Monday, October 21, 2013

Creative Spaces: Welcome to my Creative Space!

Welcome to the first installment of the Creative Spaces Link-up series! You can find the rest of the series here.

I've avoided posting much about my sewing and crafting space because... well, there just hasn't been much to post about! Our home's third bedroom houses our computer, a bookcase, and my sewing and crafting supplies. After 3 1/2 years, it's still in desperate need of a new coat of paint (Note to self: Always, alwaysALWAYS paint before moving in -- it's much simpler before the room is filled with furniture. Not to mention more likely to actually get done). 

But, little by little, system by system, purge by purge (with a few splurges, too!), my little space has been coming together. And I think it's finally time to share it with you. Not because it's perfect, or "designer," or Pinterest-worthy -- in fact, if anything, because my space proves that it's possible to craft and create even if you're a "normal" person with a small home and a minimal budget.

Here's what I faced starting out:

  • My husband has generously let me use a lot of space in the room (3 of the 5 pieces of furniture and the entire closet are mine), and he has been angelically patient with the disorganized mess DISASTER ZONE over the past three years. He's actually been far more patient with it than I've been! Thank you, Pablo!
  • I already had a fabulous sewing machine desk, some organizational bins and drawers, etc.

  • Our spare room is small and difficult to lay out. Plus, it's where the four of us spend most of our time, so it needs to function for everyone (which I actually like -- I get a lot of sewing done because I don't feel like I have to abandon my family to do it).
  • The only good organization system I had in place was for my pattern collection; everything else was disorganized and usually "homeless." It's hard to put everything in its place when it doesn't have a place.
  • I had/have far too many supplies. Over a decade of sewing and crafting has left me with an abundant collection of yardage, scraps, tools, notions, trims, and creative miscellany. Too much stuff + inadequate storage = craft room mayhem. 
  • The closet, while entirely at my disposal, has a very poorly designed shelving system (and sliding mirror doors that compound the problem). That limits my "concealed" storage options.
  • Moolah! Or rather, lack thereof. I have a monthly allowance that I can spend willy-nilly, but organizational supplies can be costly (and I have other things to spend my money on, too!). I couldn't just splurge on a bunch of stuff and figure it all out at once. It's been a process. 

  • First, I wanted the room to be tidy on a regular basis. Yes, the occasional project may take over and wreak havoc, but I need my space to be relatively orderly if I'm going to be working in it. If I'm overwhelmed by the mess, I tend to be less creative and less productive.
  • Second, I wanted organizational systems that work well without being too difficult to sustain. I'm discovering more and more that when I find a system that works, I maintain it better! If it's really hard to put something away, I'm less likely to do it. Sometimes my disorganization is just laziness, but often it's a lack of a good method (it doesn't hurt if that method is attractive, either). 
  • Third, I wanted to downsize. Chances are, we'll be moving within a year, and I may not have this much space in our next home. I need to be prepared for that -- and I really don't need all of this stuff, anyway! In other words, just buying more storage containers was not the solution to my problems. (Here's a lovely sewing space that I keep in mind if major downsizing becomes a reality: Heidi's Sewing Room. Incidentally, I think that's also my most-repinned pin, so I'm not the only one who found it inspiring!)
  • Fourth, I wanted to avoid a utilitarian look (i.e., nothing but plastic bins). I'm trying to inspire creativity, after all! Plus, with as much use as this room gets, I wanted it to look as nice as possible. While I don't have hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to spend on high-end cabinets, baskets, and decor, I was determined to make my space presentable. 
  • Fifth, I wanted to spend as little as possible -- partly by using things I already have. I did end up making purchases, but most of them were minimal in either cost or quantity.


This is my main area -- my sewing machine desk and a bookshelf full of reference books and supplies. I bought the bookshelf during a sudden spurt of frustration (with the general disorganization of my craft supplies) while Pablo was away in Newport at Officer Candidate School. I was prepared that its presence might be temporary if he objected, but fortunately he gave it the okay!

My sewing machine desk is a gem that I found on Craigslist a few years ago -- it came with a machine identical to the 401A that you see in the picture below, but I replaced it with my machine (which was my grandmother's, and therefore has more sentimental value!). It has a surprising amount of storage, which is a huge blessing. I hung a memory board over my machine, but I've opted to use it for decorative purposes -- whenever I use one for functional purposes, it ends up looking messy in no time.

I love my mini fabric bolts and covered photo boxes -- but I'll talk about those more on Friday!

My craft table is on the other side of the room. I store fabric in the cabinet and various tools and supplies in the drawers (which are currently rather disorganized, and could use a re-do). My serger, obviously, sits on top. Yvonne stands guard over the space, while my ironing board sits beside the bookcase. My ironing board cover wasn't pretty to begin with, but after a few years of spills, it's nothing short of an eyesore! I have a new cover for it on my project list.

The pegboard is my most recent addition to my space, and I love it already. I used to keep scissors, pencils, and rulers in a jar on my sewing desk -- but it was always a hassle to find what I was looking for (and I rarely put them away in the first place...). 

I bought these mini candy jars on a whim, and as it turns out, they fit perfectly on my cupboard shelf. I love happy endings. *wink*

  • Laminate flooring (i.e., Pergo). Our cheap, stained carpet is on its last leg, and I really can't stand carpet, anyway. It would be fantastic to be able to sweep up all my thread and paper fragments at the end of each day (because I'm way too lazy to vacuum daily). I can't tell you how many thread snippets I had to pick up just to take these pictures, because there was no way I was going to run the vacuum cleaner during Rosa's nap. 
  • Better iron "storage" -- I like to keep my iron out, but that doesn't work with two little ones. My current system is okay, but I'd love a set-up where I can basically leave my ironing board out all the time (perhaps a "Murphy" board?).
  • I'd love more natural light, too -- but that's a rather big alteration to make! 

Update: I switched to a link-up server that allows photo thumbnails. For those of you who had already linked up, I took the liberty of switching you over using the identical information you provided for the original link server -- if you wish to change or remove your link-up, you can contact me at Thanks!


  1. Shannon, I look forward to reading more about your sewing space, as we share many of the same goals when it comes to our sewing rooms! (No surprise.) :) I'm sorry I won't be participating, since we just moved and there's nothing much to show other than plastic tubs and hunting-themed wallpaper border, haha. However, I hope to glean some frugal inspiration for when the time comes to address my sewing room! (Family bedrooms take priority, so it's on the backburner for now.) Actually I don't mind at all -- I'm just thrilled to have a dedicated sewing space!

    One thing I would like to hear more about is how you manage to sew with your little ones around. I can only seem to manage during naptime, early in the morning or late at night, if my husband is around to watch the kids, or if I stick in a movie for Edmund (which still leaves the problem of Lavinia, who's not interested in movies and who is particularly drawn to the teacup pincushion you sent me when she was born! LOL!).

    1. Laura,

      Well, it's "only" taken me 3 1/2 years to get my craft room together (and it's not 100% yet)! The link-up doesn't have an expiration, so I hope you'll stop by again when you get the chance to work on your space -- whether it's six months or 3 1/2 years, like me. :-) I don't know, though, the hunting themed wallpaper border sounds like a keeper... *wink*

      You know, your commenting about finding time to sew has got me thinking; I have a feeling I'll change the 4th day of the Link-up to reflect that. That way I can share my (limited) ideas, successes, and failure -- and hopefully we can all get some ideas from each other!

      I happen to think it's a good sign that Lavinia likes the teacup pincushion -- perhaps it's an early indication of an interest in tea *and* sewing! :-)


  2. Shannon ~ I love your space! If, IF I was crafty I would love a room like this. Sadly, my craft skills are nill but perhaps it's time to learn for the winter (which is very long here in NH)!


    1. Cari,

      Thank you! I actually tend to craft more in the summer because it's too hot in Florida to go outside. :-) I definitely recommend crafting -- IF you're prepared to risk your life being utterly consumed... *wink*


  3. Shannon,

    Your sewing room is lovely! I really like how you have your fabric organized on little bolts.


    1. Thank you, Sarah!


  4. Hello is my first time visiting, and I am so inspired by how lovely your sewing space is. Thank you so much for sharing it. Looking forward to the rest of the week. :-) Maria

    1. Maria,

      What a pleasure to have you here, and thank you so much for linking up your space -- I love your antique sewing machine and your spinning wheel and loom!



I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much for stopping by!