Making the Best of Your Small Sewing Space

We live in a era where crafting, sewing, and quilting have taken over a large part of social media platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram. We don’t just see our favourite bloggers in the controlled settings of their books or patterns, but we get a glimpse into how and where they work. They show off pictures of Pinterest perfect “Martha Stewart-esqe” craft rooms that make me want to run instantly to the Container Store and Ikea to buy fixtures and organizational tools to create my perfect sewing room.

Isaac Bailey Photography
Isaac Bailey Photography

But then I wait a second and remember that as a 20 year old college student, my sewing space has always consisted of the unfurnished corner of my room and an ikea cart full of supplies. Walking around my room is a constant battle of avoiding the loose pins, rotary cutters, and piles of fabric that cover my floor.

My College Dorm Room which also Functions as my Sewing Space

As the modern crafting industry has grown, more and more young people are beginning to become interested in the DIY community. While being young has a lot of advantages, many of us don’t have a spare bedroom to transform into a sewing wonderland and many crafters live in apartments or other living spaces where space can be restricted. So the question then becomes “How do I make the best of my cramped little corner of crafty goodness?”

My Cramped Corner of Crafty Goodness
  1. Buy the tools that work best for your space– While it may be super amazing to have a huge cutting mat for all of your quilting needs, investing one that easily fits on your kitchen table or desk or folds will save your sanity and be much easier to store. I also use a small table top ironing board and smaller rulers that can easily be stored. This also translates to your sewing machine itself. Buying a smaller and lighter machine packed with features, like the HQ Stitch 210, will make it easier to transport if you don’t have a permanent location for your machine.
  2. Invest in tools that will serve multiple purposes– The rule of “Quality over Quantity” is my motto when it comes to this dilemma. While you might like having a specific ruler for every quilt technique you’ve ever wanted to try, investing in 2 or 3 rulers that will help you make the widest range of quilts will help you save some storage space.

    Creative Grids “Lazy Angle” Ruler or the “Quilt in a Day” Ruler 
  3. Buy versatile fabric– While buying that super fun Alexander Henry fabric that you “could” use one day might seem like a good idea in the heat of your fabric shopping experience, that might not be the best idea when you have a limited space in which to store your fabric. In an ideal world, we would all only buy fabric that we had a specific need and project for, but in reality the temptation is too strong and many of us end up with a stash of orphan fabric without a specific purpose. Instead, try to buy versatile fabric that can be paired with fabrics that you already own or in a color you commonly use. This will keep your stash from taking on a life of its own and increase your likelihood of actually using what you have. Save that Alexander Henry fabric for a specific project and you’ll be happier that you were able to actually use it!

    Examples of some of my favorite versatile prints
    Check it Tangerine
     , Mesh with Me Worn, Big Grid Blue, Sprinkle Corduroy, Ghost XOXO, Queen Anne Peach


  4.  ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE- When your sewing space is limited, it is especially important to know what you own and where to find it. You don’t want to make the mistake of purchasing something you already own or not be able to work on a project after you’ve already gone to the trouble of clearing off your surface because you can’t find something. Something I’ve found that works well for me is to invest in a cart that can sit next to your workspace that holds your tools, fabric, patterns, and current work in progress. The IKEA Raskog cart is a great option that is inexpensive, has excellent wheels, and has three trays to maximise your organizational potential. Many quilters across the country and the world have fallen in love with this amazing cart for its versatility and the bang for your buck.
  5. Create a List of On-Going Projects and Dream Projects- I’m of the mind that if you write something down in list form, you are so much more likely to actually start and complete what you’ve added to the list. This will not only help keep you organized but also help to prevent 50 million WIPs taking up prime storage space. I also always like to make a list of projects I would love to make as an incentive to cross things off my list of current projects.
  6. Make Scrappy Projects – One of my biggest sewing vices is hoarding every fabric scrap, no matter the size. It’s so easy to say that “one day” that little rectangle of Cotton+Steel fabric will be used in a paper pieced quilt or that it’ll be used in that braided rug you’ve always wanted to make. In reality, all of those scraps are like the Twinkies of your sewing room. Some people love them and can’t get enough, but maybe they have a cluttered crafting room with so much fabric they can’t even move. More often than not, these scraps end up having an extremely long shelf life and end up only being used every couple years. Instead, actually commit to making a scrap quilt, fabric bowls, or use them to stuff floor poufs or dog beds!scraps
    Scrap Inc is a great resource for how to use up your scraps to make quilts!

While it can be more prep work to get ready to sew, having a small or transitional space doesn’t mean that sewing has to be more difficult! Embrace it and have it be your inspiration to become a more organized and thoughtful crafter!



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