Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Evolution of my sewing space

While I procrastinate (I should be basting Wandering Geese) I have tidied up my sewing room.  Since it's now so tidy, I thought it might be a good time to invite you in for a tour.  While I was thinking of that, I looked through old photos and was reminded how much my space has changed over 18 years.  So this post has evolved from a tour to a peek at that evolution.

First, here's where things stand now.

Sewing room September 2017

Now let's look back to where I started.

Sewing in 2000

When I first started sewing in 2000, there was no sewing room.  I used the kitchen table, and my machine was put away in the bedroom closet and taken back out again every time I wanted to sew. There was no stash.

Sewing in 2001

I moved up a bit when a friend brought me a desk she found at a yard sale for $3.00.  The sewing machine could stay out of the closet.  The kitchen table was still the cutting station.  There still wasn't any stash, just fabric for quilt numbers 2 and 3 in progress. (I had cute kids though. My 2 year old son built that colorful "sewing machine" from building blocks so he could "sew" along with me!)

In 2002 we moved, to a smaller space, the desk was pressed into service to hold the TV and stereo, and I went back to the kitchen table/closet combo.  In 2003 we moved again, and I got the sewing desk back.  In 2004, we bought our house and I laid claim to a tiny corner of the playroom/family room.  The kitchen table remained indispensable as my cutting station. The stash came into being, filling about 2 square cubbies of the wire shelving we bought to hold the kid's toys.

Then came my new sewing machine in spring 2010. It was such a joy to work on that I ramped up my sewing.  Well, I guess the kids were getting older. I think that helped too!  At any rate, the little corner you see below stared feeling confining.

Spring 2010

By fall, the kids being older and all, and at school most of the day, I had relegated the play area to the darker half of the room and claimed a whole half of the room as my own playroom. You can see the slowly growing stash in the wire cube shelving on the left.

Fall 2009

Things moved around.  The stash started to grow, though at least half the stuff on those shelves you see below on the right belonged to the kids, not to me.

January 2013
All this time I was still running up and down to the stairs to cut and trim on the kitchen table.  I suspect I might have been a tad healthier then.  The physical fitness started going downhill when we found this great table free for the taking at the curb a few blocks from home and moved it into the sewing space. It isn't the prettiest, but it is sturdy and it makes a great cutting table. 

August 2013

Besides switching the position of the computer desk and sewing desk, nothing changed (except the growth of the stash and the addition of a dog bed under the table for my faithful quilter's companion) until this past March when I was informed that I should close the room off somehow so the kids (now well into their teens) would not feel so much like they were watching movies in my office/studio.  I have an office? A studio?  OK!

That brings us to the lovely blue wall currently behind my cutting table.  After much discussion of how to hang a quilt as a divider, or maybe curtains, I settled on fabric pinned to the box that encloses the duct work in the basement ceiling.  It was cheap, easy to put up, and gives me a place to display orphan blocks and small unquilted tops to remind me to quilt them.  Plus, when I get tired of the blue, or I manage to claim the entire downstairs, I get to add it to the stash!

September 2017

The newest addition to the room cost less than $10 and is one of those things I should have done years ago. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.  My husband and daughter drove to the home improvement center (daughter has just started driving and finds any errand is a good excuse to get behind the wheel) just to get 4 landscape pavers/bricks/slabs/what-do-you-call-them to put under the table legs.  It isn't fancy, but those 5 inches of extra height have made a world of difference for my back.  I didn't realize how much I had to bend, just a little, to cut and press things.

And what about the stash?  It outgrew the little wire cube shelving.  That shelving wasn't very efficient anyway.  When the back-to-college sales were in full force last month, I sprang for new shelving and spent a weekend getting organized.  I even managed to de-clutter under the cutting table because I could fit more on these.

Old shelving with small bins stacked two deep so I couldn't see them all at a glance
New shelving.  Nothing is hiding anymore!

Can I say I love my label maker?

Because you just can't be sure what colour is in those clear bins unless they are clearly labelled!

I did label the less obvious bins too, with project names for example.

I also hung all my ruler on the wall.  Most are hanging from 3M Command hooks that can be removed and repositioned easily if I need to rearrange to make room for new rulers.  A couple are hanging on nails because the hooks just wouldn't stay stuck to the wall.  I didn't think those rulers were heavier than the rest, but I finally gave up and reached for the hammer.

And after all that, I still use that $3.00 desk that Carol found for me.

I would love a sewing cabinet with the machine set into the desktop.  That would make a huge difference for quilting, both free motion and walking foot.  However, when I eventually get one, I'll miss the stories this little desk can tell.

Time to use this lovely space to baste a quilt.  Wandering Geese is not basting itself, unfortunately!


  1. What a great trip down memory lane! I really need to start organizing mine.....eventually.

  2. This was really interesting. Thanks for sharing. Your memories brought memories to my mind. I started sewing at the kitchen table, but then my husband bought me the cabinet fifteen years ago. That would hide the machine when it wasn't in use. He also bought me a collapsible cutting table. I used to have to roll it in and out of the closet under the stairs every time I wanted to use it.

  3. you have a great space fpr your stitching, hood idea with the bricks to raise the table. I do have a horn cabinet for my machine but have just bought a janome 8900 which is too big to go in the cabinet I have seen some people have bought ikea tables and cut a hole in for the machine would like one of these myself but no clue as to how ot do one.

  4. A lovely space.. how the years have changed.

  5. I LOVED reading about the evolution of your sewing space. It's such a similar journey to mine, from the dining room to a space behind a couch in the living room (where I could keep my machine out) and on and on ...though I don't have pictures to document! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the peek into the before and after of your sewing space! Love that new shelving.

  7. That is quite an evolution! I love the sweet face of your little son peeking over the table as you sewed. I'm sure you sometimes miss those early days, although the space you have created now is perfect, with lots of storage and room to cut and sew.

  8. I too started quilting on the kitchen table and cabinet; many of us probably did. What a transformation you have made! It's no wonder that you come up with such neat quilts and patterns, in so many beautiful colors you can see to choose from. Good job, Girl! ---"Love"

  9. What a great post! Your studio journey is very inspiring, especially seeing glimpses of your WIPs in the background, marking your growth as a quilter.

    I LOLed at your labeled clear bins and the lady next to me on the plane glanced over. I'm sure she thought it odd :)

  10. What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed hearing about your metamorphosis! You now have a lovely space. I think many of us started out in a similar fashion! To this day, I still sew at the dining room table, but that's all it's used for!

  11. What a lovely evolution story. Your quilts have evolved along with your sewing space

  12. Very interesting to see the various stages of your "studio." I noticed blocks on your ironing board that look like they are from the Blogging Buddies block swap!

  13. What a marvellous journey you and your sewing space have taken over the years. Love all that organisation and especially the labelling!

  14. Thanks for the tour, your space looks great and it is fun to see how you have grown as a quilter! I love being able to re-purpose things I have or find great deals for items I can use. I just got a new to me space to store fabric. I can't wait to get everything in order and show it off.

  15. We built an addition to our home with the express purpose of creating STORAGE and making part a sewing room. I made the room so cozy that the family is always in it playing and reading and watching my TV :) I could cut the rest of the house off and they wouldn't notice (until there was no dinner LOL!)

  16. Hi Joanne, that was a great post. Isn't amazing how our space changes with our lives and our increased addiction (or passion!)? It looks like a great spot to sew and cleaning up is at least a productive procrastination tactic!

  17. How neat... love your 'finds' of tables. Your 'other' Carol is a keeper!


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