As sewing business owners, instructors and in general crafty people, I think we are destined to have a lot of stuff. And this stuff, that we no doubt NEED, can get overwhelming if we let it.
My sewing studio in Hoboken where we teach most of our classes is only about 750 square feet. In this studio we need to be able to have the room for classes of up to 10 adults or up to 16 kids. Because we so desperately need this workspace, keeping the clutter to a minimum in 750 square feet is essential.
We all know too well sewing is one of those hobbies that requires a lot of stuff. And it's hard not to buy into all the new gadgets and supplies that come out so frequently. But over the years I've developed a pretty no nonsense approach to extra "stuff" in the studio in order to keep my sanity and not get buried in the stuff.
I think because geographically I'm in an urban area and that I'm so limited by space I've come up with some pretty good methods for getting rid of what I don't need, as well as keeping all the necessary things I need at my fingertips organized and tidy.
Today I thought I would share some of the techniques I use to keep my studio a sacred place for creating and not an overwhelming space filled with useless crap.
1. Practice regular spring cleaning. Embrace your inner Marie Kondo on a regular basis to figure out what are the things that are brining you Joy in your studio. I recently got rid of a large bin of leather and pleather scraps. they were things that someone else had given em years ago and I kept holding on to them because "you never know". but yet there never seemed to be the occasion to use them. I don't ever have sewing classes that use leather or vinyl and it's not something that I ever see with. it's challenging to use and just because someone gave it to me, doesn't mean I need to keep hoarding it for a rainy day. I put it outside my studio worth a big "free" sign next to it and wouldn't you know that the next day it was just about all gone. iike to think that I made someone's day when they found all the free fabric I was getting rid of.
if you don't have a studio to give it away, post something in the free section of Craig's list and leave it outside your house. someone will come snag it right away and your unwanted unused things will bring such you to someone else who can use them.
2. Use the following techniques so that fabric in your studio takes up as little space as possible and is easily displayed and accessible to your students.
In our studio we have a couple of ways that we store the fabric we keep in the studio.
First off the bigger pieces (3 yards or more) are folded and rolled into flat bolts and stored on a Billy Ikea shelf. even if that isn't how the fabric came to me originally, that's where it will end up so that it is easily accessible and looks neat and tidy in the studio.
Once the fabric dwindled down to less than three yards it gets moved to the hanger. We have a cheap Ikea wardrobe in the studio that I've converted so that there are two rows for hanging folded up pieces of fabric. I use strong metal clip hangers that I ordered from eBay probably 15 years ago to hold the fabric. This allows it to be neatly displayed on the cabinet doors are open.
Lastly we have a LARGE scrap bin in the studio where the pieces that are larger than your hand, but less than 1 yard are stored. all our students know that the pieces smaller than your hand go in the trash (you can't keep everything or you WILL get buried).
Every so often we will soft through the scarp bin and trash the unusable pieces and organize the ones that are perfect for certain projects. our first couple weeks of kids summer camp will be our doll clothes week and our stuffed animal week and we'll surely be combing through the scrap bin to find the perfect pieces to use in both of these camps. and this way nothing is wasted.
3. Lastly we stay on top of the ghosted projects in our studio. as much as it pains us to see students who don't follow through and finish their sewing projects, it happens. it really only happens in our adult classes to be honest though. like it or not, adults get busy and maybe don't return to seeing because their lives get busy. if we don't stay on top of this and either eliminate it before it happens or follow up after it does, we wind up with a lot of homeless projects.
A couple of ways we make sure this happens is:
a.) Notifying students if our policy to get rid of projects that have been abandoned for 6months or more. we make this clear in our studio and in our correspondence with students.
b.) Reminding all our students while in class to take their projects with them after tbeast class. if it's a weekly class we encourage people to leave projects with us to eliminate the possibility of bring it to class the following week. but on that last night of class, all projects (finished or not) are sent home with students.