As renters, we’ve moved house three times already in just over three years of marriage. Our last home had lots of spare rooms, and I planned to turn one into a sewing room. Then pregnancy and a baby came along, and by the time we left I’d gotten no further than painting the walls. Sewing, if it happened at all, happened at our big kitchen table.
Our new house doesn’t have a spare room, but it does have a funny little alcove next to the bathroom. The alcove is lined with shelves, and I planned on finding a tiny sewing table and creating a mini-craft room.
Six months later, it still hasn’t happened. I use the shelves to store my fabrics, sewing machine and notions, but once again I always end up sewing on the kitchen table. Now, if I were to design my dream house, it would have sewing storage but not a separate sewing room.
Sewing With Small Children Means Multitasking
The reason I no longer want a sewing room is simple – I have a toddler. In our open-plan kitchen/dining room/lounge area, Rowan can ride her motorbike around as I sew, draw pictures at the other end of the table, read books on the couch or eat a snack, all more or less within my range of vision. She stays happy because she knows I’m there, and as long as I keep the rotary cutter out of her reach, everything’s hunky-dory.
If I squirreled myself away in a craft room, Rowan would either have to be in there with me or locked outside. Neither option is really feasible. She’d have fewer activities to do in a small space and would get bored more easily – probably resorting to “playing” with my nicely-folded fabric stash. And if she were banished, she might start feeling jealous of my crafting time, and I’d only be able to sew when my husband was available to watch her.
Another benefit to sewing in the kitchen is that I’m handy to check simmering pots, grab a cup of tea and answer the phone. Plus, although I don’t tend to think of this as a benefit at the time, sewing on the kitchen table means I have to give it a good declutter and clean on a regular basis!
Incorporating a Sewing Space Into a Living Area
One of the reasons my sewing arrangement works is that we don’t tend to eat at the dinner table. If we did, I’d have to pack away my projects at least once a day.
For those of you who eat at the table like civilised beings, there is still a happy medium between crafting among the pot roast and sewing locked away in a tower. Consider installing a crafting/homework/homeschooling/projects table in the dining room or living room – the kind that folds up against the wall saves space. Shop secondhand for an attractive dresser or fill a bookshelf with wicker baskets for storing fabrics, wool and notions. If you have a dress form, jazz it up tp transform it from a tool into a piece of art.
Crafters with older children or those who take sewing and design very seriously (perhaps as a source of income) may still require a sewing room. But for those of us who are simply happy hobbyists, squeezing the odd bit of patching in around the needs of our youngsters, working without a sewing room may be more flexible.
Look online for photos of other people’s crafting spaces, and you’ll discover some fantastic artists who create in tiny but well-organised spaces or simply on the kitchen table. So don’t feel like you can’t be a “real” crafter until you get your Amy Butler-lined crafting sanctuary – seize the here and now and sew when and where you can!