Sewing Room Quandary

Ugly photo alert!!

and "possible-boring-content-for-most-of-you" alert!!

In our 9 years of living in this house, I'm sure I've changed my sewing room location at least 8 times.  Right now my only two options seem to be the dining room, where I have it currently, or the basement spare bedroom, which I had it for a few years before this.

I have SO enjoyed having it in my dining room, but I'm rethinking it again.  I'm (almost) admitting defeat and heading back to my dingy basement corner.

Above you see my dining room/sewing room.  It's open to the kitchen, the living room, and is pretty much what you see when you first walk in the house.  It is usually quite messy.  I'm SO sick of this, which is why I'm even thinking of moving in the first place.


And here's my basement room, sitting pretty much empty.  Kinda ugly, but it has a door on it!

So here's the pros and cons:

Upstairs dining room pros

- Big sunny windows which make for awesome photos.
- Big sunny windows which overlook my kids outdoor playing area
- Right next to the kitchen and laundry, so I can squeeze in a bit of sewing whenever I feel like it.
- In the evening I can sew and chat with Duane while he reads in his chair.

Upstairs dining room cons

- a very messy first impression for anyone
- no room for a design wall (which at first I thought I didn't miss, but now I do.  And I almost wonder if my work hasn't suffered a bit for not having one)

And then the basement is basically the opposites of all this:

Pros

- Away from the main part of the house so I can give a (false-ish) better impression to guests
- Has a design wall
- And a closet

Cons

- Terrible lighting
- Orange carpet
- Sickly yellow walls

Ok, I don't blame you for not reading this boring monologue, but I think I've already decided that I'll be making the pilgrimage back downstairs.  Don't worry, I don't think it will affect the amount of quilting I get done!


Just to reward you for those less than inspiring photos, here's a little UFO I finished up today.  It's been sitting for such a long time, and today I saw it there with it's backing and a pillow form all ready to put together!  And I thought I was so smart, I'd just finish this thing up in no time.

Then I came up against the same wall that I obviously did many months ago, the original reason why it got set aside.  I didn't have a small enough pillow form.  grrrrr... but I was not to be stopped today!  So I took the next biggest size, and chopped it off.  Yes, I just hacked right through that pillow form.  And then I serged the two sides that I'd cut off.  And it worked great!

Then I didn't have a zipper, and, oh well, I finished it somehow!


I want to quickly insert that I LOVE this exact color/fabric combo and definitely want to work with it some more!

But now my final dilemma, do you ever have this one?  I finished this pillow.  I do NOT need any more pillows.  It would make a cute little gift, but I'm not quite happy with the quality.  (The zipper that I improvised with just doesn't look that hot.  Of course I was smarter than to show that side to you!)

So once more I'm stuck with one of these things that I made and I don't need, but I'm too sheepish/embarrassed to give it away.  And it's so small that it has no earthly use anyways!

54 comments:

  1. In response to your moving quandary. Would it be possible to install some track lighting in the basement to give you better light? Or maybe and area rug to cover the orange? Or even new wall paint. I know these might not be entirely possible options but it might be something to consider!

    I do indeed have the dilemma of making things I don't need and not wanting to give them away because I am not proud. But I have found that I am the only one that ever sees my own mistakes and people love and cherish what ever I make for them, the imperfections just make it more unique. I wish I had advice about the pillow but alas I can't install a zipper for my life! I stick to envelope closure :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I actually love posts like this. I know. Odd girl here. LOL. I can see you figured out your own dilemma. Have you ever used daylight bulbs? I started using them and have fallen in love with being able to see well :-) As for the pillow, seriously beautiful and for those of us (me!) who are way too chicken to even try to put a zipper in anything I am certain it would be amazing! K, I am pretty sure people who don't run screaming from zippers would love it too...LOL

    ReplyDelete
  3. I use lots of daylight bulbs, it's almost noon in there always. My room is in the garage. I love sewing in the house. Maybe a can of paint would help?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree ...a quick coat of paint , a cheap throw carpet and a bit of lighting would probably make you space more inviting.
    And as for the pillow, I am sure you are far more critical of the make shift zipper than most other people would be...they would probably be thrilled with this gift!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oooh, I looove that Hello Roses fabric you used in the pillow, very pretty. Hmmm, this is a dilemma indeed. I have a spare bedroom in my house which theoretically would be the best place for my sewing space (out of the way, has a door, not immediately visible on entering the house), but I actually do all my sewing either on the dining room table or in the lounge on my little moveable table. I don't like being left out down the end of the house... Maybe you could move your main sewing space downstairs, and have a little table that you can hide away when not in use, for piecing or quilting small items, that you can use when you need to keep an eye on your kids or want to spend time with your man?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've only been sewing for a year, but I have already had 3 sewing locations. First it was the dining room table, which was nice for being out in the open, well-lit, etc, but I couldn't leave stuff out because my daughter is into everything right now (18 months). So then I went to the basement, but I couldn't stand the bad lighting, bad carpet, bad walls, dampness, coldness, etc. (And we rent so I didn't really have the option of "upgrading" the space.) So then I moved my stuff to a corner of our master bedroom. I still don't have a design wall (unfortunately), but I have good lighting and can leave my stuff out more. Someday I hope to have an actual sewing space that I can really make work for my needs, but I think most of us make do with what we have. As far as the pillow, I really think that we are the only people who notice the mistakes. Unless it is someone who also sews, I don't think anyone is going to call you out on it. :) Fortunately very few of my friends sew, and the ones that don't sew think I am amazing. Haha. Good luck with all your decisions! I love the colors in your pillow by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  7. So paint the walls and rip up the orange carpet! Even if the floor is cement or wood you could - paint it, stain it, use rugs, get an inexpesive room sized carpet. I would hate hate hate to have my creative mess be the first thing anyone saw when they walked in the house and I am NOT cleaning it up all the time! I would also hate being so far away from the family. :S
    We are moving into a new to us house in the next month or so and I get a NEW sewing room - my sister and I ripped up the carpets and hubby is going to get laminate at Costco and put that down. My sister and I also painted the walls...3 coats! and they are a nice fresh 'almost white'. I will have a GORGEOUS view of the ski mtn to the west. I can hardly wait.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hilarious about the pillow!!! About the move, not sure if someone said this already, but if I were you I would move all your gear back to the basement, but keep your sewing machine set up in the dining room. That way all the clutter is out the way, you can design downstairs and just sew upstairs. This is somewhat how I work at the mo!

    ReplyDelete
  9. For me, it would depend on how many visitors come, and really great friends don't care about a sewing mess. I'm in the basement and wish I had a window!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ugh on the quandary about where to have your creative space. I'm going through a bit of that, too. In the US, we had a finished basement and DH set me up with a big sewing area down there complete with cabinets and a big sewing area. I loved it. We now live in Ireland, where our 'modern' Irish home has a combo kitchen/dining room, which in reality-speak means that we have a large open kitchen and no dining room. I used to have my sewing machine set up on the table but my DH has this thing about keeping the house nice for that roving band of visitors that might (but never do) pop up at the door suddenly. We improvised and my sewing area is now in our college-aged daughter's room, which is great, but when she comes home I have to put everything away. I'm considering moving my stuff into the man cave/Study but don't know if I want to have my stash & ironing board upstairs, my machine downstairs, etc. I second the suggestion for the Daylight bulbs! I had a Daylight lamp that broke so we improvised and got some cheap student lamps and stuck the Daylight bulbs in them. Works like a charm!

    I think the pillow looks great! Give it to somebody who will love it because you made it--anybody who might see any perceived flaws doesn't deserve it, anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  11. before you move back downstairs, is it in the budget to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls? and maybe take a really fun chair and spray paint it a wild colour and put that new pillow on it for display in your basement studio and for visitors to sit on when maybe they want to say hi while you're quilting?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm with Adrianne and Jo, if you can manage that somehow. I moved all my sewing stuff into our son's bedroom when he moved out, and the bed still takes up the center of the room and one wall--but that's my "design wall" just a horizontal one. That room is pretty crowded so many times I end up setting up the sewing machine on the kitchen table (we don't have a dining room) where the light is best at this time. It looks like maybe you have space in the dining room on those cabinets to stash your current project and machine when necessary? Good luck! --Becky C.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Child gift. They are much easier critics, and you said it's small. Maybe a barbie dress with scrap materials, and boom. Done.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That is not an ugly photo at all!
    If it was me, I would invest a little time and money in making the dining room situation work better. Do you have an eat in kitchen? If so, would the family be ok with just using that area to eat? If you do need to use it to eat, I think it could still work. (surely someone has ideas on pinterest!) A hutch is great for hiding clutter. Or that fabulous buffet that you have, with a few fabric baskets to hold scraps, current projects, etc...that would be so cute! I also try to dedicate the last 5 or so minutes of my day to cleaning up my sewing area so that it isn't a total mess. It doesn't take long once you have a system, and it looks nice enough for if someone stops by.

    It may take some research and time but I would keep that space. In fact, when we were looking to buy a house where we are now, I specifically wanted a dining room (a room I typically call useless for us) to make into a sewing area. :) I love the idea of being in the middle of the house with natural light and such. And I like that dining rooms don't typically have doors, it feels so open and more creative than an "office"!

    The design wall would be hard to do without, though. Maybe there's another room where you could put one, and you could roll it up and put it away when not in use?

    And as for the pillow, I gift those types of projects to close family-typically my MIL. I know that sounds cruel, but it's not meant to be. She doesn't sew and she's so appreciative of what I make. So if something turns out not-quite-right, she is happy to take it off my hands. And she's always so quick to tell me how great it is, and how much she loves whatever detail I disliked! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jolene, I just moved to my "own" sewing room from the dining room. It definitely has poorer light and my pictures show it. It bugs me! However, now I can leave my work out which is a definite plus. If you guys can eat without putting your work away, I vote stay in the dining room. Paint and carpet and fake lighting just can't compare with real lighting and that feeling of being "with" the family, instead of removed. Sorry to be voting against the tide!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yeah, I'd go with the door! I have to pick up and put away EVERYTHING every time I sew, because the cats would get into stuff and the mess would drive me nuts... if I could close the door, that would be awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  17. First off, that pillow is lovely and you need to not be sheepish about sharing it with someone if you want to! As for your sewing room, it is hard, but really new paint is easy and not expensive. The flooring is a bigger deal to change cost wise but maybe with better paint it won't be such an issue. What's the lighting issue? No fixture or crummy bulbs in the fixture you have? Fixture too small? You might be able to improve what you have without spending a fortune. Have fun with the new space when you get back from Sewing Summit!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yeah, I'd make my home in the basement if I were you. Make it your own!

    ReplyDelete
  19. It sounds like you are off to the basement. But I think you might end up back in the dining room soon. It's hard to be tucked away in the basement where the kiddos aren't likely to play. (I dunno maybe you have a playroom down there?) I wish you happiness in your decision.

    Your color selection is SO very inspiring to me! I always look forward to your posts! And the pillow is awesome. Any reader would love to have it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh oh, I can so relate! I do so much better with some light, and I too love being able to see outside and keep an eye on the kids. I just love to see birds and trees too. My creative juices don't flow well in the dark basement. What if you were to set up the basement for the design wall and storage, but keep your work area upstairs? Keep your essentials in an organized bin or basket, your machine and anything else that keeps you creative. You could have a small portable design wall for upstairs, but the larger for downstairs. Love the track lighting suggestion for downstairs too. Now, the huge clutter issue is out of the way. And, you are an artist, so your true friends won't care, they will " get it," but clean up will be a bit easier for those who don't. If all else fails, you can take a large tablecloth and cover everything and say you are getting ready to paint! :-). I love your pillow

    ReplyDelete
  21. You and your family need to be happy first. Figure out what works best for that and I know you will come up with some amazing solution to make either your dining room or basement work. I understand the dining room 'first impression' dilemma and I finally had to accept that those first impressions were important to me. If my first impression when I come home is that my house is a mess it is depressing to me. So my creative mess is in the basement.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Pick me!! And I think the basement is a great idea, but I totally understand your reluctance. I have a cold little corner where all my stuff is, and I usually end up making a mess of the table as well...It's nice to be near all the action isnt it!! So I hear you, but I think you'll be happy to have a door on your projects at least!

    P.S. great idea to hack the pillow to what you needed! I think it looks great, as all your things do! Lovely colors and prints!! And it would get loved to pieces if it came to stay with me!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love being part of the household and not feeling like I am in a cave when I sew. Whatever you do, make sure that you are close to the center of the home. I also depend on the TV to entertain me, only to listen, not to watch. I loved your "chopping the pillow up" idea, ha, is that called "upcycling" now days?

    ReplyDelete
  24. If YOU looking at the mess is bumming you out - ok, consider the move and sprucing up the basement. But if it is about the first impression of others - stay where you are! If someone would think differently about you from looking at the beauty of your quilting gift - which can be a messy beauty for sure, but that's the process - they should not be in your house! AND, do you want these people relegating you to the basement, where you can't have the joy of watching your kids and chatting with your hubs? What would give you the most pleasure....and the greatest number of happy minutes?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I agree with the others about fixing up that basement room to really work for you! You are lucky to have that space to use just for sewing :) I used to sew on the kitchen table, it sucked, but that is all we could do... then I moved up to our master bedroom, not my favorite, but at least I have a dedicated table to leave everything on!

    I love your pillow :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. A sledgehammer would quickly give you a window! Ha ha. I am leaving a comment just in case you change your mind about giving away that adorable pillow : )

    ReplyDelete
  27. i keep my sewing area up in a bedroom with RED walls for many of the same reasons...im such a slob and its terrible to see all the time ... im open for slightly mangled but adoreable pillows if you change your mind!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Have you considered dividing between the two spaces? Use the basement for storage, a large cutting table, and
    "project prep", but keep your sewing machine and current project(s) in the dining room? I had a similar arrangement until just recently, (when a different upstairs room opened up) It works better than you'd think if you don't mind the occasional trip up and down the stairs! You have the advantage of keeping most of the "mess" out of sight but sewing in a nicer space. With my machine on the table, I had two rolling cart with bins (from Ikea) to stash my current projects and tools, with one top used for an ironing board, and the other for a small cutting mat. I could pull them into place on either side of me when I was sewing, but tuck them away when not in use.
    Whatever you decide - I'm sure it will be exciting to get re-organized and settled anew!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love the pillow. How much would you sell it for?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Also LOVE the colors of the pillow. Any idea on fabrics used.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm voting for the dining room. My house is set up in a similar way, but instead of the dining room, I'm using the former living room. When you walk in our house, on one side of the entry is the dining room and other side is the sewing room. It is usually messy. it bugs the heck out of me, but I have decided that the pros outweigh the cons. If my friends don't want to visit because of the condition of that room, well then they aren't really friends anyway. And I find they are more interested in the design wall than the total mess. I try to remain uncluttered but when you are in the middle of a project, that is really hard. We rearranged things so I could put up a design wall, and I can see where there would be a dilemma by not having one. For years, my design wall was actually a portion of the hallway right outside our bedroom door. Inconvenient but better than nothing. It's just the two of us at home now, but I like it that my sewing room is fairly close to the family room.

    And I would definitely be thrilled to take that pillow off your hands. The fabric choice is genius. As always...

    ReplyDelete
  32. Last year I white washed my sewing area and it made a huge difference. Maybe before you relocate down stairs you could throw a coat of paint on the sickly yellow walls and it would brighten up the space. That would even help with the lighting.

    ReplyDelete
  33. If you go to church, I bet your baby nursery would love to have a pretty pillow like that to use in their rocking chair - and they won't notice the imperfections that you do! And I really like Lark's idea - that gives you the best of both worlds!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi. I understand your dilemma. I too do not have the ideal sewing area. In the midst of family chaos and love! Maybe this little saying I once read will help you decide. "This Mess is a Place!".

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have storage and messy parts in a back room, but a sewing desk and small work area out where everyone lives and where I can be a part of our life. It just doesn't work to hide ALL of my stuff. I only allow myself ONE project OUT of the room at a time when I am doing it right. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Your pillow is perfect in that chair - the one in the picture, why not leave it there? It's so cute.
    Instead of moving - why not a roll up design wall and use the basement room as storage. My daughters are grown now but some of our best memories were around a messy fabric strewn dining room table.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Not that my vote counts, keep the upstairs and buy a screen for cutting off the veiw when real company comes and all the other freinds that come, already know your a quilter and will love your Creative mess.
    so. If you must go down stairs Paint and ripp up the carpet and paint the floor! too!
    you will love it. thats what I did in my moms house we realy paint tile floor, than sealed it. It washed wonderful.
    Fla. Quiltedladibug

    ReplyDelete
  38. My sewing room is the dining room too, and what visitors see when they enter the house. Have you thought about getting folding panels? They can "shield" the mess from visitors and the other side can become a design wall. Not knowing your home, it may not be practical....just a thought! Love the cushion.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I am going through the exact same decision! I AM going to empty a guest bedroom and set it up as a sewing and study room. I am just so challenged when it comes to setting up......colors etc. I keep putting off just starting. I have a great table that was my parents for a sewing table. I think this post has given me the motivation to just start. Wish I was more creative. I will watch your site for color ideas and ways to set up a room

    ReplyDelete
  40. keep your sewing room where it works the best for you! do your best to get organized every day--keep bins or a nice set of empty drawers in that room for really quick clean ups and have a hideaway spot for ironing board, etc - keep the floor clear. if you go back down stairs -- orange carpet isn't so bad. your pillow has orange in it and i know you like those fabrics -- paint the walls light gray, add aqua, yellow, charcoal, navy/royal blue or purple where ever you can to cheer the room up. invest in really good lighting over your work area. good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  41. That pillow looks great on that chair. Leave it there! It looks inviting. Hmm? I love love love my old halogen lamp that beam up to the ceiling. I don't envy you your dilemma. :0)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Jolene, the thought of you sewing in a dark corner of the basement makes me sad. Couldn't you stay in the dining room and utilize some better storage solutions to keep it tidier. Maybe baskets could stow away all your stuff, inexpensive shelving from Ikea, a folding screen when guests come? You could even use the back of a screen for a design wall. I think those sunny windows and proximity to your family is important to your well being! I have a dining room at the front of the house, too. It is clutter free and pretty, but do you know when we use it? Never!! (unless it is my turn to host Thanksgiving). What a waste of space. I look at it all the time and think, this would be a great sewing room!! That's just my two cents - I hope you do what is best for you, but if you do return to the basement, fix it up and make it pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am not sure of the lay-out of your dining room,but would a door be an option? My advice is to stay upstairs 'cause, guess what? blink and your children will be grown.S.E.R. from Ky.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Love your blog and the ideas, so whatever it takes to keep them coming! I'm in favor of the dining room too, and just get some more creative shelving! I love the idea of family time, your hubby in his chair and you sewing. He might not follow you downstairs!! But I would suggest a coat of paint and maybe an area rug if you choose the bedroom! It wouldn't take long and would make a huge diff! Good luck on whatever you decide.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love the pillow - it looks cute. As far as your sewing room dilemna? I would stay upstairs. The lighting is fantastic and its nice to be able to see what your kids are up to. However, I have to admit my sewing room is in the upstairs spare room, and I have to say after working in my kitchen for a couple years, I love being able to leave things out and close the door to the mess. Could you have all your main supplies in the basement (ie stash, supplies), but keep your sewing machine upstairs and your current project in a bin? It might be a lot of hauling, but then you could make things look a little more tidy? I agree that sprucing up the basement room with paint might help too.

    ReplyDelete
  46. My sewing area is in the back part of our living room. Definitely the first thing you see when you walk in our front door. I do my best to keep it tidy but you know how unruly those pesky projects can get! I have my sewing area here because that's usually where the family is, the lighting is fantastic and I can see it from the pass through window in the kitchen which makes me incredibly happy when I'm doing dishes at night. I have an old hutch that houses my fabrics and what not (and hides the old sewing machine). I would keep your sewing area upstairs. If the only reason for the move is to maintain a cleaner house for guest, just remember, they don't live there.

    Second, you can send me the pillow. I love it just the way it is and I need a few more :-).

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hehe...I always move my sewing space too. Currently, I use my bedroom closet to store fabric and notions I am not currently using. Sewing desk is in our living room as well as current projects. I try to keep it tidy but when working on a project it is almost impossible. I do like being close to my kids though, and hey...I live here! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Found your blog through Pinterest. I LOVE this pilow!! Love the color scheme and fabric choices. I love quilt blogs because I wish I could show. Thank you for sharing your talent. I have already scrolled through and pinned several of your quilts. What talent! Mahalo!!

    ReplyDelete
  49. oh and i have to say that i love the look of your dining room/sewing room. and seeing it full of a project is inspiring mess and all. so good luck either way!

    ReplyDelete
  50. First of all - love the pillow, beautiful colors. And if you want to work with this color scheme again, put together a small child's size quilt that will complement the pillow and this turns into a fabulous gift - or a lap size quilt and it's perfect for any age. I would hate for you to closet yourself away in the dark basement. Is there anyway you could keep most of your fabric/supplies in the basement but still retain a sewing/cutting spot in the dining room where you could work on your current project? I know, you have to have the sewing machine and a cutting mat and an ironing board... and you'd still be running back and forth, up and down stairs, but if you're on the verge of moving anyway, you could try it out mid-move. Do you have room in your dining room for one of those roll up design walls? I've seen them and they've always looked so cool, but even if I could find a place to put one (and even if we didn't rent our house) I think it would be too much temptation for an almost four year old boy. Good luck in finding the solution that works best for you!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I love the fabric combination which you used on the pillow, Jolene! It's amazing what colours you can put together to create a pretty design.

    I meant to post the other day, but good luck with your decision on what to do with your sewing room! It sounds like you've got some great ideas for putting your sewing room together. I think I'd vote for going to the basement so that it can be out of the way...with some paint and lighting, it's amazing how a room can be transformed...I love having mine out of the way so I can spread everything out...it's not really called "making a mess" when you're sewing and crafting, is it? :) I'm getting ready to move my craft/sewing room for the 3rd time. I hope this will be the final time. :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. At work we had daylight lamps at the ceiling. It made really a difference. Over here they're quite expensive but they're worth it. Doesn't replace the sun and the view but is maybe an option. I'm sure you find a colorful way to shoo the other odd things, too.
    I like that cushion. I understand what you mean: the cushion has to be perfect to give it away without those feelings. I often feel the same. But I'm sure there's a lovely home where this cushion will be welcomed. Here for example. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  53. I know this post is late to comment about it, BUT, I thought I'd say a word or two...Your not-so-ugly 'spare' cushion, without a good home to go to, is perfect to have when either a small child needs to be able to sit up higher on a chair to reach a table, or someone with a sore back (or bottom) needs something soft to make them feel more comfortable when sitting. There's always a good use for an extra cushion - even to keep one in the car for long trips! I like to recycle charity shop cushions (usually bought for 50 cents - $1). The inserts are usually fine to recover and always come in handy...good for outdoor seating, too!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I had to build a house that would give me a place to call my sewing room (or mini-studio). So, I understand your dilemma! It would've cost me my sanity if I didn't have this room, as small as it is - it's MINE! Hope you get your own space sorted out - a place for to continue to create and enjoy your passion of sewing :)

    ReplyDelete