Reworking the Workshop

I am currently behind on several skirt commissions, an alteration of a previous commission, and several personal projects.  The reason? My workshop has become unworkable.  In order to cut out fabric I have to clear off my cutting table.  In order to clear off my cutting table I have to find space for stuff.  In order to find space for stuff I have to shift boxes and bins and bags to other spots.  Before I can even get started I’m already exhausted by the process.

If you look closely you can see the cutting table under all that stuff. It is supposed to allow me to cut out fabric without hurting my back, but in order to use it I had to often clear it off first.
If you look closely you can see the cutting table under all that stuff. It is supposed to allow me to cut out fabric without hurting my back, but in order to use it I had to often clear it off first.

My workshop was originally the garage.  A space that has never housed a car in all the time I’ve lived here.  For years it was where we stuffed everything that didn’t fit in the house, the yard tools, and a small horde of mice and voles.  It provided an easy way into the house via the automatic garage door.  But that broke a few years ago, leaving us with an extra, unheated room where stuff got put to be forgotten.

The back of the workshop. Again, if you look to the left of the picture you'll see the conference table that was supposed to serve as a workbench. Instead it just became a junk magnet. Way in the back you can see the file cabinet that holds my patterns. Getting into it was like launching a expedition into a jungle.
The back of the workshop. Again, if you look to the left of the picture you’ll see the conference table that was supposed to serve as a workbench. Instead it just became a junk magnet. Way in the back you can see the file cabinet that holds my patterns. Getting into it was like launching a expedition into a jungle.

When we moved my sewing stuff into the garage, we cleared out a little space for me to work in.  And for a couple of years it worked, kinda.  Patterns and tools got lost.  Fabric got forgotten in various darkened corners.  The rodent problem was brought under control through traps, and my arachnophobia was went through a downgrade as I had accept Arachne’s kin had taken up shop in the work space as well.

Back of the workshop, window facing out into the backyard. This was the official sewing space. Note that several of the shelves required me to use a step stool to reach when I needed items.
Back of the workshop, window facing out into the backyard. This was the official sewing space. Note that several of the shelves required me to use a step stool to reach when I needed items.

Coming back from SLCC, though, it became more apparent that the situation just wasn’t working.  I was getting frustrated and falling behind because I didn’t want to work in that dark, crowded space.  I found myself having to use the dining table more often.  Finally, I said “Enough!” and marked off a weekend to completely overhaul the workshop.

This wardrobe does not lead to Narnia. It is where I would store bolts (and bags and boxes) of fabric. I would come across fabric that I don't remember ever buying, proving the fabric was breeding. The company up top are remnants of childhood and LARP.
This wardrobe does not lead to Narnia. It is where I would store bolts (and bags and boxes) of fabric. I would come across fabric that I don’t remember ever buying, proving the fabric was breeding. The company up top are remnants of childhood and LARP.

I knew what I wanted: more open space to move around, less flat surfaces for me to stack piles of stuff on, thus adding to the clutter problem, and everything up off the floor.   The process took three days actually, spilling over into Monday, and inspired a reorganization of our bedroom as well.  I had decided to recruit the closet system for the workshop, which left us without a place to put our clothes.  This necessitated moving the wardrobe in the workshop into the bedroom.  Stephan has manhandled this piece of furniture four times in the eight years we’ve been together.  Without his help all of this would have taken a week longer.

Back of the workshop. Check out how open everything is. I still have my window view and can pull out the cutting table when I need it and roll it away so that it doesn't become a dumping ground.
Back of the workshop now. Check out how open everything is. I still have my window view and can pull out the cutting table when I need it and roll it away so that it doesn’t become a dumping ground.

The biggest change was treating the front of the garage as a wall.  With the automatic door not working anymore, there really isn’t a reason to keep it clear.  And by moving the shelves against it, that gives me more floor space in the middle of the room.  I also stored away the conference table.  Originally, it was supposed to act as a workbench, but all it ever did was serve as a place for me to stack things.

Front of the workshop after the work. The file cabinet is reachable. I hung a rug over the garage door to help combat drafts come winter. Everything is organized and accessible.
Front of the workshop after the work. The file cabinet is reachable. I hung a rug over the garage door to help combat drafts come winter. Everything is organized and accessible.

I’ve had the chance to work in the workshop for the past few days and I have to admit that it is awesome.  I can reach what I need without having to drag out a step stool.  The cutting table can be pulled out whenever I need it.  I’ve got all my current commissions and projects hung up where I can find them easily.  And I’m not moving bins or bags out of the way to get at what I need.

A bookshelf provides a home for books, cross stitch supplies, and my minions. The luggage feels especially comfortable.
A bookshelf provides a home for books, cross stitch supplies, and my minions. The luggage feels especially comfortable.

It wasn’t easy.  I spent several days very sore from the work.  But I am very pleased with the changes.  It feels like a real workshop now, rather than one shoved into the only space available.

Scenes from a Marriage: Bad Innuendo

roach: So you’ve been salty all night and I’ve been saucy. We should get together and make some stir fry.
Stephan: … I knew it was coming. I could see it. It was like, “My Bad Innuendo Sense is tingling, roach must be talking.”
roach: So is that a yes or a no?

Client Spotlight: A.C.

As a rule I don’t do wedding attire: either sewing dresses or alterations.  I’ve made an exception in the past because the bride wasn’t looking for your typical wedding gown.  But, there are many sewists that specialize in weddings, and I’d rather leave the bridezilla wrangling to them.  However, when A.C. approached me with a wedding request I immediately agreed.

A.C. is non-binary and wanted to wear a suit for their wedding.  The idea and outfit were too unique to pass up.  I’ve also heard from several trans people about how hard it is to find sewists willing to work with them, which was another reason to say yes to the (non)dress.

We met on a Wednesday for A.C. to hand off the fabric and to discuss the details.  Thanks to the kids being in school I had time to make sure that the house was tidy.  A.C. brought Irish Breakfast Tea and I had my Pandora Celtic station on in the background.  With the exception of Trixie being a brat and insisting she get attention, the meeting was as close to my ideal as possible.  We’d discussed the suit before, so this was more of a chance to make those informal conversations concrete.

McCall's 7952 Vest and Pants Pattern
The pattern in question. Check out how fierce the one in white is.

The pattern A.C. provided is an out of print McCall’s vest and pants pattern.  They decided on a white matte satin material, with a shiny, very light satin for the collar contrast.  A.C. wants to have an outfit that is special for the wedding, but also one they can wear later, to other occasions.  I’m a big fan of this idea.  I did the whole dropping a few hundred on a wedding dress that has sat in storage since the big day, and I regret it.

Despite the “non-traditional” aspect of their wedding ensemble, there was a lot of discussion of the usual nuptial trappings.  One of the things we talked about was making a pocket square from the contrast material for A.C.’s groom to wear.  Before they left, I had measurements, the pattern, and materials; and I had scheduled the work for the month of October.

We also chatted about their work on a Pearl cosplay.

Ultimately, this is what I like: making clothes for people who can’t find what they want off the rack.  The work is never boring, challenging sometimes, but never boring.  I’ll post an update later this month with pictures of the finished outfit.