Aug 9, 2018855 views

Newbie needs help: How can I set up an awesome sewing space?


I am brand new to sewing. In fact, I'm so new that I don't even know how to use my new Janome properly yet. Before I begin this latest crafting adventure, I need to set up my machine somewhere.
I'm going to be converting my side of our home office into a sewing space, and would love to hear some feedback on any tips and tricks you have for organizing your supplies, notions, and other tools!
  • How do you have your sewing space set up?
  • What are some of the most important things you need handy?
  • What are you favorite storage solutions?
  • What are some things you wish you knew starting out?
Photos are welcomed and encouraged! Please help this newbie get started on a good foot. :)

abart01, KateinIowa, and 6 others

Get acquainted with Pinterest as to setting up your space. You know how much space you have. This is what I have been doing as we downsize. To use your Janome machine. If you purchased it at a Quilt shop they should offer classes called “Owners classes”. If not google a Janome dealer in your area to see if you can set up a few basic lessons to learn the basics. If not YouTube has several videos. Going to Quilt Shows also is great way to see machines & get demo’s on them. I would not rely on Guilds to learn. They usually cover events & Speaker & social time. Start small with what you need. Dollar Tree has inexpensive options for organizing. Good luck!
If you’re adding outlets, consider locating them at “desk height” so they’re more accessible. Add more than you think you’ll need, and preferably a dedicated one for your with a higher rating...I think it’s 20 amps, but don’t quote me. There are oodles of groups on Facebook and lots of good ideas. How you want your space will depend somewhat on what you sew. Quilters need larger work surfaces, generally speaking, than do garment sew-ers. As a garment sew-er, you may want a dress form, as a quilter, a design wall. If you do quilting, machine embroidery or specialty garments like wedding gowns, you need more room than if you’re sewing for children or small home dec items ...I do a bit of quilting, but I’m primarily a garment sew-er, with a particular fondness for vintage children’s clothing. Therefore an ironing board and a sleeve board are very important in my sewing room. I know there are a lot of quilters who prefer an alternative to a regular ironing board, but it’s a necessity to me. And even if you iron clothing, the ironing board is a plus, IMO. As to what I keep handy...on my. As a newbie one of the most important things to remember is that pressing is vital to a good job. Don’t skimp on the pressing. Buy quality in your main tools, like good scissors (I like Kai best, and prefer the professional series), maintain your machine, both routine at home cleaning, oiling only as directed in your manual, yearly service. In my opinion the time you invest in your sewing is the most valuable component, and it only makes sense to buy good thread, and quality fabric. It makes sense while you’re learning to find cheaper fabrics, but buy the best you can as your skills grow. This isn’t exactly something I wish I’d known in the beginning (I’ve been sewing for 50+ years!) but, this is important info for 2019: please be aware that not everyone you find online doing tutorials, writing a blog, selling patterns, etc., is truly qualified. I’ve encountered some really bad information, and some terrible patterns. There are some very personable people, who have a marvellous talent for style, colour, and combining different fabrics, but they lack the technical expertise to design patterns or teach others, because they don’t know themselves. And this is true of some of the better known online sewing personalities! The gaps in their knowledge can result in your frustration, wasted fabric, etc. Kwik Sew patterns have always been good, well designed with logical and well explained construction methods. A few years back they were bought out by McCalls and I haven’t bought very many new ones, so things may have changed. It makes sense to do things efficiently, but some shortcuts give less than desirable results. Enjoy your sewing and focus on learning and making something beautiful, “handmade, not homemade,” rather than trying to get it done in the least amount of time possible. I was going to recommend a good sewing book, but I just may have written one here 😉. Seriously though, there are several good sewing books, like Threads, Vogue...many more that focus on basic construction all the way to advanced techniques. Yes, there is a lot of information available online, and it’s free, but as a beginner, you may not be able to distinguish between the reliable and accurate and the very pretty but sadly lacking. Hoping by now you are enjoying your sewing!
I have two tables my husband made with doors and tables legs from Lowes . We put them back to back where I have one sewing machine side and other side for cutting mat and my serger . I now have a large working area for quilting and sewing !

All great suggestions from everyone. Especially the “L” work station and lighting.
I have 2 tables set up like an L. One table has a cutting board and ironing mat, while the other has my machine. I have a rolling chair between the 2 so I can easily cut, iron, and sew without having to get up! I usually end up standing to cut larger things anyways, haha.
I use two of the 9 space cube shelves set up back to back for fabric storage and a cutting table. A large cutting mat fits on it and the height is perfect for cutting , you’re not bending over killing your back . You can store fabric directly on the selves or get the pull out fabric bins that fit the cubes. I use different colored bins and try to store corresponding colored fabric in each. if you don’t have room for an ironing board use a wooden TV dinner tray stand, cover it first with insulate batting then another layer of batting and finally with fabric. Allows you to have a ironing surface at your sewing level right next to you and folds away when not in use..


There is a Facebook group called Sewing Room Ideas. I posted additional pictures of my room on there, but here are a few. There are lots of inspirational ideas in the FB group. I have been sewing for about 4 or 5 years so I have acquired a lot of stuff. Many items from Massdrop!!
WOW this is amazing! Thank you for posting!
My favorite storage is using a file cabinet for my fabric. I wrap the fabric around a hanging file folder, and file it by color in each drawer. Then, I simply open the drawer and all my fabric is neatly displayed. No messy stacks of fabric on shelves, I use 2 lateral filing cabinets with a board across it for my sewing machine table, so I don’t even need extra space for fabric.
Secondly get yourself self a good chair with adjustable height.
This is a VERY interesting idea! Most of the fabric I've acquired so far are fat quarters, so they all stack nicely on shelves (for now), but I like the idea of keeping them tucked in and away from dust. I have two cats and a fluffy dog, so hair gets everywhere despite my best efforts.
are you still needing help setting up your space yet.
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Did you get that room done?
Not yet. :(
Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space by Lois L. Hallock She's your new guru. LOTS of great tips in her book!
I don't have a dedicated room so I have most things on wheeled cabinets. That way I can keep my table with my machine close to the wall and out of the way when not in use but pull it out to the middle of the room when I'm using it. Same with cutting table. And get as much built-in storage as you can for any furniture you use. 4x8 insulation boards from the hardware store are great, lightweight design walls.
I very much like the idea of having a couple wheeled carts that I can set up around me when working, then roll under the desk/table when not in use.
Instead of an ironing board, I have a dining room sideboard that I bought at a thrift store. It is rectangular, which works so much better for quilting. I then took a metal shelf from Home Depot, covered it with an wool blanket from a thrift store, and mattress ticking from JoAnn Fabric. (You could use batting if you don't have a wool blanket.) That lifts off the sideboard (buffet, whatever), and I can take it to sewing retreats and set it on top of a regular ironing board. It is much less expensive than the $100 - $150 boards sold to put on top of ironing boards. The sideboard has drawers, so the added benefit is that I have storage. If I had limited space, I could use the surface for cutting when I am not using it for ironing.
That's a great idea!
I did something similar with an old dresser. Love having the drawers for storage. You’re right - I put my cutting mat on it and It doubles as a cutting table.
A peg board on the wall is a great help to keep tools, rulers,etc within easy reach.
Peg boards seem like a great way to maximize storage space while keeping tools handy.
Where can I get that fabulous purple cutting mat?? That is a great first step towards a productive and creative sewing room!!
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Martelli makes s are overrated! I do like mine, but find the numbers confusing to follow especially on purple side. Also, the “square up” section of the mat is useless. Most blocks are squared including the 1/2 “ extra allowance for 1/4” seams. I also cannot say it’s anymore forgiving with surface cuts than any other. I recently bought a Quilters Choice mat... very nice but hard to find. If you want info let me know.
If you have your heart set on a Martelli mat, wait for one of their yearly 50% off sales. They usually one or two yearly. Get on their email list and be patient.
I start by considering the lighting. If you don.t have great lighting hire an electrician to give you overhead task lights over your cutting area and your sewing machine area. I keep tools, gadgets, thread near the machine table and put the ironing board and iron nearby. If you have enough space to include a cutting table that.s ideal. I have a cutting table that folds to a narrow top when not in use.
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That's a great idea. Lucky for me I have a friend who worked as an electrician for years, so we can combine DIY with some actual knowledge. :)
No electrician needed, because they plug into a wall outlet. Mount a power strip on the wall above your outlet - then it is easy to access for machine power, cell phone chargers, etc.