Posts Tagged ‘storage’

Is There Joy In Organizing?

April 29, 2015

The bathroom remodel is finally done. The last trim pieces were installed, and the varnish on the vanity (and isn’t that a great name for a novel?) has cured long enough to organize the drawers and cupboard.

The vanity that Stewart built

The vanity that Stewart built

I should be thrilled, but I’m not. Storage in the old bathroom was minimal, so now that we have more room I’ll be moving items from other cabinets into the new bathroom. That means there will be holes on shelves all around the house. The sensible part of my brain tells me to look at the new-found space with a view to better efficiency. The selfish part of my brain says, “Stuff the shelves with overflow from the sewing room!”

The sewing room is looking pretty bad these days. The projects I left before heading out to Art Quilt Santa Fe did not magically make themselves. Also, I came back with more treasures.

Lani Longshore deer pin

This pin depicts deer in the desert, but I’m seeing reindeer that can go with my Space Viking series (don’t ask about the connection – it makes sense to me).

Thanks, Betty!

Thanks, Betty!

This is a piece of hand-painted silk Betty Busby gave me. I have many ideas, and some new silk batting to use.

Lani Longshore bird toy

This is a toy that Gale Oppenheim-Pietrzak gave me. It flashes different colors when you squeeze it. I had hoped to post a video of the light show, but technology has thwarted me. My ancient phone and camera aren’t compatible with the systems on our Linux-based computers. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to post it. And my sewing room will be tidy. And my projects will finish themselves. And pigs will fly.

Luck and wisdom!

Thank Heavens For Little Bins

September 4, 2013

We had a four-day party at our house last weekend. Between the Scottish Games, family and friends, there wasn’t a dull moment. The best part was I could completely enjoy the celebrations because I turned my studio into a guest room.


The floor! The floor!

The floor! The floor!


True, a cot in the sewing room doesn’t rival the Hilton, but considering all the stuff I had to move around, I was thrilled to recover as much space as I did. Thank heavens for little bins, and totes, and hampers. After a week of sorting, consolidating and tossing, I had some things squirrled away.


Bins in the corner of my bedroom

Bins in the corner of my bedroom


Two days before company arrived, this is what I faced:


Lani Longshore totes


I also found a never-used collapsible clothes hamper that I bought for one of the kids heading off to college (I won’t comment on why the child didn’t bring it along).


A great place to put piles of fabric

A great place to put piles of fabric


My husband gave me dispensation to bring the stuff out to the garage for the duration of the visit.


Colonizing the garage

Colonizing the garage


I have to bring everything back, and the sooner the better, but at least I’ve had one sort out. If I’m clever (and my husband is patient about reclaiming his garage space), I’ll bring in one bag, tote, or bin at a time and put the contents where it belongs, not where it fits. If I’m clever . . .



Hidden Victories

September 19, 2012

The good news about having the kids in the house is that I feel obligated to be busy. You know, make sure I’m being a good example. The bad news is, I can’t always be creatively busy. So I do the next best thing – I putter. What I learned about puttering this week is that momentum can be your friend. After tidying up the obvious stuff in the sewing room, I started tidying up the stuff that I had been ignoring for weeks.

The scrap pile is almost gone. I cut, sorted and put fabric away. While putting fabric away, I noticed some of the bins could be consolidated. When I consolidated some of the bins, I sorted larger pieces of fabric that had been in piles and put that in the now-empty bins. When I got to the bottom of a couple of piles I discovered a bin of fabric that I knew I wouldn’t need soon. That went in the garage, because there was a tiny bit of room from the consolidation project. The empty space in the storage unit was filled with books and patterns for the prison program, and that bought me a foot of floor space:


I can stand in front of the closet again!

No one else in the family will even notice, but I do. They also won’t notice that getting the scraps under control gave me a bit of clearance on the cutting table:


I can see over the stacks!

The piles are still there, but now they are low walls, not the foothills of the Himalayas.

While all this was going on, my eye fell on some leather cording. To be precise, my eye fell on the cording as it fell on my foot. Repeatedly. After the third or fourth time it fell from someplace that I had put it down (as opposed to putting it away), I remembered my tree quilt. It still needed a binding; the fabric bowls and vases I made last week used piping as a binding before zig-zagging the sections together. The technique worked well, and the leather cording was exactly the right color for the quilt, so I used it:

Almost done


I couldn’t have made a better match if I dyed it myself

So, in the end keeping busy resulted in creativity. Who knew.


Again with the lemonade

July 25, 2012

Both of the kids are returning to the nest while they look for work. One just finished a masters degree, the other is still trying to figure out what life, the universe and everything really means. The good news is we can offer them a place to live while they regroup. The bad news (Part A) is I really, truly, absolutely, positively have to remove my stuff from their rooms.

You may recall that I had been keeping fabric in their rooms, our room, the living room, and the garage as well as the sewing room. The bad news (Part B) is that the garage door that we had hoped to have replaced long before this is getting replaced while I’m clearing out the kids’ rooms. We had to have twelve feet (12′) of clear space for the workmen to install the garage door, which meant there was no room for me to squirrel away the fabric. I couldn’t even use a corner as a staging area because there were no empty corners.

The universe had its fun with me, then showed me the way out. Tucked away in a corner of my son’s room were the shelving units he used as a kid to keep his toys in order. My husband even found the connecting pieces that turned the metal grids into shelves. I took the fabric for my prison program (in plastic bins and cardboard boxes), put it in the living room temporarily, and assembled a few of the grids.


Bonus points if you see what’s missing

This first effort was essentially a proof of concept experiment – first that I could get the grids together and second that the plastic bins would fit. They did. In fact, I got all of the fabric that had been in the corner stowed away with room to spare.

This is what was in the corner


This is how much space it took up on the new shelves

My husband poked his head in the sewing room when I stopped swearing (I said I got the grids together – I didn’t say I found it easy). He took one look at my shelves and cautiously mentioned that they weren’t as stable as one might like. He then offered to help me rebuild the shelf right then and there. This is how much more stuff I got in there once he put the back pieces in:

So we’ve come full circle. The units I bought my son to keep his toys out of my hair are now being used to keep my stuff out of his hair. I still have more units, and more plastic bins. Give me a couple of weeks, and I might even clear out enough stuff along the batting wall to complete my new storage system.


Taking Good Advice

March 7, 2012

I found some useful good advice (as opposed to good advice that really doesn’t apply) from Liz Voce of Sort It Canada and Russell Jander on managing the mess. Essentially it comes down to start decluttering and look for what really works for your situation. While I accepted the wisdom of the proposition, I realized this week that I hadn’t actually gone through the steps – or at least the last step, which is recognizing what kind of a mess you have.

My sewing room is both a studio and a warehouse. It contains my own supplies, for my own projects, but also supplies for a quilting outreach program at the local prison. Only half of the space is taken up with my personal private piles. The rest is fabric and instructions for kits that I bring to my class twice a month. The piles that belong to me can and should be dealt with in a stern fashion, with only a minimal nod to sentiment. The rest should be dealt with as inventory.

Okay, so I didn’t discover the secret of the universe, but it was a revelation to me. And I acted on it. The first thing I did was evaluate the way I store my inventory:

This is only part of the fabric donated to the quilting program. The rest is in similar boxes scattered wherever I can find an empty corner. When I get through the boxes here, I replace them with the boxes from another room. The problem is, I can’t see what I’ve got, and the boxes are too big.

“Self,” I said, “you just inherited a boat load of clear storage boxes. Why don’t you take the most unwieldy cardboard box and transfer the contents?”

Taking advantage of a Top Gear marathon and Liz’s reminder that I don’t need to keep everything that is given to me, I hauled the donated fabric into the family room. I also brought my tie-dye masking tape and an indelible marker to make labels for the storage boxes. Then I spent the rest of the day sorting.

This is what I ended up with:

While the closet might not look tidy, it is more functional. All the boxes are labeled, and they’re small enough to shift. Just the process of transferring the fabric from one large cardboard box to many smaller ones let me do two things:

  1. get rid of fabric that wasn’t suitable for quilting, and
  2. set up a system that will help me say no to unsuitable fabrics in the future.

My next goal for the warehouse side is to get all of the cardboard boxes squirreled around the house (and at Margaret Misegades’ house) sorted. That still leaves me the problem of the studio side, but that’s a subject for another blog.