Glory hallelujah! After all these years I finally have a dedicated sewing room. No more lugging my sewing machine out to the dining room table and back again in time for dinner. Countless hours lost while gathering supplies and putting them away. Hours I could have been creating!
Over twenty years ago I thought I was excited to have a corner of the guest room and most of the closet for sewing and craft supplies. The double guest bed doubled in more ways than one, it was my cutting table. I would spread out my cutting board and once my patterns were cut out it became a work table right next to my sewing machine. How convenient, or so I thought.
I don’t know what took me so long to claim a sewing room in the house we live in now. We’ve been here going on 12 years…oh, I know…it was that thing called work. I worked from home and had to have a dedicated office space to do my job. More often than not I was working a phone based job where the background noises had to be kept to a minimum, like not at all. Since I’ve retired due to a disability, I no longer need an office. So goodbye work life and hello sewing and crafting!
The first 12 years we lived here I was sewing, but it was out in the family room with my supplies scattered between my office and the guest room. Most of it was in the guest room which left precious little for guests and their luggage. I realized it was time to do something about the situation…move the guests out. Not really.
It was time to purge, prioritize and…dare I say it….clean! The best way to organize your creative space is to start from scratch. Take everything out. Clean out the room and start over putting in the room only what you really need. The rest can be donated or tossed. Are you really going to finish that cross stitch project that you can’t see anymore? It’s only 30 some odd years old. Gone.
I have two sewing machines and they were originally set up across a large family room from each other. This arrangement was less than ideal. It bordered on crazy! This was going to change and fast. But first I had some work to do. My husband and I replaced old carpet with new vinyl plank floors. It’s much easier to clean and great for chairs with wheels. No lost pins in carpet and threads that require a vacuum instead of a broom. I also had a rude awakening that the room required a fresh coat of paint. Apparently I had forgotten the poor wall that met with one of my kids and the wall showed some scars. But I digress…it’s a little elbow grease and for a good cause.
My sewing room is new to me, but most of the items in it are repurposed and reused just as they are. Organizing and consolidating are important, the aesthetics can be polished later, if I choose. I prefer not to have stuff I have to worry about a little scratch. My sewing table and the floor lamp are the only new items in my room, oh…and a few storage boxes were purchased for this project. The sewing table is a DIY project, that was actually a Do-It-With-Friends project…but hey it beat store bought and expensive alternatives. You can see how to make a table just like mine in my Sewing Table post.
My room might seem crowded but it functions quite nicely. With a vinyl floor and a wheeled office chair I can scoot between my sewing machine and my cutting table with a swivel and one scoot. I’m also strategically able to place my chair between the cutting table and the ironing board when going through my scrap baskets using my Accuquilt Go Baby! cutter. I borrowed the bigger Go! cutter and liked it so much I bought the Baby and the value die that normally comes with the Go so I could continue cutting more of the same shapes with my Go Baby!
I store my larger pieces of fabric on comic boards and arrange them by color in an repurposed bookcase. The shelves in the bookcase are adjustable so I’ve placed them so I can fit two rows of fabric on comic boards, one narrow shelf for packaged materials, and a taller shelf at the bottom for the larger yardage on full sized fabric bolts. I got the bolts from the fabric/quilt store, just by asking. Check at your local store, they probably just throw them in the garbage and would be glad for you to recycle them.
My cutting table is my old kitchen table repurposed for lots of days of cutting and crafting. You can’t hurt it. I keep my mother in law’s old laundry wicker basket full of larger sizes of scraps. The scraps are big enough for the Accuquilt system when I get time to make some scrappy shapes. Any scraps from this process is put in a trash can that only holds scrap material. These will be further sorted for a crazy quilt or crumb quilt and anything to small for that will be used to stuff a dog or cat bed. Nothing…I mean nothing, goes to waste if I can help it.
Another cabinet was a great addition, it featured two shelves so I purchased some lumber cut to size and my husband stained them to match. The shelves are all adjustable and I’ve configured them so they maximize the storage for my room. In it’s former life, this hutch was a display cabinet for candles in my Christian bookstore. I loved the storage it afforded with a two drawer deep slide out where my UFOs are kept. When it gets full it’s time to clean it out and work on finishing some, if not all of them.
I store my fat quarters in shallow baskets which hold two rows of fat quarters on their side. I have two baskets full and overflowing. It must mean I need to sew faster. The taller baskets each have a shape cut out of scraps with my Accuquilt die cutter. I’ve found a tool that makes so many more quilts possible. I love using as much of my scraps as I can and this is one of many ways, but by far the easiest to create quilts for charity and friends.
The Accuquilt dies and mats have to be stored in a particular manner. The dies are supposed to be kept on their sides so no weight resting on them will bend the dies or smash the foam and make them useless. The mats should be stored flat to keep them from warping out of shape.
So since my Accuquilt dies are few, so I’m able to fit them inside a inexpensive napkin holder so the dies stay in an upright position. The Accuquilt mats are stored on the narrow top shelf where the mats can lie flat. The Go Baby! was a perfect size to store on the bottom shelf of my cabinet. I love how this cabinet also features a “counter” that comes in handy when working and needing another spot to put something.
In the corner of my sewing room is a juxtaposition of old versus new. I have my desktop computer on my great grandmother’s old treadle machine. I’m connected to the internet and can watch YouTube videos, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime while sewing….sweet! I can sit and sew for hours and never feel lonely, even if no one else is around.
Sometimes I listen to music but mostly I watch a lot of quilting videos. There are so many! I love Missouri Star Quilting for great new quilt ideas and how to piece the top or finish a quilt. I’ve gotten hooked on The Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters for quilting ideas, both in piecing but mostly for quilting designs. I’ve learned how to color my quilts with Inktense pencils from watching Helen Godden. I’ve got the Quilt-a-Doodle-Do project underway for practice. I often refer to the channel as YouTube University….I learn so much.
I love having my sewing machine in front of the window where I can see my driveway and observe anyone who comes to visit or deliver a package. On my left I fashioned a leftover block of wood into an ironing surface which sits on a side table. It’s easy for me to move this small table so it is out of the way when not in use and a left “wing” when sewing. On my right side I have a plastic cart on wheels with three drawers for stuff I need to keep handy, like bobbins, pins, free motion rulers, Machinger gloves, safety pins, and sewing machine parts in a small, plastic storage case. On top of this drawer unit sits a round basket for my seam ripper, tape measure and extra spools of neutral thread when I need it.
My main sewing machine is a Janome Skyline 5, which I love! I wanted a lighter, more portable machine for taking to sewing retreats and classes. I also thought it was wise to have a mechanical machine for a backup and not another digital one. They are less expensive and less apt to break down to the tune of big bucks.
I went vertical in this room and fashioned a couple of ceiling high shelves which are nothing more than a package of brackets from Amazon and two 36″ lengths of 1″ x 8″ lumber painted white with leftover paint from my sewing machine table. It’s a little high for me to reach so I keep a small step stool handy for when I need something from up there. A few decorative items are kept up there to catch the dust before it falls on me.
My ironing board is set up right next to the door. I kept it close because I have an over the door iron storage racks for whenever I want the space instead of the ironing board. In arm’s reach I have a wall decoration that also features a basket for my ironing supplies like starch, Teflon sheet, and ironing cloth. Down below one of the kids toy boxes was repurposed many years ago as fabric storage. I have ton more fabric hiding in there. Yards of material, mostly for clothing.
I tried not to waste any space in this room so I took advantage of any type of vertical storage I could. The only blank spot is behind the door to the room and that is destined to become a small design wall.
I’ve even got the closet packed with all my supplies. I’ve used Command hooks on the inside of the closet door to hang my hoops and a shoe organizer turned stabilizer/interfacing storage. A metal shelf unit that ordinarily would be seen in a garage is tucked under the closet shelf and holds lots of plastic storage boxes full of elastics, lace trims, zippers, patterns, buttons, etc. Next to this on the left hand side of the closet hangs a closet organizer that is made with little shelf units lined in plastic. I’ve used that to store light weight things, like yarn, designer duck tape (don’t ask), misc. tools for fiber prep and whatnots.
I never realized how much sewing and craft stuff….er, I mean supplies that I have until I tried to fit it all in one room. I learned that a lot of stuff had to be purged to make it all fit. For years I hung on to kits, fabrics and ideas that I finally admitted I’d never actually finish. It was time to donate some and throw away a lot. And yes, I threw away something I shouldn’t have, but fortunately I’d made a duplicate pattern and kept it in an off site location. No harm done.
Now I look into my creative space and a smile creeps across my face. Now you know why so many people who sew call it their “happy space”. It took awhile to get it to this state but it was worth every floor plank installed, paint on the walls and shelves and dreaming of a place to call my own. A place to be myself, to create, to share and to love. Lots of glorious and creative days ahead!
I hope you get inspired to create a happy space for yourself. For more ideas check out the Facebook group, Sewing Room Ideas. It was my “kickstart” to creating a space of my own.