Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tutorial - Craft Space Tips and Tricks

It's been a little while since I've written a crafty tutorial, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite Craft Space Tips and Tricks.

After a long career in the manufacturing industry where the focus is always on safety, ergonomics, and productivity, my craft space has naturally evolved to include these same elements.

It's taken a few years to get the space to work perfectly for me, but it's worth taking a step backwards, and thinking about what will work for you.

Tip 1 - Desk or Table

This is piece of furniture where I would begin a scheme.

Think about the not only the height and width of your table or desk, but also the depth (how far it will protrude from the wall).

I have overhead cupboards, so I've chosen to have a slimline depth desk so that I can reach above. It also works for the small projects that I make such as pouches and bags and clothes.If you're a quilter, then a slimline depth desk probably isn't going to work for you.

For sewing purposes, I wanted a desk with a shiny laminated top. Not only is it really easy to clean, but fabrics glide across with ease as they move through the sewing machine.
On the negative side, this surface scratches really easily so it's not suitable for pinning.

Tip 2 - The Chair

If you're going to spend a lot of time sewing or crafting, then this is probably going to be the most important piece of furniture in the space. Try to think about if from the perspective of a worker who may spend all day at a desk, or at a table in a factory. They use an adjustable ergonomic desk chair for a good reason.

You need to be able to adjust your seat height to suit your table, and you also need to be able to adjust your back rest so that you sit up straight (and try not to hunch over).

I know a vintage wooden chair with a floral cushion looks much more pretty, but I'd rather be comfortable when sewing.

An adjustable desk chair is also very useful when it comes to the ironing board tip.

Tip 3 - Lighting

It's very important to be able to see what you're doing, especially if you like to craft or sew at night.

I don't have very good natural light in my craft space, so I went to the extreme and had a skylight installed, but you can pick up a great adjustable lamp (like the one pictured above) for around $20 from Officeworks.

Tip 4 - The Ironing Board

Most ironing boards are height adjustable.

Adjust the height of your board so that it's the same height as your table, and set it up right next to your sewing table.

As you're sewing, if you need to stop and iron, you don't need to stand up and walk to the ironing board, you simply swivel on your desk chair, iron your fabric, and then swivel back.

Tip 5 - Easy Access

To save time and frustration, keep everything you need easily accessible.

You may not have desk drawers, but think of other ways to keep necessary items close to your workspace so that you don't need to get up and search.

I have all of my threads, bobbins, tools, sewing machine feet, scissors etc. exactly where I need them.

Tip 6 - The Power

One of the things that drives me completely bonkers is that powerpoints are only ever installed right down low along the bottoms of walls, behind the furniture, making them completely inaccessible.

These powerboards with switches are a godsend. I have one sitting on top of the desk so that I can easily plug and unplug all of my appliances such as the iron, laminator, cordless vacuum charger etc.

So much easier than getting on the floor under the desk to access the powerpoint! 

Tip 7 - The Cutting Table 

I'm not sure  whether you can tell from this photo, but there's quite a big difference in height between my sewing desk and my cutting table.

I rotary cut everything standing up, so I've had my cutting table raised (by adding lockable castors) so that it is approximately the standard kitchen bench height of 900mm (of course, this height won't work for everyone as it depends on your own height).

Think about whether you're bending a lot when cutting. Is there a way that you could raise or lower your table so that it's more appropriate for your own height? A good test is to put your cutting mat on your dining table, and then then on your kitchen bench to see what difference it makes for you.

I hope there's a little helpful hint in there somewhere.
If you try something out and like it please let me know!


Lien said...

Thanks!! Your sewing table is the one from Ikea I was thinking about getting for sewing and my laptop. But my husband thinks I need something wider. I wanted something slimline so that there is more space in the room. I'm a beginner sewer so I'm not sure if I will delve into quilting but at the moment, I just want to try sewing clothes. There is also this table from ikea where the two sides fold down and there are drawers in the middle which I was thinking about using as a cutting table (can be stored away when not in use) but I think it might be a bit too low.

Ady said...

Ahhhh - what a wonderful crafting space, Cam. One of these days when one of the kids grow up enough to leave home, I might have the space to have something like this. In the meantime, I'll just go back and look at your pics and enjoy a bit of space envy. :-)

Wombat's Picnic said...

Thanks for sharing, so many good tips. I am sure you are seeing the benefits of a well thought out and organized space:) I am always losing things, moving things, piling things in my makeshift space (the kitchen). Maybe when the first child leaves the nest I will be so lucky:) Cyndy

bec said...

hmmm, I knew there was a reason I copy all your ideas, they are so good! Never even thought about that powerboard trick, thanks for that one!

sister outlaws said...

Oooh! I WISH!!!

willywagtail said...

A very good tutorial and I agree with everything there. I use a cot with a oard on top as my new cutting table as I found it was the perfect height for me. One thing that would be nice to have with carpetted floors would be a large heavy duty plastic office mat for the floor so that you could wizz between ironing board and sewing machine quickly. It's on my one day list. I also use a powerboard with switches, primarily for my iron as I generally never bother to switch it off otherwise. I also like the idea of a work triangle with cutting sewing and ironing being as close together as practical. Thinking of your dilema most days as I also grieve for my friends whose bodies were not able to be of help to anyone. Sorry I don't comment on those posts but the pain is too deep. Hugs Cherrie

Maxabella said...

When those drawers opened all I could think was "it's party time"! Amazing, Cam. x

Maxabella said...

When those drawers opened, all I could think was "it's party time"! x

Catherine said...

thanks for the reminder to clean up and organise my little craft space (I will try to avoid craft room envy as I do it though - your space is fabulous!)

Michelle said...

These are great tips, Cam. I especially like the ironing board one!

I bought a fully adjustable chair from IKEA years ago and it's the most comfortable chair ever. Could never go back to dining chairs after that.

willow and moo said...

Awesome advice!

The chair thing is really crucial. I spent too many hours on a crappy, cheapy Ikea swivel stool while sewing. It was no good for my back and posture. My mom bought a nice chair for me, and I've never looked back.

Bron said...

great tips! thanks Cam!

Fiona said...

Very useful tips, Cam. I ended up with an almost perfect solution last year - an old desk (height adjustable) for my machine with the saddle stool that I've used for years (no back rest - but you sit beautifully straight regardless!) .. another table (again with adjustable legs) for cutting and space to have the ironing board up right by my machine. The downside is that I don't have to get up to do anything (I can whizz between all 3 on my stool!) and that is bad for your back.

Selina said...

Great tips there Cam! Being such an unorganised person myself it's always helpful to hear other more organised peoples hints and tips! I especially like the ironing board height tip, never thought of that before. xx

Ren @theredwren said...

Cam, this post is fabulous! My machine sits on a desk dad built me back in high school which has a drawer, cupboard and side shelves. None of the above contain my sewing items, instead they 'live' in sewing boxes and things scattered around the room. You've completely inspired me to move them all into the desk.
I did a lean manufacture workshop through work and you can apply so much to the home if you give it some thought. I'll do a before after desk post for you.

Jennifer Rose said...

can i sleep under your desk? i don't take up that much room and would learn to iron if it meant i could have a craft room like that :p

Christine said...

Great article. Love your sewing desk.
And even better tip for power is to buy a remote controlled power board... The power board still stays neatly and safely (I've got 2 little ones) tucked away behind my sewing table, and I have a little remote control blue tacked to my table :)

Unknown said...

I love your desks. I've been wanting one of those for my sewing machine and overlocker since I saw your spring makeover. The draws look really useful. Also, love the little spice rack, and I've been wanting to raise up my "cutting table" for ages. It's a dining table, so a bit low.

MooBear Designs said...

I think I just worked out that my sewing table needs to be for sewing and I need a seperate table for cutting and creating. ATM it's all in one due to space. I wouldn't mind draws like yours either as I have everything in stackable draws on my desk but they are accessible. I love that your space is minimal... Oh and I need better lighting of an evening...

abearmadethis said...

I love the tip about the ironing board height xx

Jacinta @ Kadesia Jane said...

I can only wish for a sewing room like that..lol Maybe when the kids are grown up I can steal a bedroom :)

yardage girl said...

Good advice, and I wish I had your cutting table, and sewing room for that matter! Great pic of the draw full of cotton.

Allison said...

This is a test comment.

What I really want is a craft pod out the back. I keep telling my husband this. He thinks I'm joking.

Cathie said...

you know I love that cutting bench!
thanks for all the great tips Cam, now I need to get my areas sorted.
I really need a skylight in the kitchen.
thanks for sharing.

ZippyZippy said...

Blimey! It's a long way to the bottom of those comments.
What a lovely tidy space you have,
and those draws - eye candy :)

L said...

Man oh man that's worth doing - all of it!! (now, for my spare room!)

Anna Bartlett said...

Ah! I'm going to go and lower my ironing board right now!!!

Megan said...

I love your sewing table. Such big drawers! Perfect for all crafty tools. Great tips as well. Never thought of bringing the ironing board into the craft room (shows how much I sew doesn't it). Although I don' know if it would fit..

Cate said...

such a gorgeous and tidy space! I can only dream of that (I'm still stuck w the kitchen table!!)
And those drawers!! To die for!!!

Unknown said...

The OCD in me just loves the way you have your drawers organised. I could look at them for hours. So neat and all that colour!

GerryART said...

Great post with lots of illustrative photos.
Excellent tips.

And, you are SO organized ! ! !