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Building A Sewing Space...Step By Step
Member since 12/22/10
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Date: 2/14/13 9:52 AM

I've recently gotten back into sewing in a major way. Fortunately in our new home, I have a large basement area to work with. Currently it has several shelves, I'm sewing on a fold up table, and cutting on a mat on the floor! I use an ironing board set up in the next room next to the laundry.

Here's my question, if you couldn't do it all at once, how would you go about equipping a sewing space? I can move a regular sturdy desk to put my sewing machine one, which I think I ought to do before messing up my sewing machine from the current wobbly table.

Then I'm thinking a cutting table would be the next order of business. I'd like to build one to fit my cutting mat that I already have.

Then add a dress form. Then build a pressing station. Oh wise sewists of PR, do you think this is the right order of business?
tourist  Friend of PR
British Columbia CANADA
Member since 7/23/07
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Date: 2/14/13 10:05 AM

Oh what fun! Assuming your floor covering, wall colours and lighting are already ok, I would bring the desk in to sew on and swap out the folding table to become your cutting table. If it is too narrow, you can either put two together or stick a piece of plywood of the correct size and shape on top of it. And find a chair you really like.

My sewing room is still a mish-mash of thrifted furniture, cardboard boxes and odds and ends, but it works remarkably well.

------ to follow the progress on my next ballgown.

Member since 7/20/08
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In reply to SusanStitcher

Date: 2/14/13 11:19 AM

I love what you wrote.

I have a huge guest bedroom that doesn't have a bed. I've shoved a few tables in it for sewing but it's truly awful.

I didn't think about doing it one step at a time.

I would love to take everything out of the room and start from scratch but we don't have the budget for it at this time.

I do my cutting in our breakfast room. I still think that's a good solution as that room is filled with light and pleasant to work in.
Also I've always gotten cutting done in one session.

Following your lines of thought I think my steps would be:
1. Declutter and address organizing work in process.
2. Address the lighting on the table with the sewing machine.
3. Address the lighting on the table with the serger.
4. Start saving for wallpaper removal and new flooring.


Member since 5/25/08
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Date: 2/14/13 12:32 PM

Word of caution. Make sure you have a dry basement. Here in the Northeast, last year's Hurricane Irene and this year's Hurricane Sandy devastated the basement sewing studios of some of the people in my ASG neighborhood group.
DolphinDancer30  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/14/13 6:38 PM

Sounds like you have a plan already! And what an exciting project! Basically, you'll be methodically solving your sewing needs within the constraints of budget and space . . . which all sewers have to do unless they have unlimited funds and real estate.

Definitely use the desk for your machine. This frees up the folding table.

Next, tackle the cutting situation. My choice would be to audition some cutting table options. For instance, start with your folding table. If it's too low, put some bricks or books or cans under the legs. If it's too narrow, try putting a door or an old counter top on the folding table. Figure out the pros and cons of your current setup before spending a lot of money.

After you stop cutting on the floor, go for lighting. Before upgrading your ceiling lights, try out floor lamps and task lights. These can be found inexpensively at garage sales, Goodwill stores, and the like. I sew in the basement and lots of light is key. Lighting makes it feel cheerful and happy. I had the room painted sunny yellow with white trim and ceiling. If the lighting doesn't suit your needs, resell it. Try daylight or plant-growing bulbs, too.

Keep your fabrics in plastic bins until you decide about storage. My serger thread still lives in plastic bins, and my sewing machine thread is in a tackle box. Many sewers prefer to put their thread on racks or pegboard.

Maybe you want some music or TV to keep you company? Or a spare bed or blanket for your pet?

I have a rocking chair and footstool for hand sewing. And yes, there's a lamp along side. (Previously I hauled my hand sewing upstairs to do while I watched TV, leaving a trail of snipits and thread. Betcha guessed there's a TV in the sewing room.)
Artsewer  Friend of PR
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In reply to SusanStitcher
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Date: 2/17/13 2:03 AM

For Susan Stitcher,
I have designed rooms and spaces professionally. This is how I would approach it.
First order of making the room or space workable is to do a master plan. Decide what you need, how large the Four major pieces will be, Sewing table, Cutting table, Ironing Station and Storage Units.
The cutting table can also store a lot of bulky things underneath.
You may want to have the table enclosed, as in cabinets to keep things dust free and also have draws under it. What ever you choose be sure it is the right height. I am short so my table is 34 inches. It really keeps me from getting a back ache. I use to cut on the dining room table and that is 30 inches and I really felt a difference when I put up the cutting table.
The desk you already have will become the machines table. A comfortable adjustable height chair is also really important so that you are not scrunching up your shoulders while you sew.
The Ironing Station can be a great 80.00 extra wide, that you can find at places like Bed Bath and Beyond, or William Sonoma Home.
Or it can be another table, but you will have to pad it correctly.
There are lots of options to build an inexpensive cutting table.
Galant Legs from Ikea with adjustable height has worked well for me.
You can also buy adjustable legs from Ikea that will just screw into a plywood top. Or the adjustable height saw horses with the shelf is the one that I am using now. I put one piece of plywood across the bottom to elevate the things underneath. It works pretty well. I used a furniture grade birch plywood and sanded it. (cost 60.00 for an 4 x 8 foot 3/4 inch thick.) and they cut it for me to size at the local Home Depot. Another option is to find an old table and put large rolling casters with stops this will bring the table up to a better height, and easily moved at the same time or buy one like a Horn cutting table that is specifically for cutting but has options for storage that you can buy separately
A closet or storage unit and shelving is a must. Decide if you want closed or open or both. I find the less eye clutter for me the better.
If you are a quilter you may want a design wall. If you like to clip up inspiration then its a different type of design wall. You may need both.
Lighting needs to be as even as possible and not glaring, a set of track lights maybe your best bet with full specturm lighting.

Do you have natural light in this area? are the walls up and painted?
Do you need a dehumidifier and drainage for it to keep moisture at bay?

Once you decide on the layout of the furniture, and what you need is for storage plus enough storage to grow into. you will be pretty set. Then you can knock items off your list as you can.
One thing is getting an old TV armoire that is deep, used and cheap.
It can be painted. If you end up with a lot of different used things paint them to bring them all together the same or similar colors.
There are so many ways to approach as far as style and colors, think about what you like and how you want the space to feel when it is done.
Have fun!

-- Edited on 2/17/13 2:10 AM --

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Date: 2/17/13 5:48 AM

We put in tons of cam lighting and cable for TV and Internet into our drop ceiling. Next did flooring and then I used painters tape to mark off spaces for tables, work areas, etc. That gave me task lighting needs and time to try out workflow space before buying or hauling down. We also added 2 egress windows- brought lots of natural light plus safety.
That basement was one of my favorite sewing spaces. Never ever worried about tidying up or trying to finish up- I could always step in and pick up where I left off.

sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

threaddy  Friend of PR
Wyoming USA
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Date: 2/17/13 11:02 AM

google" sewing room design" and there are a ton of ideas on the internet. Proper height is a consideration as well as how much space per machine etc. When i re-did my sewing room I measured and measured and thought and thought about it...

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." Theodore Rubin
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life's about creating yourself." George Bernard Shaw
Dan 9:24-27

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Date: 2/17/13 11:59 AM

The first step as I see it is getting your sewing machine on a better surface. Finding a comfortable chair is very important. Then a cutting table. Storage is after that.
Dont' forget the lighting.

Like you, I started sewing, in an upstairs bedroom, on a card table with a floor lamp next to the table. I also used the dining room table downstairs to cut things out. It doesn't take long to get tired of hauling stuff up and down the stairs.

Last summer my DH and I stripped wallpaper off the walls in my sewing area. It took us a few days as the wallpaper didn't want to come off. Then we painted. I like it so much better.


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