Sewing Room Solution, Part I

Guys!! I was so inspired by your encouragement on the IKEA post I decided to stop by Baltimore’s Second Chance. Second Chance is a salvage warehouse that does workforce development and job training here in the City. When Liz and I went in, we were looking for kitchen cabinets that could be mounted. What I found, was this:

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Beautiful in all it’s formicaness, right? It was a custom desk that was there for $500. I’d mentally budgeted about three times that for my IKEA sewing room fantasy. This one has the wall cabinets I wanted (setting on the desk on the left), plenty of sewing space for my machines: sewing, coverstitch, blind hemmer, and serger. There’s also a ton of deep drawer space too. I was feeling REALLY good walking out of the warehouse!

I went home, measured my guest room. Liz helped my shove everything in to the ‘study’ including the twin bed. Yes, those are all my shoes in the left corner. They got kicked out of the second closet in my bedroom. My fabric that lived in the basement is in the bins.

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When they came to deliver, everything came in just fine. And, because of the orange of the walls and the tint of the floor, the formica isn’t nearly as offensive as I thought it might be!

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Except, for the L-shaped countertop. The countertop is nesting in my dining room for now.

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This 10 foot long long honker was not going up my steps.

The neighborhood handyman is coming out on Monday to mount the cabinets for me (they are setting on top of the desk on the left in the first photo). And, I’ll have him cut the countertop and reassemble it with glue and clamps upstairs.

The room will be a work in progress for a while.

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I *think* I will still put in an IKEA Expedit bookcase in this room for all my Burda magazines. Do you like how the one above used to hold all my sewing supplies and fabric back in 2008? HAHAHAHAHA! I’m happy to say I’ve easily sewn 85 percent of what was on the shelves. I actually only see three unsewn fabrics.

I now have about eight years worth of Burdas that fit perfectly in my Expedit storage system (the purple cubes) and don’t really want to give it up. I need to decide if I’ll move the one from the study (it’s also my desk) or get another one. Plus, I can use empty cubbies for all my sewing books that are in the study and basement.

The drawers pull out REALLY far, are super sturdy and very deep. I assumed I would not store fabric in there. But, after some suggestions on Facebook, I’ll be looking for cardboard that I can cut to width and store fabric upright — like files.

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I’ll need to store my cutting table somewhere too — probably the closet in the guest room. Right now it holds my formal dresses and vintage clothing. And, I might make one of the table tops an ironing station so I don’t have to pull out a separate ironing board. I’ll also want a peg board between the desk and the wall cabinets. So many things to think about! I’m really happy to make a real investment in my sewing space. Clearly, we’re not moving anytime soon! Stay tuned 🙂



  1. OMG…I am drooling at your find and how well it all comes together!!!! Your new hubby will always know where to find you!

  2. I vote for a pressing table. It will always be available, it can be bigger than an ironing board, which is always a plus, and you don’t have to walk around it, put it up, or trip over it. That has been one of my wishes for my sewing area, but I just haven’t found a countertop that works. I think you were wise to look around. What you found is perfect! Your sewing room is looking good!

  3. Ha! I also use a large l-shaped desk for my sewing space! The drawers and upper cabinets are the *best*. Mine also has a keyboard drawer, but that is under the big L I use for my cutting space. I store my rulers under there and a rotary cutter. When I need to cut, they are right there under the mat.

    Lookin’ good! I need one of those Expidit shelves myself.

  4. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished sewing space.

    May I suggest acid-free foam core instead of cardboard for fabric supports in the drawers? That way, you won’t have to worry about the acid in the cardboard turning your lovely fabric yellow.

    • I second that….I seldom leave comments but was very concerned about the cardboard idea.
      And congrats on your marriage. Kiss your Mom for all of us lurkers.

  5. Big score with that desk. Loving the look and the design of your sewing room. I’m happy with a place in my son’s room for my sewing machine now that he has led the nest!

  6. You don’t have to cut cardboard… check out these comic book backing boards:: I use these for my fabric, and they are cost-effective at $10-$15 for 100 boards. You can get them at Amazon or a local comic book shop. As a bonus, they are usually archival quality. The only drawback is if you have a large quantity of heavy weight fabric (say 3 yards of fleece) it can be a little bulky; otherwise I’ve been really happy with them.
    PS – I’m totally jealous of your new furniture and dedicated sewing room 🙂

    • Glad you liked it! I’m not sure if I saw the idea on Pattern Review or a sewing blog, but it is great 🙂 The boards are about the thickness of a men’s shirt box type cardboard, so for heavy fabrics or longer yardage I sometimes use two boards, but most things are fine with one board. Also… since you are are shopping IKEA for organization, I use their clear bins and the boards plus fabric are perfect (forgive my poorly lit pics). Just an FYI in case the drawers don’t work for you. Enjoy setting up your room!

      ________________________________ From: Cidell To:; Sent: Sunday, December 1, 2013 4:55 PM Subject: Re: [Miss Celie’s Pants] Comment: “Sewing Room Solution, Part I”

      This, is like the GREATEST idea I’d never heard of! Guess who just bought 100? ME! Thanks for the tip!!

  7. wow, how awesome to have a place like that to shop! I can hardly wait to see the finished space. Love seeing the sewing space of others.

  8. This is wonderful that you found such a great unit for that money! Your room is almost finished and will work wonderfully. But I don’t understand about the cutting table? It won’t fit into the room with the new unit? If you store it in the closet how will you cut out?

    • I have a cutting table from Joann’s that the sides come down. So, I could store it in the closet and pull it out for cutting. I could even pull it out into the hallway and cut if the room is too crowded, lol! I’ve been looking online at other sewing rooms and I think I’m going to eventually add a *few* more wall cabinets for storage. I think putting fabric in the drawers is a brilliant idea. But, I have a ton of notions, etc. I think I’ll just need to slowly go through my bins and boxes, re-sort and put them away. What do you think of using a length of countertop as a pressing area? I’m so used to a ironing board. But, it’s not like I *really* need to have all four of my machines out at the same time.

  9. It’s going to be gorgeous! The time without a sewing room will be worth it. BTW, I love my pressing table. Now I don’t have to constantly pick up all of my tailoring aids up off the floor.

  10. Wow! Can you say “SCORE!!”?? Because that’s absolutely what that is! Even if you don’t love the formica, the 1/3 the price makes it tolerable, and you *can* paint it, though it’s not the easiest thing to take on and probably isn’t worth it for such a large area. I’m so terribly jealous though, I wish my thrift stores had something awesome like this… *sob*

  11. This is so inspiring, I’m so jealous! I think it’s still going to be a couple of years before I get anything close to this. We currently live in a 2 bedroom condo so I rent space elsewhere for my sewing (a room in the back of a sewing machine shop, actually!). It was a great arrangement for a while, but I’m tired of travelling to sew and want to do it at home again. I’ve brought my machine and most necessary tools/supplies home but I still have to travel back to the “studio” (aka window-less hole in the wall) for the materials for any given project. So things are a bit messy in that dept at the moment, and will continue so for probably a couple more years. Oh well, it could certainly be worse. But I’ll be following this metamorphosis of your’s avidly and storing away ideas for when it’s finally my turn!

  12. What an amazing deal. I am in awe of that facility – I wonder if there is anything similar in the UK. Apart from the snow (tee hee) your new sewing room looks fabulous!

  13. So pleased that you acted! You’re a serious sewist and you need a serious atelier. Brava!

  14. There is a site that offers “hacks” for IKEA items. Deals can be found in the “as is” part of the store. Check <>

  15. Sheesh. I stop reading your blog for what, four months? and you go and get married on me!

    I am so sorry to hear about your mother. God give you both the strength you will need in the days to come.

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