By Lisa Calle
Creative spaces are something that all of us hobbyists dream of. Whether we already have a studio space or just hope to have one in the future, we all have the ideal layout in mind. I bet we’ve even all decorated that imaginary and perfect space in our minds – or at least on Pinterest.
I have a running mental list of items that are must-haves in my future sewing room. These are things that won’t fit into my current space, such as a long-arm and two cutting tables.
Through the years, I’ve spent a lot of time organizing and decorating my space. It’s just a spare room in our home, but I’ve transformed it into a functional and pretty place to be. I’ve bought craft-specific furniture and gone through several storage systems to find the one that works for the way I like to quilt.
But I’m in a different season of life now, and having a room solely used for quilting has become an extra that just doesn’t make sense anymore. Our family is expanding this year, and the time has come for me to give up some, perhaps most, of my space to make room for a new baby.
While it’s the best reason to do so, it has still been a difficult adjustment to make. There is a saying that you tend to fill up whatever space you occupy, and that has certainly been true for me. My 12-by-14 room had become floor-to-ceiling quilting paraphernalia, with many extras overflowing into the hall closet and garage.
I wrote a few weeks ago about quilt guilt and the pressure of having just too much fabric. Long before baby No 2 was on the way, I’d been slowly moving toward a more minimal approach to quilting and all of my favorite crafts (knitting, embroidery, garment sewing) because I’ve realized that I can’t do it all. And I certainly can’t own it all.
Having a dedicated sewing space is a luxury, though it seems most of my quilting friends each has a room of her own. Paring down has been a challenge. I try to balance need with want and to be really honest about the projects I will finish. As a frequent project-starter, my collection of works-in-progress had grown to an unachievable number well into the double-digits. I’m not going to pretend that it happened over night, but I’ve been able to whittle them down to a more manageable and realistic number that fits in my space, instead of overflowing into the hall closet.
The biggest part of this transition has been mental. I’ve made an effort to change my mindset from a feeling of loss to seeing this change as a positive one. I see it as an opportunity to start fresh and free myself of many things, both projects and fabric, that have kept my small space messy and my mind cluttered and weighed down with a quilting to-do list.
The truth is, decluttering my sewing space to keep only the most precious items has extended to the rest of my house. Garage sales and online classified ads have helped move lots of unused and unloved items out of our house.
The change has been more than just aesthetic. It’s actually helped me keep every room of our home tidier and given me more time to sew. On Sundays, when I used to spend at least an hour finding homes for all of the discarded items that pile up during the week, now I have some time that’s just for me. Everything in our home and in my smaller sewing space has a spot that is easy to access, making it a simple and routine task to just put things away after I use them.
Many of you tidy types probably can’t relate to this, but I know there are many of you out there who are just like me, a messy crafter, and I want you to know that you can conquer the chaos.
Lisa Calle is a freelance writer who lives in Dallas. She writes every Monday. Visit her at Vintage Modern Quilts.