sewing room essentials

Happy First Day of Spring! I don’t know about you, but I love it when things become official, and the first official day of spring is one of my favorite days. We’re having gorgeous weather here today too, which is fantastic. You know I love sunny skies!

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw some photos from our trip to Florida over the weekend. What a trip it was! We truly had a wonderful time. It’s been a long time (two years, I think? maybe three?) since Ty and I really got to get away for a few days, and I know we both desperately needed a break. I’ll post a few snapshots from the trip next week, but today I’m happy to be home and excited to get back to work.

I spent some time in the studio last night cleaning and getting organized for a new batch of projects, and I finally invested some time into pattern organization and storage, an important part of today’s subject: sewing room essentials. I get a lot of questions about various things in my studio and where to find them, so what better way to kick off a new season of creating and sewing than by sharing a few tips about what you need in a sewing studio and where to find them.

My pattern collection was quite small when I closed my business a couple years ago (everything fit into one shoe box), but it has since grown quite a bit. I blame pattern sales! (Don’t we all?!) The pattern situation was getting so out of hand that I was forced into a solution. I had outgrown the boxes I was putting everything into, and it was such a pain to find what I was looking for. I decided the best thing to for me to do was to group all of my patterns into categories (dresses, skirts, pants, etc.), and then file them in storage drawers I already had. And, just like that, I have a solution that actually works and makes finding what I’m looking for a snap.

So, sewing essentials #1: pattern organization and storage. All of my patterns fit neatly into two storage drawers, and each one is filed in its own category. Makes it a breeze to find what I’m looking for. I don’t really need to file them in categories more specific than this, but I might put some neon sticky tabs on the top corner of my favorite patterns, so those stick out when I open the drawer. For now, I’m just glad everything is organized!

Sewing essential #2: a dress form. If you’re going to invest your time and energy into sewing apparel for yourself or others, I really think a dress form is a must-have tool. I use mine daily for draping, to analyze print placement, to look at a muslin and make adjustments, and for photos, among other things. My form is industry grade with legs and collapsible shoulders and is from PGM, which is also a great resource for a lot of sewing and patternmaking supplies. Brand new forms like this are a little pricey, but used ones can be found online and at estate sales every now and then. I’d love to have another one at some point, so I’m always on the hunt for a bargain dress form.

I know a lot of folks like the adjustable dress forms sold at JoAnn, so that’s another option as well.

Sewing room essential #3: thread storage. When I was first getting settled in this space, my dad built a table for me, as well as this thread storage solution and a wall mount for big bolts of fabric. The wall mount for fabric is gone now that I don’t need it, but the table and thread storage remains. Similar storage can be found at places like JoAnn, or you can make it yourself with some scrap wood and dowel rods. That’s what my daddy did, and every time I pick a thread off one of the rods, I’m reminded of how handy and awesome he is!

I did buy the serger thread rack when my thread collection overran the wall rack.

Sewing essential #4: garment labels. Without fail, I always get asked about labels, and any seamstress worth her salt should include them in every garment. If you’re interested in having custom labels printed and care labels, there’s lots of info in my post from last fall. McCall Company labels can be found on their website.

Sewing room essential #5: a good quality iron. You want a dependable iron that will last a long time. My Rowenta has been chugging along for years, and I don’t know what I would do without it. I love it. I use it dry, and keep a spray bottle at the ironing station, which is my preferred method of pressing. Works like a charm. I also have a Rowenta steamer, which is another good tool to have.

Sewing room essential #6: pattern hangers and racks. I often trace commercial patterns onto sturdier pattern paper, especially when I make adjustments to it or use it multiple times. These patterns don’t fold well, so they get hung up. You can find inexpensive racks like this at TJ Maxx or Ross, and the hangers can be found at PGM. For more information on supplies specific to patternmaking, see this post from last summer.

Sewing room essential #7: interfacing. I know this is more specific to sewing itself, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what interfacing I use. Interfacing is important and you never want to settle for a cheap stabilizer. I use Pellon White Shape-Flex® Fusible on almost all of my projects. It’s the best. It never bubbles or falls apart, and it gives waistbands, collars, facings and the like just enough body without being too stiff. JoAnn sells it, and I’ll wait for a mega sale or coupon to stock up.

Sewing room essential #8: a bias tape maker. I’m a big believer in utilizing tools that make our lives easier, and this is one of them. I don’t use this daily but I use it regularly enough that it makes a difference. With spring and summer finally upon us, all those unlined tops we’ll be making will need neatly finished necklines, so this little guy will come in handy. All you have to do is cut your strips, and then send them through the iron where the edges get pressed down in a matter of seconds, saving precious time at the iron doing it yourself. I got mine at JoAnn a long time ago, and I have two or three different attachments for it based on the size and type of bias tape I need.

(I can’t seem to find this particular model on the JoAnn website, but I believe they’re sold at Hobby Lobby as well.)

Sewing room essential #9: a rolling rack. Before I bought a sturdy, reliable rolling rack, it was comedy of errors trying to put anything anywhere. Half finished projects, finished garments, and fabric were all over the place. It’s crazy how something as simple as a rolling rack can make such a big difference. You can find this rolling rack at Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s particularly great because it folds down for easy transport. We used these all the time for pop up shops and at various events. Plus, they’re on wheels so I can move it easily on picture day when I need that wall space.

Sewing room essentials #10: storage carts. I love these little things. I have two, both from Target, and they are not only great for storage, but they’re like little station carts for the different parts of the process that go on here. I like having one next to my iron with a few tools that I can easily grab, and I have another one set up next to my pattern rack with patternmaking tools on it. I can move them around when I need to. They’re just the best.

Sewing room essentials #11: a big workspace/table. When I first started college, I didn’t have a big table to work on, so I cut out a lot of projects in the dining room on the floor. Then I graduated up to one of those folding sewing tables you can get at JoAnn and used that thing until it was all but falling apart. Then my dad built a table for me, and it’s been the best thing ever. He customized it to my height so my back never hurts, and I have plenty of storage space underneath. It’s wonderful.

Sewing room essentials #12: fabric storage. For me, I like storing my fabric stash in clear drawers. I usually organize it all by type of fabric, but right now it’s a free for all in each drawer. The key for me is being able to see everything. I used storage totes for a while, but those are a bit big for my liking. Things get buried in there, and if they aren’t clear you have no idea what’s in them. I also like to keep my fabric away from direct sunlight. It’s the same theory as not having a window in a closet. Over time, the sun will fade whatever side of your clothes is in its path. Protect your fabric, folks!

Sewing room essentials #13: quality sewing machines. This goes without saying, but you’ll get nowhere fast on a cheap, unreliable machine that doesn’t have all the capabilities you need it to have. Soon, I’ll be telling you all about a fantastic machine from my favorite brand, HUSQVARNA VIKING®, but here’s a peek of my machines. I have two sewing machines, and a serger (also essential).

I hope this answers some questions about where to find sewing tools and other supplies you need for a functioning sewing room. Also, because it’s fresh on my mind, I’d love to know how you store your patterns. I’m all ears!

Happy Sewing!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Wendy Varner | 26th Apr 17

    All great ideas!

  2. Vanda | 20th Mar 17

    I’ve been trying to find out what to do with all of my patterns also. Great tip.

    • Emily | 20th Mar 17

      I’m so glad it was helpful!

  3. Laura Grabow | 20th Mar 17

    May I just have your sewing room? It is perfect.

    • Emily | 20th Mar 17

      Aww, I know, it’s such a fun space. I really got lucky with the size of it. Come on over, we’ll have sewing parties! 🙂

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