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Sewing Room Organization

Hello November! I can’t believe we are just 2 months away from 2022. I don’t know where the year went, but like always, I start thinking of goals for the new year, and the goals I’ve accomplished this past year. Over the last few years, I’ve become obsessed with organizing! When “Tidying Up” came out on Netflix, I fell in love with Marie Kondo and her methods. I was very inspired by the idea of items “Sparking Joy” and bought her books. I went through the entire process two years ago, and our house has felt clearer, and much easier to maintain since then. I am not a minimalist – and Marie’s methods aren’t about minimalism, but the mental process of “letting things go” has truly been life changing.

After organizing the main living spaces of our home, next was my sewing space – which felt like a whole different challenge, and this year’s focus was on my studio! With sewing, there’s a lot of “stuff”; tools, fabrics, machines, little accessories etc, which can easily take over a space, and it can be hard to keep it clean and organized. I’ve been slowly decluttering, re-arranging and organizing every inch of my sewing room.

I wanted my studio in the attic so I would be seperate from our living space, but somewhere I would get more light than in a basement studio. We were so fortunate to find our home and I am so, so lucky to have such an amazing space. A few years ago I shared some of the work we had done to the attic, including tearing down a wall, ripping up carpet, putting down wood pre-fab flooring and painting the walls. I’ve added new furniture over the past year to better fit in my space and I feel like I’m in a place where I can show it! After getting organized, I now clean my studio almost every day – I clean up after my day’s work, and I clean during projects. I’ve realized that taking a 5-10 minute break to reset my space clears my mind so much, and I get less frustrated during the sewing process. And starting the day in a clear, inviting space is an incredible feeling!

After 16 years and 4 sewing spaces, I’ve finally found systems that work for me and I wanted to share them! I love looking at other makers work spaces, and getting inspired by how others create – so I hope you find this post inspiring!

My main area consists of three sewing tables, an island, ironing board, and a filing cabinet and drawer cabinet.

My filing cabinet holds documents and my bag patterns on top, and on bottom are my PDF patterns. I also have three beautiful thrifted canisters on top of my cabinet that are currently empty.

How I organize PDF patterns:

I use flat bottom file folders, and label each a different garment type; tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, etc. Within each folder is a clear document holder with the PDF pattern and instruction sheet. To make it a bit easier, each clear folder has the pattern written on the side. I bought a box of these sheet protectors back in college and have been re-using them since!

My sewing desk is from World Market (sold out, but they have other great styles!) and I really love the length and minimal drawers. I don’t like having a lot of drawer space in desks because that allows me to just throw stuff in there and not keep it clean. My drawers hold my thread and bobbins on top, pattern weights and wax paper (to copy patterns), and larger tools on bottom. The top of my desk has a small basket for scraps of projects I’m currently working on, and pencil cup with extra scissors, pliers, and marking tools (pens/pencils). I also keep a small “recycling bin” for old needles.

Above my desk is my ‘everyday tools’ organization. I love peg boards, but didn’t need something really big. This small organizer is perfect. It holds my scissors, seam rippers, snips and tape measures. I also decorate it with artwork and trinkets that I really love.

Next to my desk is a little garbage bin I made from a table runner (I hope to share this in a future post!), and my Bisley zipper cabinet. This was definitely an investment piece but I had been struggling so hard with organizing my zippers, this piece was perfect! I organize my zippers by size, which is much better than the shipping box I used to store them all together in. My zipper storage sits perfectly under my industrial machine table, which is it’s own desk.

In the middle of my sewing space is my island – which is a kitchen island from Ikea. I am so in love with my island, and getting to sit at it every day is such a treasure. I bought the Stenstorp, which is no longer available but a similar island is the Vadholma. There are so many sewing tables on the market, but many of them have drawers, cabinets, etc, and I wanted something more open. The back side is where I store my chair, stepstool and heater (the attic does get chilly!). The front shelves hold four fabric bins on bottom (mainly fabric for bags), and the top holds more tools, elastics and trim, embroidery threads, sewing machine accessories, and a bin of fabrics leftover from refashioning projects.

The top bins were my Mom’s, who cleaned out her closet and passed them along to me!

Under the island I store the embroidery machine hoops. Not an ideal spot but my embroidery machine and hoops are on loan from Janome so I don’t need permanent storage, but it needs to be accessible.

One of the more recent additions to my space was this little hook for my rulers! I’ve had a battle with storing my long rulers and was never happy with where I put them. I got a little hook at the Container Store and attached it to my island. The littlest things make me the happiest!

On the other side of my sewing area is my serger desk and ironing board. I’ve had three different desks in this area but this one is my favorite! This was in a discard pile from a family members storage area, and I scooped it up without a real purpose, but I fell in love with it instantly. A few months ago I added it to my studio and it feels like the perfect fit. It also stores my serger thread (in a KEDS Rifle Paper Co shoebox!) and machine tools. Also, I only have one pink chair – I just moved it around for photos! (I’m on the lookout for a metal stool to go with this desk, but my other chairs work great for now) I stitch with two sergers, one is mine and one is on loan from Janome. Usually I have one with black thread, and one with white but I took off the black thread while cleaning the machine and haven’t re-threaded yet!

My ironing board stays up 24/7, and I have a mini tabletop one that I put on my island for smaller projects. My dress form also hangs out over here.

On the other side of the room is more fabric storage, my ”office” and bag storage. This side of our attic has vaulted ceilings, so finding storage to fit within the space has been difficult. I’ve re-arranged this side so many times in the past three years because nothing felt right. I finally feel in a great place with each area of this side, and it’s nice that each space has its purpose.

This little unit holds books, sewing patterns, fabric, and all my bag hardware. The larger bin on top holds my hardware, categorized by size. My smaller bin holds any other small things – lead for my sewing pencils, sewing machine tools, etc. My apparel fabrics are in fabric bins, and my collection of sewing books sit next to commercial sewing patterns in their envelopes. This space is also home to my interfacing.

Next to this unit is my rolling cart with current projects. This has helped me keep track of what I’m working on, without just piling it in an empty space. This is also where I store “ideas”, pieces that I want to work on but aren’t ready to start yet. We bought this cart for vegetables/general kitchen storage in our Hoboken apartment, so it’s nice to have a good use for it here.

Up next is my home office! I used to use my tablet on my island but didn’t have a space for it to stay set up until now! I got this desk in high school and now use it as a computer desk where I keep my tablet and a larger second monitor. This desk only has a small drawer that holds post-its, and tape (and my keyboards when not in use), so I use another rolling cart for other items. And yes, my desk chair has flamingos on it!

On this cart I keep my camera and camera accessories, and planning tools like markers and notebooks. The top of my cart has a lid where I can keep my tea/coffee cups and any meals I wind up eating while working. The side of my desk stores my tripod and ring light.

In the next section of my space, I have two storage bins: one of batting, interfacing, and linings, and the other with bag prototypes. The top storage basket holds muslin and sheets to be used for toiles. Behind that, I keep years worth of fabric scraps, which includes toiles from apparel projects, and the smallest scraps and threads. I want to make a few floor poofs, which I will fill with scraps one day, but I haven’t made them yet! (There’s also a small pile of secondhand fabrics that need to be organized)

The final side of my studio is my bag storage/shipping supplies! One of my most recent additions is this beautiful bamboo rack. This is where I keep my bags and accessories, and I use bag hangers from the Container Store, and plastic bins from there as well. I hang up backpacks, tote bags and crossbody bags, and store zip pouches and key fobs. Behind the rack, and on the side of the rack are larger shipping boxes. Bag storage has been another battle for years, and I really didn’t like them in tote storage because they would get squished, and it was hard for me to manage several totes in this space without feeling overwhelmed. I’m looking into garment bags for my bags to hang in, but I do love seeing my hard work all lined up. The two drawer unit is for sale items and pieces that still need to be photographed.

I have also been struggling with how to organize my poly mailers, and decided on this storage rack from The Container Store – and it’s been so great! I can store all my packaging materials, and each drawer gets a different size bag. The top holds my label printer, shipping scale and tape dispenser. Right next to the unit is my tissue paper.

While I have all this glorious space, I do keep my fabric swatch collection elsewhere. We have a few closets in our basement and one of them has shelves which I use for all my fabric swatches and swatch books. This definitely keeps my sewing space clearer, because I have a lot of swatches. (I can’t photograph this right now because our basement had a little water with Hurricane Ida and everything is a bit all over the place, but thankfully all my swatches were ok!)

Something else that really helped my space is general decluttering. Since I’ve been sewing for 16 years, I’ve accumulated a lot of fabric. Fabric I bought when first starting out, fabric that’s been given to me, or fabrics part of impulse purchases and overbuying. I had 5 garbage bags filled with fabric I no longer wanted. The quick solution would have been to drop it off at a thrift store and be done, but I tried to find a good home for it all. I reached out to a local church thrift shop to see if they could sell it, use it, or knew of someone who would want it. They put me in contact with someone who was more than happy to take it and I was able to organize a pick up. Being able to part ways with old fabric was so mentally clearing, and being able to pass it onto someone who could use it made my heart so happy.

I often think back to when I first started sewing, and remember my machine in my bedroom (on this green desk I’m using right now to type this out!) and using my parent’s kitchen table to cut out fabric. I experience so many moments of gratitude that I get to work from this space, and fill it with things I love. I am so excited to work in this space for years to come.

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