New Year, New Sewing Space

It’s a new year, and here is my new sewing space! It’s really a reorganization of my existing sewing space. Same space, different layout. I love moving furniture around, it feels like a whole new room!

This year, I’m starting the year off right with a freshly reorganized sewing space.

Here is before (see more photos in this post here and this post here):

ironing board near the sewing machine

serger is on separate table

my desk

enter the new office!

(see? people were always sneaking up on me…)

Here is after!

new sewing space setup

What I did:

Moved the desk to the side of the room, instead of in front of the window. Why? Because my big monitor was blocking the light. Because I had my back to the door and that’s bad feng shui. It also was a bit awkward with Corinne in the office, I’d have to turn around to speak, and then turn my back on her after each conversation. Not very natural. Now I can turn my head easily to speak, or see who’s at the door. And I get more light and more window!

Now there’s more natural light in here as well. My laptop didn’t cover much of the window but the monitor on its stand did. Plus it’s easier to lower the blinds, I’d have to climb on the desk behind the computer beforehand.

moved desk to the side

Added a cutting table. I did this a while back, when Corinne first started coming, but never took a photo to show you. It’s awesome! A higher table is way more comfortable to cut on.

cutting table

Added stools to both the sewing table and the cutting table. I used to roll my office chair over to the sewing table to sew, but it was too tall, so I’d lower it to sewing height. Then I’d roll it back to the computer and end up slouching. This way, both chairs stay at the proper height. Plus if people visit the office, we’re not standing awkwardly. Come on in and grab a stool!

sewing machine stools

Having Corinne in my office weekly has made me realize how unwelcoming my space has been, or rather, how it was set up for one person alone. The sewing stools are cheapo Ikea stools for about $8 each. The cutting table stool is a nice solid wood one that I bought from a pile on the side of the road. Actually, it was a tool supply shop, and they had a bunch of tools and this stool out on the sidewalk. I pulled up the smart car and was like, ‘sold!’ And ended up having a nice conversation with the tool shop guy about smart cars and how they just don’t make furniture like they used to.

stools for the sewing machine

All of my work surfaces are in a straight line along one wall, so it’s easy to move from one to the other.  I can cut on the cutting table and let it hang on to the sewing table. Both of those tables are easily moved if I want to pull them out from the wall.

work surfaces all along one wall

I can sit on this mini-bookshelf and stare out the window. Or knit. Or eat my lunch. Or talk on the phone. I’m trying to get away from being glued to the computer. It’s so easy to be distracted online. Hopefully this helps!

wide open window space

The iron now plugs in on the other side of the room, which makes it easier to remember to unplug the iron as I leave. The ironing board is stored upright, so I have to take it all down. No possibility of burning down the office with my forgotten iron. (Yes, it has the auto-off, but what if it fell down? What if the cleaners knocked it over and didn’t know it was plugged in? Safety first.) I also took these photos on two different days so things might look a little different from photo to photo.. but the general idea is the same!

ironing board stored upright

That’s also my shipping station, the mini-bookshelf. It’s quick and easy to turn around from the computer to pack up orders.

I put my thread racks back up. I probably didn’t mention they were down, but I noticed them getting dusty, so I took the threads all down and organized them in little boxes. Like so.

clear thread boxes

Then, I realized I missed the thread rack. It was so convenient to see what threads I had on hand, find the right shade of blue among my blue threads, and know what colours to stock up on during a thread sale. I had to look through several thread boxes to find the colour I needed, and when you look from the top down, you see the label not the thread colour, so you have to keep looking from the side to find the right shade. So the racks are back.

thread racks

Added a tackboard above the cutting table with my plans for the year! I covered our new pattern designs with pattern instructions for secrecy. It makes it really easy to add ideas when I think of them. Just a quick post-it tacked on the board, then the idea is recorded, and I can move on without worrying about where to put the idea. Then when it comes to making up samples of the new designs, all of my ideas are right there as an easy visual reference. I also have special buttons, appliques, and fabric swatches so I remember to use them!

tackboard for design ideas

Easy is key, I think I’ve said it so many times in this post. In any workspace, you want to be able to find your tools, ideas and supplies easily so you can get back to creating!

You may have noticed the big bright quilt covering up the clothes rack – it’s my second quilt! (First quilt here.) It’s queen size, so it’s big, and heavy, but looks really fresh and colourful. And hides the secrets that are hanging on the clothes rack. More on the bed quilt when I get it finished. It needs to be quilted, and binding added, then it will be complete!

bed quilt

Workspace organization tips:

  • Plan before you start moving furniture! Here’s my little, very basic floor plan. Trust me, you want to know if things will fit before you start hauling furniture around! Allow room to open doors and to pull out chairs to sit down. (Don’t assemble furniture in the doorway with the door open – did that last time!)

floor plan - plan before moving the heavy stuff!

  • Have a place for everything. The things that always end up cluttering my space are the ones that have no definite home.
  • Label things. If you’re like me, you might think ‘of course I’ll remember what’s in this box!’ but then have to look in every week to remember. Just write a label on it and save yourself the extra minutes.

Next steps:

  • Reorganize the filing cabinet. It’s become a bit of a junk cabinet and needs to be sorted out! I also don’t really like it under the cutting table. Ideally, I’ll clean it out, realize I don’t need it anymore and move it out.
  • Sort and organize fabric. What do I have in my fabric stash? Who knows anymore! Time to sort by colour, by season, by fabrics that would work well in the upcoming new designs, and give away fabric I no longer love. Look at that scary under-the-cutting-table pile.

what a stash!

I love having everything clean, organized and tidy. I’m a little obsessive about having everything in straight lines, so this is excellent for me. (I’m excited that I can clean the windowsill easily, how strange is that?) This is a great way to start off the New Year!

Who else is reorganizing for the start of 2014?

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63 Responses to New Year, New Sewing Space

  1. maddie January 3, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    I’m jealous of all your space! My living room of my apartment is my “sewing space” and as you can imagine, my sewing stuff gets mixed in with my other stuff. Glad you’re starting off the year right!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Thank you! Yeah, I could imagine the sewing stuff would start to take over if it was in the living room.. I certainly had threads everywhere when I was sewing at home!

  2. Andrea_R January 3, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    So… you actually rent office space? COOL! :D I’ve been working from home for forEVer.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      I do! I worked from home for the first few months, but Mr Sewaholic also works from home, and we’re in a small 2-br apartment, so we couldn’t both fit. After a couple of months giving it a good try, I decided to rent an office. I’ve been here for almost 3 years now, moving up to a slightly larger space after the first year.
      It was a bit of a risk at the time, because my business was just starting, but I was ready to give it a proper go, and if it didn’t work out after the first year I could give it up.
      If I could fit at home, I’d probably consider it because it would save $, plus you can make lunches at home and have all your stuff in one place. For me, I like the separation of work and home. Otherwise I’m kind of compulsive, I’d work all the time, just because it was there!

  3. Rachel January 3, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    That looks great! I put a pinboard a few months back and love it. I can also pin up pattern pieces mid project so I don’t lose them! I got a thread rack for Christmas and can’t wait to get it up an have all my thread colors visible and easily accessible! Right now they are all jumbled in a number of place!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Yes! And pattern instructions, too. Makes it handy to follow along by just looking up, as you work! I hope you love the thread racks as much as I love mine. It’s so handy to be able to pick out the right shade of blue by holding up your fabric to the rack.

  4. Jenny January 3, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Looks great! One thing I did in my new sewing studio is put up pegboard, so then you can easily hang all your scissors etc. on the wall – makes it so much easier to find them!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      I love pegboard! Caroline has it in her sewing space and it’s awesome. I hang my scissors on pushpins in the tackboard, but a real pegboard would be much sturdier.

  5. Carol January 3, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Love the new look, should be fun to sew in.
    Did you knit the beautiful shawl on the back of your chair? If so could I have pattern details

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      I did knit it! Here’s my post about it – http://sewaholic.net/terra-plus-whats-great-about-shawls/ – the pattern is Terra and it’s a really nice design. I kept it at the office for a couple of months and now it’s at home, worn as sort of a lounging-on-the-couch elegant blanket.

      • Carol January 4, 2014 at 3:25 am #

        Thank you for the pattern details.

  6. Virginia January 3, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Your office looks fantastic! Really neat and easy to use. I’m going through a new years sort out but I’m moving in February and I’m getting rid of anywhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of my stuff. It’s tough but it makes it easier to have a place for everything. :-)

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Thank you! Wow, that’s quite the purge and house-cleaning. In a way it’s nice because you’ll keep only the things you truly love, with no room for things you only sort of like. And of course, less clutter overall! Good luck!

  7. Kelly January 3, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    You have such a great little studio! The set up looks really good, and I hope it helps boost your creativity! I seriously can’t wait to find out what secrets lie behind that lovely quilt :)

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      And I can’t wait to show you guys! Soon! :)

  8. Jessica January 3, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Your office looks fantastic! I’m feeling more inspired to tackle my mess of a sewing space now!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Do it! Even if you just devote ten to fifteen minutes at a time it’s nice to reorganize and tidy. (And who knows you might get on a roll and keep going!)

  9. Karen January 3, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Tasia, your space is so inviting and cheerful!

    That Cordova jacket is so fine also — makes me want to drop everything and whip up one for myself. Great pattern!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

      Thank you! It’s nice in here and so much better with the big window. I love the metallic Cordova, it’s so fancy and attracts attention! (Also better than having Diana naked in between projects.)

  10. catherine January 3, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Your space looks very organised and inviting, perfect for the new year. Well done, I hope your energy levels go up too. I had new storage boxes for Christmas so I sorted my stash yesterday. It made me finish reducing the size of 5 scarves for one of my work colleagues and make a load of Morsebags http://www.morsebags.com out of old curtains to save the planet, so now tomorrow I can sew what I want with a clear conscience. Cool.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Oh nice! I can’t wait to go through my fabric and record it all properly. Neat info about the morsbags, too, I wasn’t familiar with the story but it’s neat! Many places here are starting to charge for plastic bags which even though it’s 5 cents, it makes you stop and think about whether you need it or not. And at our grocery store I opt for paper and re-use them. (Because I rarely remember to bring my fabric ones even though I have tons!) Very cool concept.. enjoy your free sewing day!

  11. Ms. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher January 3, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    It’s amazing what we can fit into spaces. You’ve done a brilliant job of utilizing your space and making it as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional. So impressed with what you accomplish in your limited space. Inspiring. Happy New Year. You’re off to a great start.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      Thank you so much! Can you believe I used to be in a smaller office than this? Sometimes I think I should look for a really big open studio space but I quite like the location of this one, that and moving is a real pain. Happy new year to you too!

  12. Becky January 3, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    I did some reorganizing! My furniture layout was good, but I’m not the best at tidying up after a project. So between that and new acquisitions, things were getting out of hand. It’s not perfect, but I think it will be much easier to work in there now.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

      Nice! Interesting that your clutter issue is from after a project. I think I’m worse at having too many on-the-go projects but good at cleaning when they’re all done.

  13. Becky January 3, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Also, your space looks great!

  14. BeckyW January 3, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I like the changes you made to your space.

    You mentioning worrying about leaving your iron plugged in made me want to tell you what I do in my sewing room. I have one surge suppressor that everything in my sewing room is plugged into. All my machines are plugged in there. I’ve had to run a small extension cord to accommodate my iron. Also plugged in there is a floor lamp that stands in the corner between my sewing machine and serger. I never turn this lamp off. If the surge suppressor is on, it is on. I really never turn my iron off either. When I leave my sewing room, I flip off the switch on the surge suppressor. That way I can see that the lamp is off and know that everything is powered down, especially my iron.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Thanks Becky, that is a really smart idea! I like the idea of associating the iron with the light, therefore if you remember the light being off then you can rest assured the iron is too. (Here, the lights never go off, so I can’t do that, but it’s a great idea for all home-based workspaces.) Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Claire (iwanttobeaturtle) January 3, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Looks great! I’m main the middle of reorganising everything I own that is sewing related. Your point about ease of funding items ring home very loudly!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      Oh for sure! It’s always that one thing, that doesn’t have a proper home, that I end up losing. (For a while it was my loop turner.) Good luck with your organization!

  16. CosIadoru January 3, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Lucky you!!!Happy new year Tasia!!!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      Thank you and Happy New Year as well! :)

  17. Loretta January 3, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Ah. Tasia, you are so organized! You inspire me. :)

  18. Emma January 3, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    You’re so lucky to have dedicated workspace, is this your main living, or so you have another job too?

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      This is my full-time thing! I started working from home when I first started my business but found quickly that our small apartment wasn’t big enough for two home based business (Mr. Sewaholic works at home too) and he was there first, so I’m the one that got an outside office space. For me, it’s really nice to have the separation.. otherwise I would work way too much if it was always just a few steps away. :)

  19. Candice January 3, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Great use of your space – and your under the table stash made me grimace,
    I have one of those I must wrassle into submission.

    Looking forward to what you have in store!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Oh yeah, I know! It’s a bit embarrassing to show you my giant pile of fabric, but I knew I couldn’t be the only one. Good luck taming your pile! It’s kind of exciting to uncover fabric you forgot you had though. I like that part, plus seeing it with new eyes!

  20. Leigh January 3, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    That’s so inviting! I’m headed out to clean up my space this weekend. I wish mine were as clean as your ‘before’ picture! I’m like Becky, not so good at post-project cleanup. And I like starting new ones better than cleaning up or finishing, so my space is a bit out of control. The “after” will be great though.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      Oh yeah, for sure. These photos are showing off a best-case scenario and definitely not what it looks like in here, all the time! I like starting rather than cleaning too.

  21. Laurinda January 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Did you make yor thread racks? If so please post how you did it, they are so nice and big. Can’t wait to reorganize my sewing stash!

  22. Tiffany January 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I wish I had a sewing room like that! Mine’s a disaster area.

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

      I totally cleaned up for the photos, it’s often a mess in here too :) So you’re really seeing the best-case scenario, for sure.

  23. Diane @ Vintage Zest January 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Oh gosh, now I’m inspired to organize my sewing space (AKA my bedroom) so I can sew a little bit easier! :)

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

      It does help! I find it less distracting when it’s cleaner in here. Otherwise I think ‘you should be cleaning!’ instead of sewing!

  24. Claire (aka Seemane) January 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Happy New Year Tasia :)!
    I love the new workspace… re: thread getting dust on the thread racks maybe you could sew some clear vinyl/PVC slip-covers (and bind the edges with bias-tape to stop it tearing/splitting). That way you could still see the thread and colours clearly – but reduce the accumulation of dust on the spools? It’s something I’m considering – as my thread is all currently in old biscuits tins and hard to see LOL!

    • Tasia January 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      That is a great suggestion! Love the idea of clear vinyl covers so I can still see the rainbow of threads. Thanks so much!

  25. Bev January 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    What a beautiful layout! What height is your sewing table and your cutting table? I have a L shape sewing room with washer/dryer and furnace in the same room so I’m going to see what I can do to make it more sewing, less laundry/furnace room. I like your idea of having a floor plan done to scale. Do you have any ideas for a small L shape room?

    • Tasia January 5, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      My cutting table is about 35″ and my sewing table is 29″ – the cutting table has adjustable legs so I’ve raised them the maximum amount. The sewing table is just a plain old IKEA table with standard height legs.

      I’m not so much of a room organization expert but if I had to share with a furnace I’d want to hide it somehow, with a curtain or room divider or something. I feel like a furnace would bug me if I could see it. That would help me feel like it was my sewing room, not like I’m hiding in the furnace room to sew.
      Definitely with an L-shaped room I’d plan it out on paper first. I have a hard time visualizing what that might look like, so I’d plan it out on paper, decide how I want to walk from end to end of the room and place the furniture accordingly. Perhaps make one wall the furniture wall and one the wall you’re going to walk along. Also – clutter under tables makes the room feel smaller. When I first set up the tall table, it felt roomy in here, but once I crammed stuff underneath it felt smaller.
      Hope this helps!

      • Bev January 13, 2014 at 11:08 am #

        Thanks Tasia

        I think part of the problem besides the furnace is the clutter under the counter. I’ll get rid of that first because I only have 42″ x 31″ of counter space to work with. The 42″ has 2-5″ drawers under it and the 31″ side has cupboards under it. Also the counter is 41″ high so I better do alot of thinking on this and get a lower table to sew on! Thanks for all your help.

  26. Lynn January 4, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Happy New Year! I love your reorganized space and your view out the window!
    I bought plastic shoe boxes from the Dollar Store and labeled them for elastic, ribbon, trims, etc. The trim box has labeled ziploc bags for rick-rack, binding, etc. And I have a small organizer with labeled plastic drawers for marking stuff, needles, scissors, zippers…
    Now if only I had a workable plan for fabric stash! It is on shelves in a small closet, but too dark to see.

    • Tasia January 5, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Nice! I think my scrap boxes are shoe boxes, or at least they’re about the same size. That sounds like a great organizational strategy, clear boxes in a reasonable size so they’re not too hard to look through.
      Fabric stash, I know! I’ll keep you posted if I come up with something good. I’ve seen people make mini-bolts for their fabric, so it’s easy to see a sliver of each fabric on a shelf. Kind of like this – http://smashedpeasandcarrots.com/mini-fabric-bolts-and-some-studio-organization/

  27. Noelle January 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    Looks fantastic. It’s so organised! What a lovely little space to work in.

  28. Mack January 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    That looks so nice and neat and organized!!! Ugh- I’m jealous. I’ve been trying to clean up my work shop for months, and I swear it gets worse every time I clean! Brava to succeeding!

  29. Sally January 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I just love these posts! Seeing how other people organize and work in their space is so inspiring! Thanks! :)

  30. MTangel January 6, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Wow, it looks really nice! And your second quilt already – you’re so productive! I finally have my sewing machine fixed and set up, so I need to get projects done instead of lounging around like a giant slug. I have a lovely Moda jellyroll for my next quilt, but I really hate to open it. It’s packaged so neat and pretty. :)

  31. janis January 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Nice job! I love feeling organized with everything neat and in its own space. I’m fortunate to have 2 bedrooms in our current home completely renovated for sewing. One room is where I plan, cut, store fabrics, etc. The other room is where I sew, press, and complete items. We’re about to move and I plan to have a wall removed between 2 bedrooms in the new place and have one long sewing room. I have a fairly detailed system of inventorying and storing my patterns, fabrics, and notions. Once the new space is finished, I should take pictures and share how I organize my huge inventory of patterns and fabrics. Congrats on reconfiguring your space. It feels good doesn’t it!!!

  32. Helen C. Peemoeller January 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Is that your entire stash? I suspect that it is, for you are young, relatively speaking. I want to warn you and all your correspondents that stashes grow and grow. I am probably forty or fifty years older than you, and I do know whereof I speak. If you buy just ten pieces more than you sew each year, that it a hundred pieces in ten years and 400 in forty! Be careful.

    I recommend keeping a notebook where you note each piece you acquire, giving the date that you bought it, the color, fiber, care requirements, and what you plan to sew. I also note the shop, the price (and the prices of lining, buttons, pattern, etc.) I then add the date when I finished the garment. This helps to remind me of a lovely piece that I loved when I bought it, but somehow forgot. This has also forced me to realize that I never sew more than 50 garments a year ( and often far less), so buying far more is foolish.

    My stash is huge, but I do not believe that she who has the most fabric at death has won. I just fall in love with too many fabrics. I have also learned that, if I do not know what I shall make with fabric, it never gets made up. I am not insisting that you know which pattern you will use, but at least have an idea of whether you are planning a pencil skirt or a classic shirt. This naturally helps you decide how much to buy, but I think that it is important to know if the fabric is telling you that it wants to be; if you have no idea (but the fabric is great), the odds that you will ever sew it are low.

    I am trying to sew almost entirely from my stash. Is any one else doing this? The fabric stores won’t want to hear this, but it is sane. I am also trying to give away all the fabric that no longer appeals to me.

    • Tasia January 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

      Oh no, I have much more fabric than that! I have at least twice that amount hidden in other place. Maybe four times that amount, actually. I’m not limiting myself to sewing from stash, because I want to choose the best fabric to showcase my new patterns! So then I can buy more, but I try to think – will this get used up in the next year? If I think maybe no, then I don’t buy it.

      Great suggestions to keep a notebook recording your stash fabric, all of your things to note would be so helpful years down the road!

      I’ve been sewing for about 20-25 years, and I have a pretty good stash now! Nearly all of it I buy with a project in mind, I just don’t have as much free time as I think I do :)

  33. Sharon January 29, 2014 at 3:54 am #

    Great sewing space. I like how you explain the rationale behind your organization method. I’m fortunate and have a large basement, unfinished at the moment, but a perfect blank slate for trial and error for furniture/equipment placement. I like to keep my ironing board near my treadmill, this way, I can take a quick stroll on the treadmill while waiting for the iron to heat up.

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