Small Space Organizing–Book Review

I like to consider myself something of an organizing guru, but with downsizing our house several years ago and some recent life events over the past few months has cause a breakdown in my organizing systems. But just in time the book Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen arrived.

Serving Small Space Dwellers Worldwide!

I’d requested  a copy of Kathryn’s book to review and it was just what the doctor ordered. With the help of Small Space Organizing I was able to quickly get things back in order and to and to tackle a few thorn in the side issues.

Here is  what I like best about Kathryn’s book:

  •  The room by room breakdown. I was able to go straight to the chapter for my major problem areas, get some great tips and put them to immediate use.
  •  Kathryn’s ideas were simple to implement and didn’t require me to take out a second mortgage on our home. Here favorite saying was KISS–Keep It Super Simple!
  •  The fact that Kathryn lives and always lived in small spaces, so here advice comes from real life, not just some theoretical mumble-jumble.
  • My favorite part of the book—the interviews with other small space dwellers. It was very interesting to see how others viewed their small space.

The two main things I took away from Small Space Organizing—

  •  It is not how much space you have—it is how you use it.
  •  Attitude is key—love and embrace your small space.

So if you need help getting organized, get yourself a copy of Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen and get to it!.



Drop Cloth Slipcover

Drop cloth slipcovers have been a rage for a while now, but I did my first one just before Christmas.  I was a little dubious about working with drop cloths, but overall, it was a pleasant experience.  But not totally without some issues and concerns.


drop cloth slipcover before

 Here is what the loveseat looked like before.  Very pretty, but a little dated


drop cloth slipcover

And the finished slipcover.  My client likes things simple.  I really wanted to do a pleated skirt, but she nixed that idea.  So, just a plain hemmed finish.

Next post I’ll review my experiences with the drop cloth.


Ruffled Ottoman Slipcover

This slipcover is just too cute for words.  The client collects cute pieces of furniture and old textiles and sells them.  But she is keeping this one for herself.  The floral print is an old drapery panel and the contrast trim is what we are using for the love seat.  She wanted something short & flirty, so I did this full gathered skirt with a 1″ contrast band at the bottom.  So cute!

just too cute!

For the gathers, I used the zigzag over cord technique as shown in my gathering tutorial.

I’m linking up with

Shabby Creek Cottage

Miss Mustard Seed

Sew Organized 2012 Day 7

The Wrap Up

Well, we've come to the end of Sew Organized 2012.  So far this week we've

  • identified our biggest problem area
  • de-cluttered by donating some items, trashing others and keeping the best for ourselves
  • sorted the keepers into like groups
  • found containers to organize the keepers by recycling, re-purposing and purchasing

But I must tell you that organizing is never done.  It is kinda like doing the dishes or the laundry.  You must keep on top of it or chaos will reign. 

Keeping Control

I've shared some of my favorite items to re-purpose and recycle and now I want to share some of what I do to keep the studio from getting out of hand.

  • put tools away at the end of each day
  • clean the floors daily
  • put projects together in a laundry basket
  • lay out project for the next day
  • make sure the cutting table is cleaned and ready to go for the next morning

Taking the time to create some daily organizing rituals for yourself goes a long way in helping you keep the studio in an organized state.  And if things start to get out of hand you know exactly what to do to whip it back into shape.

I hope you have enjoyed this short organizing series.  To help you stay organized I will be posting more organizing tips throughout the year.

I leave you with this collage photo of some of my favorite organizing from my studio.

Sew Organized Day 6

Ok, so I totally blew last week.  Went and got myself sick–note to self—no more Mexican food.  It doesn't like me anymore.  Haven't felt that bad in a long time.  But it sure tasted good.  So we will continue to take a look at ideas for recycling and re-purposing.  Here are a few items I like to recycle and re-purpose.


  • peanut butter jars–hubby eats lots and lots of peanut butter and I can't stand to throw out those perfectly good jars.  They are great for storing buttons.
  • cans–along with the peanut butter hubby also drinks gallons of coffee every day.  A few brands of coffee still comes in cans, but even the plastic coffee containers work great in the sewing room, or any other room for that matter.  Vegetable cans of all sizes are great.  Try using them for storing pens, artist brushes, scissors or rulers.
  • boxes–I love boxes of all sizes.  If I can recycle a box and turn it into something else I do.  When I need a container, boxes are the first thing I think of.  My favorite?  Recycle USPS medium priority mail boxes.  Seal the ends and cut off the top and you have a great container for papers.  Don't want to look at the USPS logo?  Paint it or cover with fabric.  There you go, a great new container for pennies.


To reuse for a different purpose.  My friends like to tease me that I have an aversion to using items for their intended purpose.  Not so.  I just like to think of other ways to use things.  Just because it is called a drawer, doesn't mean that is all it is good for.  So here are a few of my favorite things to re-purpose:

  • drawers–why not.  Here I'm using a drawer I found in the trash as a book shelf.  Works for me.

  • old soda crate–This crate has served many purposes; currently it is above my coffee bar holding paper towels and tissues.

  • plastic bag/wrap organizer–found this at marked down at Lowes and it also holds magazines.

  • shutters–hanging on the wall it becomes a magazine rack.

  • Hum, starting to see a magazine theme going on here.  I do have quite a collection, so I have to get inventive in finding ways to store them.

If you missed any of the previous posts, check them out here:

 Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Come back tomorrow and we will finish up our organizing adventure.  See you then.

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.


52 Slips Project

If you’ve been doing slipcovers for a long time, the routine can get pretty boring. So I thought of something to keep me on my feet—The 52 Slips Project—and I want you to join me in this challenge.

The challenge is to sew 52 slipcovers in 2011. Now this does not include the slipcovers you make for your clients. These are slipcovers you’re making to stretch your creative muscles and improve your slipcover skills.

Each week’s slipcover will feature a different design element. The weekly theme will be posted a month in advance so you have plenty of time to come up with some really fabulous slipcovers.

To help keep costs down, you may want to use one or two furniture pieces that you already own. I’ll be using parsons chairs, as I already own four different styles of parsons chairs.

Here are the basic rules:

  • Join the challenge by leaving a comment on this post. You can join at any time and just finish out the year. We’ll be adding the names and blog URLs of participants to the 52 Slips Project in the sidebar.
  • Post a photo of your finished slipcover on your blog on Wednesday and link to the weekly 52 Slips Project post.
  • Add your picture and link to the Linky for the week. The Linky closes at midnight on Friday of each week.
  • Grab the 52 Slips Project button from the sidebar and add it to your blog.
  • Join the 52 Slips Flickr group and add your slipcover photos.

Each month, I will highlight my favorites in the sidebar. They will  be included in a random drawing in which I will be giving out prizes and a giveaway.

Note: Because we’re gone four weeks into the year, we have two options. We can do any of the following:

  • Sew 2 slipcovers during some months.
  • Extend the project into 2012.

Which would you prefer? Please leave a comment on this post so we know what the majority wants.

Sew! What are you waiting for? Time to exercise those creative muscles and get to slipping!

Edited:  I’ve decided to do a monthly them instead of a weekly theme.  Check the sidebar!

Slipcover Show Off #9 Quilted Wing Chair Slipcover

Last week I finished one of my favorite types of slipcovers, a wing chair. This one was a little different for me though, as the client chose a quilted comforter for the fabric.

Now I know several slipcover professionals who have used quilted comforters before, but this was a first for me. Overall, it was a neat fabric to sew, with just a few minor challenges. By the time I got to the final assembly of the slipcover, it was very thick. I had to finish the sewing using my walking foot machine.

So, I thought I would share a few tips just in case you don’t have a walking foot machine:
* Eliminate the welt cord.
* Use a non-quilted fabric for the welt cord.
* Skip the attached skirt. Just bring the body of the slipcover down to the desired length and finish off with cording.
* If you choose to have an attached skirt, use the finished edge of the comforter as the finish of the lower edge or the skirt.

I love the way it turned out, don’t you!

I’m linking up with Funky Junk SNS here.