Posted on 42 Comments

The Sewing Room

Sewing Room, Work Room, Studio……whatever you want to call it, what does yours look like right now? As we approach the first of the year, I’m thinking about what my main resolution will be……I say this every year and every year it never gets done…Clean up my “Studio”!

Jinny's "studio" after the last "clean-up" 15 years ago.
Jinny’s “studio” after the last “clean-up” 15 years ago.

So what is my “Studio”? It is a long narrow room at the back of the house that attaches to the laundry room. It actually used to be the whole laundry room but I cut it up and made a workspace out of part of it.  There is a door that leads outside. Along one wall and around a corner is a long kitchen height counter to use for workspace with a couple of cubby holes to allow a bar-type chair to fit. Windows, over the counter, look out to the yard and drawers for storage are underneath. Opposite the counter are shelves for fabric storage. One wall, that has the door to the laundry room, is burlap covered and serves as a design wall. The door is also covered in burlap…….doesn’t sound too bad.

A lot of people would like to have a space like this. So why haven’t I used it in 15 years? Why, when I have a project to work on, do I spread it out on the island in the kitchen and work at the kitchen table?

Okay, I’m really going out on a limb here. I’m thinking that if I show you some pictures of what it really looks like now and declare my resolution in front of all of you then I can’t back down. I’ll have to save face and clean it up.

Sewing room2

My work room has become a catchall. I don’t sit at the counter or use this room as a “Studio” and work because:

*The counter is piled high with fabric and junk……the whole entire counter!

*A dog crate sits under one of the work cubby holes and fabric is stored in bins under the other, so there is no room for a chair to fit.

Dog crates make another great horizontal surface to hold “stuff!”

*Drawers and shelves are stuffed as full as can be with no room for anything else.

*My burlap covered wall has the second dog crate in front of it as well as a now defunct copy machine. Back when we still had cats, they liked to use the burlap as a scratching post……its pretty ugly right now.

Now, mind you, this won’t be a day project. I have to find a place for all that clutter or get rid of a bunch of stuff. In order to do that, I have to clean out every drawer and shelf so I have a place to put what I really want to keep. I’m going to have to clean the attic so I have a place to store things that I’m not going to use all the time. I’m going to have to replace the burlap wall with something else and dispose of the defunct copy machine……I won’t get rid of the dog crates because I love my dogs and they love their crates…..but I will make room under at least one of the cubby holes for a chair so I can once again sit and look at the nice view as I work.

So how many of you have a “Studio” that needs organizing? How many of you will take the challenge with me and send a “before” photo? Then during the year lets share progress photos…..we CAN do this!

42 thoughts on “The Sewing Room

  1. All the extras end up in my sewing room, too. That’s where I wrapped Christmas presents and where the “stuff” goes when I put out Christmas decorations. Check out Mark Lipinski’s “Slow Stitching Movement” blog. De-cluttering is part of it. We can do it!

  2. im in. My sewing room used to be our sons room. It, too, has become a catch all with chairs from relatives who are no longer with us, kids toys, etc.

  3. I used to have an ‘art space’ in my last apartment, but I realized that I never did art anymore, because when I wanted to use the table, it would take me an afternoon to clean it off, and then I didn’t feel like doing anything anymore. I came to the conclusion that if everything had a place, and I spent 15 minutes cleaning up when I was done, I’d be ready to work on art whenever I felt the urge. It worked, to an extent… it was the beginning of my Life-Long Battle with Organization, and Fighting the Siren’s Call of Flat Surfaces. I still have issues (I’ve come to believe that flat surfaces are the bane of civilization, because they beckon to you to put things on them), but I recognize it and deal with it before things get too out of control. I totally understand the whole ‘you can’t just organize one thing, because those things need to go somewhere that is already occupied’ problem, because I’m the same way. In the end, purging is SO freeing. I just joined a guild, and they have a part of their meeting where people bring their bags of no-longer-wanted fabrics and trims and books, and others can win them in a raffle (one person’s purgings are another person’s scrappy treasure). Good luck!

  4. Thank you for sharing! In some ridiculous way, this makes me feel SO much better.

  5. Looks about like mine. After my husband passed, I decided to use a finished hobby room in the basement. Within a month it had expanded to a storage room the snack prep. area and the bar has a table covered with plastic for spraying, painting and a light box. I do organize on occasion, but it only lasts until I start another project. I’m headed there now to organize, because I lost a set of keys!! Thanks for sharing

  6. With my husband’s offer to take next Friday off to help move an old couch out of my quilting loft…I’m all for taking part in the big clean up! I’ll have to prioritize some projects and pack away a weaving loom that has been partially warped for nearly three years.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. You have no idea how encouraging this is. Jinny Beyer has a cluttered studio with animals taking over!

  8. Jinny, I can totally relate. I am “almost” done cleaning my sewing room and although it may not be perfect, it is more functional now. I started by organizing things into LABELLED Rubbermaid containers that stack. These are all inside an Ikea cupboard (with doors) to keep it looking tidy. So far, so good – now if I could just get the cutting table cleared off and keep it that way! Like you, any horizontal space is easily piled up high with “treasures”, but my New Years resolution is to use it, then PUT IT AWAY when not using! We’ll see how long it lasts!! Good luck with your “adventure”!

  9. Hi Jinny, wow, not sure if I can be as brave as you are on exposing your sewing room. Mine too is a disaster. I will need to think on your challenge, give me a few days.
    Thanks for sharing, Debbie

  10. Thanks for sharing. Will post a pic of Kathy’s Digs which will include closet. This area is a quilt room, dressing room and office with a great view of The Sandia Mountains in Sandia Park New Mexico.

  11. you have made me feel better Jinny!mine is 1/2 office my first nice sewing room made in kitchen of an inlaw suite that had been put in our new home by the old owners, star fabric in basement

  12. My space looks smaller but was just as filled as yours. I just couldn’t stand it any longer and so on Christmas Day it got cleaned since we weren’t celebrating till Friday. My resolution is to try and keep it cleaned up more often. I will enjoy watching the pictures come in.

  13. I love it! Count me in…as soon as I finish this project…

  14. I can relate, my problem is I start the cleanup/organizing process then will pick up something, anything can trigger this, and I’m wondering what I want to do with this, which pattern would work best or I wonder where this came from and I’m off to the races on a totally different track than cleanup.

    Good luck.

  15. I’ve just moved my sewing room to the upstairs/attic bedroom, partly for more room and partly in the hopes that because it is out of the way it stops being a dumping ground for all the stuff that doesn’t have a home! I’ll know how it works once I get it unpacked and organized.

  16. I have a room that is sewing and laundry and storage for the cabin. It was to be sewing and laundry. Now filled with Christmas and all the rest, I need to get busy. Our block of the month meeting is on Saturday and a new year long project will be introduced. Thank you for sharing your sewing area project with us. Gets many of us to at least look at our mess.

  17. I have learned to NEVER store anything I ever want to use in a container that I can’t see into without taking the lid off….. otherwise its just lost. Good luck, took years but I can see most of the stuff in my sewing room now.

  18. I have to laugh because mine looks like that also. Except my sewing room is my living room. My boyfriend calls this my sewing room now. I think I will turn what used to be my designated sewing room into the living room. I might have a better chance then.

  19. All this sounds and looks so familiar! I’m lucky to have a sewing room that I share with my laundry space. I have cupboards and big pull out drawers and counter space on 3 sides however; it’s usually a mess with fabric, patterns, magazines, thread boxes and ongoing projects stacked everywhere! As long as nobody is occupying my guest bedroom I can put all the “extra” stuff in there until I need the bed. My goal is to get organized and pass on all that extra stuff in my way. I tend to save everything. You never know when you need something you know you bought years ago! I want to be able to spend more time sewing and less time looking for things!

  20. Thank you Jinny, you have taught me to sew by hand, so I do not need a lot of space for sewing. But this is a joke. Although I am sew on a small table in his small apartment, all my things are everywhere, where they can put only takes or leaned against. This is a disaster. My husband says: “Vanished home!” 🙂

  21. I had a room just like that – every horizontal surface was staked and falling over. My husband suggested moving my flat storage shelves he made into the next room. Use a little used space in the spare bedroom. Well, we repainted the bedroom first this is in June. It took me quite a while to get my fabric back up on the shelves. But it did it. I finished two quilts this fall and then my room needed to have fabric put away. I sure hate that job. I have most of it done. I am working on two log cabin quilts and as soon as they are done I will make an effort to put away that fabric and clean a little more. I want to sew and this is the only way to do it. I feel how you do Jinny. Where do I start. start close to the door and work around the room. Stack fabric that needs a new home. Forget the attic, give the copier to someone who can fix it and use it. Dragging in to the attic means you have to deal with it later. I would love to keep up with you and by this time next year, we should have beautiful rooms. Good Luck and a little every day will work wonders. Diana in TX

  22. I have the perfect solution for all, get a BENGAL CAT!
    I must admit I don’t have a huge amount of STUFF as I have only been quilting for 12 months.
    My work area is a corner of my lounge room and the end of kitchen bench.
    I have a large heavy wooden work table, a cedar chest for current favorite fabric other fabric gets stored in the linen press and assorted sized stacking, locking plastic crates.
    There are only the two of us so my husband likes me to work in the lounge room while he watches TV that way he doesn’t feel he is living alone while I am oblivious of the passing of time when quilting.
    The cutting mat resides on the end of the kitchen bench covered in an old towel, no more back aches leaning over to cut fabric.
    To get back to my Bengal cat Loki, for those of you who don’t own a Bengal they are thieves.
    Bengals have strong jaws and neck muscles and are able to carry very heavy objects and are masters at hiding things.
    Loki will take anything he can carry off and what he can’t carry he will sit on hence the towel on the cutting mat, he never use to sit on the bench until I put the cutting mat there.
    Loki tends to target anything thing with my scent on it.
    You can spend hours looking for something he has taken and rarely find it unless you take the house apart looking for it and then you only have a 50 50 chance of finding it.
    When you have given the missing object up for dead Loki reappears with it.
    The moral to this story, if you want to quilt another day you pack everything up at the end of a quilting session and put it all away safely where Loki can’t get it.
    Bengals are supposed to be highly intelligent and trainable which they are but Loki’s greatest accomplishment in our house is that he has TRAINED ME to keep my work area clutter free when not in use.

  23. You don’t know how much this post warmed my heart. I have met you, taken classes from you, and always had this impression that your studio would be spotless. A room you could walk into a start creating. Funny how we all become pack rats and disorganized when it comes to our craft. Carl just built me my own room for my 60th birthday. I am half moved in and it looks like cyclone Nellie went through and decided to spend the month. Thank you for sharing your space and not the magazine staged version. It makes the rest of us feel so much better about our own spaces. Happy New Year!

  24. I had officially upgraded from fabric collector to fabric hoarder. I am adding on to my house specifically to enlarge my sewing room. When construction is done, I expect to be able to add 6 15 ladder Elfa storage units. Hopefully this is enough to hold all of my mess. Then I can reclaim my dining room table. After that I hope to start reclaiming my 2 extra bedrooms.

  25. Jinny – Oh, my goodness, thank you. My space is worse, and I began awhile ago, you’ve encouraged me to keep going – come what may. Good for you for sharing!

  26. Hi Jinny, you have no idea how happy these photos made me! Thank you for the reveal and happy new year.

  27. Thanks for sharing. I think it is inevitable because those of us who are creative usually don’t like to pick up, but I can also say that there is a point in time when enough is enough and I have to clean, purge and start all over again. Good luck with the new project. If you are like me, you will find new projects somewhere down in the clutter and it begins again.

  28. I’m in! I too have a long narrow room……

  29. Wow! My room is tidier than yours! However, it has taken over two years to get it that way, and there is more to do!
    I got into trouble when my parents house was sold and had to be emptied … too much of it got dumped in there on the way to the tip or charity shop. I made a rule for myself over twelve months ago, and have pretty much followed the rule … every time I enter THE room I have to put something away, add it to the charity shop basket, finish it or mend it and put it in the room it is meant to be in, or bin it! Even if I went in there to get a pair of scissors to cut a thread from my shirt! Sometimes it was only a scrap of paper, but I made myself do something!
    I have found the cutting table, most of the floor, and a fair portion of the sewing table … and can tackle bigger mending jobs than I could when I started, so the job is getting easier. The ultimate reward will be moving in a couple of old cupboards from the house I grew up in, and getting rid of the dark veneer book shelves which will make great storage spaces in the shed!

  30. Jinny – when we moved into our new house three years ago, I was still in school and living in Denver, so I only went “home” on weekends (our house is two hours from Denver). The room that was to be my sewing studio became a catch all, not only for my sewing/quilting things, but for lots of other stuff, too. Last winter, after I moved home, I decided that I wanted to quilt again (it had been almost 3 years between the move from Reston, VA to CO and attending school). My hubby and I found some nice wardrobes at the home center, I bought a double dresser, and some really nice baskets. The worst of the reorganizing is done, but I still have to work on the little extras that always seem to hang about.

  31. I didn’t know how bad my problem was until I decided to organize my sewing room. I pulled out all my fabric and kits to “file” like items together and discovered I had a major obsession with fabric. I was shocked but couldn’t deny it. In less than two years of quilting, I have collected 7 bins of fabric and over 30 kits! I did manage to complete 15 quilt tops but they are stacked around the room waiting for me to get brave enough to actually quilt them. My room is still not organized maybe it never will be.

    1. I just signed up for jinny’s Craftsy 2015 BOM and ordered the kit. It is an addiction…

  32. Your studio reminds me of mine, complete with plastic containers holding future projects and non designated fabrics on the counters. Good luck with your organizational goals. Thank you for posting a picture–I feel so “normal” now.

  33. lols, I love your ‘confession’. Every photo I have seen of your space was neat and tidy. I am so pleased to discover you are not compulsive obessive. It always seems there are more important things to do than clear it up. I must do the same. In real life what tends to happen is I clear just enough space to work and no more. Good luck…

  34. You can do it! This is a beautiful space that will make you happy when it is functional! Set some small goals and keep working, you won’t regret it! Lucky you!

  35. I’m an ex-Art Major and I’ve dreamed since I was a teenager of having a large studio where I could just “create” (I dropped out of college in the 70’s because I soooo didn’t want to be an art teacher. Instead I got married and had three artistic kids!). I did portraits in pastels for a while (very good ones, I might add), but it never paid. I did a stint costuming for my kids’ high school musical, but I absolutely hated to sew (it was much more satisfying and fun to buy used clothing and change it into what I needed than to actually use a pattern!). And then I discovered quilting and became a fabriholic. Now my sewing “studio” is under the eaves of the attic and I have only two vertical walls that are the least bit useful. My husband is a wonderful man and handy, but it always seems to be a project for one of my kids or grandkids (right now it’s rocking chairs for 2 year old twin girls). We have neither the same organizational skills nor the same priorities. Every time he cleans out his “office”, it ends up in any empty space I’ve just managed to clear! Anything he doesn’t consider his ends up in my attic space. I do have some space in the cubby holes under my eaves in my sewing space to move his boxes that have taken up residence in the spare bedroom, but I need to dig out to get there.
    Every project I do has scraps that I just can’t seem to throw away. I’m organized enough to put those project scraps into zippered plastic bags, but I didn’t realize just how many containers of those I had until I decided to re-organize my junky work space. (Did I mention the exposed crumbling chimney that goes up through this space? Very rustic and artistic!) I have managed to get my small bits/strips and fat quarters organized into some of those plastic drawers, but I need my handyman hubby to make me some sort of containment frames for the things so I can move them to get at the cubby holes in the knee wall. Then there are the bolts. If I buy 3 or more yards of fabric, I put it on the discarded bolts I get from my local shop (Don’t get me started on the yards of fabric I’ve “inherited” from someone’s grandmother who passed away). I need more organized space for those things. I do have some wonderful shelves my hubby rigged using plastic milk crates. I would be more than happy to show you photos of the before (and truly amazed if I ever get to the “after”)!
    And I’m with the other gals who think it refreshing that you have a messy work space!
    This is going to be fun and just the incentive I need to get moving on this again! (I’m pushing 66. Which means I just hope I remember I opted to do this!!!)

  36. I guess I must be really Type A or something. I cannot stand for my room to be unorganized. I always straighten it up both before and after quilting, especially since I got my new machine. I guess I want somewhere worthy! And I am always worried that my kitty will swallow something that was left on the floor. So I guess I can’t be in your challenge!

  37. Jinny – Don’t feel too bad… I think most avid quilters are right with you on the wildly unkempt sewing room “secret”! Last year I had to “make room” for my 85 year old father in our formerly empty nest. I once had what would have been the “master bedroom” in our home as a pretty nice sewing room (after all – what do you need all that room for anyway!?). A reshuffling of space to accommodate him meant moving the “sewing room” into the smallest bedroom… and I’m talking small… about 10′ x 10′! I managed to squeeze all my major tools into the room: Sewing/Embroidery Machine, Serger, 16″ sit down quilter and a “Big Board” that’s now a combination cutting and ironing station… but the “rest” of the fabric takes up half of my formal dining room cupboard… making for a colorful view when visitors go for the wrong door for the good china! I think we just have to do the best we can and know that we can still accomplish a lot even in less than ideal circumstances… Here’s my tip… Goodwill will take unused, old working or not computer or electronic equipment… donate that copier! But don’t sweat the “look” ! And love, LOVE the BOM on Craftsy… I’ve done several classes there with some of my favorite teachers. So glad to see you there!
    – Karen

  38. I had a gorgeous and wonderfully user friendly sewing room a few years ago. It was at the back of the house, with two large windows overlooking the back yard that was filled with birds and feeders. Two sets of french doors led to the kitchen and living room so I still feel a part of family activities while working on quilts. There were two large cutting tables, a sewing machine and serge cabinet with extensions, a craft table, a 6 ft. cabinet containing tools and two armoires for fabric storage as well as book cases and two caddys on wheels. Now, all my gear is in boxes waiting to be set up in a new house later this year. I surely miss that room.

  39. My sewing studio is fairly new and still pretty organized but everything could use a little tidy! So I will be joining you as well but I am terrible at posting pictures online so you will have to take my word for it. I am also determined to finish ALL of my UFO’s!!!!! I will persevere with that as well and as a part of that I will tidy as I go. When a project is finished then that project will be put away and any leftovers trimmed to strips or squares for use in something else. I am hoping that as each is completed then I will make more room for the next masterpieces that I have in mind! Like finally using my Kashmir collection for the quilt I want to put on my bed. I have been putting it off for at least 2 years!!!!

  40. I have 2 (3?) storage systems: plastic bins of color-sorted fabrics on a 2′ x 4′ x 7′ roll-around rack (from my quilter daughter); and acid-free cardboard file storage boxes, sorted by type of fabric, on a 16″ x 4′ x 7′ PVC frame I ordered online that holds 18 boxes. The beauty of the PVC frame is I can label the boxes and slide the boxes in and out like drawers. ‘Cuz you KNOW if you stack them 6 high, the one you need is always going to be on the bottom. Of course, I have now outgrown the PVC rack and have started accumulating low stacks of boxes in front of it, making the ones on the rack difficult to reach and shuffle. I also have the ArtBin Super Satchels and 9 storage Cubes for quilt projects and tools/supplies that need to be kept together. As I gather stuff for a project, everything goes together in a Labeled Project Box so I don’t forget and use it for something else. I also keep a multitude of lists on my computer so I don’t forget what projects I’ve started and which are RTS (ready to start), and which have fallen into UFO status. I have a new Janome 712T treadle machine I bought because my lower legs needed non-weight-bearing exercise, and I figured I’d never use an exercise machine, but I would QUILT (it’s working!). And a Janome 6500 I use for machine quilting projects no larger than twin-size, and for foundation piecing and for fusible projects. My Featherweight I usually keep at the quilt room in the Senior Center where we meet and Quilt with Friends several days a week. So far, I have managed not to let non-sewing stuff inch its way in . . . well, except for my computer desk. Best of all is when my quilter daughter visits from Texas, and we end up going through stuff and SHE reorganizes it for me. Then I can call her and ask where the heck so-and-so is, and almost always, SHE knows!

  41. I will take the challenge I want to clean up my sewing room.

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