Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Essentials in my Embroidery Workroom


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Earlier this summer, I took you briefly into my embroidery workroom during a bout of organization.

Organizational bouts are not a once-in-a-lifetime deal. The trick to staying organized is the daily habit of putting things where they belong and the weekly or bi-weekly habit of tweaking the system, cleaning thoroughly, and all that.

Admittedly, I preach this, but I don’t always live it! I’m no maven of organization, and I don’t pretend to be. It’s just not my personality. I don’t have a specific system that I adhere to fiendishly, as part of a personal challenge, lifestyle, or mental strategy. My workroom is functional more than anything else, and it’s a luxury insofar as it’s a dedicated needlework area, but it’s not luxurious.

After chatting about that bout of organization, a discussion opened about workroom essentials. I’ve put together my list of essential things in or about my workroom that help my workflow and keep me semi-organized. At the end of the article, I include a few little luxuries and some suggestion to think about if you’re planning your dream space for needlework.

Embroidery Studio Essentials for Organization and Workflow

1. Cabinets with doors. There are two reasons I love my cabinets with doors: 1. doors cut down on dust and and light, both of which can be detrimental (over time) to textile-related (and other) goods. 2. The closed doors deliver at least an external appearance of order when I walk into the room, which makes it much easier to get work done.

I love the fact that the majority of my book collection is in a closed cabinet:

Embroidery Studio Essentials for Organization and Workflow

I keep my most frequently accessed books on small shelves that support a small table top under one of the windows.

2. A central work table. Preferably one that isn’t always piled with the latest project stuff, but alas…

3. Lighting. The overhead lighting in my workroom is shoddy in general, but that’s ok, because I have several good floor lamps and a desk lamp that I can move around to use where I need them. Besides providing me with good light for stitching, they work great for photography, too.

4. An ironing board and an iron. I keep the ironing board folded up behind the door, so it’s not taking floor space, which is limited. I take it out when I need it and put it back when I’m finished. I’ve tried all kinds of irons over the years, until I finally have what I consider the ideal iron for the work I do. It’s a dry iron, so there’s no steam function on it – it’s a flat, smooth plate. It’s especially ideal for iron-on transferring of designs, but I use it for everything I need to iron. I love my iron. You can find the dry iron I use on Amazon here, if you’re looking for one.

5. Chair and stool. While ideally, it might be great to have a comfy chair for stitching in my workroom – say, a really cozy corner with a cushy chair – I don’t have room for that, and I don’t stitch as efficiently when I’m cozied up on the couch. I have a desk chair on wheels with decent back support on one side of my table. On the other side, I have a stool of sorts. The stool that I use is called a Buoy (you can find the Buoy here on Amazon, if you want to see what they’re all about). It’s very convenient – it swivels, raises, lowers, tilts and rocks, and is an easy-up, easy-down type of seat. It’s lightweight and easy to move around. And it keeps me from sitting in the same position for long stretches. If you need or want absolute stability in a seat, though, this wouldn’t be the way to go. It rocks and tilts. I’ve had mine for years, since my teaching days, and I love it. I don’t get back aches, which I chalk up to the constantly small movements that keep me from sitting in the same position. I use it at the table, at my computer, and with most of my embroidery stands, especially trestles.

You can see my stool in this picture:

Embroidery workroom organization

6. Containers for general storage. I use plastic containers with lids. While plastic might not be that great for long-term, archival storage of, say, museum quality stuff, for my everyday supplies and the goods that I’ve got in my cabinets, they work fine. I prefer lower, flatter storage boxes with lock-on lids. If the storage boxes are too deep, they can end up too heavy to move conveniently.

7. A cutting mat. I keep it in the center of my worktable. This is useful not just for cutting, but for measuring and blocking things.

8. Floor stands. I have several floor stands and a set of trestles. I use them all to one degree or another. I probably use the Needlework System 4 stand the most frequently.

Embroidery Studio Essentials for Organization and Workflow

9. Thread cabinets. I use these Bisley collectors cabinets to store my collections of threads, especially my good threads and my most frequently used threads. These cabinets are the supports for my work table in the center of the room, so they contribute to saving space and they provide a good, clean storage solution for needlework threads.

10. Tool carts. I have a couple of these three-tiered wheel carts that I wrote about a while ago. They hold tools and art supplies that I use constantly, and I can wheel them up to the table when I need them, or away from the table when I need room.

Embroidery Studio Essentials for Organization and Workflow

11. Hard floors (instead of carpeting). I’m So Glad I don’t have carpeting in my workroom. It’s far easier to sweep and even vacuum a hard floor than it is to thoroughly vacuum a carpeted room. Plus it’s a lot easier to find dropped things! Because this is a garage remodel, the floor in my room is actually a laminate that looks like a wood floor, but isn’t one. If I could do it all over again and hang the expense, of course I’d have a wood floor – but I can’t, so I’m just wildly grateful for the floor I have, sans carpet!

12. Climate control. Normally, a garage is not heated and air-conditioned, but when this garage was first built, the house being so small, we needed to have an extra outlet for our central heat and air, as the unit was technically too large for the house. So we had the garage air-conditioned, and that worked out great for the future remodeling of it into a workroom. Heat and air are pretty essential in Kansas, for two reasons: 1. the climate; 2. the dirt. Open windows in Kansas = The 1930’s Dust Bowl re-enacted in your home on a daily basis.

The Little Things

There are a few “little things” that make my work time in my workroom more enjoyable.

1. Wifi. Since my workroom is separate from my house (it’s an attached garage on the back of the house, but not accessible from the house without going outside), I had the garage hardwired for internet and added a wifi extender to our household wifi, so that I had a good connection out there, too.

2. A bluetooth speaker for listening to music, audiobooks, podcasts, and so forth while working.

If You Want It…

If you’re setting up your dream needlework space, these are some points to consider:

1. Give yourself at least one decent working tabletop, even if you tend to stitch in a comfortable chair rather than at a table.

2. Consider lighting. Are you going to use floor lamps? Overhead lighting? Table lamps? And make sure your electrical outlets are suited to what you need, or use extension cords. If you’re having a room built or remodeled, seriously consider the possibility of an electrical outlet in the floor in the center of the room. I wish I had one!

3. Consider movement paths. Make sure you have room to move around. And make sure you have room to set up an ironing board or a needlework frame, or other things that you might set up temporarily and then take down again. You should be able to move around those things when they’re set up, so keep in mind a good-sized blank space in the room.

4. Consider storage space. Closed cabinets are great! Not only do they hide a multitude of evil when things might get a little cluttered (so that you can close the doors and still have a sense of orderliness), but they are great for a reduced-dust and reduced-light environment for storing books, fabrics, and threads. I personally like deeper-than-normal cabinets. because they allow room for multi-sized storage containers to keep things on the insides of the cabinets organized. When you arrange your cabinets, arrange your most-accessed items in the easiest accessible areas.

5. Think in terms of under-table storage, too. Using storage options to support tabletops is a handy way of giving yourself more room without taking up floor space.

6. If you’re building from scratch, consider adding some good natural light. Although windows take up valuable wall space, the natural light they provide is great for stitching if you can arrange a chair by a sunny window, but it’s also pretty essential for setting the right kind of mood. That said, consider good shades, in case the light is too much, especially in summer, or in case you have projects out that you want to protect from too much light.

7. If you’re lucky enough to have the room, consider adding a corner where you can have a comfortable chair for stitching away from the main work table. I do most of my work at the table, including stitching, but if I had the space, I’d have a comfy corner, too.

8. Invest in a small collection of inexpensive pillowcases or sheets (flat crib sheets are a nice size) that you can use to cover projects that you leave out.

9. Invest in a good task chair – something that moves easily to different areas of the room, that’s comfortable for you, and that allows you a good range of motion for tasks.

10. The luxurious extras: consider entertainment options, like a bluetooth speaker for listening to music or audiobooks, or a small TV if you like TV…and a phone jack, if you use a landline! (I know, how archaic! But I’m glad I have one in my workroom!)

Just In Case…

And just in case you picture me working in some pristine area that’s immaculately organized, I snapped this photo for you at the end of my last work session:

Embroidery Studio Essentials for Organization and Workflow

Gotta keep things real, after all!

Over to You

Did I miss anything?

What are some things you consider essential for a needlework studio or workroom? Chime in below with your suggestions, questions, comments, ideas, dreams….!

The Amazon links mentioned above are affiliate links, which means Needle ‘n Thread receives a small kickback for any purchases made through them.


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(66) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    A great space you have there. It looks very tidy to me and those cabinets for your books look amazing. I really like your thread cabinet and your wheel cart that is great for moving around the room. I have a corner of my living room so space is limited and I have to be careful not to have to many accessories, I have a trestle Needle Needs and a wooden top that fit son there if I need to do any cutting or preparing and a good light/magnifier and some small cabinets. I can’t have to many books because of the limited space. Thanks for sharing your tips and techniques on room storage and for sharing your lovely room with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. I find Artbin Twisterz invaluable in my organizing saga. I store everything from goldwork metals that you don’t want to tarnish in storage (they have anti-tarnish containers) , beads, sequins, etc. to little easily lost tools like thimbles, thread conditioner, measuring tapes etc. Their also clear so it’s easy to see what’s being stored. Get them at JoAnns when they are in sale or you have a coupon.

  3. I also use bookshelves and magazine holders for my books. I have plastic storage boxes for odds and ends of things. What I didn’t catch in the article is how you store your fabric. I have quite a stash, things I’ve purchased, things that were given to me by other generous stitchers and of course left over pieces. It’s been rather hard to sort them in any way that makes sense and I certainly don’t want to fold them into neat little squares. Any suggestions? My larger pieces are rolled for now and my smaller ones are in one of those 3 tiered drawer carts. But trying to find that certain piece for a project means digging through it all.

    1. I have an armoire for my fabric to hang it behind a closed door. Before that I had a cheap garment rack and garment protector on it to hang fabric inside the protector. I hate trying to iron folds out, so hanging helps a lot while keeping dust and cat hair off of things.

    2. Hi Irene, check out Pinterest for lots of ideas for craft room storage. Best tip I heard for fabric was by Sharon Boggins on Pintangle. She color coordinates all her items together. You could do it for fabric alone too, but because she works with so many things at once she combines them all together by color alone. As Mary says, think through your most common usage and go from there.

  4. My father took the magnet from an old microwave oven, attached it to the bottom of a block of wood, and then put wheels on the block and a broom handle at the back. I roll this over my work area and pick up pins, needles, embellishments that have fallen. He called it my “ferrous wheel”.

  5. Hi Mary, your workspace looks wonderful to me. I incorporate my embroidery pieces in my quilting projects and since we retired and moved to a smaller home I have to be organized or things could go downhill quickly. I have a large cabinet in our guest room and I try to keep most of my supplies in it. My rolling storage bag I call my sewing room on wheels is very handy since I need to do my machine stitching on the island in the kitchen. Every few months I go on a cleaning/reorganizing kick and that keeps most of my inventory under control. Several times a year our son shares the guest room with my sewing sometimes with short notice so I have to keep it reasonably tidy at all times. Thank you for all of your tips and tricks, they sure do help.

  6. I am so very, very glad to see you are “real” in your setup and work station. I am fortunate enough that I have a nice area (20′ x 30′) strictly for my own personal sewing. I am a dress maker and handle loads of alterations, but do a lot of stitching when I need to do something “fun” or making a gift. I have had this room for over 12 years, but only this past January did I remodel with a whole new look. One thing that I did differently was to organize like things together: spools of threads with spools, wound threads with wound, sorting beads and buttons. Now I can find things. I also took time to hang my notions where I could see what I have on hand so now when I need a new needle, whether for hand sewing or for the machines, I know exactly where it is and how many I have on hand. Lighting was also a big issue for me, but found that even though I love that natural light coming in, I did have to put up film on the west windows to block that wonderful dry Arizona heat from creeping in in the afternoons. But all in all, I love my room, and yes, many times at the end of the day my big cutting table looks exactly like your work table. It shows just how much we enjoy what we are doing! Thanks for your insight.

  7. Mary, I will be the first to admit that I have too, too much in my 10×10 space. I do quilt piecing and general sewing and some clothing. And lots and lots of “It would be useful for….”
    My question for you is: where do you do your photographing? Your pictures are so clear. They must be close by as you show details often on a project. Keep up my inspiration, please.
    Carolyn Newsome

  8. Great suggestions Mary! You can also hang baskets, or storage units designed for shoes or handbags off wall hooks, or the back of a door, or even hang baskets from hooks set into roof rafters. A table on hinges can collapse against a wall if you don’t have space for a permanent desk. Re ironing – I have a double sided cut-press mat and a small travel iron (non steam) which sit on a slide-out keyboard style shelf under my work table. I also have a bank of power sockets at the back of the table (fixed with Velcro) for the iron, my sewing machine, extra lamps, etc. When considering adding natural lighting, don’t forget roof windows and ‘sun-pipes’ which let natural light in without robbing you of wall space. Finally, a waste-paper bin or an old umbrella stand is a great way to store all your scroll rods – just use elastic bands to keep them in their pairs.

  9. Since I do stitch in a comfy chair (a Lane small recliner), an essential for me was a tiny table to hold scissors, pattern (which usually ends up in my lap!), and my cup of tea. Don’t gasp in horror, y’all! I put down the needlework and lean over the table to drink it — it doesn’t come near the work.

  10. Thanks so much, Mary, for sharing your workroom. I use many of the same ideas you shared. I’m blessed to have a large room but I’m always hesitant to let people in my sewing/craft room because I’m afraid they will think it looks messy. It’s finally organized efficiently for me, even though it might not look like it.
    I truly enjoy your blogs and easy, comfortable way of sharing.

  11. Mary, you are so real and so honest … refreshing!!! My bedroom is also my workroom, design studio (Illustrator on the computer, sketching and painting). It’s crowded with cutting table, storage bins, books, fabric, ironing board, thread, etc. but I must admit I actually enjoy having everything nearby. My one “necessity” is the square footstool I keep in front of my office chair. It allows me to sit and work without the dreaded swollen ankles! I am tall so the stool makes it necessary to turn sideways so my knees don’t hit the worktable … computer screen is sideways as well. I invested in a cute and comfy computer chair from Amazon … green mesh with arms … love it! (For extra padding on the seat I covered two thick pieces of memory foam.) Last but not least is the swing arm lighted magnifying glass attached to the work table … indispensable, especially for unintended embroidery tangles and knots. Oops! I forgot to add beautiful music to the list … makes everything seem dreamy and exciting as well … it energizes me like nothing else!

  12. I have a large library, but not a lot of room, so for my library to be at hand, I used a pair of filing cabinets and placed a large door on top of them so I have work space too. I have plastic cabinets with drawers stacked atop one another to make extra room. Then I have my open storage towers with my fabrics stacked neatly, I don’t fold them, I roll them to prevent wrinkles, and each shelf has different fabrics, and I drape cloth over them to reduce dust and such. I also have large and small clear totes so I can see what’s in them pretty well. I have come up with some thread organization and storage options if you don’t have a lot of money to invest in bobbins and such. What I came up with is a practically free thread organizing method. I roll large magazine pages into tubes, bend them in half, and thread the skeins onto the tube, then I use a paper clip to secure the open ends. I have them in order of numbers, with little cards that tell me at a glance the numerical identifier of the thread group. I would be happy to send pictures of some of my storage methods to show the process;) I have also come up with what I call my Simplylisette KISS Frame, a working frame that is incredibly versatile and very affordable, and which I hope to market soon. I love creating and tweaking tools and processes for all my artistic endeavors, and I love sharing too;)

  13. Thank you for sharing your workspace. It looks lovely and functional! It’s interesting that you mention cupboards with doors as that’s next on my list to help keep things tidy. It’s amazing the little things we can do that make a big difference to our comfort and ease while we work. I’m intrigued by the Buoy stool and off to investigate further. Thanks again!

  14. I can’t stand stitching at a table or cushy chair/couch. I sit on a couch/chair with a reasonably high back but ‘short’ seat so I sit up straighter. Instead of using a table, I use a folding music stand to hold the chart/pattern, bobbins, marker, needle threader and scissors. Bonus feature of the music stand are the ‘arms’ that move up/down to hold your book in place act like floss holders for colors frequently used. A footstool or side table occasionally is used to hold other infrequently used odds and ends. (More often the remote control, cellphone and drink.)

    Invest in a daylight bulb if other lighting sources won’t work…so much nicer than incandescent, but you need to figure out what ‘color’ range you want since they come in a multitude of hues. This has helped me stitch at night when I’m working until the last minute on a project.

  15. I love your down-to-earth articles. Looking forward to having my own work area. Thanks for sharing you tips and techniques.

  16. In the workroom I am waiting to set up I will need a place to set up my sewing machines. As I am a quilter also I need a place to store fabric and hoops. Since I will have to use my room as a guest room too I will be even more limited in space. I have my needlework books stored in a bookcase in my kitchen. All I really want is a dedicated space to keep most things in one place. It is a treasure hunt to locate where I last put something. Of course it is always in the famous “safe place so I know where it is’. I will use the walls for some shelving with doors to keep it tidy. And the closet will be converted into a cabinet. It will be bright and cheerful with good light as it faces the south and I look out on my flower gardens for inspiration. Now some things are in boxes or bags or tubs unless I am working on some thing then it is on the kitchen table(my work area) until mealtime. It will happen soon. Sigh!

  17. And we thought we were the only people with air conditioning in the garage! My husband’s wood shop is in ours and we had a through the wall unit installed for him – it confused the heck out of the installer as he said he had never put one in garage before.

    I wanted to mention that Ikea has in various departments – including the home office department – small drawer units similar to the ones you use – at very reasonable prices.

    We have several dressers/chests (including the ones from husband’s boyhood bedroom) in our studio. Our studio has to function for both of us and for work in a variety of media and techniques. I have the fabrics in the drawers and I fold them so that they stand up – about 4 or 5 inches across (larger pieces are 2 rows wide and about 9 inches across) with the final fold on the top, we can open the drawers and see all the colors and designs (in our regular fabrics). Drawers contain specific types of fabric either by color or purpose – such as all the fabric for my needlework is in one drawer and for my husband’s is in another drawer, two drawers have the fabric for reenacting clothing to be made, etc.

    One drawer has unstarted skeins of floss and other needlework threads.

    I have several smallish plastic tackle boxes which allow DMC cotton skeins to sit in them, almost exactly, from front to back of the box. This is for started skeins and each section has a color (some colors take more than one section). Another of these boxes has other needlework threads as we do not have that many other of other types. A plastic box with square divisions holds threads that leftover small amounts are kept in,wrapped around thin cardboard bobbins. Much of these are leftovers from kits and their bobbins are marked
    in pencil with the type of kit – such as Elsa Williams or Sunset. I did a lot of Sunset kits at one time and the colors repeated one to the other, so this way I could find what might match for a shortage. DMC colors are also marked on those for which they are known.

    We each have a 6′ office table to work on and they back to each other, so we can have a 5’x6′ table if needed by using both. I also have a bridge table to the left of my table, making an L – left side as that is where the corner of the room is. It has small storage drawers for supplies for projects to be done (some day) or general needed supplies to be at hand. Also a thread spool holder. Under the bridge table is 3 drawer plastic chest – top drawer has sewing supplies, other two have other supplies.

    On the long dresser which spans the room end of the two work tables (other end abuts a wall) there is a 3 drawer plastic chest (among cutters and other items kept on the dresser). We each have a drawer for WIPs and the bottom one is our drawer of glues (of almost all types).

    Irons and ironing pads are kept on a dresser behind where husband sits. There is an ironing board in the basement, but generally we use these are they are easier to deal with. I also use a sleeve board a lot – with a travel iron – for small items, particularly related to dolls or bears that I make. They are perfect for doll clothes.

    We have 2 bookcases with craft books; the books are on them in sections. The one on my side has needlework and sewing books. I have a list of title and author of the embroidery and sewing books in my cell phone (and on my computer) so I if I am out and see a book of interest I can check if I already have it and not buy (more) duplicates.

    The rest of the room has stuff for some of our (mostly husband’s) other crafts – he works at a larger variety of crafts than I do.

    In the basement we have fabric on bolts and a cutting table for same as well as mat board – plus his leather work shop. (And home storage).

  18. If I had the room you have to be as organized as you, I’d do it in a minute.
    Howevber, I do the best I can with the small space I have, I have to share my embroidery and other handwork space, with other rooms in the house.

  19. I enjoy your blog thing immensely. I am delighted to have seen your workspace. Mine is somewhat less, and it is scattered throughout the house. I too have carpetless floors except in the bedrooms, which is good as I tend to drop teeny tiny beads far too frequently.

  20. Your photography of embroidery is always excellent. Do you have a camera/lighting setup somewhere in your studio so you can take photographs as you stitch?

    1. Hi,Kim – not really. I tried at one point to have a dedicated space just for that, but it just took up space. If I know I’m going to be doing a huge amount of photos for one thing or another, I might set up a space to work in with the lighting just right, so I can photograph as I go, but normally if I’m just photographing as I stitch, I use my stitching light and manipulate it to get the shot I need. Thank goodness for digital cameras!

  21. A foot rest is one thing I find to be essential. When sitting, I need to elevate my knees to take the strain off my back.
    Otherwise I need a dedicated room for my needlework.
    Thanks for sharing.


  22. I have to have a cat tree/pet bed to keep my kitty off my table and some toys that I can throw to her to distract her from my yarn!

  23. I have some drawer cabinets from Ikea that I swear by! I think they are called Alex? I love drawers over cabinets. Found out when my Dad remodeled his kitchen that drawers are so much easier to get into, especially as we age! Lower cabinets become a deep dark hole.
    I took over my son’s bedroom when he moved out, put all wire shelf storage in the closet. It is wonderful, I store my fabric in there and also have bins.
    I label everything–I have a friend who is a super-organizer and she swears by labels. I thought it was a bit of a bother, but now love it. Everything has a label, even the drawers. Also, have an IKEA sofa/bed. Great place to snuggle with a cuppa and some threads! I could live in my room if the hubs didn’t require things like food!

  24. Sometimes my work area looks like a disaster area gone completely crazy! But the amazing thing is, I know where every single little thing I need is. I think that is one of the traits of creative people. I’ve always been like this, for 50 plus years, at work (I am a designer) and home (a lover of all things with a needle). Once in a while I’ll have a “normal” moment and organize things, then the fun begins all over again. I love what I do, no matter what state of chaos it may seem to others!

  25. Such a good article Mary – I think you missed just one thing (for me anyway) – some pretty things on the wall to bring warmth, inspiration, and atmosphere to the room. Blessings.

  26. Thank you for sharing. I am in the middle of reorganizing and reorganizing a 12 x 12 room for my thread work, but I ultimately come out to the kitchen desk to do the leisurely stuff, where the music and TV are and my computer. I had to chuckle when I found I wasn’t the only person in the world that had to organize or Ill go out of my mind. I am normally unorganized but I try to keep it in my comfort zone.

    Thanks for your insights and please keep sharing.

  27. Mary your space is great and in my opinion very well organized. When you create anything it’s going to take up space and create an activity zone where all the moving parts come into play. That’s only natural and not messy! The only thing I said “oh no” at was the fact that you don’t have inside door access to your space. Then again, it does psychologically provide a “work” mindset, does it not? Thanks for sharing your space it’s so cool!

  28. I do have a studio, since we made it a priority when house shopping. It also has my husband’s workout equipment, but that’s not too much space. I tend to do most of my stitching in the family room, but I’ll probably use it more as my kids grow up.

    I wish I had a better system for storing finished work, especially finished experiments that are small and pretty but not amazing, so I don’t want to display them or anything but I don’t want to get rid of them either

  29. Hi, I don’t always use them but as good a quality hoops as you can afford. I have few cheap ones as well as a couple of better ones.

  30. My craft room, library, and office space are all the same space right now. The overwhelming feature is bookshelves, and even though every wall is covered as much as I can with shelves, I’m running out of room, hah! The bottom two rows of shelves I’m using for those fabric box-drawer things, which is where I put various crafting supplies. Mostly tons of cross-stitch kits, but also fabric for sewing, calligraphy tools, beads, and markers for various things. I’m in the midst of organizing my library, which is all my books, not just my craft books, text books, and random reference books. So I am trying to thin out some of the books, but… it’s not looking good, hah.

    I do all my needlework stitching on the couch in the living room. My goal is to get the office room cleaned up enough that I can stitch in there on the extra chair and ottoman. However, since the office also holds a desk and computer, I fear I will never be able to set up my sewing machine in there….

    -Monika in Mobile

  31. I have a dedicated hobby room, but I can say with certainly that no matter how many times I try to disprove laws of physics, reorganizing has not reduced the mass of my stash! Overall, my goal is to keep the room tidy enough that it doesn’t look like an audition for a hoarders intervention.

    Supplies are generally grouped by technique. The storage systems have been added over time and include stacking plastic drawers (knitting yarn), wire mesh drawer units (needlework and crazy quilting), modular wood cubes meant for cassette tapes and LPs (bobbin lace), shallow drawer units designed for scrapbooking supplies (jewelry making) and open shelves with plastic shoe boxes (fabric sorted by color).

    I recently purchased and filled several of the 78-piece bead storage containers Mary recommended (thanks for the tip!) and corralled all the crazy quilting trims and embellishments in 12×12″ latching scrapbooking boxes. However, as I look around my living room, I realize that somehow the supplies for a dozen different projects have migrated from their proper location and congregated there. It’s a never ending process…

  32. Thanks for all those ideas Mary, only one thing missing for me: a dog bed and a dog!
    Best wishes from sunny, autumnal Wales.

  33. Such a lovely work area.
    I’m a young student in a small 1 room apartment so my stitching area is basically my entire apartment.
    So far my fabric is stored in plastic boxes under my bed, floss in a box on my bookshelf next to my sewing box and everything else is kept in the drawers of my desk.
    Stitching was nothing more than a minor side hobby for me until about a year ago so I just recently began really organizing my supplies instead of just having them all in a messy box.
    I love reading these articles and getting some inspiration so thank you for posting this Mary.

  34. Love you article about organization. Your needs are quite different from the average casual stitcher. This is your income – it is my relaxation. My work area is an extra guest room (we upsized as empty nesters and my husband has his own room for his music toys). It is a display place for my antique needlework tools and a work space for my projects. My needlework is kept in bags and worked in rotation. I am learning finishing, but it is so long between finishing a project, that all of that is kept put away! I only buy the books I “need” and display them among the collections. Idea: you might consider keeping some of the really less used books in a special bookcase in the house. I like the ladder style bookcases with some tools displayed with the books.

    Thank you for all you do for us!

  35. We all make do with what we have. But for me, an essential is a bathroom! Or at the very least, running water nearby. I took over the bedroom with en suite bathroom in our condo for my studio. Yes, it sometimes doubles as a guest room, but it’s mine, running water and all.

  36. I quilt, too, so instead of an ironing board, I made a small pressing board. Easy to use and store. I went to home depot and bought a 24 x 24 piece of 1/4 inch plywood. Check them out, some are warped, you want flat. I took an old bath towel, folded it in half, sewed the sides up, slid the wood right in, then took a couple of yards of cute fabric and made a cover. It doesn’t have to be tight tight, just a good firm surface.

  37. Are there standing desk equivalents for frames/hoops? I got one of those sit-on frames and I’m very fond of it, but I think I would like standing and stitching. Plus, it might save some space!

    1. Lately I have done all of my stitching standing and I highly recommend it (my day job involves a lot of sitting at a desk).
      My husband built me a sort of flat topped lectern with a hole cut out in the middle. It can be used with just about any kind of hoop or frame, because it rests on top and can be moved about so that the hole is under the part where I’m working. It also has a shelf for holding tools and threads.

  38. Loved your article on stitching room organization. I am fortunate enough to have a stitching room and inadvertently, I bought a stitching table for it that I just love! It’s an old desk a little over 3 feet long by a little over 2 feet wide with one central drawer and the feature I love most: a platform underneath on which I can rest my feet! Never knew how important that platform would be! Just thought I would share with you the kind of table that suits me to a tee.

    Nancy Dluehosh, Leesburg, Virginia

  39. Mary, I really do love seeing ‘real life’ shots of your workroom – makes me feel okay about the messes I make when I’m working on a project!

  40. Thanks for sharing more details about your space — I found it very inspiring. One question I had was regarding utilizing wall space. I find it sometimes useful to tack things up on a board when I’m contemplating compositions or color family details, etc. It also works well for photos. Thanks again.

  41. I have hundreds of stitching magazines that I love. Find that putting them in a magazine holder doesn’t really work as it’s difficult to browse through them. Any suggestions how to store them but which would allow me to browse through them easily? Thanks for any thoughts on this. Best wishes Ingrid. Should add thst I love evrything you write do and comment on!

    1. Hi, Ingrid – I use the magazine box thingies that are open halfway up the sides. You can see them on the top shelves in my book area. That way, I can pull the box down and find the issues I’m looking for (or just want to browse through), but it keeps them contained and straight. I’ve thought about putting some kind of rack for magazines on the insides of the doors, but I think I can use that space more efficiently for other stuff, so I’ll probably stick with the magazine boxes.

  42. I’m moving into assisted living in October. For the first time in 44 years I will not have a designated room for my needlework. I am going to only do
    Brazilian embroidery from now on as I won’t have a place for all the stuff I have done in the past. I have a master set of knitting needles I hope will find a home at the village I am going to. As they are terribly expensive for most people. That is just an example. My daughter is making a tower of clear plastic drawers which we hope to fit in a corner of the bedroom. I used to sell Brazilian embroidery supplies so I still have quite a lot. So that is my way of letting go but keeping also.

  43. I love your blog.
    I think I am moving from sewing to embroidery, so I’ll describe my sewing room. The best thing for me is light. Lots of windows and then some natural light-spectum lamps. *Magnifying glass attached to lamp*. I use our old kitchen table with 2 of the chairs. Lots of electrical outlets. I painted my room in a colour I liked, what small amount of the wall you can see… I love being my room.


  44. This is great – thank you Mary! There’s one thing you left off the list though – a shoehorn. It’s an absolute must if you have a really small room to sew in and you need to be able to store as much as possible. (and yes, I’m kidding….I think).

  45. I seem to spend a lot of time seeing what you have to say about a lot of things!! So what does she say about storage etc.? Lo and behold there is a 3 tier cart on casters exactly what I had in mind. X store here I come! thanks Mary

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