Author Topic: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space  (Read 10601 times)

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Offline ejvc

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Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« on: September 20, 2010, 10:53:01 AM »
So, our little daughter is growing up.  We've decided to give her her own room for her birthday at the end of November (sort of).  Which means my sewing stuff will have to go into our bedroom or into our living room (I am waffling as to which is better - living room is more sociable, bedroom is better for the mess).  Anyway I shall have space about the size of, say, a large bookshelf, but deeper (desk-deep, say).  Could go floor to ceiling (although we have fairly low ceilings.  Can't be in a corner (no corners).  Can't cost a lot of money (no money).

Any luck?  I did find a lovely wall-mounted ironing board that I think will be part of the solution.

Ideas and links are welcome.
My blog is at http://ejvc.wordpress.com

Sewing and machine knitting in Karlstad, Sweden!

Offline vtmartha

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 11:09:07 AM »
I've done some of my best sewing in the tiniest of spaces.  Sewing for me has always been a time to retreat from the madness so I always picked the most out of the way places.  However, if you prefer to share (and by that I mean most everything  ;) ), you might prefer the living room.

Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2010, 11:35:39 AM »
I was in the same situation as you once my son was born.  I set up a sewing space in our bedroom which turned out to be a big mistake.  Sure, it was good for hiding the mess but it seemed like every time I'd be really into a project, my husband would come in and want to go to bed!  I had a large eat-in kitchen at the time and could have sewn in the breakfast area - I don't know what I was thinking.  So, If I were you, I'd set up in the main living area and hide the mess with a folding screen if you can.
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Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2010, 11:55:39 AM »
Gigi, LOL.  The good thing is I can't sew at night.  I'm by nature a morning person and I just make SO MANY mistakes at night.  Our living room is also very small - like maybe 12 x 14 - and contains a piano, a couch, our dining table and (often) a child's tent or trampoline.  So a folding screen is not practical, though it sounds nice.
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Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2010, 12:03:08 PM »
I guess in your case the bedroom would be a better solution!  When I was house-hunting years ago (to get out of aforementioned small place) I viewed a house owned by a sewer.  She had made a very clever sewing space out of a reach-in closet so the whole mess was hidden by the bifold doors.  Perhaps that's an idea you could use.

ETA:  Oh wait, you are in England, aren't you?  No built-in closets, right?
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Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2010, 12:05:41 PM »
No built-in closets, check.  And no corners.  Just a wall.  And not much space on it - say 4-5 feet.
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Offline Marji

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2010, 12:40:20 PM »
I wonder if you can do an archive search here for the old thread on sewing spaces and sewing furniture.  A few years ago there was a man posting here (anyone remember his name? ), and he devised the best sewing space in a very small NY apartment.  He posted pictures of his work areas. 
I'm sewing in the main salon on our boat right now. I'm using a Singer featherweight machine that sets up on my table, a small folding ironing board that I picked up at Joanns,  and a full size Rowenta iron that I keep in a cabinet under the sink in the aft head. All the tools I have to use fit into that black folder bag that I took to NYC last November.  I need to be at anchor and run the generator or be at dock and plugged in to shore power in order to run the machine and the iron.  It's easy to understand, with so little space, why people work on one project at a time and don't get sidetracked.

Offline fzxdoc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2010, 12:47:35 PM »
I sewed in a bifold-door enclosed shallow closet for many years. Like Martha's experience, it was also my haven when things got hectic. Even though I now have a large sewing studio, I still miss those days before I came out of the closet, in a manner of speaking.  :)

I think you should just set up a small table in the living room and sew away. It may be a charming conversation piece for guests. And it will force you to keep your sewing space neat. The nice thing about a living room is that it is a more common room, so you can sew while your child plays there beside you or your husband reads the newspaper. A bedroom is a shared private space, and sewing/not being able to sew in there may inconvenience either you or your husband, depending on the time of day and circumstances. It's hard for a guy to take a nap or sleep in with the sewing machine whirring away.

From time immemorial women have sewn in the main common space, close to the fire when light was at a premium. A dedicated sewing room is a luxury which you will come to have again. In the meanwhile, enjoy your tiny sewing area.

Kathryn

Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2010, 01:35:08 PM »
I'm sure many of you remember the author Gail Brown.  Her sewing area was set up in the main living area and her sewing supplies were tucked into various pieces of antique furniture.  She said she enjoyed being with her family while she sewed.   Aren't there a few tiny sewing spaces in Dream Sewing Spaces?  I'll have to look!
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Offline RuthieSews

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2010, 03:00:05 PM »
How about seeing if you can get a wardrobe on freecycle and put a small computer table in it. You can then shut the doors on the project at the end of the evening, and if you put a catch on the door at adult height you can keep small fingers out of it.

In a previous home I sewed on the dining table in the living room and kept my stuff in a large shelving unit in an alcove. The problem with that was it basically took the table out of use for dining and we resorted to trays for meals!

One combo I used for a long time in the previous house was a teeangers study desk with drawers to one side and built in bookcase above. I also had a shelving unit with other sewing related stuff. That worked very well at keeping the sewing stuff contained in one area. And I had it one end of a long narrow bedroom, and it didn't impact too much into the bedroom part. I did have to be a bit careful about the pins tracking down the bedroom and catching the unwary in the foot!

I think the main things are to have a contained space and being disciplined about keeping the sewing stuff there. Also to have it that you can start to sew without loads of pre setup, as that tends to make it too much effort.

Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2010, 03:10:16 PM »
I think a wardrobe might be a nice idea, also since it would blend into the whole "bedroom" look if i put it there.  The issue I have with sewing in the living room, although I like it, is that in fact I am not a tidy sewer; I don't like to put everything away at the end of a session, I like it to sit there, enticing me to do more.  I think it is probably unrealistic to think I will go through a personality change just because I have a new space....
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Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2010, 03:21:18 PM »
I'm a messy sewer too so I completely understand!  Frankly, with little people in the house it's tough enough to keep things in the main living area reasonably tidy. 
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Offline justgail

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2010, 05:32:04 PM »
This might be totally off-the-wall, but is there any way to make the kid's tent do double duty?  Somehow be a tent while you're sewing, and then transform into a screen when needed?  Although if it's one of those kid's themed tents, might not be what you'd want to look at for a screen.


Offline DeniseM

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2010, 12:41:36 PM »
I sewed at the kitchen table in our tiny apartments for years. I always left the place a mess, too. I had a bedroom in my current house but since it's on the market it's now back to being a bedroom with all my sewing supplies and the big machines tucked into a tiny under the eaves room with a slanted ceiling, so I only get to use half. I have my cutting table and one machine in the loft.

Actually, I'm finding this set up easy to use. I take out my ironing board when I need it and swap machines depending on what I'm working on. At the moment my Bernina 165E is set up in the loft on a small portable table and my Pfaff CV is in the tiny room on my sewing cabinet. It's forcing me to be more efficient and get things done. BTW, I asked Kenneth King how he manages to put all of his sewing equipment into a tiny NY apartment and he said it's tight. But he still creates beautiful garments, even with a limited space available.

Offline Karen Roth

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2010, 01:14:32 PM »
I kind of miss my sewing room, kind of not, it was kind of reclusive and maybe I shouldn't have had it for that reason.  I'm happy having a part of the bedroom for it but am lucky to have a big room.  That said, why not make the area in your bedroom but, presuming your machine's portable and not permanently affixed in a cabinet as they used to be, if your daughter's playing in the living room or has friends over or you want to be with the family you can carry it to the kitchen table with some select needed notions items and be social as well?
Karen

Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2010, 02:09:34 PM »
Thanks all!  I've decided on the bedroom, I think.  Gail, the tent is too small for a screen, and it doesn't stay up except in its popped-out shape.  Normally it lives folded behind the piano.  Karen, i actually have 3 sewing machines in the living room, all vintage straight-stitch Singers -- a 201 in a cabinet, a Featherweight and a 3/4 sized 99 in cases.  I also have another vintage Singer, an old 66 in a bentwood case, that is living upstairs.  I have sewn recently on the 201, but it is a bit of a pain to do.  Still, no need to move the machine :-)
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Offline Ambimom

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2010, 02:36:26 PM »
For what it's worth, I sew in a 4x5 space in front of a window, sectioned off of my living room.  My space is separated by a room divider, but a screen or a bookcase would do just as well.  It is adjacent to my dining room which is where I set up my ironing board.  It forces me to stand and stretch my legs when I'm engrossed in a large project so I don't stiffen to the point of no return.

 

The room divider is not visible in this photo because I'm standing in front of it to take the photo, but you get the idea.

Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2010, 09:53:17 PM »
Hi, thanks for the photo, Ambimom, I think I missed it when you posted.  I thought I'd let you know how I got on.

My solution so far has been to buy a vintage sewing cabinet.  It has 4 drawers and just about all my notions fit in - the bottom drawer has ribbons and tapes and elastics (I wind them on strips of cardboard I cut out of a box last year some time); the next up has buttons, zips, snaps, and closures of all kinds; next up is lined with a cut up cutlery tray which came with the cabinet and holds scissors, needles, pins, rotary cutters, marking tools, and miscellaneous stuff like bodkins and bias-tape makers (which I never use).  Finally the top drawer holds machine feet, attachments and manuals.  The cabinet top is flat and slides down the back, so you don't need extra space at the side.  It's actually quite compact.  It came with a machine, a Singer 611G (sort of like a 401 but more plasticky), in good working order.  The main area has a door and you open the door to kick up a kick plate, so you can fit your knees in to actually sew.  My serger fits in there when the kick plate is down.  The picture below is from the eBay listing.


 

I had intended to just put my regular machine on top of the cabinet as if it were on a desk, and indeed I may still do that.  Meanwhile I'm experimenting with the 611G, which has a motor that sounds like it's going to take off into the air when you lean on the controller, for example to wind a bobbin.  A little off-putting.  But the stitches are nice.  I may swap it out for my 201K though, which is a real pleasure to sew on, although it only goes straight; plus I have a zillion low-shank feet and no slant shank feet other than what came with the machine.  Decisions, decisions.

So far though I love the cabinet, I love having everything in one place and accessible, I love not having to have everything on the same surface I'm sewing on!  And my current project, a coat, has lots of hand-work, and the top of the cabinet is a nice working surface for the endless basting, pad-stitching, catch-stitching and what have you.  The cabinet is currently in the living room while we clear out the necessary space to put it in the bedroom (our house is a Chinese puzzle, you can't move one thing without moving 3 or 4 other things).

I've also rationalised my rulers and cutting mats by putting them into an A2 portfolio, like a large artists portfolio, which also holds my tracing paper and carbon paper.  My idea is that I always do cutting and marking downstairs so I should just have the tools for that down here anyway.  Books and pattern magazines and patterns will be moved and probably will live apart from the sewing machine.

I have yet to find a good place for my thread (I have a rack but it's not big enough...), especially those dratted serger cones.  I considered mounting the rack on the door of the cabinet but I'm afraid the serger will no longer fit.  But I am making good progress.  The other good thing about the vintage cabinet was that it was cheap, under 50 all in for purchase and delivery.  And hey, I got another sewing machine!
My blog is at http://ejvc.wordpress.com

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Offline Ambimom

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2010, 10:14:55 PM »
I always liked having a sewing cabinet, even though the newer machines really don't fit in them and the newer dedicated cabinets are much too large and way too expensive for my apartment.  I'm lucky my Janome does fit in the cabinet made for the Singer Stylist I owned circa 1975, except I can't close the cabinet with the machine in it (as I used to for the Singer it was made for) and the knee controller for the presser foot does not fit when the machine is in the cabiet.  When I'm finished with a project it forces me to clean up the area and put the machine away in a rolling case I bought to store it. 

Offline carolrv

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2010, 12:40:51 PM »
Like most of my fellow sewers, I have sewn in a variety of settings ranging from a dedicated small bedroom to a dormitory room.  One sewing space was a closet which could be closed off with vertical blinds (the sliding doors were removed because they limited access).  My present setting is an RV where I have fitted most of my (edited) equipment into a closet.  I have some things including a bin of fabric in a storage section underneath the RV.  Editing is the key!

Offline Karen Roth

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2010, 07:03:38 PM »
Desktop dorm room sewing.... fond fond memories!  ;)
Karen

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 02:56:32 AM »
Karen, me too! My Singer Stylist 457 on my desk in my dorm room! How was I ever that pared down!
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Offline kitnrose

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2010, 04:42:42 AM »
I love that cabinet!  I've been keeping half an eye out for one for a while but I'm just not drawn to the majority of cabinets out there.  But yours is gorgeous!  Fortunately I have an older Singer that was made to be put in a cabinet (the little hinges are still attached on her back side!) and should fit into a good percentage of cabinets out there - it's just finding one that I like as much as yours! 

I've never managed to get my stuff paired down to quite that small a space so I can't advise too much except to say that I look forwards to your solution!  I found a fantastic little wooden drawer ... thing ... at IKEA a while ago and it's been helpful for storing all those little things like machine feet, elastic, lace, and all those other little things that you don't use all the time but are great to keep on hand.  Things like that keep me believing that one day I could be so organized that it doesn't take me two and a half rooms just to work on one small project.   ::)

Offline RuthieSews

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2010, 06:37:04 AM »
I found a fantastic little wooden drawer ... thing ... at IKEA a while ago and it's been helpful for storing all those little things like machine feet, elastic, lace, and all those other little things that you don't use all the time but are great to keep on hand. 

I have something similar from Ikea which I have labelled up with stickers saying things like scissors, tape measure, machine needles etc. It works very well.

Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2010, 07:36:00 AM »
Here's my blog entry where I show what's in each of the drawers of the cabinet.  Kitnrose, these cabinets seem to house Touch& Sews and later machines primarily. 
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Offline SewRusty

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2011, 04:46:21 AM »
Things like that keep me believing that one day I could be so organized that it doesn't take me two and a half rooms just to work on one small project.   ::)

Are you my long lost twin? ;D I have pretty much the entire basement (which is a full basement) that is my sewing space. It's kind of embarrassing that I can't seem to keep it organized and in the 10x12 foot "bedroom" that was supposed to be my sewing room. I don't even have that big of a stash!  :o I'm just kind of trying to figure out which ideas I should put to use and which ones won't be something I'll stick to.....

I will say this about sewing in a smaller space; take the time to find/buy furniture that is very well suited to your needs. I have this massive dresser that is one of those 6 foot long ones that has three drawers on each end and a "cabinet" in the middle--it seems like it would be big enough, but the space is set up so horribly (for my purposes) that it wastes a lot of space for no more than it holds. :( I'd love to sell/toss it/give it away, but haven't been able to find a cheap (or free!) replacement yet.

Offline lady m

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2011, 04:17:08 AM »
I have been sewing, for the past 3 years, in my kitchen.  I have two corners...not next to each other.  One holds a table with the serger and the other corner is the treadle.

I can only sew during the day, when everyone is busy somewhere else in our "very" little house.

It has made me more efficient in my sewing though...now, I can not leave messes.  The table needs to be used for every meal :)

I used to have a sewing room...but alas, that was in a larger house :(


Offline RuthieSews

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2011, 10:51:12 AM »
I'm moving and for the first few months will have a large bedroom at my parents before I can get my own place.
At theirs I'll have a 75 x 150 cm table in my room to use for everything, sewing as well as surfing on my personal PC and also the odd days when I work from home with my work laptop.
I decided to store the machines in the cupboard and get them out to work on each project rather than the visual clutter of having them out all the time. We'll see how that works in practice. Most of my stash is in storage but I have 4 large clear plastic tubs from Ikea with fabric which will have to go in the cupboard, stacked under the desk, or maybe under the bed - we shall see!

When I move I think I'll get a sofa bed for guests so I can still have a sewing room. Hmmmm is that a bit inhospitable?

Offline kbenco

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2011, 11:53:20 AM »
Quote
Hmmmm is that a bit inhospitable?
I don't think so. When we were first looking at buying a house, someone said to me that for the extra building/purchase cost of having a dedicated guest room, most people could put someone up in a local hotel for 20 nights a year, for 20 years. I did not check this maths, but it sounds compelling  ;). This means that having a sofa in your sewing room is much more sensible than all that wasted space - besides, surely you are planning to invite fellow seamstresses, such people will sleep better in the same room as a sewing machine.
Karen
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Offline LynnH

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2011, 01:34:15 PM »
I agree - a sofa bed will definitely work.  We had a dedicated guest bedroom for 4 years until my second son was born.  Used once.  I have a short couch in my sewing area and it is great for sitting and either reading or plotting my next steps.
Lynn

Offline jamesosews

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2011, 01:56:55 PM »
When I move I think I'll get a sofa bed for guests so I can still have a sewing room. Hmmmm is that a bit inhospitable?

That's gracious!  My second bedroom/guest room is the sofa in my main living area.  My sewing room is the room off the hallway with a closing door, a closet, and lots of privacy.   
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Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2011, 02:16:07 PM »
Ruthie, I think it's just plain silly to keep a guest room when space is at a premium.  If I lived in a smaller place, the guest room would be the first to go!  Karen, if I had guests for 20 days every year I'd definitely get rid of it.  ;D
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 02:18:06 PM by Gigi Louis »
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Online sewsy

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2011, 02:38:23 PM »
I have been sewing, for the past 3 years, in my kitchen.  I have two corners...not next to each other.  One holds a table with the serger and the other corner is the treadle.


I sew in my kitchen, too. I DO leave messes....in the living and dining areas.  :-[ Just last weekend my youngest DD set up this cart that I got at JoAnn's Black Friday sale in 2009!  ::) It has really helped in clearing up the clutter! Don't know why I waited so long to set it up.

Offline Lisa

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2011, 02:46:44 PM »
Cute cart, Sewsy!

Found: a favorite silver bracelet that I hadn't seen for a while.  On its four quarters it says "Welcome Introspection; Accept Wisdom; Seek Illumination; Embrace Innocence."   It's like a "magic 8-ball" on the wrist...

Offline ejvc

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Re: Ideas for a very very teeny sewing space
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2011, 06:51:24 PM »
Now that all my sewing stuff is in the cabinet, more or less, I have two challenges remaining.  First, some kind of ironing setup.  I've not been pressing as much as is needed and I'd like to include something.

I found this from a blog named Feed Dog (click to go through to the blog):


So maybe something like that?  Then I think I will keep the large ironing board and steam generating iron upstairs, for use sometimes.

I've also started using a very big (like 8" high by 20" wide by 12" deep or so) portable tin box to keep projects in progress.  It's a german one, from our friends.  Came full of gingerbread for Christmas. Says 175 years of German railways on top.  It's very decorative and easily fits all the bits of a project.

I've also been thinking a tall chest of drawers might be nice.
My blog is at http://ejvc.wordpress.com

Sewing and machine knitting in Karlstad, Sweden!

 

Gorgeous Fabrics Fabric Mart Fabrics