Hey, ya'll! I'm Rachel Denbow from Smile and Wave and I'm happy to be here sharing two projects that promise to save both time in your photography preparation and space in your studio. I'm drawn towards practicality but strongly believe you can enjoy both form and function when it comes to being organized. The two projects shared below, a fabric rack and felt board, take care of both!
One of my biggest time delays when preparing a tutorial for an e-course or blog DIY is prepping fabric backgrounds for photographs. I usually try to use a different background per project or sometimes a few on one tutorial so I have to spend at least five to ten minutes getting the wrinkles out of every sheet, tablecloth, or piece of fabric I'm going to use. Once I'm done I usually just folded them up to fit on my bookshelf only to have to iron them again for another project down the road. I finally got smart and realized there was a better way to store background fabrics while creating a nice display in my studio!
There are a variety of ways to get this look depending on your space but I chose the simplest route possible. All I used were four wooden dowel rods measuring 1/2" x 36" that I found at a local craft store, eight little screw hooks that were the perfect size for my 1/2" rods, a drill, a ruler, and a pencil.
If you were wanting something that didn't put as many holes in your walls (hello, plaster!) you could easily forgo the screws and use heavy twine to create a rope ladder of sorts that hung from one or two screws at the top. Another option would be to find a large frame and repurpose it as the base to screw your screws into. This option allows you to move it around as you rearrange with only one screw hole in your wall. You could utilize the inside of a closet if you didn't want it to interfere with your studio color palette.
The slice of wall next to my sewing machine was the perfect size to create this fabric rack display. I just decided how far apart I wanted my hooks from each other (12") in order to see all of the fabrics and to have it balance out the size of the bookshelf of fabric on the other side of the little window (not shown). Then I used a yardstick and pencil to check and double check my markings before pre-drilling a slight hole. After ironing all of my fabric (one last time!) I folded them neatly over the rods.
Having your screws spaced about four inches in from the end of each rod allows you to have enough support for heavier fabrics while still creating the space you need to have your fabric hanging in wide folds. If ever you need these for larger backgrounds you can easily just iron out one slight fold rather than many. Not only does it provide easy storage, it's a lovely way to add some color and texture to your space. Practical and pretty!
The next project that I have for you goes hand in hand with using your fabric for backgrounds in photography but is useful for quilting and patchwork, too. You can even use it to entertain little ones in your studio while you finish up a project.
I utilize a lot of small cuts of fabric for photographing product and fun vintage items I've discovered in local thrift stores but for similar reasons mentioned above, they don't always lie smoothly behind my product unless I spend a little while ironing them on a high steam setting. In order to make my life easier I decided to make a felt board to help the fabric stay in place while I moved things around for the best composition, etc.
I used a leftover crib base from a chalkboard project gone bad (couldn't get the glue from the HUGE sticker off despite my best efforts) that seemed to be the right size for most of my photography needs as well as some leftover felt yardage from a previous project that I'd over bought on. You could similarly use a piece of scrap plywood, an old message board, or purchase something and have it cut to an appropriate size at the hardware store. Other than your wood and your felt you'll need a staple gun, scissors, and staples.
Cut enough felt to cover the width and length of your wooden base plus about six inches. If your wood measures 36" x 48" you'll want to cut your felt down to 42" x 54". Most fabric stores carry felt yardage.
Place your felt down first and then your wood base face down on top of it. Secure the felt on one end by wrapping it around your wood base and stapling it down once. Then move to the opposite end and pull taut (not so much that it stretches out your felt) and staple once. Then move to another side and repeat and finish with the opposite side. You should have one staple per side now and have a relatively taut hold on your felt. Start again at the top and keep wrapping your felt around and stapling until you complete that side and finish with the rest. Fold your corners over for a nice finish. Trim excess.
You should have a board that looks similar to mine above. I used gray because it's what I had on hand but I would suggest cream or white if you're going to be using your felt board for other purposes such as a color story board, etc.
Instead of having to deal with movements in your fabric because of repositioning or walking past it to find your (insert random object here), you'll be able to flatten your fabric onto your felt and know it'll stay put. Unless your dog decides to join in on the crafting fun. I can't help you much with that one.
I can suggest that you also use your felt board for patchwork projects when deciding on fabrics to pair together. If your board is large enough you can place finished quilt blocks on it until you've decided on your arrangement rather than leaving them on your floor. If you don't have a lot of available floor space this can be a lifesaver! If you DO have little ones that like to join you in your studio space you can help them cut out shapes, numbers, people, clothing, letters, etc. out of felt or fabric and watch them arrange and rearrange for at least...ten minutes. There you have it, a teaching tool AND a time saver all in one. You're welcome.
I hope one or both of these little DIY's are helpful to anyone who loves to add a little color to their photography or maybe a good reason to try your hand at patchwork! Thanks, Danielle, for letting me share these on your blog and for the motivation to get my new studio set up and in working order.
You can find me at Smile and Wave where I regularly share vintage finds, handmade projects, online inspiration, and life at our house in the Midwest. I'm also on Twitter and Flickr and have recently released my first e-course, Modern Patchwork. It includes nine patchwork projects ranging from a recovered chair to a half apron and is designed with beginners in mind. Find out more about it here and check 'make a quilt' off your 2011 goal list!
Thank-you, Rachel, for these brilliant DIYs! I was shaking my head "YES!!" when you e-mailed these to me because I too struggle with the time it takes to create pretty backgrounds for photos and blog posts... There's only so much time in the day and who wants to spend the extra time ironing, and repositioning, etc. These are brilliant solutions. I can't wait to try these out myself.
And like she said, she has an A-MA-ZING e-course out that you must check out if you have always wanted to get into quilting and patchwork. And it's for beginners! Yeehaw. That is just what I need. It looks gorgeous, right?
Also, I am still taking new sponsors for February.. if you'd like to know more info, read here or e-mail me at thousandclowns(AT)yahoo.com. Thanks!