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Sewing Space Mini Redesign

When I first designed my sewing space, I hadn’t lived in my new place long enough to know exactly what I needed. Over time, I started to see its potential for becoming more functional for my sewing. So, over the past month, I made changes that will hopefully streamline my workflow. My goal was to reduce the time it takes me to set up and break down, but also keep it “decorated.” When Lauren wrote about why she’s so fast, she cited this as one of the reasons. That and she is awesome at everything! So let me walk you through the mini redesign!

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sewing-space-evolution-BEFORE_01First up, closet number one (it was originally a closet that I turned into a workspace). I replaced the light blue desk with a white one. The reason was not related to workflow, but aesthetic. The blue desk was vintage while the floating shelves above it were modern. I liked them separately, but not together. I felt guilty for replacing the desk with an IKEA one, but after searching Craigslist, Etsy and Ebay for a white, sleek, modern desk, it was the most affordable option. Also, if I removed the shelves, I’d have to redo the wallpaper. There’s less storage space, but I bought a 1970s vintage sewing chair on Etsy to make up for it. The seat flips up to a compartment which is clean and stain-free. It’s wood and vinyl with no rips or tears. Total score!

I also added, eliminated and rearranged the items on the shelves. New are the Lladro porcelain figurines, which were my mother’s and I discovered while going through old boxes over the holidays. My dad had no idea about their value or worth. Also new is the 1954 Singer Featherweight. Well, it’s not new, but it sat in a box in my closet prior to this mini makeover. It works and I use it fairly often, so why keep it close by for when I want to take her for a ride?! Last is the addition of the lace curtains. I tried winning several pair on Ebay, but lost every time. So IKEA it was again.

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To the next closet. This is where the biggest change occurred. I bought a clothing storage unit from Home Depot when I first moved and I hated it from day one. So, I took it out and replaced it with a chest of drawers that is waist height. On top will be a removable pressing board – there is currently a sheet of ¼” plywood, which I will wrap in cotton padding and drill. I also plan to order a custom cutting mat. So basically, the top of the drawers will be my work table. Above and beside it, I installed shelves where my temporary spray adhesive, Dharma Trading Company Acid Dyes (for nylon) and my iron sit. These are my most used tools when at the work table. Next to the vintage sewing chair, I’m most excited about the vintage metal box I also bought on Etsy. It has a total of 20 clear drawers with paper labels (which I left as is) so now, I can keep my elastics super organized! Gah! I love organization!

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Just to note – what is hanging and in the drawers are all my clothes, including undies. I’ve written about how I used Sarai’s The Wardrobe Architect last year to develop a smaller, well edited closet and I’ve maintained it. I don’t have a lot of clothes, but I wear every piece. I dress a lot better with less options and I’m happier because of it.

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I’m really happy with my new set up. I created a functional space that is still decorated. I feel slightly guilty for the IKEA purchases, but the vintage chair, Singer Featherweight and metal box offset the mass manufactured buys. At least that’s how I’m rationalizing it!

If you’re looking for a handy (wo)man in the Philadelphia area, email me and I’ll put you in touch with a woman who helped me plan/execute this mini redesign. She’s very good at knowing what drill bit, screws, paint, spackle, etc. and is willing to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s. Even with a small project like this, a lot can go wrong and if it weren’t for her, I probably would have gotten stuck mid project several times.

For fun, here is an image of my sewing space from when I was 18-years-old or so. I was living at home then, and took over my dads office. “You need to do work? Well, I need to sew!” Because it was located next to the front door, everyone would see me sew – visitors, friends, guests, etc. The kitchen was adjacent to it and my fondest memory is sewing at night with my dad watching TV across the way. Those were the good ole days!

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33 Comments

  1. Reply

    Lisa Press

    So pretty and great use of a small space!

  2. Reply

    Linda Crawford

    It is so beautiful – and such a great use of space. But…..where is your fabric stash? I might have a fabric problem, and would not be able to fit my bins of fabric in the space you have created 🙁

    Your kitties are really growing up! They are so cute!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I don’t have a stash. I have a few fabrics in storing, but for the most part, I buy fabric when I start a project. I do this to save money but also because my entire house is 550 square feet. There’s not a lot of room!

  3. Reply

    sallie

    Lovely!! But I really, I’m not surprised – everything you touch becomes prettier! And don’t feel bad about the IKEA purchases – practicality, functionality, and price are important factors too!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thanks chick! I hope that during one trip home, you can see it in person.

  4. Reply

    Rebecca

    This is so lovely! We’re moving soon so I’ll be keeping this setup in mind for my own sewing space. I adore that wallpaper and the lace curtains are so pretty:) I think you’re pared down wardrobe is fabulous!

    • Reply

      maddie

      The wallpaper was a splurge, but totally worth it.

  5. Reply

    cristina

    Hi, Lladró is a Spanish firm, they make the finest porcelain figourines. They are pricey!!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Pricey and beautiful!

  6. Reply

    the Garment Farmer

    Love that chair, and can’t believe those gorgeous curtains are from Ikea! What a beautiful space Maddy.

    • Reply

      maddie

      The curtains were $9 a pair too! Total steal!

  7. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    I’m still not sure how you manage to sew there. I also would worry about you tearing a rotator cuff from lifting that machine off that shelf. My setup is much less pretty (as is most of my place) but I also have tables from Ikea but without the storage underneath. This way I can fit 4 machines on one table with being able to work on two at time (Usually serger and Bernina) I think it’s 48″ wide. I think in a small space prettiness will eventually go out the window as your starting to discover. 😀

    • Reply

      maddie

      Four machines on one table? You’re a super sewer!

      My philosophy on keeping your space decorated – happy sewing studio equals a happy seamstress!

      • Reply

        Natasha Estrada

        I should add I have two more tables in the dining room and a little shoemaking corner. My apartment is 750sqft lol

  8. Reply

    Audrey

    As with everything you do, your sewing place is so delicate and feminine. How inspirational! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thank you for reading!

  9. Reply

    Courtney

    It looks very pretty but I could never get anything done here. How can you sew when you can’t sit directly under your machine? And are you not using your knee lever? That’s one of the five best things about a Bernina!

  10. Reply

    Amy

    Cute space! It oftentimes does take living and working in a space to truly understand how to best utilize everything. I think the little changes you’ve made will make a big difference. Also, I have that Home Depot closet organizer, and I’ve wavered about whether I like it from day one as well…

    • Reply

      maddie

      It’s not a bad closet organizer. I could see how it works well for some people, but not for what I need.

  11. Reply

    ChaCha

    Totally divine and inspirational!

  12. Reply

    Lola

    oooo girl. i need to learn a few tricks from you on maximizing small sewing space

  13. Reply

    Kaoru Marie

    Is there an outlet in the closet? I’d love to convert one of my closets into a sewing nook, but I don’t have an outlet in the closet I would most likely need to run an extension cord out to the nearest one. Not a total dealbreaker….

    Don’t feel too bad about the Ikea purchase because it definitely goes well with the rest of the decor and looks very functional. Now you have me tempted to buy a similar desk!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Great question! I had an outlet installed in each closet for the iron and sewing machines.

  14. Reply

    Stacia | Paper Swallow Events

    I adore your new chair!

  15. Reply

    the coatcheck tales

    Your space looks SO CUTE! I feel like to staring at it for hours! I live in NYC and apartments here are so small. I’ve been working on getting a decent and organised work area for years and I think I finally got it, used some Ikea items as well. I love your chair and the wall paper! and of course the vintage sewing machine is lovely!

    • Reply

      maddie

      My house is a total 550 square feet, so every little bit counts!

  16. Reply

    Caris

    Your sewing space is adorable! The redesign looks dreamy and full of whimsy; a great setting to spark creativity!

  17. Reply

    Manuela

    You most definitely should feel guilty of using IKEA to furnish your sewing space. This is the company that used East German political prisoners as labour – a totally and utterly unethical company. They only apologised after they couldn’t hise the truth anymore!
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/nov/16/ikea-regrets-forced-labour-germany

  18. Reply

    Pat C.

    Okay – time to fess up! How do you keep the kitties away from the thread display? My cat would go to town on it, if there were a desk nearby

  19. Reply

    Reana Louise

    What a welcoming space! I can’t imagine ever being able to walk past it.

  20. Reply

    Michelle

    Can you tell me where you got that wallpaper? I love it!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I bought it at Anthropologie last summer. Isn’t it fantastic?

  21. Reply

    thesydneygirl

    Wow! Looks amazing! J

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