Saturday, February 20, 2010

Studio Clean Up

Part of my getting back into creating this week was a huge sewing studio clean up. I only have a smallish second bedroom for a studio and the work surface had become hard to find. Fitting in the new silks (previous blog) was going to be impossible in my overfilled bookcases. Because space is at a premium keeping it organised is a must.

I had purchased three 6' tall pine bookcases to house my stash, but was worried about all the natural fibre fabrics in the first one fading. I'd made block out curtains to for both windows in the room to reduce both light and heat, but needed something more for when I was working during the day. I put up a sheet of plain 100% UV block out curtain lining (plastic side out) as a book case curtain to prevent fading and drew a design with black pigment texta (waterproof) to dress it up a bit.

So here's some pics of what my sewing studio looks like now. There's still a few things that can be finessed but I'm really happy I managed to fit everything into the first bookcase and I like the curtain. It's easy enough to push out of the way for when I want to pick fabrics while keeping light away from them the rest of the time.

1. The  first bookcase. Everything that didn't take up the full shelf width was refolded giving me extra height to put the new fabrics in. Dress making fabrics are in the white baskets, silks on the 2nd draw and cottons from there up. Fat quarters that won't fit with the rest and novelty fabrics are all on the top shelf and boxed so I can easily take them down when I'm after that sort of thing. The second photo shows the curtain I put in front to prevent fading with the pigma pen design drawn on.


2. The second bookcase holds all my synthetic fabrics and rolls of stabilisers along with some boxed UFO's. All my smaller threads are sorted by type in plastic containers on the 2nd top shelf (cottons in one, rayons in another etc). I have other plastic containers for things like Textiva films and Angelina fibres which makes it really easy to get things out as I need them.

The third bookcase holds my Babylock overlocker (no tension settings, sigh!) and embellisher. One large pink box has snap lock bags filled with scraps. I've sorted them by colour so if I'm doing something like fused applique I can quickly grab whichever colour I'm after and sort through until I find the perfect fabric.

I labelled cardboard boxes from the $2 shop for things like ribbons, heat tools, rovings, buttons etc.

3. My sewing areas. I saved up for an all in one LCD TV as I was putting off sewing when there was a good movie or whatever on... and I tend to get bored with no other stimuli. This seemed like a great idea but the DVD player inside it recently broke and it only had a SD now I have those things separate next to it. Still for all the times I don't put off sewing now it's worth it :)

My desk is a Horn 'magic box' - it's 2m wide and long in a T shape, but the sides fold up and the machine pushes down before the whole thing rolls into the box with the TV on top. This means I get to maintain a spare room (well kinda) for when people stay, by putting an air bed in there. One of my sew easy tables fits nicely into the gap of the T which is really handy for taking the weight of larger quilts. One of my friends made an acrylic template that covers the entire hole in the top so it makes a good work surface for painting or drawing when it hasn't got one of the other machines in it.

There's a second sew easy table against the window on the left but the machine for that one tends to live underneath most of the time. the stack of things on top are all things that need to be finished soon. When I'm working on a very large quilt I move this one out and put it to my left - so it carries the weight of the quilt before it hits the sewing desk.

4. My design wall is just a large piece of flannelette that I cut some holes in the top and put over picture hooks. It has the strips from a much earlier blog on it as I still haven't worked out what to do with them! I supplement the rooms lighting (which is pretty average since there's only one downlight for the whole room!) with the floor lamp - it was a whole $30 from Bunnings, takes a 100w globe and makes a huge difference.

On the other side of the sewing machine is a built in robe with all my waddings and a chest of drawers with various stabilisers / web etc. However you really don't want to see that as is subscribes at least a little to the 'push and close before anything falls out' school of organisation :)

I still do all my wet work (painting mostly) in the lounge area where I have easels set up and store all art equipment including fabric paints. For painting fabric I use a piece of colourbond steel as an easel. You can see my old set up which includes this easel in an old blog post on my website here:

Hope this gave you some ideas of what's possible in a quite small room.


  1. You have a lovely sewing space. Your tall cabinets look so colorful, and chock full of creative potential!

  2. Thanks LInda, I really didn't want to cover over that first one with a curtain for that reason. I like looking at the fabrics and bits and pieces all laid out - it actually makes me want to do more work with them, so it was a shame I had to in order to stop fading. I probably should do the second one too but I'm hoping that because they are synthetics mostly they should fade far less quickly.

  3. Wow that is one incredible studio! Well organised and gosh - so well stocked! you have so much sewing stuff!!! I'm amazed!!! It kick butt over Spotlight! ;)

  4. Thanks Niki, though i think half of it is spotlight :) Most of the rest will be from my mum's patchwork store (really good way to help your stash is to have a mum who owns and then closes a patchwork store, I just have to visit the other side of australia to get more at this point!) with liberal amounts of textile art supplies from Unique Stitching, The Thread Studio and Punch With Judy. (Those 3 are great for the things you can't get from spotlight and all the new weird and wonderful stuff).

  5. Isn't it lovely when your studio is setup and tidy. I can't work in mine unless it is tidy.
    I have doors on all my cupboards so it looks neat at all times. Not so say it does not get messy in side and need a good clean up once in a while. Then I can't remember where the new home is for things.
    Yes I have a lot of spotlight fabric and things as well.
    I agree with you Unique Stitching, The Thread Studio and Punch With Judy are great for the extra items we need.
    Keep stitching