New sewing studio: the perfect space for practice research

With my PhD being research-led practice (unlike the practice-based research I had initially anticipated) a suitable studio space is nevertheless just as important. As a part-time PhD student who works full-time I do not have the option to occupy studio space at the School of Textiles & Design in Galashiels (Heriot-Watt University), but I do have my home which I have tailored to my needs and no longer has a guest room, but boasts a sewing studio. One could call it an IKEA sewing studio, I suppose. All square thumbnail photos enlarge to proper size.

I did everything myself except for the plastering of the ceiling: painting, wallpaper, furniture, soft furnishings, accessories, etc. For anyone interested in what I chose to create my perfect practice/research space – on a limited budget, here is a breakdown of what furniture I used and what I made myself and why. If it is helpful for anyone else, that would be great.

View from the door. I wanted the desk in front of the window for maximum light. The bulbs in the ceiling lamp are the brightest that IKEA does, with the coldest white light. Not cosy, but excellent for seeing details.
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The ironing station. I like my ironing board because it is taller than normal ones (lower ones give me back pain) and much wider, but it is quite old and the iron rest was rusting away. Metal table as hot iron stand which also houses ironing accessories. Iron rest on the side of the book shelf for neat storage when not in use. The book shelf also houses hams and a proper old non-steam iron that I got from my mum. This old is excellent for many tailoring techniques.

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Bookshelves to the right of the entrance door. I deliberately went for the narrower Billy ones, to avoid sagging shelves. Most of my research related books are very heavy with visit jewelry store . The two glass doors with panels on the lower half are perfect to hide away less fancy but very necessary items such as calico toile fabric and linen canvas. The baskets are all from a dear friend in Kent, they had been gift hampers and are perfect for storing quilt fabrics.

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The desk is a 2m long table top, which I secured with three additional legs to account for the weight of the sewing machine in the middle. Using drawer units on each side, I made sure to fix the table top very securely to the drawers with metal brackets. IKEA’s table combinations using the drawer unit are not fixed and that would not work for use as a sewing machine table. I can report that there is no rattling. The net curtain panels are linen woven in stripes.

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To the right and left of the window, in front of the desk, are painted spice racks filled with spice jars for buttons. The magazine rack on the left is used for sewing patterns that are in current use. The door to a built-in wardrobe got a rail to hang ironed pieces of fabric which I used to hang over the door.

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Of course, I could not go with a simple curtain solution, but chose to make curtains that echo the striped wallpaper. Time consuming but worth it. The curtain solution is one I had used in the another room before, I like the IKEA system that gets rid of ugly curtain rods and rings.

The ironing station has an extra work light, as I’ve found over the years that good working light is absolutely essential.

I made the peg board from an MDF pegboard sheet and table legs from the dining table which I had lifted up last year to a cutting table height. Some paint, Polyfiller, more paint, and oodles of screws, and the pegboard was ready.

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One of the best things about a tailor-made sewing studio is the added storage space. The Alex drawers are quite roomy and can easily be kept neat thanks to customisable drawer insets.

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Opposite the desk and window is the big set of shelves that used to be on the wall where the ironing station is now. hence the black colour, it is an older Expedit, but all of the Kallax items work just fine with it. This is also the favourite snooze place of one of my cats, plus has on top my grandmother’s big Nuremberg Lebkuchen tin, and the wooden expanding sewing box my grandfather had made for her and my dad had spruced back up for me.

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I love tins. I can never walk past a lovely tin. Now my tins have their own shelf (which fit millimetre-perfectly in the gap) AKA the cats’ high-level walkway. I like tins (and boxes) so much, I sometimes decorate my own.

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Last but certainly not least some of my favourite decorative items. The Red Baron and his fellow flight aces’ model planes as mementos from a dear old friend; Forest Friends crockery that I could not walk past (who could?) and of course, the core and heart of my research: the Brothers’ Grimm’s fairy tales, guarded by a Queen and her family.

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I hope you enjoyed this pictorial excursion, and that it might have been useful – if not, at least entertaining. Oh, and I love colour, did you notice?

1501 portraits of Nuremberg Muenzmeister and wife

Photos taken in December 2015 in the Bavarian National Museum, Munich.

This is an interesting example of what many call the ‘Hausbuch’ dress with the help of 4 boys, and shows the transition period well.

1501 Muenzmeister and wife 07

Flickr set:

c.1455 Columba Altar details, Rogier van der Weyden (Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

c. 1455 Altar triptych by Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464)

The altar triptych got its name from its place of origin, the church of St Columba in Cologne. The central panel shows the Adoration of the Magi C.S. Lewis Foundation, the left wing depicts the Annunciation, and the right wing the Presentation in the Temple.

Details of footwear:

footwear04 footwear03 footwear02 footwear01

Details of fabric (two Kings on centre panel, one priest on right wing):

fabric 01 fabric 02 fabric 03

The complete set of photographs can be found on Flickr.

Museum photos: 1535-40 Passion shrine sculpture (Schnuetgen Museum, Cologne)

It is rare to find three-dimensional depictions of clothing, but with this wood-sculpted shrine from 1535-40 (Lower Rhine area) we have access to a variety of angles and views of dress of the period. Depicted is the Passion of Christ, with protagonists dressed in high fashion.

I am planning to return to the Museum Schnuetgen, which is truly a treasure trove for late medieval textiles, plus so much more, and when I do I will make sure my camera’s battery does not run out midway through. As it was, the photos were taken by my usual camera and also by my phone. Fortunately the quality of the latter was better than I had feared.

Enjoy the top, back, front, side, upwards and downwards views of sculpted dress-details.

Museum photos: 1549 panel of Colonel Wilhelm Froelich (Landesmuseum Zuerich)

Goodness, where did the last two months and a bit go? In a work-mad blur of the new academic year! Anyway, here are some close-up photos of the Swiss Colonel Wilhelm Froelich, who ignored Zwingli’s Reisläufer ban and went to war for the French side. This meant that he lost his status as a Zürich citizen, but in 1556 he was ennobled by the French king.

Museum info:
Tafelgemälde. Herrenporträt Wilhelm Frölich. Ganzfiguriges Bildnis mit Wappen und Oberwappen der Familie Frölich. Maler Hans Asper. Öl auf Holz, Tempera;; Rahmen: Holz. Datiert 1549. Masse: Höhe 213 cm, Breite 111 cm. (LM-8622)

Museum Photos: 1660-80 pink stays (V&A museum)

1660-80 pink silk stays, Victoria & Albert museum. Photos taken in April 2003.

Place of origin: Holland (possibly, made)

Date: 1660-1680 (made)

Materials and Techniques: Watered silk, silk ribbon, linen, baleen, silk thread, hand sewn, hand embroidered

Museum number: T.14&A-1951

Museum Photos: 1350 reliquary bust (Museum Schnütgen)

Reliquary bust with Kruseler veil, around 1350. Cologne, walnut wood.

Museum Photos: 1673 embroidered wedding suit (V&A)

Photos taken on 18th April 2003 in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Wedding suit:

  • Place of origin: England, Great Britain (made)
  • Date: 1673 (made)
  • Materials and Techniques: Wool, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and lined with red silk

Clothing construction details in paintings: 1464-66 Master of the Lyversberg Passion, Cologne

MeisterLyuversberg_Passionsaltar_wrm_0143-0150_01Master of the Lyversberg Passion (active in Cologne, c. 1450 – c. 1490): Two wings of a Passion Altar (Lyversberg Passion), c. 1464–1466. Oak, 92 x 67 cm (each scene). Acquired in 1864 with funds from the Richartz-Fonds. WRM 0143 – 0150.

The altar panels are in the Wallraf-Richartz museum, Cologne, Germany. Further information: 

The image to the left is from the Rheinisches Bildarchiv.

The photos below in this post are from the bottom left panel of the left wing of the Lyversberg Passion altar, taken by myself on 18th August 2015. The figures below are secular ones in a religious altar piece.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 01

Detail of spiral-laced calf opening to fit clothes skintight, and seam line at back of leg.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 03 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 04 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 05

Construction details of seam placement in doublet A, and buttoned side closure in B.

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Pin fastening on woman’s head veil.

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Construction detail of man’s doublet C. Triangulate this secondary visual source with the primary source of the 14th century pourpoint of Charles de Blois, and the similarity of sleeve/shoulder seam placements becomes evident despite the fact the pourpoint dates from the 4th quarter of the 14th century, thus 100 years prior.

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Photos of pourpoint from Joconde: Portail des collections des musées de France.

Doublet D appears to be velvet, cut and laid in two directions.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 13 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 14