Wednesday, October 09, 2013

So Sew! Day 9: Work Spaces

Welcome to day 9 of our 31 Days sewing series! Today we're talking about work spaces for sewing projects. Want to see mine?


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So we’re getting to the actual sewing. Promise. Tomorrow we are really going to make stitches. But we have one more important beginning thing to talk about, and that is work space.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know space is a huge issue for me. I have a tiny bedroom with a sloped ceiling to call my own, and in it I fit my personal belongings and my handmade shop! I really do love this small room, it is so cozy and I love figuring out the solutions to the organizational challenges it brings!

So here is a mini-tour of how I make this small space work for a sewing biz, what you should look for in a good sewing work space, and some inspiration I’m hoping to implement soon to make my space even more functional!

First, my sewing desk.


This is a relatively small desk but meets the needs of a sewing machine. It has drawers on the right, giving me room for my feet and machine pedal on the left.

With my machine on top, placed towards the right side, I have ample work space. Since the needle and “working” part of the machine is to the left, you want more table-top space on that side so you’ll have a place to lay the bulk of the article you are working on. Does that make sense?




Here is what the whole corner looks like:


My hoop art and small thread shelf are still up there providing a colourful pop of inspirational art. I still love that addition to the space! Tucked in beside the desk are my small cutting mats, scissors, and yard stick hanging within arms reach. Have to use every possible space!



The white board over the desk gives me a handy place to make quick notes if need be. And my trash can is in easy reach, which is kind of essential with all those threads floating around!



Inside the drawers, I house all the rest of my sewing tools and accessories. Oh, and my candles. So I couldn’t find a place for them anywhere else…




Which leads me to some future plans for this space. One is with my thread. I keep it in the top drawer of the desk, but I’m horribly OCD about it.



Yup, it is colour-coded. And every time I open the drawer I am fixing it, keeping things looking neat and lined up. I can’t.help.myself. So I really need a different solution. That is what those random white templates are up on the wall under the hoop art. I’m dreaming up something like this. I’m going to need A LOT of pegs for spools, because I have A LOT of different colours and show no signs of stopping any time soon. :) I also want a system for my bobbins. {Right now they hang out on top of the white board.} Hopefully this update will be coming in the near future!

Once I get the thread out of that top drawer, I want to overhaul the desk for both function and beauty. I use this desk for some blog work, and would love for it to function as a normal office-y desk as well as hold my sewing notions. Plus it just needs some love!


I’m thinking about this kind of transformation. I’ve always loved this white and dark wood look!

And last but not least, I’d like to add some kind of shelf over the desk, and add a window shade to make this a photo booth for my products! I can’t get over how ingenious this is!

So those are my plans for this space. Any other suggestions?

Moving on to a couple of other work areas…


...an iron and ironing board are essential to a sewing space. I probably should have included these in my sewing toolbox post, since you can’t do without them!

Whenever I’m working, these are inevitably set up near the desk, next to the only outlet in the room. {Oh wait, had I failed to mention that minor detail?}

The last critical space is a cutting workspace. If you are working on a larger desk or table, it may be able to double as a cutting space. If you have the room, a separate table could be a permanent cutting space. A cutting mat will protect the table top, whether or not you are using a rotary cutter.

My solution has been to turn my double bed into a workspace! I started out with just a piece of plywood and a small cutting mat, which worked, but lets be honest: plywood is rough on the hands. And splinters in your tote bag don’t exactly lead to good reviews. {Not that that ever happened...but it was a real possibility!}




Then last christmas my grandparents gave me a HUGE cutting mat that covers the whole space! It has been such a lifesaver!



I lay the plywood down for stability {thinking about covering this and making it some kind of padded surface, but not sure!} and the cutting mat over that to do the actual work on. When they are not it use, I slide them behind the headboard. So slick, and again, using every possible space!



A shot of the whole space…



These are the spaces that I believe are essential to a sewing project, but please keep in mind:

1. Do what works for you. You may have more or less space, depending on your situation. You might be pulling your sewing machine out on your kitchen table for every use. I used to do that too! Just make what you have work. That is what I have done! Be creative!

2. Combine spaces if you must. Your desk could also turn into your cutting space. A table-top ironing board might fit your space better. Lay your cutting mat on the floor - that works too! Just so you have a flat, hard surface to help you get straight cuts.

3. Make the space your own. Even if it means only lining a drawer with inspirational fabric. Even if it means hanging some hoop art. Even if it means organizing your thread drawer. {someone else out there does this, right?} Do something to make the space a fun place to be, a place you want to sit down at each day!

Some ideas:

  • Put your desk near a window. This gives lots of natural light and also some pretty scenery to enjoy, even if you are stuck indoors.
  • If you have little kids, put your sewing desk so you are facing out into the room. I read this tip a long time ago {not sure of the source!}  and loved it. Someday when I have kids of my own, I want to do this! It allows you to keep an eye on your kiddos and interact with them without having to stop every single time.
  • Add some task lighting if it is needed.
  • Keep your supplies organized and your projects handy. Make it easy for you to sit down and work, even if it is just for a few minutes. I had to reevaluate this step a while back, and for me it means getting my cutting mat out first thing in the morning after my bed is made. That way I don’t have an excuse to put anything off!

So there is the rundown on work spaces and some of my personal opinions and dreams. I’d love to hear how you handle the challenge of space, and any other tips you have for mine!

Challenge: evaluate your current system. Are your sewing tools and accessories organized? Is the space functional? How easy is it for you to sit down and work on a project? Is there anything else holding you back? Leave a comment letting me know what your particular challenges are, then do something about it!


Other posts in this series:

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