Ideas for a vignette: a mantel, the top of a piano, a favorite chair with a pretty basket beside it of reading or Bible material; a nook in your kitchen; the top of your dresser; your dressing table, etc.
Now, we're not talking about buying a lot of stuff to fill a space. If you think about the example of Ma Ingalls --at least the TV version of her -- she was thrilled to have one pretty, feminine figurine to set upon her rough mantelpiece. Try to move objects around that you have at home or make a craft item or even use branches or other materials from your yard.
The point of this exercise is to claim some pretty spaces in your home that you will maintain. Even if the rest of your home gets a bit out of order, having pretty spots to look at can inspire you to set the rest to rights.
While you're at it, where is your favorite place to pray, listen to music, or just think? Have you made it pretty? If you can, carve out a spot for you to retreat to to enjoy a few moments. This could be in addition to your desk, so that you have a pretty, organized space devoted to work and a pretty space devoted to rest. If you can't find a space in your home; don't worry. It's said that in days past, there was a woman with many children in her home. In order to find some privacy in which to pray, she just sat in a corner and threw her apron up over her face. If you can, however, it's nice to set up a little personal space for you, even if it's only a chair tucked away in a corner.
As long as we're plunging into this area of home management, let's thino about spaces for our husbands and our children. Do they have places to work and also to spend some quiet time? Setting aside some good space for your husband to work, take care of the family bills and other papers, or to pursue a hobby is one way you could honor him if you can manage it. Training yourself and teaching your children to respect his space and his things is good practice in consideration. (Says I, the notorious pen, tape and scissors thief! I promise to repent!) If you have many children at home, it's not likely that all will be able to have individual spaces. But, you can experiment with setting up the home so that there are places for those who need some quiet time to retreat to for a bit, while those who are interested in more active time can gather somewhere else.
We moved into a home that had a wonderful raised playhouse just at the stage when our children were leaving playhouse days. But, our daughter continued to use that as a place to go and pray and look at the evening sky well into her teenage years.
If you're in summertime now or if you live in a place with many mild winter days, as I do, think also of a space you outside that you can claim as a place to rest and dream. If you like, you can make an outdoor vignette or just enjoy a spot of nature as it is.
In a novel I once read, one of the characters talked about arranging things in your yard that would be attractive when covered with winter snow. She looked for things at thrift sales or made her own things to make pretty winter vignettes. Of course, the snow "prettifies" everything, but I don't have much practice with deliberately arranging landscapes to be beautiful when ice and snow hit. We get only a few snowfalls a year, and they generally aren't very deep. CALM has some beautiful photos on her blog of winter silhouettes from her yard and garden. If you live in snowy country and have some pretty photos of your yard and garden, please leave a link in the comments section. I'd love to see your photos. Or, if you have some advice for arranging things so that your yard will look especially pretty when decorated with wintry precipitation, please pass it on to me!
How's everyone doing on their home economics notebook and on their Book of Days? If you are planning to garden or even grow pots in containers on your deck or patio, have you jotted down some plans in your home economics book? If you are interested in improving your sewing, knitting, or crocheting skills, have you found some basic notes to add to your notebook? Think of your home economics notebook as a place where you work out your own management of your home -- tweak schedules, make long-term plans, jot down areas in which you'd like to improve, etc. -- and as a place to store reference material for future use. Note: this is not your daily planning notebook or calendar, but more of a reference book.
For your Book of Days, keep noting happy moments at home. Along the way, all home managers come across little problems that must be solved or have some unhappy emotions that must be worked through. Take care of those things in prayer first, and in your home economics book, second. Reserve your Book of Days for positive things.
If you get stuck wondering what to write in your book of days, ask yourself some questions: What is the weather like today? What is particularly beautiful about this season? (Even a wintry day has its beauties.) What smells are coming from the kitchen? What is something that I appreciate about each family member? Did my child say or do something today that I always want to remember? Did I accomplish some special cleaning or craft project? If I cleaned today, did I enjoy certain clean smells? Be sure to describe taste, touch, sound, smell, and sight in your vignettes of home. Jot down quotes that inspire you. Include photos of pretty things in your home.
One woman turned a favorite cookbook into a home journal. Every time she used a recipe from it, she jotted down who was at the meal and a little bit about what was going on in the home at the time. So, every time she or one of her children opened the cookbook, they saw happy notes from their home life on its pages. What a treasure that cookbook must have become!
Think of your Book of Days as a treasure that you are storing up for yourself. It can become inspiration to read on a day when you feel blah and unmotivated or even when you wonder if you are making a difference by loving your family. Or, it can be something fun to sit down and peruse when your heart is bursting with joy. Think of it also as something you wouldn't mind your children finding in your things when you are very old. Capture memories for them that they can go back to when they think of their childhood.
Have you ever thought about starting your own home based sewing business? Here's a guide from Mississippi State University to help you get started. The person who is ready to start this in the immediate future would probably need to be an advanced seamstress, but even if you are beginning, you can read it and dream.
Here is some reference material for a beginning sewer. Here's more info. for the beginner.
Here's a guide to sewing items for children.
Here's a guide to using a serger.
Are you an intermediate sewer? Here is a page you might want to peruse: http://diyfashion.about.com/od/easysewing/tp/Intermediate_Sewing_Projects.htm
Here's a page that can help you assess your skill of sewing: beginning, intermediate, advanced, and some suggested free projects for each level.
The following notes are from the article for people who want to start a home sewing business. But, it contains good tips about arranging our sewing space, even for those of us who sew just for personal use or fun.
Planning a Home Sewing Center
Where anyone sews often is a very disorganized area. Often it is the exception rather than the rule to have an organized sewing center. A sewing center is usually space adapted from a previous use. It can be temporary or permanent space.
A sewing area can be located in the laundry room, bedroom, kitchen, or even a living room. It can be a closet, a piece of furniture (wardrobe or a chest), or a separate room designed specifically for the center.
When locating your sewing center, it is important to consider the space required for the different activities an efficient sewing center should accommodate. Areas for cutting/marking, sewing at the machine, sewing by hand, pressing, fitting, and storage for all sewing equipment, partially constructed garments, and mending are essential.
Research has found a cutting surface 28 to 36 inches wide, 56 to 72 inches long, and 34 to 40 inches high is the most desirable. The ranges in width, length, and height are given because the dimensions for a cutting table vary according to the amount of space available as well as your height and arm proportions.
The cutting surface should be at a height that prevents stooping. If you are of average height, a cutting surface 36 inches high will probably be appropriate. This height should be adjusted according to the individual's height.
Since many fabrics are 60 inches or more wide, a surface at least 30 inches wide is necessary. Thirty-six inches is the preferable width. A cutting table 56 inches in length allows you to lay out the longest pattern pieces and leaves room on the surface for the rest of the folded material. A 72-inch length allows more of the pattern pieces to be laid out at one time.
A cutting surface should be accessible from at least two sides. Access from four sides is preferred. Eighteen to 24 inches of clearance on each free side of a cutting/marking surface permits the individual to move without hindrance.
A table may be built for cutting and marking or the surface may be incorporated into some other part of the sewing center. An existing table may be used by raising its height by setting its legs on building blocks.
Space also is needed for hand sewing, assembly of pattern pieces by pinning or basting before machine stitching, and for putting such things as the partially constructed garment.
Surface dimensions of 18 x 36 inches are adequate for all your auxiliary needs. It is desirable for this space to be within easy reach of your sewing machine. A height of 24 to 27 inches will allow you to work at the table while seated.
A sewing machine table should be 28 inches high, 40 inches long, with at least 20 inches to the left of the needle and 15 inches to the right. The sewing machine needle should be 7 inches from the front edge of the table and at least 12 inches from the back edge. This provides a table width of at least 19 inches. At least 3 feet of space should be allowed in front of the sewing machine for a chair.
When selecting a chair to be used at the sewing machine, select one comfortable as well as mobile so you can move from machine to pressing to hand sewing without getting up. A chair 16 inches high will allow you, if you are of average height, to sit and work comfortably. A swivel secretarial chair on casters makes an ideal sewing chair, since it provides maximum mobility.
Space for pressing is also critical since the typical ironing board is 54 inches long and 16 inches wide. This allows you to press garments while seated. If your space is limited, you may prefer to use a tailor's pressing board rather than an ironing board.
A mirror is needed in the sewing center for fitting and viewing. The mirror should be at least 18 x 60 inches with the top 72 inches from the floor and a front clearance of 8 to 10 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide. This allows space for you to fit another person or for you to use a dress form.
Lighting and Wiring
Twice as much light is needed for sewing as for casual reading. Good lighting, general and local, is essential in the sewing center.
General light is usually provided from a ceiling fixture. General lighting requirements for a room where sewing will be done depends on the size of the room. If your room is less than 8 x 10 feet, you should have a ceiling fixture using 150 watts incandescent or 60 watts fluorescent light. If your room is 10 x 12 feet or larger in size, you will need two watts per square foot incandescent or one watt per square foot of fluorescent.
Lighting experts recommend at least 150 watts incandescent or 60 watts fluorescent local lighting for cutting, marking, and machine sewing. A light such as this should be shaded so it does not shine directly in the eyes of the person sewing. It should be positioned 14 inches above the working surface, 12 inches to the left of the needle, and 7 inches from the wall. The bottom of the shade should be at eye level and the inside of the shade should be white.
An adjustable recessed reflector or recessed eyeball fixture positioned in the ceiling above a point 13 inches to the left of the needle and tilted toward the needle also may be used to provide local lighting for machine sewing. Fluorescent lights shielded by a panel are good under cabinets located above the sewing area.
Three hundred watts of incandescent light are recommended for hand sewing. If you plan to use a floor lamp to provide local lighting, it should be positioned so the center of the shade is 15 inches to the left (or to the right for a left-handed person) of the work center and 12 inches back to the rear of the chair in which you will be seated. A lamp with a base height 40 to 42 inches is recommended. The table lamp should be positioned so the center of the shade is 15 inches to the left (or to the right for the left-handed person) of the work center and 6 inches back toward the rear of the chair.
If there is much detail or if you will be sewing for a prolonged period of time, you need additional light. You can use a 75-watt reflector bulb in an adjustable socket clamped to the stem of a floor lamp. Position it below eye level and about 12 to 18 inches from the sewing.
High-intensity portable lamps may be positioned so the shielded bulb is within 10 to 12 inches of the sewing. Do not use a high-intensity lamp as the sole light for hand sewing.
If you use fluorescent lighting in your sewing center, for local or general lighting, it is best to use deluxe warm white tubes that give flattering light. It does not distort colors any more than incandescent light.
Provisions also must be made for adequate wiring in your sewing center. Locate duplex convenience outlets within easy reach of the sewing machine, iron, and other equipment you may be using. Take care to locate convenience outlets so cords plugged into the outlets will not interfere with traffic patterns. It may be desirable to install outlets 40 to 42 inches above the floor for easy access.