Before and After: The Alcove

Readers,

I now present to you my sewing library, properly stored and accessible, befitting the sewing space of a former librarian.

The sewing library finally has a proper home.

The sewing library finally has a proper home.

When Daniel installed the shelves this past week I just couldn’t believe how nice they looked and how practical and roomy they were. Why hadn’t I thought of converting this rec room bar, built by a previous owner, to book and magazine storage when we bought this house twenty-plus years ago? It’s such a no-brainer!

I’ll tell you why. Because I had never listed all the functions I wanted my sewing space to perform and then assigned zones for those functions. Now that I’ve done this homework–which was quite interesting and enjoyable, by the way–the results have been extremely rewarding.

Lesson learned.

I can swivel in my office chair from computer to print sources.

I can swivel in my office chair from computer to print sources.

I’m writing this in my neat and useful little planning corner almost exactly a year after I took the “before” pictures of my sewing space.

My sewing books, notes, DVDs, articles, and fashion clippings are all within easy reach. I can swivel in my office chair and read the spines of my Threads magazines, then pull an issue and spread it open on the counter.

You know what I like the most about my planning corner? Just entering this space puts me in the mood to plan and research–to act.

Crowded, cluttered, and no well-lighted surface nearby to lay a book on.

Before: crowded, cluttered, and no well-lighted surface nearby to lay a book on.

Compare that with a year ago, when this corner was full of–stuff. What I did, mostly, was react to that stuff more than interact with it. I reacted to the disorder, which came from indecision, which came from not being clear enough about what I wanted to accomplish.

The alcove before: Large and medium boxes of patterns. Duct tape double dress form (may she rest in peace). Flotsam. Jetsam.

The alcove before: Large and medium boxes of patterns. Duct tape double dress form (may she rest in peace). Flotsam. Jetsam.

As I have noted in a previous post, I would react to the visible disorder by organizing the stuff, be it sewing books, patterns, or fabrics–and there was some value in that. But all this organizing was built on a premise that my sewing space was a container for stuff. It felt static, and I felt static.

I’ve shifted. Now I see my sewing space as supporting activities. And now when I’m in this space I’m predisposed to taking action.

Paper for tracing off patterns is in the new closet now.

Paper for tracing off patterns is in the new closet now.

Readers, I’m a fan of stuff, but I now see the value of deliberately designing for activity as well as storage in a space.

Daniel, who built the shelves (and also reinstalled the cabinet doors I’d taken off), saw more clearly than I did how this little alcove could support action. “See?” he showed me, “I made the shelves adjustable for the heights of your magazines.”

And here,” he pointed to the counter under the lower shelf, “I left this open so you’ll have more space to use your books.”

I can read the tiny print on the spines of my Threads magazines now.

I can read the tiny print on the spines of my Threads magazines now.

I thanked him for the idea. But the next day, when I shelved my library I put all those issues of Threads on the counter, where I thought I could read the tiny print on the spines most easily. I shelved my shoebox of clippings on the shelf. I stood back and admired my work. Done.

Not so fast!

This morning when I saw that box of clippings I thought, “Every time I’ll want to use that box I’ll have to pull it down from that shelf.” Having to pull and replace that box would discourage use. Guaranteed.

At last, dedicated space for using sewing references.

At last, dedicated space for using sewing references.

In a trice I adjusted the shelf, moved the Threads issues up, and the clippings box to the counter. Now those clippings are super-accessible, and there’s more space to use them right there.

And use them I will. In fact, it’s time I examined the contents of this box. In the age of Google, YouTube and Pinterest, what sewing information is worth the trouble of managing in file folders?  That’s another mystery waiting to be unraveled.

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