Monday, August 15, 2016

My Sewing Room

We have lived in our little log cabin for about 8 months now. That's about long enough to grow a baby.... and that's exactly what I've been doing. In fact, she was born last Monday- she came a week early! We are blessed beyond words to have her here with us. We named her Violet, and there's a picture of her over on instagram. I'm glad I finished organizing my sewing space right before she was born. I can't wait to start SEWING again! (In the meantime, I'll just sit here enjoying and feeding the baby and writing a blog post about my newly organized space)!

There are two main areas of my "sewing room-" which is actually not its own room. I wish it was, but our house isn't big enough for me to have my own sewing room. 

So for the first area, I claimed a little corner of our living room. I envision lots of happy hours here.

For the second area, I am using a wall in our master bedroom to store my fabric and supplies.

Ready for lots more pictures? I personally LOVE reading blog posts about other people's sewing rooms, so I hope you don't mind indulging in a lot of colorful pictures and details with me as I take you on an up-close tour.

Here's the first space I want to show you....

First, the amazing triangle mini quilt was made by Mia of @mlrdesigns on instagram, as a part of an online swap that we both participated in. Isn't it awesome!?!

There are so many little treasures on this wall. I'll start at the top and work my way down.

This is a mini quilt that I made when we lived in Ohio two years ago. It is inspired by one of my dearest friends, Mary Dugan, who came up with the pattern. It is hand-sewn from start to finish. I shared more details about it on my blog in this post.

The other two mini quilts hanging next to the deer are from my friend Ashley of Mommy By Day, Crafter By Night. The gorgeous Pickledish quilt was a gift, and the darling Envelope quilt was for an online swap we were both in- and she just happened to be assigned to me. (Lucky, lucky me)!

Beneath my mini quilts, I keep the tools that I use most often for sewing. They are up high to be out of reach and safe from my little kids. If you come to my house-you will see that everything is labeled- I love having a place for everything. I tried to make these buckets cute- with some chalkboard labels and fun little borders that describe the action word for what each bucket holds... Measure, Cut, Poke, and Quilt.

The Measure bucket contains all my measuring tapes, small rulers, tracing pencils, and chalk. The Cut bucket holds all my scissors, shears, trimmers, rotary cutters, extra blades, and seam rippers. The Poke bin contains all sorts of different pins, hand sewing needles, sewing machine needles, as well as some cute pin cushions and needle books. The Quilt bucket is for my quilting gloves, basting tools, and other random doodads.

To the left of my tool buckets is a jar containing Wonder Clips
Let's take a peek at the area underneath the shelf....  

At the top are these darling string art pieces. I stumbled upon Strings by Samantha a couple years ago and just really admired her talent. What a fun way to add new dimension to my sewing area- with a little string and wood! I love textiles in all forms. Samantha made these exactly how I asked her to- all the shapes I wanted, with a gray wood stain, and my blog colors, mustard and aqua.

The story of this picture is one of my favorites. After graduating college from BYU in Family and Consumer Science Education, I landed my first job as an 8th grade Sewing Teacher. It was such a cool job! I was also pregnant with my first baby at the time, and she was born during the school year. A group of art students were assigned to draw a picture of every teacher, which were hung in the hallways. I LOVED their depiction of me as a sewing teacher, and my sweet little baby too. The original drawing was about 5 feet tall. They let me have it at the end of the year. I later took it to Office Max and had it shrunk down to this, so I could frame it and always treasure it in my sewing room.

On the other side of my sewing machine is this little collage. The floral decoration is a treasure my husband sent to me when he was an LDS missionary in Hungary. The type of needlework is called Kalocsa. The cute aqua and gold heart is from Just Add Sunshine. The mug rug is from Ashley.

This adorable print is something I ordered from Tasha Noel. She personalized it with the specific hair colors and names that I requested. It originally came as an 8x10 and I trimmed it to a 5x7 to fit in the frame I had at home. I really wish I would have just bought a frame big enough to put it in... because once I trimmed it, I realized I chopped off Tasha's signature. I may order it again in the future just to get the full size back! Regardless, it is so adorable, and one of my favorite little decorations on my wall!

Over to the side is where I keep a colorful stash of fabrics. These are prints that don't necessarily belong to any collections or specific designers- it's just an assortment of favorite prints. The cuts of fabric rannge from fat quarter to about a half yard. Anything larger gets put in a different place.

The first cubby holds all my colors. The second shelf is for black, white, gray, cream, brown, solids, and linens.

Here's a look at everything together. The shelves are from Target. I have two hanging side by side.

On top of my shelves is a sweet little vintage toy sewing machine. My sister Hannah gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. She found it at a thrift shop and I will always treasure it! The string art is another make by Strings By Samantha. I asked her to recreate my virtual sewing machine (the logo I use for Sewvivor) into string art. She totally NAILED it! ;)

A little picture of the button bouquet that my girls made for me on Mother's Day a few years ago.... it makes so so happy.

Below my shelves of fabric, I have my Ikea cart where I store my serger, iron, and a spot to keep my latest project. I also keep my cutting mats next to it (I have this and this). Inside my sewing desk drawers is where I keep things like my rulers, sewing machine feet, velcro, zippers, boning, piping, metal closures, sprays and starches, etc. I plan on getting a new desk for Christmas, and then I'll update this post with what's actually inside the drawers!

Another treasure that I keep underneath my desk is this garbage can. Who has a cute painted garbage?! I do! My darling sister Emily painted this and gave it to me for my birthday. What a totally original and thoughtful gift, right?! It is so perfect for my sewing room, and so incredibly 'me' since I love sunflowers and barns. The fun thing about this gift was that I had no idea she could paint. Turns out- she's really good at it! :)

Moving on to the second space I want to show you....

My amazing husband built these cabinets for me. They are Hemnes Glass Door Cabinet in white, from Ikea. They were not cheap, but they are perfect. I have two, side by side. I was looking for something with a glass door instead of open shelving, to protect my fabric from dust and bugs, but would also let me look at what's stored inside because well, fabric is so pretty! And I love the drawers below, because I can store the things that aren't as pretty. While I was organizing, I really narrowed down what I was going to keep. Our house is 1800 square feet- for 7 people- so there is no room to waste. I got rid of two big boxes of fabric and notions I knew I was never going to use. I also have one plastic bin full of old or really plain fabric- and I'm storing that in the attic for a rainy day.

Here's a peek at the right cabinet with the doors open.

The top shelf houses: apparel fabric- rayons, linings, knits- on the left; and large cuts- quilt backs, canvas, duck cloth- on the right.

The next shelf is where I keep all my trimmings. Buttons go in the small jars, and ric rac, pom poms, bias tape, lace, etc are in the large jars.

Everything is color coordinated of course. The jars and bird are from Hobby Lobby.

The next shelf is where I keep my specialty fabrics... laminate cloth, wool felt, leather cuts, decorative linens and canvas, and my holiday collections. (I have a huge stack saved for Back to School, Halloween and Christmas projects). The Sew Happy print is something I had created to give as gifts to my past Sewvivor contestants. I will be selling it in my Etsy shop soon, hopefully.

This shelf is where I keep my sewing magazines and books. The cute little box covered in Liberty scraps, was a gift from my friend Mary. I store my business cards inside of it for now.

Here's a peek at the left cabinet with the doors open.

On this shelf, I keep all of my special precuts and collections. I bundled them all with twine. Can you spot Allison Glass, Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Joel Dewberry, and a few more?

My Russian dolls are from World Market, and basically just make me happy. I keep extra golf tees and empty bobbins inside of them. :)

The next shelf is reserved special for my Cotton + Steel, Liberty, and Anna Maria Horner collections. There is lots of room to grow. I also keep a lovely jar full of my hand-quilting threads, mostly Valdani  (which I buy from Sunny Day Supply), and a few DMC spools.

The next shelf is also reserved. My Tasha Noel, Bonnie and Camille, and Pam Kitty Morning collections are soooo pretty together!!!! (I'm obviously drawn to the navy, red, aqua, pink and white color palettes. Anything else from these designers, I've put on my rainbowtized cubbies).

I keep a little stack of coordinating solids and my precuts in the corner.

The last shelf is where I keep my daughter's Janome sewing machines, and my huge collection of embroidery thread. I bought most of these back in 1993 when I was 11 years old. I still have the receipt- 394 skeins of thread for $84! What a deal! This was the time in my life when I fell in love with cross stitching, and I haven't stopped loved textiles, fabric, and sewing since! I have enlisted the help of my daughters- we are in the process of winding all the skeins onto cute wooden clothespins.

In the boxes sitting atop my cabinets is where I store all my patterns- PDF and packaged. In the drawers below the glass doors, I keep all my thread, pictured below. Not pictured in the other drawers are my fabric scraps, interfacing, batting, muslin, and unfinished sewing projects.

So here is my thread collection. It's so pretty to look at, and I would love to have it out in the open on display. BUT, I was taught that you should leave your thread in a drawer to protect it from dust, which would weaken the fibers, so that's what I do. Since thread is the glue that holds all my sewing projects together, I figure its worth protecting.

This drawer stores my Coats and Clark and serger thread.

This drawer contains my Aurifil, with a little room to grow.

I like to store my bobbins with the coordinating spool of thread. A few years ago, I invested in a bunch of empty bobbins, and every time I need a new color of thread, I just fill the bobbin and keep it with the spool. I snatched a bunch of golf tees from my husband, and use them to keep the bobbin with the spool. Then I just lay them down in the drawer and it all stays in tact pretty well. :)

To the right of my cabinets, I have a dress form that my mom gave to me for my birthday a few years ago. Behind it, I hung another treasure- an autographed butterfly print by Anna Maria Horner. Below it, I hung my quilting hoops.  

Around the neck of my dress form, I keep my name tags from special sewing or blogging conferences that I've attended- like Quilt Market, Sewing Summit, and SNAP. I also display my name tags from my favorite jobs- when I was a sewing teacher at Centennial Middle School, and when I worked in the MTC Mailroom during college. I also included the medal I received for running a half marathon a few years ago.

Well, that concludes my tour for now! I know it was super long... but hopefully a fun or helpful read to those who might be interested. I'm SEW happy to have my space all set up!!! I have so many unfinished projects and new ideas up my sleeve. Now I just need to find the time to sit down and sew. All the moving and having babies we've done in the past year has put a halt to my creating, but I hope to be back at it soon!

I'm including a few of my favorite tried and true purchases from Amazon. This is not a sponsored post, but these are affiliate links.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Family Command Center

I'm so happy to have this wall completed, especially just in time for school to start in a few weeks! (Until then, I will enjoy it being empty...) This is what some call a "Family Command Center," and its how I keep my family and all the little pieces organized. There are a few other places in my home that are an extension of this system, but this is our day-to-day sanity right here. I had a family wall very similar to this when we lived in Ohio last year (remember the green wall)? Now that we've moved, I've revamped it, and I'm excited to share the details again. 

Keep reading for more details!

Calendar- keeps track of the kid's activities, appointments, holidays, husband's work schedule, etc
Family Home Evening- once a week, we have a special program, and we follow this outline
Menu- where I write the week's dinner meal plan
Kid of the Day- a little system to make sure each kid gets special attention
Family Theme- a goal we set together at the start of the new school year, (will be written on the black scallop)
Clip Boards and Baskets- a place for the kid's responsibilities, workbooks, spelling lists, party invitations, etc

In case you may be interested, here are the sources for where I got the items on the wall. 
Hobby Lobby- the quote at the top, the chalkboard calendar, the scallop sign, and the black hanging baskets
Target- the chalkboard sign that I hand lettered in chalk pen, the clipboards
Handmade- my cute sister made the Family Home Evening sign, and I made the Kid of the Day sign

Since a lot of items on this wall use a chalkboard, I thought I'd throw in a little tip. Make sure you CURE the chalkboard surface before writing on it! All you need to do is take a regular piece of chalk and rub in over the surface of the board. Then with a hand towel, rub the dust into the chalkboard. Wipe clean. That should do the trick, so that when you write on it in the future, you won't see the previous words that were written. 


In the past, I used a white marker board. I'm excited to give this chalkboard a try. I found a chalkboard pencil to write with, and it works really well. So although my calendar won't be color-coded, I think I will prefer the look a little better. If for some reason writing with chalk doesn't work, I plan to type our schedule, print it onto cardstock, and cut and tape it onto each day. If I have anything that doesn't fit on the calendar (like the school menu) I can put it on the refrigerator, which is right next to this wall.

I also keep all these details written in my personal planner, but I needed a wall calendar for the entire family to see what is going on.

Family Home Evening-
Our church leaders encourage families to have a little get together once a week, with opportunities for learn and teach each other. We try to do this every Monday night. We follow the outline on the sign, and give each member of the family a special job. My cute sister made this sign for me.

I'm the type that must have a cooking plan for the week, or we end up eating scraps. I plan out my menu on Sunday, then do all the main shopping on Monday, with a "pit stop" on Friday or Saturday. I also have a typed-out grocery list that I print it off every week, and just circle the items I need.

I have a theme that I stick to each night, chosen on how easy it is to make that type of meal, and how busy we are that night. Within that theme, that are so many meals I can choose from, but at least I have a basic plan. For example, if it is Mexican night, I could make tacos, enchiladas, nachos, fajitas, etc. These are my "themes" that have worked well in the past.

Sunday- Meat and Potatoes or something Ethnic, and a nice dessert
Monday- Soup, Salad, Sandwich, or Seafood
Tuesday- Mexican
Wednesday- Breakfast
Thursday- Italian
Friday- Pizza
Saturday- Restaurant, Leftovers, or FYO (find your own)

Kid of the Day-

A few years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office, reading Parenting Magazine. I read a small column written by a mom who invented "Kid of the Day" at her house. She used this system starting when her kids were toddlers, up until they were teenagers! It was like an ah-ha! moment for me, exactly what I needed to hear, and I felt very inspired to implement this immediately. At home, we had been dealing with the pettiest little arguments- who got to sit at the special dinner seat, who got to eat with the fancy spoon, who got to choose the first bedtime story, who got the longest snuggle at night, and on and on. Most of the time, I had no good answer for who got to be first or who deserved the most special treatment. I try hard to treat all the kids the same, but some nights, I just didn't have the energy to snuggle every single kid. (We had three at the time, all two years apart. Now we have four kids, almost five)!

You can probably see where this is going... I introduced "Kid of the Day" to my kids, and it has honestly worked wonders. It just rotates day after day. The Kid of the Day gets the special treatment, whatever that may be. This has alleviated so much nonsense, arguing, and stress! It's great to let one kid feel a little extra special for a day. The other kids understand that if its not their day, then they get to be "happy" for the special kid. If an argument begins, all we have to say is, "So-and-so is Kid of the Day," and it puts all objections to a stop right away. 

I try not to use this as a behavior method. I feel like each child needs to be included in the rotation on a regular basis. There have been a few times when one of the kids lost the privilege of being Kid of the Day, but that honestly makes me sad, so I try not to revert to that. 

These days, Kid of the Day comes in handy for who gets to control the TV remote, who gets to help me cook dinner, and the nightly snuggle. Anyway, its a great little system, and I love that it evolves with the needs of family. Give it a try if you think it could help your family!

As far as keeping track of who is "Kid of the Day," I made a chart to hang on the wall with our Family Command Center. To make it, I found a rectangular shaped frame. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a magnetic piece of metal. I removed the glass from the frame and used it as a template to cut a piece of metal with metal cutters. Then I replaced the glass with the metal in the frame. I hung a wallet sized picture of each kid on the metal. Then, because I am a seamstress, and I wanted a touch of handmade somewhere on my wall, I decided to embroider the words "Kid of the Day" onto a piece of linen, backed with interfacing. Then, like a tiny little pillow, I sewed on a backing, and stuffed it with batting. Before I stitched it shut, I slipped in a small magnet, which works perfectly for rotating each kid on the "Kid of the Day" board.

Family Theme-
I got this idea from Stephanie at NieNie Dialogues years ago. She is a wonderful mother and inspires me in so many ways! At the beginning of a new school year, we decide on a theme or goal that we'd like to focus on as a family, and write it down. I will just write in in chalk marker on the blank scallop sign once we come up with our new theme for this school year. Nothing too fancy.

Clip Boards and Baskets-
A place to keep the kid's clip boards with their chore charts attached. The basket also gives them a place to store their workbooks, spelling tests, homework projects, birthday party invitations, etc.

As far as the kid's jobs go, this could be a whole separate blog post, but I'm running out of steam typing this all out, haha. I spent a few DAYS creating these charts in Word. I personalize them according to each of the kid's needs. I didn't feel it necessary to write out morning routine since its fairly easy, and the kids have me ramming down their throats serving as their reminder. But their after-school routines are very important to me, and I'm very happy that they are each learning good habits and successfully contributing in our home. 

For each job, the kid either gives her/himself a CHECK (done) or an X (undone). Sometimes, we have exceptions, and on those days, they write a LINE. (For example, we decided to eat out, so there weren't any dinner chores that night. A line counts neither for or against them). See more Family Store below, for an explanation of the bottom of this chart, and how we do allowance.

For my kids who need help with reading, I found clip-art pictures to insert in the chart. It describes what the job is, and they can help themselves without me having to stand over their shoulder reading off every single job. One improvement I've made to this Job Chart since I photographed it, is that I have made each day have a different color of ink. (Just in the row where the Days are typed). That way, I can tell them that today is the "blue day," and they can follow the column to fill out their chart on their own.

Family Store-
Back to talking about the Family Store... when I was a newly-wed, I looked up to a young mother who ran a family store, but I never thought to ask her the details about it. So I racked my brains to come up with something that I knew would work for my family. In my efforts to teach our kids about responsibilities, I also want to teach them about money. One night, I literally laid awake in bed half the night, as ideas kept flooding my mind on how to set up our family store, and how to manage the "bank."  I honestly believe that this system is inspired and was an answer to my prayers on how to manage and teach my children. The math is simple. The rewards totally work for each of our kids, in surprisingly different ways.

The reason I believe in allowance, is because I feel that my kids need the opportunity to make financial decisions.

Here's how it works:
I'm going to update this system a little, but here's how we've been doing it for the last while....
Each Monday evening, we hold a special Family Night. At the end, we do a Family Council to tally up all the charts and pay allowance. The kids count all the CHECKS they earned, and multiply that number by 10. They count all the Xs and multiply that number by 10. They subtract the X total from the CHECK total, to come up with the TOTAL amount earned for the week. (They see how those Xs can really deduct from their total earned amount, which has really motivated them to get their jobs all done)! So, once the total amount of allowance is recorded, I physically pay them the total in cash. From there, we calculate 10% to charity, 40% to savings, and 50% to spending. Each kid has a piggy bank with 3 sections to organize their money. Once a month, they empty out the tithing and take it to church. Periodically, we deposit their saving money into their real savings accounts at the bank. The spending cash is theirs, and they can do whatever they want with it. Some of our kids spend it immediately on smaller ticket items, and others have saved up for larger purchases. It's a lesson in immediate gratification vs. patiently and wisely saving. (Our 8 year old daughter saved all her spending money last summer, to earn a set of golf clubs. Once her Grandpa heard about this, he said that we would pay for half once she had earned her half. It was such a special lesson for her)!

I keep the Family Store in our basement. It is comprised of 3 bins...
1- Where I keep all the money. All the coins and bills are organized in separate, labeled ziploc bags. I only keep about $50 total in the bank at a time. It recycles itself when the kids purchase items out of the store, so it lasts quite a long time. I used to have fake money, until I realized that the kids took it more seriously with real money, plus they can actually take their money to church or a real store and spend it, which is also a great learning opportunity.
2- Where I keep smaller items, usually very cheap items from the $1 section at Target.
3- Where I keep bigger items.

Occasionally when I'm at the store, one of the kids sees a toy they really want. Instead of saying NO all the time, sometimes its nice to be able to say YES. When I do, I say "Yes, I will buy this and save it for you in the family store. You can save your money and earn it." Sometimes I also let them save their money and earn an actual trip to the store, instead of only being able to buy from the family store.

For now, ten represents $.10, meaning that each check earns them a dime, and each X causes them to lose a dome. Perhaps in the future, we'll increase the earning potential up to a quarter, but right now a dime is all that works for our budget. This translates to each kid earning on average $5 a week.

My List-
In case you don't think I'm organized enough (hehe), here's something else I thought I'd share. It's my personal list, my saving grace. It's inspired by my mom, who also swears by a daily checklist. I won't go into all the details, because I've personalized this for myself, but it really helps me stay on top of my game. I prioritize my Good, Better, Best. I no longer feel like a chicken running around with my head chopped off. I have focus and direction. Important to note... I don't think there's ever been a day when I checked every single thing off my list, but hey, at least I try!

I also have a list for grocery shopping, a monthly to-do list, an annual to-do list, a budget spreadsheet, a vacation packing list, a food storage list, a list of longterm projects, a blogging calendar, an important date list, and yeah... now I'm just embarrassing myself. :)

Kid's Baskets-
The last thing I'm throwing into this post is how I organize my kid's school papers, projects, drawings, cards, certificates, etc. I throw out a lot, but the things I want to save get put in here. At the end of every school year, I empty the basket and hole punch everything. I put it in a simple notebook, labeled with their name, age, school year, and grade. It's a really simple scrapbook.

The scrapbooks look something like this (not a very special photo- just keepin it real, haha). I make some for myself as well.

Soooo.... the end! Haha.

Managing the schedules, menu, homework, papers, routines, goals, and chores is a huge job for anyone. I admit that I run a tight ship, but once the work is done, our kids still have plenty of time to play and just be kids. I'm also the first to admit that when we have visitors, or a snow day, or something unexpected, I'm the first to throw the routine to the wind, and just go with the flow! I do love being organized... (especially because I know how it feels to be completely unorganized-- my life used to be utter chaos, and my kids had no responsibilities. We all much happier when we know the expectations). Every family has certain ways of maintaining sanity, and here's what works for us! I am constantly getting ideas from others, so I hope this might be helpful to someone out there as well.