Well, this is the moment you've all been waiting for. The day when I finally show you my new sewing space! Actually, I have to admit, this feels really anti-climactic to me because it's been set up like this for well over a month now. Maybe even well over two or three months. I'm not sure. I've learned about myself that I need to post things right after I finish them when I'm still super excited... but that didn't happen this time. Anyway, want to have a look? Let's start with some before pictures.
Actually, let's start with this little tidbit of information:
We have a 2 bedroom, one bathroom apartment of about 550-600 square feet. In case you didn't know, that's tiny for a 2 bedroom apartment.
Every inch in our apartment must count. We have things stored EVERYWHERE, and I do mean everywhere. So any time one of us starts thinking, "Hey, maybe we could move things around so we have more space for ______," it's a bit of a process. It's basically like real-life, super complex Tetris. Good thing I totally rock at that game.
A while ago, as you may remember, I was thinking through ways that I might be able to rearrange things to make space for my sewing machine to stay set up permanently. As it was, every time I wanted to sew something, I had to pull the sewing machine and ironing board out from the back closet (not to mention all of the fabric and other sewing supplies I'd need). Which meant that the kitchen table had to be clean enough to put the sewing machine (and precious, clean, new fabric) on and that the living room floor had to be clean enough to have room to set up the ironing board. Well, guess what? That was never the case. So let me go back now and say that every time I wanted to sew I had to clear off the table, clean up the living room, and cart all of my supplies out from our bedroom and our back storage closet. All this usually took long enough that if I started the process right when Olivia went down for a nap, she was awake by the time I was actually ready to sew. And then everything would stay set up for a few days because it was such a hassle to set up and put away. It was not fun. For anyone. Hence the beginning thoughts on how I might set up a more permanent sewing space for myself.
Now the room with the most extra space is Olivia's room, but there's a reason for that: she's always taking naps in there. So we can't store anything in her room that we want to have access to while she's sleeping. Also, she can get into things now, so we can't just line boxes up on the floor or something.
Setting things up in the living room or kitchen was also an automatic no-go. In the first place, there was simply and absolutely no room for it. And in the second place, I know full-well what kind of mess I tend to make when I sew and I didn't want to have to feel pressure to clean it all up every single time someone was coming over.
This left me with: the bathroom (no), our two closets (no outlets in either of them, so... no), and our bedroom. Here are some before shots of our bedroom so you can get an idea of what I was up against.
So... where would you fit a sewing machine? :)
Keep thinking about that while I show you some before pictures of Olivia's room.
And here are some self-explanatory pictures to take you around her room (going clockwise--for the most part).
easel? (I made it from an old crib.))
Okay, thought of any great solutions yet for how to rearrange things? Well, if you're like me, you probably had some red flags go up when you saw this big empty wall:
On the phone...
Katie: Hey Bry, what do you think about me moving things around so I can set up a sewing space for myself?
Katie: I was thinking about moving the dresser into Olivia's room and moving our bed against the wall.
Bryan: I guess that would be okay...
So, since Bryan was totally on board, I went ahead and got to work moving furniture. My nice friend Sarah came over and helped me move the dresser in front of that blank wall in Olivia's room and push the bed against the wall in our bedroom. These two maneuvers alone took a bit of thinking, but we got it done. Even though we had to take the mattress off the bed in order to move the bed frame. Since our bed frame sits on some of those little bed stilts (cone things) from IKEA (so we can have storage under our bed--I wasn't kidding when I said we have things stored EVERYWHERE), it was a little tricky, but, in the end, we were triumphant. I'll explain more about how we moved things around in these after pictures. Then we'll focus more on the actual sewing space and why it functions well.
Now on into Olivia's room. We'll take a little tour of her room, again, going clockwise around the room.
dresser in the closet. This freed up some much-needed space in her room for other things. And since this closet is so strangely separated into compartments, putting the dresser in here actually put that space to much better use than it had been before the dresser was in there.
little pink dress?) :)
Olivia books by Ian Falconer. If you haven't read them you simply must. I'm not such a big fan of the Olivia books that have come out as a result of the Olivia TV show, but the original books by Ian Falconer are wonderful. (And isn't that website just fun? Be sure to try your hand at painting while you're there. Go to "Fun with Olivia" and then "Painting Game.") Anyway... back to organization.
On the top shelf of Olivia's closet you may have noticed these boxes (they're from IKEA, if you're wondering) labeled 9-18 months and 24 months-5T. Before Olivia was even born, we were up to our ears in baby girl clothes. But of course they were all different sizes and she didn't need them all in her dresser at the same time. It was a mess! I tried a variety of different methods for organizing all of her clothes, but this is what I finally settled on and this is what has worked for me now for well over a year.
The outside of each box is labeled with the range of sizes contained inside.
Ruby Lou doll.
Pack & Play), and her makeshift nightstand/diaper station. Inside that bottom big drawer is a lot of junk, honestly, and inside the top drawer is where we keep the big pack of diapers.
Marcie), and a changing pad that we never actually used. :) The easel that was in Olivia's room got demoted to the porch. But now that we're giving the dresser back, who knows?, maybe it will come live inside again.
The other items you might have noticed did not appear in any of these "after" pictures are: my cute little white nightstand table and the nice big lamp that used to be on the dresser in our room. Both of these things have gone into the back storage for now.
Okay. So are you ready to take an in-depth look at my sewing space now?!
Where to start... where to start...
these), Batting (uhh... don't be fooled, there's no batting in there... not sure why I wrote that on the label), and Interfacing. Next up is Ribbon... stored liked this inside.
Let me just say this to all of you who may be looking for good handmade gift ideas for the men in your life. Manly fabric--as in, for reals manly fabric, not just fabric with a golf or hunting print--can be hard to come by or expensive when you do find it. I've made a habit of collecting old pants from Bryan and my brother-in-laws. I have made soooo many things out of those pants. And most of the time no one would ever know that's where the fabric came from! Making something new from fabric your husband already loves is a great way to reuse junk into something you already know he likes. Just saying.
shop. Below that is the most frequently used container--my Woven fabric. That thing is filled to the brim. Good thing the container has lock-down handles. :)
Above the hanging files there you'll see (from left to right) another sort of miscellaneous box (it has elastic in it, among other things), my thread box (with my old business cards shining through), and then next to that there are actually two little containers. The one in front that you can actually see has buttons. Lovely buttons. Someday I hope to have a bit of a more distinguished collection, but there they are. Then the little container behind that has trimming sort of things in it. More elastic, some bits of bias tape, and, well, trimmings. That other bigger container you can barely see hiding back there has my thicker thread for crocheting. It doesn't get a lot of action these days either except as thread for hang-tags. Guess that's why it's in the back.
Whitney gave it to me years ago for my birthday and I've used it so much that it's a bit dirty to go out in public anymore, but it's now living a very fulfilling life here in the bedroom.
Olivia's t-shirts and things.
Now let's get back to my little sewing station. But before we peek inside those buckets, let's talk about how I built the desk. One of the things Bryan asked me when I called to get his approval on rearranging our bedroom was, "What are you going to put the sewing machine on?" Bryan is very nice and polite. So that's what he asked. But what he really meant was, "Are you going to spend a lot of money on a desk that's going to make our bedroom even more cramped than it already is?" As you can see, the answer to that question was a resounding, "No."
Not only didn't I want to spend money on a desk, but bringing more furniture into our apartment would have been a problem. I would have had to squish other things even more! Furthermore, a standard-size desk was not what I wanted. I wanted a skinny little narrow desk that would take up minimal room and allow me to have easy access to the sewing machine. So instead I put the ol' noodle to good use and thought of a way to make more space for the things we already had... by using them.
Sadly, the drawers and the food storage were not exactly the same height. But this was easily fixed.
Also, there's something else I haven't mentioned yet about why this desk is great. It's a simple, but rather fundamental feature, I'd say. And it is this: my sewing machine cords can actually go behind the top of the desk down to the power strip and foot pedal below. Now maybe you're thinking, "Duh, Katie," but you'd be surprised how many uber fancy homes Bryan and I saw at the Parade of Homes this year that had big, beautiful spaces for sewing and crafting... and then had the sewing machine set on a built-in desk that left no space for cords. Totally lame. Definitely something to think about if you're setting up your own space.
Okay, now let's finally get on to all those colorful buckets!
3M hooks. As a tenant in an apartment made entirely of cinder block walls where we're only allowed four anchored screws (put in only by the complex) per room, we've come to know and love 3M hooks and sticky tabs and velco strips very well. And this little style of hook is my latest 3M love. They're tiny, but powerful. And they were just right for my little buckets. Oh, and just in case you're not familiar with 3M sticky tabs, they come off really easy and leave no trace. (This is not a paid advertisement. I'm just trying to spread the love to others who might attempt to decorate walls that you can't put nails into.)
And, in closing, I also had to share what's on the window sill.
Well, that's it!
I hope you enjoyed
So far I have absolutely loved having this little sewing space of my very own. I have created so many things in it already! It is this little set up that has made it possible for me to make so many Christmas presents and baby shower gifts and t-shirts for Olivia and even a few things for myself--and all of them during nap time! I feel so happy when I create. And I feel so happy to have a space to do just that in.
So, if you need me you can find me here: