover, I invite you to join us in my online classes and dazzle me. This link is half off my Wingback slipcover class and this one is half off my chairs class that has dining chairs and arm chairs.
One of the many successful student projects from my Craftsy classes


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The fresh air of happiness

Each year, as we get close to Independence Day, there is a phrase that follows me in my thoughts. It comes in whispers, the earnest last words of men and women long dead, urging me to consider. If the words are true, then I have something in me that is inalienable, something I cannot give up, nor can it be taken from me.  The phrase turns into questions. How am I caring for my life and liberty? Where am I in my pursuit of happiness?  Honestly, for a very long time, I lost the path. At this time of year, when I could be reveling in summer and the long hours of light, the questions seemed heavy.  I felt like a failure, like the alienable American.  The pursuit of happiness did not seem like a viable venture to me, so I searched for things I could pursue other than happiness. I would catch my face resting in a frown and feel deeply unhappy. I may have wanted to be happy, but I didn’t know how I could do happy.  Then, quite by accident, I discovered that in my body, I have a passage that I can access through which happiness can come in. Does that sound strange?
Everyone knows that the eyes are the window to the soul, and, I hear Pete Townshend when he sings, “let my love open the door… to your heart.” Why not have a hatch we can open and let in the fresh air of happiness? I want to say:

A smile is that passage through which happiness can enter the soul.



For several years, Beth Galis has been telling those of us who attend her hot yoga studio that a smile will bring ease to the practice. After taking more than a year off of yoga to recover from a back injury, I decided to come back to the practice and to enjoy it. I am there because I choose to be there. I know it is good for me. There is no place else I want to be in those moments, those hours. I breathe, I smile, I listen, and I do.  Smiling is what I do to inform my face that I am there to enjoy my body and soak up all of the goodness I can from the practice. I started smiling because Beth said it would make the practice easier. Who doesn’t want easier?  It works. The more I smile, the more I enjoy the class and the easier it is to do it. Then I had a private healing session with Beth in which we were able to identify and release some negative emotional baggage. Soon afterwards, I found myself driving down the road and smiling for no reason and not willfully. It just welled up from inside, and I recognized it as actual happiness. What a gift.  I smile a lot these days. My happiness is independent of any other person or circumstance. No one and no thing made me happy. 

Happiness surrounds me, and when I smile it comes inside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Work in Progress

I am calling this a Handkerchief Babydoll. I have a 20 year old friend who wants one, so I am starting with fitting myself. I overestimated the amount of ease needed. Since this photo I have taken this red linen one in at the centers and the sides. It fits nicely now and I can hardly wait for it to come out of the wash so I can wear it some more. My daughter said I look like a beautiful butterfly in it. I will look forward to showing Shae in hers too.  This week I am finishing up a package for Simplicity. I am also scheduled to get together with a friend who designed a really clever dress, and the 2 of us are going to put it out in pattern form. Then, I will be right back to this. If you would like to be a tester for this pattern, find the info on my facebook page. I am looking at last week in June to have all of the sizes ready to test.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How to have a yoga body part 2

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio and do yoga with it.
Another one of my favorite things about practising at Yarrow is the visualizations given to me by the instructors along the way. Going into standing bow pulling pose, I imagine roots growing down through my feet, spreading out to cover the room and beyond to wrap around the whole world. Those roots hold me in place while I envision a pulley attached to my kicking foot, pulling straight up. I picture myself suspended and attached at the same time. My eyes have a soft focus on my forward hand in the mirror, as I dance between Earth and sky. 
I am hoping to make this a weekly thing, posting the photos and comments. I would love to share my yoga journey with you. I hope it encourages some of you who spend a lot of time behind a sewing machine or at a desk to get out on your mat and work up a sweat.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dare to be adorable

I have a new PDF out. How to make fabric tassels. Since 2008, I have been part of Etsy and watched the trends. When I was new, the trends informed much of what I made and sold there. For the past few years, I have been too busy with deadlines to act on some of the impulses to go with that flow. Luckily, right now, time and space (and a room full of fabric) conspired to carve out this little project and write and photograph it. If you sell on Etsy, (or maybe Amazon soon,) you will find that June will always be huge for tassel themed graduation gifts. This year tassels are especially big and we see them featured everywhere. Get in on the tassel rush, make your own and use up some of those scraps you've been hoarding.  Tassel Tutorial at Etsy, or if you prefer Craftsy, Tassels PDF at Craftsy. I am using one of my handmade tassels on my keys, and it makes me think of my new motto all of the time "Dare to be adorable." I changed my logo to include the new motto.
I meant to bring that up when I announced the Babydoll pattern the other day. It's a saying that really motivates me to be creative. I think it reflects who I am. More on the Babydoll: I wanted to simplify sizing. I have been sewing forever, and I always hated that my sewing pattern size was 2 sizes larger than my ready to wear size. I think it's about time we get real and talk about the key measurement for the pattern and call it that. This top, is made for knit fabrics, the key measurement is your full bust measurement. The finished top will have a full bust measurement equal to the number on the pattern. Your knit provides the wearing and style ease.  The size 38 has a 38" bust, simple. The Babydoll starts at size 32 and goes to 48. Another pet peeve of mine is finding the right line to cut on a multi size pattern - I will say that is useful when you are in between sizes. With this PDF pattern, you will only need to print 6 sheets of paper to make your single sized pattern. For advanced sewists, there is also a quick "order of sewing" list that will print as part of the pattern itself. You will literally only need the 6 pages. Of course, there are fully illustrated instructions for those who need them.  The arms and neck finish with a facing or you can make it reversible. This is so much quicker than having arm and neck bands or bindings. I had a dozen testers make this pattern before the release and every one of them said they will be making more. It is fast to sew and fun to wear. Will you dare to be adorable in a babydoll this Summer?