First Friday Studio Tour – Lynn Chinnis

From Wikipedia: “A studio is an artist’s or worker’s workroom . . .”

A friend and I, both mostly traditional quilters, were discussing whether we had studios or sewing rooms. I thought studio was a bit pretentious a term for the kind of quilting I do, but she had heard that if you have more than one machine, it’s a studio. I suspect, therefore, that a lot of us have studios, whether or not we think of ourselves as artists.

And we are eternally curious about other folks’ working spaces. If we visit another fiber artist for the first time, do we even notice the living room? Not unless there is a sewing machine, longarm, loom, spinning wheel, easel, or other piece of equipment set up there. We want to see the workroom.

Today begins our First Friday Studio Tour series where we will peek into our site members’ studios and hear their thoughts on some of the questions I posed to get us started. We’re starting with mine, because someone has to go first.

Do you call it a studio or a sewing room? Why do you think this is so?

Sewing room. I didn’t start out as an artist or a quilter. Originally I made clothing and things for the house. I started with a machine in the corner of our dining area, graduated to the corner of the guest room, and when I finally had a room of my own it was the “sewing room.”  It’s probably too late to change an old habit now.

What do you have in the room? Anything that might surprise the rest of us?

Sewing machine, cutting table, shelves of fabric, stabilizers, fusible web, freezer paper, plastic tub of patterns, baskets of ribbon, lace and yarn, buttons, beads, paints, brushes, old plastic egg cartons to use as palettes, stencils, paintstiks, colored pencils, markers, a small bookcase with magazines, catalogs, and file folders of loose patterns and instruction sheets, a bulletin board that is always overcrowded and a design wall that has become a partial bulletin board.   Piecing thread; most of the quilting thread is in the basement with the longarm.

Surprising item: a role of hardware cloth, which isn’t cloth at all, but a wire mesh that can be easily cut and manipulated. Used once for a 3-D piece in a challenge.

Do you have anything (supplies, other machines) tucked away in other rooms of the house? How many other rooms?

I have a longarm in the basement, quilting books and magazines in the guest room, more books, mostly quilt history and art, in the living room, spinning wheel and baskets of roving in the dining room, yarn in the bedroom and basement and a small room in the basement with serger, needle felting machine, small sewing machine for taking to classes, dyes and dyeing supplies (buckets, measuring cups, etc.), and my guild’s charity quilt stash. Right now there is a Quilt of Valor top and its batting resting on the guest room bed until I quilt it. My husband does accuse me of taking over the whole house.

How are things organized?

Fabric is mostly by color with lots of exceptions: batiks, orientals, hand dyes, big pieces for backing, anything with so many colors that it can’t be called one color. Scraps are in small boxes by color. Also a big box of fabric that already has fusible web applied, and a separate box of non-cottons: silks, satins, burlap, velvet, etc. Thread is organized by fiber content, and weight. Once or twice a year I take all the fabric off the shelves and sort it.  In between times it becomes less organized as I use some and stuff the rest back where I can.

How much horizontal surface do you have and is it ever enough?

Sewing machine in a cabinet, with a drop down back that is always covered.  60″ x 36″ cutting table that is usually covered.  If I’m trimming a full sized quilt, I have to move things off the cutting table.

Do you straighten/organize as you go or do you clean up after a project? How many projects do you work on at a time and how do you keep them organized?

This was my cutting table this week.  It’s showing aprons for my guild’s booth at the local hospital bazaar, a pile of fabric for a workshop at another guild, fusible web for a batch of postcards, and tiny scraps from another set of postcards. Generally I work on one thing at a time and clean up at the end.  If working on more than one project, I try to keep things in separate piles.

Hope you have enjoyed the tour.  I enjoyed giving it.  Looking through a camera lens always creates a new perspective, and answering my own questions gave me some ideas about how I might be better organized.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Next month:  Heather Lair

5 thoughts on “First Friday Studio Tour – Lynn Chinnis

    • Thanks Peggy. We were hoping everyone would enjoy the series. I’m always curious about other peoples’ work spaces, no matter what they call them. Your husband has it right with “dream factory.”

  1. My main area is most commonly referred to as “the cave”: Enter at your own risk.
    One query though, Lynn: What would be the measurements of your MAIN sewing room?
    ps. Like you I started via making clothes and soft furnishings for ours and my kids various homes.

    Nowadays, it is all “fun” stuff.

    • The main sewing room is approximately 11′ 6″ x 12′ 6”. Slight problem in finding enough clear floor space to actually take the measurement. “Chaos” is probably a good description here.

  2. Thanks for the tour, Lynn. Your studio looks like a stimulating place and that it is well used/loved!!
    I appreciate that you submitted photos “as is”, rather than getting it in antiseptic condition. We all relate to the creative environment you’ve shown us. And mine looks much worse at times than yours….heh!

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