Studio Update

Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

Front view before renovation.

I’ve promised a few times to update you on the progress of my studio space, so here we go! The last few months of the renovation went by at such a fast pace. Not that things got done extra quickly, but there were so many things happening at once. It was a full-time job to keep up with scheduling contractors and doing some of the work ourselves as well. It really was a full-time job in itself.

I think the last time I showed some video of what the space looked like just before the drywall was scheduled to go in. If you go to my Instagram stories it’s saved under “Studio”. So it took about 9 months to get to that point! And up until then it’s all the ugly uninteresting, expensive stuff. We had really started from scratch once we got all the demolition wrapped up. A few unexpected surprises came up along the way.Studio Space Update - NoodleheadStudio Space Update - NoodleheadStudio Space Update - NoodleheadStudio Space Update - NoodleheadStudio Space Update - Noodlehead

Early in the spring we removed all the aluminum siding and a large awning from the front of the building. That was hard work! Underneath was the old brick facade, which was very exciting! It was so fun to see the year the building was built – 1890! It was a happy surprise because none of the pictures we had of the building showed a clear view of the date. We hired a masonry restoration specialist come in and try to remove the layers of paint from the brick. I had high hopes that the paint would be stripped away to reveal the beautiful brick. Unfortunately that’s not what happened. Over the years there were many layers of paint applied by previous owners. The first few layers were probably latex paint which came off fairly easily, but the much older layers were oil based and then finally a layer that was much more like tar. It wasn’t going to come off! I felt really sad that the old brick was damaged so much, but there wasn’t anymore we could do without completely ruining the face of the brick. They tuck pointed all the loose joints and repaired some of the damaged brick. Then they recommended a special masonry coating (we chose a gray color). I’m hoping this coming spring we can have some of the details brought out a bit more with some hand painted details, but for now I think it looks classic and much improved from its previous self.Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

When we first purchased the building, we had crossed our fingers in hopes that its original iron columns were still in place and they were! Over the years, the building’s facade had been completely covered with layers of paints and then with a whole front of aluminum siding. So it seemed to preserve the posts quite nicely. I spent a lot of time stripping the layers of paint (a taupe color, and under that was a grass green/gold layer and then finally a layer of white) and cleaning up all the details. It was kind of fun actually and a lot of time on a scissors lift! The columns are 12 1/2 feet tall, so the lift was essential in getting the job done. We removed the remaining aluminum siding and heavy!!! windows and doors. It was so hard! So at one point the whole front of the building was wide open (from the iron beam underneath the brick and below) with only the columns left. Not sure when but there was a fire in 1912 in our downtown area that may have originally damaged the original facade. So the only original parts left on the front of the building was the brick, the columns, and the front foundation wall – which is all now preserved. I painted the columns with an oil based primer and paint specifically for the iron.Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

I painted all the new front siding that was installed below the windows. We tried to mimic the original details of the building the best we could. While this wasn’t a totally accurate restoration job, I feel like the front facade turned out so well. The week the windows were being installed was sooooo stressful for me. I almost couldn’t watch! I think I was mostly worried that they wouldn’t fit or they would break, but the installers were so talented and skilled – they made it look easy and it turned out beautifully.

Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

View looking to the back wall of the building.

Before the front windows went in, our carpenters had worked on installing the back wall. When we purchased the building, it had no back wall and had been condemned because an addition in the back had collapsed. There was a temporary wall installed, but as part of our plan, we set the new back wall back on the original foundation. An old collapsed stairwell into the basement had to be patched with concrete block and backfilled. It was definitely exciting when the new back wall was finally up! The slow spring weather definitely played a part in slowing things up a bit.Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

The interior got framed out. We have a sort of ‘divider’ wall that separates the inventory area from the main front areas. We have two bathrooms (for code) and a mechanical room. In the mechanical room there’s a hatch to get to the basement which is really nothing more than where the plumbing pipes and drains exist.

We ended up replacing half of the building’s concrete floors, too. It was definitely unexpected. There was an extra layer of leveler that had been put down by a previous owner that ended up cracking and shifting large plates of concrete. Once we removed that layer we discovered the concrete underneath was in worse shape than anticipated. It was very old concrete that had many large areas where it had sunk down and cracked. Not something you’d put a brand new floor on. We had to jack hammer and hand carry the old concrete from the building. Luckily we had quite a few friends to help with the heavy labor. It took a lot of sweat and work gloves!Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

Even though the metal roof was in okay shape, it still had lots of repair work. We applied two coats of a specialty roof sealant to hopefully allow us to keep the roof for a few more years before it might need to be replaced. It was of course during the most humid and hot part of summer that we were up on the roof, of course!

Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

Next the back wall was sided and we (eventually) added an awning. During that time the floors inside were being prepared for the new flooring. There was a fair amount of grinding and leveling that had to be done. Thankfully we had a flooring specialist that did that work! Also the new electrical was installed and the plumbing had been roughed in.Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

So the last step in the not so pretty stuff was the drywall which totally transformed the space! It was so amazing to walk into the space that we had spent so long doing demolition and repair work on and finally see something look improved! I was mind-blowing!!! That took place in the middle of August.Studio Space Update - Noodlehead Studio Space Update - Noodlehead

I think I’ll leave the update at that for now. It was a lot! So even though the final product makes everything look simple, this will hopefully be a good reminder of some of the trials an tribulations of renovating and repairing an old building! Next time we’ll get to the fun stuff, I promise! 🙂

In case you’re curious, here a couple previous posts that I’ve written:

Studio Update 1
Studio Update 2


2018 was a good year


2018 was a good year - Noodlehead

Whew! 2018 was a roller coaster ride. Looking back at pictures is always such a good reminder for me. Sometimes you don’t realize just how much you can accomplish over a year’s time.

On the personal side, I’ve continued in my yoga practice and started back in the pool once a week. I’ve realized how important it is to have regular workout routine. My girls participated in lots of soccer, volleyball , and school activities and we went on a fun family kayak trip to northern Wisconsin during the summer. I should note that my daughters have both gotten in to knitting. A yarn shop (Yarn Cakes) opened in our downtown area and they’ve been having a great time knitting and being with their friends.

In trying to continue some momentum from what felt like a very busy year in 2017, 2018 was packed with taking on a new challenge. My husband and I worked on renovating an old building in our downtown area for use as my studio space. This was the largest and most involved projects I’ve ever committed to. I’m hoping to do a post soon to catch you up on all the happenings. But for now I’ll just let you know that we’re finished (mostly, still a few little things left) and I’ve been working in the space since November.

On the business side of things I released a couple of new patterns, the Fika Tote and the Making Backpack. My fabric collection with Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Forage, made its debut in May at the Spring Quilt Market. It was truly a great experience and a lot of work! As part of the fabric collection launch, I also shared my free Forage Bag pattern! And I also contributed to Making Magazine’s No. 5 and 6 issues (Making Backpack and Making Bag). The Making Bag will be released as a PDF in my shop on March 15th. Fun stuff!

My goal is to continue to provide a reliable source where you can find components and supplies that work with my patterns. I’m also hoping to add some new leather selections and options. It’s still very much my goal to grow the supply part of my business. I will need to take some larger leaps including hiring some help and possibly taking some sourcing trips.

I’m also very excited to re-energize and refresh myself for the coming year! After last year with most of my focus on my studio space, I’m taking it slow and realizing that it’ll take some time to re-focus. I’ll be the first to say that I learn new things all the time and the business aspect of  this journey is something that I am constantly trying to improve upon. I’m also trying to take some deep breaths and focus on what’s best for me and my family.

I’m continually grateful for my friends and support from this amazing sewing (and knitting!) community. I never could have imagined how my life would be when I started in this space back in 2009 and am so thankful for all of you. Thank you for your support, comments and encouragement. I’m looking forward to see what awesome inspiration 2019 brings and excited to share more about what is to come!

If you’re new here, take a trip down memory lane and check out my previous year-end posts from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 20142015, 2016, 2017. Wow, that’s a lot of years!



a zippered pouch never hurt

Well, I think this might be my last regular post for 2018, but I couldn’t help but share these little zippered pouches. Whenever I’m feeling a little off or stuck creatively, it always seems to help me by taking it back to the basics. This year has been hectic and full and fun. So sewing up these zippered pouches at the end feels like a bit of a calming effect. These are the small size of my infamous Open Wide Zippered Pouch. Back when I wrote the tutorial I remember thinking that I wanted to keep it all to myself and make a million pouches. They were just so fun and rewarding feeling. But of course I can’t keep all the fun to myself, so the tutorial was shared and I think enjoyed by many (or so I’ve seen). 😉

As I was making these I used one of my favorite tools – a glue pen. Glue basting isn’t new, but I really enjoy using the Sewline glue pen. I feel like it’s very user-friendly and comes in really handy for inserting zippers. Pins are great and in just about everyone’s sewing kit, but if you feel like trying out a glue pen, you might find that it makes things pretty enjoyable! I feel like I can get better alignment and be more accurate with my seam allowance. Win win! Of course anything like zippers takes a bit of practice, so don’t get down on yourself if your first few don’t turn out as perfect as you had hoped. Practice and trial and error are the greatest teachers. I love learning from my mistakes (which are many!).

This duo of pouches are heading to a couple of teachers, we’ll fill them with some candy before gifting of course. My daughter Emily decided they’d like pouches and after some fabric indecision, we arrived on these and I think they’re beautiful.

Pattern: Open Wide Pouch Tutorial (size small, modified the corner seams to be 3″ instead of 3.5″ just because I felt like it – see chart here)

Fabrics: Arroyo Cotton & Flax (Erin Dollar), Me + You Batik (X’s in Denim)

Zippers: 10″ (for small pouch), 12″ (medium), 14″ (large)