Recent Posts



Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop 2018!

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to my blog, the thin little thing that it is. It is still in it's humble beginnings, having to start over after a bot attack on my lost blog. Anyway, I am SO excited and SO honored to be a part of the #springcleanyourstudiobloghop2018, and a special thanks to Cheryl Sleboda at for the invite! I am co-owner of Red Hen Stitch Shop in Marietta, Georgia, and inside our quilt shop I also have a sewing machine service studio called Sewing Doc. Most people expect a grumpy old man, but what they get instead is my smiling face.

I'll admit, I feel a bit like a fish out of water with this one. I am coming up on 10 years of quilting (oh how I wish I'd know sooner that it was the missing piece in my life!), but also about 8 years in sewing machine service. I am thrilled that Cheryl was supportive in my idea of featuring my sewing machine service studio rather than my sewing studio... I'm sad to report the sewing studio gets very little use these days, but the machine service studio is in operation daily! I'll talk more about me and what I do in a bit. I wish I had better 'before' pictures, but I started overhauling the studio just before I became part of the blog hop. The timing couldn't be better! My humble little startup company is growing faster than I can keep up, and space is at a premium in my quilt shop. Here's a few pictures from 'before':

*Sigh* So what you see here is my main work area. The long workbench has two spaces, one on each side. I work on the right side, sometimes my husband, Paul, also my apprentice, works on the left side. On the shelf below the workbench, that's probably my biggest problem area. This is where I should be keeping things I need to get to on a regular basis, but instead, I just put everything there when there's room.

The one piece that needs to stay there is my beloved "California Air" compressor.

Behind me, when I'm standing at my work bench, are two sets of shelves. The shelves were an upgrade last year, and house the queue of machines waiting for service, repair, and restoration. As you can see, machines are still spilling over on to the floor. This really bothers me. I have a half-wall at my service counter so I can stay connected to my customers and still run the shop when I'm working. That means that customers can see into my work space. I can't imagine the view is pleasant.

Above, you'll see the second set of very-full shelves, and the table with the files and printer is also fairly new. I've been using that tiny stand up desk to do all my administrative work. The printer used to be over on the other side, so I put in a table to be more efficient. However, I could only use a 4-foot table due to space issues. This helped, but it is still too cramped.

Let's get into the really embarrassing stuff...

There are two closets right next to my work space. One is technically the base of the stairs that lead to the business upstairs, which has mostly been a janitorial closet and a place to cram stuff that doesn't have a home. That's actually a bit of an understatement.

The other is literally a small closet under the stairs. It's an odd shaped room, one that is also good for cramming stuff when in a hurry.

Actually, this is where my little business started when I became co-owner of the shop. Every machine that came in and went out used to fit on this one shelf that is now buried with... stuff.

On the other wall in this closet is another workbench that I mostly use when I have a machine that isn't cut and dry. They stay disassembled for a long period of time while we do research, find solutions, and basically fret over them (because mostly I cannot accept that some machines just cannot be brought back to life).

As you can see, this area is totally out of control. I also don't have a good place to store my office supplies and various papers, pamphlets, invoices for fabric, and whatever other shop things accumulate in my life. There are so, so many things. And really, most of it needs to hit the trash can.

I should also mention, the machines you see in this closet - the shelf, the floor, the workbench - are all donation machines. They are machines that have been abandoned mainly because they cannot or will not be repaired, and some of them were given to me rather than them going in a dumpster somewhere. They will eventually be disassembled so that we can reuse the parts. We waste as little as possible!

This last picture is in the actual shop office, which I did a huge clean of this last week before I knew about the Blog Hop. Believe it or not, this is a big improvement from what it was, but still not great. You see the 1 1/2 empty shelves on the left? I cleared that to start storing throw-away machines until I have some teenager/apprentice help to disassemble them.

The workbench there is a second one like the one in the closet. It used to have an apprentice to go with it, but times have changed and now it collects dead machines and one machine that is completely frozen and still in progress.

As I said, I wish I had more 'before' pictures, but I was already in progress when I signed on to the Blog Hop. Now let's get to the fun part!

I cannot tell you the number of hours of physical labor that went into turning this studio upside down. Most of the machines I service are vintage or antique, and that means pure, cast iron steel. Phew!

First, we have the ultra-clean workbench where we do most of our work. I am really guilt of keeping clutter on the right side of the bench where my computer is. People hand me messages, sticky notes, papers... they end up right there. So I'm really focusing on keeping that clean. Below the bench, you'll see lots of improvement. I thew out and relocated so much stuff. Unfortunately, the stuff below my side has to stay - those are bins of frequently used parts that are too large for the parts bin. I am working on purchasing a huge tool chest to store all of that, chemicals, supplies, parts, and tools. But at least now it makes sense.

This might be one of my favorite things in my studio. My Swiss Tools are something I treasure - my first set of real tools tailored to sewing machine repair, and I paid a lot of money for them. I'm afraid I will misplace them. In fact, just last week I broke the tip on one of them, and was happy that it was replaced and in my hand within 48 hours.

I struggle with how to store them so that they'll be easy to grab when I'm contorted and trying to hold a part in place with it's screw. What you see here is a butcher block that has a bunch of plastic strips in them. I believe it's called a "slotless butcher board". Whatever it is, it's been absolutely perfect for storing my screwdrivers. I'm considering a second one for other tools and picks, and now I think I might want one of scissors and other tools in my sewing studio.

The shelves are completely gone from my work area, which is a weird adjustment for me. I pulled both workbenches out and have them lining the back wall. They are are a short term solution, as I am adding another person to our shuffle in a few months, and I want a permanent structure. But these work great for now, and they are free! Paul and I use them for one, overflow, and two, preparation. He's only in the shop on Tuesdays and Sundays right now, so I pull out machines that have a specific repair (usually electrical), and they are lined up so he can maximize his time. This is what you see here. This is the only time I hope to see machines lined up here.