Here we are, over halfway through January and our “get organized” theme. I am still working my way through a few stray totes of fabric here and there and determining whether I will count some things such as my small totes of quilts in progress or the many wool blankets that accumulated in years of thrifting. For week two, my pattern organization went pretty fast and I am happy to report that I used that system just today to quickly find a men’s pattern.
Now that we have (or are currently) organized our fabric and patterns let’s move on to sewing spaces.
Some of you have entire sewing rooms, some smaller spaces, some maybe no space, just a spot at the dining room table. On fb folks regularly post pictures that either highlights their sewing spaces or just pictures of what they have sewn with their space in the background. I have to confess that although I will take a look at what they’ve sewn, I always spend more time looking at their visible sewing space in the background. Why? Because I want to see how other’s do it (or don’t) and might glean some organizational tip by looking.
No matter the size of your space, I am a huge advocate of keeping it tidy and as organized as possible with the space you have. The reason is simple. With a room that looks like the below pictures, your sewing will suffer.
I am embarrassed to say that my sewing area has (HAD) a tendency to look like this:
Of course it is nearly impossible to reach anything on the table or the storage unit.
All of my work surfaces were completely loaded with stuff I had failed to put away properly.
When I first started really sewing I had no idea how to organize or why I should. It just did not seem that important, as I would rather be sewing, so I didn’t put the time or effort in to keeping things organized.
It was only after months of collecting various sewing notions and having a real understanding of what I needed on a regular basis did I look to getting organized. The biggest push for me came in the form of not being able to find what I needed when I needed it. So much time was wasted on trying to find my scissors, looking for the right interfacing, or some such nonsense as that. Frequently, I would end up having to pause the sewing to go and buy the thing I needed, only to find that very notion later in the day. That inefficiency and not having actual space (due to large piles of stuff everywhere) to perform the basic necessities of sewing such as ironing, reading my pattern deltor, http://butterick.mccall.com/butterick-history-pages-1007.php, or cutting out my pattern pieces led me to take sewing room organization seriously.
Here are some tips that have helped me to become more efficient in my sewing.
- Get rid of the fabric scraps in your space. Fine if you want to keep them, but if you are, commit to organizing them immediately after your project. This is easier said than done I know but there are broad categories that can be helpful here. For example, all those ¼ yard remnants of knits can have their own tote, quilting cottons can be sorted by size or color or both and put in ziplock bags. I have a tote devoted to larger remnants which I plan to use to make totes or bags. If you know you will not use the scraps, donate them immediately to someone who will or to the local charity shop.
- Now, to expand on number one and keeping those scraps; it really pays to examine your past behavior. Do you use the scraps on a regular basis? Great, put your plans in motion. Or, do you have accumulations of scraps from several years with really no idea or plan with what to do with them? Maybe you keep them because you are a bit of a hoarder (me) or maybe because you think about that vague project somewhere in the distant future that you know you will sometime, somehow, maybe find time to get to (me again). Or maybe you are terrified of waste and can’t bear to let them go. Whatever your reason, come to terms with the fact that actually using them is probably not going to happen. So, use the scraps or get rid of them after a period of time (60-90 days?). If you haven’t used them by then, it is unlikely you are going to.
- Keep your essential sewing notions stored close by. I purchased a small three drawer plastic bin that sits on a table. It doesn’t take up much space yet is big enough for scissors, hem gauges, marking tools, rotary cutter, etc…
- Put things in their proper place when finished with your sewing session. This goes along with number 3 above. Save yourself valuable time and energy by having a designated place for notions and keeping them in order and putting them away after use.
- Take care of new fabric purchases immediately. Ideally, sew them up. But if you don’t have a specific plan for them, store them in the appropriate tote (make sure you catalog your yardage) or whatever your storage system is. The goal here is not to have fabric laying around taking up space. Use it or move it.
- Clean up your messes after your sewing time. Take the time to sweep, vacuum, straighten things up when you done. Wipe down your machine of dust, clean off your iron, whatever needs to be done. I find when I enter my sewing room to sew if there is mess everywhere it is a distraction for me. I like the feeling of starting fresh which a clean and ready sewing area gives me.
- Have things ready to go for the next time you sew. The last thing I do before leaving my sewing room for the day is get things ready for the next time. I lay out the next project, wind bobbins, thread up my machines, change my needle if I need to and make sure I have all the notions necessary. All I have to do is walk in to my room and start sewing not waste valuable sewing time looking and organizing.
- Prepare yourself! Periodically, I will see this meme for sewing advice come across a fb sewing page usually accompanied by mocking or people saying how stupid it is. But, in my opinion and experience there is some truth to this advice and many of the concepts given are certainly worthwhile today. If I have a zillion other things I am worried about or have neglected because I want to sew, my sewing does not go well. I try to tackle my responsibilities before I sit down to sew.
- Now the really hard part. Keep things clean and organized! This is the most difficult for me. Gradually I will let things get cluttered and soon I am right back to where I started. This year I am determined to not let that happen and to “stay clean” all year.
Remember the goal: to find out what works best for you and work from there on improving your sewing experience. But certainly a little bit of organization of your space will go a long long way as the below after pictures show! Soooo happy with my space!!
Here are some links that may help you organize your space. These are just a smattering of what I found. Just google sewing room organization and be amazed!
And please post a picture of your sewing space over on the Stashbusting page!
P.S. Like to sew a long with others? Please join us at Sew A Longs and Sewing Contest, a fb page for social sewers who like to win prizes!