Friday, 4 January 2019

Small Sewing Space Organisation

I was quite pleased that the first week of the 52 Week Sewing Challenge 2019 was "Organise your sewing space".  One good clear out each year seems like a good plan to keep on top of things without taking up too much of my precious sewing time.

I've changed up my sewing space quite a lot over the last few years as my needs and availible space have changed.  These Kallax units have moved and adapted with me.  They fit an amazing amount of fabric, all neatly sorted and easy to keep organised-ish.  

My space is actually pretty organised already.  It has to be, or I would have no chance of fitting everything under the stairs!!

Here's it is, I hope it gives you some ideas and inspiration:

I've got four Kallax units crammed under the stairs.  The front two are on castors so they can be pulled out when I'm using them.  The first one has my sewing machine on top, the second my over-locker.  I keep my sewing box at the front so I can grab it easily for quick mending jobs.  I leave a little space as a dumping ground for mending or fabric to re-purpose, hence the pile of muslin cloths. 

I'd love to have a permanently accessible sewing space but that's not where my life's at just now - watch this space, I'm working on it!

I use a 4 gang extension lead so I can plug everything in and turn it all off quickly when a small person decides to investigate what I'm up to.  

The ironing board hangs on the door along with my most used threads which I keep in a thread rack. They're sorted into rainbow colour groups - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Brown, Black and White.  I sort just about everything this way, it looks lovely (although maybe not with all the odd sized reels I've got currently) and it's extremely practical.

Each Kallax unit houses a Drona box containing fabric which is sorted by type.  I've labelled each box with a chalk label so that I can alter them if and when my needs change.  

I adore the look of beautiful bolts of fabric on display - so inspiring!  But my fabric often sits around for years (ahem decades) during which time the exposed parts would become light damaged, ruining my fabrics!  Keeping them out of the light is far less visually appealing but my collection is protected from light, dust, pet hair, children etc etc.

I adore my sewing box.  It contains all my essential tools and regularly (or recently) used notions.

It's currently a hot mess.

I've paired down my essential tools.

  • I love my magnetic pin cushion, honestly don't know how I managed without it - I must have lost a lot of pins.  
  • A seam ripper because I'm human.  
  • A pencil for marking patterns and making notes.  I took the time to actually sharpen it while I was sorting through.  I'm liking the idea of doing annual maintenance along with a clear out / re-organisation.
  • A good quality tape measure.  
  • I have a little needle-case that I made myself when I was little.  It's got all my embroidery and sewing needles in it.  
  • I like to keep my most-used machine needles handy too - Universal, Stretch, Denim, Quilting and Heavy Duty.  I keep my twin needles with my sewing machine.  


Next I have my essential but less often used tools.

The bottom is for bigger tools, mostly my scissors.

I thought it was a good idea to change my rotary cutter blade for the first time in ah hem . . . far too long!!

And I finally threw away my old tracing paper and got some lovely new sheets!!  It's crazy that I don't replace this more often.

I keep my knitting tools in here too.  

  • Pom Pom Maker, which I haven't actually used but I'm hanging onto to it because I reckon my kids will want me to use it as they get older - personally I find pom poms too fussy.  
  • Stitch markers which I don't actually use very often.  Probably because I'm currently sticking to very simple projects that fit round a baby's fussy evenings.
  • I use a row counter quite a lot though.  I did have three but decided that was a tad excessive.
  • I couldn't be without my needle gauge, I use Double Pointed needles quite a lot and can never tell what gauge they are by looking.  I also have a lot of vintage needles that have the old imperial gauges.  
  • stitch holder for neckbands and the like.  I have a second one in my knitting bag.
  • A good set of Cranked cable needles, I can't believe how long I managed without these.  I love the look of cables and so I use them quite a bit - Soo much easier than struggling with a spare DPN.

I keep my most used notions in my sewing box too.  I seem to use a lot of elastic at the moment.  I've got 3mm, 12mm and fold over elastics.  I keep my snap fasteners in more grip seal bags to keep all the different parts separate.

This is my huge inherited pile of buckles and fastenings.

And this is it after a good clear out.  I can't believe how much my mum kept!

My button stash - I can't even go there!!  They're all sorted into colour groups - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Brown, Black, White and Metallic.  It's generally pretty easy to rummage through and find suitable buttons when I need them.  So I'm leaving them as they are.  Maybe I'll give them a good clear out next year.

I'm keeping this box in the full knowledge that I don't use any of the feet in it.  I can't bare to get rid of any of them because I don't know what they are so I can't be sure I won't need them . . . That's my justification and I'm sticking to it!  The box can live in an out of the way corner.  Hopefully I will eventually learn what all these feet are and how to use them but that's a goal for another year . . . 

Just look at the space I've cleared above my units!!

Next onto my thread collection.  The pile is gong down all be it slowly.  These two boxes were overflowing a year ago.  I'm calling that good progress and carrying on as i have been.

I'm aiming to get it down to just the rainbow colours - Red, (Bright along with Dusky Pink and Burgundy), Orange, Yellow, Green (Bright plus Sage, Mint and Evergreen), Blue (Navy and Dusky Blue), Violet (Deep and Pale shades), Brown (Faun, Chocolate and a mid Brown shade), Black, White and Cream.  


Plus two sets of four large spools for my over-locker Darks (Chocolate, Navy, Burgundy, Evergreen) and Pastels (Cream, Dusky Pink, Mint, Dusky Blue).  I reckon that would suit the vast majority of my projects.


In the interests of saving space and cutting down expenditure I'm thinking that mixing the colours works quite well.  It also means I need to change my over-locker threads less often - bonus!!

I keep my projects in progress in an old nappy box.  Each project has it's own grip seal bag with the fabric, pattern and any notions needed.  It's nice and easy to grab a project when I get some sewing time without wasting time deciding what to sew and then choosing the materials.

Sewing patterns in a lovely wooden box, sorted by age then by category.  My manuals live here too.  I've had a pattern clear out about a year ago and they're still pretty well organised.  Next year I'll probably purge the baby patterns but Little Pickle still fits them for now.

I keep my pdf patterns in a me-made folder.  

I keep a cover sheet for each pattern and the pattern pieces in the size my kids are currently growing into.  Any other sizes go in the bin, I can always re-print them if I need to.  I don't print out the pattern instructions and use my tablet to access them instead.  This saves so much space.  

Each pattern has it's own A4 pocket and they're bound together with book rings. It's super simple but it does the job nicely.

This is a genius idea I was given.  I use vacuum pack bags for my stuffing.  It reduces the size of it by about 75%.  They're useful for fleece and fluffy yarn too.  Also my "stuffing" is actually old pillows and cushions that were destined for the bin.

Now onto my fabric stash.  I fold my fabric selvage to selvage.

Then in half again.

I fold the fabric around a comic board.

And keep folding.

I pop the mini bolts into a grip seal bag to keep them free of dust.

I've got some sets of fat quarters that are too small to go on their own board.  I've put coordinating fabrics on the same board so that they're together and easy to find alongside the rest of my fabrics.  If I had more fat quarters I think I'd do this differently but most of my fabric is yardage so this works well for me.


A thing of beauty!!  

I sort my fabric by colour - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Brown, Black and White.

This is my woven scrap bag.  I really should tackle this but I'm short on time and motivation so I think that's a job for another day.  I keep day dreaming about a scrap memory quilt.  I expect it will sit at the bottom of my list of project ideas for many more years yet.  Maybe when my kids are leaving home it would make them a nice leaving gift . . . In the meantime I may or may not get round to cutting these scraps down to half square triangles in a consistent size as most of my plans revolve around a sampler style patchwork quilt.

All done.  

I use my dinning table for cutting out with the ironing board next to it.  It fits my cutting mat quite nicely.

My sewing machine sits next to the cupboard when I'm using it.

And here's the inside of my sewing cupboard.  My over-locker lives inside, I step in to use it.  I can wheel the unit out of the cupboard but it's no issue to leave where it is.

My Skadis peg board lives in there too.  It's mostly used as an organised dumping ground for stuff I haven't bothered to put away.  It's all nice and empty now, ready for the next year of sewing.  I keep patterns I've finished with in the Skadis Letter Holder.  The hooks and clips hold just about everything else, zips, fabric swatches etc etc.  The elastic cord comes in very handy for rolls of elastic and bias binding.

I think it's important to recognise that sometimes we just need a place to dump random stuff when we're in a hurry.  It's often unrealistic to expect ourselves to put everything away all of the time.  My solution works really well for me.


So what do you reckon to my teeny tiny space?  Any other ideas to make the most of it?

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