Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The living room is now the studio

One of the prettiest rooms in the house was rarely used, except as a walk-through. We had it set up as a living room with pieces of furniture I'd inherited from my parents and grandparents, as well as Lesley's piano. The light has always been just beautiful here, with windows that face both the rising and setting sun.

So when I set up my new sewing machine in this room last year on a folding utility table, we started making plans to turn the room into a studio. We took Grandma Olive's beautiful sofa to my sister Nancy. We moved the piano to a bedroom. And we moved in a harvest table Don had "slapped" together a few years ago for eating al fresco to be a dining / project table. (He sanded it thoroughly to remove glue and other unsightlies.)

We don't have a dining room, so when holidays come, now we can clear off sewing stuff and set the table for dinner. We used it for the food when the kids came for Christmas.

Don picked up a bulletin board via Craig's List for $10;
it's now my design board.
On it is the top of a shelter quilt ready to assemble.

Don plans to put "real" table legs on, probably using porch posts. But if you ask me, these saw horses work fine. I suppose they are not terribly elegant, but they are very sturdy.

This was my mom's waste basket in her study.

Two pin cushions are indispensable; my daughter-in-law Andrea made me this argyle one.

A collection of baskets for storage;
the tin on the right was my mom's sewing kit,
and it may have been her mom's too, I don't know.

I only just noticed after loading this photo of Mom's sewing kit that it has Degas' dancers;
I'm sure I had seen it but had forgotten; I've been inspired by Degas' dancers
for the past week, imagining a quilt in his soft shades of turquoise and orange.

I remember the inside looking very much like this when it was Mom's.

stash of homemade binding

for Christmas I got a new quilt book:
Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000, by Roderick Kirakofe;
the turquoise with brown dots is tissue paper for wrapping products before shipping;
oh! and you can see I have fabrics out in turquoise and tan dreaming about Degas dancers.

Peter made Santa in school one year.

It was fun choosing just what to keep in the studio, and no doubt this will evolve over time. Don picked up this old wooden desk and chair at a yard sale. He is the absolute king of yard sales. The spool rack was a gift from Don's sister, from her MIL's farmhouse in Pennsylvania. I did not notice "Honor Student" until I took this photo.

A box from my box collection, with sewing feet and tools

Don found three, three of these caddies that he'd gotten
from my dad's garage when we cleaned out their house;
Dad seems to have made them from an old dresser.

I put out the Radko ornaments this year for the first time in a very long time.

The design board with a shelter quilt top ready to assemble

This barrister had classics in it in the family room,
books we've already read; so we packed them up
to pass on to the kids, and we moved it in for my first fabric storage unit;
I'll show you the one at the other end of the room
when it's empty of dishes.

Another of Dad's tool caddies, with fabric scraps;
I'd like to think he would be tickled pink if he knew I was using these.

Soon I have to put away Christmas. Don's mom died Saturday after a six-month illness, and we are mourning the loss of a sweet, kind, gentle woman. When I met her in the mid-1970s I was just about to join the quilting revival that was going on, though I didn't know that's what was happening at the time. I read about it in my new book, Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000, by Roderick Kirakofe.


  1. Ruth, it is fabulous! What amazing light you have -- and I love the colors of your quilts and fabrics, the baskets and boxes. Indeed -- it's a little haven! What joy!

    I had to laugh -- I saw the Radkos before I read your comment about them. This was your first year with them out in a long while; it's the first year I never DID get my Radkos (or any of the glass balls except my original family shiny brites from when I was a kid) on the tree or even out of the basement. Despite all the decorations, I just couldn't get it pulled together. Next year! (Aren't they the prettiest things? I love 'em!)

    1. Jeanie, the light is extraordinary, I love it. Thank you for seeing that, and for enjoying the quilts and fabrics, and all the rest. Your fabric stash is nestled here and there with the various colors and some are in bins (the rolls). I have so enjoyed using them already!

      Funny you say you have Radko, because I thought of you when I photographed that little girl! I was collecting them back in the 90s and aughts, and yes, they are just gorgeous. I may not put them away. :)

  2. You KNOW, dear sister, that this studio room thrills me to no end for you. You have dreamed it up and have now built it, with Don's help. I can hardly wait to see it with my own eyes. What a soulful space for love and inspiration, flowing from your hands...the very hands that have experienced much pain and sorrow. May 2015 be a year of blossoming out beyond your wildest expectations.

    And in the meantime, may you and your family grieve well the loss of a very important woman in your lives. May she now rest in peace.

    1. What a beautiful comment, Boots. Thank you. I can't tell you what a joy it is to walk through, work in, or just see from a distance this room. All that open space! Don was so sweet, and he had to do most of the shuffling around because of my hand. At one point I asked him if the table was too close to the window, and he said, No! You need to have lots of room to throw fabrics around on the floor. He knows. :)

      Thank you also for your thoughts about Mom Mowry. Of course she is in my thoughts here in my solitude this week while Don is with his family (and I work), and I am so enjoying her presence.

  3. What a lovely light room. I also like your cute Christmas tree with your unique ornaments. That reminded me that in our first apartment in San Francisco we used a large drafting board with saw horses and it worked very well and looked quite well with our mismatched furniture.
    It is also so convenient for you I am sure to be able to have a place to keep all your fabric and be able to tack them on the large board.

    1. Thank you so much, dear Vagabonde.

  4. Oh I love this sewing room....