I love seeing creative people’s work spaces, behind the scenes glimpses are really fascinating to me. A while ago I was asked to share some photos of my sewing space so it could be featured on a craft website, and I realised the only photos I had of my room were over 4 years old. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but this space has been in a state of chaos since I last featured it on the blog in 2011. You can see the 2011 Sewing room tour here.
From then until now my sewing room was in disarray. There was hardly any floor space visible, in fact, I’d often trip on piles of fabric or boxes. There was hardly any room to work on my table and piles of stuff would need to be relocated if I wanted to get anything done. I won’t even mention all the items I misplaced that I’d spend hours looking for. All in all, this tidy up was well overdue.
It wasn’t always super bad, I did occasionally cull fabrics, rearrange bits and pieces and of course clean, but this is the cleanest and tidiest the room has been in 4 years so I thought it was fitting to document it. Now that everything has a place I’m going to work really hard to keep it this way.
My last sewing room tour was just a few pictures, but this time I’m going to show you everything, hopefully some of the ideas will help you get your space organised too. This isn’t a styled space designed to look pretty, every thing is where it is for practicality and to maximise storage.
About my room
My room, a glassed in balcony off my bedroom, is quite small 2.4 x 4.3m (8’x14′) but serves my needs and I’m very grateful to have a dedicated work space of my own.
Some of the upsides:
– windows on 3 sides give it plenty of light for shooting tutorials.
– it’s in an out-of-the-way area of the house that I can retreat to without getting in anyone’s way or being disrupted.
Some of the downsides:
– it gets incredibly hot in summer and freezing in winter.
– all those windows means my shelf/storage space is limited.
– lot’s of light (even with the blinds) means many of my fabrics have suffered from sun fading.
– it gets a bit tight with the ironing board set up.
– there is only one power point and the lighting (at night) is terrible. One day I’ll fork out for an electrician to rectify this last issue.
Sewing Room Layout
My sewing machine and overlocker (serger) sit on a table that Mr Man custom made to fit the space under the east window. He used 4 Ikea table legs and the side of an old wardrobe cut down to size. Underneath the table, I store quilt batting and toy stuffing in a basket , on the right I have a small trolley with drawers that hold haberdashery like zips, elastic and velcro, as well as findings, tools and gadgets.
My cutting table is an old door on trestle legs and I set my ironing board up in front of the low fabric shelves on the right which gives me about half a metre of space to walk through. All remaining floor space is used for shelves and fabric storage.
I’ve utilised the only wall space to house a bookshelf which was getting thrown out at Mr Man’s office. The top shelves are used for all my craft books, magazines, embroidery cotton and WIPs. The rest is for fabric storage with scrap fabric at the bottom.
The space above the window pelmet is perfect for holding button jars and thread. Garments requiring alterations now hang rather than ending up in an ‘out of sight out of mind’ pile.
I have A LOT of fabric! The majority of it is vintage which I’ve sourced over many years. Much of it was bought from a lovely lady who was moving to a nursing home and needed to downsize. She had hoarding tendencies and although much of it was in good shape, sadly some of it has some staining from water damage.
I’m now on a strict fabric diet which means no fabric shopping for me unless something is specifically required for a project and I have no alternative in my current stash.
All woven cotton fabrics over 1m are stored folded on shelves and grouped by color (for the most part). I have some overflow shelves for bulk fabrics, corduroy, and fabrics with big yardage.
Wool blend fabrics are stored in a basket together, and all large remnants (FQ to under 1 m) are folded and stored in this big floral basket. Anything smaller than a FQ goes into the scrap box at the base of my bookcase. The large remnant basket is my go to for facings and small sewing projects.
Underneath my trestle I have a wire basket for light weight dressmaking fabrics like polyesters, chiffons, crepes etc and some stretch fabric overflow. The big suitcase contains cotton jersey and tracksuit fleece. I also keep a big basket to store t-shirts and jumpers for up-cycling projects, which I’ve recently downsized.
Cinti’s Tips for storing (and using) fabric:
- Store similar fibers, weights or purpose together – It makes them easier to find for a specific project.
- Organise by colour – not only does it look great but it makes co-coordinating easier and gives you an immediate visual assessment of what you have on hand.
- Separate by piece size – I have a fabric cutting hierarchy, I never cut into yardage where a remnant or scrap will suffice. There is nothing more frustrating than being short just a few inches of fabric for a garment because you cut off a piece for a small project.
- Try to keep your fabric out of direct sunlight – This I’ve failed at because of all the windows. Many of my fabrics have a faded patch which I just have to accept and work around.
My Sewing Machines
I have 2 machines permanently set up and ready to go and 2 backup machines (just in case).
My Main Machine – Elna Q7200 – I love this machine, especially the knee lift bar and automatic thread cutter. Such an upgrade from my previous machine, I paid around $2000 for it (maybe a little less), but it’s worth every penny.
My Serger – Baby Lock Evolve – combined overlocker and cover stitch machine. I use it in combination with my regular machine in nearly every garment project and exclusively with stretch fabrics. The cover stitch functionality requires a ton of re-threading so I haven’t used it in years. This machine was very expensive, mum and I went halvies after getting carried away at a craft show. I don’t regret the purchase though, the automatic self threading and differential feed makes using this machine a breeze.
Back up machines – My first machine was a cheap Toyota Quiltmaster which served me well for many years and was the main machine for My Poppet’s product making business for many years. I’ll keep it for Emma. I also recently picked up a old 70’s Janome for $40 which is built like a tank and is almost identical to the one I learnt to sew on whilst sitting on my mother’s lap.
Other storage Solutions
At arms reach of my machines (so I don’t have to jet up) I keep my threads, scissors, needles, bobbins an other machine accessories.
I’ve resorted to storing my threads in jars to keep them dust free. I’ve tried lots of open storage solutions for them but the amount of dust they collected was crazy and if I wasn’t careful my vac would just suck them up the pipe when cleaning.
Braids, trims and bindings are wound up on cardboard and filed in baskets or shoeboxes. Other small oddments are housed in small tubs.
I keep my felt and felt scraps in their own tubs so they don’t get mixed up with fabric scraps.
My vintage pattern collection sits in a wooden box and basket, which is not ideal but must do for now. I think I need to let go of some patterns that I won’t foresee using to free up some counter space.
Well that’s the grand tour, I hope you enjoyed it. Now that I’ve got plenty of space and have unearthed some bits and pieces that I thought were lost, I’ve been re-inspired to get sewing again. Expect lots of sewing projects coming your way.
I’d love to hear about your craft or sewing space. Are you lucky enough to have a whole room or do you carve out a little corner for yourself?