Dear readers, dear, dear readers. Yes. I have been off the blog map lately. Grieving. Totally lacking in self-discipline. Completely unable, it seems, to pick myself up and shake myself off. But. I beg you, please don't desert me. Please. One day, I'll be a dedicated blogger again. I will.
Meanwhile, you are going to love this Sewing Space. It is just bee-yoo-tee-ful. Totally. And who does it belong to, you are surely asking? Well. Bunny of La Sewista! (Bunny has been ever-so-patient with me as I have procrastinated since early December. Do not blame her. Do not think her sewing room is not totally top-notch. Because it is. As are her tips. Absolutely.)
Anyway. enough blathering by yours truly. Enjoy Bunny's space.
I have always managed to have a dedicated sewing space, some not very nice, in nearly every home we have lived in. That first newlywed rental was the only exception. I had to sew on the dining room table there and nearly gave up, but at that time I worked in a clothing factory and got lots of free fabric. Today, I am blessed with a pretty room built to my liking about 3 years ago.
What do you like best about your sewing area?
My favorite thing about my sewing space is the window. From it, I can see the shade garden with its boulders, bird bath and bottle tree. I watch the tiny song birds flit in and out for their food. The local band of wild turkeys comes to visit nearly daily, scratching up what the songbirds leave behind. And when the apples are on the apple trees, I can watch the deer munching away. There is never a dull moment!
I have the window dressed with a toile pattern of children playing and an old lace doily made by an elderly sewing friend. I love the soft colors of the window dressing. I picked this toile because of the relationship to my love of sewing children’s clothing.
What would you change about your space?
Like most sewists, I would surely want something bigger. Don’t we feel that way about everything? But instead my area of control has expanded. I have a 12x3 foot closet that is well lit and stores most of my fabric, patterns and books. A door on the opposing wall opens onto a large room in the back of the basement that I have consumed as well.
How is your space organized?
I love organization. My mind functions so much better with it. Disorder makes me insane and totally squashes my creativity and strangles my productivity. If I want a blue bead or a salmon colored button I can find it in a heartbeat. I don’t suffer misplaced items well. I touch nearly everything.
In the room, there are cabinets to the left and right of my machine kneehole. There is a drawer on either side that has all the things I need when I sew at the machine, markers, pinkers, buttonhole chisels, etc. While I sit at my machine I can open the drawer, pull out what I need, leave it open and put it back when I am done. I always put back. I keep my basic thread colors in various weights in the drawer to the left. That way I don’t have to go digging for black thread. My colored threads are all organized in boxes by color in a cabinet below. Am I driving you nuts yet? The large lower cabinet holds my recently used patterns, laces, ribbons, threads and larger tools. Under my cutting table is a white wicker basket with my ironing tools. I have an old pine jelly cupboard that I painted green on the outside and ivory on the inside. It stores my hand dyes and also is the queue for the next fabrics to be worked on. It holds photos of my mentors, my Mom and my grandmother. I feel like they are watching over my skills. Recently, I have taken to putting a padded board on top of the cutting table to iron on. In conjunction with my sleeve board, it is quite adequate and convenient as well.
The pink room has double doors opening on to that large closet with my stash. I don’t buy much stash and often shop for fabric specific to the project. The back room off of that holds LOTS, from many more books, fabrics given to me, patterns I have traced off, and my luxe fabrics that I won’t fold. Most of what is in the back room I inherited from a dear friend who bequeathed me her most amazing stash. There are DMC cabinets loaded with every color ricrac and binding you can imagine — all arranged with each color in its own drawer. More little cabinets hold countless buttons that last winter I divided by color and type. I can see the color and just pull out the drawer to “shop”.
My fabrics are sorted by type and then by color within type. I fold them so they line up and are mostly neat. I love looking at neatly folded fabric. It inspires me. My stash really isn’t that big. I don’t have any totes with fabric. I have to see my fabric to visualize what I want to create. Digging in a tote doesn’t inspire me, it just means I have too much.
How are your patterns organized?
Patterns are in those Joann's pattern boxes separated by type, blouses, suits, designer Vogue, etc. I always have two little baskets, however, that hold my patterns that I use the most or have recently purchased. I reuse patterns a lot and will make oak-tag copies that I hang in the back room.
Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?
I archive nothing. I went that route some years back with my fabric and patterns and eventually decided that for me it is a time waster. I had my notebook that I could shop with and found it took all of the wind out of my shopping sails.
My dress form is not made to measure but is pretty close to my shape. My BFF and I just “taped me” for a new one.
Do you find your forms helpful?
I love my dress form. I love having something to drape on or work out trims and buttonholes on. It is always in use. I also like the sense of satisfaction I get when I put a completed garment on it. Makes me smile inside.
I use the Joann's white melamine table. You really can’t beat it.
What is your most helpful tool? Why?
My rotary cutter and mat!!! I roto-cut everything. It has improved my accuracy and speeded up the process. I love that I can hold that long acrylic ruler against a piece of silk charmeuse and cut a perfectly even on-grain line. Scissors for me are for trimming.
What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?
I do think a new sewist needs to get that hang of working with scissors before jumping into roto-cutting so I recommend a really quality pair of shears. A great iron with prodigious steam is a must. And very important, learn your needles! Get to know all the different types and change them with each project and/or fabric or thread. It will greatly eliminate some of the biggest frustration a beginner runs into.
What are your most invaluable sewing books?
Right near my machine, I keep Sandra Betzina’s Fabric Savvy book. It tells me exactly the correct needle/thread/stitch combo for nearly any fabric. I also keep close by Carol Laflin Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing. I refer to it often when doing my heirloom sewing. I also use frequently Nancy Zieman’s fitting books with her Pivot and Slide methods.
What kind of machine do you use?
I have a ten-year-old Pfaff 1472 for most of my sewing.
What do you like about it?
It has all the heirloom stitches that I love to use. The dual feed is priceless, and I use it proactively depending upon the seam and type. It has proven to be a real workhorse for me but has the bells and whistles I need. I am not crazy about its buttonholes.
For buttonholes, I like to use my 30+ year-old Kenmore. It makes killer buttonholes. Also part of the menagerie are my little white Featherweight, a Felter, and my most recent acquisition, a Morse, circa 1950s.
Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?
I would be lost without my serger. It is an old Singer 14U234, and I only use it for seam finishing. When sewing linen, which I do a lot, or sewing children’s clothing, I like to serge the seams and double-needle them on top for a finish. That makes a very strong seam that is quite attractive, but generally, I use it for seam finishing and that’s it.
All of the sewing spaces I have had previous contributed to my designing this one. For nearly 35 years, I have a my dedicated space either next to the hot water heater, the washing machines, the snow blower or the power washer. I would carve out my own private getaway amongst these basement inhabitants and actually set up some quite functional spaces, ugly, but functional. When we added to our home a few years ago, part of the deal was my getting a real room all my own set up like I wanted. I worked with a cantankerous contractor who did nice work but could not think out of the box. He thought I was nuts to put French doors to enter my abode! Eventually we got there, and I have my feminine, colorful, brightly lit room. It is very important that my room be pretty as well as functional, and I think I have achieved that here. That makes me smile, too!
I am so in love with Bunny's pink walls. So feminine. So cheerful.
And did you notice the Armani knockoff jacket last seen on Erica B.? I know you did, you sharp cookies.