Today we’re talking about organizing a sewing room.
Maybe you’re just getting started sewing or like me, you’ve recently moved to a new place and need to set up your sewing space.
If you’re in this boat, it can be daunting to try and create a place for your sewing hobby that both works and allows you to feel creative.
With that in mind, in this post, I’m going to give you 5 simple things to keep in mind as you go about tackling your sewing organization.
So grab some graph paper and let’s find a new home for your sewing machine.
Step 1 in organizing a sewing room: Figure out your setup
It’s a total myth that you need a huge space to sew well or efficiently. I know people who sew out of closets, corners of their bedrooms, their dining rooms and giant studios. There is no wrong amount of space for your sewing!
What everyone must do whether you have a dedicated room or a small sewing space is figure out where to put all your sewing supplies and gear and sewing machines.
Let’s be honest, this hobby of ours has a lot of stuff attached to it. If you don’t have a plan for where things go, it’ll get out of control really quickly.
Here’s a simple thing to do: grab a piece of graph paper and write out all the major furniture pieces you have in your space.
Don’t forget all of your machines and tables, pressing station etc. Sketch out your room’s size on the paper.
If you’re not sure where to put things and want to test out a couple layouts, make little paper squares to represent all the stuff that’ll go in your sewing room. Move your little models around to find the setup that makes the best sense for your space.
My new room is a lot tighter space wise than my old room and a very different shape. It was really tough for me to visualize where to put everything before I busted out the graph paper!
Don’t forget about lights
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Sewing is tough on the eyes. When you’re thinking through organizing a sewing room, be sure to think about where you’ll put lights.
If you have natural light, take advantage of it. Maybe it makes sense to put your sewing machines near a window.
Be sure to have good task lighting in the areas where you need it. I like extra lighting over my pressing station and over my cut table especially.
I have 2 Ikea Hektar lamps that do a great job bringing a lot of light in without taking up too much space. They cast a huge amount of light that I can aim pretty much wherever I need illumination.
Another choice is a task light from Ottlite. Sewists have loved Ottlite for forever because of their ultra bright light and small footprint. Use an Ottlite any place you need extra concentrated light like right over your sewing machine.
Keep down the clutter
We’ve all bought too much fabric, patterns and other stuff.
Here’s the deal though. As fun as it is to have a huge fabric stash and unlimited patterns at your fingertips, all that stuff can turn into major clutter very quickly.
Do not let it.
Only buy fabric that you love. Try and only buy patterns that you’re going to use immediately, and keep a small selection of basic notions like thread and zippers.
Create zones where you’ll store all of your stuff.
The more you can think about where everything you use to sew will go, the more you’ll keep clutter to a minimum.
If you’re struggling to find sewing storage ideas try these:
- Because fabric that you see is fabric that you’ll use, try these ideas for how to store fabric.
- Wipe out your clutter with these sewing pattern storage ideas.
- Thread storage ideas that won’t leave you tangled up.
- Sewing notions storage ideas.
- Tackle your tools with these sewing room storage ideas.
Triage your trash
Do you triage your trash?
It’s along the same theme of keeping down your clutter in your sewing room organization. We don’t always buy the right amount of fabric, or sometimes projects leave us with awkwardly shaped but usable bits.
The solution is to triage your trash!
Basically, whenever you cut a project, start thinking about how you’re going to deal with the leftover fabric. A good way to tackle leftover fabric is to divide it into 3 categories.
Big leftovers: Save it for other projects
This one is easy. If you just cut a sewing project and you still have plenty leftover, simply fold up the extras. Put back the fabric into your chosen storage system and call it a day.
Smaller leftovers: Use them for scrap projects
If your leftover fabric is usable but too small to make a larger project, fold up the leftovers and store them in a basket or a shoe organizer. Use this fabric for things like shirt yokes, patchwork, quilts, pockets, applique, or kids’ clothes.
Trash or not: Too small to use
I try just about everything I can to use up every last little bit of fabric I have in my sewing room.
But sometimes leftovers really are too small. In those times, it’s okay to toss scraps.
My rule of thumb: If it causes you more stress to hold onto it than tossing it, it’s okay to get rid of scraps. Your mental health is worth a lot.
If your conscience can’t handle throwing things out, you can always donate good fabric to a local charity.
Another option is to take too small scraps to a textile recycling program. H&M stores will accept fabric waste. Call your local store to see what their policies on fabric waste are before you drop off fabric.
Another idea is to turn your too small to use scraps into stuffing. I have dolls from my great grandma stuffed to the gills with little bits of fabric. Dolls and pillows are a great place to put those too small bits of fabric to use without a trash can in sight.
Here’s some great projects to use up those too small bits of leftover fabric:
—Make a reader happy with this DIY reading pillow
—How to sew a doll with adorable doll panels
—How to sew a silk pillowcase from a scarf
–Stitch up a DIY ice dye pillow
Mess is good?: Have an active project area
My last tip in helping you in organizing a sewing room is to give you permission to have an active project area.
I think a lot of times we have unrealistic notions of what it is to have a 100% organized sewing room. You get things super clean only to get totally bogged down in the mess created by a huge project.
It’s okay to have a mess. The trick is to keep your sewing mess corralled into one place and to have a plan for how your going to sew your way out of the mess.
Maybe you want to leave your project cut on your cutting table and sew your way out of it. You could also have one basket or a clear zipper bag that’s only for your next project.
I like to stack pieces together in the way I’m going to sew them. It’s a time saver and I notice that it helps keep the mess from creeping to other spots in my sewing space.
Whatever way you decide, know that it’s okay to have a little bit of mess in your sewing room as long as you have a plan for getting rid of it. Check out more tips for dealing with sewing UFOs.
So those are 5 different ways to deal with organizing a sewing room.
As you’re working through setting up your sewing space, be sure to think about figuring out your setup, how you’ll use lights, keeping down the clutter, triaging your trash, and making sure to have an active project area.
If you keep all of these things in mind as you organize your sewing space, you’ll have a place that you’ll want to hang out in creating for many happy hours.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.
4 thoughts on “5 amazing things you need to know about organizing a sewing room”
Perfect timing for me! I’ve been adapting my spare room into a sewing room with a day bed in it, because it’s only a few people who stay over, usually one night. It’s still a work in progress. I love your storage ideas and I will continue to explore and think about using/adapting for my space. One thing I did straight away after reading the blog was to explore LED lamps like the ones you mentioned: found one which will nicely move from sewing table to bedside table for a guest, adjust brightness from sewing to night time reading, and is complete with phone charging capacity which is an easy and welcome feature for a guest. Thank you for inspiring me to complete the transformation! And good luck with setting up your new sewing room.
Excellent! Glad to give you some ideas!
I’ve yet to own a scrap to small to use. Even thread tails. When they get to small to have any use, I cut them smaller and toss them into a gallon size zip lock bag. That includes thread ends & serger cut off strips! . I use these to stuff a variety of thing. Lately it was ironing hams. Perfect dense filling! I used a bunch to make nice heavyweight door & window draft stoppers. Even the toys I make from other scraps for my kitties get filled from my scrap bag. I find I have more want to make projects that will use the scrap filling than I ever have scrap filling so there is never enough of it to be an issue to store. I use it up to fast! The trick is to cut it down into really small pieces right away and stuff them into your stash. They don’t take up nearly the room they do as larger small scraps.
Good for you! You’re right, you just need a little creative thinking to figure out how to use those things.