The Blue Gardenia

Sewing Spaces: There's nothing tawdry about Audrey's room. October 29, 2010 14:37 2 Comments

Drat. I'm late. Late, late, late. How unlike me. (His Bertness is snickering. I can see you, dear, and that is not nice. Not one bit.) But. It is still Friday here in Arizona. It is. Am I forgiven? Please?

Audrey At any rate, enough about me. Let's visit Audrey's sewing space. You're probably familiar with her already, because she writes the SewTawdry blog. And you probably just want me to hush, so you can ogle her dining room. So. Guess what, dear readers? I will. For now.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space?

I sew in the formal dining room of our home.

What do you like best about your sewing area?

It is near the kitchen and the family.  I sew in the evening or on weekends. This location lets me keep an eye on the activities of large groups of teenage boys, and multitask between sewing and typical weekend activities like laundry and cooking.   So far, my multitasking has not resulted in too many charred meals. Most of my fabric stash, sewing library and back-up sewing machines live in a cavernous room on the bottom floor of the house. It was originally designated as my sewing room. It proved to be too dark and far from the action.

What would you change about your space?

More light would be nice, especially when sewing at night.

How is your space organized?

Thread is served up on the sideboard and plastic bins underneath hold buttons, zippers and trims. Rolls of tracing and gridded paper, for pattern tracing and drafting, are stored on end in a box, nearby. Scissors, pins and sewing tools like tracing wheels, marking pens are in a container near the sewing machine. A pair of reading glasses, which never leave this room, are stored on a special holder next to the machines. Rulers and drafting curves are shoved into the end of a pattern box.

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

I have a huge stash, which is stored in see-through covered plastic bins; typically by color/season.  Example – a bin of blue winter fabrics, a bin of coral summer fabrics.  Most of the bins are in the storage room.  Bins of recent purchases or seasonal fabrics are in the dining room. I also maintain an electronic database of 15 years of fabric purchases, with info on fiber content, yardage, width, purchase price and source.  This is supposed to keep me from buying similar fabrics. And the value of the inventory is supposed to shame me and inhibit new fabric purchases. I calculate monthly spending totals. However, I have never done the summation of the entire inventory. I just can’t go there.

Fabric stash
How are your patterns organized?

I store patterns in lidded cardboard boxes. Roughly in the order they were purchased. Traced patterns from Burda, Patrones, Mia Boutique magazines, etc., are stored in manila envelopes in the same boxes. I draw a picture of the garment on the front of the envelope and tuck a photocopy of the magazine instructions along with a fabric swatch from the completed garment  inside.

Are your patterns archived?

An archive is both a collection of historical records, as well as the place they are located. Yes, I keep patterns forever.  I have patterns I made as a teen, quite a collection of vintage patterns (my definition is pre-1970’s), and 20 years of Burda WOF magazines. 

Pattern storage
How are they stored?

I store patterns in emptied copier paper boxes I bring home from work. The cleaning staff knows to save the boxes and lids for me. They are just the right size for Vogue patterns on their sides or two rows of smaller patterns

Do you have a mannequin made to measure?

I have four mannequins. A half-size one used for draping sits on the sideboard. The others, which I call the “three weird sisters”, as in the witches in the play Macbeth, reside behind the door when not in use. They include a full size PGM for draping, a My Double (which it definitely isn’t) dress form for display purposes, and one packing tape dress form double, which I guess could be described as made to measure.

Do you find your forms helpful?

Yes, I use the duct-tape dress form to pin fit patterns before cutting a garment out. It lets me know right away if alterations are needed and in what area.

What do you cut out your patterns on?

The kitchen table, a large (102" x 42”) rectangular table purchased from Ikea.  If the table is in use, I use the floor.

Sewinng table
What is your most helpful tool

A sharp high-quality pair of dressmaking shears.


They make cutting out any type of fabric precise and enjoyable. They cut through the sheerest silks or the heaviest wools without distorting the fabric or leaving ragged edges. It is less fatiguing to your hands to cut with good sharp scissors. They make short work of grading and trimming seams and are wonderful for snipping into tight corners like bound-buttonhole openings.

What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?

Sharp scissors, tape measure,  a 3" wide, 18” long clear plastic ruler (found in quilting supplies),  which is invaluable for laying out pattern pieces and checking the grain lines, and a good steam iron.

What kind of machine do you use?

Husqvarna Designer I.

Sewing machine
What do you like about it?

The ease of switching pressure feet and selecting the stitches I use in about every garment; straight, hem stitch, buttonhole.  Also the auto thread cutter. I didn’t realize how much I used that until it quit working because of a dull cutting blade.

Do you use a serger?

Yes, I have two. One set up for overlocking and one set up for cover-stitching.  I bought a new serger with cover-stitch functionality, intending to get rid of my overlock-only serger. However, the new cover-stitch machine proved to be too difficult to switch back to overlock, so I kept my old overlock machine

Why do you like them?

For finishing the edges of garment pieces to prevent raveling on woven fabrics, sewing overcast seams and cover-stitched hems in knits.

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

I have been working in the dining room for about six years.  I expect that to change in two years when both DS’s will be in college. At that time, I plan to rent some PODS (portable on-demand storage) containers, and empty the current storage room of everything, so that my husband can replace the paneling with wallboard, install storage units and update the lighting. Until then, I am collecting great storage and organizational ideas from others’ sewing spaces.

Monday, we'll drop by Ann's studio. Ann, of Gorgeous Fabrics, pens the Gorgeous Things blog. And she is always making something amazing. But then, who wouldn't, with all that beautiful fabric so close at hand? (Well, procrastinators like myself. But let's not go there.)

Oh, and if you haven't entered the contest for the comprehensive book, Setting Up Your Sewing Space, do. You won't regret it.