Tag Archives: Estate planning

Quilt Studio Inventory

Have you inventoried your studio contents? Can you list all the items from memory? Silly question, huh? But if you ever need to make a claim for insurance purposes, you need to know what you’ve lost or you won’t be paid for it.

Not only is an inventory helpful for insurance, it also can be part of your estate planning. As we discussed recently, none of us will be quilting forever. Someday our quilting things will be dispersed or transferred to someone else, or thrown out. Unless you’ve considered what you have and where you would like it to go, AND written that down, chances are pretty good it won’t go there.

After that post, I thought about my best intentions and how I haven’t lived up to them. Jim and I reviewed our wills and other documents recently. A big gap for me is in my studio. I’ve never created an inventory, other than of my books. It’s time.

For insurance purposes, a camera is a good way to document your belongings. I’ve taken pictures of my studio, which would give me a head start. Better is taking video of your studio space. Remember to open drawers and cupboards, and describe all the stuff as you see it. In a safe place keep receipts of equipment, so you can prove value if needed. If that is all you had to make a claim, you’d still do better than trying to list by memory.

For both estate and insurance purposes, a written document would help, as well. Here are the categories I thought of, with a few notes on each. If there are other ideas you would add, help us out in comments.

Equipment (sewing machines, long-arms, sergers, embroidery machines, die cutters)
List each of your machines by maker and model. Include the year acquired and approximate value at that time, or currently if you know that. Also note special attachments or add-ons. For estate planning, note what should happen to the item. For example, my small sewing machine (with modest value) could go to a family member; my long-arm should be sold back to the company. As mentioned above, receipts need to be kept. You can scan them and save them “on the cloud,” even by simply emailing the documents to yourself.

Fabric, batting, thread
Note where all items would be found. My fabric stash is almost entirely in my armoire; batting is in the closet; thread is in one of two places. Have some idea of your stash yardage. Quilting cotton is approximately 4 ounces per yard. Four yards is one pound. You can use a scale to weigh a typical fabric bin with fabric in it, and then subtract the weight of the empty bin. Divide the pounds by 4 to get the approximate yardage. Note who should have first dibs on fabrics if it’s to be distributed, and what should happen to the rest. If you’ve purchased a special collection of thread, comment on that and approximate value, and note who should get it.

Iron, ironing board, cutting mats, rulers, rotary cutters and blades, notions
These might seem like small items, but imagine the cost of replacing them if you had a fire or flood. It adds up.

Furniture and lighting
I have my long sewing surface supported by wooden cabinets, office chairs, bookcases, cutting table, my armoire, an open cabinet, gel mats, and lights. None of these are sentimental to me, so I wouldn’t worry much about estate distribution. However for insurance purposes this is a chunk of money. I need to list these and take pictures.

Books, patterns
Ironically, the one thing I have a pretty good list for is my books. I have about 100. If the replacement value averages $10 each, that’s a good thousand dollars. It’s worth keeping this list up to date. (I also put a return address sticker in each one. A book that is lent will more likely come back if my name is in it.)

Projects in process and UFOs
Do you have a list of these? Random blocks probably don’t matter a lot here, but projects that have a large portion done, or that would be sentimental for some reason, deserve extra attention. If you have plans for the finish and for who would receive the finished quilt, note that in your inventory. And go one more step and pin a note directly to the project.

Finished quilts
Quick, tell me how many finished quilts do you have in your home? Honestly I could only make a guess. I have quilts we will keep, quilts on walls, placemats and table runners in cabinets and drawers. And there are others that will eventually be given away. Besides those are quilts we’ve received as gifts, such as the one Jim’s grandma made. Who has first dibs on the big grey quilt? How should the others be distributed? Should the kids take turns choosing, or is there a good reason that shouldn’t happen?

If you have antique quilts or art quilts, consider having appraisals done. Use a registered quilt appraiser rather than an antiques dealer who doesn’t specialize in quilts. It is easy to be fooled by both fabrics ands styles, so if you’re going to pay for the work, get it done right.

No one wants to think about bad things happening, but they do. Be prepared. Take some pictures, make a list, pin a few notes on finished quilts and unfinished projects, locate receipts. When bad things do happen, this will make the aftermath easier.

Comments? Questions? What experiences have you had, dealing with someone else’s studio or making an insurance claim for your own?


Be Prepared!

Be prepared… for what? For sewing and quilting, for mishaps and disasters, for the disposition of your stash and equipment when you can’t use it anymore. There are ways to prepare for all of these things.

There are a number of steps to take when preparing to start a new project. Of course you need to choose the project or pattern and decide on fabric. (Actually, for a lot of my projects I decide these things as I go, so I don’t necessarily do them before beginning.)

Prepare your fabric.
I always wash mine when I get it home from the store. I’m sensitive to chemicals and also prefer the feel of washed fabric. When I take care of it right away, it is ready to use from my stash. I use laundry detergent that is free of perfumes and dyes, and I don’t use fabric softeners in the washer or dryer. If you are quilting for anyone with sensitive skin, including infants or sick people, these are sensible steps.

Before cutting, I press carefully with a hot steam iron, because cutting is more accurate on flat fabric. Accurate cutting is the first step to accurate piecing.

Prepare your space and equipment.
When’s the last time you changed your rotary cutter blade? Like knives, rotary cutter blades are less dangerous when they are sharp, because you cut with the correct force. But even when they are “dull,” they cut through flesh (and fingernails) in a hurry. (Ask me how I know…) So change your blades regularly. Think about your cuts before you start, and make sure you know where your fingers are. Consider wearing a “klutz” glove. Emergency room visits are a lot more expensive than simple precautions. (Ask me how I know…)

Wipe the cutting mat to clear lint caught in grooves. This keeps it from transferring to fresh fabrics, and also allows the mat to “heal,” giving a smoother surface and better cuts.

Pay attention to your sewing machine. Change the needle regularly. If it is making a quiet popping sound as it moves through fabric, it is dull and needs to be changed. Check the machine owner manual to see how often the machine needs to be serviced, or whether you should oil it yourself. Many newer machines are self-lubricating, but not all of them. If you no longer have the manual, you may be able to find it online.

Wind bobbins. Clean out the area around and under the bobbin case. Your manual should tell you how, but likely calls for using a soft, small brush, cotton swab, or soft cloth.

Clean your iron. Mine calls for tap water, which is great for saving money, since I don’t buy distilled water. (I iron a lot and go through a lot of water. Tap water is much more convenient for me, too.) Though I use filtered water, it still has a lot of chemical and calcium residue. Frankly, I don’t clean my iron often enough, so I never remember the process. Finally I decided to put the iron’s user instructions on the underside of the ironing board (it wedges up under there nicely), so I can find them easily.

Turn your ironing board. The narrow end is useful when ironing shirts, but you aren’t ironing shirts when you’re quilting. If you turn your ironing board so the broad end is to your left (if you’re right-handed), you’ll have more surface to use when pressing yardage.

Clean up your space. Since I lay projects out on the floor, I always vacuum thoroughly before I start something new. I also wipe off my cutting table and my sewing surface.

You may not need to do these things for each new project, but think about whether they’re needed or not.
– For more preparation tips, click here!>