I’m participating in the Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop sponsored by Cheryl Sleboda of muppin.com. If you haven’t already been following along, go read some of the other great posts that have been written on this blog hop so far.
My sewing room was in dire need of a major overhaul. It was bad, guys. Real bad. Like I don’t want to show you the before pictures bad. But I decided that if I didn’t commit to showing all 7 of my blog readers the sorry state of my sewing room, I might never actually get it cleaned.
My husband always gives me a hard time because we have 4 bedrooms in our house, and I’ve pretty much taken over 3 of them. The one I’m talking about today is my sewing room. I also have a bedroom in the basement that used to be our son’s room before he abandoned us and moved to Indiana. I use that room to run my business. I keep all of my pattern inventory, printers, shipping supplies, quilts for the covers of my patterns, and supplies for Quilt Market & other quilt show booths in there. That room needs cleaning/ reorganization too, but that’s for another day. I also have lots of crafting stuff stored in the closet of the guest bedroom, which is across the hall from my sewing room. I always tell my husband that I’d be perfectly happy putting all of my stuff into the basement family room where he has all of his board games and nice built in shelving that we built, and his recliner for watching the sports ball programs, and he can trade and take the three bedrooms. He hasn’t taken me up on my offer yet. Our next house needs to have one bedroom, and three large living room/ family room areas.
So, onward to the embarrassingly bad before photos. This is the entrance to my sewing room. My machine is directly under the window so I can have lots of good light. My sewing table is a regular dining room table. I wanted a solid wood table so that I could cut a hole into it. I do have an acrylic extension table for my machine, but I’m short. So if I have the machine up on top of the table, I tend to scrunch my shoulders up because my chair is too low in relation to the table so that I can reach the foot pedal. I tried putting the foot pedal on a box so my chair could be higher, but that wasn’t ideal. So I found a table that I could cut a hole in to recess my machine. I found this table at Goodwill for $15 & I was super excited. I’d been looking for one for a few months. This one was super wobbly. But one look underneath and I could tell that it was so wobbly because all of the bolts were really loose. And two of the legs only had one bolt holding them in! There were also lots of marker scribbles on the top made by some creative toddlers. Since I knew I wanted to paint it, I was thrilled that the toddler artwork had helped lower the price. This table area stays relatively clean-ish usually. Mostly because the rest of the room is a disaster, and I have to squeeze all of my cutting, sewing, and ironing onto this one table.
I don’t even know what all is in the corner. There’s a huge tote bin thing that I made a few years ago in there. The intention was to hold rolls of batting, freezer paper, interfacing, tracing material, and others. But this corner just gets piled with crap. I have a tall shelf that I’m going to put here to hold all of my other sewing machines. I’d like to get them on display. They’re nothing fancy, but they don’t deserve to be in the back of the closet. I did find a $50 bill under the tote when I was cleaning, so bonus!
The table in the corner is the bane of my existence. It’s supposed to be my cutting table and general area to do stuff that I need to do on a table. But the problem is that I don’t have good organization in this room. I don’t have a place to put projects that are in mid-process. My grandma always says “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” But when you don’t have a designated place for everything, then nothing is in its place and disaster happens. So if I’m working on multiple projects at once, they just get piled on the table or on the ironing board. And then other things get piled on top of that, and more things get piled on that, and so on until it is a great big massive mess. I also have all of my thread stored in a hot-wheels carrying case, which I thought worked well, but then what do I do with the case after I take some thread out of it? I pile it on the table with all of the other homeless items. I think I’m going to buy a thread rack or two so they can be stored on the wall and not take up any table space. I did buy something that I’m planning to use for organizing works in progress (WIPs) and other small items, so I’m pretty excited to put that to use.
I made myself a big ironing board station. The plan was to put it on top of these wire shelves that I would use for storing things. My books and magazines used to be on these shelves. But this whole area has never worked for me from day one. The shelves are just crap storage-wise. Things don’t slide in and out well on the wires, and the wires make it difficult to store anything uneven that’s not just nice and flat. Also, the ironing board is 28 inches deep, but the shelves are only 12 inches, so there is an area behind there that just collects dust. I thought I would be able to store some larger skinny things behind the shelves, but it’s just not easy to access. Plus I can SEE the dust bunnies, but it’s hard to GET to them and sweep, so I generally just don’t put anything back there. And the top of the ironing station often gets buried in stuff (overflow from the bane of my existence table). So then I could never iron on it, and I had to drag out the broken ironing board and go iron in the living room. Lame. I have some turquoise Ikea carts that I love, but I took everything out and disassembled them like a year ago to take them to a show, and they never got reassembled, which has just added to the chaos.
There isn’t anything on my walls right now. I used to have a looooong piece of wood going down two sides of the room with wood pegs sticking out of it every few inches. Then I would hang things from the pegs. It worked really well. I was able to move things around, put up and take down easily, etc without making tons of nail holes in the wall. I put that up before command strips and command hooks were a thing. But I decided that I wanted to get rid of it. A few months ago we had the house resided, and there was a dumpster in the driveway, so I took everything off of the pegs and ripped those boards out. I’m going to use command strips and hooks in the future to hang things once I get the room back in order. I’d like to paint in here first. These yellow stripes have served me well for 10 years, and they look a lot more subtle in real life, but I want something more neutral now. That will be a project for this summer.
This is the small-ish closet in my sewing room. I took the doors off many many moons ago because I’m the type of person that needs to see everything. A few years ago, I decided to move everything out of this room that isn’t quilting related. I have lots of those small shoebox-sized clear boxes that I label & store craft supplies & other things in. Things like polymer clay, beads, glue guns & glue, punch needle stuff, little wool scraps, zippers, rubber stamps, knitting stuff, and on and on. All of those used to be in this closet. They’re all now stored in the guest room closet across the hall. That closet is about two and a half times the size of this one, so there is plenty of room for storage in there. I also decided to put all of my magazines and books in there. Since I don’t use them frequently, I don’t see a need to have them in this small space. Getting all non-quilting stuff out of this room has really helped a lot. I know that’s hard to believe in the state that it was in, but it’s true. LOL.
So now the closet holds all of my fabric, batting, WIPs & UFOs, some random wood pieces from a long-ago scuttled project, sewing machines, and a bunch of random stuff in these big drawers that I don’t even know what it all is. I used to have my fabric (mostly half yards and fat quarters) in little mini plastic storage crates, but those weren’t working well for me. And one day out of sheer frustration, I literally dumped all of the fabric out of the crates and onto the shelf. I’m using those crates downstairs in my office to store patterns, and they’re working pretty well for that. But in the meantime, my fabric storage is a huge mess.
Full disclosure – I actually picked up my fabric before I took my before pics. I just had a big huge pile of fabric on the shelf in the closet and it was spilling out onto the floor. So I dumped them into three large tote boxes to corral them a little better for now. I’m really never going to use 75% of this fabric. Why do I keep hanging on to it? I’m thinking of selling it in grab bags or at a guild rummage sale or whatever. But in any case, I do need to find some sort of fabric storage that works for me. Nothing I’ve tried has done the trick so far.
I love those huge modular storage drawers on the floor. They’re so much better than storing stuff in big tote boxes that are stacked on top of each other, so you need to lift 17 boxes to get to the one on bottom that has that one thing you need. These drawers slide nicely, and stack great. But they really are too big. Like too many things can go in each drawer, and then everything gets all mixed up, and there’s really no organization to anything. I think I might try to repurpose these drawers in another area that needs storage for larger items like in the guest closet or downstairs in my office. They do make these modular drawers in a smaller medium size, so those might work better for me in my sewing room to help keep things more separated and better organized.
On to the cleaning! I decided that since I’m not just spring cleaning, and I want to totally reorganize my sewing room, I needed to start with a completely clean slate. So that means that everything needed to come out of the room. I moved almost everything into the guest room to use as a staging area, and it’s pretty much a huge mess in there now. Oops. But that’s how my brain functions. Like when I’m packing to go on a trip or to a retreat, I get everything I need and go pile it in the middle of the living room. My husband doesn’t love this stage of the packing process. Once I have everything in the pile, I get the suitcases out, and start organizing and packing. That’s how I decided to approach this spring cleaning.
I made several “piles”: Sell/ donate, garbage, keep in sewing room, keep somewhere else in the house, and recycling. Whenever I ran across something that needed to be put away somewhere else in the house, I didn’t go put it away and get all distracted by other shiny things. I just put it in a box or bag. I didn’t even separate by like – this goes in the guest room, this goes in the bathroom, this goes in the garage, etc. I just put it all in the same box & decided to go through it later. The only exception I made was for things that needed to go to my office downstairs. There were quite a few things for that, so I was able to fill up a whole big tote box with office stuff. Once I had a box or bag filled, it got put in the guest room staging area. This is what some of the sorting looked like in progress.
And here is what the room looks like after everything was off of the tables and floor. I accidentally used a box that was too big during the purging process, so it’s too heavy to move into the guest room. It’s just gonna have to stay here until I get the organization done & am ready to start putting things in their places. I’m going to take down the small knick knack shelves when I paint & put up newer shelves in a different spot. That corner will have the tall sewing machine shelf. I have two large design walls that are just leaning against the wall for now. I'm planning to hang them later.
And here are some new white tables I bought at Ikea! I got rid of the ugly brown folding table and wire shelf ironing station and replaced them with these. The white tops were only $30 & the legs were $4 each. I reused the top of the ironing station on one of the tables. I considered getting the legs that can be raised and lowered for the ironing station table so I can stand to iron, but then also use it as a regular height table. But the raising and lowering seemed cumbersome and I would have to crawl around on the floor, and it just didn’t seem like it would work well. So instead I bought some 5 inch legs that I'm going to put on the ironing board. If I need to use both tables for a big project, I can take the ironing board off easily. And I really like the space that it will create under the ironing board. I can use that to store large flat items like additional cutting mats and large rulers. I reassembled my Ikea Raskog carts. But I only had enough bolts for one of them! I don’t know what happened to the other bolts. Arrrrrgh! I already ordered some bolts online so that I can get the other one assembled soon.
The piece under the ironing board table is what I’m really excited about. It’s a toy organization unit from Ikea called Trofast. These bins are shallow, about 4 inches deep, but I think they’ll be great for storing WIPs. So each project will have a toy bin assigned to it. I can just bring a bin out when I’m working on that project, then when I move onto another project, I can put it away in the bin along with all associated miscellaneous items that go with it, hopefully keeping the table spaces clear.
I haven’t even touched the big storage drawers in the closet or the fabric totes yet. That will be step two. I also need to find a home for George. He's the stuffed monkey in the top of the closet. I got him for my 4th birthday, and I've kept him forever. He's in desparate need of a stuffed animal hospital & spa day. He's missing an eye, one leg is holding on by 3 threads, his tummy is quite deflated, and he has a big gash in his cheek. I keep meaning to do repairs & cleaning, but when am I gonna find the time?? I think I may just need to send him out & pay to have him repaired or else I'll never get it done.
And that’s all I’ve gotten done so far. So this isn’t a totally clean and organized room reveal like some of the other posts have been. But’s it’s a good start, and since I’m basically starting fresh, it’s much better than every other time I’ve tried to “clean” my room. I’ve been sitting in here the last week in the emptiness without all of the loud chaos, and it has been marvelous. Hopefully I can incorporate some good organization in here so everything truly does have a place. I’m not going to be bringing anything back in unless there is a place to put it & a plan for where it’s going to live. But first up is painting. I need to survive Quilt Market before I break out the paintbrush, so that won’t happen until June. I’ll do a quick update post in a few months once I get it finished.
Thanks for taking a peak at my mess! Be sure to check out the rest of the Spring Clean blog hoppers!