Making Your Sewing Room Beautiful and Secure

Sewing room door with Kwikset Smartkey lock installed

Pictured is one of the doors leading to the Fashion Belle patternmaking and sewing office featuring a newly-installed Kwikset SmartKey door handle and deadbolt lock with technology that makes re-keying easy.

All of us want our homes to be secure, but that is especially the case if we have special equipment such as in a sewing room. When a child is in the home, it is also important to use locks to secure rooms with machines or heavy items that might be dangerous to a tiny explorer who slips in unnoticed. Even with locks, heavy items such as rolls of pattern paper should be stored safely so that nothing can fall accidentally on anyone who accesses the room. Recently, I have made some upgrades to my sewing pattern work room, including new paint, window treatments and exterior door locks, and I wanted to share with you tips I discovered through this project.

Kwikset SmartKey locks can be re-keyed yourself

My introduction to Kwikset SmartKey technology that allows users to re-key their own locks came the old-fashioned way, by reading package information in the door handle aisle of the hardware store. With the vast resources of the Internet, I rarely embark upon a shopping trip without educating myself online first about potential products. This time I had not done prior research, assuming that door handles were standard and that I simply needed several door handles and deadbolt locks to replace failing ones on old doors. When I saw the claim "re-key anytime," I was impressed. Because I needed so many new locks, I had thought that I would need to either hire a locksmith to synchronize the locks or settle for juggling multiple keys. The Kwikset SmartKey technology would solve that dilemma, so I chose that brand.

Aside from one lock that jammed, I have been thrilled with the new door handles and deadbolts that I have installed on exterior doors leading to my sewing office. They install easily, work smoothly and look great. Kwikset also offers several styles suited to interior doors. A thorough reading of the instructions before attempting a re-key should help prevent problems such as I had. Kwikset advertises SmartKey technology as an advantage if keys must be given to repair personnel or neighbors. The lock could be re-keyed to a temporary loaner key and then returned to the primary setting later. My perspective is that unless you trust a person to take care of a permanent key to your home, that person should not have a key at all. It is unwise to allow strangers to enter your home when you are not there. Also, it could be risky to re-key the lock frequently because of the chance of freezing the lock if the process is not precisely followed.

How to unfreeze a jammed Kwikset SmartKey lock

If you have found this article while trying to fix a Kwikset SmartKey lock that has frozen during the re-keying process, read on. If not, skip this section.

Kwikset maintains a live help phone line which I called twice while trying to unfreeze one of the locks. The first representative offered to mail me a new lock overnight, which I wished I had accepted after hanging up and working another fifteen minutes with the lock to no success. The second representative told me to take the lock to Home Depot, an authorized USA service outlet for Kwikset, where a store worker could use a key re-set cradle. Both representatives said that the problem I had was most often caused by not inserting the new key fully during the re-keying process, so unfreezing the lock involves jiggling the new key by increments of a hair's breadth over the first three or four pins of the lock to find the position to which the lock re-keyed. Once that position is found, then the re-set process may be repeated and the new key fully inserted. The re-key technology is so accurate that it mirrors the exact position of the new key when it is first inserted, making it essential to insert the new key correctly. This solution did not work for my lock, however, and the key re-set cradle at Home Depot was also ineffective. A more experienced locksmith at the store where I had originally purchased the handle said that the lock was jammed, and he was able to fix the lock and re-key it so that it works.

Use quality paint like H-I-S for sewing room walls and doors

Anyone who has worked with various grades of paint knows that a large percentage of the ease of a job may be calculated by paint quality. For repainting interior walls and exterior doors to my sewing room, I experienced paint on both ends of the quality spectrum. First, I started out with a mid-grade Valspar paint from Lowe's (in the USA) and was unhappy with the thin coverage. As a result, for the exterior doors and additional interior painting, I switched to H-I-S Ultimate exterior paint in a satin finish, which was luxurious by comparison. The texture was like cream to apply, coverage was outstanding, and the paint comes with a lifetime guarantee against deterioration. I also used some H-I-S satin aqua enamel to produce a hard finish on several interior doors, and the texture of that formula was thinner and not as easy to apply as the Ultimate. H-I-S paint can be ordered from anywhere in the USA, and international shipping is also available.

For applying the paint, I used rollers and a Purdy paintbrush that, with all the exterior trim, has been through about 10 gallons of paint so far and dozens of scrubbings at the end of painting days. The bristles are still strong, flexible and have held their shape, and I think Purdy comes close to the truth with its tagline, "The world's best paintbrushes." My HANDy Paint Pail with disposable liners has been an essential tool, with its perfect size, wide handle and magnetic brush holder that make toting paint up and down a ladder easier. And of course, ladders. We have a collection of ladders in varying heights, but the important thing to remember is to use them safely.

Sewing room window treatments

To finish out my sewing room renovation, I installed faux wood window blinds with 2" wide slats, and I am using GE Silicone II caulk to seal cracks around the exterior window frames and doors. The blinds offer a professional look compared to fabric curtains, but they do require time-intensive dusting. I have not found a vacuum to be totally effective and usually wipe each slat individually by hand occasionally in addition to more frequent passes with a vacuum hose.

Looking ahead to Fashion Belle women's sewing patterns

This post is different from most of my topics that focus on fashion, but it is reflective of work that must happen to keep the workplace repaired and ready for production.