Monday, November 9, 2015

Six Reasons to Freshen Up Your Sewing Space

Were you one of those kids who was always rearranging your room? I was. It energized me to move things around, discover things lost under the bed, and to have a fresh perspective on a familiar place. As an adult, I do the same thing in my sewing space. Not quite as often as when I was a kid, but still every year or so, I need to shake things up in my creative environment.

I recently updated the pictures on my Where I Sew page for this very reason. There are lots of good reasons for introducing change in any aspect of life, and I spent some time thinking more about the "why" behind this latest change.


I suppose there is a perfect sewing room work zone in the same way there is the perfect kitchen work triangle. I'm all for efficiency but I like it when I have to move around a good bit to get something done in the sewing room. If I am doing lots of chain piecing or paper piecing or some other task that needs constant pressing, I will set up my ironing board right beside me. Other than that, I want to sew a little, get up and iron a little, hang out at the cutting table a little. This girl needs to keep moving. In this new arrangement, the ironing board does not have a permanent home so it gets put in the best spot for whatever is going on at the moment, and funny enough, the most common arrangement forms a triangle between my cutting table, sewing machine, and ironing board. Efficiency in spite of myself I suppose.


The cutting table was up against a wall and another side of it had a sofa up against it so only two sides of the table were easily accessible. It's a great table and the less accessible parts were becoming filled with clutter. I thought I needed to put it up against the wall so there would be more open floor space.

With the new arrangement, the cutting table is out in the middle of the room. It is accessible from all four sides, for use of the top, and access to storage underneath. My favorite part of this new arrangement, though, has nothing to do with sewing. Every now and then one of my teenage sons will bring his homework into the sewing room and sit on the opposite side of the table while I sew. Those moments together are becoming fewer. I treasure whatever time I can get.


The fabric cubbies were moved from one side of the room to the other. This in itself was not very significant, but the change made me take a closer look at what was happening in those bins. No matter how careful I was, those bins stayed messy most of the time.

I decided to further organize within each bin and have added some plastic drawer units to many of the cubbies. It is still a work in progress.

This has really helped keep things neater but also makes it easier when I am choosing fabric for new projects.


The sewing machine did not move far but the small shift made a huge difference in the lighting around the machine. Before, it was against the wall near the skylight.

Now, it has been rotated and is directly under the skylight. This means excellent daylight around my sewing machine most of the time. There is about an hour everyday where the sun is directly on the sewing machine. I figure that is a hint that I need a break anyway.

Ease of Access

Do you ever get so engrossed in your project that you randomly put tools and supplies down only to have them buried and lost mid-project? I used to do that all the time. My first solution to that was to keep a tray on the cutting table. Anything that left my hand had to go in that tray. That pretty much solved the problem. Now, I have a set of stacked drawers beside my sewing machine. The top drawer serves that same purpose. I leave it open when I am working on a project and use the same rule of putting it in the drawer when it leaves my hand. No more forever lost seam rippers!


I will never get an award for sewing room minimalism but I have become much more aware of my things this past year. Freshening up the sewing room made me take a hard look at all of the books I had collected over the years. I absolutely love my books, but really, I rarely looked at them. There is so much fresh and new being offered in the quilting world everyday. I did not need all those books. I culled through them a few times and kept the ones I loved the most. The rest, I donated. I know some of them are on the shelves of the local library, some were sold at the annual library used book sale, and some became part of a local guild book collection. I get far more joy knowing the experience of quilting is being shared through those books than I did occasionally thumbing through one or two of them while they lingered on my shelf.

Not everyone has the benefit of a dedicated sewing space, but even if it is just the dining room table, shake it up a bit. Sit in a different spot; use a different chair. Even small changes can suddenly open your eyes to other things happening in your space. And changes like that can often get those creative ideas flowing.

Is there anything you'd like to change in your sewing space?

Other organization posts:
Ribbon Organizer
Keeping the Important Stuff; Letting Go of the Rest

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