No seamstress starts a project with the hopes that it will turn out “alright.” You want your efforts to look professional so you can make an impression with your sewing skills and creativity. Starting every project with a well-organized and adequately stocked sewing workroom will go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.
The best way to create a professional quality sewing workroom is to have an entire room dedicated to your craft and not just an “area” where things can get mixed up or lost in the shuffle. If you have no other resort than to use the home office or the family den, at least divide the room into half so that you have a designated workspace to call your own. If you really want to get serious about your craft, it may be time to finally get that basement finished!
Choose Your Tools
Start with the Sewing Machine -
A good quality sewing machine that has a good selection of stitches and a free arm is going to be at the heart of your sewing workroom. You can’t do anything without it. If you plan to sew all types of items and use different materials, you will want a machine that is as versatile as your agenda. To get the best quality results, it’s a good idea to stick with brand names like Brother, Bernina, Pfaff, Janome, Juki, and Singer.
Once you have the sewing machine, get a sturdy sewing machine stand that will keep your machine securely in place. One thing that many seamstresses overlook is the need for a good seat that allows them to work comfortably without straining their back. Invest in a good quality ergonomic chair that has adjustable height so you can create a custom fit. Adjust it so that you can rest your feet flat on the floor while keeping your work at elbow height.
The Right Size Sewing Table –
There are two things you will need to consider when choosing a table: What you will be using it for and your height. If you are going to use your sewing room to make custom draperies or ball gowns, you will be cutting larger pieces of material and will need a larger table. On the other hand, if you are going to be working on kids’ clothes, you don’t need nearly as much space.
The ideal table will accommodate the fabric you will be cutting most often while not requiring you to lean across it. Like the sewing machine, try to keep the work area at wrist height. Getting the right height might be the most challenging part of the job. If all you can find is a table that is a little too short, you may be able to use wood blocks to raise it to the right level.
Scissors, Shears, and Other Cutting Instruments –
If you have any sewing experience at all, you know the value of a good pair of scissors. What you may not know is that is a difference between scissors and shears. The latter are usually longer and have a small handle for the thumb and a larger handle for the other fingers for more comfortable cutting. Beyond this distinction, there are many different styles of scissors available for sewing today.
A good way to stock your workroom is to invest in a really good quality pair of shears for basic cutting of fabric and then supplement the collection with a pair of more affordable backup scissors and any specialty scissors that you might need for the types of sewing you do. Embroidery scissors, ergonomic and/or soft grip handles, and those designed for cutting through extra-thick fabrics are just some examples of what are available today.
Of course, there are electric scissors and some sewers swear by them, but the majority of users prefer the control and sharp cut they get with handheld scissors.
Basic Supplies –
Nothing is more important to producing quality work than having the right tools available when you need them. When your niece calls to have her hot pink prom dress hemmed the night before the event, you need every available minute to do the job! A trip to the fabric store to buy hot pink thread or the right needle for the delicate fabric will put a big wrench into getting the job done quickly and professionally.
Some of the basic supplies that you need to keep on-hand at all times include:
· Thread in a wide assortment of colors with extra black and white. Consider keeping clear acrylic thread on hand for those odd shades that really contrast with every shade you have.
· Extra Bobbins
· Seam Rippers
· Marking Pens and Chalk (I use plain children’s chalk in multi-colors because it is easy to see on any fabric and brushes off easily)
· Magnetic Pin Base with Long Sharp Pins
· Safety Pins
· Steam Iron and Ironing Pad (A full-sized ironing board is best if you have room)
· Yard Stick, 1-Foot Ruler, Tape Measures
· An Assortment of Machine Needle Types and Sizes and Hand Sewing Needles
· Black and White Interfacing
· Assortment of Buttons, Snaps, Zippers
· Any Specialty Tools Needed for the Type of Sewing You Will Do!
Getting Organized –
Without having the organizational tools you need to keep everything in a designated area, you may as well end up running out and buying what you need every time you start a sewing project. Starting with the thread, everything needs to have a designated space where you can find it easily and your workroom will have a professional appearance instead of just looking like chaos.
A thread rack will keep thread organized and help prevent it from unraveling from the spool so there is less mess. If you end up with more spools that you have storage space, put those that you use less often into a basket or drawer after securing the ends with a piece of scotch tape.
A combination of shelving and drawers is best for separating notions of all sizes. You can use plastic storage units with drawers for an inexpensive fix or any type of cabinet that you can place smaller plastic bins in to keep clutter out-of-sight. The important thing is to create a system that will work for you.
Place your sewing books, pieces of fabric, rulers, and any other large items on your shelving to create a little decorative interest. You may also want to display one or two of your recent projects! Consider putting a pegboard up on the wall to hang items you use frequently like scissors and rulers so you always know where to find them.
Another idea for small work spaces is to put a shelf along the top of the wall to store books, magazines, or patterns that you won’t access as frequently to take up vertical space and save room for things you need more often closer to you and your machine.
Canisters, jars, and other decorative containers are good for storing small notions too. Just don’t mix things together thinking you will be able to “fish out” what you need later. Put buttons in one container, snaps in another, etc.
Look at the local discount store for clever storage items that will fit your needs. You may even have unused items at home that will work well with a little imagination. For example, an unused spice rack with jars is an ideal way to store buttons with each color stored separately. There is no better place to use your creativity than in the design of your sewing workroom.
Creating a professional quality sewing workroom isn’t about buying the most expensive furnishings and gadgets you can find. It’s about creating a well-stocked space that has everything organized to inspire you and put your skills to their best use.