Well, it’s been 18 months, but I think I’m finally finished!
We started this garage “renovation lite” project in September 2013. I say “renovation lite” because it didn’t involve any destroying of walls, demolition of floors, or anything very exciting or fun. It did involve several trips to Ikea, a lot of curse words (because on the little ladder I’m still about 2″ too short to attach anything to the ceiling, which means getting out the big ladder, which means way more trouble than just waiting until someone taller comes home), and many, many exclamations of, “There’s so much room for activities!” by the kids. Over, and over, and over again. If you’re unfamiliar with this quote, at the risk of revealing how not evolved we are in this family by sharing what we find funny, check out the video below (or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulwUkaKjgY0). There is one curse word in it, so skip the first 30 seconds if you’re near someone who wilts at the sound of one of the most perfectly dropped F-bombs in cinematic history (OK not really, but it’s still pretty awesome).
Anyway, so with all my newly acquired room for activities came newly acquired space for the kids’ crap. I managed to keep the space pretty nice until Christmas, when it was a magnet for kid #1’s excess college junk when he came home for a couple weeks. Then it became the landing spot for so much camp stuff (so, so, so much camp stuff). Then when it was clean again, kid #1 came home for the summer. Kid #3 waited about ten minutes after kid #2 left for college to move into his bedroom, vacating his completely. Then we waited about ten minutes to turn kid #3’s bedroom into an office. This meant that when kid #1 returned home for the summer, we no longer had space for his paraphernalia. We were careful to be sure that we still maintained enough beds for all four kids (there’s a sofabed in the office), but we neglected to reserve space for their entourage of boxes, books, and the mounds of laundry they brought home and continued to create throughout the summer. Thus, my newly acquired activity space became the repository for anything and everything that required even one tiny shred of brain energy to find an appropriate spot for in the house.
I had to do something. I’d lost my beautiful work space to piles of camp files, stuffed animals, boy laundry, duffel bags and first-apartment-Ikea-accoutrements. To make things worse, I couldn’t put away stuff that actually did belong in the shop, so bags of scraps, leotards, fitting supplies, and general sewing junk were now stacked atop kid #1’s piles. When I had to cut out a few dresses on the dining room table, I knew things had gotten completely out of hand.
Camp ended, kids #1 and #2 left for college, a gigantic Christmas party came and went, and still I lacked all motivation to dig into the piles that had taken over the workspace. The thing that should have pushed me over the edge was a huge project in February for the Claremont Colleges Dance Team, that ended up leaving what felt like millions of green sequins everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I’m still finding the tiny, doughnut-shaped metal pieces all over the place. The dog even had one on her foot the other day. I knew I needed to get rid of the sequins once and for all, so I started what felt like an archaeological dig to clean up the place.
But what really pushed me to finally finish this project, however, was a request for photos of my “studio.” My studio? You mean, the cobwebby corner of the garage where kid #4 and I move piles of crap around until we find enough space to maybe sew a little and watch a few episodes of “Dance Moms?” I needed to make a change, and it needed to happen quickly. All the right pieces were there, buried under scraps and bags of fabric that needed to be folded and put away. So this is what I ended up with at the end of spring break. No before pictures, because they would be too embarrassing…but here’s the “after:”
The whole studio!
Working my way around my room. North corner (I think. Maybe. Yes, I can use a compass. But no, I’m not going to get it out to check.)
Northwest wall, where kid #4 pretends to do homework but I think she’s really just watching 50 First Dates.
View of the northwest wall. Second best part is the crystal chandelier; best part is that my husband didn’t think I was nuts for wanting the chandelier in the first place. The screen opens up to create a private changing area for fittings.
West corner. Crystal chandelier #2. Office supplies, tax info, everything boring is held inside the black file box. I don’t know why it looks so small, but it’s two file drawers deep!
Works in progress. For some reason this also looks really small, but each garment bag holds TEN dresses for sale, packaged up for travel. Each compartment in the hanging shelves holds an outfit in progress.
Moving around the room, the southwest side. A couple more mannequins, actually dressed for a change.
Mannequins and dresses for sale. The kids have named all the mannequins in the shop…here we have Marie Antoinette and Peg (named for the pole inserted into her derriere).
And here we have Buttsy on the left, used for pinning skirts to children’s skating outfits. Also all the random junk that doesn’t really go anywhere else.
Closeup of my random shop stuff…bottom left is adjustable stoning frames out of PVC, shop packaging, and lots of fabric dyes. Check out the previous post describing my stoning frames.
Tracking cards. These start out pinned here until the garments are actually cut out…
Close up of tracking cards.
After garments are cut, the tracking cards go into these awesome clear card holders, leftovers from my days as a second grade teacher. The bags are from the dollar store. Each bag holds everything I need for each garment until it’s completely finished — then the info off the card makes compliance and tracking a piece of cake.
Above the tracking cards — scraps, all scraps, all lycra. Each basket holds about ten yards, divided by color. Pieces are all 1 yard or less, usually much less…but sometimes we just need a tiny bit, so anything bigger than 12×12 gets saved. I probably have 40 shades of blue alone.
Closeup of one of the scrap boxes. These are about 15″ x 24″…found them at Home Depot a decade ago and they’ve held up great! Bags are the XXL size garment bags from the dollar store.
Except for the top drawer (which is all scissors), each drawer holds elastic. All elastic…every kind of elastic imaginable!
Machine table, again. Behind the curtains are sets of floor to ceiling old elementary school library shelves, a whole wall of ’em, full of rubbermaid bins holding miscellaneous crap…I mean, supplies…
Miscellaneous Stuff Wall. Includes ancient elementary school art by the boys, and a mobile made for me out of special camp items, circa 2000.
Cutting table, ironing table, and the box contains hangtags, pricetags, and design packets (invoice blanks, sketch croquis, stuff like that)
Little ironing table, made out of an old nightstand and a yard of Spoonflower labels that I screwed up and ordered waaaay too big. Luckily the only thing I ever iron is tiny tracking serial numbers onto my garment tags, so the low height isn’t a big deal at all. I also got to use Insulbrite, which I’ll write about in a future post…
My awesome husband added casters to the bottom (because I thought it would be easy for me to do by myself, which it wasn’t) so it rolls in and out! Inside the cabinet is a HUGE vat for dying fabric — so glad I found a place to stash the thing.
Close up of my stupid Spoonflower mistake, turned into an ironing surface.
Pattern weights (aka old roller skating wheels, filled with fishing weights). Check out my previous post on how to make these weights.
Top of the cutting table. The kids named the electric scissors “Jaws” and in one of the boxes is my electric seam ripper, “Jack.” As in Jack the Ripper. I promise my kids aren’t seriously demented. One of the boxes contains my frequent buyer and rewards program cards.
Under the cutting table — my travel fitting bag and my sizing leotards bag.
Inside the travel fitting bag. Future post will explain this awesome little thing, contained in a throw-away bag I picked up at Ulta for pennies! I bought three of them for $9.99 total, added my logo tag, and I probably get more people wanting to know who manufactured these for me than anything else.
The traveling fitting bag, exploded…includes samples of rhinestones and everything I need for a remote fitting. Obsessively weird about that chartreuse green thing, I know…but as my camp friends know, everything in my world is color coded…
Sizing leotards — 13 of ’em. The pink makes me crazy, but it was just too expensive to have them manufactured in my company chartreuse green. Oh well…
View of the east corner. Lots of rhinestones on racks, and a partial view of the dining room table – turned – cutting table. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but it holds a giant white cutting mat on one side, and various cutting table supplies on the other. There’s a better photo of the cutting table in a previous post.
Fabric row, courtesy of Ikea shelving.
Another view of one row of fabric. These are the fabrics I won’t be using this season.
I’ll post more about my tracking system and travel fitting system in my next posts. I know many of you couldn’t care less about these things, but I’m in several professional sewing organizations now, and consumer products compliance is a HUGE issue there — so the tracking system and travel fitting system are extremely relevant in that arena. Also coming up is my saga with trademarking my name and logo, so I know those folks will be checking out this blog in the coming months, too. Hoping that maybe one of them might be a fan of Stepbrothers…you never know…