Here’s the conclusion to our little sewing room tour — if you missed parts 1 and 2, they are here and here. In this episode, while we’ll be discussing a few last tools, we’ll also discuss some sewing room organization. A quick Pinterest search revealed a gag-worthy gallery of pegboard and plastic storage — while those work fine for some people, I don’t like them. And while I still haven’t totally been able to ditch my plastic storage boxes, their ranks have been greatly reduced.
While we’ve covered most of my favorite tools, there are a few left. One of the most important: prewaxed thread for hand sewing (below).
I got hooked on this stuff when working at David’s Bridal, and I can’t live without it now. It’s a little pricey, so I only have it in white, off-white, and black. Since it’s waxed, it resists knotting and tangling when you’re sewing with it. And since it’s conveniently precut, you just pull a single strand out, thread your needle, and you’re good to go. It’s wonderful for hems, buttons, thread tacks, and virtually any other hand sewing you can think of.
It’s produced by New Bedford Thread Company (and made in the US, check that out!!) and is available from a number of online suppliers (the best price I found when I checked recently was from Wawak). Buy one and try it. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Another of the things I can’t live without: My vintage dressmaker’s form, affectionately known as Miss Money (a reference to Hello, Dolly!). I have two, actually — Dolly, my modern Singer dress form, isn’t pictured. I use them both — Miss Money is MUCH better made, with a sturdy base. Dolly has a plastic base and is prone to toppling, but, on the other hand, she has nifty little numbered dials that allow you to know exactly what measurement you’re setting her to. I don’t recommend either of them for precise alterations or anything like that, but they’re fabulous for draping (which is a very fun technique, and indispensable for working with knits if you can’t find a pattern) and for determining trim placement on a garment (I use them both a lot sewing reproduction Civil War day dresses and ballgowns). And, when they’re not in use, it can be nice to display a vintage dress on one or both of them.
This is one of my latest finds, and I just have to brag about it. I’ve been trying to find one since I was in high school (I graduated in ’06), and I just found this drawer set at an estate sale. Drawers are the best thing for storing thread. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me, but I prefer it to a wall-mounted thread rack for a number of reasons. First, drawers keep thread from getting dusty. Second, it’s easier to chuck a spool of thread into a drawer than to make sure it gets put back on its special little peg (and let’s face it, if I can’t put it up instantly, it doesn’t get put up). And thirdly, when the thread is sorted by color, it’s quicker to find what you want. I have a drawer for neutrals; one for blues and greens; one for yellows, pinks, reds, oranges, and purples; and one for specialty threads (metallic, quilting, etc.) and bobbins (which are in bobbin boxes to prevent entanglement). Up till last week, I had used a couple sets of little plastic drawers (two of which are shown on top of the new wooden drawers). They weren’t lovely, but they worked nicely for a long time until I was able to upgrade.
Another favorite thing is my antique garment rack for my in-progress pieces. Again, this is a recent upgrade; previously I had used a modern store display T-rack that I got on Craigslist. When this one came in at the antique store where I work, I pounced on it. It was a big splurge for me, but it was exactly what I wanted. Advantages: You can see exactly what you should be working on, and your nice clothes don’t get wrinkled and dusty on the floor.
Another of my favorite little tools is this pencil cup that I got on clearance for a dollar at Office Max while in college. I keep pencils, pens, marking pens, a hem gauge, and my seam rippers in it for easy accessibility.
Finally, just because it’s a sewing room doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun decorating it. Here’s my favorite decoration — a shadow box (yard sale find!) with a few of the vintage sewing notions I’ve picked up over the years. The earliest pieces are some early 1900’s needles (in original packaging) and a card of Art Nouveau buttons that I got from the Nashville Flea Market.
And, in case you were curious, I’m being brave and including a picture of my tiny little sewing room as it looks right this minute (amid unfinished myriads of unfinished projects, a freebie Craigslist desk, a wrapping paper storage box that’s holding fabric bolts, a couple hundred patterns, and over 200 books…..). It’s still not quite finished — and, realistically, probably never will be. I didn’t clean up for the picture, either (yes, I know you can tell, but let’s just pretend you can’t, okay?). But, in the interest of full disclosure, here it is.
Oh, and if anyone can give me advice on pattern storage — since the closet is full and there’s (as you can see) absolutely no room for my two pattern cabinets — I’d appreciate it! As you can see, they’re currently just hangin’ out under the desk.
Thank you for joining me this evening! Come back next time for a review of my most-used sewing books (and, with almost exactly 200 sewing and fashion books, according to my LibraryThing account, I’m pretty familiar with sewing literature!).