Sewing spaces: Sewing by the seat of her pants? I don't think so. November 24, 2010 09:30

Ssseat-brown Karen, of Sewing By the Seat of My Pants, wants what she wants when she wants it, and this Thanksgiving, what she wants is a replacement model for her Singer 7426. The one you'll see in her sewing studio is resting in peace. Thank goodness: Another one is winging its way to her abode while you're out buying a turkey or a bean bird. So. Before you put the cornbread on to bake for the dressing, pour yourself a doubtless much needed cup of joe, relax and enjoy Karen's room.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Yes.  I have a small spare bedroom that I took over so that I could keep my work out and not have to tidy up at the end of every sewing session.  I get a lot more done that way, and I don't have to worry about my cats prancing through the patterns when I'm not there to supervise.

What would you change about your space?

I'd like more wall space, so I could put in more organization.  The room has three windows, so they take up a lot of space that could better be used for shelving.  My house is really close to the neighbors, so I tend to keep the curtains closed anyway.

How is your space organized?

Is it organized?  That's a matter of opinion, though I'm always trying to organize it.  I have several small dressers which hold interfacing, linings, leather, vintage patterns, etc.  There's an Ikea chest with wide shallow drawers for zippers, scissors, machine needles, tailoring supplies and other frequently used items.  I have a few racks for thread, separate small tubs for trim, ribbons, etc.  And then there's the stash organization, which is a whole other story.

Ssseat-overall How do you impose order on your fabric stash?

There are several stash locations in the room.  The biggest by far is the wall unit, which is woven and stretch woven garment fabric.  There's a knit section in two smaller bookcases, and home dec fabrics are stored in a tall wardrobe closet.  My remnant stash is in a plastic clothes hamper.  When it gets full, I sort through it.

How are your patterns organized?

I categorize them by garment type: jacket, skirt, pants, etc.  Most of my patterns are traced, so they're in single-garment envelopes.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

My Burda magazine collection is archived by year; I have a smaller collection of Ottobre, La Mia Boutique and Patrones, which all live together in one section. The traced patterns and regular envelope patterns are stored by category in magazine organizers which live on shelves behind my sewing chair. 

Ssseat-dressDo you have a mannequin made to measure?

Evelyn is more-or-less my measurements, the measurements just don't fall in exactly the same places, so she's been fluffed out a bit with a bra and some fiberfill, and she has a bit of batting around the waist, right about where I have a bit of batting around the waist.

If so, do you find it helpful?

Not as helpful as I would like.  At some point, I would really like to learn draping, but I haven't found the time to experiment.  It's still very helpful when I need to work on something three-dimensionally instead of flat on the table, or when I can't fit it on myself and pin at the same time. 

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I have two 24 x 36 cutting mats linked together on my table.  Unless the table is covered in stuff (which it generally is) that's more than enough room to cut and trace just about anything.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

My iron, hands down.  It's not even a good one right now, but it's still the most necessary thing in the room after the sewing machine.  I think the biggest sewing epiphany I ever had was when I realized that you can't sew well without pressing.  

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

An iron that doesn't spit on your fabric.  Good scissors and/or a rotary cutter.  Rotary cutters are invaluable for cutting knits, especially, and it makes the whole process go so much more quickly.  Sharp pins, extra needles and replacement blades for your rotary cutter, because they're always more dull than you think they are.

What kind of machine do you use?

My standard workhorse machine is a Singer 7426, not a particularly spiffy machine, but it does everything I want it to, and it makes nice buttonholes.  I also have a Juki (which needs repair right now, so we're not on speaking terms).  I have a Janome CP900 coverstitch machine, which was the best Christmas present ever, because I hate twin-needle sewing on knits.  I have a vintage Singer with attachment that I use as a dedicated buttonholer. 

What do you like about them?

My Singer 7426 was purchased about six years ago as a stand-in until I could get a really good machine.  Surprisingly, by the time I got my really good machine, I was really attached to the Singer.  The only thing I didn't like about it was its very inadequate light, but I got an Uber light last year that I can point directly at the sewing surface, so that solved that problem.

Do you use a serger?

I don't have one, and I don't have any plan to get one. (At this point, I don't have room for one, anyway).  I sew a lot of knits, but I've never had a problem sewing them on my standard machine using either the stretch stitch or a small zigzag.  And now that I have the coverstitch, my only reason for wanting a serger is moot.

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

It's still under development, as far as I'm concerned.  The alcove where the Coverpro and the Juki are situated is a recent addition.  It used to be a shallow closet that I couldn't really use, and last year I tore it out and put in a shelf and the counter as an extra work surface.  The wall of the alcove also serves as an inspiration space where I can tape up all the pictures I tear out of magazines — this way, at least I'll be able to find them when I want them.

This weekend, take a moment out from holiday festivities to tour The Sewing Lawyer's studio. Also, I'll be posting a new giveaway. And you don't want to miss either post. Do you?

Meanwhile, dear readers, have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!