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.


A Quilting Dilemma

Are you like me, once you have finished a quilt top you are faced with the decision of “how am I going to quilt it”? While looking for ideas you discover a sea of choices? Itching to start but not certain where to start? Which quilting design, motif, style or pattern will look good where?

It doesn’t matter what type of quilter you are, a domestic machine quilter or a longarmer (standing or sit down). Getting started creating a quilting design map is probably the most difficult part of the process for many of us.

Avoiding the Rabbit Hole

When I need quilting inspiration or direction my ‘go to’ is my personal library of BOOKS.

I have these at my finger tips. Having a personal  library keeps me on the path of quilting and not making a trip to the local library or waiting for a guild meeting or bother a friend to borrow a book from.

The ability to bookmark the pages of designs I like, those for future projects, highlight patterns that work really well and reference the pages again when I need a refresher.

The opportunity to take two of the designs, (or more), and combine into one design or pull out just a part of a design for my project….

Best of all I don’t find myself down the rabbit hole of Pinterest looking for ideas or inspiration.


The solution I  recently found is a trio of books that fit all of the above and are inexpensive enough to have the whole series. These books are filled with designs from many designers, some of the designs we’ve seen and others are fresh and new. Lets start with what I would consider the first book of the series, although you could start with any of the books, because they are a la cart books and don’t require a “start”.

 Free-Motion Quilting Inspiration

The books are published by C&T Publishing. “Free-Motion designs for Allover Patterns” is where we are starting, but there are two more titles just as promising “Free-Motion Block Designs” and “Free-Motion Designs for Borders, Triangles and Cornerstones“. All the books are all 158 pages, but have a varying number of designs. The Allover Patterns has more than 75 designs by 8 well known quilters! They are all bound with a spiral for flat easy reference with full page spreads of each design. The best thing about the books is you get a great sampling of several Free-Motion Quilters.

the Cover of the Allover Patterns book.
The cover of free-motions designs for Allover Patterns.

Have I intrigued you? Of course you will find them right here at I Have A Notion!

More Later- Beth