Greetings meerkats and happy day-after Memorial Day!! Mr. Bug and I were pookie housebears on our day off. I embarked on a small reorganization of my sewing room that ended up with the inevitable trip to Ikea. In future sewing space news, Mr. Bug and I also measured our basement, currently a very strangely shaped unfinished cement box that will someday be a bright and cheery combination of family room, sewing space and poker-and-model train space, although if Lucy the hound has her way we’ll just cover the floor with pillows and call it a day. Here’s the result of our Ikea field trip… before and after. You guess which is which!
While the after (on the right) actually has MORE boxes than the before, some of those boxes have Mr. Bug-belongings in them, so this was a win-win trip for us! In the boxes I have my current projects, a box ‘o patterns and a box with supplies for stuff I make to sell on consignment. The basket on the side is for fabric scraps – much nicer looking than my previous grocery bag system! The drawers are for Mr. Bug’s treasures as is the giant box which is full of Drum Corp CDs… The previous sewing machine has been removed from the table. It has to go in for service and I may keep separate from the table as a space saver. Since I love seeing the insides of everyone else’s closets, I snapped a few more pictures to show all ya’ll meerkats how I have arranged my things. Also included: some super-messy out-takes and 70’s knitting-accessory fun.
OK, so I neglected to take a full-length shot of my sewing desk, but for those who haven’t seen it before, I have a cute little white cabinet mounted to the wall above the desk. I’m a big fan of using mason jars for pretty notions and coffee cans for the not-so-pretty. My local super-fancy grocery store has a house-brand of coffee that is sold in these slightly smaller coffee cans and I usually drink el-cheapo french roast from the Target, but I also buy the pricey french roast from Kowalski’s to stock up on the cans!
In the cabinet I keep things that I tend to use a lot. Top shelf: Zippers – the Coats’n’Clark kind that are wrapped in cardboard, with unwrapped ones would ‘round the coffee can. I keep my YKK ones strung on a safety pin and hanging so they don’t get kinked. In the center of the top shelf I have a little glass jar with labels and tags for clothes and consignment items, then an old spice jar (I think it had lavender in it) with bobbins. I obsessively tape the tails on my bobbins because I can’t stand the thread-nests! I have a can full of sewing machine oil and needles and then some glue and fray check. The bottom shelf is pretty much all buttons. One jar each of singles, mostly vintage, and one jar of buttons on cards.
Closeups! Here’s my sewing machine stuff. I’m a big fan of
Schmetz needles – mostly because I like the little plastic cases!
Labels, tags and bobbins…
On the desktop
Again, no full-length pictures, but let’s move on to the desktop, shall we? In addition to coffee cans and mason jars, I also love magazine files (from Ikea, of course) to help corral everything. Right now, I have three on my desk – one for TNT patterns, one for patterns, samples and handouts for classes and one marked miscellaneous that has my sewing machine manual, a couple of notebooks and other little things.
Next to the magazine files, more jars! Clockwise from 12 o’clock: thread, roughly organized by color, a jar with the makings for a black bead necklace I’ve been hankering for, mints (I’m addicted to altoids and the tins are good for holding pins’n’things!) and two half-done sewing kits in a jar for selling at the shop.
More jars! One huge jar with markets, scissors, rulers and other long pointy things. The dressed up coffee can is a misc-catch all
On the end of my desk is a jar for thread tails (my wrist pincushion is sitting in the mouth of the jar right now!), pincushion and my sewing box.
My sewing box is my main little toolbox without which I can’t sew. Mine is more robust than I’d really need if I just sewed at home, but since I go back and forth between my house and the shop I’ve found it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here’s what’s in it…
Clear elastic – I ALWAYS was finding myself needing just enough clear elastic to stabilize shoulder seams while at the shop, so I threw a whole roll in my sewing kit!
Jeanamajig – This little tool helps when sewing through many layers of thick fabric. I haven’t played with it TOO much.
Hand needles – in the pink pod – just a nice selection of needles! We carry these needles at the shop – the case is super handy.
Needle threader – the blue thing is a needle threader. My machine at home has a built in needle threader, but the ones at the shop doesn’t so I occasionally use this. It’s usually more trouble than it’s worth, though.
Twin needle – I keep one of my twin needles in my sewing kit – I kept having to buy ANOTHER one at the shop, so I thought it’d be nice to always have one.
Fabric glue stick – I’m a big fan of using glue to hold stuff together or to act as a second pair of hands. Helpful for turning up hems, doing flat-felled seams, etc.
White and black thread – Another item I kept having to buy at the shop, I just stuck one spool of each basic color in for emergency sewing!
Wonder tape – double sided water soluble tape without which I simply cannot sew. It’s super hard on needles (it make’s ‘em gummy) but SUPER useful.
Stay tape – this stuff is weirdly loosely woven, sort of like sew-in interfacing. I find I use it a lot!
Beeswax – I should really move this to my hand sewing bag, that’s when I use it.
Waxed cord – this stuff is super thick and strong and reminds me a bit of candle wicks or upholstery cord! I buy it for ten cents a ‘spool’ at our local fabric warehouse and use it mostly when I make pincushions (for the tufting.)
Presser feet – It’s hard to see the details, but the feet that I must carry with me are a the stitch-in-the-ditch foot, the invisible zipper foot (I don’t have a problem with the plastic kind!), a regular foot with clear plastic to see what’s going on underneath, an edgestitching foot and a blind hem foot. For the most part, these are feet that help me do more precise topstitching-type sewing.
Flash drive – I don’t use that often, but occasionally need to transfer files, so I just stuck one in my sewing kit!
White chalk – I bought this before I bought my favorite chalk marking tool. I still use it occasionally. It’s easy to hold! My main complaint was lack of precision. It’s good to use to rub the outline of something or for quick marks like marking a fold.
Chalk sharpener – pretty self explanatory
Chalk marking tool – Love mine – uses different pieces of (broken) chalk. Easy to switch colors and you can sharpen the chalk to make a very fine line.
Pencil – I use pencils to mark my fabric a LOT. I hate how the water soluble markers are hard to see and don’t work on a lot of fabrics. I’m just careful and made small marks. Good for fabrics (like quilt-weight cottons) that are white on one side and printed on the other.
Chalk – oops… I dropped my chalk refill! Broken! Mad!
Manicure scissors – these are Revlon manicure scissors. They’re annoyingly hard to hold (I have giant fingers!), but the tips are slightly bent, which gives a lot of control, and one tip is SUPER pointed, which helps when using to rip seams!
Seam ripper – I like mine, but honestly I use scissors more than the seam ripper for a lot of ripping! I always bunch up the fabric when using a ripper, no matter how sharp they are.
4 inch scissors – LOVE these scissors – super sharp, small, my fingers fit in the handle! These are a mid-range brand – I spent around $13 for them. I wish I’d ante’d up and gotten the Ginghers as my only complaint is that the tips aren’t quite sharp enough to cut notches – I have to cut further up the blade on flimsy or thicker fabric – makes it easy to cut too far.
Tweezers – Great for pulling threads when ripping out mistakes or for pulling tissue out from seams after using to stabilize. I was grabbing these from the medicine cabinet so often I just co-opted a pair for my sewing kit.
Thread snips – that’s them – the black thing next to the tweezers. Mine are Gingher’s and fancy, but I wouldn’t buy them again. They’re too ‘one use’ and I tend to use my little scissors more often.
Seam gauge – I have two of these and use BOTH of them all the time. Best sewing accessory ever! Most used to check seamlines, pin up hems, place buttonholes (that’s when I use 2!), pressing bias tape… the list goes on. I use the straight side to help press out the seams when I’m sewing french seams – helps on the second pass to not press a pleat at the seamline – just slide it in and gently ‘pull’ at the seam and press over the metal gauge.
Inside the desk…
One of the reasons we chose this particular desk (also Ikea…) for the sewing room is that it has doors and adjustable shelves rather than drawers for storage. Super helpful! Here’s a shot of the inside of the right hand door.
The black pouch on the top shelf is my hand-sewing bag with all my silk threads, thimble, teeny needles and a pair of scissors. I hand-sewed for YEARS and am still the most comfortable doing that. I prefer silk thread for all my hand sewing and you can see I’ve got mostly the cheaper Gutermann thread, but I’m building up my collection of the more pricey Japanese stuff – all in the thicker buttonhole twist weight (30… um, pounds?) I prefer TEENY short needles because of how I hold my needle. They’re harder to thread and can only handle single strands of thread, but when I use a bigger needle it feels as awkward as trying to write with a big, fat kid-crayon!!
There is also a little white chest on that upper shelf that holds more hand sewing needles and pins.
if you’ve got a Target near you, the Target brand spices come in these super handy little bottles! I buy just for the bottles and wash ‘em up. Here’ I’ve got a few more quilting betweens and my scary curved needles stored in one. I’m probably dulling the tips by letting them hit the glass, but, oh well!!
The last two items stashed on the right side of the sewing desk are these two magazine baskets with my collection of quilt-weight cotton. I mostly use these to make pincushions and the like for consignment items, but you know how often little scraps are handy! If they’re this weight and bigger than 6×6”, they stay in the baskets.
Wanna see what’s in my drawers?
My center drawer is mostly for pattern adjusting materials as well as a few little office supply things. Post its are so helpful – when I’m topstitching I note down the needle position and stick it to my machine so I can remember what my settings were. I’ve also got a vat of mini binder clips that come in handy while sewing as well as for clipping pattern pieces together. I have sheets of pattern tissue good for adding tissue while adjusting patterns. I also cut a bunch of tissue into 1 inch (or so) wide strips and stuck ‘em in a bagggie to use as a stabilizer when I’m working on really thin fabric. To round it out, I have my roll of wax paper (my main pattern adjusting material), wax tracing paper and some measuring tools.
My ironing board is on the left side of my desk and part of my reorganization was to make a home for all of my ironing supplies. I originally had left room in the desk to stash my machine, but that rarely happens, so I decided to take over the always-empty sewing machine space and get rid of more clutter…
Now all my ironing stuff – tools and interfacing – are nicely tucked away, but close by!
My clapper, my spray bottle, some starch that I’ve never used but bought when contemplating working with polyester georgette… My naked ham (someone get that ham some clothes!!) and my pressing cloths. My main pressing cloths are (1) a piece of silk organza (2) a piece of wool (3) two pieces of muslin, one ‘clean’ and one that I use when putting on messy interfacing like weft insertion that sheds the adhesive onto the cloth.
I keep my interfacing in shoe boxes from Ikea. They were left over from an old organizing scheme, but they work well. I can see inside, they open and close with velcro and fit well in the space that I have. I have one box for sew-in, one for silk organza and one for fusible.
I also keep my knitting needles in my desk. I still use my grandma’s knitting needles and case. Isn’t it awesome?? I particularly like her scrap yarn-pull!!
Most of my grandma’s needles are the 70’s aluminum kind and they are hands DOWN my favorite. I love the way bamboo looks, but those needles tend to be too slippery and weird feeling for me. You can see I’ve added to her collection. Also, check out her labeling system!! I think grandma would have liked my label maker…
Of course, there isn’t quite enough room in the sewing desk for everything I use on a regular basis. I’ve also got stuff stashed in the china hutch in our bedroom….
On the top shelf I have my covered buttons. I use these a LOT for sewing garments and other things.
To save space I take most of the button kits out of their packaging and put everything in a baggie – one baggie for each size. I also have some rings for doing the fancy Chanel-style covered buttons and a few vintage covered button kits stashed away.
Also on the top shelf is one of my two Longaberger baskets I was coaxed into buying many long years ago. This one is pretty handy with its insert! I keep twine, candlewicking thread, crewel yarn and embroidery thread in here. For the most part these are yarns that I use when I’m making pincushions. Messy, isn’t it!?
I’ve got this basket stashed on the second self as well (I brought it out into the light for better pictures!) On the left there are all the buckle kits I’ve collected. And a giant roll of elastic that is a sort of mystery. Why did I need such thick elastic?
My one regular sized coffee can lives in the hutch and is home to all my store bought bias tape, hem tape and rick rack. I keep the cardboard that comes in those packages and use it to wrap the bits of leftover trim around for better storage.
And finally, my basket ‘o trim. Here I’ve got bundles of lace, rick rack webbing, bias tape I’ve cut myself… all sorts of stuff. In the plastic baggies are bias strips of pink voile as well as bias strips of fusible interfacing.
And that, little meerkats, is that. But before I go… lest you think that my sewing room is all neatness and fairy kisses… here I am mid-organization. It’s not normally THIS messy, but the ironing board generally has a bunch of stuff sitting on it!!
Disaster struck near the end of the day!! You can’t really see in any of the photos (barely, to the left in the photo just above…) but I have a nice set of hooks on which I hang in progress projects, to-do projects and mending, and totebags. Apparently, I need to work through my to-do list, because the whole shebang jumped off the wall last night and tried to kill me!! Stupid anchor bolts.
Really, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my P-touch. I love you P-touch…