Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Before...and AFTER...the Quilt Cave is coming together...

I have spent the past two weeks really working hard to transform my step-Mom's stained glass shop into a combination glass shop and quilt cave (that is why I have not posted...).  As you all know, my family moved from Michigan to Alabama late last summer to be caretakers for my parents' house and property after their fatal car accident of May 2014.  I co-own the house and acres with my six siblings.

Mom's shop was a dedicated work area exclusively set up for her beautiful stained glass windows and for storage of her glass collection.  My dad had been making fixtures for her...a 4 ft x 4 ft light table, a 39 x 99 work table, a table fitted with her lead came stretcher, and a table mounted with her curve cut glass cutter.  Dad had also built large rolling storage bins for her big pieces of glass and mounted racks on the wall for her glass ordering samples.

They had adapted a recycled piece of kitchen base cabinet with a sink for washing glass.  Dad had paneled the room with good quality plywood and finished it with a light stain and varnish. There is a beautiful large window with plenty of natural light and a scenic view out one end of the house.

The whole move-in process has been hard and sad as I have methodically worked through the house the last six months.  I knew their shops would be sadder still, both with unfinished projects laid out on tables and equipment (my Dad had a wood shop).  I keep thinking about what it would be like in my quilt cave if something tragic and unexpected were to happen to me, God forbid.  There are UFO's everywhere and so much of my spirit and personality are represented there.

Some day I would like to learn enough about stained glass to finish the projects that Mom had started...there were windows for the house and a couple of projects for my sisters.

So I knew I couldn't just remove all the glass stuff from the room.  I needed to find a way for the glass and fabric to co-exist.  This worried me because I pretty much had the run of the basement in the Michigan house (there are pictures of that set up in the tool bar under my blog header...no judging).  I did cull the stash pretty seriously before our big pre-move quilter's garage sale in Michigan, but I did wonder just how much treasure I could get into this new room and keep the glass in place.  I hate working in a cramped and cluttered environment.

It helps that I am also establishing a sewing area in our bedroom upstairs as well, but more on that later.

I started by removing most of the sample rails from the walls and storing the little glass swatches carefully in a box (there were strips of white poster board behind the samples to show off the colors properly).  And there was quite a bit of glass grit to vacuum up and extra debris and unused fixtures to remove.  There were even packing crates with new glass that she had not even had the chance to unbox and put away.  God, that made me so sad...

Well, there is definitely tweaking left to do, but here is my progress thus far...ta da!!

We placed the heavy work table and light table against the inside wall.  I put the curve cutter away and am using that heavy table for my sewing machine and storage for six big bins of fabric.  We moved this table, built by my dad, under the window so I can enjoy the view and the occasional deer wandering by (I need to hang a curtain or blinds to help with the late afternoon sun...and remove the sheets of porch lattice that are leaning up against he house, LOL...).

I have some of my UFO project boxes in the corner, along with half of my little draw units containing tiny tools, etc.  I stacked two of those drawer units by the window and brought the other two upstairs to our bedroom.  It was complicated trying to segregate all the little drawers between floors...what would I use downstairs and what would I need upstairs...I'm still not sure I have that all figured out!

I moved two of my filing cabinets from Michigan and my old door (that I have had since college!) to put between them.  Then I have my larger plastic drawers for storage of tools, etc. against the wall, on top.  And of course, more storage bins of fabric underneath.  

I find myself still moving all this stuff around, so I'm sure I will tweak this area more.  It is a work in progress.  It took 20 years to get my quilt cave to the state it was before moving...

I moved two little carpets from Michigan and now I need to go to Lowe's and get one or two more.  The concrete floor is hard and cold!  If it was just a quilty area, I would install nice carpeting. That is not practical when I will probably do glass in here at some point.

Some day, this may just be a glass shop again and I will adapt another space in this huge house for my sewing area.  I still pin pictures in my Pinterest account of lovely sewing spaces and dreamy sewing areas.  One step at a time. This may not be very pretty or fancy, but by using fixtures and storage things I already had, I spent no money on setting things up (except for the little carpets I will buy).

The black plastic shelves by the door to the rest of the walk-out basement hold more project boxes and small containers of fabric and scraps.

I like labeling my fabric containers, which are all opaque or see-through, with index cards placed INSIDE the container.  That way, I don't have to use sticky labels or tape and can change the labeling and contents very easily.  

I do use my label maker to label drawers and hanging file labels, but I am obsessed with the label makers and the labeling tape peels off the plastic drawers fairly easily when I change things on a whim.

With drafting original applique patterns, I'm sure I will use Dad's homemade light table as a light table at some point, but with a cutting mat or so to protect the heavy glass top, I can also use it as a work surface until needed for it's real purpose.

The working surface on the big project table is recessed by a quarter inch, so we have cut plywood pieces that span the top to enclose the large transom window that is in progress.  Some day I will work to finish that window, but it will be safe, protected and out of sight until I can face it.  I have placed two cutting mats on top of the plywood and will use this taller table as my rotary cutting station.

The large glass rolling storage bins are still housed under the table.
I am using Mom's little colorful foam squares on the floor between the carpet and the table to save my joints.

There is a large wooden crate of glass in the corner, to the left, out of the way.

There are more black plastic shelves of fabric containers against the outer wall...

...and more shelves hiding the skinny table mounted with the lead came stretcher (this long, skinny table also holds drawers and shelves of glass tools. lead came, soldering supplies, and small glass storage...when I want to do glass, I will just move these two shelves 90 degrees, up against the other shelves, so I can access what I need).

I have cleaned up the  kitchen base cabinet for storage.  I am not sure I will use the sink...right now the water is turned off to it.  I may get Steve to cut me a piece of plywood to fit around the faucet so I have more work surface.   I also need to hang a small quilt on the wall above the sink!

And here is the view toward the back of the house...the door to the rest of the downstairs (great room, bedrooms, bathroom, and wood shop on the opposite end) is on the left, and the door to the outside is as seen.

GEEZ, there are a lot of UFO's in this room!  No judging...

Now, don't hate me...this is what is through the heavy outside door...a back patio under the wrap-around upper porch, leading to the pool and the woods, and beyond the tree line, the 30-foot drop-off into the valley.  There was a chilly rain on the pool cover today...definitely NOT swimming weather.

And slightly to the right up the hill, the barn...

...and out the end of the house (what I can see out of the window)...we are deeply fortunate to live in this magical place that my parents built with their bare hands.  :o)

I don't know what to call this quilt space now, especially since it is locaed in a walk-out basement.  In Michigan, "quilt cave" fit because I was, indeed, subterranean, underground.  In Michigan, there was a sump pump and a hole in the floor in the corner and roly-polies/spiders everywhere.  Oh, and the laundry...calling my name...

I need a new name for the space now...any ideas?

This is the view, through the door from the patio, back into the quilt cave.  

I still have some more things to fit into the room in places.  Maybe then it will feel more like home.  It's too new and too shocking...and too clean, LOL!  

And too disjointed.  Some things are upstairs...like my entire quilt book library, Grandmother Rawson's sewing table, my Singer Featherweight (for mindless chain-piecing and mending when my husband is whining about me not being upstairs...), my computer and scanners, and all my drafting/drawing/applique/mending stuff. 

Right now, beading, buttons and general crafting stuff are downstairs in the quilt cave. Scrapbooking and photos/archiving are upstairs.  More big bins of fabric will be in another storage area downstairs (backings, etc.)...things that don't fit into the cave. Maybe some day I will get everything where it is supposed to be...and actually know where it is!

I will still store patterns and other paper media (8.5 x 11) downstairs in the filing cabinets in the cave.  I love office supplies...can you tell?  Sheet pocket protectors, hanging files, and proper labeling make me very happy.  As Ola always tells me, I am a complete whack job...and she is right!

And my design wall has no home yet.  Stay tuned!

I'm sorry this post was so long!  There are still quilty things in the great room downstairs which need to be sorted out and stored...my 3rd sewing machine, my patterns awaiting shipment, tubs of quilt backings, etc.  But it is definitely better...last week it looked like a quilt store exploded down there.  I still remember what a quilt store looks like...

Now I need to finish setting up the bedroom sewing station...and the large flatbed scanner next to my computer, which I need to make my music patterns available for digital download.  I have found the missing musical pattern masters, which was worrying me to no end!  

Have you ever put something really important somewhere for "safe keeping," only to totally forget WHERE?!?  Moving cross-country is so disruptive!  

I have finally gotten the most important elements in place...somewhere to sew and to receive my fabric therapy, which I have missed desperately.  I am a much more centered person when surrounded by 100% cotton.  

When I am losing it, I just run downstairs, open a fabric bin and breathe deeply!  Now if I could just transport all my quilting friends down here...I miss them so much!!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. I am a big fan or your wonderful applique. I've commented here and there thoughout the past few years and have followed you on this journey of ups and downs. I am so glad that you are sorting things out, getting more comfortable in your new home.
    It looks like you are getting quite close now. This space was used by your mom , a place she found to be free and creative a place of therapy and now you will too. Perhaps both quilting and for glass. It's light and airy and definitely not a cave.
    Perhaps just call it the "studio"?
    I know is must be hard to look at the ufos left behind, but it is the "doing" that is the important part. I think your folks will be happy that you will be "doing" what you love there now.
    Looking forward to see what that ends up being.

  2. glad to see you have somewhat organized your space - it is huge and to know that you didn't even show all that you have is kind of crazy -- so glad you will have your fabric therapy now

  3. Oh my, Teresa. You have done a lot of work these past few months. Of course, motivation of having your quilt cave set up helped. Off the top of my head, how about the term 'quilt den?' Being settled and functional is more important than pretty. Love your Alabama backyard.

  4. I'm so glad your space is coming together at long last. I feel crazy if I don't get time in my sewing room, even if I just sit and look at things it makes me feel better.There's no 'judging' going on here, I have at least as many UFOs and feel no guilt whatsoever. I'll get to them in time.When I look at my fabric I can see what I've spent my money on over the years, unlike hairdos, fingernails, clothes, fashion magazines and stuff that other people indulge themselves in. That's OK, but fabric isn't? Not in my book.
    I feel like my sewing room is my sanctuary, but whatever you call it, I'm just glad you're almost set up, after all this time.

  5. So glad you are settling in. Your new space looks great! Love your organization and I shar your love of office supplies!

  6. So much progress! It is definitely not a cave, but your slice of heaven. And don't think of them as UFOs, but "works in progress" - it is a happier term!

  7. Teresa, You remember I had to move my Mother's things into my sewing space after she passed this last Fall. I am finally getting back into doing things again also. As you work in the space things will become more familiar to you and remember it is always a WIP situation. As far as a name it will come to you when you feel the time is correct. Your sink in the basement can be your soaking sink after you finish an applique piece. I would make covers for the counter tops and make a pressing station on one side,didn't notice a media space. You had a TV and Stereo unit in the Quilt Cave. You will figure it out and things will click. Great job in getting it this far. Chris

  8. I can certainly see where you come by your wonderful talent. Maybe you could merge the two and do a tribute piece.. One of the unfinished stained glass pieces into a quilt?? I know you have that talent that way you could finish your moms work and put your love in it too

  9. There will be a few more tweaks before you are finally settled. It is getting there and a few quilts on the walls will make your Quilt Space cozy. Buy some under padding for your carpets ... it will make your floors a lot warmer. I did that this winter in my studio and what a huge difference it made. That light table is wonderful! You are living on beautiful property, now you have to focus on being happy!

  10. Oh my, what a lot of work you have done. Time to play in your wonderful new space. Your mom had a wonderful set-up for doing stained glass and so many supplies. Maybe you can find a way to incorporate some of your applique designs into stained glass pieces.

  11. I have two former bedrooms for my space - one is The Sewing Studio and the other is The Design Studio. That doesn't really work for you unless you have The Upstairs Studio and The Downstairs Studio . . . congratulations on the progress you've made!!

  12. How about The Retreat? You've done a great job of repurposing your available resources. I just wish I had bought stock in Rubbermaid, Sterlite, and Art Bin! You have inspired me to rethink my space which is currently an embarrassment to me and my husband whose architectural studio is across the room from me.

  13. Your space is looking great, but I can't even imagine how hard it is to get it that way - so many memories. How fortunate your mom was to have such a perfect space set up - it really is just perfect for what she was doing. And I chuckled at the band aid on your hand - working with glass is much more painful than working with fabric! So glad for you that you are getting settled, and thanks for sharing your space!

  14. O.K., WOW!! I can't imagine how difficult this entire process has been for you and you have certainly made huge progress! I can't believe your organizational skills! I am very happy for you. Enjoy the space! And as for a name, I'd vote for "Nirvana" but maybe something that connects you and your Mom. You will find the perfect name I'm sure.

  15. My goodness! What a lot of work you have done to bring order to this place. I like the idea of that amazing view out those windows to bring you inspiration and rest to your soul. I call mine simply, the quilt room.

  16. Teresa, your studio is looking wonderful!! I'm so happy that you've gotten things back in working order and I'm looking forward to what comes out of the place. Why not Quilt Haven or Fabric Haven. Or even the Quilt COve. I refer to mine as my kingdom on occasion.

  17. Love your organization skills, as well as your beautiful applique skills. Since this is where you feel most like yourself, I think you should call it the quilt womb.

  18. Nice to see you melding into your 'new' home. Lovely home and property and a walk out - that deck is awesome.

  19. Oh Teresa, what a massive undertaking, so much work and so many memories.
    It is all coming together and one day it will feel like your own.

    I told my DH he shouldn’t carry his social security card in his wallet and I would put them up for safe keeping. I finally found them last month, they were safe for years.

  20. How difficult this must have been for you with all the memories swirling thru your head. But you did it gal! When I looked at your newly organized work space and that incredible view from where your Janome sits, I would call this space 'Heaven'. That's where your parents are and you are right there working along side them with their arms around you.

  21. I KNOW how much work this has been for you and I am very impressed!! You have done amazing things - thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  22. A great post to read. I enjoyed finding out how you are sorting all your boxes and where to put them, gaining a couple of ideas for myself.
    Having a glass hobby myself in the past, I'm sure you will enjoy carrying on your Mothers work in the future. I loved seeing all those sheets of beautiful colour, waiting to be used one day. Best wishes for when that time comes :)

  23. You've made amazing progress! Love your new space. Tweaking will come as you use your new spaces and will be the final thing that makes things comfortable for you. I also love that you're keeping your mom in your space. I would still think of it as a quilt cave but if you need a new term, how about The Warehouse? You know like when you go in a store and something isn't on the shelf and they need to check the warehouse to see if they have one?

  24. your space looks wonderful! You are the maser of organized....

  25. Teresa, you are a marvel of organization. Still. You inspire me. And yes I have more times than I care to remember put something important somewhere I was SURE I would remember - the kiss of death!
    You know, it looks to me like that would be a really good place for quilt retreats.

  26. That is a serious work space! I never saw your set up at the last house. Tough sorting what was your dad's space, some unexpected things that can bring the tears sometimes. I had a giggle at your your seam ripper drawer, I was thinking I hope you don't have to use those ALL AT ONCE!!

  27. What a bittersweet post. I could definitely sense your sadness but determination to complete the transformation. You did a great job turning it into a quilting...sanctuary? refuge? I hope you don't mind that I have adopted your quilt cave moniker for my space. I am in the basement and even have a husband who starts complaining after awhile if I spend too much time downstairs. Oh, and I deal with those icky cave crickets but no roly poly bugs. I envy your natural light in the new space. Seeing your massive project has given me the last nudge I needed to reorder my fabrics. I need to gather the colors together and re-sort my bins. And label. Always love the labeling.

  28. I think you did a wonderful job and have a functional space to work in, that's very important! Pretty is nice but if you can't work there, who cares? Whatever you decide to call it, you will make wonderful quilts in there!

  29. Thank you for all the pictures -- I feel like I was there with you (too bad I couldn't physically help). Your fabric collection looks so much smaller though

    Maybe you could call your new space your Quilting Mecca? It looks like a wonderful space with the view and the outdoors just a few steps away

  30. I am exhausted just reading about all the work you've been doing. Thanks for the update. I love your quilts.


  31. Ahhh Teresa it must be so emotionally hard... there is no avoiding the grief process when you are right in their space!
    You are doing a great job and your Mom would be so happy to have you there!

  32. Wow! You have made great progress. It will take some time I am sure to get used to everything and figure out where it all is located. Keep smiling!

  33. YIPPEE!! Love it! I had to move too; I've been away from home for almost 14 years and I still miss friends and family (wish I could say it gets better, but I guess I'll always miss them). I've found new online quilting groups that have been wonderful though. You inspire me, dear soul!!

  34. How about "Quilt Haven"? So much work, so organized, wonderful!


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