Updated: Jul 19
My tips for a functional and inspiring sewing or crafting space (Part 1). And how I organized, upcycled and then donated to spend $0 and have almost zero waste (Part 2 & 3)!
Part 1 & 2 Recap: Floor Layout Planning, Storage and Decisions...
Part 3: Upcycling & DIY'ing your way to a Cost-free Makeover
I'm not here to lecture you or make you feel guilty about buying new stuff for your space - the right storage cabinet or ergonomic chair can be completely worth investing in - but before you buy something new it's always worth looking at what you have with fresh eyes. These are just some of the upcycling and DIY projects I made from items that could have easily been tossed away.
Project #1 - Made From... an Old Bulky Bookshelf
I've had this bookshelf since I was a teenager. It moved around California with me, changed colors a couple times, and has held clothes, cookbooks and cat food. But it's a little bulky and after our recent kitchen remodel it didn't have a home. I'd dreamed of one of those custom sewing tables with built in shelving and just by luck the 60" high bookshelf was perfect under my 30" cutting table once my husband cut it in half. Well actually once my husband rolled his eyes a couple times and said, "you want me to do what??" and then cut it in half. He said he used a Makita circular saw (whatever that is).
Project #2 - Made From... Scraps of Cotton Canvas, a Couple Rivets and Measuring Tape Trim
I made this hanging wall organizer with pockets earlier this year to hold my rulers. It was when I decided I couldn't stand to look at my pegboard for one more minute and temporarily put it away (see Project #4). Now it does double-duty storing patterns as well as blocking off the view under my ironing table, which is my only hidden storage space in the room. See my YouTube tutorial for tips on how I made this.
Project #3 - Made From... Wood or Carboard Boxes and Wallpaper Samples
I can't get rid of sturdy boxes. Doesn't matter what they look like or what they are made of, if they will hold stuff securely, I keep them. Ok well it actually really matters what they look like.... but that's the fun part. You can always paint wood but my favorite way to repurpose a container is with wallpaper samples. A couple years ago we decided to wallpaper our tiny dining room and I ordered a lot of samples. And some of the samples were giant! Of course, I kept all of them. Below I used glue and tape to add William Morris designs to a vintage wood wine box and a cardboard shipping box from Net-A-Porter.
Project #4 - Made From... Old Pegboard, Vintage Frame and Wallpaper Samples
As I mentioned above, there was a moment this year when I decided I just couldn't look at my pegboard for another minute. It was in this giant vintage frame (that was gold at the time), and it just looked like a DIY mess. So, I took it down and tried to find alternate storage solutions. But there is a reason why pegboards in craft rooms became so popular 10ish years ago: they are really great for organization. I knew I needed to put it back up, but I can be pretty stubborn, and I refused to let it look like a pegboard. First, I painted the gold frame with a fresh coat of white paint and then I reached for my trusty wallpaper samples and a big sheet of cardstock. I used a spray adhesive, and my husband mounted it on the wall using a french cleat system because it was heavy. In this Instagram video I talk a bit more about the process.
It's now been a couple weeks since I finished my sewing room makeover. If you walk in the room now there are a couple bolts of fabric on my cutting table, a couple papers near my sewing machine, and two vintage quilt tops I was recently gifted sitting folded on the ironing board. It's not perfectly clean, but it's perfect. A sewing room is supposed to feel lived-in and used and loved - it's supposed to inspire creativity and that creativity can get messy. But, and this is a big but, I was working on a quilt today and when I finished, I folded it back up and put in in the WIP cubby. And the hand-sewing needle went right back into its' drawer. And my headphones went in their little ceramic bowl so tomorrow I won't spend 15 minutes trying to find them before I can start sewing.
I've created a space that's useable and functional and I'm confident I can keep it that way. And I hope something I've shared can help you create a space that works for you.