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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.


6 thoughts on “Workflow and Space Evaluation & Another Finish!

  1. I always read your posts and enjoy them. Always. I love seeing your farm progress. I am totally envious of your square footage. My room is a spare bedroom, probably only 10 x 10. What I love is the window looking to the woods, my small walk in closet, my lighting, and my furniture. I have an oak cutting table with four drawers. It has room for a large cutting mat and a rectangular ironing board that my husband made. In one corner, I have a triangular four shelf piece that we bought on a trip to Shipshewana. I have a Koala cabinet for my machine that has a back drop leaf for quilting, and two Amish oak bachelors chests for fabric. What I lack is space. Elbow room. I would love to have enough room for a second sewer to join me, room for a long table, and room for a spare comfy chair or couch. We are considering an addition to our house, but we’ll see.

    1. Jean thanks for being a loyal reader!!! Most days I don’t really have a clue what I should or need to write, and even worse if anyone is interested!!! Your room sounds cozy! I seem to be a spreader, so I will and would overtake all available space very quickly!!! I also suffer a bit from HSS, especially in the throws of creating something… Go for the addition, hopefully, it will be for your space!!! Beth

  2. I like the hibiscus mini. It’s very artsy with the rounded corners. My space is too small. I’d love to take over the basement, but our oldest son is down there, and there is already too much stuff down there.

    1. I am lucky that I have as much space as I do. I have had much smaller, but more is so much easier to work in!! Of course, HSS does play a huge part in the available areas for working. Last night I noticed that I have too much stuff out, most of it is for a minuscule project, about 6 inches square!!! Beth

  3. Your sewing room looks great, mine have too many walls non available (door, radiator, window, shelves for non-quilting stuff). Love your hibiscus, very pretty!

    1. I am grateful that I get to have my own space to make a mess and close the door when I am done. I don’t create when I have to get it all out or clean up every time. I think I need to find a new flower… Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it! Beth

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