• Interior Design,  Sewing

    Sewing Room Tour, 2021 Tropical Edition

    sewing room tour: sewing room closet organization

    It’s time for one of my very favorite blog posts! The sewing room tour. I love peeking into other makers’ studios; it’s always so inspiring to see where and how other people work. I love my creative space so it’s fun to get to show off, especially since I haven’t had any in-person visitors in over a year.

    This sewing room is the biggest space I’ve ever had! I took over the master bedroom (thank you David!) and it’s a beautiful room. I love the giant window, the high ceilings, and the amazing floors.

    This is also the first home we’ve shared, and it was quite the puzzle to fit all of my beloved furniture into a relatively small house. The sewing room holds all the furniture that doesn’t have a place elsewhere in the house, so it’s a little bit crowded, but my Quarantine Hobby of “rearranging furniture” paid off and I finally created a space that feels both beautiful and functional.

    At the entry wall, I hung my vision boards from years past – I can never bear to get rid of these. I love that they serve a splash of inspiration immediately upon entering the room. My most recent vision board hangs more prominently in the middle of the room, but I hadn’t made it yet when I took these pictures.

    sewing room tour - thread storage

    The wall along the doorway is my “machine wall”. I like to have my serger and my sewing machine close to each other so I can move back and forth during projects. Finally, my third machine is my desktop computer, which is closest to the window in the hope that it will make typing and Illustrator work more fun. 🙂

    sewing room tour - sewing machine table

    The dresser in between my machines holds sewing tools, notions, needles, and trims. The mini wooden drawer unit on top holds my most commonly used tools: scissors, snips, seam rippers, chalk pencils, etc. I love that all these tools are within easy reach from either machine!

    Having a small drawer for each type of tool has made me much better at cleaning up after (and during) my projects. I used to leave all my tools out until a project was finished, but that was often a long time and led to a big mess. Now my motto is, “since I know where to find it, I can put it away.” Turns out it’s even easier to find my scissors when they’re in the scissors drawer, rather than buried underneath my unfinished projects!

    I found the yellow ironing board next to someone’s trash a number of years ago. The legs didn’t work anymore, but I fell in love with the color of it! I’ve used it as a magnet display board in three sewing rooms now and it’s one of my favorite pieces of decor.

    My thread rack belonged to my grandma, and it’s a neat piece of innovation – the shelves tilt to allow the thread spools to come out, and each spool is on a peg that can slide so different thread diameters can be accommodated. It’s awesome. The topmost thread rack was my mom’s and I commandeered it when I started sewing… I don’t think she realized that letting me use it at age 12 meant I would bring it with me when I moved out. Mama, if you want that thread rack back I will let you have it! But I do love it. Right now it holds my vintage wooden thread spools on display.

    The pendant lamp is mine. I found it at CB2 when they were selling the floor model (which was dusty, but otherwise flawless, because…it’s a lamp). I bought it even though we hadn’t found our house yet, because I loved it so much. And then this room had an unused light box in the ceiling – the perfect home for my gorgeous lamp!

    Any sewing room that allows for a full-size cutting table is an absolute gift. I love nothing more than spreading out all my fabric and supplies so having this big flat surface is heavenly.

    sewing room drawer unit

    Underneath my cutting table I store all my extra serger thread, plus fabrics that don’t fold well (leather, vinyl). I also store my yoga bolster and blocks under the table, because the floor space next to my machines is also where I do my daily yoga. The space is a little bit narrow (can’t quite “swan dive” into my forward folds) but it works!

    On the other side of the room, opposite from the “machine wall”, is the “storage wall”. Also known as the “furniture I love and crammed into this room” wall. The bookshelf holds all my patterns and notions. The big dresser holds supplies for my narwhal kits, packaging and shipping supplies, and most of my art supplies. The metal drawer unit on top is one of my heaviest and favorite possessions. It holds tools: upholstery staple removers, glass cutters, pliers; computer cables and chargers; and all sorts of other little things, each with a home.

    My white magnet board is a table top I found in the Ikea as-is section. I like to be able to rotate through my favorite things and change the display every few months.

    And then in the corner, we have my newest piece of beloved furniture (I can quit whenever I want…): an old drafting table I found recently on OfferUp. The shelf drawers slide out, and it’s absolutely amazing for storing unfinished sewing projects, and even laser cuts awaiting sanding. I’ve always wanted to own a flat file and this is like a beautiful version that suits my needs even better!

    I tucked my ironing board under the edge of the cutting table. I use it too often to put it away completely, but this allows it to take up a little less space when it’s not in use. When it’s time to iron, I just slide it out and raise the height a little bit.

    The tall shelf unit on the window wall holds my most-used art supplies. The little table by the window is my painting table because it gets the best light. That’s also where I usually sand my laser cuts. I love sitting by the window because the big tree out front makes this room feel like a treehouse.

    sewing room tour: sewing room closet organization

    The other best part of stealing the master bedroom for my sewing room? It has the BEST closet.

    Mirrored closet doors would not be my choice for a bedroom, but for a sewing room they are perfect. These mirrors were key to my solo wedding dress fitting sessions! The third mirrored door didn’t slide well, so it lives behind my computer desk where it helps more light reflect into the room.

    The drawers on the right side of the closet hold packing supplies, envelopes, boxes, hoarded bubble wrap, etc. The wooden dresser holds our off-season and fancy clothes that we don’t wear often. The ceilings in this room are nice and high, so the closet is tall! The topmost shelves (behind the wall with the clock) hold more clothes, blankets, and other general storage things that don’t have a home in our small house.

    On top of the dresser is a shoe organizer cubby that I use for unfinished projects. It’s important for me to be able to take a break from projects that get frustrating or stuck, and putting them away is much better than staring at them and not starting anything else. However… a lot of those cubes have been occupied for a long time. I’ll say it now, for accountability: working through a few of those WIPs is going to be my Me-Made May challenge.

    sewing room tour: sewing room fabric organization

    On the left side of the closet is FABRICLAND! I use under-bed bins for just about all of my fabric now (these). They hold a surprising amount of fabric, but they’re small enough that they don’t get too heavy and it’s still possible to dig to the bottom. I also love that they’re clear and I can see most of the fabric I’ve stored inside. This system has really allowed me to treasure my fabric and know what I have, and I’m much better at sewing from my stash since I’m always aware of how great my stash is.

    I’ve learned a lot from each of my sewing rooms. I like to take advantage of wall space for storage, but I don’t like my walls to be TOO cluttered because I want the current project to have most of my focus. I like to split the room into “zones”, like I’ve done here, especially the small table that I’ve dedicated to painting. And most importantly, I work best when I have as many flat surfaces as possible. I used to have a lot more decorative objects around the room, because I love my cute stuff! But it’s way better to be able to have the top of the bookshelf clear, for example, so I can set my pattern pieces there while I cut everything else out on the big table. This space has become extremely functional – specifically for the way that I work – and I love that.

    Thank you for joining me on this tour of my sewing room! It’s constantly evolving – with each project I think of better ways to organize my supplies or accommodate my workflow – so it’s fun to share the room as it is right now, knowing that it only ever gets better. (even if it will never again be this clean!)

    My sewing machine is the Juki HZL-F600. I’ve had it for 4 years now (a long overdue upgrade) and I LOVE it.
    My serger is a Babylock Evolution and I love it even more.

    and p.s. if you’re not familiar with the story of my Independency flag, it’s a fun read.

    Other art on display:

  • Interior Design

    Plant Fabric Canvas Wall Art

    plant fabric canvas wall art

    This is a project I made back at my old house but never got around to blogging. It was so fun for me to go back through these photos and see my old sewing room! Each of my sewing rooms and sewing spaces holds a special place in my heart, but the first sewing room in a house that was truly MINE was a real treasure.

    A few years ago, my mom and I trekked up to Pittsburgh for the Salvation Army Fabric Fair. It’s an annual event, but so far we’ve only been twice. That’s probably for the best, stash-wise, but oh man is it a magical experience.

    One of the best fabrics I’ve found there is this plant print. I’ve never seen a fabric like it and I love the large scale and the crisp, screenprinted details. I couldn’t imagine cutting it but I wanted to look at it every day… hence: wall art.

    re-cover an ikea canvas for wall art

    I found this Ikea canvas panel next to somebody’s trash. I don’t remember where, probably at my old apartment complex. “Next-to-the-dumpster” is a fantastic place to find furniture and other treasures and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

    This was a large art print, coated canvas wrapped around a particle board frame. If you look at the photo above: I could have removed each staple individually, which is one of my least favorite activities. Instead, I cut along the edge of the canvas, then used the remaining strip of canvas underneath the staples to pull the staples out. It didn’t work for all of them, but even when the canvas tore before removing the staple, it left a gap for me to wedge one of my trusty staple removers in there.

    My plant fabric is a normal lightweight cotton, and since I didn’t want to see the frame underneath, I covered the frame first with a layer of plain white cotton. Still lightweight but enough to make a barrier.

    plant fabric stretched over canvas for wall art

    I centered my amazing plant fabric on top of the now-white canvas. The white window grid in the background of the design meant I had to work a little harder than usual to keep the fabric straight and even.

    re-cover an ikea canvas for wall art

    I didn’t want to cut the fabric, just in case I’d want to do something else with it later. So I simply turned the excess under and left it on the back. As you can see – the dumpster canvas was almost the perfect size!

    I added a little metal loop (like these) to the back center of the frame to make it easy to hang.

    plant fabric stretched over canvas for wall art

    I added a few staples along the edge of the excess fabric to keep it taut along the back of the frame. Whoever owned the fabric before me was even kind enough to hem two of the edges!

    plant fabric stretched over canvas for wall art in sewing room

    Here is the finished canvas hanging in that glorious, first-truly-mine sewing room. I already had two walls with windows, so I loved hanging it on this wall to give me a third “window” in that delightfully bright room.

    plant fabric stretched over canvas for wall art in sewing room

    And here it is in my current sewing room, fancy HDR style. I would LOVE for there to be a window in that spot – there’s a window in its place on the floor below. So once again, I’m treating my plant art as a pseudo-window. It makes me so happy. I love this room because it feels like a treehouse! It’s a perfect escape for me to sew new things, or paint by the window. Such a gift.

  • Interior Design,  Sewing

    Sewing in Self-Isolation

    llama pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    Even before all this practice, I’ve always been fantastic at self-isolation. There are very few things I love more than hiding inside with a pile of projects and sewing away, with occasional breaks for yoga, walks, or snacks.

    sewing room during self-isolation

    So it should come as no surprise that this is what my sewing room table looked like a mere 48 hours into enforced isolation. I cut out a quilt! I made cushions for my mid-century lounge chair! And I made a very happy new couch pillow.

    sewing room during self-isolation

    The front is a fabric I snagged as soon as it was released, llamas as part of the Stencil collection by Ellen Baker for Kokka. I never buy fabric online, so this was a rare exception!

    As usual, it was hard to cut into one of my favorite fabrics… but, as always, I’m so glad I did because now I get to look at the pillow every day, instead of the fabric sitting buried in a bin.

    alpaca pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    I made my own piping using store-bought bias tape and some tiny cording that’s meant for Roman shades. I feel like piping elevates a simple project like this pillow so much, and it’s really not that hard with the right tools. I finally caved and bought this set of piping feet… it makes all the difference in the world.

    The back fabric is a remnant I brought back from Japan on my recent (pre-pandemic) trip. I’m really happy with the way the colors coordinate with the llamas without being overly matchy.

    alpaca pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    I can never hide a happy colored zipper, so I left this one exposed rather than using a lapped installation as a couch pillow “should”. No-rules sewing! I’m such a rebel.

    Especially when I’m spending so much time at home, it’s fun to change things up. I’ve been wanting to make new couch pillows for ages, and this one adds such a nice dose of brightness to my white couch! Are there any overlooked home projects that you’re diving into with this extra at-home time?

    Fabric Design: Block Printing course by Jen Hewett for Bluprint

    I often sew in silence, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks from the library, or watching through classes from the Bluprint Creative Care Package. Bluprint is offering unlimited free classes through April 9 to help with social distancing. It’s free to sign up, you don’t even need to give a credit card! Jen Hewett has a new block printing course for Bluprint and even though I’ve taken her class in person, I’m planning to listen through it to soak up even more the second time around.

    Improve your paintings: luminous watercolor mixing course

    Full disclosure, I am a Bluprint affiliate, but I’m also taking advantage of this special they have right now and I’m excited for the opportunity to learn some new tricks.