Sewing Spaces: Carolyn Norman, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

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Episode Summary

“My first priority is always my sewing space. When I look for someplace to live, where’s my sewing space going?” “Use your space the way you want to use your space” A good sewing space should have something that reflects things that are essential about you and where you are in life right now. In today’s episode, we are joined by Diary of a Sewing Fanatic’s Carolyn Norman. Carolyn recently had to pack up and move her special sewing space of ten years. The change offered her an opportunity to reflect on her possessions, her priorities, and her ability to create in her new space. Join us as we discuss storage, summer dresses, and accepting help when we need it. Carolyn also offers advice for those just starting out and looking to make a sewing space of their own.

Episode Notes

Learn more about Carolyn Norman, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic!

Blog

The Sewing Cave (before the move) 

Instagram

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[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, stitchers. Welcome to stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm your. Lisa woo fork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.
[00:00:29] Lisa Woolfork: Hello everyone. And welcome. Listen. I know I say this every. That our episodes are special. All of our episodes are special, but this sewing, this episode is part of our sewing spaces series that I've been holding for a little while now. And it felt to me like I could not have a sewing room series. If I did not talk to Carolyn Norman diary of a sewing fanatic, it would not be possible because listen, y'all talking to Carolyn about her sewing room [00:01:00] is.
[00:01:01] Lisa Woolfork: Talking to Walt Disney about the design of Disneyland. Okay. Because she is such a blueprint. She has done so much in the sewing community. Her career spans such wonderful longevity, such innovation and creativity. And the sewing room is the room where it. And so Carolyn, thank you so much for being here today and talking with us about your space.
[00:01:26] Lisa Woolfork: I am so excited.
[00:01:28] Carolyn Norman: No problem. You know, I'll talk to you anytime Lisa
[00:01:30] Lisa Woolfork: listen. So y'all Carolyn has done what I consider impossible. She moved a song. She had a great sewing room. She called it the sewn cave. She had machines set up there. She had her library, she had a fabric collection. She had trinkets in art.
[00:01:50] Lisa Woolfork: She had all of these other, you know, notions, everything that you would need in a sewing studio. She had it already. She had accumulated this. From [00:02:00] very discerning shopping as well as her own employment and travels in all of this. So she's got this gorgeous, amazing, well stocked sewing space that most people would just die for.
[00:02:14] Lisa Woolfork: Right. Going to Carolyn's house would be better than going to any fabric store. She has everything that you need and you already know it's in good taste. Then she's like, now I am moving. That is what I would love to talk about. I would love to talk about how you designed a new ideal space. How did you approach your sewing space?
[00:02:34] Lisa Woolfork: I remember following your process as you were folding fabric, purging fabric, thinking about fabric, looking at these things and assessing what you have and getting prepared and then making the move. So can you talk a bit at first? What were some of your first thoughts when you looked around at your gorgeous well stock sewing cave that you had been sewing in for?
[00:02:57] Lisa Woolfork: How long had you been in that space? Almost 10 years, [00:03:00] 10 years worth of sewing life and love and creativity in this space. She's got her TV and the movies and all the stuff. She, she has it set up the way she likes it. Okay. She has grown into this. And it fits her like a really wonderful comfy, comfy bathrobe and slippers.
[00:03:21] Lisa Woolfork: And now you gotta take all that off and go do something else. What were some of the first thoughts that occurred to you when you looked around your space and said, I have to move this?
[00:03:30] Carolyn Norman: Well, I did just that I side and then it was like, oh, hell no, I can't believe I have to pack all this fabric up. But yeah, it was mostly that I had to pack the fabric.
[00:03:41] Carolyn Norman: I didn't realize how well I had stored everything. Every time I felt I, I found the need, I'd go out and buy some more plastic to store stuff in, and then I would shove it up underneath the tables. So it appeared neater because I wasn't stumbling over stuff, but there was a lot of [00:04:00] stuff in that space. I mean, when we went to take it.
[00:04:04] Carolyn Norman: It filled half the moving truck, the sewing room itself, the sewing came, the sewing room itself filled half the moving truck. And we had taken two truckloads of the fabric over from one spot to the other spot before the moving truck came to move me out of that spot. And it took up half the back of this moving.
[00:04:27] Lisa Woolfork: Now tell me how long did it take you to go from your comfortable? Well, loved sewing room. To it being empty three to four weeks. And how many people were working during this three to four week period.
[00:04:41] Carolyn Norman: Okay. I need to, I need to stop here and say that part of the reason I made the decision to move was because I had some serious health challenges last year.
[00:04:52] Carolyn Norman: And I wasn't sure if I was gonna need chemo and all of the follow up. So I had to move so that [00:05:00] my kids would have a space to be able to take care of me. If something happened, let's start with that premise. That that's why I moved. I didn't just get up and decide. Oh, okay. I'm gone.
[00:05:09] Lisa Woolfork: You had compelling reasons.
[00:05:11] Carolyn Norman: I had a really compelling reason for why I moved. That was the first thing. And then the second thing was during this whole time, I couldn't lift anything more than five pounds. I couldn't bend over too much. I couldn't pack too much if I did too much, it sent me to bed for a day. So I think that's part of the reason it took three to four weeks.
[00:05:32] Carolyn Norman: And I haven't really talked about how sick I was from June to December last year, but I was pretty sick. I had two major surgeries and I was pretty sick. So my daughters pitched. And my granddaughters pitched in. They packed everything, but those little girls got to be a trip with my fabric because they started pulling out stuff to mouth Nana. So when you get better, you can make this for me, right? Nana or
[00:05:55] Lisa Woolfork: like, we are very happy that you are well. Glory. [00:06:00] Hallelujah. Here is my order.
[00:06:01] Carolyn Norman: No, this is why I was sick, but I think they didn't understand how sick Nana really was. They're packing fabric and then setting aside stuff for themselves. Those little bugs were such a trip.
[00:06:13] Lisa Woolfork: They have faith. They're like, she's not doing so great now, but soon she gonna be alright. And back at that sewing machine. So I might as well before, let me get in front of my other cousins.
[00:06:22] Carolyn Norman: I only have five grandchildren, three boys and two girls, and I only sew for the. But yeah, they really pitched in and they packed the majority of the sewing room.
[00:06:33] Carolyn Norman: I did a lot of supervising my daughter sews, so she knew how to put things together. It wasn't like the blindly, the blind, like we, she knew that the sewing machine should be packed separately and, and travel separately. And. My friends came from Pennsylvania and helped move my fabric for me. And then, um, my friend's husband set up all my machines and tables for me.
[00:06:56] Carolyn Norman: So it really was a lot of people pitching in to help me [00:07:00] move. I can say that I did it by myself. And so probably the reason it took three to four weeks was because. I could not physically pack anything. So let's start with that premise.
[00:07:10] Lisa Woolfork: Well, I think that's a, that's a great explanation and I appreciate your sharing with us.
[00:07:15] Lisa Woolfork: And what I'm hearing is that this was a community effort and I would be willing to say that even if you did it, even if you were at full strength at 110%, I do not believe you. Would've been able to single handedly pack up that entire. Of 10 years worth of accumulation in three weeks alone.
[00:07:33] Carolyn Norman: I think it would've taken less time because I would've been able to do it all the time.
[00:07:38] Carolyn Norman: I had to schedule the packing around other people's schedules and the moving around other people's schedules. I was like a military general getting stuff schedules and, and making sure that I wasn't taking up too much of anyone's time. And yeah, and even when we moved here, I could not lift things over my head.
[00:07:59] Carolyn Norman: I could [00:08:00] not carry the heavy bags up. So my daughters and the kids would have to come by and, and bring all that fabric upstairs. One night, I almost ended up in the ER because I, I just couldn't take it anymore. And I kept trying to put fabric on a, on a shelf. I was just tired of living with the bags. So I downplayed how sick I was last year and I moved in the middle of being sick.
[00:08:23] Carolyn Norman: So add that to moving 10 years worth of stuff and in the middle of a pandemic, right? Like I couldn't have a packing party. Like I would've normally just invited everybody to come and take whatever you wanted and pack and help me pack up. And we probably could have done it in two weekends. No, because we were in the middle of a pandemic.
[00:08:43] Lisa Woolfork: And so I think that this just at least it shows to me that this is the, it it's true that many hands make light work. And you were able to secure that over, not maybe not in the same, like timeframe that you would've wanted, that it was totally up to you, but not, it's not always up to us sometimes as a pandemic [00:09:00] that doesn't care about our plans.
[00:09:02] Lisa Woolfork: You know, that to me feels. Another lesson as well that I need to practice about like slowing down and letting people help me. You know, I really struggle with that because I like things done a certain way and I don't want anybody to do it. Cuz then I have to go back and just do it the way I want it the first time.
[00:09:22] Lisa Woolfork: And I really am learning to try to. Let go of some, which it's hard. I'm not E I'm not good at
[00:09:29] Carolyn Norman: it. I wasn't good at it either. Lisa, prior to that, when I moved to that spot, I moved a sewing space there, not as big or as organized as that one became, but I did it all myself. I packed every piece of fabric. I moved every bin.
[00:09:45] Carolyn Norman: The only thing was they moved the bins in the house. They moved them onto the moving truck, and then they moved them into the house. But every piece of fabric, every other thing, every summer, shit, everything I packed the first time myself, I just could not physically pack this time.
[00:09:59] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. [00:10:00] I am trying to learn that.
[00:10:01] Lisa Woolfork: Now I am trying to learn that now and to incorporate that need for support as just a human need.
[00:10:09] Carolyn Norman: I don't think it's bad to ask for.
[00:10:11] Lisa Woolfork: Not at all. It's a basic human need. We need that. And I
[00:10:14] Carolyn Norman: had friends that, that wanted to help, but pandemic, I was living with my 82 year old mother and we didn't want people coming into the house to possibly give her something.
[00:10:26] Lisa Woolfork: So the packing party or the. Trunk show or whatever you might have done in a time when everybody was healthy and the world wasn't in the middle of a personal pandemonium, you would've been able to do. And so now you have everything packed up. You are now in your new place. And when I was rereading the blog post, I was like, wait a minute.
[00:10:45] Lisa Woolfork: I thought she had a sewing loft. You were really excited about it. And I was ex Carolyn. I was excited. Like I was getting a song loft I was like, Ooh, we can go up to the top and look down and see the rest of the apartment. Look out the window and see, [00:11:00] but then you decided to pivot from that and said, you know what?
[00:11:02] Lisa Woolfork: I'm gonna keep everything downstairs. Cause it's a little bit easier. No,
[00:11:06] Lisa Woolfork: I didn't decide. Well, tell me what happened.
[00:11:09] Carolyn Norman: Okay. So I moved in September air conditioning. I have central air. It was cool upstairs. Everything worked even through December, it got a little hot one or two days, but I thought nothing of it.
[00:11:23] Carolyn Norman: And then after Christmas, when we got really, really cold here and you turned the heat on and turned it up and it was like being the Turkey for Christmas dinner up. I put fans in, I had all of these fans, but then I couldn't hear cuz the fans were going so loud and then the TV was up so loud and then I just couldn't think, and then I didn't wanna go up there anymore.
[00:11:49] Carolyn Norman: And then it was time for the second surgery. So I had to stop. No, this was after the second surgery. So I couldn't walk upstairs. It was just a hot mess. It really became a [00:12:00] hot mess and it was just so hot. And then the person who lived in this apartment before me had a couple packages come here by accident.
[00:12:09] Carolyn Norman: And she came by and she was talking to me. She was like, do you have someone living in the loft? And I was like, no, that's my sew room. She goes good because we had to move to a two bedroom because my daughter slept up there and couldn't sleep up there. January through April. That's how hot it got up there.
[00:12:25] Carolyn Norman: Lisa and that's with closing the vents that was with running fans. There was no way to, to, I don't know. I couldn't get the heat to come down and I think it didn't help that the HVAC system is up there. Oh, for goodness sake. Yeah. The HVAC closet is up there and it just radiated heat. My beautiful sewing lock that I had taken all that time to measure, buy the right tables for, um, get everything placed the way I wanted didn't work.
[00:12:55] Carolyn Norman: So I moved that genomic gave me to be a brand ambassador. I moved that [00:13:00] downstairs and I moved my surgery downstairs and I moved my cutting table downstairs. And I said, I would only do this for a couple of. To see how it worked out. And then I got down here and I kind of loved being able to walk outta my bedroom and walk around the corner, sit down and snow.
[00:13:16] Carolyn Norman: And then I kind of loved that I had the window right there, not 10 feet away. And there was a window and it was light, but I mean, right. As you can see right here and there you are, right. It was lots of light I hadn't had for 10. Then I decided that I would have a resource center upstairs to store all the stuff I would just sew down here.
[00:13:37] Carolyn Norman: And at first I felt like really bad. I was like asking my friends is this like, like really bougie? Like one of my friends said if she could kick her husband out she's so in her living room.
[00:13:49] Carolyn Norman: So see you're on the right path.
[00:13:51] Carolyn Norman: Yeah. I was on the right path and one of my friends was like, what do you need a dining room for?
[00:13:55] Carolyn Norman: Who are you dining with? We're in the middle of pandemic. And afterwards. When [00:14:00] we get out of it, she goes, you're not gonna wanna have people up there. You're gonna wanna go out because we've been home for so long. And she was like, use your space the way you wanna use your space. So I've redone the room down here.
[00:14:11] Carolyn Norman: I've added more furniture, I've moved stuff around and I'm making this work as the sewing room. And it, I only sew and cut here. My pressing tools are here because my iron board is downstairs. I iron in the hallway, you know, the thread, the pressing tools, um, new fabric that I buy. I have on a shelf and new projects are on a shelf and then everything else, all that other stuff I own is upstairs.
[00:14:36] Carolyn Norman: And it really makes it light and airy. Nothing's cluttered. I don't feel like my mind is all jumbled up because as much as I love the cave at the end, it had way too much stuff in it. I could barely move around. My girl, my daughter's boyfriend came downstairs and was like, had a fit of O C D [00:15:00] like, oh my God, how do you sit in?
[00:15:01] Carolyn Norman: His ways is like, just too crowded, too junky. I had been sitting in it for so long. I didn't realize. And so this is better and I. And I can do what I want. So I did what I wanted.
[00:15:12] Lisa Woolfork: I'm loving to hear you describe the sew and cave, which you loved and which you grew into, and which fits you very comfortably, but also hearing the way you talk about this space and that both of them have something that's appealing.
[00:15:27] Lisa Woolfork: Both of these spaces have something that reflect things that are essential about you and where you are in life right now. And that creativity will always be an important part of. When you talk about the current light. Of your current sewing space. What do you attribute that to? Is it because you have a big window with not a natural, not light coming in?
[00:15:49] Lisa Woolfork: Is it because you remove things that are more resource based out of the space so that it's more streamlined? What accounts for how you describe this new space as bringing you a [00:16:00] sense of comfort? That maybe you didn't have in the previous one,
[00:16:03] Carolyn Norman: I would say it's a combination of both one.
[00:16:05] Carolyn Norman: It's the light. I am a person that likes a lot of light.
[00:16:08] Carolyn Norman: I have a really hard time, January, February, and March, when it is like dark all the damn time, I have a really difficult time. And it didn't help in the middle of a pandemic when you couldn't go anywhere. That really made it bad. So I like a lot of light, so we should start with the light. The light has definitely helped.
[00:16:27] Carolyn Norman: I love that I can open the window and light just floods in. And the second thing is the lightness of space. The fact that everything is cluttered in everything isn't laying on top of each other. It's not all shoved up underneath, up underneath my tables now is. Just my legs , which is lovely. It's like, look, is
[00:16:47] Lisa Woolfork: this it's just my feet down here,
[00:16:50] Carolyn Norman: feet down.
[00:16:50] Carolyn Norman: And some cords. That's it. Whereas before there was loads of plastic storage under every table. To make [00:17:00] use of every piece of space I had in the sewing cake. And then upstairs, as soon as those last seven bins are removed, it is light and airy. It's it's resource based. It's just for like, if I wanna go upstairs.
[00:17:14] Carolyn Norman: And pull a pattern and pull some fabric and pull some trim and play around with it. I have a table. I have a chair to sit at. I can separate it out. The two things like one, I can be really creative up there. And then, then I can actually create down here.
[00:17:30] Lisa Woolfork: It's kind of like the difference between a lab and a library.
[00:17:33] Lisa Woolfork: The downstairs is like the lab because you're sewing and you're doing the work of construction. And then the library is where you're doing the research and the planning and the.
[00:17:44] Carolyn Norman: But my books aren't up there. Okay. So where do you kick your books in the hallway? it's the coolest thing. We, I bought some more shelving, like the shelving that's upstairs.
[00:17:54] Carolyn Norman: That's holding the fabric. My hallways are really big and it's not like it's obstructing [00:18:00] anything. It's not like it makes it too hard to get through two and three little kids can run through still with the bookcases. And I moved all my books downstairs. So. I have bookcases in my hallway that hold pattern, magazines that hold all my sewing stuff and then even hold my fictional books.
[00:18:18] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, right, right, right. Right. So your larger library collection, you have that all of that is available and you can access it pretty easily. I still have the idea, like you being able to go up there, sit in a chair, pull a pattern and browse. You can browse through the stuff you have.
[00:18:33] Carolyn Norman: Yes. You can make decisions when I was in the sewing cave.
[00:18:38] Carolyn Norman: I'd have to move everything around to make decisions, or I'd have to think it all out in my head before I got to the sewing cave and then look for stuff. But even then pulling stuff to look for stuff was a huge thing. I had to move stuff around. I had to, that's all gone. Now there's gonna be a table. And then all the fabric is all lined [00:19:00] and, and folded and put away nicely.
[00:19:02] Carolyn Norman: And then the patterns you saw, I posted on my stories that I bought filing cabinets and they're, they're all filed neatly. So I can go into the filing cabinets. It's
[00:19:12] Lisa Woolfork: black women's stitch in the stitch please podcast are happy to announce that we have another way to connect with our community. In addition to the IG lives that we do every Thursday at 3:00 PM.
[00:19:22] Lisa Woolfork: We also now have a club on clubhouse. That's right. Friends. They'd done messed up and given me the chance to have a
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[00:19:34] Lisa Woolfork: Follow
[00:19:34] Lisa Woolfork: black women's stitch on Instagram and now on clubhouse Thursdays at 3:00 PM on Instagram and 3:45 PM on clubhouse Eastern standard time. And we'll help you get your stitch together.
[00:19:53] Lisa Woolfork: I am so excited about this sense of happiness in your voice about this and I'm not sure if I'm just hearing like. [00:20:00] Because it's like you are out of one space and that whole moving part is all done. Or do you believe this new space has, or these two new spaces have opened up creativity for you, maybe in a different way than you used to for the last 10 years?
[00:20:14] Carolyn Norman: Not it's relief. It's relief. I feel like I was more creative before I moved, but I'm sure some of the listening of creativity has to do to the pandemic. We were shut down too. We really were. And it's the world is just starting to open back up. And even now I'm a little concerned with this new Delta variant.
[00:20:32] Carolyn Norman: So I'm just trying to do the best I can. Also, when you move, you figure out how much clothing you have now has the move.
[00:20:41] Lisa Woolfork: I know that folks say that a move will help you rearrange your priorities. It'll help you say, oh, I don't really need this. Or I moved this three more times and I never used it. Or. Has it just been the reflection you just made about how many clothes you have, has anything about your [00:21:00] sewing philosophy or acquisition philosophy changed since you've ?
[00:21:04] Carolyn Norman: Yes, I, by nearly as much fabric as I used to before I was keeping count on the blog. If you read the blog, I would do the yearly. I would do the monthly. I would be do the quarterly. No, we don't have to do that no more. You know why? Cuz Carolyn don't buy a lot of fabric because Carolyn had. Unpack refold and put some place, every piece of fabric she had.
[00:21:26] Carolyn Norman: And even before I moved it, I sent some boxes of fabric away to people. It wasn't like I moved every piece of fabric I had, but girl, when I found those five boxes in the garage that had coating fabrics in them, I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry. I was like, what am I gonna do with this? Well, lemme tell you.
[00:21:45] Carolyn Norman: I am going to fabric Mart in August and I'm dreading it because I just can't bring a lot of crap here. But what ends up happening is I go with a bunch of my friends. They all go crazy buying fabric. If I don't buy some of it [00:22:00] with them, then I have all this major regret later. So I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I have space to story.
[00:22:07] Carolyn Norman: I do have space to.
[00:22:08] Lisa Woolfork: Something that I started doing. And I think I did this on my last trip, my first and last I not, I've only been once and I had a great time. I brought, you know, me, I love swatch cards. So I created those swatch cards and I bring the swatch cards with me when I'm acquiring fabric.
[00:22:23] Lisa Woolfork: And if I can't think of something I'm gonna make with that piece, I don't get it.
[00:22:27] Carolyn Norman: I don't need your watch cards. That's my rule too. if I can't think of something I can make with it, if it's just a pretty piece, it stays. But it's amazing how many things you can think are gonna make with. Just amazing. All of a sudden, those wheels start turning. You can do this and you can do that and you get it home.
[00:22:44] Carolyn Norman: And it says for three or four or
[00:22:46] Lisa Woolfork: five years, that's why I had to have my car. So it's like, oh, I was gonna make Ben a shirt out of this. Or I was gonna make one of my youngest babies, a shirt out of this. And now he's 22 years old. Okay.
[00:22:55] Carolyn Norman: Wait, I'm senior swatch card ring. It ain't small. I know it's not small.
[00:22:59] Carolyn Norman: [00:23:00] So you have a lot of fabric that , you were
[00:23:02] Lisa Woolfork: kinda, I have more than one ring. Carolyn there's like 30 rings. I got a ton of drawers that each drawer has is numbered. Soon. I'm gonna cut down my swatch cards, cuz someone gave me a, an actual card catalog. Like a tabletop one, and I'm gonna trim my cards to the size of the car catalog.
[00:23:21] Lisa Woolfork: So I can put 'em in there and flip through them, like old school back in the day library, because I'm also a nerd.
[00:23:26] Carolyn Norman: The most interesting thing about your sewing room to me is how everything is labeled and numbered. If I did that, it would drive me crazy. Seeing all those names and things. No, I couldn't do that.
[00:23:38] Lisa Woolfork: I have to have it. I'm just the opposite. I need to know where it is. And how much I have. I don't wanna guess. I don't wanna like, get my mind. It's kinda like when you get your mouth off fixed for the last chocolate cake and you go in there and a kid is eating it. That's what it's like years my, if you can remember, it sucks.
[00:23:56] Lisa Woolfork: So. I go and I grab a pattern and I'm like, [00:24:00] oh, I can make this. This is so exciting. And I get the piece down and I lay it out. It's like, ah, my
[00:24:04] Carolyn Norman: resource center. I can grab a PA I can stack my fabrics. I can go through. And then since it's just the resource center, I can put it back on the shelf when I'm done, because it does not mess with my cutting or sewing ability.
[00:24:18] Lisa Woolfork: That is really great. Yes, it is really great to divide those two things out separately so that nothing interrupts the flow. I think that's great. I think that's very smart. I think that's super smart and I'm so glad it's working out. So let me ask you, you called the, the, your most recent sewing space. You called it, the sewing cave.
[00:24:41] Lisa Woolfork: Do you have a name before then? You had the sewing loft and then the loft was, you know, no longer. That's not yet. That's the resource center. What are you calling the space you have right now? Do you have a name for that? The sewing room, the sewing
[00:24:54] Carolyn Norman: room. I have a, I have a sewing room and I have a resource center.
[00:24:59] Carolyn Norman: [00:25:00] Oh, my god. such a badass. See why I had to talk
[00:25:03] Carolyn Norman: to you. See, people might think we're just obsessed, Lisa. They might not think that it's badass.
[00:25:10] Lisa Woolfork: I don't think anybody listening to this podcast thinks this's obsess. I think Amber listening to this podcast thinks this is a great idea and they wanna do something similar because it's an amazing idea.
[00:25:19] Carolyn Norman: Okay. But I have to tell you. I, um, have been on some sewing boards with some women that like designed their own houses. Oh. And they designed fabric rooms, temperature controlled fabric rooms, where the shelves pulled down a certain way. And you girl, please. I want
[00:25:41] Carolyn Norman: that kind of money. Wow. That's what I'm saying.
[00:25:43] Lisa Woolfork: I was. Well, I ain't work at a university and not for a drug cartel, so I don't have enough money to get those shells that work like that. So, cause they're, I paying me money to have built in shells that pull down, or I can like put my eye up to the door and it scans it and [00:26:00] opens it up for me. Fabric
[00:26:01] Carolyn Norman: rooms.
[00:26:02] Carolyn Norman: I have watched like three or four people build these houses and one woman built a suite and it had this fabric room and she had. A a collection way better than mine and the room was temperature controlled. And then she had a huge sewing room and off her sewing room, she had a balcony.
[00:26:20] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, for goodness sake.
[00:26:22] Lisa Woolfork: Wow.
[00:26:23] Carolyn Norman: Can you imagine, and then your own bathroom in the suite, and I've always wanted one of those where you have the bathroom and then you have the little kitchenette
[00:26:32] Carolyn Norman: oh my. So you didn't have to go. I would've to go downstairs from mountain Dew.
[00:26:35] Lisa Woolfork: One of my kids, one of them came down here and they were like, oh mom, you know, I'm not using my little refrigerator cuz my, both of my boys graduated this year.
[00:26:43] Lisa Woolfork: One from college, one from high school. So the college one bought his little fridge home and he was like, mom, you can put your little fridge in the song. Like. I can't put it in there because if I put a little fridge in there, then I'll get a microwave and then if I get a microwave, then I'll get a coffee maker to go on [00:27:00] top and then I will never see any of you all.
[00:27:01] Lisa Woolfork: Again, I will. Absolutely live here. So we shall not be building. We should not be putting any refrigerators.
[00:27:09] Carolyn Norman: Yeah. But I've always thought that'd be cool to have your own suite with your bathroom and then your kitchenette. And then, you know, you only go downstairs when to sleep or yeah.
[00:27:20] Lisa Woolfork: It's like, it's like, you're setting yourself.
[00:27:21] Lisa Woolfork: Your house becomes like a retreat, right? Like
[00:27:23] Carolyn Norman: that would be like the ultimate for me. I
[00:27:26] Lisa Woolfork: think that you also have something right now. That is pretty fantastic. Yeah. It's, it's good. It really not understanding the people who have the Beyonce money and the drug cartel money and the bill gates money and whatever, you know, for regular regular people who have regular regular income.
[00:27:45] Lisa Woolfork: I think you're doing amazing. Thank you. And it's, it's so exciting. It's so exciting to watch, and I love that most recent blog post talking about the space and about your transitions and, you know, getting everything together and having to build all this furniture like. Okay. [00:28:00] I don't you're so you so good at so many things, but not furniture building.
[00:28:03] Carolyn Norman: I don't build furniture. So I'm always looking for someone to build. So my initial bill, like I said, was, um, Galen and her husband came and he built everything for me. My TV stands my tables, he built everything. And then the, the bookcase that came in today, my daughter built, they built the filing cabinets.
[00:28:22] Carolyn Norman: My kids came one Sunday and built the filing cabinets for me. I built nothing. It is the one thing I missed about my ex-husband and look,
[00:28:31] Lisa Woolfork: you still gotta take
[00:28:32] Carolyn Norman: it. Care of, there was like four or five things I missed, but that's at the top of the list.
[00:28:37] Lisa Woolfork: If you could give someone who is just starting out a new person who is starting out at the very beginning of their sewing time, building their sewing space, who's still sewing like at the kitchen table when there's, when there's not meals being served, what would you give?
[00:28:52] Lisa Woolfork: As they are starting to imagine a space for themselves because you've had several over the course of your career. Do you [00:29:00] have any ideas or any tips you might ask someone when they're just getting started to wanting their own space or building their own space?
[00:29:06] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. So when I sewed, I had a sew machine in my bedroom as a teenager or as college student, I did have a summer machine and I had to cut out on the dining room table.
[00:29:16] Carolyn Norman: Like everybody else, I didn't sew on the dining room table because my, I. I'm old enough to have one of those sew machines that came with a table that dropped in. And so you had the long table to sew on, so that stayed in my bedroom, but I would say invest in a good pair of shelves. And nice storage baskets, and then make sure that you store all of your things in the shelf so that it's attractive.
[00:29:43] Carolyn Norman: It's easy to get to. It's not hard. I know you have limited space and you'll only be able to buy so much, but at least it will be accessible. It'll be easy. And you won't feel like it's cluttering. Everything up storage is huge to. I'm really a fan of [00:30:00] storage and making sure you have enough of it. So stuff doesn't overwhelm you and that plastic stuff at you can buy the plastic stuff at the dollar store.
[00:30:07] Carolyn Norman: So it's not like it has to be expensive. You can get a $35 shelf from target or the bigger steel shelves from like home Depot for like $50 and then buy dollar store storage buckets and stuff to store yourself to store your stuff. And then the other thing I would tell you is invest in good thread, invest in a good pair of scissors, and then make sure that you're using the best quality interfacing and fabric you can purchase.
[00:30:39] Lisa Woolfork: I agree. Those are wonderful, wonderful tips. Can you share with us what you have coming up next? Do you have anything that you're excited on, that you're working on? Anything you're sewing these days, your 41st shirt, maybe
[00:30:51] Carolyn Norman: I'm not making any more shirts anytime soon. Okay.
[00:30:54] Lisa Woolfork: We have it on tape Fox.
[00:30:56] Carolyn Norman: I ain't even worried about it cause because [00:31:00] 4th of July weekend is coming up and I have my, my stuff set aside to cut.
[00:31:05] Carolyn Norman: I'm gonna cut that weekend. So I'm not varying a shirt in the bunch. It's all dresses, cuz it's hot. Reasonably it's hot
[00:31:15] Lisa Woolfork: . I was talking to someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest 115
[00:31:19] Lisa Woolfork: degrees.
[00:31:20] Carolyn Norman: I can't even imagine cuz they ain't got no air condition. In the
[00:31:24] Lisa Woolfork: Pacific Northwest. I'm like, are the salmon boiling in the sea?
[00:31:29] Lisa Woolfork: Like what is happening? It's a mess. So summer dresses.
[00:31:33] Carolyn Norman: Yes. Summer dresses. So it's summer dress time and it'll be summer dress time until October. I wear a dress through, through to October the thing I'm looking forward to starting my most. And it's just formulating in my mind right now is I'm going to a wedding labor day weekend, and I want a F fabulous gown.
[00:31:54] Carolyn Norman: And I have the makings of it in my mind. And so I will [00:32:00] probably be working on that for most of August. And so I want, you know, like how I made the fairy tale dresses. The girls, I don't want a fairytale dress. I want a grown up, you know, mature, sexy woman dress, but I
[00:32:14] Carolyn Norman: look, I'm excited. Like you making it for me.
[00:32:17] Lisa Woolfork: Like, I am really excited to see you in this dress. I really I'm like, I hope she blogs about every step. And then she did the boning,
[00:32:25] Lisa Woolfork: you know, I'm gonna blog about every step because I like being able to have it to go back to look at. I tell people all the time that you're sharing my diary. Because, and I blog the steps.
[00:32:36] Carolyn Norman: So when I make a shirt and I forget where I was, I can go back and look at it on my blog. So yeah, it's, it's a way I keep track of everything. And then I just throw some pretty pictures in there cuz y'all, won't take 'em on the, on the dress form, which is what I did today and 90 degree heat. And let me tell you something, my glasses were sliding off my face.
[00:32:58] Carolyn Norman: I was sweat so much. [00:33:00] so yeah, I took, I was supposed to take three. Things. We only did two. I couldn't, I couldn't manage more two. You might see that last thing on the dress form. I just, I can't, that's my fantasy project.
[00:33:13] Lisa Woolfork: I'm excited. I cannot wait to see you bring your fantasy to reality. I am so delighted and happy for you that you have landed in a sewing space.
[00:33:23] Lisa Woolfork: Not so you have like slowing spaces, you got the resource center. You've got the sewing room. You've got the hall of amazing books and library like you, you're a franchise
[00:33:34] Carolyn Norman: against me. my first priority is always my sewing space. When I look for someplace to live it's where's my sewing space going. I, it was even the question when I got married, where's my sew space going.
[00:33:51] Carolyn Norman: And if there wasn't an adequate space for my sew space
[00:33:54] Lisa Woolfork: next. And now you have something that's way more than adequate. I am so happy that you [00:34:00] are happy and congratulations. This has been wonderful. Carolyn, thank you so much again, I'm so grateful to
[00:34:06] Carolyn Norman: you. No problem. Like I said, I do anything for you, Lisa.
[00:34:20] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening to the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at black women's stitch@gmail.com.
[00:34:36] Lisa Woolfork: If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon. P a T R E O N. And you can find black women stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast.
[00:34:56] Lisa Woolfork: And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, [00:35:00] You can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere. You listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments, If you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the stitch please podcast.
[00:35:24] Lisa Woolfork: That is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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