My Sewing Room ~ Coming Clean

AFTER cleanup this is the north end of my sewing room .


Nothing motivates me to clean house like incoming guests.   The first time we were scheduled to host our new Bible study/fellowship gathering I did a good bit of tidying up,  but we had to cancel because I had bronchitis.     This week, it was our turn again.  Okay.  No problem.

And then….the ladies said, “Oh good!  We finally get to see your sewing room!”  Gulp…gulp.  I thought I might be experiencing my first panic attack.

Usually, when we have guests I just close the door to my lady cave.  Company respects a closed door.  But it seems that everyone who has ever stitched wants to see others’ sewing rooms.  I know I surely do.  And these ladies sew.

Now, Dear Readers, by inviting you in I am reaching up to another level of friendship with you.   A few, Judy Day,  Suzanne Sawko, Terri Click, Mildred Turner, Linda McGehee, Rheeta Booth and June Mellinger,  have seen my mess and still call me “friend.”    I hope you will be as understanding.

So here is/was my sewing room before my cleaning tornado.  Actually, I had already begun the cleaning process and took some small comfort in the old saying that things often get worse before they get better.  This was worst not worse.


North end before clean up. Actually it was even worse but I had already spent a day in there.

BEFORE clean up, north end.   Actually it was even worse but I had already spent a day in there.


Then there was the south end.


BEFORE south end

BEFORE clean up–south end   Things were piled up as I emptied boxes and moved things to clean behind it all,.


Now, after the big clean up,  you, too, can see my sewing room.  It’ not pristine but it’s as good as it’s going to get and I’m tired of all this sorting and organizing.  I need to sew.


The Dream Machine sits at the north end.

AFTER–The Dream Machine sits on its apron on a relatively tidy table at the north end.


Like The Dream,  each machine has an “apron.”  I find these very helpful and always bring one along when I take a class.  Of course, this one is overloaded, just like my sewing room.

The tote on the machine bed is a special order taken by Laurel, my 11 yo granddaughter, who has quite a successful little sewing business going.  She still has to stitch the name.  Her big push now is to earn money for summer theater camp.


south end sewing room

AFTER–sewing room south end.  My neatnik husband says he has never seen that cutting table.  Humph!  The poor man gets a nervous tick anytime he wanders in here.  No wonder he has never seen it.


At this end of the room sit my Brother Duetta (4500D) and Quattro (6000D). The cd player is there, along with a small tv which I only turn on the for news.  I find television too distracting when I am trying to sew.  Music works best for my sewing entertainment.


Brothers and a bookcase with my Liberty of London and stabilizers.

Brother Duetta (4500D), Brother Quattro (6000D)  and a bookcase with Liberty of London tana lawn, other fine fabrics and stabilizers


This photo was taken on a  rare occasion when neither machine was at work.  Behind those big Brothers is my serger and the ironing station.

I really love the extra large ironing board as well as my old timey football shaped  iron   and Elna press.  There is a Vin-Max puff iron clamped to the table.  This ironing hardware meets all my needs.


ironing station

ironing station


On one of the white storage units sits an old sewing machine cabinet drawer with my basic ironing sprays–starch, water, sizing, and lavender linen water. On the other a larger box holds two hams, a small sleeve board, iron cleaner, cotton scraps for cleaning, and fray block.  The big box by the window is filled with stabilizer.

In the center of the room is the basic sewing area with my old Pfaff 7570.



Pfaff corner


This is also the only other floor space in the room large enough for our elderly, 1o5 lb. German shepherd/great Pyrenees mix, Hannah, who often naps there.


our sweet old Hannah

our sweet old Hannah



The blue bin under the table is filled with ribbon.  The small antique trunk on the floor stores unfinished projects.  It’s waaaaaay too small for this purpose.

Notice the antique sewing table.  It is  36″ wide and has yard stick markings along the back edge.


Isn't that neat?

Isn’t that neat? This table was a birthday gift years ago from my husband.  I just love it.  And him.


Most of my fabric is wrapped onto comic book boards and shelved.  My handy, helpful husband installed window shades over each fabric bookshelf to protect my stash from Florida’s non-stop sunshine.


pull down window shade helps protect fabric from light

Pull down window shade helps protect fabric from fading.


Most of my sewing reference books are in the “library” next to The Dream Machine.  It’s not exactly like orderly libraries with the Dewey Decimal System, but I can lay my hands on any book I need.


sewing library

sewing library


The pile in the corner is an overfilled little trunk with to-do’s.  Working that stack down to nothing is on my bucket list along with running a marathon.   Neither list item is likely to happen any time soon. Or ever.

This is another picture of the library, taken at night, with my constant companion, Rastus in attendance on his rug.


faithful Rastus

faithful Rastus


By the window in an old seed package box are the patterns I expect to make up almost immediately (ha!ha!).  The others are organized in bins in the garage.  The Bernina 930 on the floor is hoping to be adopted into a new home.  Let me know if you are interested.

It’s been said that you should change your sewing machine needle after 8 hours of sewing.  Is there a similar dictate about cleaning sewing rooms?  The last time I did a major, long-overdue overhaul was when my wonderful sewing friend, Terri Click,  came to visit four years ago.

Wow!  That long ago!  Time flies when you’re having fun and clutter builds when I sew. Sew I’m going out on a limb to proclaim that sewing rooms should be cleaned every four years.  Now I’m in compliance.

FYI, I’m working on a post with some organizational and helpful sewing tips.   Funny, isn’t it, that I should be lecturing about this?  It reminds me of a video I once saw featuring a burgler telling the audience how not to be burgled.

Meanwhile, I would LOVE  to see your sewing room.  Will you please share pictures and tips for how it works (or doesn’t) for you? Don’t be shy.  I came clean.



21 responses to “My Sewing Room ~ Coming Clean

  1. A Malowany

    I loved this post. This made my mess look pretty good. I am also rehoming 2 sewing machines and cannot part with my original Necchi machine or my grandmother’s old treadle machine with table that I put my serger on to sew. I have only recently gotten into embroidery and find that the extension to my usual machine is cumbersome to have around. It is often in it’s “tote bag” standing upright under my sewing table. I also did a recent clean up and even washed the hardwood floor…. just incase it needed it. My sewing room is still too small for my liking as I still most often cut on our dining room table with a kittie cat looking on.
    Don’t you love it when you can close a door and be creative.

  2. Shirley Boyken

    What a delightful tour of your sewing room! (will send my pictures later) Cleaning/organizing my sewing room is my most distasteful job……but necessary (like you say) about every 4 years! That’s about often enough to be organized!! I find that it is actually distracting to accomplish much when my room is in turmoil, but it often has to be that way to let the creative juices flow! You’ve inspired me to get in my sewing room and hide out for the day!

  3. A, I’m glad to know you found some comfort in seeing that my mess was worse than your mess. I sometimes turn the tv on “Hoarders” to feel a little better about myself. It really is hard to part with old “friends” like your Necchi and my Bernina 930 but we have to work with the square footage we have available. Different areas of needlework have their own space requirements. When my stitching was primarily smocking and heirloom, space was not such an issue–lace, embroidery floss, lightweight fabrics, etc. But then quilting came along and my sewing room was ready to burst with alllll that fabric. Now with embroidery the equipment itself is pretty large and then you have all the thread, hoops, stabilizers, etc. Still, I am grateful that we have so many needlework options but space is always a concern. And yes, I “love it when you can close a door and be creative.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’d love it if you would send a picture of your sewing room.

  4. Shirley, I agree that cleaning/organizing the sewing room is a most distasteful job. But MY OH MY the joy of a tidy work space! I’m so happy to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So will you. Now that you are feeling so much better, you should be able to finish this up soon. You know I expect a picture.

  5. So this is where the magic happens! Amazing things come from that room!
    I haven’t been at this quite as long, but have a good start at accumulating a mess, which has pretty much taken over two bedrooms. It will soon be three years since my embroidery machine joined my old faithful Singer Slant-o-Matic, and about two years since my serger moved in – so I figure by your rule, I have at least a year to go before it’s time to clean. I’d rather sew! But am looking forward to your organizational tips.

  6. Oh, Nancy, you make me laugh! Have I enabled you to accumulate and spread out? Hmmmm….it seems you don’t need enabling! You go, Girl! Get more stuff and enjoy! Should I check back in a year to see if you have begun your four-year clean up?

  7. June Mellinger

    I have a wall hanging in my sewing Room that is filled with embroidered cards from a friend. The one that is front and center states “creative clutter is better than idle neatness!” So don’t worry about the gathering of your tools for success!
    I now have 2 places to gather my sewing creativity. The the first is in the house that we live in primarily and it is known as my sewing room. It has lots of memories in it but I am trying to to “clean it” in anticipation of moving in a year.
    Our new home has a sewing studio because I wanted to become more talented after I retire. Ha ha ! At any rate , the studio is a blank palette but there are already 3 sewing machines there, grrrrr! Many years ago I needed more space so I removed the easy chair…the chair has resurfaced in the studio and my dear husband has found it and is now back to sitting there while I sew. Interesting.

  8. Terry Collins

    I dare not post a picture of my sewing room or the Hoarders show will be knocking on my door! It looks like the aftermath of a tornado. My solution has been to switch rooms about every 4 years but there’s no point to that anymore. The other room is way too small now.
    I loved looking at your equipment. I have so many of the same things, including the Elna press, but my room is way smaller than yours. Next house, I need to be out of a bedroom and into a bigger space… A studio sounds wonderful.

  9. Janice, I loved seeing your sewing room! I feel like a closer friend now! 🙂 I’m still working on my sewing room. So thankful to finally *have* a room that I can call the sewing room, as most rooms have been filled with children. I currently haul any thing I need up to the front dining room, as the natural light is far better, and I find I get things done when being near the general activity in my home. I dream of someday having the sewing room set up with an elevated cutting/drafting/work table, and 5S applied all the way through it (5S is a Japanese method of organization that big business has implemented in recent years, Google 5s via Wikipedia). For now, I’m focused on the projects at hand, and don’t mind hauling my stuff to the location of the natural light.

  10. Loved seeing your room, before & after. My room is 10′ x 23′ and runs east to west, with a total of 4 long windows. I’m not into taking pictures of my mess. I’ll just say that I am to the point that I wish everyone would leave for a week or two and let me do what I need to do all over our house. In the past 2.5 yrs, my mother died, our older daughter (39) lost her job and moved back with us. My health has declined and in the midst of all this my sewing room has become the “just put it in there” space until it finds its permanent home. Our younger daughter has been here since early May and has helped clean out the 2 attics. But, you know how that is, it gets worse before it gets better. I am home alone today & using the maximum pain meds so that I can clean & do some tasks that no one else seems to see that need to be done. The good thing so far is that the items that had been saved for 30yrs for grandchildren (& there won’t be any) have all been sold at my niece’s garage sale to send 14 teens to Young Life camp this week. Thanks for the inspiration, Janice. I feel as if we should be real life friends since I have “known” you since early Martha Pullen days. Love the diversity of your sewing passions.

  11. June, your new sewing studio sounds fabulous. Cleaning, sorting and organizing the existing one will be a lot less fun than setting up a new one. You will love retirement and, with your energy level and creative mind, get so much more sewing done. A good easy chair would be a very nice element in a sewing room–lucky you! Oops–lucky husband! Thanks for the affirmation that “my creative clutter is better than idle neatness.”

  12. Terry, some time ago a very big name in the sewing world–Lezette or Connie Palmer or someone other prominent sewist–posted a picture of her “aftermath of a tornado” sewing room. I took great comfort in that photo thinking I’m in good company. So step up to the plate and post a few! I could use a little more reassurance!

    I love my equipment and feel so fortunate to have each and every bit of it. That Elna press takes up a lot of room, but I use it so often. I bet you do too. What other equipment do we both have?

    The past few years I’ve been on a reading binge of English historical fiction, most of which is purportedly true. Your practice of relocating your sewing room reminded me of an English royal practice approximately 14-1600’s. The “rushes” which covered the castle floors were changed fairly regularly, but still after a few months the castle was just deemed too dirty for royal occupation. So they packed up and moved on to another of their castles. So I have to ask, are you English?

  13. Connie, I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing my sewing space. I know just what you mean about feeling like a “closer friend” now. When you and others post pictures, I look to the background for a peek at your life as well as your projects. I am a very visual person, so it is helpful to put a face to a name and a person to a place. The first time you made a comment on this blog, you were pregnant with Ben. I LOVE seeing his picture as well as those of your other children.
    What good news that you have a dedicated sewing room now. With all the sewing you and your girls do, I’m sure it’s a hub of activity. I hope your dream sewing room becomes a reality soon. At this time, 5S doesn’t interest me at all. I’ve finished all the organizing I’m going to do for a very long time!

  14. Beckie, I’m so sorry for all of your challenges and tragedies these past few years. At this time of life, most of us want a “normal, ” calm,” “predictable” life and yours has been anything but that. I know that my sewing room has always been my peaceful haven, even when the room itself is in its most chaotic condition. I hope you can make a little work space there and get some sewing therapy. You must be very satisfied that the proceeds from your “hope chest” items have given a lot of hope and inspiration to those 14 teens at Young Life camp this week. And, Beckie, I don’t feel like we “should” be real life friends, I feel like we are.

  15. Thanks, Janice. I just wish I lived in your neighborhood or you in mine!

  16. My sewing room looks like the south end of yours. Have 6 sewing machine and a serger in there , plus a large cutting table and the clutter is starting to overwhelm me. I have refused to buy the storage pieces that would help organize everything because we hope to put the house up for sale in the near future and it would just be more stuff to move. But you can bet that with the next house-that’s one of my first purchases! Thanks for letting me peek into your room. Neat or messy, it is wonderful.

  17. Janine, with all those machines, you are a serious sewist! I would LOVE to see your sewing room. Overwhelmed is exactly how I felt with my mess. If you get those storage units now, by the time you move or put the house up for sale, they would be filled with stuff you will have to move anyway. This clean room is SUCH a relief. I hope you can declutter enough to get “underwhelmed” and back to sewing happily.

  18. A Malowany

    Janice, I would love to send a photo or two, but I couldn’t find an email address to send it to…. perhaps it is only my issue, but I did try to find one. If you let me know where to find it or what it is, I will send a photo or two shortly.

    Alias (Heidi)

  19. Janice, You are so sweet regarding my kids and reminding me of the first time I posted on your blog (being pregnant with Ben—where does the time go? He’s almost 4 and such a blast to be around!). You know I mentioned the 5s as a dream and/or tongue in cheek. There are good concepts there. I would bet you are already doing them to some degree. They are easy to remember, all starting with the letter “S”: “sort”, “straighten”, “shine”, “standardize”, and “sustain. One key idea is that the items you prioritize your work items and have them “out” where you can easily get to them (rather than everything in a drawer and the top of the work table completely empty, like we Americans tend to think, as in a “Martha Stewart” style. My husband repeats this to me now and then when I panic before company comes, thinking that I have to have everything at a right angle. 🙂

    My husband noted this 5S method to me a few years ago when my kids were all very young, and as most moms do, I struggled to keep the house in any sane manner. When I voiced this frustration, he told me that large companies spend lots of money hiring consultants for 5S methods to keep things at the industrial level organized and efficient.

    In the fast pace of raising kids, it does help to have an organization plan, even if it’s mostly an organized mind. 😉

    Yesterday, I enjoyed this little piece of encouragement within an article regarding teaching children to create a notebook of the things they have been learning, by Heidi St. John, from “The Paper Mache”, a publication of the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators:

    “Make a Mess! Messes are good when they’re signs of a creative, engaged child.”

    I think any creative needle artist/sewist can go with that…. 🙂

  20. What an amazing husband you have to make shades to protect your fabric. Genius! Marlene must see this. She leads a team of women to sew for cancer patients.

    Your mother has been a wonderful influence to you and me. In fact, as a child, my first sewing project was a teddy bear if you can believe that. Then in college, I was the Cinderella who sewed the girls banquet dresses for their dates while I stayed home that night. Even so, that was a memorable evening for me. The girls’ dates all together came to me, dressed in their tuxedos, waiting on their dates, to present me a bouquet of flowers thanking me for making their dates gowns for them. I was so touched and impressed, I kept those flowers a full week. Now I wished I’d taken a picture.

    I would love to get back into sewing although not as serious as you are. For you, it’s a business, for me, it would just be a hobby.

    What non-seamstress people don’t understand is that when sewing, your focus is so much into “the zone” that you don’t even see the mess like an outsider does. And even when you’re not yet focused, regardless of how messy it may seem, it remains your comfort zone. Just hang that crosstitched or embroidered sign above your door to read “Genius At Work” and never worry about hiding behind a closed door.

    Seamstresses rock because you, Janice, and so many others keep our fashionable world colorfully beautiful!!! Thank you!

  21. Brenda, he is amazing–the most wonderful husband, father and grandfather any man could ever be. He is so supportive! It sounds like you are ready to get back into active sewing. Being the kind, giving, stitching Cinderella in college gave you a lot of experience and appreciation. Thanks for understanding about “sewists” being “in the zone” when we create, and thanks for your words of encouragement. Now go sew, Brenda! Thanks for your sweet comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.