Before & After, House / Sewing Studio, Storage & Organization

Sewing Corner: Storage & Decor Updates

Have you ever noticed that the best, most useful and lovable spaces in your homes are the ones that have evolved over time? I certainly feel that way.   While it’s gratifying to collect inspiration and then execute a vision in one quick, dramatic before-and-after, the magazine-ready results may need to be tweaked after months of living with them.

Such was the case with my sewing studio/office/dressing room.   With three crucial functions all occurring in this little 10′ x 12′ space, ever inch of the space needs to work as efficiently as possible.

After about 8 months of really working in my studio, I learned that some of my “great storage ideas” just didn’t work as efficiently as I needed them to.

Take, for example, my sewing corner.  Here’s how it looked when I first put the space together last January:


And now:

Gosh, I think it’s a 100% improvement from January.

It’s funny, because at the time I put my sewing studio together, I was pretty pleased with the space.  But now that I see the “before” and “after” photos side-by-side, I am a bit horrified at how I decorated / laid the space out in January.

First off, I had to change the setup of the sewing table.  Often when I’m cutting large swaths of fabric, I need to get around both sides of the table – so having it in the corner was not ideal.

Aesthetically speaking, I think the biggest (and maybe best) change is the removal of the custom cork board, which I replaced with my first gallery wall for photos of family and friends.   Let me tell you – when I first posted about gallery walls I thought they were easy to arrange.  Now I know differently – it’s hard to arrange the frames so that they look casual and random yet balanced and artistic 🙂

I used mostly frames that I already had.  The two wood-grain bits are pieces of cork that I wrapped in Joel Dewberry fabric.  The large one holds  photo strips of me and Ryan (because I didn’t have a frame for them) and the small one will let me stick fabric labels on it when I need to remember to order more.

Oh – Why did I remove the cork board?  Because I found that I just covered it with clutter.

Next change: My shelves are now a bit less cluttered, yet still totally functional.

Another big improvement from a sewing & storage process is the addition of the large frame that serves as the thread holder.

I had to make this framed thread holder because my vintage jars were a cute pain in the ass!   I often had to dump them out to get to the spool I needed.   Do this 5 times an hour and you’ll want to throw that jar out the window.  (If you rarely sew, it’s probably not annoying.)

I hung it in place where my fabric-backed whiteboard was – because the whiteboard didn’t come in handy all that often. I learned that whatever I figured out on the whiteboard had to be copied into my notebook so I could save it.   After doing that a few times, I stopped using the whiteboard and stuck with my notebooks.

The same goes for your scissors and bobbins, so I created this setup on the end of the shelf closest to where I sit when I sew:

Over time I noticed that these three items always ended up on the windowsill right by where I sat when sewing:  my favorite scissors, my pincushion, and my bobbins.  So I drove some nails into the edge of the shelf, added a little hook for my fave scissors, and kept the space above empty for my pincushion.  Voila, totally useful storage that’s within reach whenever I need it.

There’s still one more change I’d like to make:  Now that I have a beautiful vintage and wooden pieces in the space, I’d like to replace my white table with an old wooden one.  I think it would add just a bit more warmth to that corner, while providing a slightly larger work space.

For the mean time, though, I’m really happy with how my sewing corner has evolved – just like the other corners of the room, which I’ll share tomorrow.

I don’t care what anyone else says – I think “real life” decorating really is an evolutionary process.

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  • Reply Julia at 3:17 pm

    This is a mega-helpful real life post. I love it!

  • Reply Anonymous at 5:21 pm

    I agree!  Decorating is an evolution, at least in my opinion.  How do you know how you’ll use the same until you use it?  Great thoughts, Jane.

  • Reply Jenn at 5:22 pm

    Love, love love this real-life post …. and it’s so true. You really have to live with a set up and tweak it before it becomes truly functional. I bet you’ll even tweak some more down the road :).

  • Reply Crys Perkins Photography at 5:25 pm

    yay for me being a part of your favorite space 🙂  <3

  • Reply Karen at 5:37 pm

    Love the new arrangment.  It looks so much more streamlined and less cluttered.  The only thing that would bug me is sitting with my back to the room.  I’d have to move my chair to the other side.  LOL

  • Reply Kalanicut at 7:32 pm

    You’re totally right about everything Jane. 🙂 Thoughts you shared are so great and you did indeed improve something that was already great to even better and more functional. That is inspiring. I was just lying in bed last night, looking at my big workspace wall I created about 6 months ago thinking I should re-evaluate how that’s all working for me. And I wake up this morning and you are full of great inspiration. Thank you! I’m encouraged now to do something I wasn’t too excited about. You’ve given me so good ideas to deal with things that are bugging me.

  • Reply Ashley Daoust at 8:03 pm

    Looks awesome! I recently set up a freelance office / sewing room, and I’m still in the figuring-it-out stage. I think a big old table would be awesome in there!

  • Reply Jenn @ Peas & Crayons at 9:02 pm

    Its TOTALLY evolutionary! I try explaining this to paul and my in laws daily! you dont just want things to look as if they’ve been collected over time but actually to COLLECTTHINGSOVERTIMEDARNIT!!! plus it makes expensive investments more affordable that way and DIY stuff evolves as the space does! My entire house will be a slow but steady makeover thats for sure =)

  • Reply Jana Coffey at 11:35 pm

    Love your bobbin storage!  Totally efficient use of space and so easily accessed. I also understand the need to move around your desk when cutting fabric.  

    My sewing space is still a work in progress, too.  It probably will evolve all my sewing days. 😉

  • Reply Brydon Sarah at 9:59 am

    Ha! A cute pain in the ass. Definitely not worth it; glad you found better solutions (and the whole thing is pretty adorable, so there’s that).

  • Reply JoDi at 8:47 pm

    Loving the updates! Real life decorating is definitely evolutionary. You can just tell what’s going to work best in a space until you actually start using it! My favorite bloggers always show how they change things over time and admit when storage ideas turn to out just be a cute PITA!

    • Reply JoDi at 8:48 pm

      That should have said – “You just CAN’T tell what’s going to work best …”
      Need to proofread next time! 🙂

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 5:52 pm

      Yeah, I’ve definitely had some projects turn out to be a PITA in the past! Just becuase it’s clever doesn’t make it ideal 🙂


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  • Reply Maya at 8:52 am

    Hi, I’m a new sewing fanatic, and a, slowly evolving my sewing corner too. This article is SO useful, because it’s pretty, practical, and totally do-able. Thank you!

  • Reply sabrina at 1:36 am

    I’m curious as to what you used to make your thread storage board. Do you have a tute here someplace that I’m overlooking? Thank you. 🙂

    • Reply Jane at 10:46 am

      Hi Sabrina – I don’t think I ever shared that because I forgot to photograph the process 🙂 took a frame, cut a plywood board to fit inside it, then covered the board with fabric. Then I laid out my thread on it to get an idea of spacing and then I hammered really long nails into the board. The hammering of the nails was really rough, because the plywood was so hard. If you do it I suggest that you drill tiny pilot holes first. I hope this helps!!

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