One of my favorite Pinterest rabbit-holes is looking for sewing room tours of other people’s spaces. From shared-use spots to entire rooms set apart solely for sewing, there is clearly no limit to exactly how one should set up their own workspace.
One of My Earliest Sewing Spaces
Before I get into the tour of my current sewing room, I wanted to show one of the spaces I used to sew projects in seven years ago:
I had precisely one half of my desk, a sewing machine, and a dress form I was lucky enough to have just received from a family member. (Side note, I cannot even begin to tell you how sad I am that this trout dress no longer fits me. I have even let it out. Twice. It’s made out of trouty quilting cotton and it’s my absolute favorite. Now it’s in the ‘archive’ because I will never give it up!)
I lived in a 400 square foot apartment and had barely enough room for a desk. I found this $120-ish dollar situation on Amazon and the split sides were perfect for my needs. Before this, which I sadly have no picture of, my machine was sitting on a little typewriter table on wheels, and I would wheel it out of the closet and back when I had projects.
My Current Sewing Room
I feel very lucky to have the amount space I now have for a sewing room. As someone who has had some very tiny sewing spaces (as above), the space I currently have feels extravagant. I mentioned in my last post that I, unfortunately, had to move a few months ago, just as the pandemic was shutting down travel. It wasn’t fun and felt very scary. I moved to a small town where most rentals were set up as Air B&B rentals. The entire town had precisely two available long-term, unfurnished rentals in my price range, and I ended up with this old girl. I’m not mad about it.
Knotty Pine for Days
When I moved in, I originally selected a smaller room. Obviously meant to be a dining room, it was in the corner of the house and had windows on two (of the white-painted) walls. After setting up my office desk in that room, I quickly realized I might have a better, bigger option. The knotty (naughty, haha!) room, which I suspect might have been meant as either a formal dining room or a den, faces the wooded backyard and is a long space that lends itself to multi-use.
Sewing Room Furniture
I moved from a one-bedroom apartment where I used the dining room as my office/sewing room, so I am used to having very little furniture. The main furniture in my sewing room consists of an old family dining room table, an eight-cube shelving unit from Target that I put little vintage feet on (with cube baskets), and a dress form.
I use the table as both my cutting and sewing surface. This table has clever leaves that extend from the short edges, making the table longer when they’re pulled out. It makes it easy to cut most widths of fabric, or to lay out a long length of folded fabric to cut pattern pieces on.
My dress form, Jane, came from a family member. She was a student dress form and I have sized her hips up to fit my measurements better. On a whim, I hung an antique portrait behind Jane’s spot so that she has a “head” of sorts. I find it weird and wonderful.
Sewing Room Tools
My most-used tools are almost always sitting out on my table, which I admit is not very tidy.
The tools I use most are my tape measure, fabric scissors (very un-sharp and low-quality… yikes), tweezers (for threading my serger), pattern weights (found in an antique store, I suspect they’re from the 1960s), blue and white chalk pencils, and everyone’s old friend… the seam ripper.
My pin cushion, which I have a feeling I will likely replace with something that has pin-sharpening filler, is actually a little felt cactus decoration I found at Target several years ago. It wasn’t meant for pins, but it certainly is handy for keeping the types of pins I use separate from each other.
Sewing Room Equipment
I started my sewing life with a 1979 Kenmore sewing machine (I can’t recall the model) that I actually stole from my mother (sorry not sorry, mom!). It certainly did the job for several years, but it was a mechanical machine and had its limitations.
After it became more widely known among friends that sewing was a hobby I would be keeping for some time, I was eventually gifted a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 for my birthday. I’ve had this machine for 3 years now, and it has yet to give me any problems (knock on wood).
This machine is very easy to thread, fill and replace the bobbin, and is overall very user friendly. My most-used stitches are straight, zig-zag, and the button-hole options, but I did use the overlocking stitch quite often before I was given my serger and it worked beautifully. This machine also has decorative and alphabet embroidery stitches, but I have only done minimal experimentation with those.
As I am someone who debates for sometimes YEARS on big purchases, I was also gifted this Brother Lock 1034D by a friend who was tired of hearing me discuss how indecisive I was about which serger I should buy. The only issues I’ve ever had with this machine have been related to my own lack of experience: I was threading it in the wrong order, and also I have occasionally had difficulty getting the tension right for different fabrics. Otherwise, it’s a great machine for home use and I’ve been very happy with it!
My Home Office Space
As I mentioned above, I am used to having my office space and sewing room combined, purely due to lack of overall square footage in the past. The house I am renting has an extra bedroom that I could feasibly use for a separate office if I wanted to, but wishful thinking has me keeping it open as a guest room for the days when we will all get to visit friends and hug each other again.
The other side of my sewing room is dedicated to my home office area, which often comes in handy when I need to view a tutorial on a blog or on YouTube. I have an ancient iMac that I use for playing video games and side projects, like this blog and learning to code.
The other monitor is connected to my MacBook Pro that is dedicated purely to work-related activities. I really wanted a corner desk so that I could direct my attention specifically either at one computer or the other, and this minimal desk fit the bill. The little plastic set of drawers holds all my random office-y stuff.
Decorating My Sewing Room
Decor-wise, I have no idea what to call my style. It’s somewhere between cottage-core and mid-century modern, and I don’t often say no to weird stuff. My mother gave me the embroidery above, sewn by my Great-Grandmother, and I find it very inspiring. The entire border is made of tiny little stitches. I don’t know if she made more masterpieces like this one, or if this one burned her out (haha!), but I cherish it.
I think I drive my sister crazy when we go antique shopping, because there is likely no known rhyme or reason to why I chose the things I buy. This dried flower artwork, I think from maybe the 1970s, isn’t really like much else in my house. And then I have a student painting of a Manet (Portrait of Berthe Morisot) that I like better than the original Manet.
I also have a weird, trompe l’oeil painting of a dog that sent me down a history rabbit-hole (a story for another time). I suspect my sister thought I might finally be mad when I spotted it from across the aisle and said “WHAT ARE YOU?! You’re coming home with me!”
Yeah I don’t know either. His name is Humphrey.
The Best Part
The best part of the room, in my opinion, is the view to the backyard.
Whether rainy or sunny, the gentle light that comes in these windows is cozy and sometimes magical. Birds and squirrels are very active in the yard, and the trees are mature and vibrant green. They seem to be starting to turn, which I get to observe day-by-day.
You Don’t Need Much
My view on sewing spaces is that all you need to start is a bit of table space. If you don’t have the room or the budget, you don’t need much and it doesn’t have to be perfect. The dreamy spaces on blogs and on Pinterest are enviable, but not mandatory. Some people have large rooms with purpose-built, professional furniture. Other people keep their sewing machine in the hall closet and bring it to the kitchen table when they have a project to work on.
In the end, all you need to get sewing is a needle, thread, some fabric, and a lot of patience to persevere even when you have to seam-rip for two hours after making a mistake.
In the meantime, I’ll still probably continue to drool over everyone else’s sewing spaces because I’m always here for more inspiration!