Even the smallest quilting space needs to include separate workstations for sewing, cutting, and pressing, plus storage space for fabric, tools, and other supplies. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about how to organize your quilting space.
Whether you quilt on your dining room table, in a corner of a guest room, or a large dedicated studio, quilting will be more fun and efficient if you follow three basic rules for organizing your quilting space.
How to Organize Your Quilting Space
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What do you need to know when it comes to how to organize your quilting space?
Quilters Need a Work Triangle for Sewing, Cutting, and Pressing
For many years, kitchens have been designed to make it easy to move in a work triangle between sink, stove, and refrigerator. Organize a similar work triangle for quilting’s three essential tasks: sewing, cutting, and pressing.
If you have enough room, you may also want to include secondary work areas for other tasks such as laying out your quilt on a design wall, spray basting, and machine quilting.
How to accomplish a work triangle when working in a small space such as a corner of your guest room? Hang a small ironing board on the back of the door or install one that folds down from the wall. Utilize under bed storage that you can pull out and bring into your work triangle. You can even convert a closet into a quilting nook. Think functional plus portable.
Store Fabric, Quilting Tools, and Supplies Where You Will Use Them
Every quilter also needs space to store fabric, thread, tools such as rulers and rotary cutters, supplies like batting and fusible web, patterns, quilts in progress, books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, and perhaps finished quilts that are waiting to find a permanent home.
The essential rule of storage: put each item near the spot where it will be used, so you don’t have to go across the room in the middle of your work.
Put Sewing Machine, Ironing Table, and Cutting Table on Wheels
Buying rolling versions of any of your workstations or storage areas — sewing machine table, ironing table, cutting table, or tools caddy – gives your work area much more flexibility. This can be especially helpful if you have to share your quilting room with other functions like a guest room or home office.
Tips for Important Quilting Room Work Areas
Sewing machine –
You’ll need a table to hold your machine. Look for one on wheels with plenty of storage. You will want some thread, pins and/or clips, scissors, seam rippers, and other sewing supplies right at hand. If you use your machine for machine quilting, it can be really helpful to have extra table space behind and to the left of the sewing machine to hold the bulk of the quilt while sewing.
PRO TIP: Some quilters also like to have small cutting and pressing mats close to their sewing machine so they can trim and press blocks without having to get up in the middle of sewing.
Cutting table –
If you have room for a cutting table, this can be very helpful. Goodness knows, I have had my share of pulling out my folding cutting mat and working on the floor but this isn’t the best situation for your back. If you’re working with limited space, a folding table that can be stored under a bed when not in use or a rolling table that folds closed when you’re finished with it.
Ideally, your cutting surface should be about the same height as a kitchen counter, about 36 inches from the floor. This will help you avoid back strain. Having a cutting mat of at least 24 by 36 inches allows you to lay out a whole yard of fabric at once.
If your cutting table comes with storage, all the better. You can keep your rulers, templates, and rotary cutters right at hand. If not, a basket or a bin that can be kept handy and pulled out as needed is a good idea.
Ironing table –
A separate pressing station is a must for ironing fabric and pressing blocks. Ideally, an ironing surface should be about 3 inches taller than your cutting surface.
Sometimes, a standard ironing board can feel too narrow when working with a large quilt or large pieces of fabric, but you can easily make a wider ironing surface, if needed. Cover a piece of thick plywood with batting and then cover it with heat-resistant ironing fabric that you can buy at a fabric store.
Quilt design wall –
This is definitely an item that many quilters don’t have, but it can be really helpful. You might be able to use a wall in your spare room or even create a smaller design wall on the back of a door. Another option, if space is limited, is to use a bed.
I have an old fabric cutting mat. It’s made out of cardboard and folds up for easy storage. I often use this on the floor or on a bed to lay out my designs and visualize them as I’m working. When open, it’s about 5 feet by 5 feet and 1 foot by 5 feet when folded.
You could easily make one yourself by purchasing some foam board or something similar at the dollar store or an office supply store and taping the pieces together with duct tape. With foam board, you can even put pins right into it.
Spraying station –
If you use spray adhesive to baste your quilts, you may want to set up a separate area for this. Be sure to have some sort of drop cloth available to catch any overspray. In addition, this needs to be done in a well-ventilated area. If you have any kind of lung conditions, you may also want to consider wearing a mask while spraying.
Mine is a portable spraying station that I can take outside. I keep a bin with the drop cloth, spray adhesive, and masks in it. Since I have asthma, this is the best way for me to use any kind of sprays.
Quilting frame –
Hand quilting frames are usually small and it can be quite easy to stash them in a corner or if yours, like mine, doesn’t have a stand, you can easily hang it up. I put mine on a wooden hanger and hang them in the closet when not in use. When there is a quilting project on my frame, I place it in an under-bed bin and store it under my bed or the bed in the guest room.
A machine quilting frame takes up more space. You’ll also need a place to set it up where you can have space on both sides. Then, you can work from either side of the quilt without feeling cramped for space.
Now that you have our tips, it’s time to organize your quilting space! Let us know how it goes and if you have any tips to share with us.