My sewing space

Sewing room

Good morning! I spent the weekend doing a bit of sewing, but also doing a few final jobs in my sewing room, to the point where I think I can call it ‘finished’. I thought I’d share a little room tour, since I always love seeing where other people sew.

Sewing room

This room has been a long time coming… it’s always been a multi-purpose sewing room, study, and occasional guest room, but a few months ago we knocked down a wall that separated it from the corridor leading to the back door. The extra 12 or so sq ft made a world of difference, and while having the back door lead right into a room isn’t ideal it did have the benefit of adding another natural light source to the space.

Sewing room

My keyword for this room was basically STORAGE. To that end, I did a lot of shopping in Ikea and Muji, and had a custom desk and shelving unit made by a local carpenter. It’s so nice to finally have a desk big enough to have both my machines out together – before I would be lifting one of the way to work with the other.

Sewing room

I’m asked fairly often, by the way, what machines I use – a Janome DC 3050, and a very old Toyota overlocker. My sewing machine sits on a silicon baking mat – great to prevent slips and skids and cut down on noise! I made the mat under my overlocker, which is even more cushioned and great for sticking pins in.

Sewing room

The shelves above the desk use up some awkward alcove space and hold my main fabric stash, which these days I’m trying to keep quite small (I’m basically at full capacity now).

Sewing room

All the fabric is wrapped onto mini ‘bolts’ – actually comic book backing boards. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to keep this up long-term but seeing my fabric so tidy and unwrinkled when I want to use it is a big motivator to keep things ship-shape.

Sewing room

I picked up the vintage spools from Brooklyn, they are perfect for wrapping trims around. Lint rollers an essential for threads and cat fur.

Sewing room

I try to keep the desk surface as clear as possible: I find that stuff has a habit of flying off the sides as you’re moving fabric around and losing your unpicker all the time is really not fun. So I pushed everything onto wall shelving – this unit, the pegboard and my trusty sewer’s friend, the Ikea Raskog trolley.

Sewing room

Thread rack from Amazon and yet more Muji cups and storage.

Sewing room

I save old spools and use them to keep loose bits of bias binding organised.

Sewing room

Over on the other wall is the guest bed (an IKEA Brimnes), which as well as trundling out to a double size also has very handy large drawers underneath. They’re obviously stuffed full already – bulky stuff like quilt wadding and those boring alterations projects I keep putting off, mostly.

Sewing room
Sewing room

This Argos box shelf at the foot of the bed unit holds my sewing books, PDF patterns and fabric overflow – bulky and off-season stuff mostly. Behind that are my cutting mats hanging on a hook (all my cutting happens on the floor in here). Yes, that’s an unfinished quilt with pins still in on the end of the bed…

Sewing room

This is my pride and joy – Muji vertical files to hold frequently used PDF patterns, sorted by garment type. It works so well!

Sewing room

Muji PP drawers under the desk hold printed patterns, and the binder on top is PDF overflow.

Sewing room

The iron and board live behind the door. I make my own covers and change them whenever they get tatty (ie this one soon) – current fabric is from Miss Matatabi.

Sewing room

Phew, that turned out quite long for such a small room. Here are some quick tips I’ve amassed that help me with staying organised in my sewing space.

> Use vertical space effectively: tiered trolleys, wall shelves, hooks and pegboards hold a ton and keep floor space free.

> Give everything a dedicated home, ideally away from your main sewing surface. Keep regularly used stuff closer and organise lesser used stuff accordingly.

> Tidy up between sessions. Yup, even though I’m lucky to have a dedicated space and can leave things out, I do tidy everything away when I’m done sewing for the day – putting tools away, cleaning the carpet of threads, stashing leftover scraps. It’s much easier to find everything easily when I pick up next time and means you avoid that off-putting bomb-site effect when things get out of hand.

> Clear out regularly. Perhaps as a result of doing the Konmari method, I get a bit stressed when I have too much stuff hanging around. I’ve got much better at keeping my stash in check, both at the buying point and getting rid if I feel I’m unlikely to ever use something. That applies equally to fabric yardage, scraps, patterns, tools and notions: use it (or have a plan to use it) or lose it.

Sources for my room:
Bed, trolley, picture ledges – Ikea
Pegboard – Block Design from Monoqi
Shelving and desk – custom made locally
Metal shelves – Tomado via Monoqi
PU drawers, files, canvas boxes – Muji
Ironing board hanger – Argos
Bedding – Primark
Blinds – made by my mum from Nani Iro fabric; roller blind on door from Tuiss

54 thoughts on “My sewing space

  1. Avatarsewlittletime

    oh it’s lovely. good to see how you have organised your space. i’m about to turn a v v v tiny utility room into a sewing space so storage ideas are always welcome. i like the pegboard for scissors – i was planning to use some for a thread storage rack.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Oh exciting! I think you can expand or contract to fit any space you have spare – definitely max that vertical space.

  2. AvatarSaSa

    What a nice sewing room! I like your well organized stash of fabric and patterns! It is a very good idea to gard spools for wrapping bias bindings around. I try to tidy up my space after sewing, too. I don’t like to begin doing anything at a messy space. Thank you for showing us your beautiful place and have a wonderful time in there!

  3. AvatarShernae

    Thank you for showing us your sewing room Katie! I can only dream of a dedicated space like this but it has given me a few good ideas of how to organise everything. I really do love the cute labels on your vertical pattern files and the way you’re displaying the pretty BHL and Papercut patterns. I sense a trip to Muji for me soon…

  4. AvatarMaddie

    What a great space, Katie! You’ve definitely made the most of what you have. Living in a 500 sq ft condo, I feel your pain on maximizing a small area.

    I agree with getting rid of what you haven’t used – if I haven’t used it, cleaned it or taken care of it in 6 months, I get rid of it, even if that means trashing good fabric (I sometimes give it away). Of course, there are exceptions to those rules (i.e. vintage), but generally, that’s the case. I try to live as simply as possible and only with the necessities.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Our whole flat is about 750sqft for two people and two cats, and it’s about 50% useless hallway. I’ve thrown out so much and there’s so much still to go!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      It’s already seen two sewing pals, so you’re always welcome to be the third guest at Hotel Katie :)

  5. AvatarAntonia Dore

    Your room is amazing! Such great light for taking photos with too!

    I am however very glad I’m not the only one who’s sewing room is a bedroom. I bet you don’t want any guests to stay so you can work.

  6. AvatarSarie

    Ah so so jealous, what a beautiful sewing space. I especially love the desk…such a good idea to get it hand crafted. Oh and the light is beautiful!

  7. AvatarAnita Boeira

    I love it.Just pinned to use as inspiration once I move. My current sewing room is huge, but really odd shaped so you can’t really fit a little couch, which is all that’s missing.

  8. Avatarmokosha

    wow, you have a perfect sewing room :) so beautiful, really! love how light it is! and how great you’ve used the space.. i share a sewing studio with my friend tea, but it’s still a work in progress.. i hope one day it’s going to look nice as your space :) for now, it would help if we listen to your advice about tidying our space up, as most of the time it looks like hurricane passed through it

  9. AvatarTeresa

    Ok, so I’m suffering from extreme sewing room envy after this post! I don’t have a dedicated sewing room, but have plans for turning a corner of our spare room into my space over the Summer. Thanks for some fab space saving ideas. Think IKEA or Muji should be sponsoring this post, they’ll be so many of us heading off there after reading :-)

  10. AvatarBella

    Thanks for the tour, Katie! I like seeing inside other people’s sewing spaces too. I use a lot of the same storage methods as you but I think I could learn quite a bit from your modest fabric stash!!!

  11. Avataremily marie

    What an awesome room! It looks super functional and almost TOO well organized. ;) That Muji file system looks like something I need… my PDFs are outrageously unkempt!

  12. AvatarLinda Galante

    Well, I am so inspired. Honestly, I was about to weep in agony this weekend as I surveyed my messy space. I *LOVE* the way you thoughtfully use each square inch of your space. And the light in your room seems so perfect. I sew in a basement room so securing better lighting is high on my list of priorities. Thanks for showing a slumming girl like me, How Its Done. Enjoy!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      It was a learning curve for me, I am naturally quite messy, but I LOVE keeping this room tidy! I have a daylight bulb over the desk for after-dark sewing, it’s pretty good.

  13. AvatarSophie-Lee

    Thanks for posting this – I love seeing people’s sewing rooms, especially as we’ve just moved into our first home so I get to put in permanent shelving etc. Still haven’t quite gotten my head around how to best store my patterns and notions but I’ll get there…

  14. AvatarAmelia

    Wow, your new space is amazing! Lots of clever storage ideas, which I might steal as my space is a corner of the living room! Storing binding on old spools is, quite simply, genius – I will definitely be stealing that idea!

  15. AvatarVictoria

    Your sewing room is so lovely! I love checking out what other people’s spaces look like too–thanks for sharing. Quick question–do you fold your PDF patterns to store them vertically? I currently have mine hanging on my wall, but I’m looking for a new solution.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yes, typically I trace them onto lightweight dot-and-cross paper and fold them to fit into the binder. They hold up quite well.

  16. AvatarLou Lou

    What a beautiful sewing space! So much light and everything looks so pretty. Having a dedicated sewing room must be great for your creativity, no wonder you make so many lovely things x

  17. AvatarStephanie E Barrass

    I’m loving the use of space, and touches of colour. The lighting looks great too. You must be really proud.

    I’m a graduate so I’m leaving all the space of a double long desk, possibly even my sewing machine for the 4th summer running (this always has to go into storage as its difficult to move around with). I miss having the space and ability every time I want to sew or do a project, rather than just planning one.

    This is something I’m going to be daydreaming about till I can have the space I want to sew. Your workspace looks so pretty!

  18. AvatarGinger

    I found over the years that it is impossible to cram a pattern back into the original envelope, for years I cut them out and put them in the large zip-lock freezer bags with the photo facing out. This keeps them from getting wrinkled up, torn or lost. I use an old milk crate to stand them up in. I love the peg-board idea for scissors and things. I inherited a very nice craft table from the mother-in-law when she passed, I love it for cutting out fabric and it is the perfect gift wrapping station at Christmas. It has “wings” that fold up for use and when folded down uses very little space. When I use it I use tall bar stools so I don’t have to stand up the entire time. Also the craft table has storage on both sides for me to hide my fabric stashes. My husbands mother always sewed, so he doesn’t fuss when I see fabric I just have to have….even when I have yards and yards tucked away everywhere. He thinks it’s normal, wink, and I will never tell him differently.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Some great tips, thank you. I like to sew standing up as well, my desk is a bit too high for my old chair at the moment. I’d love a winged desk!

  19. AvatarDiane

    Looks lovely Katie! A very inspiring, bright and happy space. I’m pretty good at tidying up my sewing mess at the end of the day, but dream of one day having a long desk where I can leave my machines out – good call!

  20. AvatarLeigh

    Your sewing room is gorgeous and I’m going to be stealing so many of your ideas! Thank you for sharing it.

    Did you stick something onto your cutting mats to make them hangable? I’d really like to be able to hang mine up. At the moment I wedge it down the back of my cutting table and then I have to wait for the inevitable bump to flatten out when I want to use it again.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yeah I got sick of them bending out of shape! I screwed a hook in the wall, one has a hanging hole already but for the other I had to drill a hole in (which was tricky)

  21. AvatarSophie

    Love your sewing room, I have space envy :) I found an even better diy fabric storage bolt recently, poundland sell a flat A4 artists canvas which are even better than the comic card especially for larger/heavier fabrics!

  22. AvatarHeather

    Wow! What a great space and I love all that natural light. You are so organized! I strive to be this organized! Thanks for sharing – I love to see where people sew.

  23. AvatarVeronica Darling

    Oh it’s so light! There’s no natural light good for sewing in our apartment, only a big bay window for a few photos in my bedroom. But! We’re not in Shanghai forever.

    I love seeing your ordered areas, and all the tools/scissors up on the board. How great is Muji? It’s quite expensive in Shanghai, even though other Japanese brands aren’t… but it’s also in Melbourne so thanks for those tips on storage of patterns… the files and drawers are just the perfect size!

    Thanks for sharing!

  24. AvatarAlex

    What a lovely room! I have just finished mine and I can totally relate to the feeling of relief to have everything so organised and easy to find! I really liked your method for stashing fabric. Mine is stuffed hard into a wardrobe with shelves and I can never find anything, much less remember what I have on there without taking everything out. No comic book cartons, but I’ll think of something :). You enjoy that sunshine sewing now!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Thanks, Alex! Yeah I was adamant I wanted my stuff out on display instead of being tucked away behind doors. Easier to be inspired and remember what you have, AND extra impetus to keep it tidy!

  25. Pingback: Fabric organising on comic book cardboard | Sewrendipity

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