The Peanut Gallery, Part 1: Sewing Space

I don’t know about you, but often while I sew I have a rowdy audience of one. She hasn't started sewing with me yet, but she’s always watching and (hopefully) sponging it all up. Today is a peek at what The Peanut is privy to to daily. So welcome to my home, please enjoy the view from the cheap seats.

A View from The Peanut Gallery: Sewing Space & Singer 5817c | The Inspired Wren
 A Singer 5817c, my workhorse.

The Peanut and I share our work space. She plays in the Kid Zone and I play in the Mommy Zone. To accomplish this I divided the basement family room visually with foam floor tiles and physically with an Ikea shelf. The shelf serves as both toy storage underneath in the cubbies and sewing-work surface up top. That's right. I sew with my knees knocking up against the toys and dug into the shelf; there are days I have indents in my flesh when I finally step away. It also means my work surface is narrow; 58" long, yet less than 15 1/2" deep. But it works. The hot iron and dropped straight pins stay safely on my side, while the endless scattering of books, Little People, and dropped Lego stay safely on hers. And it means I can look out into the room while The Peanut plays.

The Peanut's work space includes a book nook, a kid-sized round table, wide open floor, and a collapsible play tent. My immediate work space includes my machine, a rotating tool caddy, a rolling cart, my iron & ironing board, and my mannequin. [Before you think he's left out of the Family Room, Mr. Wren commands the couch, the remote, and a side table for his ubiquitous coffee cup & book/Kindle/newspaper.]

A View from The Peanut Gallery: Sewing Space | The Inspired Wren
The Mommy Zone from The Peanut's point of view

The Sewing Machine

My one and only machine is a Singer 5817c. It was a gift from my mother in the mid-90s. She is completely manual, no computer chip or programming (the machine, not my mother -- well, okay, my mother too). And she is in desperate need of a servicing (the machine, not my mom). She's never been serviced, she works like a champ, and now I'm afraid to give her to someone. I have an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality about this. I rarely even clear the dust from the bobbin case. I fully expect she'll seize up in protest tomorrow now that I've confessed all this.

The Rotating Tool Caddy

The rotating tool caddy was a less-than-$5 find at Ross or Tuesday Morning or some such store that I happened to wander into one day with cash in my wallet, time to kill, and nothing specific in mind. And I love it. I added the band of elastic to hold safety pins, chalk, and a few other small things. All the caddy items used to live in the basket on top of the rolling cart, but they are so much more convenient here to the right of my machine. 

A View from The Peanut Gallery: Most Frequently Used Tools | The Inspired Wren
Most frequently used tools; I love that the caddy spins on its base.

Behind the caddy on the wall is a simple 3-M hook with used-needle storage. As you know, machine needles need to be replaced regularly. But not necessarily after just one project. I'm constantly switching from ball point to sharp to denim and back again. I found if I put them back into the package they came out of I couldn't remember which were used and which were new. If I did happen to remember which were used, then I couldn't remember for how many projects. So I started putting the needle in a scrap of fabric from the project I first used it on. When I need that size/type needle for another project I add a swatch from the new project. After three or four projects I toss the needle. I used to pile these up on the window sill next to the sewing machine. To clear the windowsill I snipped a small hole into the corner of each of the swatches and hung them on the 3-M hook. A simple, convenient solution. And yet, I still sometimes sit down to sew and find I don't have the needle I need.

Quick Tip: Storing Needles | The Inspired Wren

The Rolling Cart and Mannequin

The top of the Ikea rolling cart used to hold my frequently used tools. Now that they've moved to the rotating tool caddy, it holds the infrequent tools: machine feet, bias tape makers, clover clips, lint brushes, etc. Most importantly it includes the manual to my machine. 

The next shelf down holds my project bags. I tend to buy fabric with specific projects in mind. As soon as I get home I wash the fabric. Once I'm sure it's dry it goes into a gallon freezer storage bag along with any notions, thread, and the pattern I have in mind. There they sit, hopefully not too long, awaiting their time at the machine. Of course there's a UFO (un-finished object) in there that The Peanut has long outgrown and at least one other never-begun project that has waited for over a year. But for the most part projects rotate out regularly.

The bottom shelf holds the towel I use on the dining room table when the ironing board proves to small for pattern cutting, extra storage bags, my clear rulers, the next size up mannequin body (conveniently collapsed), and finally a very important sewing tool, The West Wing DVD boxed set for sewing when The Peanut's in school.

A View from The Peanut Gallery: Cart & Mannequin | The Inspired Wren
Rolling cart rarely rolls away from the end of the shelf; I moved it here for the picture.

The mannequin, like the shelf and the rolling cart, is also from Ikea. She comes in two sizes, and I snatched up both; drove to two different Ikeas to make it happen actually. This is the smaller size and it's still a hair larger than The Peanut. I'm guessing a size 6, maybe 8? It's sold as a tween accessory, so it's not the most accurate of models. I just realized I never measured. [My computer is on a completely different floor of the house, and I'm too lazy at the moment to go find out -- anyone know?] She typically lives in the corner right behind where I sit to sew, and even if she's not accurate I still get a good sense of shape when I throw works-in-progress on her. The Peanut, however, thinks it was purchased just so she could reenact the "Butterfly Dance Show" episode of Team Umizoomi (the costume on the mannequin is missing buttons! And an antenna! Oh no!).

And that, dear readers, is my sewing space in the Mommy Zone. I wish I had beautiful pictures of a sun-lit space gleaming in white, but this is my current, beautiful-as-it-is reality. I love seeing work spaces; I've shown you mine, you show me yours! Share a link to pics or a post of your work space in the comments so we all can see. Then come back on the next Fifth Tuesday of the Month (September) for a view of my Sewing Storage, including how I organize patterns and fail to organize fabric.

Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren. 
You should really see all that goes into each project!
Summer means more playing than sewing, but you can still catch daily updates on Instagram (and Flickr) of works-in-progress. Get that behind the scenes view you’re looking for, and sneak peeks of First Tuesday Tutorials, too.