Monday, February 9, 2015

Sewing Room Organization

I don't know if you are like me but every January I get in the mood to clean out closets and try to get things organized.  Apparently, I am not alone because all of the magazines seem to have loads of ideas for getting our homes organized.

I did spend a good part of the last month working in my sewing room.  When I get going on projects, especially just before the holidays, I tend to let things pile up.  It would be so much easier to just file those patterns away when I am finished with them, fold the left over fabric and put it in the appropriate spot, return rulers and tools to their designated cupboard...but do I do that?  Ha!  I am always in such a rush to get on to the next project.  This year was no exception.  After New Years, I walked into my lovely sewing room, looked around and said "WHAT went on in here?"

With that in mind, I would like to share 10 things that I think every sewing room should addition to a cleaning lady, that is!

1. A fabric organization system:  This could be boxes, bins, baskets or whatever works best for you and the size of your space.  I organize large (1 yard or larger) cuts by color in covered zipper boxes.

These are from The Container Store.  I like them because they keep the fabric dust free.  They also provide some control to keep me from over buying fabric.  If the box of blue is bulging at the zipper, I know that I need to use some of the fabric that I already have before buying more.  Smaller cuts are stored in a three drawer wire unit in the closet and the smallest pieces are on the inside of the closet door in the pockets of a shoe organizer.

2.  A pattern organization system:  There is nothing worse than knowing you own a particular pattern but being unable to locate it.  This past year, I came up with a system that has really helped me keep track of my patterns.  For details on the system, click HERE.

3.  A designated place for rulers:  When my dear hubby had this room built for me, I told the contractor that I needed a cupboard just for my collection of rulers.  He found the perfect spot.

You can see a skinny cabinet on the right at the bottom.  He added a divider inside which helps to keep those rulers all in one spot.

There are various ruler holders available like this one below, but I like my rulers out of sight.

4.  A design/inspiration wall:  My design wall is just a large cork board covered with flannel.  Recently, I added the elfa system from The Container Store to the right.  I like the bars below the shelves where I can hang fabrics that I am using for a particular project. (More on the elfa System to come.)

5.  Lots of Drawers:  When I was designing the room, I knew that I would need lots of drawer space.  When I heard the price for having custom drawer units made, I nearly flipped.  We came up with a compromise which gave me the drawers that I needed without breaking the bank.  All of the drawer units came from IKEA. I chose the ALEX drawer units. My contractor then built my work island with openings to fit the units.  It's pretty easy to stay organized with these great drawers.  One drawer holds zippers, one holds trims, one holds cutting tools, blades, needles, etc.  These drawer cabinets are on sturdy castors so they can be pulled out if a friend is over and needs space to set up her machine.

6. Large work surfaces:  My island has plenty of space for my machines and also provides room for an ironing pad and layout space.  In addition, I wanted a separate cutting area.

This table also came from IKEA.  I chose it because it was very sturdy and had adjustable legs.  I am not very tall so some commercial cutting tables are too tall for me.  You can also mix and match the tops and legs- fun!  Click HERE for more ideas.  Notice there is another Alex drawer unit of a different shape under cutting wasted space here!

7.  Good lighting:  As you can see in the photo above, I use an full spectrum floor lamp by my cutting table. Mine is from OTTLITE.  One of my favorite tools is also from OTTLITE.  It is the mini flip light.

This little cutie had a clip on the back so I can attach it to my shirt and have full spectrum light that moves around the room with me.  It's also great to carry with you when you are shopping for fabric or thread- no more color mistakes in poorly lit shops!  
As long as we are on the subject of lighting...why not add a really fun fixture just to "pretty up" your space?

8.  Pincushions..LOTS of pincushions:  I know, I seems like a pincushion is a given in a sewing room but I think there should be one pincushion on every surface and always within reach.  If you are not worried about impaling your foot, think about the dangers to children, grandchildren and pets that a stray pin might pose.  Plus...they are fun to collect!
Made from wool sweater strips and felted.

Vintage cuties.
My favorite- with a thread catcher attached.
9. Shelves and more shelves: This room was designed with lots of shelves and base cabinets below to hold pattern boxes, stabilizers, battings etc.  It all looked great on paper.  But when I really started to work in the room, I found that I had projects and supplies that were piling up on the floor. I had one blank wall just to the left of the door in the picture below and I also had a small area near my design wall.

Here's where The Container Store and the elfa system come in.  The system offers lots of choices for shelves, hooks, bars and containers AND The Container Store offers a free design service to help you plan your perfect unit. I worked with a design specialist online and designed just what I needed to help in corralling my projects.  Here is how it turned out:

I opted for the top track system with 10"  and 4" tray shelves.  The top shelves hold projects that are "in progress" (aka not done yet) and the bottom shelves hold my Silhouette and accessories. The narrow shelves are perfect for odds and ends- button jars, jelly rolls and pin boxes. Next to my design wall, I did a smaller unit with bars for fabrics and shelves above for my Scrap therapy pieces.

Ordering these pieces was a breeze and my husband and I installed them in a few hours. Realistically, you could do a whole room using elfa because in addition to shelves, they have a wide variety of drawer units, baskets, bins and much more.

10.  Some things that you love:  Let's face it, we all love fabric...we love to look at it, touch it, buy it and bring it home with us.  But, there is more to life than just fabric.  I think that if you are going to spend hours of your time in this particular room, you should have a few things surrounding you that make you happy.  Here are some of my "lovelies" ...
Vintage toy sewing machines

A pretty window seat...that opens up to store batting pieces

Clever storage for buttons

A favorite piece of art.

So there you have it!  What are some of your favorite ideas for organizing your sewing room?


Amy  February 9, 2015 at 3:23 PM  

Everything looks so orderly and in its specific place. You know I love some great organization! Those Elfa shelves are perfect. And of course I am in love with that sweet quilt hanging on your design board. Can't wait to place it in the nursery! xoxo

Barbara Huber  February 10, 2015 at 2:34 PM  

Thanks, Amy! Being organized is always a challenge to you know! I can't wait to see both quilts in the nursery :)

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