Sew You Wanna Quilt? – Creating a Quilting Space

Welcome to Sew You Wanna Quilt? This is the second installment in the series.

Quilting requires a little dedicated space. It does not have to be fancy. It can be an underused guest room in your home, a nook in your living room, a corner in your bedroom, or the dining room table. I spent the first two years cutting fabric on my kitchen island, sewing at my dining room table, and storing fabric and supplies under my guest bed. It was a little clumsy, but it worked. I now have a nice, dedicated space in my guest room which I will share with you at the end of this post. But first, I want to help you create your own space.

Necessities of a quilting space

  • A flat area where you can put your cutting mat and cut fabric – the bigger the better, but even more important than size is height. If you are tall, like me, you will want a space which is at least the height of a kitchen counter. If you don’t have that (let’s say your kitchen table is the only space you have), then think about your back when you are cutting. Dragging a short stool over and putting one foot on the stool to “set” your lumbar curve of your back will help with back strain. If you don’t have a stool, try a really thick book (like a dictionary).
  • A small table with a comfy chair where you can set up your sewing machine. You need to be close to an electrical outlet.
  • A small space for your ironing board and iron – again, it should be close to an outlet.
  • Storage for cutters, rulers, thread, fabric, etc… Plastic tubs work great. I like stackable ones because it is easier to store them. If you’ve taken over the dining room table, you can stack your supplies right there. Otherwise, you may have to pack up and put things away at the end of each sewing session.
  • A trash can close to your machine for snipped threads, itty bitty scraps of fabric you want to toss away, etc…
  • Good lighting – if you can set up your space close to a window that gets natural light, that is best. But, if not, then make sure you have a good overhead light or a lamp that can illuminate what you are doing. I like natural light because colors are more true in that kind of light. Be aware that florescent lighting makes color look different than incandescent lighting. It is just something to think about.

That’s it.

Well, sort of.

There is one more pointer I can give you that will make your life easier…

  • Use the idea of a working triangle if possible.You remember what this is right? Most people think about kitchens when they think about working triangles:

For a sewing room, think of the cutting table being where the sink is in this picture…and your sewing machine is the refrigerator, and the ironing board is the stove. See how that works?

If you don’t have the set up for a perfect triangle, at least have your sewing machine and ironing board close to each other. I like to stitch, press, stitch…if your ironing board is across the room, you are going to be doing a lot of walking back and forth. Not fun.

So now, I want to show you my space. It is not completely finished…this is what still needs to be done:

  • There will be another counter installed eventually (on the left side of the room under the wall cabinet) which I plan to use for design
  • I have not yet installed my under cabinet lighting
  • My design wall has not yet been hung – it will go on that blank wall on the right side of the room
  • We are planning on putting in a new window which will be wrapped with white trim
  • The base boards and crown molding need to be installed

BUT, even with all the things that still need doing, this space is quite functional as it is. It took several months to design what I wanted and my husband put in some can lights for extra lighting. I don’t have the perfect triangle, but I have something close to it:


Can you see how easy it is to move from cutting to sewing to pressing? The drawers in that base cabinet hold fabric and supplies:

The wall cabinets also house fabric (I plan to break this down in my next post in the series about fabric). And the wall cabinet on the left side of the room stores quilting books as well.

This space is also a guest room as you can see in this larger photo:

This is not a huge room, but with some planning, it has everything I need. I like the large window over my sewing machine – lots of natural light. My cutting table folds down and is on wheels so it can be pushed up against the wall when not in use. Although I now have loads of wall and base cabinet storage, I still use some rolling plastic bins under the bed to store batting and huge cuts of bulky fabric.

Here are some other fantastic sewing spaces which I have pinned on Pinterest (which, by the way, is an amazing site full of inspiration – you can see all my boards here). Kathy at Pink Chalk Fabrics did a series in July about sewing spaces and it was wonderful (I love seeing what other people do creatively). Kathy also sells fabric…check her out!

I hope you have enjoyed this post about setting up your space for quilting!

Sew You Wanna Quilt?

  • Scope out a space in your home where you can cut, piece and quilt.
  • Start setting it up, or at least sketch out in your head or on paper how you are going to set it up when the time comes to sew. It does NOT need to be fancy – it just needs to be practical. You may need to store supplies in a different place than you are quilting. Think about using plastic tubs from Target, or an old dresser. Use your imagination – be creative!
  • Do you have all your supplies yet? Now’s the time to get them!

Watch for the next post in this series which will post on August 19th: Fabric Obsession

The first installment in the series: Tools of the Trade


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    • Tui on August 13, 2011 at 08:48

    I’ll be following this very, very closely, Wendy! LOVE how your sewing room looks.

    • Terri on August 13, 2011 at 09:50

    Oh my gosh. This is waaayyy too neat and organized! LOL! Well done, Wendy. I still wanna come stay in that guest room.

    • Wendy on August 13, 2011 at 10:02

    Tui: Thank you! And I hope you find this series helpful!!!

    Terri: LOL – you are, of course, welcome to come stay in our guest room ANY time!!

  1. Oh, I love this! I am all about specific space for different life activities. Very nice.

    • Lisa on August 15, 2011 at 05:44

    My family and I, all five of us, are currently living in a two bedroom apartment. We have three total rooms, not counting the bathrooms. All of my sewing is done in the kitchen. My machines live on the bar, I have one small shelving unit with odds and ends in the dining area and all my fabric is in boxes in the garage. Despite this, I’m doing more sewing than ever. I think it’s because with such small kids it is impossible to sneak away to a different part of the house, but having it right here in the middle of us leaves it all at hand. We are planning to move my grandmother’s sewing table out of storage and into our tiny apartment, but I’ll still be sewing in the dining area. (Living room, dining room, kitchen are all one big room!)

    • Wendy on August 15, 2011 at 06:46

    Pam: Thanks!

    Lisa: It can really be a challenge, but as you point out, it can be done! I took over our kitchen area for the longest time (I think that is why my husband finally built me space in the guest room *laughs*). Space itself does not have to deter anyone from sewing…as you say, you sew more now than ever. Being somewhat organized helps!

  2. I LOVE this. I am just learning to sew… not sure if I’m talented enough to do a quilt, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying anything else – so I may try to do this! I have a sewing machine, finally, and adore quilts. I would love to make my own. I’m tempted to head down to the Country Living fair in Atlanta in October because I saw some pictures of beautiful vintage and antique quilts that were being sold at booths. It would, of course, be much cooler to make one of my own and pass it down someday. 🙂

    • Wendy on August 25, 2011 at 08:03

    Wallace: You are DEFINITELY talented enough to quilt – really!!! Glad you’re enjoying the series 🙂

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