In 2005 I put the sewing machine I’d bought in Junior High on a thrift store typewriter table in the corner of our bedroom and started sewing every day. I had a bin of fabric scraps from my mother-in-law’s basement and a pile of 1960’s soft toy books from the public library. I sat on the floor to cut and prep fabric for sewing which mean we were forever finding pins in the carpet while putting on our pajamas.
About a year later I moved my husband’s college-era IKEA desk upstairs so I’d have somewhere to sit. The fabric bins began to multiply and soon there were softies everywhere (“staring at us with their dead eyes” if you ask Charlie). In 2011 I was working on Stuffed Animals and bought two umbrella lights so that I could shoot the step-outs and all at once it seemed like instead of working in our bedroom we were sleeping my studio.
It was sorta weird and pretty cramped, but this arrangement worked for me for a long time. I could put a baby down to nap and be at my desk a few seconds later. I could stare at a particularly frustrating design right before going to bed, turn it over in my mind while falling asleep, and wake up in the morning with a solution. And my pattern samples were out of the reach of little hands (dolls and toys are tempting that way).
At a certain point, though, it began to feel oppressive. Our bedroom was always a mess. I could never bring visitors to see my studio because it was in this private space. Ten and half years after I started it was time for me to have place of my own.
We decided as a family that we would transform our formal living room into my studio. We’d never used this room as a living room. It had been our home office for years so we moved the desktop computer into the kitchen and Charlie took his desk up to our bedroom. We hired a carpenter to make built-in shelves and a cutting table and an electrician in install track lighting.
All of that is awesome (really!), but the most important feature of my new studio is that it has a door. A door! I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now and here’s what he says about having a door.
The space can be humble…and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business.”
A few weeks ago my friend, photographer Lisa Neighbors, came to my house to photograph my new space for a feature in Where Women Create magazine (on newsstands in July).
Deciding to give me this space in our house is a sign of my family’s support for what I do which feels really good. I paid for the renovations on my own and making this investment was a signal to myself that this thing I do is the real deal. I mean business.