Sewing spaces: Patty's as snug as a bug in her neat, green room. December 1, 2010 17:21 5 Comments

Patty has a delightful blog, a delightful sewing space, a delightful wardrobe, and a delightful dog.( Ahhhh, alliteration rears its pesky head!) No delightful or dreadful dustbunnies, though. (Darn it. Alliteration. Again.) Warning: Do not feel inferior if your sewing room isn't this spotless. I wish my sewing area was so Martha-white-glove-ready. But, alas . . . 

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

Yes! Yes! Yes! After ignoring the clutter on the kitchen table and eventually letting it take over the house and drive my husband (and me) crazy, we finally went to the big blue and yellow Scandinavian store and got a giant white desk to serve as a sewing table. Additionally, there’s a sewing china cabinet in our bedroom for storage and a nook in the basement for backup storage. A three-tiered storage system. Did I mention we live in a tiny house?

What do you like best about your sewing area?

It’s sunny. Everything’s in one place (sort of.) There are hooks on the wall for hanging rulers and projects and my tape measure, which I don’t lose as much now. It’s the toastiest room in the house. There are roses outside the window. It’s a pretty color blue. The full length mirror is right next to the sewing machine. It’s not the kitchen table.

What would you change about your space?

Well, I daydream about removing the guest bed and replacing with a nice island-type cutting table. But we really DO like having guests, so the bed stays. For now. Other than that, perhaps a bit more light for evening sewing. A non-hideous task light would be so nice.

How is your space organized?

Hmm. My sewing room-slash-guest-bedroom has a large desk with shelves and doors instead of drawers and room to stash the sewing machine away when it’s not in use, something that doesn’t happen often. I have a giant collection of perfectly-sized coffee cans, glass jars and such that hold pens, rulers, markers, scissors, pinking shears, my rotary cutter, thread, sewing machine oil and needles, and bobbins along with a little hand-sewing box with small scissors, silk thread, chalk and a few other things.

There’s a small cabinet mounted on the wall with trim, binding tape, elastic, and buttons organized in more coffee cans and glass jars. Inside the desk, I use baskets. One basket for everything for my current project (all the thread, matching hem tape, pattern pieces, fabric.) One basket with interfacing organized so it’s handy and another basket of odds and ends. All the baskets fit in the desk perfectly and slide in and out easily, so that I don’t lose stuff in the back of the shelves.

I have a row of hooks in the sewing room where I hang current projects, larger rulers, my tape measure and sometimes pattern pieces. My mat is tucked behind the mirror.

Additional notions and my ‘right now’ fabric and patterns are stashed in a china cabinet in our bedroom. In my ‘nook’ in the basement, I have more fabric, more patterns, more notions – more everything.

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

I don’t have that large of a stash, so it’s pretty easy. All the fabric that’s spoken for (has a pattern already assigned) lives upstairs in a china cabinet that belonged to my grandmother. It has glass doors, and I like to be able to see the fabric to let it simmer a bit before I start working on it. Additional fabric that I bought with no particular project in mind, or had a project and was downgraded, lives in my ‘nook’ in the basement. I get rid of stuff that doesn’t work. Occasionally, I become convinced that baby blue is the perfect color for me or some such nonsense (Anthropologie is usually to blame … ) and I will give to friends or donate to a thrift shop.

How are your patterns organized?

Again, I don’t have that much, so they’re only organized in terms of ‘current’ projects upstairs in a magazine file, and other patterns in the basement – they were all in a basket at one point, but they’ve started overflowing a bit. I like to put cut and used ones in a ziplock bag so I don’t have to struggle to refold.

Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?

I don’t really have an archiving system – I am lazy, so I keep my PatternReview account updated, so I can flip through all of them online if I’m looking for something special. At some point, I’d like to come up with something better, as it’s getting a little unwieldy to just scroll through pages of patterns.

Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

Nope! Wish I did, though. Hemming skirts would be so much easier!

What do you cut out your patterns on?

I cut the paper pattern pieces out while watching TV – it’s a fun sewing task to do while hanging out with my husband in the evenings!

I cut out fabric pattern pieces either at my very small kitchen table (only 42” long!) which works alright – I have an elaborate chair system to hold the fabric up, and make use of cans of tuna as weights. Sometimes, I go to the sewing shop close to my house and cut out projects on the huge cutting table there. Fun and easy, plus usually there’s people to chat with while cutting.

What is your most helpful tool? Why?

My Dustbuster. Also, I love my rotary cutter and mat. I had these around from quilting in my 20’s but didn’t try them out for pattern cutting at first — I thought it wouldn’t handle the curves. Once I finally tried it, I never went back.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

A tailor's ham really does help with almost everything – no amount of rolled up towels will come close. Good measuring and marking tools are also very helpful — I use my little seam allowance ruler (the little metal ruler with the plastic slidey thing!) all the time, and I LOVE my chalk marking set — different colors of chalk and a penlike holder for them. Also, buy good pins. I like the all-metal dressmaker pins — they’re thick and don’t slide out of the fabric and since they’re all metal, you can iron over them (probably not good for the fabric, but helpful!)

Do you keep a sewing library? Any books you find particularly helpful for beginners?

I am a book nut. For fitting, I use Fit for Real People for bust, shoulder and sleeve issues. For fitting skirts and trousers, I tend to use Pattern Fitting with Confidence (the pivot-and-slide method) more often. I think these two books compliment each other well when learning how to fit patterns properly. I also really loved Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques for some more advanced methods as well as a good history lesson! Finally, I like Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket and just got The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns by the same publisher.

What kind of machine do you use?

I have a Singer 7430 — a midrange machine with a bunch of decorative stitches and a basic alphabet font set. It’s alright. I don’t hate it, but I dream about getting a purely mechanical machine — I don’t really need all the extra stitches and generally distrust computerized gadgets.

What do you like about it?

I like that it sews. I like that I can disengage the feed dogs and lift the presser foot extra high for working on thick fabrics and lots of layers. In theory, I like the one-step buttonhole options. Speaking of buttonholes, I’ve actually used the blanket/buttonhole stitch a lot, so I guess I like that, too.

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

No serger!

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

We just put together the ‘sewing room’ recently — partially inspired by this blog series! I’m relatively new to obsessive, sewing-machine, garment sewing, so I lasted almost a year with the machine on the kitchen table, before we made a dedicated space.

Do not miss the next Sewing Spaces. We'll visit Elaray of Another Creation. You don't want to miss it. You don't. 

Also, do enter our giveaway. If, that is, you like the luscious fabric, provided by Michael's, and the pattern, lipstick, nail polish provided by The Blue Gardenia, aka moi. And how could you not like it? How could you not love it? How?