Sewing room makeover ideasPosted byMary Greenon January 31, 2013, inquilting & sewing,quilt referenceLike many quilters, I used to dream of having a space set aside just for my quiltinga place I could call my studio. In my case, I dreamt of a space large enough for two, since my husband is a quilter, too, with his own machine and an equally large and unruly fabric stash. When we moved into a home that had two two-car garages (one whole garage more than we needed, shown at right), we began to think about how we might convert that space to a quilt studio. We sketched out pages of quilt-room design ideas and discussed how it might all work. But it wasnt until we had the opportunity to be one of the ten makeovers designed by Lois Hallock for her bookCreating Your Perfect Quilting Space, that we started seriously researching designs for sewing rooms. We were so excited!Lois is an engineer with expertise in factory design, so she understands efficient work flow and ergonomic needs. And shes a quilter, which means she also understands all the stuff that comes along with the hobbythe fabric, tools, notions, patterns, books, and machines that need to be organized and stored. So even though we had some ideas of our own, sitting down with Lois to design a sewing room was eye-opening. She helped us prioritize our wish list and think through issues we hadnt even considered. And she helped us go from this empty garage:
to this amazing studio.
It took us eight months of working nearly every weekend, but isnt it fabulous? And you know what? Eight years later, we still love it. We wouldnt change a thing. Well, maybe just one little thing: we positioned the lights over the cutting tables a little differently than Lois recommended, and we know now we should have listened to her. Sigh. Why did we think we knew better? Theyre okay and we have plenty of light for cutting, but it would have been just a teensy bit better had we followed her advice. Otherwise, aside from the fact that the room hasnt been this neat since the photos were taken, it looks pretty much the same. More important, it still works well, and Im confident we spend more time there than we ever would have if we hadnt undertaken such an extensive makeover.In the process of creating our perfect quilting space, I learned so much from Lois about whats important in any work space. Considerations such as adequate lighting, ideal cutting-table height, and proper chair adjustment are covered in many books and articles. But did you know that the principle of the work triangle used in kitchen design can be applied to sewing-room design? Anyone can set up a work triangle, whether youre sewing in a big studio or at your kitchen table. Plus, it can work for both permanent and temporary spaces.
Did you also know that a comfortable ironing height is about 3 taller than a comfortable cutting height, because an iron is heavier than a rotary cutter? How about the fact that some full-spectrum lightbulbsthe kind that render color accuratelycan also fade your fabric, just like natural sunlight can?Here are a few more sewing-room design tips fromCreating Your Perfect Quilting Space: Fabric that is folded uniformly is easier to stack, makes for a less cluttered appearance, and makes it easier to find just the right piece. (I cringed when Lois told us we had to fold ALL our fabric this way, and it took hours, but she was rightits so much easier to work with this way.)
Storage pieces and work surfaces come in all styles and price ranges, from repurposed bedroom dressers to kitchen cabinets from Home Depot or Ikea to custom furniture. Keeping tools and supplies organized and within reach saves time and energy, allowing you to spend less time searching for your missing seam ripper and more time being creative.
Proper lighting is essential to avoiding fatigue and eye strain, but most of us dont realize that our lighting levels are too low. A person at age 40 may require twice as much light as a person at 20 (ouch!). Increasing the amount of light, especially task lighting, can allow you to work more comfortably for longer periods.Whether you sew in a corner of the bedroom, on the dining-room table, or in a large, dedicated room, there are tips and ideas here that will help you be more organized, work more efficiently, and enjoy your quilting and sewing more than ever. You may even decide to take the plunge and plan your own makeover!
How do you organize and store your fabric?Share your best ideasor your biggest challengesin the comments!Check out the slideshow below for even more ideas from the book; then take advantage of this weeks special sale.PlayPrevNext1 / 7
A portable, clamp-on ironing board offers plenty of space to cut and press blocks while seated. The design wall is in easy reach, located just behind the sewing station.
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24 Comments (leave a comment) I store mine in the typical IKEA wire storage drawers. Everything in my studio room is modular, so I can take it all apart and move it around to suit my current needs. Right now Im on incarnation #2 of my workspace.Jeanon January 31, 2013 I got this book several years ago. I loved the idea of having all my fabric neatly folded. One day, I was suffering from a head cold. The only thing I had the energy to do was fold fabric. It took less time than I thought and the results were fabulous! Its so wonderful to be able to see EVERYTHING! Im so glad I did it. Now its the first thing I do when I bring home new fabric for my stash. (The only surprising thing was how much lint was generated just by the simple act of folding all that fabric.)Emi on January 31, 2013 I have an extra bedroom that I turned into my craft room. I put shelving units in the closet to hold all my "stuff," including fabric. However, the fabric took up so much room that I decided to dedicate an entire 6 ft. tall bookshelf for fabric storage. The bookshelf sits in a corner of the room. That idea turned out to not be ideal, so in frustration I took all my fabric and put it in a big plastic storage box under one of my cutting tables, and until I come up with a good fabric display/storage plan, thats where it will have to stay. Does anyone out there have a great idea for storing fabric so that its easy to get tobut more importantly..east to PUT BACK!!! Thats actually where Ive had all my problems. Ive thought about using plastic shoe boxes for each color and put those on the book shelves.its the only idea I can come up with. Im open to suggestions! AnneAnne Myers on January 31, 2013 To try to control my "stash" I wrap each length of fabric around my 8 x 24 inch ruler, then slide the ruler out. On a 3 x 5 file card I writethe yardage, the sku number/ collection/ manufacture, store where and when purchased, whether washed or not, what project fabric is to be used in,photo copy of pattern, or line drawing and any other information I may think I need to remember. This is then stapled on a selvage edge. Color coordinate, stacks stay even, lots of work at the start but time saving when searching for the fabric needed for a project when the inspiration happens.I work in a fabric store.Muslin queen on January 31, 2013 Now that I am a bit older, I realize that buying large cartons to store fabric is not the best idea, buy smaller cartons that are easy to lift at any age. The clear cartons that you can see through help also. With fabric, because of allergies, I usually wash and dry and press and label all new fabrics I purchase before it is stored. Pinned on Label includes: yardage, w & d (washed & dried) from what store, location, and date. Over the years, this has belped so much. When I pick up my fabric from stash, I know immediately if I can buy more and where because of label. The extra time used is a good trade off for NOT running out of fabric needed for a project = panic prevention.Ritaon January 31, 2013 My studio is a large room in the basement. Because of an accident with water in the yard a number of years ago, I had to do some repairs. When I was finished, all the walls are white, all the floor to ceiling cupboards are white, and the lights are finished in the ceiling. Because I live in a dusty part of the country and have fabric-loving cats, my fabrics are stored in Rubbermaid containers (clear). I have stuck a Post-It on the outside: cool FQ, warm FQ, particular theme, Christmas, or particular colors. Some fabrics set aside for a given project are folded together with one fabric for the project wrapped around the whole collection.I have a cutting table on saw horses that are waist-high, and sew on a corner computer table. I purchased white bookcases that are stacked on top of the built-in desk, and bridged with additional shelves. These are for books, and containers of patterns and tins I corral odds and ends in. I also keep patterns in Rubbermaid containers (sewing patterns)and those are under the cutting table. It would be nice to move the queen bed out, but that isnt possible at the moment.I havent been able to do my annual magazine sort, and clean up but when it is done and everything where it should be, I love working down there.Claudia on January 31, 2013 I dont have the luxury of having a big studio to sew in, so with limited space in a 3 BR and 2 bath home, I had to resort to stackable Sterlite and/or Rubbermaid clearview, mostly 56 quart size, containers with lids. Each container has its own fabric color or fabric subject, as in transportation, children, flannel, Christmas, etc., and each container is clearly marked on both ends. Fabric is neatly folded and at a glance, I can see whats inside. Rarely do I have to open a container to see its entire contents. Each state has different climates and storage like this, in Florida, has never had any side effects. My smaller individual plastic storage boxes house my thread, notions, patterns, UFOs, and I have a wall built in bookcase and 2 fabric bolt racks, along with my cutting table, 2 sewing machine tables, and ironing board. For my "FREE" patterns printed off the Internet, I use durable notebooks and plastic inserts, and I have two huge containers marked "To Be Quilted" that house my completed pieced tops, backings, and pre-made bindings. I have 4 ruler racks on a table with mounted shelving above that houses individual boxes labeled Projects. All of this, is stored, in our Family Room and one Bedroom. In our community bathroom is a quilt magazine rack, and our secondary bedroom houses batting.My husband and I are both, Quilters, and between us, we have 8 machines, including a long arm. I have 2 Tutto bags: 1 houses my "to go" machine and notions, while the other houses all my projects Im working on, and I usually carry two for retreats.Our master bedroom (and bath) has its share of hand work projects. Nothing goes to waste in our home. Studios? Who needs one?Keep smiling,Lynnita Shipmanon January 31, 2013 Oh so many challenges, Ive been "accepting" empty bolts from fabric stores and filling them w/fat qs or big chunks of leftover fabric-its not working out all that well. I have a room and 1/2 to dedicate but so far its hodge podge and dig around and move boxes to get to something I want-thats if I remember that I have it. Kudos for the diligent organizers, labeling and storing-Im a work in progress and hope to make more progress soon. As always, thanks for picutres, details and sharings.CheersCarolCarol on January 31, 2013 I recently converted my 2 car garage into a large quilting room and I contracted with a cabinet shop to build lower cabinets with drawers and shelves and upper cabinets with glass doors. My fabrics are sparated and folded by color to go on the selves in the upper cabinets so I can easily find the colors/fabrics that I need for my project. I also splurged and purchased a long arm quilting machine (computerized)so now I spend much of my spare time in my "heaven on earth" space. I used the Quilting Room Space Makeover book to help me make my new room the best it could be!Kaye Morgan on January 31, 2013 I found that stacking all my fabric, folded and in view, on shelves was the best motivation for me with my sewing. All fabric is easy to see and readily accessible. To keep the dust out I put clear glass doors on the shelves so everything was still visible. I find I am now using my stash far more effectively.Karenon January 31, 2013 A friends huband got her a studio apartment for her sewing room.Lynne on January 31, 2013 I have a 20 drawer chest; the drawers are the perfect size for my folded fat quarters.Like most quilters, however, my fabric stash is too large for any one container, or room, and I also have several large plastic storage containers around the house. One day I had my son take one down from a high shelf and discovered so many things Id forgotten I had! Im not talking about (just) yardage I had quilt tops in there too!!It now sits in my living room and will remain there until I finish those UFOs.Kayt on January 31, 2013 Parabns Maria por ser este espao to prtico. Obrigada pelas idias de todas.Translation:Congratulations Maria for being this space so practical. Thanks for the ideas of all.Maria Nogueira on January 31, 2013 I have the 5X5 Ikea storage cube system. I have purchased both plastic bins and basket-style bins also from Ikea to slide into the 12X12 cubbies. I have grouped my stash by color each bin has a different color in it, and one for black-on-black, one for white and black prints. Some cubbies also have batiks, some have multi-color prints,some store current projects or store a particular fabric I may be collecting for a future project. I can slide out the bin I need, get what I am looking for, then slide it back in. I LOVE my Ikea system. I really works for me.Nanon January 31, 2013 When I retired, I added 12 feet to my extra bedroon so now have a 25 x 14 foot room I spend most of my time in that room. I store my fabric on mini-bolts (piece of cardboard 7 x 11) and put them in book shelves easy to see what I have and easy to pull out or put back I store my fat quarters in a shoe storage rack I fold the fat quarters to fit (about 3 1/2 x 9). I can fit a stack of about 25 to 30 fat quarters in each cubby hole. I have one row of half yard cuts that I have folded the same way. Its easy to pull out a stack, take what I want and put the stack back. Scraps are stored in clear plastic shoe boxes, and labeled according to size.When I get stuck with a sewing project, I get out my scraps and play.Connie B on February 1, 2013 I am 5 feet tall and was wondering if there is a formula to figure out the height for a cutting and sewing table? I use the same one for both. Thanks, NancyHi Nancy,Theres no "set" formula-it all depends on your individual set-up. Lois devotes several pages in her book to the erg...