9 Studio Storage Tips for Art Quilt Makers

Quilting Arts magazines in storage

I wouldn’t say that I’m nosey but will admit to occasionally stopping in to an open house on a lazy Sunday afternoon even when I’m not in the market to move. I never know when a unique kitchen floor plan or custom mud room cabinet will inspire me to improve my own home storage. The same rings true for art quilt studios. I am always looking for practical and fresh ways to set up my limited working space, store my collection of tools and supplies, and make my own home studio more usable.

An example of a studio organized for art quilts

My creative space has a wall of artwork from artists whom I admire, as well as a cabinet in which I store both fabric and yarn (my other obsession).

Looking back over the past year of artist studios we’ve featured in Quilting Arts Magazine, there are a few things that stand out. Since last June, we’ve peeked into more than a dozen studios. Here’s my top ten list of storage tips, directly from Quilting Arts contributors!

  • Outdoor studio set up for dyeing

    Candy Glendenning’s outdoor studio is set up for dyeing.

    Make use of the space you have: I don’t have a dedicated place for dyeing fabric in my home, but neither does Candy Glendenning. She determined it was better for her to work outdoors and designed her ‘sink of awesomeness’ where she creates her beautiful hand dyed fabric. Another benefit? “When all my dyeing materials have been put away and the sink has been cleaned and polished, it also makes a great place to set up a party.”
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
    Can full of pencils

    Timna’s tomato can holds colored pencils. I use the same can in my studio for rulers and knitting needles.

    Consider humble containers before you break the bank on something store-bought. Storage doesn’t need to be custom designed or expensive; it just needs to work for your space. One of my favorite examples is the charming tomato can holding Timna Tarr’s colored pencils. I have the same can in my studio, and it holds knitting needles and rulers.
  • Thread racks are pretty, but are bins superior?
    Thread organized based on color

    Lynn Krawczyk arranges her embroidery threads by color.

    It all depends on the type of thread you have and the amount of light and space you have in your studio. Many art quilters enjoy the eye-candy of seeing their threads, but know that continued light may fade or damage them. Lynn Krawczyk winds her floss and stores it by color in bins.
  • Displaying fabric for quilting

    What you see is what you use! Beth’s fabric is on display.

    What you see is what you use: Beth Schillig’s studio (featured in the upcoming August/September issue of Quilting Arts) has a wall of fabrics arranged by hue. She calls it her ‘fabric vault’ – for good reason! Her fabrics are always visible and she can easily find and use them without searching through bins.
  • Behind Closed Doors: Minimize Visual Chaos by soring some supplies out of sight:
    Storage containers

    Remember that outdoor studio? Storage is a premium.

    That goes for indoor studios like mine that have drawers and cabinets to hid WIP’s and unsightly scraps. But remember Candy Glendenning’s outdoor studio? She also designed space to store buckets, bins, and bowls – essential dyeing tools are always at the ready but also out of sight.

And here are a few more tips for studio design and storage…

  • Keep it mobile: To keep your tools close… invest in a portable rolling cart. Timna Tarr, Jamie Fingal, and others found this useful.
  • Have a Seat: Deborah Boschert and others have comfortable couches in their studios, perfect for hand stitching and tea with guests. (Under-couch storage is also a possibility!)
  • Make a space for your computer: These days, artists need to be online and in touch with others, even when in the studio. MJ Kinman has a designated workstation for the business side of art quilting, as well as a space for creativity.
  • “Store” your art on your walls: You made it, you should also enjoy it! Art quilts are meant to be seen. Consider hanging your quilts on curtain rods – they are often adjustable and are easily found at the hardware store.
  • Hand dyed fabrics

    I keep hand dyes from my dyeing sessions together, sorted by hue.

    Sort as you store: Sorting is a natural human activity. Looking for order is part of human nature, so ‘sorting’ by type of tool (all of my glass head pins are in one pincushion), color (Lynn Krawczyk’s embroidery floss, for example), or fabric style (keeping all of your hand dyes together) makes sense.

Each issue of Quilting Arts brings another opportunity to peek into an art quilter’s studio! Don’t miss the next issue, or the one after that… subscribe to Quilting Arts today and make time – and space – for quilting every day!

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Vivika Hansen DeNegre

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