Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Sewing Room

My Sewing Room - messy when in use!

When I got married (the first time...) my Mom asked if I wanted her to teach me to sew.  I said Of Course Not - why would I want to learn to sew?? 

Fast forward a few years.  When I was pregnant with Caroline my husband was in the Marines and deployed somewhere and Elizabeth and I were staying with my parents for a while.  I was bored and I decided I would learn to sew.  Instead of using my Mother's equipment or even asking her advice, I went to the mall to the Singer Store (hard to imagine that a sewing machine store could be found in the mall, I know, but that was way back when.....) and not knowing a thing about it, I bought a machine, the tools of the trade, and a Singer Sewing Book (to which I still refer to this day).  I opened a charge account and paid it out over time.  I went from there to Hancock Fabrics and picked out some patterns. 

The first thing I made was a little sleeveless dress for Liz made from pale green dotted swiss with a peter pan collar. Had I known anything at all, I would have known that was not a beginner pattern.  Since I learn best by reading, I read the pattern, and my new sewing book and went to town.  It turned out perfect. 

Then I made all of Caroline's layette (I know, no one uses that term anymore).  Back in The Day you didn't know if you were having a boy or girl, so everything was green or yellow.  I made all of her layette from green flannel.  I embroidered little motifs on everything.  At the hospital, dressing her to come home the nurses made a fuss over the fact that she was wearing green - since she was born on St. Patrick's Day! I couldn't have planned it better if I tried. 

I made all my maternity clothes too.  That was back before you wore stretch knits.  All the tops had set in sleeves, buttons, collars, etc.  The pants were woven, corduroy and denim, with "maternity panels" sewn in the front.

Anyway, when I first began to sew, I started on my Mother's dining room table, then I moved on to my own table when we moved to North Carolina.  I bought a sewing table which was tee-tiny and eventually sold it in a yard sale cause the dining table offered more room to work.  I never had a dedicated place to sew.  I carried all my tools in a plastic sewing tote that I got at TG&Y, a 5 and dime type store.  I used that tote for about 25+ years.  It just broke recently!  What a pain, having to put everything away at dinner time, and sweeping up little scraps of fabric, and how DID I keep those kids from getting into everything??

I've amassed several machines and tons of equipment, not to mention fabric, over the years, so the dining room table is no longer an option.  When we moved into this house I had all my sewing stuff up in the loft, which we never use. The problem up there was that threads and little bits of fabric eventually made their way down the stairs and in the living room. 

When we built out the mudroom we added a small sewing room.  Never before have I had such a luxury.  I researched built in cabinets, sewing tables, etc., but in the end Marc built a work surface that is L shaped.  It was the best solution and by far the cheapest.  The picture shows one side of the room with that work surface.  The other side has a desk where I have stamps, paper crafts, etc., and is way to messy to show you.  Also not shown is my serger, which I have set up on a vintage treadle sewing machine base with a top that Marc built for me. 

I have a small closet that is outfitted floor to ceiling with shelves full of fabric.  I also have a built in ironing board that closes up when not in use.  It is convenient for pressing during sewing but not big enough for actual "ironing".

I have two windows that look out onto the backyard and let in a lot of natural light.  I wanted to install curtain rods to hang curtains to hide all the stuff under the counter top, but never got around to it.  I just tacked it in place, and it works fine, or as Marc would say "good enough".  I have a large lateral file cabinet under the counter at one end that holds patterns on top and fabric scraps in the bottom.  I used to throw out scraps but now that I do machine applique, I can use even the tiniest scrap.

I have a magnetic bulletin board that is covered with the same fabric I made the "curtains" out of.  It started out life as a picture frame.  My friend Beth donated it to me.  Marc sanded and painted it and added sheet metal and I glued fabric on top.  Stephanie made some cute clothespins with magnets that I use to hang ideas and patterns on the board. 

That corner shelf is one of my favorite finds from Canton.  It was red when I found it and I was having a heatstroke at the time and thought the price tag said $29, which I was perfectly willing to pay but thought my vision was blurred so asked the merchant how much?  She said $9 - what!  I ALWAYS have to haggle, even when it's 110 degrees, so I said would you take $8 and she said yes!!!!  Marc painted it aqua for me.  I love it!  I use it to display pics of the grandchildren and little mementos.

On the countertop I have two little shelf/cubby things that Marc had built to put under file cabinets to raise them up to desk height and when we no longer needed them for that he added shelves, beadboard to the back and painted them aqua.  Cute!  Stephanie saved baby food jars and I spray painted the lids white and they fit on those shelves perfectly.  In those jars I have snaps, buttons, size labels, and all sorts of little things.  I can see at a glance what I have and labels aren't necessary. One set of shelves is perfect for packages of ric-rac, seam binding and such.

I also have a little metal storage unit thingy on the countertop that has plastic drawers that pull out.  I think my Grandma used it for sewing stuff and my Mom ended up with it.  I use it for the same purpose.  I've spray painted it though. 

I bought a craft storage wall unit at Michael's half-off and Marc added extra dowels for more ribbon.  I think it's cute and it's really convenient.  Also from Michael's I got a lazy susan type carousel in which I store rotary cutters, marking tools, scissors, etc.  Everything's right at hand in one spot. 

Marc also made a pegboard wall unit for me.  I can move the hooks around for various sizes of things I want to store.  I store all my embroidery machine hoops and stabilizers on it.

Above the pegboard is a chalkboard on which I keep my sewing to-do list.  Mary gave me the chalkboard but I painted the frame aqua.

Underneath the countertop is another file cabinet full of who knows what, sewing machine covers and totes, toes full of various supplies, MORE patterns, sewing books and magazines.

I suppose I should have taken a pic when everything was neat and tidy, but this is how it looks when I'm really working in it. 

I researched sewing rooms online before building mine.  I love to see where other people sew/create.  A lot of the ones I saw were functional but not inspiring to me.  Some were beautiful - color coordinated, everything matching.  In the end I decided that I would have only one rule - everything I saw had to make me happy or inspire me when I looked at it - the colors, the decor, everything.  And it does.