First Friday Studio Tour – Karin McElvein

This month we visit Karin McElvein in Norfolk, Virginia.

Do you call it a studio or sewing room?  To yourself, to friends and family?  Why do you think this is so?  Difference in starting point between quilting and art?  Thinking of this as a business rather than a hobby?

I fluctuate between calling it a studio or a sewing room.  I sewed for many years before getting into art quilting, so I try to say studio, but often just say sewing room.  I moved from straight quilting into more art forms just before I started making postcards. I began taking more technique classes, such as adding paint with Esterita Austin in 2004.  I still think of this as a hobby. I sell more quilt-related items than art quilts. I can’t seem to part with the few I have made.

What do you have in the room?  machines, supplies, fabrics, paints, etc.  Anything that might surprise the rest of us?

My studio has the usual stuff listed above.  I can’t think of anything that would surprise anyone.

450,more bk cses

How is your “stuff” organized?  How do you organize your fabric? By color?  Amount? Any separate categories (batiks, hand dyes)?  How do you organize your thread (color, weight)?

My thread is in 3 separate plastic storage units.  The small spools are in one (all colors) and large spools in another (again all colors).  I also have a four-drawer unit where I separate them by polyester, cotton, decorative and special (silks,quilting, fusible, etc).

I recently moved and used the opportunity to rearrange fabric.  I bought cardboard stock used for comic books and used a whole piece to wrap yardage, cutting it in half for half yards, and in fourths for fat quarters.  I cut all the extra fabric pieces into varying strips, but at the moment they are all in the same plastic tub in the attic.  The fat quarters are in a storage unit separated by color. The yardage and half yards are separate, and both are sorted by color in bookcases.

Half yards-scissors

You’ll notice that my room contains a lot of bookcases.  I keep notions, ribbons, yarns, paints, etc., all in separate containers, stored on book shelves. They are easily accessible this way.

Paints & Books

I also have a wine rack where I store things that are rolled, such as parchment paper and Do-Sew.

Storage-Stamps. etc

Do you have anything, supplies, more machines, etc., tucked away in any other rooms of the house?  How many other rooms? (My husband likes to talk about that one.) Has a family member or significant other ever accused you of “taking over” the entire house? If you have a separate building, we want lots of pictures.

I have lots of stuff in other places. My new studio is 10′ x 10′ and will never hold it all.  I have under-the-bed storage in two rooms.

Under one bed

The ironing board always gets set up in another small bedroom. At least it makes me get up and stretch and move.

Big Board set up

I also have pull-down stairs to the attic.  I keep batting and several large plastic storage containers of fabric right at the top for easy access.  I do need to make a list so I know where everything is.

How much horizontal surface do you have, and is it ever enough?  Do you have to move piles of stuff to cut anything bigger than a fat quarter? 

I have one table on which I usually have a large cutting board. I sometimes also put a small ironing surface on the table.  My daughter turned a lazy susan into a padded ironing surface for me one Christmas. It really comes in handy when working on small pieces.  I always have to move piles, and often store several plastic storage tubs on the table, as well as two baskets.

View from the doorway

Recently I moved a kitchen stool from the kitchen into the room.  It now holds cut pieces that need to be sewn.

Do you straighten/organize as you go, putting each fabric away as you cut, 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?

I do try to clean up often. The room is so small, that I have to.  I usually have several things going at once. If they are small, I pin them to the design wall.  The chair is holding one cut baby quilt. I am also quilting a lap quilt that is a wedding present.

design wall , yardage and fat quarters

Anything more you want to add about your studio, organization, working methods, etc., please do.

I don’t tend to work in the studio in the evening, as my other half likes me to sit with him and watch TV.  I like hand work in the evening.  I recently finished knitting 3 Starbella curly scarves. One night I ripped out part of some quilting I had just done.  I have pieced several quilts by hand and I appliqué.

Thank you Karin for letting us visit.  I love the wine rack idea.

Next month:  Marie Johansen

One thought on “First Friday Studio Tour – Karin McElvein

  1. I also love the Wine Rack idea! I have my rolls of various “stuff” on one of my shelves near my ironing board, but the shelf is way too shallow to keep things there if I’m not careful removing something to use.

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