Ann’s Quilt Studio Remodel – Part 1

As an avid quilter since 1989, I have longed for a mid-arm or longarm machine for quilting for many years. Finally, this spring my dream came true when I was able to purchase a used Handi-Quilter 16 (HQ16) with a Pro-Stitcher computer from a co-worker! This exciting event inspired me to plan a redo of my quilt studio to accommodate it!

Starting the Project
The first step in a major project like this is to list what you like and don’t like about the current space and some goals to accomplish when the project is finished.
•    What works: I liked my tables for cutting, sewing, and ironing (with my Big Board ironing board), and my fabric storage cabinets.
•    What doesn’t work:  I didn’t like the lousy lighting, old carpet in which pins and needles always got lost, the heat in the room in summer, and the overflowing accumulation of clutter.
•    I wanted adequate lighting and circulation, unimpeded access to my design wall and storage closets, plenty of room to maneuver around the new tables for the HQ16 and the existing tables, more suitable flooring for a sewing room, and a place for everything without clutter.

Wow! I’m not sure my plans qualify as a remodel, but I was in store for some major purging, rearranging and redecorating on an almost nonexistent budget!

My Designing Process
1.    I started by measuring my sewing space, a bonus room over the garage, and drawing a floor plan to scale.

2.    I measured all the existing furniture and placed each item, also drawn to scale, in my drafted floorplan.

3.    I tried several furniture arrangements, keeping in mind the goals I wanted to accomplish and leaving at least 24″ around everything. Here is the furniture plan that seemed to work best:

4.    My intent was to pull up the old carpeting and lay FLOR carpet tiles which are just shy of 20” square. They have a flatter nap (so pins will lie on top) and built-in padding on the back. After seeing a blog post by a woman who used linoleum tiles to make quilt blocks on her studio floor, I tried a Trip around the World pattern, but settled on a Boston Commons design.


5.    To see how it would all go together, I superimposed the furniture on the flooring design and added a lighting scheme. Even though I knew this plan would evolve, it gave me a good start!

6.    Then it was time to do the research for a ceiling fan, lighting for the studio, the cost of the flooring, and paint colors. Most important, it was time to purge!

Note: I learned computer-assisted drafting during my Interior Design education. Although I no longer have access to AutoCAD, I was able to work in Adobe Illustrator for the drafting and labeled the drawings in Adobe InDesign. For years before that, I used graph paper with ¼” squares for the floor plan and made paper pieces the same size as the furniture. This is easy and fun to do. Decide on a scale to use. For example, four 1/4″ squares could be a foot; use the same scale for your furniture pieces. Putting some temporary adhesive on the back of the furniture pieces allows you to try different arrangements. You could trace or print the design on transparency sheets (used for AV projectors in school) to see how the floor, furniture, and lighting work together.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to show you the progress!


  1. Barb - August 2, 2013

    Purging is a good start to any kind of remodel 😀
    I’m very impressed with all the drafting you’ve done here! You’re fortunate to have a good amount of space to work with.

  2. B J Elder - August 2, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your process and design(s). You have a GREAT space for your studio. How about adding a comfy chair in the corner by the closet for relaxing and reading quilt magazines or doing some hand work? I know you are going to LOVE your space and that new quilting machine!

  3. Cecilia - August 2, 2013

    Very impressive! I love your space and the final layout. Thanks for sharing your process with us.

  4. Nancy Quade - August 3, 2013

    hope you are taking lots of photos too! can’t wait to see the final studio.

  5. Bobbi P - August 4, 2013

    So did you downsize to be able to get rid of things? Book case & file cabinets, and I agree with B J, how about a comfy place to sit and relax? Do you have a design wall? I am planning a move in the next year and am very interested in how people make efficient use of their space. My new space is likely to be a live-work loft type space so will differ from yours but would love to follow your journey as you make this change. Pix?

  6. Jamie - August 4, 2013

    Congrats on your new quilter and remodel. I love the idea of using the carpet tiles to create a quilted floor. Regarding AutoCAD, there is a free downloadable drafting program called Progecad that I use. It operates very much like AutoCAD and even saves in the .dwg format.

  7. Ann - August 6, 2013

    Thanks for everyone’s enthusiastic responses.
    A chair in the corner for sewing or reading would be a good idea. A book on quilt studio design calls adding a chair to a sewing room a “lagniappe” – an extra or unexpected gift or benefit. It is an interesting Creole word used in the Gulf states. I planned to add one and even bought a new slipcover for wingback recliner but DH thinks there isn’t enough room since the orientation of the cutting table changed once we got the furniture pieces in the room. I will try the chair when the room is finished to see how it looks.
    Jamie, thanks for letting me know about Progecad.

  8. Sue Terpin - August 7, 2013

    Looks good Ann. Now just use the HandiQuilter.

  9. Ann - August 12, 2013

    I will start sewing with the HQ soon, Sue – I promise! It will be my reward for uncluttering my quilt studio. I am making a good home for it – I want you to feel good about selling it to me!

  10. Nancy - August 17, 2013

    Oh, thank you for sharing this process. My husband told me I have to do something with my abundance of fabric and supplies and I want to show him that to do it right, I WILL have to move it out into another room! Keep going.