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Thread: How do you convert a garage into a quilt room/studio?

  1. #1
    Super Member Quiltgranny's Avatar
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    Hi Everyone,

    We have a detached two car garage and a one car attached garage. It is the one car attached that DH would like to convert into a sewing space for me. Woo hoo! At this point in time, I am on an information expedition for us. There's so much on the net, I figured someone here has probably done this before and could guide us in the right direction.

    We need to be able to do this in the most budget conscious way possible. So, any guidance as to how to do this on the cheap would be greatly appreciated. We plan to do the work ourselves, little by little as we can pick up the materials needed to make this space workable for a sewing area. Thanks in advance.

    Karla

  2. #2
    omak's Avatar
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    I have never done it, but the first thing I would want to know are the measurements, then the equipment you have to put in it.
    Do you have windows? Lighting is something you will really want a lot of.
    What are you going to do for heating/cooling?
    how finished are the walls, ceiling, and floor?
    Actually ... maybe I would quit thinking of it as a one car garage and consider it a long room.
    I would put my quilt frame/machine in one end, with peg board behind for any supplies dedicated for that process.
    I would dedicate the opposing wall for my ironing, cutting, sewing stations and make sure that everything (cutting and ironing anyway) was at a counter height - - table height for cutting and ironing will really tear up your back. I think that most cabinets are between 34 and 36 inch heights.
    And, I would plan a LOT of cabinets for my fabric stash.
    Part of one wall for the peg board to store my rulers, my tools, my cutting mats ... there are a couple of threads going that have people making their new sewing rooms. You might find their sewing rooms inspirational.
    If you have access to a salvage yard, you might find all the cabinets you need on the cheap from an old travel trailer ...
    and, LOTS of plug ins ... it will save you running thousands of cords for all the little things we figure out to plug in, and you just never know where a plug in will come in handy - - in a long room, two per wall probably is not enough.
    And, I would put in a banque of drawers. I would probably put my threads, my tiny tools, my pin boxes, pin cushions, the types of things that won't hang up into those drawers.
    Keep us in the loop for what you are doing, and how you are accomplishing it.
    New construction is ALWAYS a wonderful thing!
    And ... if you don't have a quilting frame/machine, but you like to do free motion quilting .... built an extension table on to the table your machine sits on - - make it almost four feet wide, and about three feet deep ... put it in the corner of your room, so that the wall is running on your left side and in front of you as you sit at your machine.
    Being able to "trap" your quilt into that area, your free motion quilting will be much easier ... your machine will sit on the corner of the whole set-up as far right and forward as you can get it.
    At the factory, when we were working at our machines, not only did we have that extension table (even doing chain piecing can benefit with that set-up) We had a smaller table that sat on one side of our chair or the other ... it was a bit higher than the seat of our chairs. This is where our pieces sat as we worked through the packet.
    Oh! And, don't forget a place for your radio, CD player, and television ... it is always more fun to sew when you have some good country music or a quilting program on the tele.
    This is so fun!

  3. #3
    Super Member Quiltgranny's Avatar
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    Hi Omak,

    Oh wow! You thought of all kinds of "necessaries", lol! Gee, I might even need a little fridge and a microwave too, huh? LOL Thanks for reminding me of the organization thread, too. I've been keeping up on it, but will need to reread it all now - looking at it from an entirely different perspective. :)

    I appreciate your thoughts on all the electrical needs, too. Not sure yet what DH has in mind for natural light, I just know I GOTTA have some! We're in a wooded setting with critters all around. Always something inspiring to look at around here - unless it's bears or mountain lions! :shock:

    No quilting frame, but lots of other stuff. Walls are only studded mostly, a little drywall on one wall. A drop ceiling would need to be installed. Heating ducts added to include this area. Cement floor currently.

    Gee, I never thought of checking at a salvage yard for cabinets. What an excellent idea!! Thanks so much!

    Any ideas as to how one might come by insulation and drywall inexpensively?

    Thanks so much for all your great thoughts! I'm really excited to see what everyone comes up with. It is exciting!! And yes, I will keep you all posted, although it might be several months before much work begins, we'll see.

    Happy sewing,

    Karla

  4. #4
    omak's Avatar
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    Not many years ago, I lived in a house that had been built in Portland, Oregon in the late 1800's ...
    When I was dinking around in one of the back bedrooms, trying to figure out how to make it liveable, the wall plaster started coming off the walls.
    No wonder my heating bill was out of this world when I left the door open on that room!
    They had used slat outer walls, wooden shingles on the outside of that ...
    insulation was a combination of chicken wire, plaster and newspapers ...
    At the time, that wall had held up almost 90 years in a moderate, humid temperature ...
    Probably, the best priced insulation you can buy is papered on one side, cut at 17" (might be between 15 and 17 inches) just big enough to fit between the studs ...
    The beauty of newspapers is: even if they get wet, they do not freeze ... but, they have a lot of insulation benefits .... that is why the homeless keep them very handy ... cardboard boxes ...
    it really depends on the amount of humidity in your area ...
    but, "kosher" insulation is probably more comfortable for DH to plan for.

  5. #5
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    You may be able to find some wall paneling at a salvage yard to use instead of sheet rock to cover the insulation, too. Sometimes you can find give aways really inexpensive in the local nickel ad type of free papers, too. I have seen cabinents, light fixtures, wood, carpeting, just about anything that you would need to remodel your garage into a quilt room/studio.

    For this type of construction, you will probably have to get building permits and you may not have a lot of say about taking short cuts.....unless you live in an area where no one will be around to notice what you are doing/have done :wink: The downside to not getting permits/inspections is, if you should ever need to file a homeowners insurance claim, they can check to see if you have done any major renovations without permits just so they can turn down your claim :?

  6. #6
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice above! You can try googling 'sewing rooms from converted garages' or something close. There's a book about creating your perfect sewing room.

    I would definitely check into your local building codes. When we added on a room to our 900 sq ft house, we were required to put in a crawlspace. They wouldn't let us just pour a concrete slab. That's different, but there may be requirements.

  7. #7
    Cookn's Avatar
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    First thing you need to do is sit down and decide what you want in your studio.

    In no particular order here are some things to consider:

    Design Wall
    Stash storage
    Light table or box
    Computer work station if you use a computer design quilting program
    Cutting table
    Sewing machine cabinet or cabinets
    Sitting area
    Dedicated task lighting
    Overall lighting

    Once you have decided what you want in your room, sit down with a sheet of graph paper and make a plan of your room. Once you make a plan start working on the room. Standard construction technique would be to do any repairs to the structure first or any add on like more windows, doors, etc. Once the structure is in it's final configuration then do your drywall and painting. I recommend drywall over paneling unless you use a very light panelling because dark panels make it seem like a morgue. Once you have everything painted then do your flooring. One of the problems that you usually have in garage is that the base floor is sloped and you either have to build a small platform or level it in some way. You should not have any problems with code enforcement, unless you do major exterior remodeling.

    In an extended time frame project like this it's very important to have a plan to work from. Without an initial plan you tend to lose focus on the vision you had so many months ago. I've done quite a few remodels, both personally and professionally, you need to know where to start in order to get to the finish.

  8. #8
    Kj05's Avatar
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    You may also want to check out craigslist.com and freecycle.com. People tend to give away things for free or next to nothing.

  9. #9
    Kj05's Avatar
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    ***Correction - It's www.freecycle.org

  10. #10
    Senior Member AtHomeSewing's Avatar
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    As for the furnishings. I found all of mine in the "As Is" bin at Ikea. They change out their displays from time to time and those items go in, and people are always returning things that I guess didn't fit or whatever. I found everything there, over a couple of visits, and not one thing had anything wrong with it, even a great leather task chair. If you have an Ikea in your area, check them out.



    :)

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