organizing and touring my craft/sewing room

April 12, 2024


I've shown many pictures of my home, but you all love my sewing room the best. I know how you feel because I'm the same way; I love when makers show their creative spaces. I've made a few changes since I last shared it, so come on in and let's poke around! 

The pictures above and below show the roomy formica counter. It's very often messy, but I cleaned it up for you. The nice thing about having a dedicated room is that when you are in the middle of a big project, you can leave it out, close the door, walk away, and no one is the wiser. You who have sewing rooms know how fabulous that is! 

Before I go any farther, let me share a little history about how this maker space came to be.  Creating and making has always been important to me. When I was a little girl I had a round table centered in a tiny alcove of my bedroom that was surrounded on all three sides with windows. I had sewing and craft supplies dripping from every window pane. When I was 12 my marvelous parents bought me a sewing machine and it was in that alcove that I started making Barbie clothes and then my own clothes. When I got married and we had our first home, there was a little closet that had a darling, teensy one-foot-square window that faced the garden. Even though space was tight, my husband was totally supportive when I used that precious closet as my sewing room. I squeezed in a second-hand desk for my sewing machine and added my childhood dresser and a used bookshelf. I added a lamp and some pictures, then painted flowers on every surface--the furniture, walls, and ceiling. It was my happy place and I adored it. I was newly married and 21 years old and had my first official sewing room.

Our second home, the house we live in now, has four bedrooms. When we bought it 40 years ago we really only needed three so we decided to use the fourth room as a guest/sewing room. I had a mind to place an emphasis on the sewing part because saving an entire room for an occasional guest never seemed like a good use of space, and after all, a sewing room was something I would use every day.  

The years went on, the nest emptied, our needs changed, and the rooms changed too. Twenty years ago my then teenage son and his friend helped me remodel the sewing room. My main requirements were counter space, a big sewing table and storage. I purchased two used  counter-height bookcases and one tall book case from a shop downtown that was remodeling. They were in good shape and made of heavy oak and became the nucleus of my reimagined sewing/craft room. The boys installed vinyl flooring, a formica L-shaped countertop, a built-in ironing board, shelves in the closet, and lastly, ready-made cabinets from Home Depot. I painted the room and made curtains to cover the lower shelves and the open closet--we had to remove the closet door when I put in the large sewing table--the door wouldn't open! I believe that good lighting is important and have spots of task lighting where needed. The big charcoal linen wing chair is from Pottery Barn and was a bit of a splurge for a sewing room, but I think a comfortable chair is equally as important as good lighting and I've never regretted the purchase.

Let me take you around the room. You might want to grab a cup of coffee. This is going to be a long post. 

I swung open the cupboards doors so you could see what's hiding. I have an entire shelf of glues, but most of those belong to my husband. There is also a bin of glitter, a box for small tools, a shelf of spray paints and furniture stains, my clay stash and my dried moss stash. My father gifted me a clear plastic tackle box when I was a little girl, similar here, He had one in the garage for his fishing flies and naturally I drooled over it. I begged him to empty it out and give it to me, but my sweet father instead bought me a new one and it's where I still snug away my beads, googly eyes and sequins and all the things a crafty little girl needs. Flash forward 60 years and that little girl's grandson also finds it to be a perfect feature.

I knew I needed another plastic drawer set for my button collection. When my granddaughter was a little girl we spent a pleasant afternoon organizing grammy's buttons. To the left is my knitting pattern file. I am a pattern junkie and buy way too many patterns on Ravelry. I'll never knit them all, but it's fun and a pretty harmless obsession. 

My Dyson is always at the ready!

This tall cupboard was almost an afterthought but has come in so handy. From bottom up I have a drawer for florals, and another for sewing trims. Above that is a little cabinet with three drawers for embroidery flosses and threads. Above that are three slim drawers that hold batteries, glue guns, and my Dresden papers. The top holds recycled shipping supplies.

There is one large window that faces my sleepy street. It faces north and brings in lots of diffused light, but I still need task lighting. I have two of these weighted, long arm lights, one on the sewing table and one on the counter.

The curtain on the closet that hangs with rings and glides across a spring loaded pole was an easy fix to having a too large sewing table in a too small room. My swift is always attached to the corner of that table and never gets in my way, so there it stays. I'm always winding yarn!

The closet has stationary shelves that were originally built to hold a standard banking box. The cardboard boxes worked great for decades, but they did degrade after a time, and the plastic drawers I replaced them with also started to go wonky with time and became difficult to open after a decade of use, so my recent purchase were these large felt bins from Target. I love them so much that I purchased them for the family room cupboards to hold Carter's toys. See-through plastic is handy, but I love the aesthetic of the large bins plus they are easy to grab and bring out, and they are very sturdy. I also like that they are open at the top so I don't have to uncover a lid each time I want to grab something. This is a purchase I was very happy with. When I switched from plastic drawers to the felt bins, I decluttered again, and now each bin holds a manageable amount. One bin has painting supplies, one has felt, one Christmas crafts, another has leftover organizing bins and two are empty. I like having some empty space because when I have a project going (I just made napkins out of an old table cloth) it's nice to have an empty bin to store the work-in-progress. At Christmas, I used them to hide the presents.  

I have two heavy duty metal paper/file dividers that hold what else but paper! Tracing, colored construction, lined, graph, cardboard--everything!

Years ago I purchased this vintage wooden shelf for my ribbon supply. I had a lot of ribbon, and it took me a long while to realize that I don't need to hoard ribbon in every size and every color.  So over the last several years I've been using it up and not replacing it. I lavishly tie ribbon on presents and use it in my crafts, and now my ribbon supply has dwindled, leaving me with a pretty shelf that holds a small galvanized tin collection. The simplified shelf adds a calm vibe to the room. The rolling drawers on the right hold all my sewing accessories. Recently on a trip to Target, they had all four sizes of little felt bins that match the larger bins above. They were half off and I bought every last one they had. Look how pretty my thread looks now! I use these felt bins in all the drawers to keep my scissors safe and bobbins handy.

To keep my counter space as free as possible, paint brushes, pens, rulers, scissors, and other things I reach for constantly, hang above the counter on a rack. The ball winder is in permanent residence at the end, and somehow never gets in my way!

This tall bookcase was also purchased secondhand from downtown. It's very nicely made with adjustable shelves and a paneled back. It holds my knitting, sewing and craft books, and though this may look like a lot, this is after I decluttered about half of my books! I rarely buy books these days and am almost 100% digital. That's not for everyone but it works for me. To the right of the bookcase is my built in ironing board. A genius invention if there ever was one. Those pretty boxes with bows are holding a linen tablecloth I've been cross-stitching for years, my needlepoint supplies, and the little one has wooden spools I keep thinking I'll make a craft with one day. They rest there quietly and cause no harm, so I guess they'll stay for now. The little wooden box with drawers from Ikea stores my peg doll supplies.

A comfy chair is so important. This was a splurge purchase from Pottery Barn. 

These two large oak bases were such a find. My young handymen topped them with formica. At one time Curtains covered all the shelves, but last year I found these fabric storage bins where I keep the most often used items within easy reach. There's one labeled fabric, another has electrical cords, and another is labeled Carter's crafts. The rest are filled with the odd bits and pieces that a craft room accumulates. 

I guess you can see why I keep some shelves covered with the curtains! My cookie cutter collection is in the drawers on the right, and yes, I have way too many, and on the left is the American Girl Doll clothing I've made. At this point I’ve given away most of the clothes but I’m so encouraged that knitters still  use my doll patterns which makes me think I’m not done designing little duds for an 18” doll. And it’s fun! Above that is a collection of white fabric I'm still hoarding. There's a huge dead space in the center and right now it has a trash bag full of styrofoam peanuts, just because.

This is my blog's third visit to this sewing room. The first tour was in 2011 and it's interesting to look back on that post and see how much my tastes have changed and how much decluttering I've done. The older I get, the less I want to take care of so I was happy to see that since that post was written 13 years ago I had gotten rid of a lot of the crafts that don't interest me anymore. But let's face it, makers are different. We see potential in almost everything and it can be hard to part with stuff. I am my most creative when I have a sense of calm about me and having too much squirreled away made me feel anxious. In the past I was guilty of holding onto things I had once loved but had lost interest in. It was hard for me to admit my tastes had changed. I felt guilty over the time and money I had invested in a hobby that was no longer important to me. Saying goodbye was not easy, but somehow in 2020 and the declutter mania that the pandemic produced got me to realize that I could let go and survive. My plan moving forward is to keep my hobbies manageable and fluid, and only keep what is relevant to me at the stage of life I'm in at the time. 

Well, it's been fun for me to share and I hope you have had fun too. I also hope this post encourages you to eek out a little space for your own creative endeavors. If you are at the stage of life where you've already turned your empty nest room into a guest room, why not give it a dual purpose and make it a combination sewing/guest room? It probably doesn't get that much use as a guest room, but just think how much use it would get as a sewing room. I'm sure your guests would love to stay in such a happy place anyway. If you have a sewing room, craft room, or even a knitter's lounge, and yes, I have one of those too, I'd love to hear about it. Or tell me your plans and dreams for your future space because just maybe you have a little closet you could overhaul and wile away some lovely crafternoons. It's always fun to dream and plan.

I'll be back soon. xo Kristen

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  1. This was totally fun Kristen. I used to sew and still keep a tower of drawers from Michael’s for the remnants (buttons and such). They come in handy! What I envy you the most is the fold out ironing board. My Knitter’s Lounge (love the term!) is all over the house for “yarn management” and a sunny window for the actual clicking. Chloe

    1. I must admit that my knitting and lounging is also all over the house! I think a tower of drawers is a perfect craft room. Any place where you contain it is the craft room! The runny thing about the fold out ironing board is that I didn't even realize they were still available. I thought it was something from the past never to be seen again, then somehow someone alerted me to it and I made sure I carved out a space for it.

  2. The ads have been making the blog hard to read... Often the page flips back and forth and I have to toggle several times to get and stay at the start long enough to read it, but today was crazy: one popped up right in the middle of the page, blocking the writing, and wouldn't go away!

    1. Thank you so much for this comment. I really appreciate you taking the time. I NEVER want this to be a blog where the ads are intrusive. I know how frustrating a blog can be when you can't see the content for the ads! I talked to my ads people and they suspected it might be a particular type of ad and they took it off so hopefully that should fix the problem. Please let me know if you encounter annoying problems again. It's a fine balance when you write a blog. I don't expect it to make money, but a year ago I decided that the blog needed to pay for itself and now it does!

  3. Hi Kristen! I recently made over a bedroom/ craft room!! I took everything out and started fresh with a plan from the container store. I do sewing, knitting and needlepoint. It’s still a work in progress with organizing but I love it! I am seeing a quilt right now and without a bed and dresser in there I have room on the floor to lay out the quilt as I am sewing. I downsized a lot over the last few years-donating, selling yarn on eBay and I know there is more of that in my future.

    1. That sounds like a dream to start afresh with the Container Store! The candy shop for grown ups! You sound a lot like me, downsizing yarn and crafts. Yay you! I know it feels so good. Congratulations on getting it done.


  4. when we moved into this house nearly 25 years ago, i used to sew in the laundry/furnace room. not comfortable and sometimes very hot. Then my boys started college and were weekenders (sometimes ) at home. So I slowly took over their basement bedroom. I acquired a kitchen table from another son who was moving out of state and bought leg extenders so I wouldn't have to lean over. My sister gave me a smaller table for my machine and a few of those plastic "chest of drawers". she was decluttering. My mother's friend gave me about 25 bags of fabric (a lot I gave away, mold and whatnot) so I bought plastic shelving from costco. It's my room everyone knows it and sometimes I , too, leave it messy.

    1. It sounds like a dream! It's so practical to take back a space that is not used anymore! Kids grow up and leave, and even if they do come back for short bursts, they don't need the space they did when they were living there full time. It's wonderful to have an out-of-the-way place where you can create and then close the door. Bravo!

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