You’ve gotten all your basic necessities for sewing: notions, pressing gear, machine. Excellent!
You now have them sitting in your hallway, dining room or bedroom – still in the box. Go ahead, open the boxes, smell the sewing awesomeness!
And that’s where your knowledge of this project ends….. and that’s ok.
Let’s get things set up!
Since I have moved frequently over my married years, I’ve had several sewing area’s. I’ve had the dinner table in a 500 sqft apartment with 3 people, the basement of a 3 story 4-plex, a dual used computer/sewing desk in a room for 4 people, the living room of a tiny 900 sqft house with 6 people, a corner in a downstairs family room for starting out as a business, a side room used as a school room, computer room and sewing room, an entire front area used as a sewing business, a hallway midway through a tiny house and right now I’ve got my own room – with a door and all! I’ve done just about every storage option available from baskets to hanging things on the wall. There is an easy option, for every situation.
Where to set up your sewing area depends on a few things. Traffic (kids, dogs, roommates walking through), space (how you’re going to fit all that in) and when you’ll be sewing (2pm or 2 am). There can be other factors, but these are really what I can see as being issues.
Traffic – Even if you’re a college student without kids, you’ll probably have roommates who want to eventually see their floor. So setting up your machine in the middle of the living room may cause a few rifts in the relationship. As those of you with pets know – especially cats – they want to know *exactly* what you’re up to! (Usually deciding that the best place for a bed is on your patterns). And for the mom’s out there who are getting started with sewing, pins and needles aren’t the best toy for the two-year-old you’ve been dying to sew for.
Space – Are you starting your sewing “career” in your studio apartment – that you share with 3 other people? Storage can become an issue before, during and after a project.
When you’ll be sewing – If you and your loved one have a very small apartment and your best sewing hours are right in the middle of their best sleeping hours, this isn’t going to make for a very happy couple. If you plan on sewing during little “Beaker’s” nap time and your sewing machine sounds like a WWI machine gun that echo’s down your hallway – NO ONE is going to be happy!
All these issues can easily be over come –
Most people start out sewing on their dining room table – a big giant pain come dinner time, but majority of us have done it. It’s not so bad if you have a kitchen eating area and only eat there 2-3 times a year, but if it’s your main eating area…. it it’s going to be a challenge. Instead you could invest in a small side table or desk. I still use a small desk I was given as a child with several drawers in it for storing necessary sewing items. I’ve also purchased pre-fab Sauder (Ikea will work) furniture to make my own desk for more room. If you have a spare corner, this is really the best way to do it so you don’t have to remove your sewing every time a guest arrives. If you need this desk for other purposes, your machine can easily be placed where your feet go while your working. Drawers are also nice to keep little fingers out of painful situations! This also get’s you out of the main line of traffic and household mayhem allowing you to do your best work.
Starting out you’ll most likely be cutting on your floor, but you can also use a *clean* table for this since you can remove the fabric, once you’re done cutting it – leaving no mess behind for dinner the next night. (Using your antique table with the high gloss shine is NOT a good option. You WILL scratch the surface while pinning and cutting! There are foldable boards to solve this issue however.) Choosing to cut out your patterns right in the middle of the floor may not be advisable if you end up blocking main pathways. If you have the room, try to pick an out-of-the-way spot or when everyone is asleep.
Getting the space you need can be a huge challenge! With 6 of us in a 900 sqft house, space was at a premium. As I started sewing more, I placed my small desk inside a prefab cabinet (see above photo’s), so that all my sewing supplies (read: mess) could be hidden behind the doors once I was done. This works great, even in small area’s since it hides the clutter. It is however a bit heavy, so if you’re a frequent mover, this may not be the best option? A pop-up style table that can slide under your couch when not in use also works nicely and you can store your machine in a closet or on a shelf, along with your supplies in a basket. While this isn’t the most convenient option – it does work well for tight spaces and/or small budgets. (Or trying to show a house and make a prom dress at the same time.)
When you’re going to sew will change where you’re going to sew! You don’t want it in your bedroom if you’re only going to sew at night, when your loved one is sleeping. You’ll also want to keep it off any adjoining walls to your or your kids’ bedrooms – unless you want company at 2 am when you’ve ripped out the same seam for the 4th time? If you’re in an apartment, putting your machine over your downstairs or next to your next-door neighbors bedroom also isn’t the best idea – unless you don’t like them.
If your best sewing hours are right during family t.v. time, the living room (or wherever the t.v. is in your house) isn’t the best room either. You’ll either end up with the t.v. so loud you’ll be yelling at each other, or you’ll be getting dirty looks all night. But if you’ll be sewing while everyone is gone at school and all you’ll miss is trashy t.v. – that’s an excellent spot!
Are you a t.v. watcher, a radio listener or silence is golden type thinker? This will also matter since you’ll probably want that media, or lack-there-of near you.
The biggest tip I can give you for your pressing area is to NOT put it in the main traffic area! You don’t want the hot iron where everyone is walking. If it doesn’t burn a child, pet or spouse – it will get the floor!
Also keep in mind that you’ll be using sharp objects, heavy and small objects. Pins can be lost in carpeting, scissors can be swiped off tables in seconds and irons can be brought down in no time flat! If these items are going to be kept out all the time and you have little ones that will want to be inspecting these items, you’ll want to have a good eye on this spot. My boys grew up with these items and rarely touched what I had told them not too, but it did still happen – pins got spilled and toes got poked. Fingers got squooshed and skin got pricked – It’s not fun! This also includes “fur-babies”, picking a pin out of your pooches paw isn’t pleasing. (Yup – I just went there!) As for the adults in the house, a good warning not to touch your scissors should be all that’s necessary as a warning!
Lighting should also be considered. Getting a lamp for over your work can overcome bad lighting situations, but it isn’t perfect. The best lighting should be over head, bright and cast as few shadows as possible. Natural light is nice, especially while picking colors – but not absolutely necessary.
As for the pets laying on your pattern…. it’s going to happen. It can’t be helped. And the more you try to move them, the more they’ll tear it. Just go make yourself a sandwich until they move. (The sandwich will probably get them to move quicker?)
So look around your place and think about how it will be used. Will it be safe? Will you be in anyones way? Do you have room for all the extra’s that come with your machine?
Don’t worry – it will all come together in the right spot and you’ll soon be humming away!