Ann’s Quilt Studio Remodel – Part 3

Today is Part 3 of my quilt studio redo. Part 1 and Part 2 talked about my plans to do a little redecorating and a lot of purging of fabric and quilting supplies with the end goal of a clutter-free sewing space and room for my new (used) HandiQuilter 16. Despite working long hours every weekend for a few weeks, I am not yet finished! I almost postponed this posting wishing I had more completed work to share with you, but decided to show you some of my progress and discuss lighting.

DH and DS painted the room a medium gray with a white ceiling.

Ready for the HQ16!
Since I couldn’t foresee being able to buy the carpet tiles for a while, it was time to set up the HQ16. My husband measured, cut, and bolted sturdy pieces of laminated pressed wood to the top of two six-foot tables. We figured out how to set up the frame and install the HQ16 machine and computer. Did I forget to mention the computer… Yes! It came with a Pro-Stitcher computer system! On a side note – it turns out the tables were ergonomically the right height for the HQ16 without the bed risers under the legs.


I enjoyed doing a practice quilt – it works great! The stitches were even due to the stitch regulator and the tension was good. As much as I enjoyed using it, I am making myself wait to start quilting quilts until I edit and reorganize my fabric and quilting supplies.

Well-placed, task-appropriate lighting is very important in a workspace, especially as our eyes age. There are three types of lighting function to consider: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient light illuminates the room in general while task lighting focuses on a specific work area. Accent lighting adds sparkle to the room by highlighting art, flowers, sculpture, etc.

The existing ambient light in the room consisted of three halogen lights inset in the ceiling. They give off a yellow-tinged, incandescent light about 2700K (Kelvin Scale) and heat. It was uncomfortable to work under the light at the cutting table on a summer day. To have a stronger, clearer, and whiter light, I often used a photographer’s flood lamp (about 4000K). It helped, but the bulb was fragile, lasted only 60 hours, and made the room even warmer. I wanted the equivalent light of the full-spectrum “daylight” lamps popular with quilters.

After consulting a local lighting expert, I chose True Lite 32 watt, 4 foot T8 fluorescent tubes. They have a Kelvin rating of 5720K (almost full-spectrum but not quite as blue-white), last 20,000 hours, fit in standard fluorescent fixtures, don’t give off heat, and have a color-rendering index (CRI) of 92. The CRI is a measure of color accuracy; 92% out of 100% is excellent and very important when working with fabrics.

We moved the work tables into place to help determine correct light placement. Originally, I planned for the fixtures to be more centralized in the room. Since this could create shadows where my body blocked the light, we moved them close to the wall over my work tables. Two four foot light fixtures with two tubes each were hung from the ceiling with chain and hooks so they didn’t have to be hardwired; they can also be moved easily as needed. DH will try to hide those cords eventually. They are hung right over my ironing/sewing/cutting area and give off an excellent, color accurate light that is gentle on the eyes. Note that the light reflects off the ceiling, providing ambient light as well as the task lighting focused downward.

I love them! What a difference from the yellowish incandescent light! It is hard to photograph but you can see the difference in the photo below. The halogen light is on the left and the whiter True Lite light on the right.

We plan to hang two more fixtures near the HQ16, design wall, and fabric cabinets, but I want to work in the space for a while before placing them. A fifth fixture will be placed in the computer/desk/bookshelves area.

By the way, these lights help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) common here in the rainy parts of the Pacific Northwest. On the downside, some people get a little too “wired” from these lights. I used to not be able to sleep after studying under a similar lamp light in the evening. So far, I have not had this problem with the lights in the ceiling.

For now, I am up and running with a functioning sewing space and mid-arm quilting machine. Having spent several weekends editing and reorganizing, the room is coming together – but not quite ready to unveil! Bye for now. It is time for me to spend another weekend purging!






  1. Nicola - September 6, 2013

    Awesome! Your space is coming together very nicely!! Thank you for the information about lighting, have been thinking how I could get better lighting in my room without the heat!! I will looking into these bulbs!!

  2. Phyllis Cousins - September 6, 2013

    Doesn’t “true lighting” fade fabric colors? Otherwise, the new lighting is well thought our.

  3. Kay - September 6, 2013

    Enjoying this remodel. I am having to give up my sewing room due to family circumstances. Oh is that difficult. Oh where to put it all? Purging is heartbreaking, but receivers of the “stuff” are thrilled. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

  4. Ann - September 9, 2013

    Thanks for your replies!
    Phyllis, your point is well taken. Fluorescent UV light can fade fabric just like sunlight does. As you will see in my next blog, I have all my fabrics in cabinets and storage boxes out of the light so I don’t worry about that aspect. However, if I hang up quilts, I may spray them with a fabric protectant that blocks UV rays.
    To see similar lights used, go to Caryl Bryer Fallert’s blog about her quilt studio –
    I am going to display my threads on racks, so I am concerned light and dust may become a problem. I wonder if anyone has had an issue with that.

  5. Lou Ann - September 9, 2013

    Ann, this is turning out so well! How I long to have a longarm and have the dilemma of placing lights and the LA itself. I have the money to buy it, just don’t have the room right now.
    Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, and keep sharing these wonderful changes.