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Category: resources

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!

good reads: fashion library edition

We all know what makes for a workable, functioning sewing room: machines, fabric, and supplies. For me, an equally important part of any creative space is the library. Textbooks, magazines, and design journals are a treasure trove of information, and I can promise you this: you will never be so experienced that you never need a refresher on how to do something. Now, don’t get me wrong, the internet is a great place to learn a lot of things, but there’s something about having a book right in front of me that is much more appealing. I’m okay with being old fashioned in that way.

There’s no need for a big library, just a few basics. Then, you can branch out into the specialty subjects that interest you. For me, these are leather crafting and vintage fashion and design. But first, any good library needs the following three books: a sewing book, a patternmaking book, and a fabric book.

a new partnership with HUSQVARNA VIKING®

I’m a big believer in doing things the right way, with the right tools. Creating something with your own two hands is a thoughtful endeavor, one that requires patience and critical thinking skills and discipline. It also requires the best tools and machines to help you produce a quality product. My sewing journey has taken me many places, and there have been unexpected twists and turns along the way. But what’s always been there, sitting pretty in the sewing corner of my studio, are my machines. They are a big reason why my projects turn out as nicely as they do, and I know how lucky I am to have them.

Knowing firsthand what this brand is all about and how truly magnificent their products are makes this announcement even sweeter. Today, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have partnered with HUSQVARNA VIKING®, the best in the business. Throughout 2017, I’ll be working with and demonstrating several different models from their lineup of sewing and embroidery machines. I will not only be showing you the fantastic features on each machine, but I’ll be sewing my own projects on them too. I’m totally delighted about this collaboration, and I can’t wait to show you all the incredible things these sewing machines can do.

My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas one year when I was 12 or 13, and I used that machine for years, getting the basics down while developing my passion and enthusiasm for sewing and design. In college, our lab was equipped with HUSQVARNA VIKING® sewing machines, which wasn’t a brand I was familiar with or had ever used. It didn’t take long to see how truly wonderful these machines are and why my school had decided to outfit our lab with them. It was around the same time that, after about 10 years on my learner machine, I was ready to invest in my first sewing machine that could do all the things I needed it to do. I remember going to JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts (where many HUSQVARNA VIKING® dealers are located) with my mom one afternoon after tailoring class, knowing exactly what model I wanted, and walking out with my very first big purchase as a young adult, a shiny, new HUSQVARNA VIKING® INTERLUDE sewing machine. I will never forget the excitement I felt carrying that box to the car and carefully unpacking my new treasure when we got home. Oh, the things I could make now! I used that machine steadily for years, all through college and beyond, sewing everything you can imagine on it: cotton dresses, silk blouses, tailored jackets and coats, canvas bags, leather accessories, and sequin skirts, just to name a few. I asked a lot from that machine, and it never skipped a beat. It was a constant companion, a reliable tool, an essential part of the design process. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to win two more machines in separate design competitions, a DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25 and a TRIBUTE™ 140C, the 140th anniversary commemorative machine. I also have a HUSQVARNA VIKING® H|CLASS™ 200S overlock machine. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

Many thanks to the kind folks at HUSQVARNA VIKING®  for the opportunity to collaborate and show off these amazing machines. I’m so happy to be on your team! Now, let’s start sewing!

The DESIGNER JADE™ 35, the first machine I’ll be working with. Look how darling it is!

My H|CLASS™ 200S overlock machine and TRIBUTE™ 140C.

And the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25.

I can’t wait to show you all the projects I have planned for the year! In the meantime, have a look around the HUSQVARNA VIKING® website–I’m sure it won’t take long to find something you love!