About Angie Knowles


Slipcover designer, fabricator, and educator.

Posts by Angie Knowles:

Sew Organized 2012 Day 4

The sewing area

If my studio was a living being, the sewing area would be the heart.  Not much can get accomplished without my collection of sewing machines.

There are many ways you can arrange your sewing area and a lot depends on what type of sewing you do.  I like to borrow a page from kitchen layouts when planning my sewing area.  There are 3 common kitchen layouts.

  • Corridor arrangement
  • L-shape arrangement
  • U-shape arrangement

My current set up is a modified u-shape.  I have 4 industrial machines, 3 that I use on a regular basis.  So I've set them up so that those 3 are easy to access.  The fourth is slightly less accessible, but still workable.

The two machines above form part of the U

And these two form the rest of the U.  The machine on the right is the least used machine and it can be a little tight in there, but it is not too bad.

With this modified u-shape arrangement I can easily access all the machines with just one task chair.  Not only does this cut down on the expense of extra chairs, but since space is tight, they are not constantly in the way.

So take some time to think about the type of sewing you do and which arrangement might work best for you.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do you share your space with anyone else? 
  • Do more than one person sew at a time?
  • Do you need extra support behind the machine or on one side of the machine?
  • Do you like facing a wall or out into the room?
  • Are there electrical outlets close by?

In my e-book Sew Organized you will find more detailed information about ways to arrange your sewing area along with many more organizing ideas.

If you've missed the first 3 days of Sew Organized 2012, check out these posts to catch up:

 Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

I think that is enough for one day.  Tomorrow we will solider on and do some organizing of little bits & pieces.


Sew Organized Day 3

Arranging Space

I hope you had a restful evening and are ready to continue whipping your studio into shape.  If you need to, finish painting any furniture and fixture pieces from yesterday.  They can finish drying while you finish sorting through the keepers.

Now you can move onto some more fun stuff, arranging your studio space.  You have several options on how you attack this:

  • Plan everything out on paper in detail
  • Measure and do a quick rough plan
  • Put furniture into place and see how you like it

Choose a method that works for you and start moving things into place.  In my Sew Organized e-book I go into detail about the different ways you can arrange your space.  Arranging your equipment and furniture will depend on how you use the space; what type of sewing you do:

  • Slipcovers
  • Drapery
  • Clothing
  • Quilting
  • Crafts

 Some types of sewing requires a large flat table surface and some don't.  Arrange your space so that your primary sewing needs are met.  Secondary needs can be accommodated with some simple re-arranging if necessary.

Once you've arranged your space, give it a test drive for a few days.  During this test drive, make note of any tweaks you would like to make.  As you continue to work in your space you will make more tweaks.  Maybe you really don't like facing a wall when you sew.  Just because an arrangement seems best on paper, doesn't mean it works in real life.  If it doesn't feel good, change it!  Nothing is carved in stone.

So over the next few days, spend as much time as possible in your fresh new studio getting a feel for how it works and how it feels to you.

Starting tomorrow, we will take a look at the different areas of the studio in more detail.  So do come back for some great ideas and tips.

Sew Organized Day 2

Hopefully you've finished your painting and purging.  If not, do finish that up before moving on to the next phase.  You don't want to get too many things going at once.  That is a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up.

Painting Furniture

If you are anything like a lot of us, most of your studio furniture pieces comes from many different sources.  Hand –me-downs, thrift store, or maybe even road kill.  In this case I like to paint everything to give it a more cohesive look. 

If the weather is good enough (like it is here in Florida) move everything outside and give it a couple coats of your favorite paint color.  If not, put down some drop cloths and paint away.

Sort and Organize Keepers

While the paint is drying is a good time to sort through the items you put in your keep pile.  Here are a few tips to help make this go easier:

Sort like items together—all the threads together, needles with needles, pins with pins.  In this situation, segregation is a good thing.

Look around to see what type of storage containers you can recycle that meets your needs

Make a list of storage supplies/containers you need.  Be sure and measure your space so you don't purchase something to small or to large.

I like to use repurposed/recycled storage containers if possible.  You can spend a fortune on storage items and  I would rather spend that money of more sewing items.  So before spending money, see what you can reuse, recycle or repurpose.  You will be surprised at what you can come up with.

Before calling it a day give your painted pieces one final coat if necessary.  Its been a long day, so go relax and will see you back tomorrow.

My favorite repurposed storage.

Sew Organized 2012 Day 1

The start of Sew Organized 2012 is here.  But if you are like me, you won't get knee deep into this until tomorrow, Monday.  But before we jump in and start doing the fun stuff there are some tedious, not so fun work to do first.


If you plan to beautify you space with a new paint job, I suggest you do that first, before you go and get everything perfectly organized.  'Cause I know you don't want to tear it all apart once everything is organized just to paint.

So think about what color will work for you.  Do you want a bold energizing color or do you need something more calm and soothing.  Do check out the paint with primer all in one.  I was a little skeptical about this, but used it when painting our house this summer and was really impressed.

In a perfect world you would have a completely empty room to paint, but my world isn't perfect and I'm betting yours isn't either.  So you just have to do the best you can and work around what is in the room.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • move out as much as you can
  • move all remaining items into the center of the room
  • cover everything with a tarp
  • cut in the corners and ceiling
  • paint the walls
  • let dry and paint second coat if necessary


While the paint is drying, start purging your collection of stuff.  If you do some research you will find many ways on how to purge, but here is what I do:

  • move everything into a central location; preferably in the sewing room if there is space
  • as you go through your stuff, make a quick, gut reaction on each piece
    • keep it–do you still love the piece?  Is the color and style still to your liking?  If so, put it in the keep pile
    • trash it–items that are broken beyond repair and have no usefulness should be trashed
    • donate it–you don't like it anymore and question why you bought it in the first place.  Pass it on to someone else
    • maybe–you're not really sure about this piece.  You don't love it, but you don't hate it either.  Set it aside for now

By now you need a break.  Go grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack.  See you back in a few minutes.

Are you back now?  Good.  So you've maybe painted your studio and sorted through your stuff in your one problem area, creating piles to keep, trash, donate and a maybe pile.  Now we deal with these piles.

  • trash pile–take it out to the trash right now.  If you keep it around you will be tempted to go through it again and maybe pull some stuff out.
  • donate pile–bundle this pile up and take out to your car.  This will keep you from going through and second guessing yourself.  Drop off at a donation center as soon as possible
  • keep pile–bundle these up and set aside for now.  We will get to sorting them soon.

Now it is time to deal with the maybe pile.  This is probably the largest pile you have.  It is easy to decide what you like and don't like, but it is those items that lie somewhere in between that are difficult.  And sometimes it is hard to let go of things.  Why?  Well usually there are several reasons for this:

  • you think one day you will finish that project or use that unique piece of something
  • you feel guilty about getting rid of it
  • you think about all the money you spent on it

Well, if you really wanted to finish that project, you would have done so by now.  And if you really have to feel guilty about something,  there are more serious things to feel guilty about.  Finally, holding on to it won't get you any money back. 

So go through the maybe pile again and try to be ruthless.  Here is one way to look at it–if you were moving across country and had to pay to move it, would you?  If not, let it go. Besides more good things can't come into your life if it is already crowded with other things.

As a last step to the purging process, take the remaining items in the maybe pile and pack away in storage boxes and tubs.  Seal the container and date it.  If within a year you haven't used or needed any of these items, let them go.

Ok, your probably tired and sick of this by now.  So go relax and enjoy the rest of your day.  Come back tomorrow and we will continue our organizing adventure.

Sew Organized 2012–Plan of Attack

Hopefully by now you've identified your biggest and worst hot spot in your studio.  But don't jump in just yet.  Jumping in without a plan of attack will probably make things worse.  Instead, think about this for a minute or two.  What do you want to accomplish on this organizing mission.  Improve the looks of your studio?  Clean out all the excess crap stuff?  Organize your paperwork?  Give this some serious thought before jumping in.  No sense in spending your time doing all this work in vain.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for Sew Organized 2012 week.

  • Make a list of t things you want to accomplish
  • Prioritize your list–list the most important items first.  Or the one that will make the biggest impact
  • Think about what you will need to accomplish you mission.  But don't buy anything just yet.  You probably have items you can repurpose
  • Make a tentative schedule for the week.  But keep in mind, we have a tendency to schedule more that we can realistically accomplish

Once you've done all this, forget about it for a while.  Let your subconscious work at solving some of your issues.  It can come up with solutions for you.

Well, I've given you a lot to think about.  But don't worry, we will cover all of this during the week. So see you tomorrow.

And don't forget, leave a comment so I can add you to the participants.

My Soldier Girl

I know this post has nothing to do with slipcovers, but I'm such a proud mama that I'm about to burst wide open. 

Meet PFC Knowles!  Yeah, my baby girl is gonna be a solider.   This time Monday night she will be at Ft. Jackson, Columbia, SC starting boot camp.  She's moving on out from under the protective wings of mom and dad.  And I know she will do well. She's worked so hard over the last 7 months studying, taking tests and getting physically fit.  She passed all the required test and the physical training test to earn a promotion to Private First Class before starting boot camp.  Can you say "proud mama".

She has grown into one amazing young woman.  Focused, professional and with a big heart.  Yesterday I was at the salon she worked at being pampered with a ultimate manicure and pedicure while she trained her replacement.  This was a rare chance to see her as a professional instead of my baby girl.  I'm so glad I got to see that.  Makes me see her in a whole new light.

While at the salon several of her clients came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed knowing her and that we did a great job raising her.  Not to brag, but I agree, we raised a winner.  Not that it wasn't rough at times, but it was worth it.  But we can't take all the credit.  She become her very own person and one that I am so proud to know.

The picture above is just one that we took recently and it is my favorite.  This one is my second favorite.  I love this picture of us. 

Sew Organized 2012–Pep Talk

Just thought I would pop in and give a little pep talk about Sew Organized 2012 so that come Sunday we can all hit the ground running. 

Sometimes trying to organized your sewing space can be a little over whelming.  It seems that you take a 1 step forward and many, many steps backwards.  There can be so much to do.  Where do you start?  How to you stay focused and not get side tracked.

Here is my suggestion:  start with the area that is bugging you the most.  Is there one are that is a complete eye sore!  An area that gives you an anxiety attack every time you see it?

Is there an area that if you got it organized it would improve your attitude and productivity dramatically.  Or an area that you are totally embarrassed for others to see?  Then start with that area.  Not only will you feel like you've accomplished something, you will be motivated to keep going.

So take a long look around your space; identify that area that causes you so much pain and get ready to kick some butt!  While you are at it, go ahead and comment so that I can add you to the Sew Organized 2012 links on the sidebar.

Sew Organized 2012

Now that Christmas is over, I've started thinking about my annual organizing ritual.  I love to clean out the cobwebs, eradicate the dust bunny colonies and give everything a fresh new look.  Must be some of those old military habits lingering around.

After 5 years of heavy duty organizing, re-arranging, painting and such, I don't have a whole lot to do this year.  Just making room for some new interest and some minor tweaking.  I'm still happy with the colors I painted last year, so no painting.  YEAH! having to move everything and paint the studio is a major PITA!

But there is always room for improvement, right?  Sew, I'm declaring the week of Jan 8-14  Sew Organized 2012 week.I will be performing the annual clean out and organize ritual.  And I invite you to join me!  Take time to whip your sewing room/studio into shape and make the most of the space you have and make it work for you.  During this week I'll be sharing some of my favorite organizing tips from my e-book Sew Organized.  I'll help you focus on your hot spots—you know, the ones that keep driving you crazy–and finally create a great, functional space to sew and create.

I'll also be available to answer any organizing questions related to your studio.  Want to participate?  It's easy.  Just leave a comment on this post and I'll add your name/link on the sidebar.  And grab the Sew Organized 2012 button for your blog. 

At the end of the week, I will draw a name from the participants for a free copy of my e-book Sew Organized.  Are you ready?  Then stay tuned, I will be posting some motivational tips to help you get in the organizing frame of mind.

In the meantime, go ahead and leave a comment and grab the Sew Organized 2012 button from the sidebar.


I do hope everyone has enjoyed a great start to the new year.  Its been a little crazy these last few weeks around here.  First Christmas brunch at my house and all the cleaning, decorating, cooking and other stuff that involves.  Then brunch today at my sisters house.  And in between all that helping my daughter wrap things up before she heads off to Army boot camp.

But, today is a new year and I love it.  I'm always happy when one year ends and another starts.  Not that 2011 was a bad year, I just like new beginnings.  Kinda remind me of then I was active duty and would get orders for a new assignment.  No matter how much I loved my current base, a new assignment was so full of promise.  Just like a new year, so full of potential.

I've got several new fun things going on in my personal life and I'm redefining my custom slipcover business.  Still working out some final details on that, but it won't be long now.  When everything is in place, I should have more time to concentrate on my teaching and writing.

Do have a great new year and a beautiful day, everyday.

Cyber Monday Sale


Need a few gifts for yourself or a sewing friend?  Now is the time! Just in time for Cyber Monday free shipping on all items in the store of US customers.

Just use the coupon code SHIP.  Free shipping good until midnight December 3.