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A Room of One’s Own

When I was a kid, I loved visiting my dad’s office. He’d filled it floor to ceiling with goofiness – stuffed meerkats, vintage Moon Tomato Paste signs, giant plastic chicken masks, and tons of pictures of our dogs. I think all of this kept him going through twenty years of twelve-hour workdays, and I had such a deep love of the silly that I almost wished I could skip summer and spend my waking hours at work.

Too much clutter can get in the way of creativity, but I can’t help dreaming of sitting down to sew in a place like that. My thread rack would hang between a photo of the San Diego Chicken and a shelf of dinosaur figurines. I’d copy pictures of plants and kitchen tools from The Joy of Cooking, and I’d sketch them on the walls. The off-color linoleum floor would be covered by a thick blue area rug. One whole wall would be windows, and another would have a door to the outside.

Underneath the stuff, I would hide cleanliness and practicality. I think it’s important to have designated work stations – a table for laying out and cutting, another for hand-sewing. A large desk for sewing and serging, which I’d try to keep clear of everything except pins, needles, bobbins, and thread. The iron would hang from a place of honor on the back of the door.

But I’m probably getting carried away imagining. In practice, I’ve moved a lot in the past few years, and I’ve never had much disposable income. I have to pare down to mobile essentials, like a card table and a rotary cutting board that folds in threes. For storage, I reuse containers. A cardboard box is excellent for holding small scraps, and its ugliness is easy to combat with a tube of paint or a wrapping of pages from cooking magazines.

What is your dream studio like? How do you deal with real-life barriers, such as a small workspace? What inspires you while you work?

Carrie Grinstead



July 19, 2010 #

Having an inspiring space is soooo important to me, especially mentally. it is so much easier to stay motivated in a space that feels like your own little world. I am still working on mine. Like you I have moved a lot and have very little disposable income. Right now i am saving up to replace the carpet with wood floors and some paint to paint the walls. My colors are gray and hot pink! That and finally getting some inspiring art work on the walls. I finally got my Vargas girl framed and she looks so pretty!


July 19, 2010 #

The thing that inspires me most isn’t exactly a thing. When I’m sewing a vintage pattern, I like to listen to music that was released the same year as the pattern. So when I was making my 1967 skirt, I listened to Pink Floyd’s first album and St. Pepper. And Pet Sounds, though that’s a bit of a cheat (’66).


July 19, 2010 #

I keep my workspace insanely clean and organized.. When it is untidy, I can’t work. I dream of the day my husband will finish studying and we can move… I’ll have a room with pale green walls and white upholstery with black furniture. Just like my room at my parents’ house. I always felt so calm and inspired and creative in that room.


July 19, 2010 #

I was just sewing on my card table myself! Not my favorite thing, but we’ve moved so much ourselves it’ll do for now. I just had to comment because my husband and I just moved to Las Cruces two weeks ago! Don’t you wish it wasn’t so hot this week?


July 19, 2010 #

Hi Jess! Welcome! I’m in Portland-area now so I’m missing the heat. I hope the dulcet tones of the swamp cooler are inspirational…


July 19, 2010 #

My dream studio would have a door, so I can close off the rest of the world and just be creative! Right now I have about half a room, and it’s pretty awesome even though it’s small. We just re-did it, so that I could have more sewing space, and I love it!
The key to working in a small space is keeping it totally organized, have a place for everything and try to put things back as you go. Otherwise it’s too easy for it to get chaotic!


July 19, 2010 #

Thanks for the welcoming comments! I still struggle with staying neat and organized, but I’m finding more and more ways to merge the love of clutter with the need for tidiness. The best, for me, has been thinking of walls less as, um, structurally essential parts of my house and more as handy storage spaces. Stuff all around me + always knowing where essentials are. Excellent.


July 19, 2010 #

I have just started working on my sewing room. I need a craft room to be clean, tidy, and cheery at the same time. So, I plan to use white furniture to give that clean look, plenty of storage to keep my tools and supplies tidy/readily accessible and I will use sewing-related paintings or posters, and colorful notions for that cheery look. It will be my awesome sanctuary.


July 20, 2010 #

Oh, funny, I thought about this a couple of days ago. Right now, I’m still living in a rather small student apartment with my boyfriend and the main room is a shared dining/living/study room with a big dining table, a couch and a 3.5m wooden board which serves as a desk for the both of us. I’ve put up post cards and pictures above my part of it and to the side there’s a corner with boxes of my stuff, but it’s neither tidy nor spacious. If I ever have a big enough study of my own, it’ll have three desks – one for working, one for sewing and one for other creative pursuits. One wall will be cork, so I can put up sketches and reminders and postcards and whatnot. One wall will be just bookcases, so I can keep everything organised. :-)


August 28, 2010 #

I love my space! I have one apple green wall with a huge white bookshelf in front of it with baskets for notions and fabric. The rest of the room has white furniture and red accents. It’s the space I’ve wanted for years and years and I’m now filling it with all of the art and knicknacks I like. I have the same philosophy as your dad, having things I love around me inspires me. I love that Moon tomato paste sign!


March 16, 2011 #

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