How getting rid of my sewing room made me sew more

Vowing to sew every day (with a new born! Am I crazy? Probably) has forced me to analyse my effectiveness and efficiency as a sewist – something I have been doing since I binge-read everything I could on productivity last summer. Doing so has made me realize how much my sewing space dictates how often and well I sew. 

Sewing in my bachelor apartment was an all-consuming task: it took up every bit of space and I couldn’t do anything else.

As a teenager, I sewed mostly in my summers off school, cobbling together any bits of fabric (generally old clothes and remnant bin finds) in a creative mania over the span of several days with little eating. Usually on my parents’ porch. These projects were all awful and I don’t think I have anything from this time. Part of me is sad not to have any keepsakes, but most of me is glad my mom can’t embarrass me by sharing with the world the abundance of terrible, tiny pursed I made out of my dad’s old work jeans. 
I sewed very little in university and only began to make clothes again as I began teaching full time, though I did once make an emerald green satin cocktail dress in my dorm room. It was the first thing I made on the Janome I was gifted that Christmas. I think it still exists in a closet at my parents’ but at this point, I was living in a bachelor apartment so sewing took over my entire space and was only worth it to work in large chunks of time.

As you can see, I was able to spread my mess out all over the place.

When my now-husband and I moved into our first apartment, we had the luxury of what we called “The Room of Requirement” which served as guest room, office (Mike worked from home) and sewing room. This meant I could finally leave my sewing machines and ironing board up all the time, but also meant I could close the door on my mess (and would) and pick right back up when I wanted to. With this set up, we fell into a routine of me sewing several hours a day during my summers off, and during the school year, for a few hours on the weekend, generally Saturday nights while Mike watched the hockey game.

My sewing room in our first apartment still didn’t inspire me to sew every day.

When we moved into our current apartment, our second bedroom would no longer be large enough for the queen-sized guest bed as well as my sewing setup. This meant that my sewing space would become a “nook” in our living room. At the time, it felt like a reversion to my bachelor apartment sewing space and I suspected I would be reluctant to take out my sewing gear, making a mess in my living space.

This turns out to be the opposite of the truth! Since setting up my nook last fall, my approach to sewing started to change. I actually began to sew during the work week – something that was previously unheard of barring some deadline to finish a garment. I started to sew for an hour or two after work instead of waiting to blitz it over the weekend and I think my new setup is the reason.  My new sewing space makes it super easy (and enjoyable) to sew every day. Here’s why:

Seeing my fabric on display makes me think about sewing something beautiful each time I rest my eyes on this shelf.
  1. I can’t not see it. My sewing space is right in the living room and I look it a hundred times a day. I also made sure to store my fabric visibly so I get to stare at it while feeding my daughter and dream of all the beautiful things I can make with it. I also keep my dress form out with my current project hanging on it so that I can feel guilty about not working on it each time I walk by.

    Keeping my current project visible keeps it in my mind. I get a lot of problem solving done just walking by.
  2. It’s super easy to get going and clean up. Because I keep my machines out and plugged in, it takes me seconds to start sewing. Additionally,  I keep my current projects in a box beside my sewing table. This way, clean up can take place immediately (as it often does with an infant) and taking a project back out is just as easy. I also overhauled how I organize my tools when I re-designed my sewing space. I had previously kept things like rulers and thread stacked in a box which was ridiculously inconvenient. Any time I needed something, I had to totally unpack that box. I got an awesome chest of drawers at IKEA that holds everything I need it to. AND IT ROLLS.

    I keep my tools in this amazing chest of drawers; everything is easily accessed – and put away.
  3. I can multitask. The layout of our old apartment was strange: the kitchen and dining area where at one end of a long hall and the living room was all the way at the other. This apartment, while smaller, has all of the family spaces together: kitchen, dining, living room and balcony. Because my sewing nook is now in the living room, I can stitch while still watching the pot on the stove. I can also continue to participate in family life (ie. “watch” a movie with my husband while I sew.)

    As a literal rule, my sewing space always stays this tidy.
  4. My sewing space is sacred. When I set up my sewing nook, I set out some ground rules with my husband. I know that flat spaces collect clutter and this table is right next to the entryway, making it a target for junk that needs to be set down somewhere. My sewing space is the one place in the apartment where I have complete control and always stays tidy. It’s my happy place and I definitely want to spend as much time there as possible.

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