There’s a new sewing room setup in town, my stitching friends! After years of talk (no, really — check out this sewing table buying guide. I’ve been dreaming about this for a loooong time), I finally made over my sewing room. It’s optimized with chic new IKEA furniture (there’s a new IKEA in my town, so how could I resist?), and the result is an airy and highly functional sewing space that practically begs me for quality time.
Following is a video tour of my new sewing room setup (about 17 fast-paced minutes), and the what and why of this makeover. I have a feeling that, like me, you’re probably obsessed with your sewing studio and daydream about your ideal setup. Here’s my winning layout!
Heads up, sewing friends. This post contains Amazon affiliate links chosen for you! If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your “sew”pport!
Why Do a Sewing Room Makeover?
There were three main reasons why I hankered for a new sewing room setup.
I wasn’t happy with the lack of lighting for my sewing table. When I sat at at my sewing machine, my body blocked light from the overhead fixture. I used one floor lamp to illuminate both my sewing machine and serger.
I like a ton of light when I’m sewing; the brighter, the better. With the old setup, there were too many shadows.
RELATED: Bright Ideas: Lighting for Sewing Rooms
With my old sewing room organization, I kept most of my notions sorted in plastic bins and boxes in my closet. I stacked the bins, which saved space. But, it was a pain to unstack and restack when my tools were in use.
Frequently I’d leave bins on my floor instead of putting them away. When I was in the middle of a project, I’d be surrounded by all my notions in their respective bins.
3.) Non-Sewing Work Space
This is the biggest reason for my sewing room upgrade. I didn’t have a tabletop for non-sewing sewing activities — pinning, tracing, cutting, note taking, easing, etc. — all the sewing stuff that doesn’t involve a sewing machine. Things were a little too cozy on my old table, so I worked a lot on the floor and computer desk that’s also in my sewing studio.
I don’t have to convince you guys that working on the floor isn’t ideal, and working at the computer desk meant I had to move everything off it when I was finished with a sewing sesh so my husband and I actually could compute at the desk. Moving stuff around all the time is a bummer.
My New Sewing Room Setup
Let’s talk a stroll around my sewing room, shall we? Please, you enter first. 😋
I’ve used behind-door storage for my ironing board for years. It’s a good use of space, and I love keeping as much as possible off the floor. I keep my iron in another spot; I’ll get to that in a second.
A large mirror has been in every sewing room in our three different houses (it’s featured early in the vid). Despite not being a full-length mirror, it does the job if I step back. I like not having to leave my sewing room (in most cases) to get a full-length perspective.
1.) (Similar) mDesign Metal Over The Door Ironing Board Holder with Large Storage Basket – Holds Iron, Board, Spray Bottles, Starch, Fabric Refresher Iron for Laundry Rooms – White – Features a basket to corral pressing tools.
I am one lucky duck to have a closet (mostly) to myself for my sewing stufflings. In the old sewing room setup, all my notions and whatnot lived in the closet. Things in this space are quite different now. My ironing tools — press cloth, ham, seam roll, hem guide, etc. — moved in, and they live in a plastic box next to my iron, which I store vertically, per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
My stash also lives in my closet, along with tracing paper and my camera and camera accessories. Before this reorg, there was little breathing room in this closet. It looks full now, but it was positively crammed to the gills before.
I purged a lot of sewing and craft books from this skinny bookcase. Now all my sewing mags sit on one shelf, and my books fit without any volumes being stuffed in any available slit of open space. I swear my sewing media let out a sigh of relief after the purge!
This bookcase was in my husband’s dorm room (#oldschool), and it’s had different spots in our homes over the years. It’s not in great shape, and I hoped to get a new skinny bookcase at IKEA, but when I was honest with myself about it, this old shelf unit worked fine. It’s a little beat up, but it still holds stuff. I always could paint the chipped up spots (but I probably won’t because I have a life to live).
1.) (Similar) AmazonBasics 4-Shelf Shelving Unit – Chrome – Industrial chic.
2.) (Similar) South Shore Narrow 5-Shelf Storage Bookcase, Pure White – Hard-working basic.
3.) (Similar) Sterilite 70 Quart/66 Liter Ultra Latch Box, Clear with a White Lid and Black Latches, 4-Pack – Most of my life is in Sterilite bins.
OK, this is where the big changes start! I wanted my sewing machine and serger on one table, and I wanted a separate workspace for non-sewing sewing stuff (pinning, tracing, etc.)
This double-wide table from IKEA fit the bill. I was concerned it wouldn’t be sturdy enough for two powerful machines; it’s not a particularly expensive piece of furniture (just under $70), which often indicates low quality (especially in the world of IKEA). But with the fifth leg in the middle, it’s been great. I’ve yet to feel like it’s going to shake apart. And if shaking became an issue, Husband said he’d reinforce the unit. (Oh yes, my scrap basket now lives on the floor between my two machines.)
There’s a designated task lamp for each machine. Before I had a single lamp whose aim changed depending on where I was working. I love my new lamps because you can turn the LED diodes and bend the lamp neck. In short, I can get the light in the perfect place for whatever I’m working on, no matter the time of day.
And as long as we’re talking about the occupants of my sewing table, I have to mention my plant. It may sound corny, but I also like having a plant in my sewing room. It makes the space feel more homey and alive, and I feel like I’m taking proper advantage of my window.
1.) IKEA Linnmon (tabletop) and Adils (legs) double table – Great value.
2.) IKEA Harte work lamp – Bend it to your will.
3.) Pink Nerve Plant – Fittonia – Terrarium/Fairy Garden/House Plant – 2.5″ Pot – This plant is cat safe!
4.) (Similar) Bloomingville Scalloped Round Ceramic Flower Pot, Sky Blue – Amazon has tons of cute pots for plants.
Desk and Ruler Shelf
Let’s talk about this new work space! This desk is mission control. I can spread out on it. If pattern pieces aren’t too large, I can cut fabric on it. The drawers store all the notions and whatnot that used to live in my closet. Now they’re all nicely separated and I can see most everything I’ve got in one go.
Probably the coolest thing about this desk is its glass top. I give all credit to my husband for this idea; it’s a stroke of genius. I use the glass top as a tracing light box. I put my compact floodlight under the desk and shine it up and viola! Tracing never has been easier.
I’m also deeply into this picture ledge, which I use for ruler and pin cushion storage. I love not have to get up from my desk to grab a ruler. It’s the little things, guys.
1.) IKEA Alex desk cabinets – My desk is two of these cabinets plus a glass tabletop.
2.) IKEA Glasholm glass tabletop – Doubles as a lightbox for tracing! (This tabletop is no longer available, but you might want to check out glass-desk options in this post about sewing tables.)
3.) Milwaukee M12 12-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Compact Flood Light – Stellar job site light. (Would be a great present for a DIYer/home improvement person in your life.)
4.) IKEA Mosslanda picture ledge – A great spot for small things.
Here’s a little vid of my glass-top desk in action:
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The dress form used to be over by the mirror. Now she lives in her own little corner by the thread rack, tucked out of the way. In her former location, she was just out there, vaguely blocking a full view of the mirror.
1.) (Similar) Dritz Sew You Dress Form, Small – Well-reviewed on Amazon.
2.) (Similar) US Art Supply Premium Beechwood 120-Spool Sewing and Embroidery Thread Rack – Having all my thread in one place makes me happy.
My Ultimate Sewing Room Setup
So I got some new furniture and moved stuff around. Big picture, what does this REALLY mean for my sewing practice and workflow?
I mentioned what I liked about individual sewing room elements. When these elements come together, I have a U-shaped sewing studio! I can flow from my desk to my sewing machines to a pressing station (when my ironing board is set up) in a lovely circle. I didn’t have this before, and I struggled with where to unfold my ironing board. No more! This new sewing room setup also lets the middle of the room breath as a big, yummy, open rectangle.
When I walk past my sewing room now, it’s almost irresistible. The new furniture and layout remind me of how lucky I am to have this big room (mostly) to myself for my craft.
What Could Be Better About My Sewing Room Organization
Serger Instructions Basket
The wire basket that holds my serger books used to live next to the serger on wall hooks. I could sit in front of my serger, reach down, and grab them (and I did that a lot!).
Since my serger spot changed, I haven’t found a great place to put my serger books so they’re within reach. I hung my basket on the 3M hooks where I used to have my little tin pails. The books are within reach, but it feels like a weird spot. Suggestions? I’d like something off the floor.
Dreamy mood and inspo boards are such a thing; they’re totally going to be a cliche of the 2010s (is there a nickname yet for this decade? The clock is ticking…).
ANYWAY. There’s a small amount of useful/functional stuff on my bulletin boards (e.g., my crotch curve, inseam pocket pattern piece), and then it’s mostly layers and layers of objects that make me smile — pics, art from my boys, comic strips, etc. Maybe I could set up my boards with inspiration based on the projects in my queue? What would you do? TBH, I don’t look at my boards and get filled with anxiety.
You might have noticed I don’t have a chair for my desk. I’ve been using the chair in front of my sewing machine (because my buns only can be in one place). Perhaps I should find another caned chair for my desk. (I have a thing for caned chairs.) Anyway, I could improve efficiency by having a designated desk chair.
You and I both know it would take practically zero time to resolve these minor issues. But will I? Stay tuned! 😉
Over to you, my darling sewing dears: What’s your ideal sewing room setup? If you could make over your sewing room, what would you do? What furniture and storage would you add or upgrade? How can I make my space even better? I’d love to hear your suggestions! Fire away.
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post (which also features a rad video): Lucent Visor: The Urban Bonnet.
Your new space is awesome! It is bright and functional, and I love how you worked with what you had in addition to adding new things to improve your setup. Props to your hub for that brilliant glass-top idea! I would never have thought to make a table that could double as a tracing light box, but am thoroughly jealous that you have such a thing. =)
Honestly, I don’t even know what I would do if I could start a sewing room from scratch! O_o My dad built us a dining table and chairs so we have a traditional “dining room” setup that I have essentially commandeered for sewing. Since that’s what we have (and we aren’t ever getting rid of it, because how could we?!?) I am determined to make my sewing fit into the space rather than the other way around. One thing is certain: I am going to invest in wall storage for that room!! We have 10′ ceilings and not a lot of built-in storage (old house problems…) so going vertical is my best bet; I already have a metal wall-hanging system that will (eventually!) hold most of my tools, and up next are cube shelves for in-progress and “on-deck” projects. I’m also re-working my fabric storage so that our guest bedroom looks like an actual bedroom rather than a staging area for my inevitable “Hoarders” audition tape! 😉 It’s such a big undertaking but as I’m sure you know, it is worth it!
Hi, Abbey! Thanks for reading!
I think you’re on the right track for vertical storage. I’m jealous of your high ceilings! Depending on your budget and style, you could come up with some faux built-ins that work hard for you. You know, Helen from Helen’s Closet works in her dining room; she doesn’t have a designated sewing space. She might have some organization insight on her blog (or maybe on her sewing podcast, Love to Sew).
Having my tools and notions at hand has been a game-changer for me. It sounds kinda weird, but having a dedicated drawer for all my interfacing has lessens my anxiety! I HATED sifting through my box of interfacing… now it’s all in one convenient spot and I don’t worry about re-buying what I already have.
Yeah, I purged a bunch of fabric when I was sorting out my closet. It is worth it! Good luck!
Ping me on your blog or Instagram when you share progress! I love creeping on sewing spaces.
Erin-love seeing your new sewing room. Glad to see your enjoying your home.
HI, RHONDA! So good to hear from you!!!! We love this house so much! We just finished a major backyard renovation – you should stop by and check it out! Blood, sweat, and tears, I tell ya!
Thanks for reading. 😀
Hi Erin–great use of space and aesthetically pleasing! I redid my creative cave a couple of years ago, and wow, it does make a huge difference in creative output! Congrats and enjoy. Love the blog and vlog!!
Thanks, Nancie! A creative space has such a huge impact on your mood and productivity. I’ve come a long way since I started sewing in the dark and depressing unfinished part of my basement!
Erin, this is inspiring. I have a mess of a sewing space which is very discouraging. This space looks so efficient and well thought out! Your light box is genius. If I get my space straightened out, I will give all the credit to you and your husband. I would like a bigger cutting space. I am really too old to be scooting all over the floor on my knees!
Hi, Becky! Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you found it helpful. Tag me on IG or however you like to chat when you makeover your space! I want to spy on it! 👀 P.S. Having a proper cutting setup is EVERYTHING! I suggest working on that first. Even some 4 x 8 foot pieces of plywood on a dining room table are massively functional. #saveyourback #saveyourknees
Bravo Erin for tackling and completing the re-imagining of your maker space. After my children left home, one bedroom became my creative/sewing dream room and I love it. I don’t use an ironing board (unless I’m pressing large pieces). Instead I have a long, deep-ish shelf that is padded on one end for pressing and a rotary cutter board at the other for cutting smaller pieces. I still use my dining room table for occasionally pattern cutting. I whip across the floor on my wheeled office chair from cutting surface to sewing machine to iron. Great fun. Under the shelf are drawer units and large totes for fabrics, notions, etc. That’s how I manage my sewing world. Could you hang a basket or other container on the serger end of your desk to hold your serger instructions? Not sure of the composition of the desk but two creative minds like yours and your husband’s could find a way to secure it.
Hi, Shelley! Thanks for reading! Sounds like you have a sweet setup. I’m intrigued by your hard-working pressing/cutting shelf. Very cool.
I think I’ll need to hang a basket or something from the serger end of my table, as you suggested. The hooks that were holding my basket recently peeled off the wall, taking the paint with them. 😲 Right down to the drywall. Ugh.
Love your creative space and you haven’t spent a fortune. I don’t know what space you have under your sewing table but perhaps you could attach a sliding basket under the table to the right of your serger and that may be a good home for the server books
Ooooh, I LOVE this idea, Bev! Thanks for sharing and for reading!