Workflow and Space Evaluation & Another Finish!

My Creative Space has been under a workflow evaluation. So not much happened during the month of December. I spent a lot of time moving things about. I have one finish from a bit earlier in 2020, while I was testing out how well the working triangle was arranged.

What does ‘Workflow’ mean?

Testing as in how well does the ‘workflow’ work. Is it awkward to move around the “working triangle”? Just like the kitchen our creative spaces often have a triangle. In the kitchen, the main triangle is the sink, stove, and refrigerator. For sewing, it is usually direct access to and from; the cutting/work table – sewing machine – the ironing station or design area, in any combination. Just as in a kitchen the triangle has supporting elements, such as counter space, storage, and ingredients. The same is true in your working space, you need, fabric, thread, tools, and places to keep tools conveniently at hand.

Where do I Start?

I was recently online in a Facebook Group, ‘Just Wanna Quilt’, a group with more than 3500 members. A quilter shared a picture of her soon to be sewing room and asked ‘Where do I Begin’? There was a photo of a large space, sort of finished (similar to mine). The photograph showed her supplies haphazardly about the room in boxes and piles. There were many comments about what would be nice. But not too many outlining a plan of attack, which is what she was asking for. Something along the lines of- “I have this huge space and I don’t know where to begin.”

I Need Some Help
A plea by a quilter getting ready for a new space

I commented:

” Looks like you have some great space to fill! You may be better served to take your set up a bit slower. You need to consider all kinds of things before you move stuff around 8 times!!! As suggested drawing a floor plan to-scale; with fixtures, sewing machines, shelves, cutting table, etc, proportions for testing ideas is a good way to go! Some questions, do you create well in chaos, or do you do better in a neater space? Do you have “HSS” (horizontal surface syndrome), if it’s flat and unused do you stack on it? Those cheap plastic shelves are not a good idea for fabric. They will be too wide and too deep to make good use of the space. The fabric will get messed up way too fast and the stacks will tip/fall over. In the end, they will frustrate you. Is your fabric all quilting cotton or are there other types in the mix? And how large are the cuts? 1/2 to 2 yards or larger cuts of 3 to 10 yards. They will take up a different amount of space when folded. The shelf depth shouldn’t really be more than 10″. You might also want to look at your creative working triangle and the workflow; sewing machine(s), cutting table, an ironing station. Also, your design wall needs to allow you to get far enough back to take in the whole thing. Also determine, which items need to face the TV from the sewing machine and ironing board, cutting table, desk, or computer? Not everything can face the TV, although in a corner is a good place! You may also want to consider creating a closed/hidden storage area. All the little stuff can be unsightly. Or you may want to use some cabinets with doors…

What I didn’t like about my ‘working triangle’

In my space, I discovered while working on the UFO’s, the workflow was not flowing. I determined that the physical “working triangle” was okay, but the twists and turns from station to station were strange. The TV was also in a very odd place. For me, while the major work stations were close together they wasted too much space.

The old room arrangement
This arrangement was not working.

I reassessed the space. I have a few limitations in the space; a water main that needs to have access and is also a hazard; 2 walkways to the other side of the basement, and cabinets that need to be set along walls. I mentioned in the last post, I had planned on sliding design walls. I have a new solution for them, but it will wait a bit. So I need wall space for the design walls too. The last issue is, of course, the all-important electrical outlets. As I suggested above, I drew up a diagram with real measurements. Marked the important features, (outlets, windows, water main, and doorways). Cut the important piece shapes from cardstock to scale; of the sewing machine(s), tables, and cabinets. I then arranged them on the diagram… and I rearranged them…. A working triangle may look good on paper, but in real life, it may not work well.

What Seems to be a better ‘workflow’

To address the water main, I put a piece of clear vinyl up to direct any leak to the floor. The floor is concrete with a drain so nothing to really worry about there. This allowed me to relocate the TV to a better corner, (near the water main), where it would not block or hinder the hall to the other side of the basement.

The new arrangement of the space
The new arrangement feels lighter and less crowded

Originally the plan had the sewing machines set up as an island at one end of the space well away from the walls. The same with the cutting/work table. Two islands in the center of the room was an awkward arrangement and wasted valuable space and did not facilitate the workflow. So I moved the sewing island up against a wall which helped with moving around and the triangle. The sewing machine I use the most and the cutting/work table face the TV. The cutting table has not moved, I have plans to enlarge it. I still use an ironing board and can move the ironing station, if I need to. Otherwise, it resides over by the closet. There are several smaller pieces that fit along the walls and under tables.

Test and Test Again

Every time I work in my “Creative Space” I find that I enjoy the new set up more and more. Sometimes it is the smallest things that make the biggest impact. This was one of the pieces I worked on while testing the workflow and allowed me to see how well things didn’t work.

A New Hibiscus Quilt
Another Hibiscus Free-motion flower

I have made several of these hibiscus flowers and once again, I should have taken a moment to assess what really needed doing before diving in. This one also started as a sample and as a value-step exercise, which almost succeeds. The flower had most of the stitching done when I picked it up again. I just added a bit more in places.

A New Hibisucs detail
Some detail of the free-motion stitching, quilting, and beading

Put a back on it and quilted it on the domestic in Free-motion. I had fun doing a modified feather, the only kind I can do.

A New Hibiscus Flower quilting
Showing a little of the free-motion quilting.

The finishing and binding was another poor choice. A small square of the fabric of the top was missing in one of the corners. I opted to add some curves. I also think it was a fail. Maybe one corner yes, but not two. The last step was adding some beads to the stamen. I was a little reserved with the beads and sparkly threads on this one.

What is your space like?

Is your creative space under constant review and rearrangement. Mine has been 9 months in the works… here. At some point, I will have to call it done and start making a creative mess!!! One of the reasons it is in the basement. The MESS! Next up, the new table I hope. I forgot to buy the edge moldings in town this week so it will have to wait until I go back to Etown… 10 days or so.

What is your biggest issue with your creative space or conversely what makes it your favorite space? Tell us in the comments, someone may learn something from your experience.


Happy New Year

This is the time when we assess what is behind us and look and plan for what is before us. I had intended to post this on the yesterday… but my thoughts were to disjointed and confusing to even try to make sense of. But I am doing better today. I think the reflecting part makes me think that while there were certainly some silver linings to be found but for others, it was a very painful and horrible year to live through.

Suffice it to say, behind us has been a struggle and that is putting it gently. Juggling life, work, and contradicting information was just plain hard! Nuff said!

What did we do with all that time?

Out here in the country, we coped by filling the time with projects around the place. We raised some chickens for their eggs, (they’ve been freeloading for the last 2 months, but egg production resumed this week!), some meat (pigs), and we are still working on the cow. We tested the garden area, it still needs improvement, some foods grew too well and others fizzled. Built a new chicken coop and pen and we are improving the barn, and trying to beat back the invasive honeysuckle. We are also in the process of some landscaping and generally enjoying the country life.


New Year breakfast tradition: lox and bagel
Our New Years tradition, Lox and Bagels with the works!

2021 started pretty late… for us. We don’t stay up, so our celebration started the way it does every year. With breakfast. This our celebration and tradition. It lasts as long as the bag of bagels does, and then we put it away for another year.

Looking Forward

Now that 2020 is in the past, we have so much to look forward to. Spring is coming, which will bring better weather and flowers as well as the greening of the grass and trees. We will also have longer days and more sunshine and that always makes for a better mental balance!

I don’t know about a focus word for the coming year. I don’t think I did one last year… and if I did it probably went out the window about mid-March! This year there is so much expectation for a better everything and so much to do to bring it about. Maybe EXPECTATION is a good word… I think I will adopt it for 2021.

On the Horizon

Long-range planning with goals or milestones is not what I am capable of doing. It is not something I can comprehend, how do you make plans and be flexible? That may be because I have never really lived anyplace long enough to set a goal and achieve it. I generally live by the season… and my plans were things I’d like to fit into the ebb and flow as time permits. This year is still up in the air, but I do have 3 long-range projects currently in the works.

#1 Catalog all my digital photographs, (many 1000’s and categorize them in PS Organizer, there are only about 6000 for 2020). I know this because I already did this for 2020, and was playing in the program and promptly deleted the whole catalog. Maybe my word should be ‘Backup’!

#2 I am also cataloging the quilts I have made. Amazing how much I have forgotten about some of them. It has been fun revisiting them. Remember the word ‘Backup’, yep I had completed several narratives, and managed to delete 2/3s of the catalog, including the pictures. I will have to find them all again as well as rewrite the information.

#3 Finish the main floor. The contractor finished up his work in early spring, but that was when the outside work got started. There are a couple of small walls that still need to be primed and painted, possibly painting the kitchen ceiling, some touch-up painting, the new coat closet needs the shelves and a hanging rail, and walls that need pictures or quilts or both. There is also a wall in the basement that needs to be painted. I have put most of this off because I hate painting.


Doing things with others in 2021, will depend on the vaccine and distribution timelines. While we wait we will finish the cow, plant a garden, and welcome 2 new pigs and we are hoping to have family and guests come to visit too. One young one that received a sewing machine for Christmas has already requested a springtime visit! A book is winging its way to her this week. She visited in October and her plans were to spent the day in the sewing room. So I set up a machine and we practiced pinning and sewing. The results of a morning at the sewing machine. A quilt for the Elizabethtown Hosparus (Hospice) for a veteran in care. Miss A did all the sewing. It has been quilted and is waiting for the opportunity to go to town.

Miss A Quilting Lesson
Miss A came for a visit. Her plan was to sew

Hope and Reflection

The best news is that we now have hope. Hope is a powerful force. With hope, we can conquer anything. We can beat the monsters back, build up the foundations, and lend a hand. I have an idea for several quilts, but I need to finish things in the basement and some business loose ends (like Inventory) and then back to the fun.

If you’ve made it this far thank you for your time and attention. Have you reflected back on 2020 and how would you sum it up? Any positives? What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy New Year again, and more later, including another finish! Beth

There is always more to do…

Not that I needed to find another task, especially at this time of year. But I did!

The Closet Area

I made a plan to complete the inside of the closet area. Bought all the stuff and moved all the miscellaneous boxes of stuff out of the closet space to hang the uprights. This closet is just shelves, with no space for a hanging rail. It needs some doors yet. Originally I had planned barn doors, a double-track system, so they could slide in front of each other. I may still do that… once I decide if I need flooring. In the meantime, if I keep it this neat, I might be able to stand looking at it!

New Closet Shelves
The new closet shelves were empty for about 5 minutes!

Kitchen Gifts

In the meantime, I am crafting ‘Friends’ gifts in the kitchen. I make biscotti every year and gift to friends and family. It’s not a surprise each year when I drop them off, as it has been my tradition for many years. I have a batch to drizzle with icing today and another to get into the oven. I think they are the last for the year. These are for the neighbors on our road, and this year for most of them, the first time.

Christmas Biscotti
Several Biscotti Gifts ready to to

Another UFO Finished

The photo used to create the Pink Water Lily Quilt
Water Lily photo was taken at the Morton Arboretum in Aurora IL 2017

On the UFO side, I finished another. ‘The Lily’. I took this picture of a water lily in September 2017 at the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago. I wanted to play with a multi-step color gradation. Which failed. I did not separate the darkest pinks enough by value and it is muddy in the medium petal areas. From a distance, it looks ok. But up close the shading in the medium color petals is difficult to see.

Water Pink Lily Quilt finshed front
Done is good

I did have fun using every single shiny threat that fell into the color scheme that I had.

Detail of the pine water lily quilt
Shiny threads

When looking at the back you can see that from inception to finish I forgot what I was intending to do. I have worked on a couple of these where I have hidden much of the threadwork from view, but wished that it would have shown in the end. So this began with the intent of showing all the thread work on the back… which requires as much thought as the thread color for the front and paying attention. I did not remember or pay attention. Again, it can be used as a teaching tool. All the shiny threads, the value flaw, and the issues with the back.

The Lily back detail
I forgot the intention for the back of the quilt.

I as usual have lots going on, the weather has turned cold. Icy cold, this morning 17°. All the water is iced over. The cows, the chickens, and the pond. A good day to stay inside. I need to plug in the cat water bowl too since the pond now has ice at the edges.

Christmas is fast approaching, only a week to go. I doubt I will get back here before so I will close by wishing you the Happiest of Holidays!!! and stay healthy, stay apart and wash your hands I want to see you here next year too!!!