5 Quilt Art Studio Tips I Never Knew

pokey bolton

quilt art cat dickens
Dickens doesn’t like to be left behind.

We had a wild and wonderful time at International Quilt Festival/Long Beach last week! Now I’m catching up on emails and sleep. And with all the new ideas swirling around my head from the show, I’m also trying to catch a few minutes in the studio.

Whenever I come back from a tripespecially a quilting-related oneI always view my studio with new eyes. Should I organize my threads differently? Did I discover some new product that can improve the flow of my work or make it easier? Or (most often), where am I going to put the new fabrics I collected?

This time when I arrived home, after dropping my bags and greeting the animals, I also had the Fall 2011 issue of Studios to greet me (the one with HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder on the cover). So, while recovering from jetlag, I perused the pages, and found at least five tips that I had never considered and thought I would share them with you.

5 New-to-Me Quilt Art Studio Tips


Furniture mash-up by Thomas Wold.

1. Organize someone else’s space first. At first I thought this was just a great way to procrastinate. But according to professional organizer Carolyn Woods, this trick helps get you in the organizing mood, and when you see how great your friend’s space looks, you’ll want to do the work to get yours looking that way, too.

sue bleiweiss art studio
Retractable electric cord
in Sue Bleiweiss’s studio.

2. Install retractable electric cords near the ceiling. Who knew? Apparently, quilt and fabric artist Sue Bleiweiss did. She added these during her new studio construction and now she can control all the outlets with one master switch, and no one trips over cords on the floor.

3. Shop in the kids’ department. Mixed-media fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk says the size, colors, and design of the bins and cubes meant for children’s rooms appeal to her more and that helps keep her organized.

4. Mash-up your furniture. I like eclectic décor, combining different styles in one room. But furniture artist Thomas Wold mashes up elements of many different styles of furniture (including orphaned drawers, mismatched handles, and Plexiglas®) to create one piece. Sort of like contemporary mixed-media patchwork and very visually stimulating.


lynn krawczyk art studio
Lynn Krawczyk’s table, in Fall Studios.

5. Write on the table. I’m always looking for someplace to jot down measurements, do a quick calculation, or just write down a bubble thought I’d like to remember later. Textile designer Patty Young does, too, but she writes right on her tabletop, because it’s made of medium density fiberboard topped with dry erase board. Now that’s clever! (Lynn Krawczyk doodles on her assemblage table, and encourages friends to leave their favorite quotes on it.)

These are just a few of the great ideas I gleaned from the Fall 2011 issue of Studios. Imagine what I’ll find once I get over my jetlag.


P.S. Are these tips new to you? Have you ever tried or used them? What’s the most clever or transforming studio tip you ever received? Leave a comment below.

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6 thoughts on “5 Quilt Art Studio Tips I Never Knew

  1. Sorry to leave a negative comment, but, Tip #5 —dry erase board? Really?? The reason it is called that is because the ink rubs off easily. Can’t imagine a textile artist being able to work at that table, unless she is really into a “grunge” look for her art pieces. Patty Young should get some post-it notes.
    Speaking of post-its, I like to use the 5 x 8 legal pad type to doodle design ideas on. I post them on a wall near my work space. When I have tried an idea I will cross through it if it doesn’t work and circle it if it does. The ideas that are real “keepers” earn a page in my design book. I either cut my drawing from the post-it or redraw it on the page and add directions, measurements, comments, etc.

  2. Retractable electric cords? I feel like such a ‘girl’! I had never heard of or thought of such a thing! I instantly thought, “What a great travel power source, instead of my 30′ of ‘wadded snake’ extension cord I haul around now…Thank you!

  3. When I opened my first bead store we had a big old wood worktable that I wrote our company saying on “Not all of us can be Cinderella , but some of us can be Fairy Godmothers!” (C)llpc1999…then I had friends start writing on it and soon customers left behind inspirationals and endorsements….It was great.. I miss that table but just got a new old turquoise work desk a gift from my youngest daughter that is already on its way.
    I am looking for tables for my art school that people can write on now. As far as organization , the same daughter who worked for a clothing store folded my fabrics on one shelf and its amazingly neat and even beautiful…the shelf I have left to do well I keep hoping she will do it too. I love having a huge studio space, 750 sq feet , which is my school….so hopefully will get it very organized, hope it doesn’t affect my creativity….Thanks Pokey for sharing such great tips….

  4. For a small sewing room, I made a “Murphy style” sewing table. It’s an open rectangular box with cross beams on the “bottom” which afixes to the wall. The short bottom is where I store my sewing machine. Then I use a piano hinge to add a piece of plywood (covered in laminate) which is 4 1/2ft long (and has another plywood piece 2 1/2 ft long attached to it via piano hinge and folds upward on top of the long board). I have a small cabinet attached to the underside of the long board, and when it’s swung down, it becomes the “leg” of the long board, and the opening of the door supports the short board. The entire table is 6′ long, and 2′ wide.
    When the cabinet is closed, the short board folded onto the long one, and then the entire system folds up onto the rectangular “box”, it’s only 12″ from the wall. I forgot to mention – the rectangular “box” is notched to accept the short board which is approx 1/2 the length of the box from top to bottom. I wish I could send a picture of the open and closed sewing table,
    I do not face a wall because it’s attached to a wall at my side. I got the plans from an old Popular Mechanics encyclopedia book of the 1970’s.
    Inside the box I’ve attached screws to hang my quilt cutting mats and inside the cabinet/leg I’ve attached a couple of thread/bobbin hangers so I can put about 30 spools of threads and bobbins.

  5. Instead of using the retractable cord, I plugged a serge protector into an outlet that is turned off by the switch by the door. I then plugged in all my sewing machines and Ott light and iron. When I leave the room I turn that switch off along with the light switch and I know everything in the room of off, and protected from a lightening strike or electrical serge..