How messy is your sewing space?

This week’s Friday theme on the Me-Made-May Flickr group was ‘Your Sewing/Knitting/Creating’ Space.

So I got my boyfriend to take some quick photos of me in our spare room, which doubles up as my sewing area (as well as a bike storage shed/workshop).


And readers, I’m ashamed. Ashamed at the state of my sewing space.

Okay so this was before work, so I didn’t have time to tidy up.  But I can’t even pretend this is an exceptional circumstance – no, it pretty much always looks like this.

Here’s a breakdown.

sewing space

Those scrumpled up pieces of tissue paper in front of my sewing machine? They’re vintage pattern pieces for the next project I’m working on. I hurriedly shoved them there while attempting to clear up a bit the other night.

What you can’t really see is that I always sew on a desk covered with random pattern pieces, fabric scraps, used sewing needles, spools of thread, old cups of tea, and various other detritus.

The two worst bits are:

  • The amazingly shoddy, £15 ironing board I bought from the discount store. The legs wobble, it has a hole burnt in the cover, it leaves marks on anything you try and iron, and it gives you static shocks to boot.
  • The shelf of fabric on top which is where I crumple in all the pieces I can’t fit in my clear plastic boxes. (The boxes themselves are from IKEA and are great, and my boyfriend put up all these shelves for me when we moved in which has made life a lot easier.)

I see these gorgeous craft spaces on blogs, with neat rows of ribbons on reels, and fabric all stacked in colour-coded squares. Am I the only one with a less-than-beautiful sewing area? Is it even possible to sew without trailing thread throughout the house and creating an almighty mess?

p.s. I made this dress last year but have never worn it, I just didn’t like it when finished. It’s based on the Burdastyle kimono jersey t-shirt pattern I always use. Me-made-May seemed like the perfect opportunity to try and give it some love.


41 thoughts on “How messy is your sewing space?

  1. Hazel Daniel June 26, 2013 / 9:47 PM

    My sewing room is really my bedroom. Im lucky to have a cupboard i can keep a big box of fabric and other sewing things away from view. Yet when im working on a project (I make costumes for fun and conventions) its just a PIGSTY. As I type i have fabric offcuts on the floor, my kimono top sprawled over it, my mannequin and mirror are out of their places, pattern pieces, ribbon, tape measure, pins,instructions….dont get me started on the debris on my bed.

    Yet when im not sewing its perfectly clean!

  2. Alice May 18, 2013 / 8:36 AM

    My sewing space is really the dining room, which is only used as a dining room at Xmas. Recently I noticed that, every time I went to sew anything, I had a feeling of stress beforehand and during. I realised it was the mess that was surrounding the sewing machine, so that in order to sew just one seam, I had to bulldoze stuff out of the way and, even then, as the fabric moved along it was knocking stuff over, dragging things along with it. I have, since tidying up, realised that I can cope with almost any amount of clutter in my sewing space, as long as the area around the machine is clear. What a difference it makes!

    I am so happy to see your messy place! Too tidy makes me suspicious:) or maybe that should be envious! I am a bit envious that you have a proper, dedicated space, though. 🙂

    • yesilikethat May 22, 2013 / 11:04 AM

      I know, I’m so lucky to have this room to use! Good tip about space around the machine. It does stress me out when there’s stuff all around, but somehow it seems to build up without me noticing!

  3. emily May 13, 2013 / 8:07 PM

    I finally fought through about a year’s worth of clutter that was building up on the desk in my making corner but there’s still a small(ish) pile of stuff that gets moved onto the table when I need the desk, moved onto the floor when I need the table, then moved back onto the desk when the project is finished. Rinse and repeat…

  4. Taracat May 13, 2013 / 6:36 PM

    Great dress. Your sewing space looks okay to me. Mine looks similar but is crammed into a corner of our kitchen. Oh, and there are boxes of fabric under not only our bed but my daughters as well, and on top of all the wardrobes. And every carpet in the house has those random threads all over too. So like I said, not too bad at all 😉

  5. gingermakes May 12, 2013 / 7:17 PM

    Hahahaha! This scene looks all too familiar, although I don’t have shelves, so I have lots of stuff piled up on my “cutting table” (two card tables shoved together, taking up all the space in the room). I’m just not a very organized person. 😦 I love the dress, though– are you liking it more?

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:06 AM

      I love it now! I’m so glad I got it out and gave it another chance. It’s like a whole new dress for free!

  6. Scruffybadger May 12, 2013 / 6:52 AM

    Brilliant !! Love seeing your confessional creative space. Your dress looks awesome by the way. There must be all sorts of different types of sewer who sew in different degrees of chaos. I’m schizo, swinging from chaotic messy frenzy to clean and tidy ( nearly) everything in its place. The latter is usually a state to be found after completing a few rounds of non stop making…..

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:06 AM

      I know how you feel, I swing between getting everything super-organised, and then the gradual descent into chaos and disorder…until the next big tidy-up!

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:05 AM

      Thanks Hannah, sounds like a great idea! I’ll have a look 🙂

  7. grtescp May 11, 2013 / 6:05 PM

    very jealous that you have a sewing space, I use half the dining table, the other half is my work from home desk, so I have to remain fairly tidy, and keep squeezing all my supplies and planned projects in the bottom half a cupboard where my printer, scanner, etc also live! A serious lack of space does wonders to keep you tidy 🙂

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:05 AM

      I know, I am so super lucky to have this now. It’s amazing to be able to keep projects out rather than tidying away at the end of every session.

  8. JacqC May 10, 2013 / 9:42 PM

    My space only looks tidy between projects – whilst I’m busy it’s a mess (mostly because I keep having ideas and suffer from chronic Startitis so am incapable of working on one thing at a time). I just blitz it when it gets too bad to be able to function! 🙂

  9. Jocelyn Bryant May 10, 2013 / 8:12 PM

    I am trying to finish a dress so that the spare room/my sewing room can be used as a bedroom for the half-term visit of a grand-daughter.

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:04 AM

      Oh man Claire. That is intense.

  10. Liz May 10, 2013 / 6:47 PM

    You probably won’t be surprised but mine is at least as messy as that…..and there are reels of thread and sewing machine bobbins everywhere as boris has decided they’re his new favourite toy…..think he’s laying traps for us by winding thread round chair legs etc. he steals them out of my sewing box…….I should really just close it!

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:04 AM

      That’s cute! You should buy him some decoy ones (or might that just encourage him??)

  11. Helen May 10, 2013 / 6:47 PM

    I have a cupboard, which is the only cupboard in the flat, and on top of our wardrobe as my storage. And our very small dining table at which to sew. But I suspect that if I had a dedicated space, it would look like yours. I am not a tidy creature, and the only reason my projects and machine even go back in the cupboard overnight is because I have a very curious toddler! Don’t be ashamed! It’s your space and you should be able to do what you want with it!

  12. Ruth May 10, 2013 / 6:32 PM

    My sewing space gets rather like that towards the end of each project but I do a big tidy at the end of each garment so it never gets way out of control. I think your space is OK except for the table. I can’t sew if the table is too crowded because I can’t manipulate the fabric well enough. Aside from that, I guess everybody’s space looks like yours, at least periodically. I can’t be bothered pimping my sewing space because when I’m in it I have my head down looking at what I am making. I am not gazing at the decor!

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:03 AM

      That’s a good idea about doing a tidy-up at the end of each garment, otherwise things tend to pile up. It is much easier to sew when the table is clear, but I just don’t know where to put all the other stuff. The problem is that I end up knocking things on the floor and then have to waste half an hour looking for my invisible zipper foot or whatever..

  13. Donna May 10, 2013 / 5:22 PM

    I love the organizational breakdown 🙂

  14. flossiejamieson May 10, 2013 / 4:02 PM

    I share your shame! And I am in desperate need of shelving – I need it more than my husband needs shelves in his (designed and decorated by me) victorian gentleman’s style study, which I was supposed to buy him for his birthday last year. But my sewing/crafting space is also my writing desk, located at the far end of the living room and has children’s toys stacked underneath it, and has now been enclosed by a long metal child-proof fencing system now that the baby has started crawling. So I feel I am justified!

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:02 AM

      Hope you get your shelves sorted! Your husband’s study sounds amazing, I think some shelves are a fair return for all your design and decorating work 🙂

  15. Katy May 10, 2013 / 2:41 PM

    I only have an old table in the spare room which is in no way big enough for everything I’m accumulating. So it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one that makes a huge mess. The lack of space means that I take over the whole flat – it’s not just the ‘sewing room’, unfortunately the whole flat is a mess of patterns, fabrics and pins (everywhere!). I try to tidy up after I’ve finished something but within a day or two it’s back to being a mess. Hopefully one day I’ll have a dedicated room!

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:02 AM

      My house is also covered in stray bits of thread and pins. When we moved to London we lived in one bedroom in someone else’s house, sewing there was interesting to say the least…

  16. Susanne May 10, 2013 / 2:34 PM

    That’s what mine is going to look like when my fabric stash grows! So far the fabric and yarn are mostly contained in the random extra closet in my apartment’s living room (OK, and some under the bed too), but it’s getting pretty full. And yes, thread everywhere, bits of pattern tissue appearing in weird places, and half-finished projects lying around the whole room.

  17. ParisGrrl May 10, 2013 / 2:21 PM

    You can see your floor. That makes you a step up on me lol. I’d rather have a creative space that looks used because it is, than something that always looks like its about to audition for Martha Stewart. Upgrade whatever isn’t working for you, and enjoy your space!

  18. Joelle May 10, 2013 / 1:51 PM

    Hah! I totally laughed at loud at your description of your sewing space because I can totally relate. I sew in a corner of our basement that isn’t visible from the stairs for this exact reason. Whenever I go up to the dining room or kitchen to cut out pieces, he reminds me that I have a large table just for that purpose, and if I’d clean it off, I’d be able to use it.
    As for the super organized pictures of sewing spaces? I decided mine would only ever look that nice if I never used it.

  19. Kathryn May 10, 2013 / 1:26 PM

    I know I left a message on your Flickr but thought I’d say it again here – I love how honest you’ve been about your sewing space, I too wonder about all the super tidy, lovely sewing spaces I see photos of. Are other people really that more organised and tidy than me? Am I really abnormally messy? I love all the shelves you’ve got and it must be great having a ‘sewing room’!

  20. Kerry May 10, 2013 / 1:25 PM

    Lovely dress! I’ve recently had a clear up of my space but can’t get too messy as I don’t have a dedicated room for it. During the clear up I found a pattern for a coat that I had completely forgotten I was ever going to make. Maybe next Winter.

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2013 / 11:01 AM

      That is definitely the best thing about clearing up. You find all this stuff you thought was lost!

  21. SewLittleTime May 10, 2013 / 1:04 PM

    i think the dress is really cute! my sewing space is the dining room table plus a plastic project box for when i clear it all off so we can eat. so it never gets messy but it’s not really a space!

  22. Tamsinwp May 10, 2013 / 1:04 PM

    I thought I hadn’t seen that dress before – it’s fab, I love it! Very striking!

  23. Vicki Kate May 10, 2013 / 12:50 PM

    Mine is a mess too. Bits of thread and fabric all over the floor is the least of it! I need to sort the patterns that are also resident on the floor before they get wrecked!

  24. sweary sewer May 10, 2013 / 12:31 PM

    you are not alone. my space is a pigging mess and every floorspace in my house has random threads on it, no matter how often i hoover. :/

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