7 quick, low-cost fixes for your quilting space

From Creating Your Perfect Quilting SpaceDo you have a quilting studio? A room? Half a room? A corner? No matter how much (or how little) room you’re able to dedicate to quilting, it can work beautifully—with the right setup. If the stress of space constraints, time limitations, and budget restrictions have stopped you from creating the quilting mecca of your dreams, get ready to advance toward your goal with the seven tips below from Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space, by quilter and professional organizer Lois Hallock.

Lois is featured in the new Creative Spaces magazine from Quilter’s Newsletter

Creating Your Perfect Quilting SpaceLois has made a career of helping quilters organize their sewing spaces for maximum efficiency. Her book is packed with loads of tips for quilt-room design, organization, and even ergonomics—and her advice applies to spaces of all sizes. Whether you want to simply declutter your quilting corner or are toying with the idea of renovating a room, Lois shares quilting-room design ideas that everyone can put to good use.

Download the eBook version of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space for sewing-room makeover ideas that will make your precious quilting time more relaxed, more efficient, and more fun. Start with these seven tips taken from the book—you can implement most in less than an hour!

Quilter's work triangle1. Create a quilter’s work triangle. The work triangle is a concept that has been used successfully in kitchen design for many years. Quilters typically move between their sewing machine, cutting mat, and ironing board. These three workstations constitute the quilter’s work triangle. Consider carefully where you are performing these separate tasks. Are they occurring in close proximity to each other? Or is your cutting table in a separate room from your sewing machine?

If you don’t have a permanent space for quilting, you can create portable workstations to set up temporarily and take down easily for stowing. The principles of arranging your workstations in a triangle apply to a temporary setup as well as a permanent studio. (Learn more about setting up efficient workstations on page 9 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space.)

Task lighting for quilters2. Use task lighting. Each point of the quilter’s work triangle needs its own task lighting, with the cutting table needing the most light. Clamp-on desk lamps with adjustable, articulating arms (right) allow you to move the light around depending on the current task. Your lamp should be able to reach any point on your table. A floor lamp with articulation also works for many tasks. (Learn more about lighting on page 12 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space.)

(Don’t have a budget for articulated lamps? Take the “use what you have” approach and repurpose lamps from other locations in your home.)

Ergonomics of machine sewing3. Adjust for ergonomic sewing (feels so good!). An ergonomic assessment of your quilting space can help you determine how to maximize comfort during sewing time. Much research has been focused on the ergonomic height for keyboarding on a computer. Luckily for quilters, comfortable keyboard height is very similar to comfortable machine-sewing height.

One of the key concepts of ergonomics is keeping your body in a neutral position as much as possible. Neutral position is the most relaxed state for your body. Your weight is centered and your limbs are relaxed. Since very few sewing tables are adjustable for height, you can choose a chair with adjustable seat height. Your seat needs to be adjusted so that when your arms and shoulders are relaxed, your palms can rest on the sewing machine bed with your elbows forming a 90° angle. (Learn more about ergonomics on page 15 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space).

Sewing-room makeover ideas4. Fold your fabric uniformly. By far the biggest storage problems for quilters concern fabric storage. Most quilters start with dresser drawers and boxes. Then, as their stash grows and they tire of digging through all of it in order to find something, they move it to clear plastic tubs. As the tubs become too heavy or too full to hold everything, some quilters graduate to rolling office carts. When the carts overflow or become too numerous, quilters move toward armoires, closet shelving, or bookcases. Sound familiar?

How to fold fabric for storageFabric that is folded uniformly is easier to stack, creates a less cluttered appearance, and makes finding just the right fabric much easier. I prefer to use an 8½" x 24″ ruler for folding any fabric that is greater than ½ yard (but less than 3 yards). First fold the fabric selvage to selvage (as it comes off the bolt). Then wrap the fabric around your ruler until it is all rolled up. Next slide the ruler halfway out of the fabric and fold the fabric in half. The folded fabric will be about 9″ wide by 11″ deep. Stack these folded fabrics on a shelf so that only the last fold shows. Because fabric can be inconsistent in selvage-to-selvage measurements, just make sure that your folded front edges are even. No one will ever see the back edges when the fabrics are stacked on the shelf, so it’s fine if the back edges are ragged. (Learn more about storage solutions on page 27 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space).

5. Repurpose furniture for your quilting space. Take a look at the furniture in your house. Do you have furniture that is being underutilized that you could borrow for your quilt space? Bookcases, bedroom dressers, curio cabinets, and computer desks are all great items to call into duty for storing all kinds of quilting supplies. (Read the real-life makeover story “Rearranging What You Already Own” on page 43 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space.)

U-shaped setup for sewing6. Try a U-shaped setup. Put everything you need in reach with a U-shaped design. In the example at right, a table serves as a secondary cutting surface that’s accessible while seated at the machine. Rolling file cabinets can fit under the sewing table and cutting table. These cabinets store tools within easy reach of the machine and serve as secondary cutting and pressing surfaces. With a U-shaped system, you can have a secondary work triangle at your machine. (Read the real-life makeover story “Ready-to-Assemble Solutions for a Fabric Collector” on page 75 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space).

Quilt-scrap storage7. Create a scrap-storage system. Buy a dozen clear plastic bins and line them up in a row on the floor. Sort your scraps by color and drop them into the appropriate bin. Store scrap bins behind closed doors but keep them in reach of the cutting table so you can drop scraps into bins as you create them. When you need a scrap of a certain color, it’s much easier to search through a clear plastic bin of one fabric color than to dig through an entire garbage bag! (Read the real-life makeover story “Going Vertical” on page 61 of Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space).

What is your quilting space like—and what’s your biggest organizational challenge? Share your story in the comments!


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