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perspective on a small room

22 Jul

By many standards my sewing room is small. But, heck, although it’s really a multifunctional space, I do have a sewing room! There are lots of good things about it. It might be messy (it is, sometimes more than others) but it has a table, bookshelves, a desk, two wardrobes, some sets of drawers and some industrial shelving. There’s a chair (not on wheels, but a chair) and a heater.

There’s always something happening here. Industrial shelving is to the left of the table

The purists would say the table is too small for easy cutting out of patterns and/or fabric and I suspect that’s true, but it’s a lot bigger than a card table, cleaner than the floor and cutting out at the table is much kinder to my ageing knees than doing it on the floor. The bookshelves are where reference books, knitting patterns and paper dressmaking patterns are filed, the box of dried lavender mix lives and some boxes with FOs as well, plus my containers of knitting needles and crochet hooks have a space on top of the shelves.

The desk used to be Dr B’s computer desk. Nowadays it’s an extra space for things I don’t need for the project I’m undertaking (I might put my tins of scissors and cutters on the desk if I’m doing something that doesn’t need them). It’s also a good place to put whichever machine – sewing machine or overlocker – is not being used for any sewing. I tend to keep the sewing machine on the table pretty much all the time because I’m likely to use it for small tasks more frequently than I’ll use the overlocker. Having the other machine on the desk means I can maximise space on the table. Also, I can have a reference book open on the desk should I need to do so.

The wardrobes are both used as linen presses (sure, it’s a sewing room but the house has no linen presses and it would be greedy of me as well as silly to insist that the linen goes somewhere else when there is nowhere else) but there’s also a certain amount of stash and paperwork in the drawers, not to mention my two irons. It’s safer for them not to be on the ironing board unless they’re actually being used. They fall off far too easily and that can’t be good for them. The sets of drawers contain fabric scraps, rowing programs and results, ribbons, zips, bias tape, velcro and things of that nature, as well as tools for applying pop studs and punching holes in things (to mention only a few of the knick-knacks). I’d say a lot of them come under the heading generally of – what’s that wonderful word? ah, yes – notions.

The industrial shelving was my present to myself some years ago when Dr B was away and I was trying desperately to create some sort of order out of the chaos (back then, I had just one small wardrobe which was our only linen press, so storing anything else was difficult). I marched out to the shed and raided Dr B’s supplies then had a wonderful day bolting things together and making sure the shelves were square (as in plumb; I remember that Boy looked at me a bit strangely when I wanted him to admire how square they were because, well, they’re rectangular). There are bags of scrap fabric and just loose fabric as well as baskets of stuffing for toys. I covered it all with a cheerful, jolly curtain that I hung on a piece of piping. Not technically brilliant but, you know, it worked. Of course there are other things on the shelves, such as cameras and tripods and boxes of photos. But at least they’re on the shelves, not the floor and they’re behind a curtain.
My chair is an old wooden one that Youngest Aunt used when she was at university, so it’s venerable. I made a slipcover that gives my legs better protection against a couple of rough spots that the original cushion didn’t quite cover. It works fine, too, even though I made it very hurriedly indeed. The little under-table heater – no, it’s nothing at all like a kotatsu, but it’s quiet, economical and effective – keeps my feet warm and if I were to close the door, it would take the edge off the room’s chilliness in winter.
There are some drawbacks. Because it is a multifunction room, there’s often a basket of laundry awaiting folding and the ironing board is occasionally used as an ironing board for things other than what I’m sewing (I know; but I haven’t quite given up on ironing shirts for special occasions). There are holes in the floor because of termites (yes, treatment now seems to be getting the better of the little beggars) so I have to be careful where I put my chair and where I stand but there’s a carpet that helps disguise the worst of the problem and, along with the heater, also keeps my feet warm. There’s only one power point, which means I run a lot of powerboards and extension cords but I can tuck them out of harm’s way quite easily.

There are days when I think I’m hard done by because I have to side-step around the table and dodge several fold-up airing lines but, when I tell Boy or Dr B to put something in the sewing room (because sometimes it’s also where stuff gets stashed in a dash and stash cleanup because People are Coming To Dine With Us or something equally unusual), there’s no questioning where I mean. So, yes, it is small and yes, it could be tidier (sometimes it’s difficult to keep all my projects quite as neat as I’d like and when I have several on the go they tend to spread out) but really, all things considered, it’s pretty much mine. It’s taken a long time but it has been worth the wait. Even if I grumble a bit about the inconvenient bits, I actually have a relatively dedicated space for sewing. Aren’t I the lucky one?!

PS (on 23/7/12): Sorry, some of the formatting seems to have gone awry. I tried to fix it but it didn’t work!

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