Apartment Quilting: 6 Tips to Sewing in a Small Space

I find myself constantly envious of sewing rooms. And let me tell you, sharing our sewing spaces during #IGQuiltFest doesn't make it any easier (but seriously, you all have gorgeous sewing rooms)!

In our previous home, I had just set up a cute little space of my own in our finished attic when we found out we were moving. And in true millennial style, if we were ever going to afford a house in the Greater Toronto Area, we needed to downsize and save those hard earned dollars. Alas, the loss of my beloved (and very short lived) sewing space. Our new space didn’t leave me with enough room for even a designated sewing table – and you can forget about a design wall! Fortunately, I love a good challenge, and this tiny new apartment forced me to get creative if I wanted to keep sewing at home.

In our little apartment, my sewing space consists of a black, three tier rolling cart I snagged at Ikea. My Singer sits on top, with supplies and fabric below. If you’re like me and are doing your piecing and quilting in a small space, you probably don’t have very much room for tons of fancy tools and supplies, so it’s important to prioritize the essentials and stay organized.

Because our apartment is so small, we opted not to have a kitchen table – we tend to eat while watching Friends on the couch anyways, so we didn’t feel it was a good use of space. However, since we have no table, I really don’t have any surface to set up a sewing machine. Instead, when I want to sew, I pull out one of our living room side tables and park it in front of the couch. This is truly small space quilting folks!

How do I stay organized? I keep my stash to a minimum (which as we all know can be very difficult, especially when a gorgeous new fabric line is released) and try to put everything back in its place when I’m done (although the boyfriend may have a different view on that). In the interest of not letting our apartment look like a sewing room threw up on it, I’ve tried to tuck away or disguise most of my supplies so that we don’t have to look at them when I’m not using them.

1. Notions

Lacking drawers? Utilize eye catching jars and containers to hold notions such as spools of thread, bobbins, and pins.

I’ve utilized jars to hold my thread and bobbins when not on my machine – including this Honeydukes branded candy jar I got at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. Pins and needles are housed in a vintage cigarette tin I found at a vintage market at Evergreen Brickworks. Rotary cutters, scissors, and marking tools sit in small Ikea metal pots. With a lack of storage, it can help to keep everything looking neat and pretty since I have to look at it every time I walk by.

2. Patterns

Old shoe or photo boxes are great storage spots for all of those patterns you’ve collected. I love the solid black or brown photo boxes from Michaels. They’re only $3, hold a lot and give a clean look for disguising on a bookshelf!

3.Create multipurpose surfaces.

In my case, that means using our fold down table in the kitchen for my cutting mat, and then again to hold my ironing board. If you have a large enough sewing table, slide that machine back and replace it with a cutting mat or an ironing board.

fabric + the place where you prepare food = not an ideal situation

4. Fabric.

With zero storage, my fabric sits out in the open, for all the visitors to see! I invested in some cute storage baskets so that my fabric adds to the room decor (do you think Joel will buy that excuse?). I also try to limit my stash as much as possible since I end up cursing at myself about having no where to put all the fat quarters I just brought home from my guild meeting. Speaking of fat quarters, I find them far easier to store in small spaces than yardage, so I do end up buying a lot of bundles. They fold pretty and take up minimal space.

5. Utilize vertical space.

Is your sewing space only 5 square feet? Use your wall space to hang tools and spools of thread. Install shelves to store pattern boxes and stacks of fabric.

6. Only stock the essentials.

As tempting as it is to grow my stash every time I see a beautiful piece of fabric, there’s just nowhere to put it! My trusty rolling cart comfortably houses the necessities for successful quilting: sewing machine, rotary cutter, pins, thread, and fabric! My cutting mat and rulers are tucked neatly behind our bookshelves to be pulled out when needed.

*Bonus* Embrace hand sewing. With our couch as one of the only places to sit in our home, I’ve found myself practicing needle turn applique or hand quilting more often. Pulling out and setting up the sewing machine every time I want to sew can get annoying, so grabbing a needle and thread, falling onto the couch in front of Netflix, and still getting my sewing fix can add up to the perfect evening.

Do you sew in a small space? Or maybe you did when you were a 20-something? Share your small space quilting tips in the comments!

Check out some serious small space quilting goals below. Share your small sewing space photos on instagram using the hashtags #smallspacesewing and #themillennialquilter and don't forget to tag me @themillennialquilter! I'd love to feature your sewing space so that I can continue to stare at it with envy!