Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Overhauling the Studio – Another Summer Job


Amazon Books

One other notable, big project going on here in my studio is a bit of a studio overhaul.

And I will admit, it’s a big job, but it needs to be done. My trusty sidekick Anna is really good at this kind of thing, and she actually seems to like it (strange girl), which works out well for me.

She’s a Huge Help for this type of project, and I trust her organizational mindset. It is much better than mine!

Needle 'n Thread studio space set up

This is a watercolor rendition of the entrance to my studio, from my niece Bridget, who paints local historical buildings, events, people, homes, scenes, and so forth, on location. It was my birthday card – I love it!

When I moved my workplace into its very own space just down the road from my house a few years back, I did not set the space up in a forward-thinking way. Workflow, storage, and efficiency were not really forefront in my head.

At that point, I just knew I needed space, and this is the most reasonable way I could procure some.

My studio is a residential duplex that I rent, within eyesight of my house. It’s awfully conveniently located, allowing me to work within easy reach of home.

Although the place is somewhat plain and even rather ho-hum in a dated way, it is clean and tight. It has a grand large window in the front room that lets in a good amount of natural light and gives me a lovely view of the neighbor’s garden and my bird feeders.

It’s not a Pinterest-Perfect place, no doubt, but it works for me right now, and I consider it a huge blessing. While I was initially thinking of it as a short-term spot, given the current economic situation, I’m happy to have it and I plan to make the most of it for as long as necessary.

Studio overhaul for Needle 'n Thread

In recent years, as I’ve developed more kits and brought in favorite products for you, I’ve amassed packaging, shipping supplies, and kitting supplies.

Right now, a good portion of this has been shifted into the main room so that we can establish some spacious and sturdy shelving in the supply and shipping room (the front bedroom of the duplex).

Studio overhaul for Needle 'n Thread

I’ve had things stacked on tables and under tables all over the studio.

I’ve kept prepared products in tubs, on tables, under tables, and even in the middle of the floor so that sometimes, there’s barely a walking path.

In the photo above, we’ve condensed the whole room into half the room, so that we have half a room to work in as we reorganize.

Studio overhaul for Needle 'n Thread

There’s nothing quite like a gloriously empty corner!

Studio overhaul for Needle 'n Thread

Even the area under my computer desk is stacked with custom kit boxes.

I cannot wait to get them on a proper shelf!

Studio overhaul for Needle 'n Thread

Product postcards are stacked behind my sewing machine. Good thing I only sew small things. Still – to have in them in their own sensible spot? Yay!

Pretty much every corner of the studio has been taken up with supplies, tools, machinery, printers, technical equipment, and on and on.

Very soon, though – Glory Hallelujah! – we will have a series of shelving set up in the supply and shipping room, onto which we will be able to fit everything in an organized and sensible way.

This will prepare the way for some beautiful new books coming in, some kits coming out soon, and other delectables that should appear on my doorstep shortly.

I really cannot wait to have everything organized and sorted and in its very own labeled spot. It’ll be a very satisfying job once it’s finished!

In the meantime, the only stitching going on is anything I can work on at home. Everything else is in a state of slight upheaval until this project is completed.

It’s an adventure – and to make it even more adventuresome, Murphy’s inexorable Law kicked in: I’m typing this on the hottest day so far this year. It will be 105 today – ugh – and yes, it’s the day the air conditioning is being serviced. So no AC. Yay.

We sure know how to have fun in Kansas!

Wherever you are, stay cool … and stitch!


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(24) Comments

  1. You are working very hard to make your business work and succeed. I enjoy learning from your website and newsletter. And your niece has talent like you do.

  2. Thanks for the pics! Hope you post finished pics too. It has given me motivation to tackle my craft room which has never come together since we moved three years ago. I just keep moving stuff around until I have enough room to do the current project!

  3. I’m so glad you have help for the project. Moving/reorganizing is never fun. I’ve been known to just sit in the middle of the boxes and cry. I’m sure you will really enjoy having a bright, organized space. You’ll have to let us know the oddest thing you found while moving things around, or what the oddest place was you found something you thought you’d lost!


    1. LOL! I will try to keep notes! Yep, it’s easy to feel lost on a big organizational project – and always nice to have a second pair of eyes and hands helping out!

  4. Please post after pictures when everything is in its place. And please send Anna my way when you’re done. My sewing room needs a redo!

  5. OMG!! That is so validating! I had it in the back of my mind that you have this super organized & perfectly laid out “pintrest/martha stewart” studio! AND it just looks like what the rest of us have & you also need one of those super organized people to set it to rights. Thank you for letting us peek at a normal studio. NO MORE WORKSPACE SHAME!!! LOL
    The watercolor is gorgeous by the way!
    AND I have about 60 1′ hexie flowers (3 rings around the center hex) I am finishing off in my hexie quilt. I wanted to thank you for that too!
    I just didn’t have it in me to plan a piece of embroidery or a new weaving project. BUT I desperately needed to do some handwork.. you know how it is, my serenity is directly linked to working with my hands. I have never quilted before BUT had tools & books for it (of course.. LOL)
    Because of you I realized how very simple it was & how rapidly I could get started. I ordered the 1′ hexagons & a jelly roll of a Moda fabric line I liked, a glue pen & some thread on Amazon & started within 3 days. I have been doing it since October & am getting to the point of joining them together & actually making a quilt of them.
    Thank you for giving me what I needed to find peace in the pandemic. Blessed be!

    1. Oh My Word. I’m laughing my head off! Thank you for the rueful smile!

      The thing about Martha Stewart & similar look is that it overlooks the reality of the one-person job —- on a budget, and with restricted time. Of course, Martha Stewart has a whole host of people working her brand, and she has from the beginning. She’s apparently been business smart. Not sure I’d want to be her, though, or even similar!

      Oh well…I guess I wouldn’t mind having a cozy little (I use the term loosely) New England home like Martha’s —— and someone else to keep it clean! And cook for me!

    2. I agree – No More Workspace Shame! Those spotless just organized room photos are pretty, but they don’t show how well a setup works. I love when people show before and during organizing, not just the after photos.

  6. OH! By the way, I used a hole punch to put a hole in the middle of the hexie templates. I can use a small crochet hook to pop them out when they are surrounded with stitched pieces AND I can string them together with cotton twine in a big hexie “caterpillar” so they aren’t all over the place. I have a plumbing washer in a slip knot on either end to hold them together. It is easy to remove one of them & use the crochet hook to pull the string thru the middle of a pile of hexie templates to put them back in the caterpillar for storage.

  7. Enjoy the journey. Organization can be a trail, but the reward is so worth it. Please keep us inform of your progress. Wishing you great and rewarding results.

  8. I feel for you Mary.

    I worked with my in an accounting practice. Shortly before he passed away he had given notice that we would not renew, planning to to find a nicer office. So current files, supplies, etc came home with me. Older files and excess equipment ended up in the garage of the family house (where it remained until mom moved out in 2019 – I did take a lot of extra supplies).

    In our (husband’s and mine) most of the house is work space of one type or another. I am in our office (second largest bedroom) which serves as same for my accounting practice, his online counseling practice – part of the finished inventory for our business is in of the closets, our craft business and our personal stuff.

    Our garage is his wood workshop for craft business and personal.

    What should be our family room off of our kitchen is our main studio.

    The finished part of our basement has a cutting table for fabric and mat board – bolts of fabric stored and sheets of mat board stored in their, along with a full metal office doored cabinet of part of the finished inventory, a (clean) garbage pail full of leather hides plus his leather workshop.

    In the unfinished part of the basement is more of his wood workshop for items which cannot be allowed to freeze in winter in the garage.

    Our dining room is kept at what was called in colonial times “at rest” – furniture kept against the walls, center of room empty to work – and we have a gate leg table that we take out to work on (dining room table stored against far wall) and it is also used for finished items ironing and a drying rack for husband’s finished woven items.

    Our living room serves 11 months of the year (mid January to mid December) as his loom room with his loom set up in the room and the needed items kept in the room. The remaining month I get it back to decorate for Christmas.

    Lest you think this house is large, the basic footprint is 20′ x 30′ – 2 stories and basement, with the studio attached in the back about 15 foot square. Garage is one car.

  9. Mary –

    Please, please, please, please be careful working in heat like this. 105F is no joke no matter how long you have lived with it. It probably is not workable due to the amount of organization needed, but at least wait for a break in the heat before tackling the job, or take frequent rest breaks with LOTS of water! Take care.

    1. We didn’t work into the heat of the day. 🙂 I have to admit, I’m not a heat lover. I would not be opposed to 60 degrees and under year round! LOL!

  10. Mary, the talent in your family is endless!! That watercolor is beautiful.

    Good luck with your organizing project. I look forward to seeing the “after” photos.

  11. It’s hard to think forward when you’re trying to get things moved in. It takes living with a set up a while before I realize the “I should have…”. Somehow the lighting, spaces, and traffic patterns never match up with my paper plans. And reorganizing and rearranging doesn’t seem like a big task until I’m faced with doing it for real. By myself. Yes, I too have sat down in the midst of a reorganizing project and cried. Usually when I think “I’m almost done – Yay!” and find the pile of stuff I moved to another room to get it out of the way.

    Oof – I don’t envy you and Anna working on a day with no air conditioning.

  12. Wow—love your birthday card & wish I was related to Bridget! From an earlier post—I wanted to thank you—profusely!—for sharing your reading list. Love, love, love Perfume From Provence!! Can’t believe someone hasn’t made this into a film. Netflix? Oh my.

  13. Dear Mary

    Even though it seems like such a mess when you are sorting out, the end result will always be a relief. You will have more space and tidyiness, which you will appreciate, especially after everything has been on the floor and kept under various things. I’m so glad you have Anna to help you and she likes sorting things out, that will be a big help. Also the shelves will be a big help in clearing space. Thank you for sharing with us your room and the phots and your latest project, I hope you are able to get it done soon, please send us photos of the tidy room.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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