Where you plan to sew is one of the important sewing essential decisions you need to think through before embarking on your hobby.
Sewing, embroidery and quilting all require space and organisation if you are going to do it well and get the best out of the experience.
Before you start learning to sew, some forethought on your sewing room layout can really get your hobby of to a great start.
From the outset you should be planning for a bright, cheerful, comfortable neatly organized sewing area where you can keep your sewing machine and sewing supplies close at hand and organized.
The ideal place of course is a room where you can leave the machine open, the ironing board up and the work spread out when you have to stop. But most people have to compromise and find a corner where they can.
Much, of course, depends on the space available and the time you spend sewing.
If you sew in the evening you may be able to find a place in the dining room where you can work whilst the rest of the household is busy in other areas of the house. You could fit a large cupboard with your sewing and pressing equipment, and the dining table could double as your cutting table.
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A spare bedroom can also be setup as a permanent workroom, which only has to be tidied away when guests come to stay. Or, if you have a light and modern utility room that is large enough you can make that your sewing studio. Make sure you can sit comfortably with both feet square on the floor.
Wherever the space you have found for your sewing corner, you can, with skillful planning arrange your sewing equipment and tools for long sewing sessions.
Sewing and Pressing
You will need a sturdy table for the sewing machine, if it does not have its own stand. Make sure the sewing machine cannot slip around and will not cause vibrations. Nearby, arrange places for needles, pins, scissors, threads, spools, bobbins, sewing machine accessories and any sewing maintenance kit you might need.
These should all be in easy reach as you sit at your machine. Use a stool or a straight chair without arms so that you can move your own arms and body freely as you work.
For pressing, you will need a good ironing board and steam iron. Use a stool of suitable height if you choose not to stand when ironing.
You will also require your sewing and ironing areas to have good light. If possible place your sewing machine close to a window so that that you have the benefit of natural daylight.
Although it is likely that your sewing machine will have a light for sewing tasks, you should also have a good standard lamp nearby to provide good light for reading instructions, cutting out and pressing.
If you have a dress stand, place it near the sewing machine so that it is convenient for fitting your garments.
For fitting clothes on yourself, you will need a fill length mirror so that you can inspect the fit as you try them on during construction. Fix a sheet or mirrored glass to the wall or on the back of the door to save on costly frames and stands.
Keep a waste bin handy for scraps and threads. If you keep your working area neat as you go along, you will find that you can clean up quickly as you go along.
Layout and Cutting Area
You will need a smooth area to layout and cut materials and fabrics, preferably at least 150cm (60 inches) by 75cm (30 inches). Ideally the cutting table should be higher than an average dining table – a bit like a kitchen worktop height.
If you can’t build or set your cutting height then any household table is a good second best. A folding table is particularly handy as it can store away and save on space. If you plan to use your good dining table ensure you protect it with PVC cloth or a table pad.
In an ideal world, the storage area should be close to the sewing area – preferably folding away into a vast in-built cupboard. But in reality there are a number of limitations. Try to store everything together, and close to where you work.
If you have to bring the iron and the ironing board from the kitchen, a work basket from the living room, patterns and books from the hall cupboards and bundles of fabric from the top of the wardrobe you will be reluctant to start new projects.
The storage area should be near to the sewing area. The amount of space needed will depend on your sewing supplies and tools and the kind of sewing you do.
You may need two or three drawers in a chest for fabrics: consider storing them in plastic crates on shelves so that you can bring them out to the table easily.
Use clear plastic bags to store remnants of fabrics, interfacings, trimmings and so on.
Store patterns in large brown envelopes, clearly marked with the number of the pattern and the pattern pieces. This will save having to crush delicate sheets of tissue into the envelopes they are supplied in. Keep the original packet in the large envelope for reference, or cut it open and stick it on the outside of the envelope.
A sewing basket or sewing box is ideal for the smaller items, such as scissors, thimbles, pin cushion, tape measure and haberdashery. It is easier to keep needles and reels of thread in a set of trays – cutlery trays are ideal.
All your pressing equipment should be stored together in a bag or box so that it is readily accessible when you are sewing.
It is also important to have somewhere to hang up any work in progress and to hang lengths of fabric that you may buy to make up later.
You should have several padded hangers, and a rail to hang them on so that garments will not get crushed. As soon as the darts in a garment are tagged or shaped seams are stitched, hang it on a padded hanger if you have to stop work, rather than folding it and putting it away. This will keep the fabric free of creases and save you time later because you will not have to press the garment before you start working on it the following day.
When considering cupboard or shelf space, don’t forget to plan wall storage space. You can make use of the wall behind a work table for hanging items – on a wire grid or pegboard. Scissors, pincushions and tape measure can also hang from hooks and small trays can be added to hold needles, pins and markers.