Sewing spaces: Kristy of Lower Your Presser Foot passes the test. August 26, 2010 19:04 7 Comments

Shelves of fabric
In today's installment of Sewing Spaces, we'll put Kristy Idle's sewing room to the white glove test. Kristy, of
Lower Your Presser Foot, makes me green with envy on a regular basis. Why, you ask, dear readers? Because. Because she simply will not stop making fabulous garments. And guess what? I'll let you in on a little secret — her sewing room passes the test, and then some. Absolutely. So. Color me green. Again.

Sewing_spaces_kiDo you have a dedicated sewing space?

I sure do. ­When my husband and I recently undertook major renovations to our house, I insisted on building a special room for my sewing space since the recent birth of my daughter took away the bedroom I previously occupied.

Theoretically, the room is also supposed to be a home office and possibly a future playroom, but I can't see either of those things happening!

What do you like best about your sewing area?

My room is really bright and sunny, having windows on three walls, which makes it lovely to be in there. It's also mine, and only mine, which is great, too.

What would you change about your space?

A bit bigger room would have been nice, but council building restrictions made us scale it down. The only real downside to my sewing room is that it is separate to our house as it is built above our garage. Which means that when my daughter is having her lunchtime nap, I can't go up to my sewing room to squeeze in 30 mins of sewing time, and sometimes it's hard on these cold winter nights to leave our warm living room to go up there, too!

Sewing deskHow is your space organized?

In the centre of the room is my cutting/work table with storage underneath, along one wall is open shelving with my fabrics, along another wall is a built in desk for my sewing machine and overlocker, and along another wall is a bookcase that is crammed full of books, magazines and sewing supplies ­but not in a pretty way. I have my button collection stored in vintage kitchen canisters which are pretty to look at though.

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

I have a ginormous fabric stash, way more fabric than I could ever use in my lifetime, but I just can't pass by a beautiful piece of fabric especially if I unearth them at op shops or garage sales. I've been building my stash for about the last 10 years, and the majority of it comes from op shops and garage sales, but I have purchased a little bit of it retail, some inherited from my gran's stash, some stolen from my mum's stash and some gifted from others.

Shorter lengths are stored folded on open shelving lined up along one wall of my sewing room, and longer lengths are stored on cardboard rolls sitting upright in a drum. I have been thinking of covering the shelves with fabric to protect from dust, but I like to look at it too much to hide it away! It's ordered by color sorting, although I have started photographing new pieces and keeping a list of length, fabric composition and date of purchase.

How are your patterns organized?

My patterns are separated into each pattern company, and then in numerical order. For patterns traced from Burda magazines, I put them in envelopes the same size as sewing pattern envelopes, print out the technical drawing from the (now defunct) Burda website and glue it on the front so that I can store them the same as any other patterns.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

Pattern storageMy patterns are sort of archived. I have scanned the cover of each and saved them in files such as "dresses", "skirts", "childrens". etc. This way, when I want to make something, I can just flick through images on my computer instead of physically flipping through the patterns. The patterns are stored in two Aneboda chest of drawers from Ikea. These fit patterns in perfectly, even the big designer Vogue envelopes.

Do you have a mannequin made-to-measure?

I have a mannequin I bought in an op shop years ago. It's not made to measure, but it is adjustable to my measurements. I also have a plastic display mannequin that has a removable pregnancy belly that I bought off Ebay because I have been toying with the idea of starting a maternity fashion label.

If so, do you find it helpful?

MannequinsI can't say I do find the mannequin overly helpful, because its posture is so much better than mine, and it also doesn't have the sagging lumpy bits I have either! I do use it for pinning up hems after first deciding the length while I'm wearing the garment, and then measuring off the floor to get the hem straight.  What I use it mostly for is storage of works in progress. . . .

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I use my old dining table as a cutting table. I replaced the legs with taller ones so that the table is at the correct ergonomic height for me which happily also meant that my pattern cupboards fit underneath the table. Under the table is also a big trunk that my grandparents used when they emigrated from England to Australia 60 years ago that I use to store clothes for refashioning and UFOs (of which I have many). On top of the table, I just use one of those fold-up cardboard cutting mats with a grid on it, which is also a good surface for tracing out Burda magazine patterns using one of those spiky tracing wheels.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

Hmmmm, my unpicker is my most utilized tool, but I would say that a thread snipper is my most useful tool, because before I bought one I would often nick my fabric when trimming threads using scissors and end up with small holes in my nearly finished garments, which was soooo annoying, as you can imagine.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

A good quality pair of really sharp scissors for use only on fabric makes a big difference, I think. They may cost a fair bit, but if you look after them they will last for a long time and make it so much easier and more comfortable for cutting out your pattern pieces (which is the most tedious part of sewing, I find). I also recommend that beginners buy a mid-range sewing machine but the best they can afford, because the budget sewing machines are often lacking features that make sewing easier such as a one-step buttonhole. My previous machine was a basic Brother that had a four-step buttonhole process. It was difficult to sew a good buttonhole, and as a consequence, I hated doing them. Starting out sewing can be hard enough as it is, so why not use as much technology as possible to help you out?

What kind of machine do you use?

My current sewing machine is a Brother NS-30, which I only bought earlier this year.

What do you like about it?

I like so many things about this machine compared with my previous basic sewing machine. It has 70 stitches (most of which I don't use, but I like having the options), it does an easy peasy but beautifully perfect buttonhole in one step, it has a little thingy that threads the needle saving me from having to squint and poke the thread through the needle, and it also sews automatically via stop/start touch button instead of the foot pedal, which was useful recently when I was sewing long straight seams while sewing 20m+ of curtains.

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

I have a Toyota serger which I've had for ages, and until I recently had it serviced, I didn't like it all, but now we seem to be working through our issues.

I like it because it's the quickest way to neaten up the raw edges of seams and looks professionally finished like ready-to-wear clothing, although I do admit that Hong Kong finishes and French seams are prettier (but I'm too lazy for those).

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

I've been in my sewing space for about a year now, but it's still very much under development.

I'd like to personalize it a bit more with some more artwork, put in some better, stronger lighting because currently I only have those energy-saving lightbulbs which have a yellowish cast, and I'd also like to neaten up my storage bookshelf, too.

Next week, we'll peek inside the sewing spaces of Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) and Elaine (The Selfish Seamstress). Can you wait, dear readers?  I can. But barely. I am goose-pimply with excitement. Absolutely.