When Lupine, Gina and I first opened Modern Domestic, our main goal was to provide the ultimate sewing room for Portland. Everyone deserves a well-lit, organized and beautiful space to stir up their creative juices. It was so exciting to set up MD. When I first peeked in the window and saw the potential of the space, my mind was building it out already. The cutting tables, the lighting, defined sewing and serging stations! Oh my! Lupine and I worked day and night with hammers, drills, sanders, coffee, a bottle of wine or two and then finally… our dream was realized! It was all worth it now that we can see your smiling faces sewing away.
I absolutely love sewing at MD. One of my favorite evening activities is to come into MD, forget about the work I normally do here and just SEW! Unfortunately I don’t always have the option to come into MD so I also have my own creative space at home that is my private refuge from the rest of the world.
I have always insisted on having some resemblance of a sewing room in every house I’ve lived in. Some have been absolutely enormous (since I insisted that the master bedroom be my craft space) and some have been as miniscule as 8′ by 8′; but every sewing room I’ve set up has been well loved and well used.
My current sewing room is not very large, but it’s probably one of my all-time favorites. I had a love-hate relationship established when I first set it up. I loved the fact that it was extremely well lit during the day, having two whole walls of windows. I also hated the fact that it had two whole walls of windows!
The size of the room is only 8′ x 14′ and my sewing room also doubles as my office. The massive amount of windows presented the obvious storage / shelving problem. Having been in the crafting industry for the last 5 years and an avid sewist for the last 20 has really built up my supplies! Modern Domestic certainly helped scale down my collection of lovely sewing gems that I couldn’t possibly pass up at estate sales or bric-a-brac shoppes when I lived in London, but I still have quite the stash.
I felt rather urban when my only solution was to build up. I have 9′ ceilings so I got myself a step stool and have become great pals with it. I scoured the web for stylish and reasonably priced shelving that was flexible in each of the shelves height adjustments. My friend suggested that I take a look at Rakks Store for wall mounted shelving brackets and standards. I liked what I saw and they worked perfectly on my main wall AND they carry wonderful desk brackets that fit into the same standards. To install, all you need is a level, a stud finder (always makes me giggle when I say it), a drill and the appropriate fasteners for your wall types. Like many Portlanders, I have a 100 year Old PDX style home with lath and plastered walls, so my preferred is definitely a toggle anchor. It is EXTREMELY important that you securely attach any shelves you put up so ask your local hardware store which would work best for your walls. Once the hardware was installed, I measured the length I wanted each shelf to be, went to Crosscut Hardwoods (amazing resource!), picked some 3/4″ plywood in Maple and had them cut it to size. Thanks guys! This system is so easy, versatile, inexpensive and I love the way it looks, so much that we put the same system, covered in burlap, in the retail area at MD.
On the adjoining wall, I decided to use a vintage 1950’s HON metal office cabinet I had purchased from a yard sale years back. These old cabinets are super sturdy and I have a thing for metal cabinets, just saying. It houses my favorite books, Kona solids, fabric scraps, rulers, tailor board and my Lazy Susan filled with tools. Where did that saying come from anyway?
I built my cutting table years ago when I was first practicing at being a carpenter. I was so proud of it! It was the simplest thing. I constructed a table top out of 3/4″ plywood, cut to 38″ x 56″ (you can get low grade ply on this) and cut some 1″ x 4″ lumber which I framed on the flat underneath to make it sturdier. I bought some folding legs from Home Depot and screwed them into the framing. Easy.
I gathered up a bunch of wool blankets that I found at various thrift stores and cut them about 2″ longer and wider than the table, laid 3 of them over the table and then bought the extremely wonderful Sureblock Blocking Cloth. I stretched this over the blankets and used a staple gun to fasten underneath, like you would for upholstery. So now I have a blocking / pinning board AND a cutting table all in one! You can iron directly on it, you can pin your patterns onto your fabric for easy cutting with no needed weights. Plus you have a gridded ruler built right in.
I have LOVED this table for years. The only thing I didn’t like was that it was table height and it hurt my back to work over it for too long. So hearing my complaint, my lovely Michael decided we should do something about it. After a quick trip to IKEA we came home with these super handy adjustable trestle bases shelves and some drawers on casters. Now look at my lovely table!
I put my new drawers right next to my machine table so I can keep it open and access everything I need while I sew. I organize my tools and notions with pretty glass trays that I am fairly certain were originally ashtrays. Nice. I have my Bernina Accessory case, bobbin ring, and my wooden thread rack of my currently used threads. I also have two larger thread racks hung on the wall, but I like having some thread more accessible.
My machine table is home to my serger and my beloved Bernina Aurora 430. It was really important to me that I didn’t have to move machines every time I wanted to serge or sew. I wanted them both set up permanently so I can wheel my chair back and forth. It’s a little tight due to my room size, but it has worked just fine. I even have enough space for my Bernina to have my plexi-glass extension table. These tables are incredibly handy and you can free-motion quilt so easily on them.
I can REALLY geek out on design and organization of workspaces. I have designed and built a fair amount of kitchens, even Lupine’s! I love visualizing how a space should flow and function while looking beautiful. You don’t need a lot of space nor money to set up an organized and efficient sewing room. It will certainly become your favorite room in the house!