The Blue Gardenia

Sewing Spaces: Peek into Gertie's new room for better sewing! September 16, 2010 16:01

Gertie's_blue_dress Sandra Betzina. Susan Khalje. Claire Shaeffer. Gertie. Yes, Gertie, of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, is taking her place among the sewing giants with her upcoming book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, much anticipated by yours truly, and doubtless, by you as well. But first, she's going to show us her fabulous sewing room. Relish the view. Covet the cutting table. Absolutely.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Yes! I do. Last year, my husband Jeff and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment — such a luxury in New York. The second bedroom was intended to be an office/sewing room, but in all honesty, I have fully appropriated it as my sewing space. Poor Jeff.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

Unlike my younger, poorer years, I now actually have the space and equipment that makes sewing more of a pleasure.

Gertie sewing room 3

Also, I have French doors! And a view of Manhattan! Albeit, a view that you have to squint to see. On a clear day, you can even make out the Chrysler Building.

What would you change about your space?

Here's my dirty little secret: I am a horribly disorganized and messy person. I wish I could find a way to keep my sewing room tidier and organized. Also, I'm dying to add some prints of couture dresses to the bare walls like these from the V & A Golden Age of Couture exhibit.

How is your space organized?

Organized? Umm ... Well, I do have separate stations around the room for stitching, cutting and ironing. Does that count?

If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?

Order? Well, I try to group fabrics by fiber content and season. But they usually just get shoved onto a shelf or into a Tupperware bin. Another dirty secret: I currently have such a big fabric stash, that the off-season overflow gets dumped into a huge Hefty garbage bag. Horrors!

How are your patterns organized?

They are shoved into random piles on a book shelf. Stop judging me.

Are your patterns archived? 

Ha! Archived! You're so funny, Denise.

Gertie sewing room Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

I do! My draping teacher helped me make a body double.

Do you find it helpful?

Tremendously. The only problem is that it doesn't have the traditional markings used for draping (like armhole plates and a skirt cage). So I've decided that I'm going to splurge on a custom-made Wolf form with my book advance money.

Gertie sewing room 5What do you cut out your patterns on?

I have a fabulous cutting table that I bought from someone on Craig's List. It belonged to a fashion designer who was leaving the country and couldn't keep it. I got it for $200 (a bargain!) and I'm forever indebted to my car-owning friends April and Anthony who helped me get it from Brooklyn back to Queens ... and then carry it up four flights of stairs.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

The cutting table, definitely. I also love my huge, gridded, self-healing mat. I've put in my time cutting patterns on the floor (and killing my back in the process) and I'm so glad those days are over! Having the right tools for cutting makes the sewing process so much more enjoyable.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

A reliable machine and iron, first and foremost. If you don't have space or money for a cutting table, I'd recommend buying a cardboard cutting mat (like this one) that you can put down on your bed, kitchen table or floor.

Bernina 1008What kind of machine do you use?

A Bernina 1008.

What do you like about it?

I like that it has lots of fun knobs to turn. I used to use a computerized machine, and I discovered that I like mechanical machines much better. The 1008 has the stitch quality that Berninas are known for, but with less fussy features. I like its simplicity. I even like the six-step buttonhole! It gives me much more control. Fun fact: The 1008 sews the most stitches per minute of all the Bernina domestic machines.

Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?

I have a Pfaff 4722 that used to be my mom's. On a recent visit, I discovered that it was gathering dust in her garage, so she let me take it. (Thanks, Mom!) I like that it works well every time I use it, with a minimum of fussing around with it.

How long did it take you to develop your sewing space?

Once I had the space, it came together pretty quickly. It's definitely a work-in-progress, though. I know I need to deal with my, um, organizational issues. Maybe therapy would help?

Next week, we'll check out two more sewing spaces. We will. And tomorrow, I'll announce the winner of the book giveaway. Can you wait? Say you can't. That is what I want to hear.