Friday, March 29, 2013

Sewing Room, Organization, making "do" with what you have!

I always enjoy browsing through people's sewing rooms. I like to see how they have things set up and things that they use. So, with that, here's a tour of my little room! I'm not an expert by any means, but it's mine! Something I never had! I had many years of clearing the dining room table so that we could eat! The youngest moved out and I took over! Chef painted it a great green apple for me. The  contents are are things that I have collected on the way and re-purposed the best I can. I am grateful for my little "space". I hope you enjoy the tour and get some ideas that inspire you! Come on in!

I am limited in space, but I was left a dresser by the youngest. I've stashed craft supplies in it and it holds the tv that Chef bought me for the room. Beside the dresser and the window wall, I stash batting, pillow forms and the like.

Above the dresser I have shelving for storage of memento's and a few storage boxes for fabric bits and pieces. The birdhouse on the far right was a garage sale find with three little drawers. It's not in use, but hopefully one day I'll find a spot for it. Family photo's and my favorite items are on this shelf. The little sheep I brought back from Portugal, a few decorative thimbles. All dust collectors I assure you! My next cheap investment is one of those small photo rails (made of wood) from Ikea. It will go underneath the shelf just above the tv. The small little items can be placed on it, giving me more room to get some more storage boxes. The boxes here are from Ikea as well. Cheap and stores fabric safely away from the sun!

On the wall directly as you enter my room is full of gadgets. The boxes on the shelf above are fairly large and hold a multitude of fabric as well as specific projects on the go. The little ribbon that I have is stored on one of the rails. The small mason jar lids were screwed to the bottom of the shelf by Chef and the jars hold buttons according to color. I don't use them a lot, so I really don't have a large collection of buttons. You will notice to the right of shelf are two cans. These are compressed air cans that I use to blow out my machine when I clean. I keep them high so little fingers can't get into them, but evident enough where I know where they are.
Here is a shot of the corner when you enter:
The table that my sewing machine fits on is a computer desk that I found at Liquidation World for $30. It has heavy cast legs. The top has two flip up drawers that I can stuff things in.
When the tops are down, it still gives me a great deal of surface space to work with.
The backside (side facing the machine) has three drawers that I put the little tools that I use. Now with the cords from the machine and the lamp, I do have to move cords when I need to get into the drawers (no big deal). I also have a knee lift on my machine that I have to remove if I want in the middle drawer (again, I store stuff in there that is not used on a regular basis. On the floor I have one of those chair mats for offices. It lets me move my chair easily when I have to get up as well as protects the carpet from moving around. Command strips are my friend and I have one on the Ikea table beside my sewing table to hold my little scrap bucket. I store my extra "class" suitcase underneath that I can take to classes. Every inch of this room is used as you can see. Sometimes I think it's cluttered, but I have everything in a spot that I can easily access.

My eldest made the great pottery holder. It was for kitchen utensils, but I found it was great for scissors! You'll note that I have fabric strips on some of the scissors -- those are for FABRIC only. I think everyone in my house learned that in a hurry! I've seen some bloggers put a lock on the handles. My kids complained that they didn't know which ones were for fabric and which ones were for paper. Solved that don't you think?

 Right behind the chair is one of my cupboards that holds thread. Maybe they call it a Jam cupboard? I found this little cupboard along with the other one behind the wicker chair for $20. Works for me! The little corner is where I store my Accuquilt Go and templates, and the shelf holds scrap fabric waiting to be cut into precuts.
The goose neck floor lamp gives me task lighting if I am stitching by hand or I can move it to focus on the design wall when natural lighting is low.
The photo above is just an example of using things that you already have around the house. The larger jar keeps my little odd pieces of fabric that I am saving for a special project. The black rack is a telephone rack for an office. The side compartment keeps my smaller catalogues, underneath holds larger catalogues and graph paper. Those great Crystal Lite containers to the top left side holds glues, and pens and markers.

The bookshelf beside it is "Billy" from Ikea. It holds magazines, quilting books, work books and of course fat quarters! The brass container on top is my mom's old ice bucket from overseas. It holds my binder clips for when I pin layers. Command hooks on the side of the bookcase hold the rotary cutters out of harms way from the little one.

My fat quarters I've tried to sort into colors. I'm learning and I am not an expert by any means. To give you an idea, I use my smaller 6" wide ruler as a guide for folding them. Take a look at your stash before you plan on heading out to browse. That way you will know what colors you are short of. I have plenty to keep me busy!

Can you see that I love Ikea? The drawer unit to the right of the bookshelf came from Ikea. It was in the "As Is" section for $25. It had a top drawer that was stuck and not sliding properly so anyone who tried it walked by it. I rolled that little thing to the customer service desk and asked if someone could take a look at the drawer. The guy looked at it and said "No problem!" and fixed it within seconds! It holds my thread specific to quilting as well as all the feet and accessories for my Baby Lock! The basket on the floor beside it is another garage sale find for $2. It holds odd pieces of ribbon, lace and my zippers.

The little green basket was $1 from the Dollar Store. It holds the rulers that do not have a hole to hang on the side of my cupboard. Works great and easy enough to turn from the cutting table to grab quickly. I thought about buying one of those ruler holders ($50???? are you kidding???? My $1 works just fine and gives me extra room for the remotes and cordless phone!)

The bed risers were $4 for a set of 4. They lift that Ikea table enough where it matches the extension table to the Baby Lock perfectly! The best part of this is two file cabinets fit perfectly under. (I'm on the search for another one to match either of these so the heights are uniform). The trolley holds my extra Baby Lock for classes. As the closet and file cabinets act as our "office" it's easy to access the file cabinets under the table.There is a bit of room on top of the cabinets where I store my precuts in plastic bins. Keeps them out of the way, but again, handy enough to grab when I need to.

Let's take a look at my small collection of books and magazines. I've made the decision that I am not going to buy any more magazines. I find that I hold on to them, read them once or twice and then on the bookshelf they go. I haven't taken  patterns from them, but I'm still holding on to them because I spent money on them! Storing them are a pain, but I used labels on file folders to sort somewhat. I've decided my days of buying quilt magazines is over. Blogs are great! The internet is great! Mind you, books are another thing! I do have some that I would never give up that I refer to all the time. The one on the top is Fon's and Porter's, Quilter's Complete Guide. It was the first "quilting" book that I bought that I continue to refer to. Pick and choose your books carefully. Check them out from the library first and if you keep checking it out, then invest in it. I found that magazines can also be checked out. If you find one that you absolutely LOVE, and plan on making something with a pattern from one -- then by all means buy it! Oh, did I mention that the library also sells some out of date books (aka QUILTING books!)  Remember that the money you save from not investing in these items can go towards more STASH!

I've set up my machine so my back isn't towards the door. I am focused when I am sewing and want to know when someone is coming in. I am limited with space, so I wanted to set it up so I could glance outside at the weather, but then watch the tv without craning my neck around. My ironing board is set up against the window because it forces me to get up and walk over there. I get to look out and see the world, besides taking a break from sitting. Movement is good! Having a pressing station next to your sewing machine causes you to twist your body in your chair. Although handy for sewing, repetitive motion like this is not great for your body! Take it from my physiotherapist who gave me some pointers on sitting and movement during a sewing marathon!

 There are a number of things that you need to consider when you are setting up your studio/sewing room:

1. Lighting - natural light is great, but if you put your sewing table in front of the window, you may be blinded by the sun streaming through at certain times of the day. Realize the elements as well. You can either roast like a tomato in a greenhouse or have things blowing around on your sewing table. The lighting in the room needs to be adjustable, depending on where you are setting up your cutting table and sewing area. Spend the extra dollars when you buy bulbs. A good daylight bulb may be more expensive, but it doesn't change colors on your fabrics. We bought the figure below for $15 from Home Depot. I have one of the bulbs aimed at the design wall, one on the cutting table and one over the sewing machine.

2. Furniture: Check Kijiji, Craig's list, garage sales. Someones junk can surely be your treasure. Think big picture. A dining room table set up on bed risers is a perfect cutting table (especially when you can do this for under $20!) The sewing table can be a computer desk or a kids desk. Try and think outside of the box, especially when you have to work with a budget. Don't be in a hurry. Be patient and wait for the deals. Meantime, make do with what you have. I got my adjustable chair from an office sale. It was $10! Totally adjustable for the perfect sewing height can be achieved. Don't discount dressers. You can always repaint and then make the top into your pressing station. a staple gun and paint can go a long ways in refurbishing items. Sometimes I think so many people get stuck on "matchy" items that they spend way too much money! Make it work for you.

3. Fabric Storage: Decide what's important. Do you need fabric stashed for a long time? What can work for fabric stash? (boxes? plastic bins? bookcases? dressers?) Think about how "fast" you want to access it. Bins are great, but trust me on this, you don't want to have to lift bins off of each other to get a small scrap and then have to haul everything back into place. My large pieces (i.e. flannel, fleece) are in plastic bins in the closet. They are not something that I use daily, so they are stored in the large bins. Small precuts are in small plastic shoe-size containers. Enough so that when I have enough of the scraps in there precut, I'll just sew a top and then start over again.

4. Thread storage: Now I always wanted one of those racks that go on the wall. I bought one and before you knew it, the spools were all dusty. I then had smaller racks that you could put into a drawer. It worked great for a while, but then my thread collection grew. My little storage cupboard works great, as well as drawers. I don't think there will ever be a "perfect" thread rack, but again, use what you can. I've seen people use clear cookie jars that show off all the colors. Find something that is handy to your sewing machine! Bobbins have been a pain. I've tried every type of bobbin holder, from sticks in my spool and the bobbin attached on the top. Now I am using a circular bobbin holder. If you have room, you can always arrange them on plate racks with a golf tee on the top holding your bobbin to the spool. This one is still a challenge for me, but at least my thread and bobbins are close to my machine. That's all that really counts for me!

5. Furniture placement: Be aware of where you want your back facing. If you have a view, it's great to look up now and again. You also want everything in reach that you use on a regular basis. Do you want to get up every time you need to cut something? How many sides of your cutting table do you want to access? Rather than putting your table in a corner, where you can only access from the front and side, maybe placing it in the middle of the room will let you walk all around it. Perhaps you want to put the cutting table beside or behind your sewing area so you have support when sewing larger items? Consider the weight of your furniture as well. Remember, you don't want to be moving grandma's old 200 pound table around on a regular basis! Can you put a dresser in front of your sewing table to give more room for sewing as well as provide you with much needed storage? For me, my light Ikea table can be moved off the risers so that a friend can sew with me as well. The one great thing about my little room is I can slide the Ikea table into the area between my sewing machine and bookshelf and thread cupboard. I can then move the file cabinets underneath it. It gives me enough space where we can inflate a queen size bed for an extra guest or two when the guest room is also being used. It works and all my "stuff" is still safe! When our house is loaded with guests, I'm not going to have time to sew!

My "studio" is a work in progress. I find things, I get rid of things, I change things. Do what works for you! Re-purpose and re-use whatever you can! Afford what you can buy when it comes to the tools of your trade. Buy good fabric, buy good thread. Spend money on a good rotary cutter and rulers that will be used over and over again. If you find good boxes that you can cover with scrap paper (or color code), do it! It's cheap and it works! I found an old cutlery tray that works perfect in one of my sewing machine drawers! If you have any more great idea's to suggest -- comment! You never know who will find your tip to be the greatest!

Happy organizing!


O'Quilts said...

Wow...this is some sewing room!! I really love the apple green...My friends painted my room turquoise and the brightness is so cheery. IKEA is my friend too...I feel so safe and warm and cozy in my own quilting room!

Anonymous said...

I think you did a fabulous job with your sewing room and sounds like you did it all well under budget to what some spent on sewing rooms that probably are not as functional as what yours seems to be...Great Job!!

Margo said...

Thanks! I always thought everything had to "match" .. but hey! It works for me! I've recently added red items to go with the green! I'll have to do an updated post!

Margo said...

Thanks! I think I need a bigger room now! I love the green! Would love to see your room!