9.15.2014

four square feet, forty pictures

oonaballoona sewing studio

Actually, as it turns out, I have 25 square feet of space. I thought a 4 by 4 square measurement meant 4 square feet. Doubly wrong; my footprint is a 5 by 5 square. Math. I haz it. Also, there is no way in hell this feels like 25 square feet of space. Disbelief. I haz it.

During the Project Sewn hullabaloo, when I was frantically sewing in every spare minute I could find, I promised a peek into my tiny New York apartment sized "studio", which lives in the corner of our living room. The absence of a door means I keep it pretty neat--though to be honest, if I had doors, it would still stay fairly controlled. I can't work in mess, it's like the clutter seeps into my head and laughs at my puny efforts to ignore it.

oonaballoona sewing studio

The grandaddy of my setup is my standing drafting desk. I found these old school (literally, old high school) guys years ago at the online site of an LA vintage store. The proprietor liked my New York vibe, and sent me two desks, completely disassembled, for a thousand bucks. Including shipping. That's kind of bananas. He taped numbers to each part and I hammered and screwed them back together like a jigsaw, all by myself. There were 50 parts for each desk. GO ME.

Ruggy & I stand side by side at our identical desks, him typing away, me sewing away. Though the contents of my drawers are considerably more colorful. What can I say, it's in the genes. 

oonaballoona sewing studio

oonaballoona sewing studio

oonaballoona sewing studio

oonaballoona sewing studio

One must always have a good selection of neutral toned serger cones.

Ziploc bags keep my trim neat inside my drawers. For real, the traffic from that sentence alone.

oonaballoona sewing studio

oonaballoona sewing studio

And now, for the stash. Get ready to have your Mind. Buh-LOWN.

oonaballoona sewing studio

BEHOLD! BEHOLD MY GREAT AND POWERFUL STASH! SURELY MY STASH BEATS YOURS! I WIN AT EVERYTHING!

I'm well aware of the laughable state of my stash. Having seen some truly magnificent collections in person, I'm not sure you can call this a stash. Or perhaps, this is a stash, akin to some furtive junkie's little habit hidden away in a corner, the precious, and those of you with shelves of yardage and freshly peeled grapes, well, you've got a BOUNTY. And my neverending jealousy.

To the side of this magnificent stack lives patterns I'm currently working on, pressing roll, swedish tracing paper (which is glorious), my ironing board, my wolfie dress form (also glorious, she rolls out when I'm working) and a By Hand London tote stuffed with pieces of PIPs. Handy for when I'm working on eighteen things at once and need to find a missing part...

oonaballoona sewing studio

Up top are technicolor writing instruments in questionable cans. 

oonaballoona sewing studio

oonaballoona sewing studio

And serious ceramics. My favorite jar! All the way from Italy, and brattily secured from Mommaballoona, it survived my childhood and hopes to survive my adult years. I snag ceramics from my travels, the little white jar with my most used tools is from Dallas, the floral coaster (which usually holds a fancy libation) hails from LA.

The high ceiling helps with the small space, though I'm not using it for much else than a lofty feeling. The walls are decked with photography from Mama Ruggy, embroidery from Mommaballoona, and fingerpainting from my nephew, the next Picasso (sans the ear stuff). [ETA: VAN GOGH! What. I was just making sure y'all were actually reading the copy. WELL DONE.]

oonaballoona sewing studio


oonaballoona sewing studio

Kai. Pride of place.

oonaballoona sewing studio

Apparently there is a decent amount of disbelief surrounding the continued existence of these chocolate bars. Yes, we are just that disciplined. Also, I have restocked the Mint, Brown Butter, and Sea Sat bars an undetermined number of times.

oonaballoona sewing studio

You know what's awesome? Ruggy, are you listening? You'd better be, I switched to Proper Capitalization for you... IKEA. IKEA IS AWESOME. My other half frowns upon that Swedish Giant. But IKEA been berryberry good to me. Stash shelf, desk shelf, orange magnetized doodad holder (guarded by Toulouse, thankya Lisette!) and desk lamp were all acquired at the Orange n Blue Beast.  My zippers are arranged on the three knobs by invisible, separating, and short.  Little tins hold ball point and silk pins.

oonaballoona sewing studio pfaff

And finally, the Crowning Achievement and Undying Disaster... like Yin and Yang, like Cain and Abel, like Whiskey n Coke (people, don't sully good alcohol with soda).... the machines. In the left corner!  Weighing in at 15 pounds! The Elna Pro 5 DC! Ready to horribly maim me at any moment! Seriously guys. Thing One never really worked in the first place, and when she does work, it's because she thinks today will be the day she gets to kill me.

She won't even do knits anymore. YOU HAD ONE JOB. I'm in the market.

However, the sight of my Pfaff makes it all okay. Good lord I love that machine. I actually literally kiss her on the hood several times a week. Lean right over, and kiss her. Which reminds me, Lucille "Baller" Tiptronic is due for her three month review post...

Well! Did you think it possible to require SEVENTEEN PICTURES to get an idea of my tiny space? And I didn't even show you the windowsill! Obviously, my snap happy fingers betray me. Though I dream of a studio with big french doors and a cutting table, I still adore it. Et vous? Happy with your space?

100 comments:

  1. That's what I call great tips for maximising small spaces but you've lost me drooling over that 85% cocoa dark chocolate bar picture...and where's the booze??? :)

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    1. early morning shots! no shots before noon. no shots ever, actually, booze was made for savoring.

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  2. I love all the color AND the organization.I was curious though how you sew at a stand up desk. Do you not use a foot pedal? Personally I cannot master the start/stop button for sewing.

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    1. ah yes! the foot pedal is indeed on the floor, but i do occasionally pull that stool out and prop the foot pedal up on an empty wine box. (naturally.) takes some getting used to but it's better than sitting for a full on weekend bender!

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  3. I love sewing spaces posts more than life itself! And yours doesn't disappoint at all... So organized and colorful. But srsly, that can't be your total stash because I ZOOMED IN and still don't see the orange and blue sequined glory. Unless that means it's being cut???

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    1. oh, the sequins! they're folded up SUPER carefully, avec tissue, along with a PIP of organza and raffia. those live out of reach of cat.

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  4. you are inspiring me with my soon-to-be-mine tiny sewing space (about that size but with a door). PS - the ear thing was van gogh....

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    1. DAMMIT! i knew i shoulda googled that tidbit! they merge in my mind, i'm a heathen.

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  5. adorable! I feel so gluttonous with all my space after seeing how you make it work in a NYC apartment! well done lady :) and those desks? to die for!!! one day I'll have to shoot my space, but it's always mid-tornado!

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  6. The fabric stash with dressform in front of it is just the right way to use a small space!

    And actually it was Van Gogh who cut off his ear, if this reassures you about the mental health of your nephew.

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    1. i'll just have to keep him clear of the absinthe!

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  7. WOW! Your desks seller might be the coolest seller I've ever heard of. That's a great story. And, they are great desks. Thanks for the peek into your sewing space. I love getting ideas from other sewists, particularly when it comes to storage! I catalog my fabrics in a very similar way. I love being able to scroll to a section and pick out the cards for every fabric in my stash of a certain yardage and content. It's awesomesauce. But, DAMN, is it a lot of work. :-D

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  8. WOW! that is amazing. You have made a small space look absolutely awesome. I really like your swatch index cards. I think will adopt that little tidbit into my sewing space. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. It's amazing just how much stuff you have packed into your relatively small sewing space. I love it! I just posted about my own sewing space yesterday. I really wish mine was as organized as yours!

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  10. So organised. I love the chocolate display.

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  11. Awesome space! You should do a post on sewing while standing. I'd love to try that but I have strange balance and I am afraid I will fall over....ha ha! But maybe I'll just have to try it and see.

    BTW- I love your stash! My stash isn't that large at the moment either and I'm determine not to buy anything more until I sew at least a third of it. Must be the Type A personality. But what is that pretty blue and brown fabric on the second shelf! It is giving me a serious case of the "I wants" :-)

    Thanks for sharing! Always fun to see where people sew!

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    1. oh, that blue & brown has been in the stash for like three years! it's a chiffon of undetermined type...

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  12. What a fantastic space! I have a set-up-take-down kind of situation with my machine, so I don't really have a great dedicated space like this. 25 whole square feet would do me just fine. :)

    I love all the little details that you put in to make it a happy creating place for you. Lovely.

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  13. Ahh so pretty, so colourfull! I need to employ you to do mine, you sure know how to make a small space count! I'm off to brood about my messy sewing nest and how to make it better ( I suspect a trip to ikea is on the cards :)

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  14. I love it! I have a whole room and I'm less organized. I feel the sudden need for an IKEA trip and organizing... Must live up to standards. Those tables are gorgeous! A real table makes a huge difference :)

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  15. It's a beautiful space! Great idea of using a tote bag for PIPs, I may have to implement that in my studio.

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  16. It looks like you have a bright and cheery place to sew.

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  17. Oh I lurve that sewing space. But I don't think I would get any sewing done there. I would just be walking around touching and peering and feeling and sniffing all the glorious colours and fabric lovelies. I also got a little distracted as soon as you wrote the words, 'for real'. My new American child adds this to every sentence she says, makes me laugh.

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    1. i'm envisioning you shuffling back and forth like my corner is a great big scratch n sniff sticker :)

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  18. What a great workspace!!! The desk! I just can't. It's so good! I would feel so happy working in this corner. :)

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  19. i have a strong suspicion those choccie boxes are empty :)

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  20. Such a pretty space, and I absolutely love the light coming from your window! If you're like me, friends and family see your stash and think it is HUGE (they don't believe me that others have far more fabrics). I'm loving the Uncle Joe's Mint Balls Keep You All Aglow can! Reminds me of a magnet I bought in London: Bile Beans, for a lovely figure and radiant health. Old ads are the best.

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  21. I am so jealous of this. It may be small, but it's so pretty! My sewing stuff lives in the cupboard, with pretty much everything else. I dream of something like this. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Good timing honeybun, as the WSBN is doing a sewing space tour, and I think we kinda in our hearts wish you were a member. I take great comfort from now knowing our apartments share such things as high ceilings. Tho my space is on a mezzanine so it doesn't have the soaring glory. Bedroom does though! And our bathroom (with no bath, just a shower) is about the size of your sewing space. :)

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    1. i've been enjoying those tours! but just the fact that you can say your space is on the mezzanine, how glorious...

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    2. Yup! We fell hard for this place on our first visit and signed the offer papers right there and then. Never a moment's regret! In a city of bland new apartment buildings designed for people who do no cooking or sewing or reading or..anything except maybe shower given the number of shower rooms some of those places have, it is a gem!

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  23. "One must always have a good selection of neutral toned serger cones."
    "Ziploc bags keep my trim neat inside my drawers."
    And some people think sewing is boring!

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  24. Your sewing corner reminds me a bit of mine although yours is infinitely more colourful! Clearly I have some work to do. Also, you should be pleased with your small stash. Mine is out of control, and although magnificent, mocks me with what I Have Not Yet Made every time I see it. And it's always making me feel guilty for buying more fabric. Surely an incentive to keep things manageable. Thanks for showing us around your space!

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    1. mine seems to be more of an incentive to want more stuff....

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  25. Why did I never think to decorate with the chocolate!!! Oh, yes, because I have to hide it from my children. Brilliant use of space! Thanks for sharing!

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  26. I like your clothing style, but now I can say that I like your decorating and organizing style as well :)

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  27. I knew I spyed an Uncle Joe's tin in the corner of your first snap! They're from my home town! I love that Uncle Joe and his minty balls have found a proud spot in your fabulous corner of nyc!

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    1. woot! ruggy procured them for me in a little english shop down in the village. he just told me the store is about twice the size of my sewing corner :)

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  28. Well! Someone with a space smaller (and WAY more organized) then mine! BUT, how do you press the foot pedal being up on a stool and being a miniature person?

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    1. well! if i use the stool, the pedal sits on an empty wooden wine box. if i stand, it reaches to the floor. i switch it up constantly.

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  29. I just love Love LOVE seeing other sewing spaces, and yours makes me jealous for sure! THAT DESK! Amazing. Also, your stash totally surprised me, but I'm thinking every piece of it is something wonderful :) And we have matching neutral serger thread collections ;)

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  30. Bright and joyous - how awesome is ikea?! I have that lamp too, and the swedes have organised many other things in my sewing room. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. I second that question of Amanda's up above. How DO you press the feet of your machines?!?

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  32. Until my asthma is better controlled, you cannot write things like this: "Ziploc bags keep my trim neat inside my drawers. For real, the traffic from that sentence alone." PLEASE! You nearly killed me woman! =)

    IKEA is the shiz. Almost every piece of furniture in my house is from IKEA. I have a desk that is 10 years old and still standing; although, it may only have one more disassemble-reassemble cycle left in it.

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    1. HAHAHAHAAHAAAAA! sorry bout that. it just came out.

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  33. Cute and cozy and colorful - it's so you!

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  34. Love love your studio!! Those desks are amazing!! And chocolate waiting for your! What a reward!!

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  35. I think your stash is the appropriate size for someone who is one train stop away from the garment district! Seriously don't think I would own 1/2 of what I do if I lived so close to such fabric wonderfulness! Love, love the space. It totally reflects your personality.

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    1. as does yours!! sometimes, i stay away from the GD like it's a quarantined area....

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  36. Beautiful! I love how colourful and happy your work-space is, so you :). Right now I sew on a combination of a discarded desk in the corner of my living room (in front of the closet with all of my supplies in it), and the dining room table for prep and cutting. But, But! I just bought a (somewhat run down, but totally fixable) house with 4, count them 4, bedrooms. With just me and the fella to fill them all up with our massive space consuming hobbies! So I will have a nice cool basement room all to myself for sewing and knitting and cackling maniacally late at night *hehehe*. All the painting and pretty curtain making and obsessive organizing still to come :).

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  37. As all good creative types, I love workspace posts! I'm in the process of making one for myself and the other wannabes in the house (goodbye corner of my bedroom!) Unlike you, I'm not at all organized, but you have inspired me to take pictures anyway. I'll just push the junk from side to side depending on the angle I'm taking pictures from lol.

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  38. Wahou, your sewing space is so neat and so organised ! I love all the colors ! For your stash, I'm impress by you being able to resist to the garment district !
    Living at 20 min from a fabric market, I find it very very difficult to resist...
    As a knit dress lover, I'm sorry for your serger that doesn't do knit anymore !
    I'll keep your idea of the trim in ziploc bag :)
    I'm happy with my space, I just have add height and weels to my norden cutting table and change the table I'm sewing on. As for my stash, hum hum...

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  39. I am so super jealous of everyone with their own sewing area and yours is just beautiful! So colourful and vibrant and just... UGH! SUCH JEALOUSY.
    I currently whip out my (£25 winter sales toy) sewing machine onto the dining room table every time I want to make something, and every time my mother huffs "well, we won't be eating at the table any time soon". I have been informed, however, if I tidy up the conservatory I can turn THAT into a sewing room, I'll be needing many a cardigan/jumper/eskimo style coat in the winter for sewing in there.

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    1. sew up that down coat and get your space!!!

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  40. My space is overflowing with my stash. And it's messy. I really have to do something about that.
    IKEA is quite good, as these things go. They have an interesting fabric selection, too. And good pots and plates and mugs, which does not have much to do with sewing; but good pots can mean shorter cooking time and longer sewing time. Yes.
    Oh and the square thing? It's like drawing a square consisting of squares. Drawing a square on graph paper. A square with five units on each side consists of twenty-five squares. Like that; you can draw it for yourself and count it if you don't believe me.
    Foot is a laughable measurement, so 25 square feet? Laughable. Belief, I haz it. Now, 25 square meters of sewing space, that would be something.

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    1. P.S. The big problem with my overflowing stash is that a huge part of it is old bedsheets and duvet covers meant for muslins, and scraps that aren't small enough to throw away.

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    2. yeah, ruggy began the same explanation and my eyes glazed. but truly, a foot is laughable. i don't know why we hang onto it.

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    3. Inches can be useful, though; although in my opinion, not as a sewing / clothing measurement, too large. :D But my father the engineer is actually rather fond of inches, saying something along the lines of it being just the right measure for some things. So there's that.

      Draw it, I entreat you. Graph paper is fun. You can play games on graph paper, too.

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  41. Thank you for sharing! I love what you've done with your tiny space. I believe I have a slightly smaller space, and when I get it cleaned up I'll have to share it as well. I love how you've photographed yours! Very inspiring.

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  42. Colorful, cheerful and filled with chocolate! I can see you and Ruggy hard at work together. Love this :)

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  43. I love, love your space. I am inspired to do something with my wall now. I would love to see your windowsill next. Thank you!

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  44. I forgot about that card! Your space is delightful and so very you! I need to halt on the sewing and get on the home-dec'ing and get mine up to par. If only the landlord didn't require everything to stay BEIGE.

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  45. Isn't your real stash in the Garment District? And my, what very colorful "neutral toned serger cones" you have there. When are you opening up your studio for visits? ;-)

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    1. HA! all visits would last 30 seconds. i wonder what i could charge per second?

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  46. Wow. You have such an awesome little space. So organized. I make attempts at organization but my stuff always has other ideas.

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  47. This looks like a HAPPY space! Love the tour.

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  48. I cannot BELIEVE you make all that beauty and joy happen out of that tiny corner. I feel positively gluttonous in my space....

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  49. Does your sewing space get messy when you are working on a project? Do you carry loose threads around the house on your socks or slippers? Is there a scrap trail from your sewing space to your kitchen? Maybe if I kept chocolate in my sewing room, these problems would not loom so large for me? Thanks for the tour!

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    1. it can definitely get messy! i just can't bear to see it messy for more than an hour, so the mess is fleeting :)

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  50. Gah, I'm so jealous of your well organized sewing space AND THE DESK! So beautiful, I love it!!

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  51. Way to work it lady! It's nice to see how you work a small space because us apartment dwellers need to be creative with what we have. I'm always jealous of photos of big sewing spaces (bitches! j/k) but in a small space you know where everything is and it is carefully curated.
    We seem to have an oddly similar tendency for neatness and a bag that holds works in process (mine is a shopping bag from Paris).

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    1. now i need a shopping bag from paris. BECAUSE PARIS.

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  52. UNCLE JOE'S MINT BALLS?!?!?!?!? Bwahahahahahaha!!! Made my freaking day!

    I'm pretty jealous of your lovely little space. It's about 500 x's prettier and more well organized than my Dungeon of Sewing.

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  53. I love your sewing space! So bright and cheerful! (And organized.) I really want to master working in small spaces but I'm not quite there yet... I sew in the downstairs living room, which is not a bad setup, apart from the lack of natural light past 8 am. I dream of a well lit, well organized, and perpetually tidy space but that day is clearly not this day...

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    1. past 8?! i think i would have to get up around 4....

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  54. Wow Oona! Your space is wonderful!! I am super jealous of your amazing desk. Wowsers! I am so inspired!

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  55. great sewing studio. small yet contains alot.

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  56. Oooh dear Oona. You're so deliciously bright and rainbowny
    Thanks grrrrl. This was great
    💜

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  57. I have an Elna 5 pro DC - was working pretty okay until LCD screen went wonky (can't get replacement) - mechanically fine but I'm not really happy using it, now. Love your sewing room.

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  58. Yay finally someone who likes to have a tidy sewing room, coz otherwise it gets inside my brain and confuses it and I get sewing block, until I tidy. Here in NZ the WSBN are doing a blog tour of all our sewing rooms, and I seem to be the only freak with the tidy sewing room! You have such pretty fabrics in your stash - I just wanna sit here a stare .... :-)

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  59. Love seeing your sewing space, cos I'm a nosy little person like that. It's so pretty and inspirational.

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  60. I have a whole freaking room and is messy as hell. I gotta get under control ASAP (it doubles as a guest room, but the futon is buried in WIPs and stash acquisitions).

    I have a Brother serger. It's OK, but I'd get something better if I had a do-over.

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  61. i am in love with this sewing room, and the chocolate, and the zodiac embroidery, and and...... And I feel the same about my serger, I hate her and I know she's plotting to kill me. I'm glad I'm not alone in this. XO

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  62. This is SUCH an inspiration. I live in NYC myself; I currently am in one bedroom of a 3 bedroom apartment. I'm moving from Queens to Manhattan soon and into a place with my boyfriend. But that means a whole 1 bedroom apartment to find a nook for my stuff, not just sewing on my computer desk (yes, i do, yes, it's horrible). This is like... just everything I need to be able to visualize how I can pull off a sewing space. What do you use to hold your fabrics? Is it just a standing shelving unit? Where did you get it? Curious!

    Anyway, thanks for the awesome inspiration!

    -Christine
    twogirlsoneoutfit.com

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  63. look how fabulously neat your sewing corner is! i envy that! i don't even have the permanent sewing nook, but use my dining table when i sew, my bed or floor when i cut fabric, and whatever free space around the house to hold my fabrics, scraps, and all those other sewing thingies (and billion burda magazines)..

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  64. The first pic opened slowly on my pc- it's old- unfurling that gorgeously glowing yellow curtain slowly then adding the beauty of everything else. You have a fabulous sewing corner! My stash is bigger, but can I find what I want when I want it? Hells no. That takes some time! So I sort of organize in those moments, and sometimes get distracted (like the dog in the movie Up- instead of Squirrel! its Stripes! Swirls! Flowers! oooh I wonder where that electric blue jersey was...) Mine too lives mostly in a corner of the livingroom, but with some stashed away in my bedroom closet, and even some under the kitchen table. I could organize, but then when would I create? Not enough time for both!

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  65. What I'm jealous of is that your stash is on open shelves so you can actually see what you've got. Mine's in a six-drawer chest stuffed so full that it's almost impossible to open the drawers to get anything in and out. Although it does mean that when I'm looking through it all and find some fabric I'd forgotten about it's like getting a present for no reason, which is always great.

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  66. You keep a very nice and organized sewing space.

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  67. Zuki. I've got one. Lure it. Takes, wait for it, Bernina parts.

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  68. I love your sewing space! I used to have a wall in the dining room to myself. Thank heavens for horn sewing cabinets! But then we moved to a bigger house because (and no you can't have him although yours seems pretty cool too) my husband said we needed a house with a sewing room. We lost a bathroom, gained two spare rooms and woot I suddenly have a sewing room ALL TO MYSELF. it's crazy cool.

    In my dreams though I am stupid greedy and long for space for a cutting table. But you know - there is nothing wrong with the kitchen bench and the dining table for cutting. And I do have - mahoosive design wall for quilting. And I got rid of my mannequin because she had a lard arse that was just taking up room. Also she and I weren't really the same shape so she was batshit useless really.

    I am going to use this post as inspiration on how to get more bang for my buck from my walls. I see a trip to ikea Sydney very soon ...

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!