Top Tips for Sorting Your Sewing Room
Sewing requires stuff, and the more your love affair with the craft grows the more space you need to accommodate it. Whether you sew as a hobby or as a designer-maker, whatever the scale the same tips apply.
In the process of researching The Sewists, I had the great pleasure of visiting many of the designer-makers, getting great insight into their workspaces; ranging from well kept craft corners to repurposed spare rooms and full on studio spaces. Each space was testament to their work, emanating creativity wherever I looked.
Leaf through the pages of The Sewists and you’ll see the pots brimming with pencils, paintbrushes and scissors, pin cushions filled with pins and needles at all angles with tangles of colourful threads, every kind of sewing machine, mood boards and more.
With my own workroom, I know how important it is that my workspace however large or small works for me and my sewing style. I am a big fan of old tins and rickety drawers so most of my accoutrements are stored away but I love to have sewing stuff on show too.
Here are my top tips for sorting your sewing space.
1. Reduce space
Putting things away properly may not be top of your list when you’re desperate to get stitching, but by folding rather than throwing your fabrics onto your shelf, box or bag you can make a heap of space-eating cloth into a pleasingly condensed pile.
If you use large pieces of fabric try vacuum packing with a nifty storage bag. These are great for stacking or sneakily popping under the bed.
This is where you can delight in your collection of washi tape, swing tags, chalk pens and paint. If your craft materials are in opaque containers, label them- this will make things so much easier to find, plus it looks great.
If you have an abundance of fabrics take small cuttings and stick them to the front of your chosen container. You can take it a step further by adding the size and type of fabric- this is particularly handy for dressmaking projects.
3. Make decorative use of your stash
Use walls, the backs of doors or the inside of cupboards to hang your sewing paraphernalia upon. If you live/work in rented accommodation try removable hooks on painted walls. Or try screwing small hooks into a piece of board and hang that up, that way you only need to make one hole in the wall rather than several.
Although it’s tough to part with beloved prints, take a good look at what you have and consider what you’ll actually use. Just as your taste in clothing can change over time, so can your taste in fabrics. So edit your stash, pass on cloth and notions you know you’ll never use. Lots of sewists destash using Instagram; this is a great way of extending your sewing circle while sharing at the same time.
If you find yourself idle and with material you just can’t part with, spend some time cutting patchwork squares or pattern pieces for small projects. Put them away neatly and label them of course.
6. Stuff it
Use small scraps as cushion or toy stuffing: these give a nice density to your projects.
7. Make it Portable
Sometimes you just want to sew in front of the telly and a small basket or lap tray can make sewing around the house a possibility. If you need compartments try a vintage cutlery tray, or for fiddly findings a small tool box is wonderfully handy.
8. Get a good table
If you do a lot of cutting out, having a table at the right height is essential – think kitchen worktop height. If you’re stuck for space something that folds away is ideal. If that isn’t an option talk to your nearest sewing school or haberdasher – they might be willing to let you do your cutting out there during quieter times.
9. Ask Pinterest
If you’re looking for a clever storage solution, turn to the hive mind that is Pinterest. With like-minded folks across the globe sharing their design ideas, you’re sure to find something great there.
10. Make it Personal
Finally, and I think most importantly, the space should be yours and should function in a way that is productive and enjoyable to operate in. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in the aesthetics of the environment and how it appears to others. However, as long as it suits you and your work, then its appearance should be secondary to the work you do in it.
Many of the designer-makers I met confessed that they had tidied up for my visit; but still the walls, shelves, cutting tables and sewing machines showed signs of activity. That is how a sewing space should feel: active.
If you’d like to look into the sewing spaces of several designer makers do take a look at Josephine’s book The Sewists published by Laurence King.
Photographs taken from ‘The Sewists’ courtesy of Laurence King Publishing