Setting up your small sewing room-Part 2

Last week I shared with you the storage  additions to my sewing room, the lateral filing cabinets (the dark colored cabinets) and I thought I would expand on that post.  You can read the first post here.

Hopefully part 2 will spark a new idea for you or help another who is setting up their space for the first time.  Just so you know, I like to re-purpose when I can and want to show  you don’t need expensive sewing furniture to make your space more functional. It’s really trial and error. So before you go out and purchase hefty furniture with a hefty price tag that may or may not suit you after,  look closer to home first. If you find a setup that works perfectly for you  with make do furniture you will then have exact specs before you break out the checkbook. Or perhaps you will stay with it and spend your money on better things, like a new machine or fabric.

Setting up your sewing room can be a real struggle or at least it was for me. For several years every time I turned around I was moving something in or out, rearranging, all  while trying to make my space more comfy.

In my old  10′ x 10′ sewing room I was able to achieve a more comfortable work space. Things were just too tight  and I did not have much open floor space. I felt claustrophobic and like I was in a maze. That sewing room was in the back corner of the house and did not have any windows so my choices were to be in the middle of the room while sewing (which is what I did) or face the wall. Facing the wall would have given me the open floor space I needed mentally but who wants to look at a wall?

Lighting was the worst.

My son officially moved out and I moved in.

My new room has a window and lighting isn’t as much a struggle as it was in the she-cave.  I can now happily face the window  or sit in the middle of the room if I choose. Although the room isn’t much larger than the previous, the addition of the window makes a huge difference.

I’m sorry to say (no I’m not)  I don’t have a photo of my last room. But I do have this photo of my cutting station immediately after moving into my new space.

settingupasmallsewingroom, sewingroomsetup

Cutting or pressing station top to bottom

For pressing

I have covered 2 pieces of cut drywall  with cotton batting and canvas fabric. Initially I used a staple gun to secure the layers of fabric to the drywall. But after picking staples to launder the canvas I looked for an easier way. Frog tape and duct tape both work really well which is what I use now.

The covered drywall is placed on top of the door we removed from my office. Yes a door. When I bought my longarm the only room that made sense was my office but the door had to come off and remain off. This left me with a door to find a home for that I eventually put to good use.

The large pressing station is convenient when I am pressing flimsies prior to loading them on the frame. I know you know how difficult it is trying to press tops on that awkwardly shaped ironing board. Sometimes I purchase a bolt of fabric or 10 continuous yards of 118″ wide muslin. If you don’t have a large area to smooth and press the fabric can come off the ironing board just as crooked and wrinkled as when it went on. But with this alternative you just place the bolt at either end of the door, unroll, press, then fold neatly at the other end.

As a cutting station

You can either remove one piece of the drywall and replace it with your cutting mat, or just lay your cutting mat on top. The long cutting table is the bomb when you have a bolt of fabric to cut. Place the bolt to the right or left of your mat, unroll the amount you need and cut. You can also press the fabric coming off the bolt and immediately cut it on the mat.

Don’t have a door?

You could use a piece of plywood cut large enough to cover your support, wrap it with cotton batting and a heavy weight cotton fabric, tape the fabric on and you are all set. Drywall, aka sheetrock is very easy to cut and inexpensive. Use a carpenters square or a yard stick to measure and mark the size you need, using a utility knife and ruler score it on the line several times. It’s easier than it sounds.

Prior to adding the batting and canvas I cut a piece of duct tape to cover the raw  edge/s of drywall.

Another alternative for a door  is a table top. Find a table that is an ideal size for you, remove the legs and sit the table top on your support base.

Now for the trial and error.

Find your support cabinet.  For me waist high is the most comfortable for cutting. At this height it brings my work close to me and I don’t try bending at the waist to see over it nor do I bend for cutting. Your support could be kitchen cabinets, an old dresser taking up space in another room, it just really has to be sturdy.    You can sometimes find used cabinets free or cheap after someone remodels their kitchen. You don’t care what they look like because you can always sand and stain or paint them.

Do you stand comfortably at the dining table and cut fabric? If so you have eliminated some trial and error because you know what height your support needs to be. Dining tables are hard to get rid of so often times they are posted for sale at a very reasonable price, or free if you pick today. If the dining table is too low then step over to your kitchen cabinets and try it there. Maybe a little too tall? Try your bathroom vanity, dressers of various heights, a porch rail. I know you cant cut fabric on a porch rail but you can get an idea of its height by standing in front of it. Extend your arms out as if you are cutting. if your elbows aren’t bent it too short. The idea is to cut your fabric without leaning in too much or at all. You don’t have to be exact right now just narrow down the height and keep in mind it is better to be a little short than a little too high. If it’s too high you will be stretching and twisting.

Lets say you have found a sturdy base  but after giving it a try you realize if it were an inch or two taller you would be more comfortable. That’s an easy fix.  The photo below shows the shim between my door and the filing cabinet. If you’re afraid of the top shifting, add some velcro.

My current setup  with the lateral filing cabinets in place

fortheloveofgeese, settingupasmallsewingroom, diysewingroom, sewingroomlayoutonadime fortheloveofgeese, settingupasmallsewingroom, diysewingroom, sewingroomlayoutonadime

Okay so its not the prettiest setup but it works very well for me and I have utilized every inch of space  I have available. And I don’t have to go to other rooms in search of anything. The 4′ LED shop light ( 3000 lumens) provides cool bright light in my space where I need it.  The  lateral filing cabinets I added last week were purchased for $90 (reg. $130) each during a Memorial Day sale. The future plan is to add one or two more and do away with the sewing cabinet.

So as you can see, even a small room can be made into a functional storage/work space without breaking the bank.

Oh and I cant forget Enzo’s spot which you can see in the left photo on the far right.

Design Wall of sorts sitting behind my printer

It’s a piece of 1/2″ plywood  and was covered with cotton batting and canvas fabric until this past weekend. Now its only covered with a scrap piece of batting. We will call it a design wall until I come up with something more permanent.

The quilt blocks are for the Seashore Splendor QAL with Pamela Quilts. There are many blocks left and time to join in.

The filing cabinet photos from last week

fortheloveofgeese, fabricstorageFabric folded over hanging file folders. Click link at top post for additional information. Yes, I can now purchase more fabric.

Spool holder DH made tucked nicely in one of the drawers. They are protected from dust and sunlight.


Lateral filing cabinets for cutting/pressing table support total cost to me $180 plus tax

Drywall for pressing boards were scraps from a remodel. Under $10 for a 4′  x 8′ sheet. Scraps on hand-free

Alt for the drywall, a 4′ x 8′ sheet of OSB  or plywood $10 and up depending on the type. Scraps on hand-free

Batting and canvas-scraps on hand

4′ LED shop light $20

Hollow core interior door-$40 and up. Repurposed-free

Tips for finding these items free or on the cheap

Facebook marketplace. Often times you can find large furniture items very cheap or free from someone looking to just get rid of the item today. Tables, dressers, filing cabinets, interior doors. Also old sewing table. Drafting table or work bench could also be used for a cutting/pressing station for smaller areas.

Craigslist. Going out of business sales, estate sales or again-individuals looking for it to be gone today. Tables, dressers, filing cabinets, interior doors. Also old sewing tables. Drafting table, workbench from school or library surplus.

Drywall or lumber scraps. Fortunately DH has a lumber stash so I don’t need to go far. Do you have construction happening in your area? Most of them throw scraps in a dumpster or burn pile at the end of the day.  While I don’t advise going dumpster diving simply ask someone if they have any  2″ x 4′  scraps or plywood/drywall scraps.  Be honest and tell them what you need them for and you hate to purchase an 2 x 4 x 8′ for a couple inches. Chances are they will ask how big a piece you need and go straight to it. I’m not kidding, Steve worked new construction for 30 years. The guys get a kick out of women diy’ers stopping  for this stuff, gives them something to talk about after you’ve left. Sometimes they will ask what else you need and load it for you. If they haven’t reached the finishing stage they may tell you to check back next week after they’ve hung the drywall.

Stay tuned for post #3 of  “Setting up your small sewing room” with more photos. Check back Monday for my IB June challenge “Try it” finish.

Do you like hexies but cringe at the thought of hand stitching? Then you don’t want to miss that post.

See what others are working on.

Island Batik Ambassadors Links


  1. I love your ideas. I missed the first one and was impressed with all you did. Its looking great. I plan to do one on my new space with my longarm.

    1. Thanks Kathleen. One day I will have a larger area for my longarm so I look forward to your ideas.

    1. Thank you for the linky party. Please come back to mine on Thursdays. I’m still undecided between Inlinkz and linkytools at the moment.

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