Living in an old house made new, in a stripped back classroom
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the joys and sadnesses of preparing to sell our lovely old house. I’m happy to say we’re still here, and goodness knows when that will change! Now that the decision has been made to move, we’re happy to wait for things to take their course. How tragic if we’re still sitting in Glenshirva in a year’s time – not!
As we wait to sell, sewing has had to take a back seat for me, but not for all the stitchers who still come to class, and drink tea, and sew, and laugh, and sew, and learn from me and from each other. I am – literally – itching to stitch!
Though the classroom undergoes a regular turnaround to show it as the room where we have family feasts, today we decided that I could get some of the great things we use in my classroom back out of storage. I’m so excited that the many, many hours I spent on Pinterest a few months ago led me to buy a secondhand Norden sideboard from Ikea for the new ironing station. Sad, but true…
My workroom is now our always clean, tidy family room, and it’s hard to remember that this is the room where I spent so many late nights and early mornings cutting and sewing all different kinds of cloths for so many years. The vinyl tiles have been replaced by a lovely neutral fitted carpet with bookshelves along one wall: Esme makes a bee line for those shelves no matter where her crawl (now WALK and soon to be run) starts in the house. Jack has drawn many pictures in here, and loves to sit at the desk in the twirly chair. Wait til he discovers his little cousin has found the crayons!
All that remains of my workroom is the old oak desk (still with it’s back to the radiator) and the ancient, glass fronted drawers saved from a shop refit in Springburn which are bulging with fat quarters. There are some A4 binders with class notes in the corner and samples / works in progress are tucked under the never-before-clear windowsill, along with a few boxes of toys. It is a really lovely room, and we never knew it was here in 35 years of living in the house.
As I’ve been showing prospective buyers round over the past weeks, I’ve been remembering all the different rooms which have served as my sewing space in this house: it was several years after we moved in before I settled in here. My sewing spaces changed from the very first one Ken built for me in Pearl Cottage – he took down the wall of the cupboard under the eaves of our wee 2 bedroom cottage, and used the extension piece of a mahogany table we found in the cupboard, a nursery cabinet and built a narrow floor-to-ceiling cupboard for me to store my stuff. It was tiny and I loved it. Then there was the luxury of excess and untidiness which became the hub of Bonnie’s Workshop with 5 metres of shelving along one wall, and the cutting table he built measuring 70″ x 36″.
My machines changed too, from the first Singer 201K he bought me for my birthday all those years ago so I could make curtains for the cottage.
When we packed up the workroom, it was joined by Lily, 2 Featherweights, the overlocker and of course Pretty Penny, the latest addition to the family, in the garage. My 2 Pfaffs, Designer 1 and Designer SE are still in the cleared out, constantly clean classroom…well, I do sew sometimes, and stitchers still coming to class need machines 😉
I took a call from the prospective builders during the week, asking what kind of heating I want in the new studio and my thoughts finally focussed on all that I want to have in the new space. At the very beginning, I sent hours trawling Pinterest looking for the ideal sewing studio into which I could welcome friends and stitchers: I literally panicked that I couldn’t find ANYTHING which would fit my needs.
That’s when I realised that I could do this…Bonnie’s Workshop has grown and evolved into a special space over the past 20 years, and it will be just as special if and when we move into the new building.
It’s the people who come to learn, laugh and sew together that makes a studio classroom. All that laughter seeps into the walls in no time flat, whether those walls are 115 years old or super-insulated brand new…and there is so much laughter bubbling inside quilters, waiting for the moment someone says something Swearbox worthy like ‘I can’t’.
So changes are coming, but not yet. The classroom will be open until the minute we have to pack up this old house so that the new owners – whoever they may be – can come and make it their own for another 35 years.
We’ll watch as we wait and hope all goes to plan for our new home and studio to rise in the back garden we’ve spent so many hours together in, and welcome them just as this old house welcomed us.