Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday, It's Technical: Optimizing your Sewing Room

This is a confessional. I, Lauren, have an out of control sewing room. Seriously. It's ridiculous. Seven months ago, I had a functional sewing room with a sewing table and shelves and a closet and it was all reasonable organized. Well. My best friend moved in in April and she's lucky I like her because there went my sewing room, and entire room got relegated to oh, a 6'x12' "breakfast nook." But I got the little place organized and optimized, and until my fabric shelves broke and spilled everything everywhere, I ran a tight ship there.

So if you're thinking of organizing (or re-organizing as the case may be) your sewing room, first of all, consider the following questions:

- How large is your proposed sewing room?
- Will it be used for more than just sewing (scrapbooking, jewelry making, etc.)
- What is the lighting like in there?
- Will my typical organization methods work in this space?

Those questions will help guide you in how to best use what you have and what kind of supplementary items you may need or want. If your sewing room is large, you probably have room for different work stations - a cutting area, a sewing area, a pressing area, and then areas for other crafts like scrapbooking and the like (if that's your game). But if you're like me and have a teeny-tiny, eeensy-weensy sewing room, your objective will be how to most efficiently use the space you have for all of your sewing and/or crafting supplies.

If your lighting is mainly coming from one source (an overhead light, for example) then consider adding task lighting for your projects. If it comes from multiple sources, like an overhead light and a large window, be careful of where you place your fabric so it doesn't get sun bleached.

Consider how you organize in the rest of your home. Are you by nature neat and organized - do you label and categorize? Or, are you (like me) a whirlwind with a haphazard and case-by-case methodology? Set up your sewing room to play to your strengths. If you have a tendency to stack things out where you can see them, then shelves are a good thing to consider. If you like things put away, then a chest of drawers might be your best bet.

Once you figure out the larger furniture and placement oriented aspects of getting everything squared away, here are some ideas get things neat and accessible:

- Use wall space to your advantage. Wall mounted shelving, hooks, pegboards, bulletin boards, design walls and wall mounted magazine racks are all great ways to keep things organized and out in the open, yet taking up zero valuable floor space.

- If you are lucky enough to have a closet in your sewing room, take advantage of that space by housing larger or less-used items away in there, either on the shelves under the bar or hanging on hangers. The closet is a great place for batting, large ironing boards, sewing machines you seldom use...using pants hangers (the kind with the squeeze clips) you could clip up and away less-used rulers and templates as well as large pattern pieces that just will not fold back up, or pieces of material (like pleather, vinyl, laminate, wool) that are difficult to fold or shouldn't be folded.

- Rolling carts or small, portable kitchen islands are great for housing your projects and/or supplies and they are easily rolled out of the way when you aren't using them.

- Cabinets are perfect for closed storage, but think about how you use them. Once the shelves inside are filled, use the inside of the doors too! If the space between the door and shelves is wide enough, put some nails in and hang small items. If it's not, use it to hang fabric swatches with the selvedge on from your latest project (in case you run out of fabric, you'll know what to get) or put up pictures of your favorite color ways to inspire you. It's your very own Piniterest in your home!

- Wall mounted thread racks are Godsends. See your thread right away without having ro rummage through a bin.

- Store away your scraps in shoeboxes. The cardboard breathes better than plastic, so you don't run that remote risk of mildew (if you're worried about that), plus they're something you probably already have around. Organize as you see fit - by scrap size, color, print style, whatever - and stow away.

- Foam core or comic book inserts are great folding aids. Wrap your fabric around those and you'll have your own mini bolt of fabric for whatever size cut. It keeps more fabric more compact than just folding and you can set it on end, fitting more fabric on your shelf/in your bin than folding and stacking.

- Labelling the yardage amount on your cut pieces and scraps (if it's not readily apparent) is a lot of work but if you work out of your stash more often than not, it's a good way to know which fabrics will work for your project and which won't.

- Hang dowel rods on the wall or inside a cabinet to keep your ribbons and spooled items out of the way and untangled

- Small plastic baggies are great for housing buttons and other embellishments because they stay contained, and most of those baggies have a hole in the top above the closure so they can be hung on a pegboard for easy identification and access.

- Put patterns in binder sleeves in a binder. One large binder takes up less space than the same amount "ziplocked" bags the patterns come in with the pattern inside. Plus, using dividers or sticky tabs, you can quickly find the pattern you need without rifling through a large box of patterns.

- Hardware stores carry wall mountable storage drawers, used there to house screws, nails and all that small stuff. Use one in your sewing room, wall mounted or not, to house your sewing machine needles, buttons, embroidery floss, bobbins etc. Each drawer can be labelled too!

 - Portable toolboxes are great to house small notions of a similar type out of the way yet easily reachable. They're great for buttons, clothing closues (like hook-and-eyes, zippers, snaps), beads and other embellishments, sewing machine parts, etc.

- Use the ArtBin project bins to keep current projects, class projects, Block of the Month programs and UFOs organized

- Mint tins and the like are great for storing broken needles and bent pins safely contained.

- Magnetic bulletin boards with the magnetic tins are perfect for storing buttons, pins, needles, in a more visually pleasing way.

- Use a dry erase board to write up your project list, items you need to buy at the quilt shop the next time you're there, cutting instructions, or other notes to yourself as you work.

There are a million and one different ways to organize your sewing room, and it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you. I hope this has given you some food for thought and helped you with adding to the great ideas you all ready have!

Sources and Other Links
All People Quilt


  1. nice post. Now you can use this online b2b marketplace directory to promote bulk clothes buttons import & export business.

  2. I like to put my scraps into the nice handled paper bags that I get from my quilting score of choice (the cotton patch) when I buy fabric. I like that they stand up on the floor next to me while I'm cutting fabric, so I can sort while I cut. I sort them by size.


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