Friday , 22 June 2018

Situated For Sewing: The Repurpose of Life

When Life Gives You Lemons |by: colorbee

Situated For Sewing: The Repurpose of Life

Three years ago, I “retired” from a job making $40K+ with great benefits and am now a stay-at-home mom and recent online entrepreneur. This article is going to bring you inside my home to show you how I have carved out a creative space of my own for mostly free.

Probably like most of you, I don’t have a whole room available to dedicate to my sewing. Instead, I had to whittle out a small nook in my bedroom for my project area. While I appreciate the beautiful spreads laid out in magazines, they just aren’t realistic for someone on a tight budget with just a corner of the bedroom to work out of. Yes, décor is nice, but business has to come first for me at this point. Let’s get started with the tour. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times please. Be sure to catch the reveal at the bottom!

Not only do I sell vintage items, I also use them! In my kitchen alone, I have a well-loved KitchenAid stand mixer in the original Avocado green from the 70s, given to me when my best friend finally got a new one. Although the color has faded, it still works flawlessly. Next to it is my old potato press, which was also given to me. I can’t even begin to date this thing, but it makes the best home fries. Last but not least is my old GE percolator, which I found for $1 at a thrift shop. However, we recently cracked the lid, and so far haven’t been able to find a replacement. I would love to have this percolator, but the Frugal Frannie in me won’t give in to Materialistic Melly. I only pull her out for very special occasions. If you are currently using a drip coffee maker, let me put a bug in your ear about the difference a percolator brings out in your coffee.

The vintage theme carries back to my sewing nook. I’m not trying to take the joy out of having new things, but if you can get something for free that works and is dependable, that is a win/win for me. I was like that even when I was employed outside of the home. My sewing machine was donated by my husband’s sister. It is an old Kenmore, also from the 70’s, I think. It has no plastic innards. This is a huge bonus in a machine that thrums at a high-rate of speed. Very solid. If you don’t know of anyone who just wants to give you one, try your local Salvation Army. For some reason, the Goodwill in my area never has any, but the Salvation Army always has at least two. And pianos. They always have pianos.

Another sweet soul gave me a serger and a huge box of serger thread cones. After many months of buying little spools of thread for my sewing machine, I thought, “Man, there has got to be a way I can use those cones.” So I broke out my trusty companion, Google. Aha! Just what I was looking for! Double Aha! Under $6! I’m in! Such a simple design. Easy to use. Definitely recommend this hidden jewel.

While perusing Salvation Army, I found this item:

I didn’t even know what I was going to use it for but for $1.00, I didn’t want to pass it up. By becoming my serger thread holder, it has found new meaning in life. No more digging out the thread I need. It’s just a few inches away. There was more than one, so the other two are now resting spots for my ribbon—all 3 for $1.

Husbands are useful for so many things. Mine is anyway. He’s my “Jim of All Trades”. Tucked away in an old toolbox was a pair of “vintage” sewing scissors. (We say “vintage” all the time. It’s a little joke around here. “Hey, look at the vintage barbed wire.” Or “The trash is getting pretty vintage.”) He retrieved his whetting stone and began, using the proper technique shown him by his brother-in-law, who is a machinist. I ended up with a beautifully polished pair of stainless steel scissors that cut fabric like it ain’t no joke. Too bad he didn’t have some pinking shears in there. I mean, $18 for a new pair of pinking shears? I just can’t make that jump. I keep searching the bins at Goodwill. No luck yet. Will trade a cord cover for a good set of pinking shears if anyone is interested.

These scissors, along with a multitude of other items, are kept in what was an old art supply organizer. $1 at Goodwill. I hang it on my wall next to my table.

Which brings me to my table. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. I “shoulda” taken before and after photos of this table. It was an old Sunday School table from my church, and it was badly beaten. (Sanctuary!) Once again, I pulled out my handy-dandy husband, and he pointed me in the right direction with some sandpaper and some stripper. (Shake it like a Polaroid picture!) Turns out there was some beautiful hardwood under there. After getting it in place, it was just about two inches too short. Good thing we have a table saw and some 2x4s laying around out here. After you-know-who cut me four 2×2 squares, my table was the perfect height.

My sister gave us some hardwood and trim that was left over from a recent custom cabinet installation at her home. Kudos to my husband one more time for creating a beautiful mantle for our fireplace. Free except for his time.

While he was hanging this beautiful mantle, the shelf in our daughter’s room fell. I took this opportunity to mount it above another shelf in my sewing nook.

Let’s not underestimate the power of the free cardboard box, either. My nook will never be featured in a magazine, but at this stage of the game I’m focusing on my family and my customer, not myself. After a little shelf paper and some tape were applied, I had custom storage. And, yes, I got a great deal on the shelf paper.

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for, unless of course you scrolled down before reading the article!

Far be it from me to be a bad shop-owner, so let me take this opportunity to point out my very own custom cord covers in use above.

Well, I don’t know what you got out of this article, but I got my sewing nook cleaned up and my kitchen counter wiped down. That was worth it right there! But, seriously, I hope you found some inspiration, some glimmer of hope that you can also do whatever you set your mind to. Just because your job may have recently given up on you doesn’t mean you have to give up on yourself. Yes, it’s hard sometimes, but be encouraged! Look at the world with your Etsy eyes, and make something pretty out of the cardboard boxes in your life!


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  1. Great job, your little space has everything needed to be productive in your sewing projects. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Colleen. Our home is 1400 square feet, and I have learned to utilize every inch. We are currently saving money to build a bed with the drawers in the bottom. We can build one out of hardwood for less money than you can buy a cheap one made out of press board. I say “we”, but I really mean my husband, lol. But I’m learning a lot!

  2. I quite enjoyed your humorous tale, I never throw anything away either and I’m always looking for new “stuff”. Sometimes a small space is better, much more organized!
    I’m checking to see if I have an extra pair of Pinking Shears.

    • Patricia,

      I’m so glad that I’m being enjoyed! I’m a middle child, so I revel in the attention! If you find those shears, just let me know what style of cord cover you would like. I love trades!

  3. Great article! I, too, am a scrounger and a repurposer and have to keep after my little space to keep it tidy so that I can be creative. Great ideas.

    • Sharee, I believe that people like us really know how to live life to the fullest because we make the most out of everything, including what other people have already gotten their “most” out of. But they always leave so much more behind. I love, love, love my life! I see the beauty in everything. Although not myself sometimes, lol. 34 in July. I should have got serious about my skin care years ago!

  4. Sharee, I’m impressed. This was interesting and informative. Wish I was as organized as you seem to be. regards, elizabeth

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