{I’m finally doing it ~ showing off my re-organized studio!}

When I started sewing ~ almost 3 years ago, I was sewing in the kitchen on our dinner table. Zack & I were living in Michigan and the house we were renting was so teeny tiny. We moved there thinking new career opportunities were going to be birthed, but really — looking back, they were, just not how we originally dreamed. After each project I had to pick everything up and put my machine + notions away. But even though this made for more work, I didn’t mind. Having my own sewing machine to use while learning this new trade made it all so much more exciting, it was worth all the extra work and the fact that I was ‘getting it’ dissolved any thoughts of it being extra work.

And now, almost 3 years later, I truly still feel that way: Owning a handmade business will always be a lot of work; it’s a constant labor of love, but it’s the love I have for it that makes all the hard things easier. Amen? :]

Once Zack & I lost our jobs, back when we were living in Michigan {I’ll be telling more of this story soon, but here’s another link to Part I of my story in case you missed it}, we decided it’d make more sense for me to have a more permanent sewing space. Together we rearranged the office in our teeny tiny house so I’d have a little more room to work. I think I’ll always consider this room of our Michigan house as my first studio ♥ After all, it IS where the signature Gussy Sews ruffle was born — wink!

From there we moved to an apartment in downtown Minneapolis and we moved sewing room into what you may call a Den. This new space was also tiny, but it was so exciting to be working in this space! Once I quit my day job {which was about 15 months ago; click here to see HOW I did it!}, it was clear I’d need more space to spread out and work, so hubby – being the amazing man he is – suggested I move my studio space into the living room. I hesitated for like half a second, because even though we knew it would take up some of our living space, it was pretty necessary we make the change.

We kept my sewing space like that until we moved a little ways from the downtown area, into a neighborhood a couple miles from downtown Minneapolis, which is where we currently live. As quickly as this business bloomed, I also quickly needed more space for it. This move has provided us with a workroom that’s about 11′ x 14′ plus a small closet, as well as an office for me to work in that’s about 8′ x 8′ ~ AND it’s given us a separate packaging room, about 5′ x 6′. This packaging room is the newest addition to my business.

About a month ago Zack and I had another transformational talk, which is what lead us to this major studio re-arrange. Not only is the studio much more efficient to work in, but like I mentioned above, we now have separate space for packaging. YEOW!

Want to know something kinda silly? The feelings of how excited I was when we moved into this house is something that hasn’t left me. The extra bedroom that we transformed into my studio used to seem SO LARGE ~ when we moved in I barely had enough furniture to fill the room, so for the first few months it sat awkwardly. Nothing like a little awkwardness to make a memory fun, right? ;]

It quickly filled and soon turned into this:

Which clearly wasn’t working. Once again, it was awkward and hard to move around in. And let’s be honest… Christmas will be here in just a few short months and there was NOT room for an extra helper to work in there.

So a few weeks ago, I got to work. Everything came out, the floors were washed, and back in went most things.

It was so fun to rearrange my little collections in new ways. Things I’ve gathered over the years and gifts friends have sent my way. This print is from one of the first blog friends I made, Becca, it’s a quote from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory ~

This red basket is something I picked up while spending the afternoon with my favorite Molly. Talk about God giving you the sweetest friend you could ever imagine… ♥ And inside the basket is just a sampling of the spools we’ve emptied. Molly also gave me these vintage patterns. And over there, in the far left corner, is a piece of vintage quilt {heirloom} that my mother-in-law embroidered for me — it reads, Gussy’s Sweat Shop ~

Here are some links to a couple tutorials I wrote, on how to finger knit and how to make garland from fabric-covered spools. See, I told you we go through spools quickly… tee hehe.

And this is MY BABY, my first ever sewing machine {and my most favorite sewing machine, shhhh!}. This machine is so strong and powerful… it’s a keeper!

Another blog friend, beautiful Casey, painted this duo for me ~

And this custom typography piece is from Dee of Red Letter Words. She and her husband are SO KIND and actually live really close to my hometown. Dee had me list words I wanted her to use, she even matched the canvas color to the exact shade of pink we use with the Gussy Sews brand. I heart Dee!!!

This is what my studio looks like right now…

{and I love love love it!}

But part of me hesitates to show this because I know it’ll change in a few months. But like my pal The Nester says, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Or functional. This room is so much more functional, it’s almost insane. And to think I *just now* realized how truly better it could be for my little biz. My hope is to put a round table in the middle for another small workstation.

And of course, this room has already changed a little since I took these photos. All of the packaging supplies have moved to another room so it’s a little bit less cluttered in here.

Here’s my most favorite part about re-organizing the studio, the biggest change we did to the studio space: a 6′ x 6′ storage shelf, which is P E R F E C T for organizing all the fabric, fabric scraps, to-be-sewn orders, even a few pre-cut items. Once it was built it took me about three minutes to have all the bins assigned and filled up ;]

We bought 2 of these shelves {from Home Depot} to make one large shelf.



OK, so I’m dying to know — what are your best-kept organizational secrets? Share ‘em below!

Mine would be to keep things you use close-at-hand, and to not be afraid to build UP for more space, instead of cluttering the edges of a room by building OUT.

xoxo.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I think the best part of your change seems to be the shelving unit – that’s a must-have. My studio has evolved quite a bit in the first 10 months I’ve had it, but I think it needs to change even more to provide more storage soon. At first I stored my thread in vintage glass jars . . . but as I started sewing daily I realized “holy cow this storage is a pain in the butt!” So I’m working on creating more functional storage.

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    hi jane! i couldn’t agree more ~ my focus is now on things like “how will this be the most functional?” or “does this make sense for our workflow?” even though it makes it more challenging at times it’s so worth it in the long run. thanks for your comment — XOXO

    [Reply]

  2. 2

    says

    I love how clean and airy your studio looks! It makes it very comfortable and inviting to create. I love the shelving that I had installed in my sewing room. It allows me to store fabric and supplies at eye level and at arms length. The next change that I will make is to take up the carpeting (I’m using my son’s old bedroom) an will put down wood as it is much easier to clean up on wood vs. carpet. I also love pretty storage boxes. I look out for the 40% off coupons at Jo-Ann’s and Michael’s. These make storing away fabric pieces and supplies pretty and easy!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    oh yes — having hardwood has been amazing! i recommend it :)

    [Reply]

  3. 3

    says

    my studio is actually my dining room.
    But it’s upstairs in the middle of things (sort of, so a mama can sneak in there in a moment of inspiration ;)
    I have a ginormous, beautiful china cabinet (which was my first non-hand me down actual grown up purchase from Ethan Allen {yeow}.
    I have been slowly taking dining room stuff out of it and filling it with aubrey plays stuff. I think now it’s time to get at least 8 pretty bins to organize and fill up with my fabrics, and I’m thinking that’s what we’ll see now…
    Now to find the perfect happy bins that won’t break the bank ;)
    A real deal studio, no more moving stuff around!
    Your post has inspired me!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    i love the idea of a pop-up studio or office — one moment it can be hidden and the next it’s time to get busy & work! so fun! :)

    [Reply]

  4. 4

    Jackie says

    I love your studio! I have the same sewing machine, and my mom had one that she still uses too! :) I am not the best at organizing, but i love having shelves with baskets and little containers to hold, buttons,tags, and other small things. Enjoy your studio!! :)

    [Reply]

  5. 5

    says

    Here’s pics of my studio http://lilalice.weebly.com/1/post/2011/02/the-sewing-studio-tour.html.
    Hubs just built it for me in the basement after I was taking over the media room above the garage. I use glass jars to hold headbands, buttons, zippers, barrettes, clips etc. It looks organized to see through them, but is functional too. I know when I clean up the sewing room, it’s hard to find anything. I lost a package of teeny tiny rinestones cuz I put them in a safe place.

    Your sewing space looks great, love that you have a separate shipping area. I store my stuff under the table, there’s cubbies.

    Katy

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    oh i love your worktable! LARGE worktables are so useful! thanks for sharing a link to your post ~ it’s so fun to see where your items are made. XOXO

    [Reply]

  6. 6

    says

    Me, my Grandma, and my Mother-in-law all have that same sewing machine! I love mine and it’s still my favorite even though I own another as well.

    Love peeking into your new space! I share a space with my hubs and cannot wait to move into a house with more space! *fingercrossed*

    [Reply]

  7. 7

    says

    My crafting space is just a corner of my dining room (plus a huge pile of yarn upstairs in the guest bedroom that’s going to need to find a home someday!) but my BEST TIP is to organize stuff in the way that works best for your own work flow. I keep all my tape/scissors/glue in one basket because when I need one of those things, I usually need another. And I keep all my craft paper sorted by event (baby shower, birthday, holiday) instead of by color (which is how I was trying to make myself do it) because I use those kinds together!

    My system might just look like a MESS to anyone else, but it all makes sense to me!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    amen.

    amen.

    amen.

    yes — doing something because it works well for YOU must be #1. it must be!!! there’s no other way to be as productive.
    thanks for leaving a comment, suzanne :)

    [Reply]

  8. 9

    says

    I just love it! All of the artwork has meaning and its adorable. I need some of that in my sewing room. My mom had a similar model Kenmore and NO LIE it lasted well over 20 years before she splurged on a pimp new machine. Of course she STILL has that old kenmore! Those are real gems! My only organization tip is to go through scraps and stuff every couple of months. I put good size scraps together in zippy bags and send to Goodwill. It will make someone else’s day for sure!

    [Reply]

  9. 10

    says

    Hi Gussy,

    Thanks for the tour. It all looks so neat and organized, but does it stay that way? ;) Whenever I sew I make a big mess with scraps of fabric and thread all over the place. I loved seeing your studio….sure wish I had a great old Kenmore like yours. Using bed risers on your cutting table is pure genius!

    I use the cheapo plastic drawer things on wheels to store fabrics and sewing supplies. You can just roll then to where you need them.

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    it does stay that way!!! PROMISE! :)

    my assistants are fabulous and they clean up when they’re done working for the day. it always looks that clean ~ are you jealous? tee hehe.

    [Reply]

  10. 11

    says

    I am truly inspired by watching your business grow, grow, GROW into something so wonderful and BIG that you need more and more space! My shop is just starting out and I also do everything on my dining room table! It has become my second home, my own personal “studio” of sorts. One day I know we will have a bigger house and I will *hopefully* have a room all to myself to paint and organize my things but I will always look back and think about how it all started on my dining room table! :)

    My favorite organizing tool is a set of shelve/bucket things from IKEA where I keep all my crafty things in our living room closet. Living in Texas kind of negates the need for a coat closet since we only wear jackets about 2 month out of the year so I repurposed it into my craft closet! I can keep so much stuff in there!

    Happy Friday Maggie!!

    [Reply]

  11. 12

    says

    Your studio looks so good! Having hardwood floors I find it necessary to take everything out to do a good cleaning about every 6-9 months, just to make sure I get ALL of the dust. I also find it key to clean up after EVERY project or at least at the end of each day.

    About two months ago I did a big redo of my studio. This is how it turned out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiffanyvictoria/sets/72157627133794474/detail/
    and like you I LOVE It! It fits me perfectly!

    Happy sewing!

    [Reply]

  12. 14

    says

    When my mister and I got together, I moved from Northeast PA to Metro DC into a house half the size (for twice the cost!). I did a lot of reading about living in small spaces, and the recurring theme was “store up”! We came up with some really creative ideas ~ a shelf all the away around the room about a foot from the ceiling is the perfect place to store books, DVD’s and CD’s. Instead of art, consider wall mounted shelves (Ikea and Pottery Barn are great sources) above a table or dresser for pretty and functional extra storage. Instead of dressers in our bedroom we use tall cabinets with glass doors. (Again, Ikea or PB!) Behind the doors, clothing is folded neatly and lacy things are stored out of sight in wicker baskets. A flat screen TV sits on top of one of these (and almost touches the ceiling); the perfect height to watch from bed, and out of the way when not on.
    I love your newly organized space! I love your thoughts about working at your dining table and in your living room! I had been working on designing and building my studio space in our daylight finished basement until it was just flooded during the hurricane. So I am back to the dining room table for the moment!
    xo, Anita

    [Reply]

  13. 16

    says

    Oohh I have my fingers crossed that sometime in the next few months we will have a new house and with it a place to set up my studio again! Your room has me itching for my own space again. I love that clean open space look, for me to be and stay organized everything has to be in view like your room. Looks like you are ready to conquer the holidays :)

    [Reply]

  14. 19

    says

    I totally share your enthusiasm! My daughter moved out, and it took me all of 2 days to convert her room into my ultimate sewing room. I will post pics on my blog someday soon – as soon as I can keep it clean long enough. :) I always have several projects strewn about. My favorite organizational idea is rubbermaid bins – I use them to store everything from fabric to zippers. I also have a deep love for my label maker – all of my bins are labeled. My most clever trick was to take this great yard-sale-find basket and put it under my table – I then put my power strip and all of the cords in the basket and draped a quilt over the top. Now all you see is a cute basket with a quilt inside instead of all the ugly cords. I’m attending Blog Sugar – can’t wait to meet you in person!!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    YEOW! — see you in a few weeks! xoxo

    [Reply]

  15. 20

    says

    I love your new workspace. This studio oozes with creative energy. A class/workshop/gathering of the DIY-kind would be fun around those tables in the middle. And I love to see that you’ve grown to 4 machines. Yeow!!! It’s a fab space that’ll keep you smiling every day. Thanks for sharing. =)

    [Reply]

  16. 24

    says

    Looks so much better!

    When we first moved into our slightly larger home, I got a huge extra bedroom as my studio/office. So, I didn’t do any thinking, I just shoved everything in….and it was a mess all the time.

    About two months ago, I rearranged and organized and it is so functional now – I love it!

    My organizational tips….try to put things away when you are done with them or you will turn in circles for 10 minutes saying “where is my measuring tape?” {I do this a lot….}

    [Reply]

  17. 25

    says

    Studios are always evolving and changing as our needs and growth do. Last year my tiny studio was featured in the 2010 winter edition of Cloth Paper Scissors STUDIOS (soon to be in a book as well ;) and since then I have also rearranged my space because I’m working/living differently then I was then. The basics are the same with a smaller work desk but my organization hasn’t changed at all…I still assign “baskets” to all of my projects and by function so that when I want to work on certain projects, I can simply pull down the baskets and begin the tasks at hand. We have a very tiny space now (all 687 sq.ft. of the Love Shack) and leaving my stuff out is not always an option…but it doesn’t stop me from creating one bit! Like you talked about when you started your creative/sewing journey 3 years ago…being driven by the passion to create always makes it worth it. Have a wonderful weekend. Fondly, Roberta

    ps…here’s the original post that started it all: http://con-tain-it.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/06/where-bloggers-create-ii-pink-saturday.html#tp

    [Reply]

  18. 26

    says

    I forgot to share my fave organizing tip…I use photo boxes to store all of my zippers…not everyone has a huge stash of zippers, but I go through them like water. So I divide them up by size, and am able to write the size on the little label thingie on the outside of the box. Plus if they are left out, they look cute. A huge upgrade from my white cardboard giftboxes that I used before :)

    [Reply]

  19. 27

    says

    I have no words of wisdom when it comes to organizing, however I am just in love with your sewing room. I only just started myself and it is so much fun!!! Congrats on your business – what fun!

    [Reply]

  20. 28

    says

    It looks beautiful Maggie! I love the personal touches that you have around the room. I’ve found that I have words of encouragement or pictures of lovely memories around my workspace. I also love to group things by their function or job. One part is all my books, another my desk, and then an old vintage table that I use for my sewing machine. It’s a tight fit, but works well! My sewing machine is missing me. I haven’t had time in a long while to use it. I think I may have forgotten how! :)

    [Reply]

  21. 30

    says

    It looks great! I totally agree with building UP and not OUT. One thing I do is have several nails/hooks on the wall for things I use often, but also look cute, so they double as decoration. My two favorites are a repurposed picture frame that I laced with twine (which holds hair clips and necklaces) and my painting pallet which looks like a pretty awesome work of art in itself!

    [Reply]

  22. 31

    says

    I LOVE organizing!! I used to sneak away from doing homework to go hide in my parent’s walk in closet and organize for a few hours when I was in high school (shhh**). It feels SO good to have everything tidy and in it’s place! My favorite organizing tips are:
    1. Use what you have…boxes, bins, baskets…anything can be multi-functional!
    2. Check the dollar store for inexpensive storage containers, over the door hooks, etc.
    3. Make it fit your own situation and needs! Someone else’s system might look great, but it’s gotta do what YOU need it to do!!

    I *heart* Gussy!!

    [Reply]

  23. 32

    says

    I hear ya on the moving stuff all the time. I just have to use a certain tone in my voice for my husband to know that furniture moving is about to happen. :) I framed a peg board and have it right above my cutting area. It is the BEST! My supplies are easy to reach and out of the way for cutting. You have motivated me to do a studio
    organization post. :)

    [Reply]

  24. 33

    says

    Your new space looks great! I love all of the light you have in that room! I have to clean out my space and get rid of a ton of stuff…one of my first projects once the girls are back in school is to clean out that craft storage area and get rid of a lot of stuff.
    I love using the same color/size bins to organize with, keeping like items together and cute labels!

    [Reply]

  25. 34

    Carrie says

    What a nice spae to work in! I need to reorganize my space. I just love how you put your cutting area on some extra lifts to make it higher, that’s what I need to do.

    [Reply]

  26. 35

    says

    I simply love your studio. I love the colors and I love the windows. I hope that I can one day have a space to sew like yours. My current sewing corner is functional, but I’m not the best at staying organized. And I’m in desperate need of a window.

    [Reply]

  27. 36

    says

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  28. 37

    says

    yes.. I see a very strange man wneriag funny pajamas with a tiny hat on his head to keep his thoughts from lifting off! :)[under postcard…”offwhite” is smushed together} it maybe is off-white… but who cares… it looks wonderful.

    [Reply]

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