10 February 2016

Sewing Space Tours... Katie's Den of Zen!

In the second instalment of our new feature, Sewing Space Tours, we're nosing around a room that's a breath of fresh air to those of us trying to strike a balance between clear, calm, and uncluttered on the one hand, and stylish, inspiring, and cosy on the other. Katie has hit the spot with her spare room in North London! Let's hear more from the lady herself...

Hello, I’m Katie, I’m a digital product designer at a startup by day and a sewist by any other time I can find. I’ve been sewing on and off since I was a teenager but in the last three years I’ve really made it a mission to sew nearly everything I wear. I really like making super-wearable everyday clothing: jeans, tops, dresses and the odd coat are my usual projects.

I live in North London with my boyfriend and two cats, in a flat which we bought five years ago. I’m extremely lucky to have a dedicated sewing room - something I’ve never taken for granted! My boyfriend is a homebrewer himself so neither of us can complain about hobbies taking over the flat as we’re as bad as each other.

My room used to be really tiny but a year ago we knocked down a wall that separated it from a bit of corridor leading to our back door. The extra 12 or so square feet made a world of difference, and while having the back door lead right into a room isn’t ideal, it did have the benefit of adding another natural light source to the space. It means I have frequent sewing room visits from the cats coming and going too!

When it came to renovating the room after the building work, I was determined to get in as much storage as possible to house all those bits and pieces that the hobby makes you accumulate: fabric, notions, tools etc. I did a lot of shopping in Ikea and Muji and had a custom desk and shelving unit made by a local carpenter. He built a long desk to my specifications, so that I can have both my machines out together – before I would be lifting one out of the way to work with the other, all on a much smaller desk.

He put in matching shelves above the desk which use up some awkward alcove space and hold my main fabric stash. All my fabric is wrapped onto mini ‘bolts’ made from cardboard comic book backing boards. I’m fastidious about pre-washing and folding my fabric and seeing it all tidy and unwrinkled when I want to use it is a big motivator to keep things ship-shape. I don’t consider my stash huge and only keep what I plan to use fairly soon - having regular clear-outs is one of my tips for a happy sewing space.

The room’s style reflects my personal taste for interiors, which is generally quite clean and bright with dashes of vintage and a bit of Scandi influence too in the white and pale wood. I harbour minimalist ideals and don’t really like a lot of clutter, but I do like to have just enough going on to feel at home.

I’ve got some vintage spools that I found at a market in New York which are great for wrapping trims around. My friend gave me the contents of her grandmother’s old sewing box and I framed up some of the packaging as wall art as it’s so pretty and colourful. I save old spools to store bias binding on and use foam toe separators to store full bobbins!

One of my other top tips for a functional space is to try to keep your main sewing surface as clear as possible. I find that stuff has a habit of flying off the sides as you’re moving fabric around and losing your unpicker all the time is really not fun.

So I use a lot of wall shelving instead plus my trusty sewer’s friend, the Ikea Raskog trolley. I love my pegboard too for hanging up scissors and tape measures. My favourite bit of storage are the Muji vertical files to hold frequently used PDF patterns, sorted by garment type. It works so well for bulky paper pieces!

Since everything has its own home I find it quite easy to tidy up and keep everything organised. I hate the stressful feeling of leaving my room in a mess, so always tidy up between sessions.

The room actually does double as on occasional guest room, so there’s a daybed which, as well as trundling out to a double size, also has very handy large drawers underneath. They’re stuffed full of bulky stuff like quilt wadding, plus those boring alterations projects I keep putting off.

One of my favourite items in the room is the window blind, which my mum made from Nani Iro fabric. I like to sneak into bed in here early in the morning sometimes to read a sewing mag while surrounded by my fabrics to get some inspiration. It’s a nice feeling to know that when I do find time to sew, that everything is always here waiting for me.

It’s definitely my happy place.

Thank you Katie for sharing your lovely space with us, you have reached Sewing Space Nirvana, and for this we salute you.

Did you catch the first in our series of Sewing Space tours? Check out Lisa's sewing wonderland (#yurtlife).

Fancy having your sewing space featured on our blog? Find out how to submit. Can't wait to see it!


  1. Love the sewing space - I can't wait until I can have my own (we are currently renovating the study/man cave so the planned sewing space is full of general stuff).
    Quick question for Katie and anyone else, when you are having a clear-out of fabric, what do you do with the things you don't want to keep? My main concern is that it goes to someone who is going to love it/use it.

    1. Are you on Instagram? You could host an Instagram fabric sale!

    2. I've done this, it works amazingly well! I also have a great fabric reuse/recycle charity near me that I donate to as well.

  2. CaitLou - we always do a swap! A few nearby friends you know are into sewing, nibbles, a couple of bottles and a rule that if you make something with what you take, you have to bring a picture next time! If not, why not try putting it on ebay/gumtree/freecycle?

  3. What a great creative space! Having your own studio or nook really allows that freedom of diving into your projects, having all your tools and materials in one place! Even better if you can close the door on the mess, not having to clear up after each day!!


  4. I love the space, it's so light and bright! Also loving the shelves with indie patterns on them, decorative and practical all at the same time! Please keep the sewing space tours coming, they are quite inspiring (I also ended up learning a lot about yurts from the last one!) :-)

  5. I love it! So jealous. My boyfriend and I also thought we were the one of the first sewing, home brewing pairs in North London... clearly not!

  6. Beautiful space, so light and airy! And I love the decoration!

  7. Beautiful space, so light and airy! And I love the decoration!

  8. What a fab space!

  9. Thank you so much for the tips on sewing spaces. I have a tiny studio apartment, so anyway to save space is appreciated.

  10. Where did you get those shelves? They're perfect!!


Feel free to chip in! Please don't comment anonymously though - you can leave your email if you don't have an OpenID. Comments on older posts are moderated for spam so won't show up immediately.