28 August 2013

Sewing room inspiration

When I first started sewing we lived in a very small cottage. We had a kitchen, bathroom, lounge room, two bedrooms and long, narrow enclosed sleep-out. The lack of dining room was annoying and the sleep-out wasn’t user friendly. It was boiling hot in summer as the afternoon sun sat on the windows for hours, and cold in winter because the sun was behind the neighbour’s house. Eventually we rigged up some temporary blinds made from shade-cloth. They rolled down in summer and rolled away under the eaves in winter. We started using the space as a lounge room, which gave us the lounge room as a dining room. When I started sewing I took the far end of the room and set up my little ‘nook’.

Although this house is bigger, we now have a teenager and my sewing has grown at an even faster rate than she has. I currently have most of the third bedroom, which is open to the lounge and is supposed to be a cosy sitting room, come guest room, come sometimes study, come sewing room. The reality is that a 3m x 3m room simply won’t function in three or four different ways, at least not with stock standard furnishings.

I’ve been looking at space saving options – Murphy beds, roll away desks, and the like. Most of them are extremely expensive and still a lot bigger than our room will handle. I love looking at websites that proclaim “for small areas” and then show you rooms with a double bed and two metres of clearance around all four sides. Wouldn’t that be nice, if that were my ‘small’ space?

We’ve recently added a verandah to the front of our house. The plan (currently waiting on a job and a pay packet) is to put a new double glass door from the lounge room onto the deck. The current front door opens into a small entrance foyer. We’ve used this area as a library for a while and the plan was to remove the current door and shelve the entire space. There is a large (double-door) opening into the lounge room on one side, which we could partially close up when it’s no longer the main entrance, and an external window on the opposite wall.

The space looks a little like:

Yesterday I looked again at the space. It is almost exactly half the size of the spare bedroom. It measures 3.40m long by 1.40m wide (the bedroom is just under 3m wide). My sewing space needs three things – of which I currently have one. It needs a large cutting and layout bench at kitchen cabinet height, a working bench that will take three machine (yes, I’m greedy, I regularly use an overlocker, embroidery machine and sewing machine), and lots of storage.

And I actually think that with a bit of planning and custom building, I can get all three elements into the front entrance.

Here’s the plan:

At one end build in a cutting bench, the full width of the room (1.4m) by the depth of the wall on the lounge room side (0.8m). This is about 0.95m high.

Build a ‘U’ shaped bench at 0.73m high that runs under the cutting bench, along the outside wall and along the wall at the other end. This bench is 0.50m deep. This bench will hold sewing machines and provide general working areas. Under the cutting bench it will provide storage space for rulers and mats and the like. Originally I thought to keep it as 0.50m deep under the cutting bench, but now I’m thinking the full 0.80m will work fine for those sorts of tools.

Under the bench, there will be a shelf all the way around, about 10cm deep. Again this will provide storage for things such as scissors, unpickers, spare needles, and all those things you need when you’re actually sewing. At the end opposite the cutting bench it would hold all the tools for the stuff I do that’s not sewing – beading and jewellery making, paper craft and so forth. Ideally, this would be drawers all the way along, but I think a shelf with suitably labelled storage baskets will work just fine.

Above the working bench and the cutting bench would be various depth and height shelves to fit the space. Under the benches I’ve planned some shelves under the cutting bench, towards the back where I won’t kick it with my feet; possibly in the corners of the working bench; and a narrow ledge to pick up sewing machine feet for cleaning the floor and so forth.

I’ve drawn up some plans and I had a play with a room-drawing program last night. It will be a small space – not a lot of empty floor space. But, if I spend some time now planning what sort of storage I will need – do I need lots of wide shelves, will narrow shelves actually be better, what about baskets etc – I think it will be a lot more efficient than the entire room I have at the moment.

The only thing I’ll really lose is wall space for designing and hanging things. I am thinking that perhaps a framed board that can sit in front of a set of shelves and lifted out of the way as need be might work for designing.

I am very excited by the possibilities and the thought of having my own space that I don’t have to share with anyone. And ending the endless arguments and discussions about my taking over the entire house.

I’ve been playing in RoomSketcher (http://www.roomsketcher.com/). I like it. It’s easy to use, it’s flexible, it gives you a good idea of what a room might look like. You can only design in 2D in the free version; this makes actually filling a room with stuff (boxes, books, knick-knacks) a little tricky. In the paid version you can use 3D, which I imagine is a lot easier. There’s a limited amount of furniture (no sewing machines), but all the furniture can be customised – changing the dimensions and where in space it sits. To indicate my bench with the under shelf, I’ve ‘stacked’ two tables on top of each other. One is 630mm high, the other is 730mm. Although you can’t design in 3D in the freebie version, you can view your room in “Home 360”, which will give you a 3D fly around.

Here are a bunch of screen shots of my design. As I said, RoomSketcher has limited furniture. I would not be using a dark heavy wood for the shelving. I'm thinking white melamine for easy cleaning and to keep it light. And there's no 'sewing machine' on the list either. I've substituted speaker boxes, which look nothing like a sewing machine but do take up a space.

Standing in the entrance to the lounge room, looking left

Standing in the entrance to the lounge room, looking straight ahead

Standing in the entrance to the lounge room, looking right

Take from the left-hand end of the space (the blue is the lounge room)

Take from the right-hand end of the space (the blue is the lounge room)

Taken from the window, looking right

Taken from the window, looking straight ahead (into the lounge room)

Taken from the window, looking left


mazaquilt said...

It is amazing how little space you do really need. The space just needs to be well thought out and well used. The program you are using certainly allows all the thinking be to done before you actually do it. excellent idea and planning.
Marilyn [QDU}

Helen from Hobart said...

I think ruler storage under the bench might be problematic - esp with the 24" one. Could you hang them on the end of the shelf unit ?

Also plastic drawers under the bench to hold little loose items like scissors... will save scrabbling around on the floor and banging your head (Don't ask me how I know)

Don't forget holes in bench for machine foot leads, and double power points every where.

Ironing space ?

Fantastic ideas and I love the software - clunky but it works.

SueBK said...

My rulers currently hang, which I love. I am thinking that possibly hooks on the front, to the side, of the cutting bench might work.
The plan is for the under-bench shelf be fully 'basketed'. I'm currently making lists, measuring containers, and marking up a plan with what sort of stuff goes where. For example, my Horn cabinet is slowly but surely falling apart. I'm going to take the lift out 'stuff tray' from the cabinet and just slide it in under the sewing machine.
Also going to reuse the lift mechanism to drop the machine out of the way when not in use; with a 'drop in' board to fill the hole.
I'm still thinking about ironing. I have a small countertop board and I think I'll keep that. Maybe create a couple of slides under the bench to store it out of the way.
Power is my biggest issue. The 'room' is actually a reclaimed porch. The double door alcove to the lounge room used to be the front door to the house. There is no power directly available in the space. The flip side of that means that I get to plan exactly where points would be useful. I also plan on under-cabinet strip lighting, the whole way around the room. As I get older I realise you can never have too much light on a work area, particularly at night.