Finding space for your sewing machine can seem like a daunting task – especially when you watch certain TV shows. It doesn’t have to be like that, and if the prospect of taking up a lot of space has put you off, don’t run away! Here are some space-saving solutions for a hobby that can grow along with you.
Make your sewing machine part of the furniture
Once upon a time, sewing machines came with their own piece of furniture. The one I’ve inherited from my great-grandma is just like this. It makes a neat little sideboard when it’s folded up.
Companies like Teknik and Horn make specialist solutions that fold away easily, but often all you need is a shelf or bookcase. If it’s near to the table you put the sewing machine on, so much the better. If you can clear or rearrange a space in your existing storage, pop your machine there. Most modern sewing machines are around 40cm wide, 30cm high, and 25cm deep, so if you have adjustable shelves this might make a positive difference.
Sewing machines are smaller than you think they are
I mentioned the size of the average sewing machine in passing just now; they’re really not that big! Often, the space taken up by sewing is down to the peripherals: iron, ironing board, fabric, and haberdashery. If everything’s out at the same time, then yes – there’s no space at the dining table.
BUT – if you batch your tasks, that’s one part of the solution. You’ll only ever be using the accessories you really need at that particular time.
Second, modern sewing machines have a storage compartment in front of the bobbin housing. You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked, so store whatever you can in there. Feet, pins, and spare machine needles are best. So for a fairly small bit of kit, sewing machines really earn their space.
Lastly, some sewing machines have a soft cover that comes with a storage pocket, so that’s up to two extra storage areas at no extra cost. And if you have a soft cover without a pocket…at least you have everything you need to sew one on yourself 😉
Buy (or make) a project bag or box
Confession: This is what most people have! It’s also why you don’t see anything but the most glamorous lifestyle shots on Pinterest, with beautifully coordinated shelves of fabric and a unit that opens out like a sewing Narnia. If you can claim a corner of a room – or an entire room – GRAB IT! Never let it go.
But if you can’t, or you aren’t sure about your level of commitment, then the humble bag or box is for you.
You really don’t need to have All The Stuff. That’s a lifestyle or aspiration. Only professionals or people with an entire workroom go on like that. They do this because it’s their livelihood and sewing has earned its keep over the years. This isn’t relatable or what you need to see if you’re new to sewing or don’t have much space. Keep it practical and – most of all – manageable.
- Fabric for your current project;
- Paper scissors and fabric scissors;
- Your pattern and instructions;
- Tape measure;
- Pincushion and pins;
- Thread and hand sewing needles (I like millinery needles);
- Marking tools (e.g., chalk, pen, pencils, chaco pen, carbon paper and tracing wheel).
All you need for this is a good-sized drawstring bag or box. You don’t have to fall down a Pinterest rabbit hole and get sucked into a Wonderland of interiors. Don’t let it get to you if it’s early days or you’re pushed for space.
Last bit of advice before I get of the soapbox: If you’ll need to fold up your project for storage or transportation, choose a fabric that’s easy to iron. Cotton, linen, denim, or wool are perfect. With these options, creases are easy to iron out and your project will hold its shape.
By the time you’re skilled and confident enough to handle drapey or more delicate fabrics, you’ll also know whether you need more space for sewing ;-).
Most importantly, I hope this article has inspired you to find space for your sewing machine. And please share this page or website if you think it’ll help other people.
Last, but not least…
You might also be interested in some of my favourite sewing tools or notions – if so, have a look at this blog post:
I design size inclusive knitting patterns for clothes makers who want their garments to fit well. Clothes should serve you, not the other way around. You alter clothes to fit you, not alter yourself to fit the clothes. This is at the heart of everything I do.
I also teach other people how to design knitwear and am currently creating a comprehensive, year-long knitwear design course, covering everything from illustration to pattern grading.
If you’re enjoying my content, you can get more by reading my blog, which features several articles on garment fitting, alterations, knitwear design and sewing pattern reviews, following me on Instagram or Pinterest @natalieinstitches, or signing up to my newsletter.