Sewing Space Update

In my last post I mentioned that my sewing space received an update. Previously I had carpeting because when we built this house carpeting or vinyl flooring were the only choices. I opted for the basic carpeting because I knew I would ultimately change the flooring. The new flooring is a nice plank laminate and I am very happy with it. With this change, I took the opportunity to do some major revision of storage space since everything had to be removed from the room.

My goal was to get as many items as possible into closed storage (hidden), or if not hidden (such as books), much more efficient and pleasing to view. I have a large space to work with; 2 adjoining rooms with a large opening between them. One room is 15X15, which houses the machines and pressing area. The second room is 11X13, which is the cutting area, desk and fabric storage. The smaller room also has a closet, which houses more fabric and a variety of stuff like interfacing, linings, other creative crafting items.

The initial furnishings were a mish-mash of re-purposed items from previous houses. I only kept a few of those items to put back into the room: The sewing machine tables, which are solid wood and came from a sewing machine table manufacturer many years ago. The desk, which was built by a closet company who has done a lot of work in my house. The fabric storage, which is 3 towers of 12 X 12 storage cubes with fabric bins. I did have a cutting table that was part of the sewing machine furniture set, but I wanted storage the table did not provide. I was able to sell it to a fellow ASG member.

Here is a very messy BEFORE view of the “cutting” room

Standing in the doorway between the rooms, here is an AFTER view of the “cutting” room. The table is the same size I had previously, but now it has drawers and shelving underneath, accessible from both sides. (My furry sewing buddy is photo-bombing at the bottom of the picture).

Fabric storage/cutting & planning

The cabinet on the left wall came from Pier1 (boo hoo that they are going out of business). Drawers hold scissors and some generic tools; the lower portion holds quilt and purse kits, along with a bin of table runner, wall hanging and purse patterns.

Left side under table – Fitting books, Burda and other magazine patterns, Indie patterns and a drawer filled with patterns.
Right side under table – Top drawers hold tools, bottom drawers hold patterns; shelves for scraps & muslin fabrics for pattern testing.
One of the pattern drawers on the right side of cutting table. Patterns are separated by brand, and in numerical order within that brand.

Pattern storage: I have tried a variety of methods. I previously stored patterns by type: Tops, Pants, Coordinates, Dresses and so on. And then by brand within each type. That became unwieldy for me. And maybe it was just because the way they were stored (in cardboard boxes) was unsightly and hard to dig through.

I do have information about all my envelope patterns in an app on my IPad and keep it up to date. So if I am searching for a particular number I can see if I have it; or I can search by Tops and see which patterns I have (not that this keeps me from buying duplicates…).

The wall with my window and desk. I covered the desk chair with a black and white polka dot home dec fabric. The back cover just slips on and the seat cover has a string like an ironing board cover has to hold it on. The shelves above the desk hold fashion books, binders with my fabric cards, separated by type (wool, silk, cotton, linen, etc). The tags on the fabric pins have numbers on them, and there is a card for every fabric in the notebooks with a swatch and bin number.

View of fabric storage, window and desk

Moving on to the “sewing/pressing” room.

A messy BEFORE picture of this room – there are no curtains up so that means it was taken shortly after we moved into this house.

Yikes! This is taken standing between the two windows – facing the right side of the room.

The AFTER picture below is taken from the doorway between the two rooms.

Machine tables are in a U-shape. My serger is on a different table. All of these tables are hooked together and can be configured in a couple of different ways. The pressing table at the back of this picture was built and installed by the closet guy. It has drawers below at the ends, and a center opening below. I have garment fabric scraps in a tall wicker basket in that opening.

The two shelving units on either side hold my project boxes (UFOs, garment and pattern matched up as a project, etc). I try to pull something from that shelf for every other project, and evaluate whether I want to make that item. Sometimes a fabric/pattern match no longer thrills me. So both might go out of project boxes and back to pattern and fabric storage separately. Or I may select a different pattern for that fabric – depends on what mood I am in. Like most of us, I have many more ideas that come up and push other ideas to the back.

Books and magazines

This is the same view as the messy picture above. Those wood bookshelves went to a new home via Habitat for Humanity, and many books went to the library. I have a bunch of quilting magazines and some books in the garage for our ASG chapter garage sale – hopefully next spring. These are the books and magazines I kept and they are organized by topic and off the floor. I do have to get on a stepstool to reach the top shelf, but that is not often.

The big white square is a flannel covered foam board – which is my design ‘wall’. It is sitting on a cool little picture shelf from IKEA. The dresser to the right in the above picture also came from IKEA. I wanted to have all of my machine embroidery thread, stabilizers, hoops, design cards in 1 place. They were spread around the room and even some stored in a separate room. I couldn’t even remember what I had, or where it was.

This view is the wall opposite the wall in the previous picture.

Sewing machines, sergers and storage

The table on the left holds my sergers. This table was part of the U of machines before, but I wanted the long table (which is just out of this picture to the right) as part of the U. I covered this chair in the same way as the chair at the desk (they are both identical – ugly blue fabric). The cabinets between the windows all came from IKEA. Yes, we had a lot of fun there, and even more fun putting it all together. In the two sets of drawers I have small notions – elastic, interfacing and stabilizer tapes, ribbon, snaps, serger thread – all the small stuff that I used to have in little bins on top of the old bookshelves. The middle cabinet has 3 shelves and holds a container of buttons (sorted by color), and bins of trims, stuff for jewelry making, crystals, felting supplies,etc. All bins are labeled.

Cabinet between windows
Drawer with stay tapes

If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me. I love my new space. This is actually the 5th house I’ve lived in, and I have been lucky to have some sort of dedicated space in each one. But this one is really the best! I have been playing in this space for about 4 months now and it is truly my happy place.

A Reboot

I recently changed the URL for this blog – it is a domain now! I know most bloggers are moving to Instagram and other platforms and away from blogs, but I have wanted to make my blog a little more than it was for some time. But like everything else new, it has been a journey and my ideas were sidetracked. This blog will still be mostly about sewing, but if I can figure out some of the technical aspects of what I want to do I would like to add some tutorials, resources for reference or interesting tips and techniques.

It has been over a year since I blogged and some life changes occurred during that time. I retired from full time work last August and we took a 2 1/2 week vacation to Europe later that month. The rest of 2019 was spent on some house fix-ups that were needed and ‘learning how to be retired’. I thought I would spend all my time sewing, but somehow that didn’t happen.

When I worked, I got in the habit of sewing in the evenings when I wasn’t totally and mentally exhausted from my work day. When not working I seemed to keep busy all day doing things, then still tried to sew at night. But I wasn’t accomplishing much, because I was exhausted from being busy all day. AAAGGGHHH! I kept feeling like I needed some sort of schedule so I could build sewing in during the day.

Then came holidays and the new year. We decided to ‘remodel’ our hobby rooms. We both wanted to get rid of carpeting and put down a new flooring. And I wanted to do some serious purging and reorganizing of the sewing space. Replacing flooring meant each room needed to be completely emptied. Since we had limited space to put the stuff being removed from the rooms, we did them one at a time. Hubby went first because I knew packing up my stuff would take longer.

The process of emptying room 1, new flooring installation and putting back room 1 took about 3 weeks in January. Emptying room 2 (which is actually 2 adjoining rooms), new flooring installation and contractor work for a new cutting table, bookshelves and ironing station took about 4 weeks. So we were now at mid-February. I started putting things back in my space, happily went off to the Mid-Atlantic Quiltshow for a couple of days, came home and the Covid-19 virus was in the US! AAAGGGHHHH!

Well, now I was home all the time, so lots of time to reorganize and put stuff away. But like many others, I just couldn’t sew. I spent all my time reading about the virus, feeling sad, angry, scared, helpless, frustrated, etc – all the emotions that most people who actually believed there was a virus were working through. I had this beautiful, organized space and didn’t feel like using it. Then came the evolution of MASKS!

So I jumped on that bandwagon pretty early, even though some medical folks I know thought it was a complete waste of time and the masks would be useless. I felt I had some purpose with all that was going on. And we now know that were were all learning about the virus and efficacy of masks too (and still are learning).

I made a couple of masks for us; then friends started asking for some; then friends and kids of friends starting asking for some…so now I had a production line of mask making going. (That fat quarter quilting stash I built up really came in handy!) But the mask making really got me back in the groove to sew.

A few of the completed masks

During the mask making, hubby asked me to make him some pajama cotton knit boxer shorts. He really didn’t like the purchased ones for various reasons. He rarely asks me to make him anything, so I couldn’t say no. I pulled out an old Butterick pattern, compared it to his purchased pair for sizing, and it looked like it would work. I found some cotton knit in the resource center, added in the changes he wanted and Voila! Sample pair got a thumbs up.

I didn’t have any other pieces of cotton knit I was willing to use for this project so I ordered 3 pieces of print cotton spandex knit from Most of the print knits are more child-like. But I found a dog print, a fish print and a dragon print. He liked those just fine, so I whipped up 3 more pair for him. He was happy to get rid of the purchased boxers he had been sleeping in.

4 pairs of sleeping boxers

One trick I use is to stitch a small piece of ribbon into the back casing/waistband so that one can easily tell the back from the front in an elastic waist garment.

Ribbon stitched into the edge of the casing

In addition to some sewing, I have been spending ‘stay at home’ time watching sewing videos, cleaning out the DVR but watching some shows we recorded last season, flower gardening and reading. A few other garments have been completed so I will cover those in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

My Hot Mess Coat aka Vogue 1060.

At least that is what I have been calling it.  And as I go through the saga you may see why I chose that name.  Continuing with my Sandra Betzina patterns (Today’s Fit Vogue), I made an out of print coat pattern – V1060.

Pattern photo

I chose this pattern for a number of reasons.  My goal was to have a lightweight, longer ‘coat’ to wear over the longer jackets and vests I am wearing; that was a little dressier than the coats I have.  This pattern has a dolman sleeve.  I am working on having a variety of styles I can go to when I want to make something without starting over with fitting every time.  I was trying to figure out if I could work out a dolman sleeve to use going forward and I know Sandra drafts her dolman with a higher cut under the arm than most patterns.  And I have become familiar with how to adjust her patterns for me without a lot of changes.  (As a side note – it seems her older patterns are a little more close fitting than the newer ones.)

Fabric:  A lightweight, slight stretch wool blend and was intended to be my muslin fabric.  This has been in my resource center for a v.e.r.y long time.   The color is a sort-of dusty purple-ish tone.  Very drab.  In response I used a bright purple lining.

Lining:  A silk charmeuse I picked up at a sewing retreat.  This is meant to be an unlined coat (meaning no lining pattern pieces, nor instructions related to lining).  Why did I decide to line this?  Because when I sewed the main pieces together and tried it on, the wool stuck to my clothing (I call it the “velcro-effect”) and I knew that would never work for regular wearing.

I drafted a lining using one of the videos in Sandra’s Power Sewing list.  She and Ron Collins provide step by step information on drafting the lining.  Unfortunately their instructions are for a standard tailored jacket; including notched collar, a back facing and set-in sleeve.  First step in making this complicated – need to draft a back facing & take the shawl collar and dolman sleeve into account.  There were some challenges that cropped up later because of this and I had to adapt.

How else can I make this more difficult?  Let’s add embroidery!  I have been looking for ways to incorporate embroidery into my garments and the collar of this coat seemed like a perfect place!  Anyone who does embroidery knows how time consuming it is to choose the right design, position it, adjust it in software, stitch out samples, put it on the finished project and pray it all works out the way you envision it.  Luckily this part went very well and I am happy with the embroidery designs and placement.

To choose embroidery threads I laid a bunch of threads on the fabrics until I found some that I thought were pleasing.

Right side of the shawl collar below.  The scrunched fabric is an extra piece of the lining stuffed into the neck for the photo.


The embroidery designs came from a book called Contemporary Machine-Embroidered Fashions.  I have had this book for many years and never used any of the designs until now.

Embroidery designs

My decision process consisted of looking at literally every embroidery design I have – there are many and they are in a variety of places (on the computer, separate disks, a few books that came with disks, etc). I ruled out the  specific types – flowers, animals, insects, holiday motifs etc.  I was looking for the more abstract designs.  The designs I chose proved to work out well.  I did some combining in my software so I could stitch the facings in 1 hooping.

Other changes to the pattern design:  There are 3 waist darts for the front – I didn’t use any of them.  I need to add more circumference if I am going to use those (see previous comment about ease in the older patterns); I did use 1 of the 3 back waist darts. I used a snap closure, with a decorative, covered button instead of the ties; and made bands for the sleeves instead of facings.

For the button, I was able to use one of the motifs.


The final coat:


On me: (My outfit for lunch with DH at the swanky, beautifully decorated Jefferson Hotel).  I’ll blog the top next.

Coat full view

Close-up of the sleeve bands:


Will I make this pattern again?  Not sure.  It needs a number of changes.  The sleeves are very wide at the hem and are supposed to be shaped.  I removed several inches and they are still too wide.  I need to make a shoulder adjustment – Sandra’s fleshy shoulder adjustment.  Basically I need move the shoulder seams forward. They don’t hit me in the right place.  And the bottom needs to be tapered a bit.  It is very A-line.

And I think I am over lining things….I invested much more time in this than I ever expected.  But once I got going I felt like I needed to finish it; one issue led to another.  But I vowed it would not become a UFO.  It is wearable.  I love the neckline and collar.  That is my favorite type of collar and flattering on me.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures from The Jefferson.

Hotel Lobby decorations:

The lobby


Central Tree

Standing under the tree:

Tree ornaments

The gingerbread airplane:

Gingerbread airplane

Close-up of Santa in the gingerbread airplane:

Gingerbread santa

And finally, the ingredient list for the gingerbread airplane:

Recipe for gingerbread airplane

Happy Holidays to All!