Creating a Sewing Space – Organizing Sewing Supplies by Zones

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Updated: September 14, 2022

Knowing where you’re going to sew and organizing your sewing supplies are important parts of successful sewing experiences.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to leave your sewing machine and other supplies out even when you’re not working on a project. For many, that just isn’t possible. So thinking outside the box may be important as you create a sewing space in your home.

Note: This post is part of a series called Starting to Sew. This series is intended for people who are either new to sewing, have limited sewing knowledge, or need a plan of action to teach their child how to sew. It’s designed to help you prepare for wildly successful sewing experiences.

Whether you are new to sewing or have been at it a while, the information shared in this post will help you think about your sewing space in a unique way. As a result, you will be able to plan for a space that meets your sewing needs.

*A special thanks to my sewing and quilting friends who welcomed me into their sewing spaces and allowed me to take pictures – Pat, Wanda, Kris, Debbie, Rose, and Sandie (my mom) 🥰

Two Types of Sewing Spaces

There are two types of sewing spaces:

  1. Permanent spaces
  2. Pop-up spaces

Permanent Spaces

A permanent sewing space is a place that is dedicated to sewing. It can be an entire room, part of a room, or even a closet. It’s a space where you can leave your sewing machine and supplies out when you aren’t working on a project. This is the best type of space to have because you don’t have to put everything away when you are done sewing or set everything up when you have time to sew.

A sewing space that is also used as a home office and a guest bedroom.
Rose set up her sewing space in a corner of a room that she also uses as a guest bedroom and an office.
A back porch that was converted into a sewing space. The sewing machine, cutting zone, and small pressing station are set up.
Kris’s husband converted their back porch into a dedicated sewing space for her.

For many people, it’s not possible to have a permanent or dedicated sewing space. Instead, they have a pop-up space.

Pop-up Spaces

A pop-up space is a temporary one because you can’t leave your sewing equipment out indefinitely. It’s set up in an area that has multiple uses. (i.e. kitchen table, home office). If you have a pop-up space you want to be able to set up and take down your sewing machine and supplies without a lot of hassle and disruption to you and your family’s daily life.

A pop-up sewing space. Left image is the space when everything is put up. Right image is ready for sewing.
This pop-up space is set up in the corner of my husband’s home office. It’s easy to set up and put away. While I do have a permanent sewing space, I use this one to work on UFOs.

Keep in mind how much time you can dedicate to sewing as you figure out where the best place in your home would be to create your pop-up sewing space.

The time you spend on sewing will depend on what else is going on in your life. You may be able to sew every day, once or twice a week in the evenings, or every other weekend. More than likely, the time you’re able to spend on sewing will vary from week to week and project to project.

Will you be a weekend sewer? Maybe the kitchen table is where you can create your pop-up sewing space. You set it up for a couple of days then put everything away during the week.

If you’re able to sew several times a week, consider finding a spot in the corner of a room where you can set up your machine and supplies and leave it all out as you work on a project. You’ll enjoy sewing so much more if you don’t have to set up your sewing area every time you want to sew.

Organizing Sewing Supplies by Zones

Whether you have a permanent sewing space or a pop-up one, you’ll need a place to cut, sew, press, and store supplies. Instead of thinking of your sewing space as one area, think about it as four separate zones:

  1. Cutting
  2. Sewing
  3. Pressing
  4. Storage

Thinking about your sewing space this way makes it easier as you plan and organize your space. By organizing your tools and supplies by zones you will know exactly where everything is and be able to put your hands on items when you need them.

The process of sewing is often fluid between the zones (especially cutting, sewing and pressing). Ideally, you want the four zones in close proximity to each other. However, that isn’t always possible. Don’t worry. You can still have wildly successful sewing experiences even if the 4 zones aren’t together.

The Cutting Zone

The Cutting Zone is the place where you’ll lay out fabric and pattern pieces, cut fabric, etc. It needs to be a space with a flat, smooth surface where you can spread out fabric, pin pattern pieces, cut fabric, and lay projects out as you pin pieces together and construct your project.

A kitchen table works well for this as does a 6-foot utility table. To keep from getting an aching back from bending over the table, you can use bed risers to lift the cutting table several inches so it’s around the height of a kitchen counter. (This will only work if you aren’t using the same table for the Sewing Zone.)

The Cutting Zone is the place where you unfold the cardboard pattern cutting board for large pieces of fabric or lay out the rotary cutting mat for smaller pieces.

Three cutting tables in a quilting studio.
Pat’s sewing space is set up in what used to be her formal living area. She has multiple cutting zones.
A foldable cutting table with purple fabric on half of it.
Wanda has her sewing space set up in a spare bedroom. Her cutting zone is on a foldable table that is easily movable because it is on casters. Rulers stored on a shelf nearby.
A cutting table with projects on the top
Debbie’s sewing/craft space is set up in a spare bedroom that she also uses for her home office. The table she uses for cutting is foldable. The height can be adjusted as well.
sewing room with two cutting zones and a sewing zone between them
Sandie transformed her main living space into her sewing room. She set up two cutting zones on either end of the room. Her cutting tables are utility tables raised up on bed risers.

The Sewing Zone

Your sewing machine will go in the Sewing Zone. Make sure there’s an electrical outlet near your sewing machine so it’s easy to plug in.

Lighting is also important as you determine the best place to put your machine. Consider the time of day when you’ll be sewing. If you’ll sew during the day is there a window where you would benefit from natural sunlight? If you’ll sew in the evening, you’ll need a lamp or overhead light that illuminates the Sewing Zone.

There should be enough room on your sewing table to hold, at a minimum, pins and a pair of scissors. In addition, there should be room on the left side and behind your sewing machine to support the fabric as you sew.

The chair you sit in as you sew should be comfortable and allow you to move freely. A chair without arms works well as a sewing chair.

A trash can or some type of container for scraps and threads is beneficial in the Sewing Zone. Throwing scraps and threads away as you sew makes clean up quick when you finish with a project or need to break down your sewing space.

Two sewing machines set up on white tables in front of windows.
Sandie has two machines set up in her sewing zone.
A sewing cabinet that is opened up. Items are stored on the top and on the inside.
The cabinet in Wanda’s sewing zone serves as storage, too.
A sewing cabinet with an extension table
Wanda’s cabinet has an extension where she stores and uses her serger.
A sewing machine set up in a corner by a window.
Debbie’s space is used for multiple crafts. One of her sewing zones is set up in the corner.

The Pressing Zone

For many projects, it’s important to press as you sew. Pressing helps set stitches, flattens seams, and elevates the overall appearance of finished projects.

You need a board and an iron in the Pressing Zone. This could be a full sized ironing board and iron if your project consists of long seams and larger pieces of fabric. You could also use a small board and travel-size iron if you’re working with smaller pieces of fabric.

The Pressing Zone should be located near the Sewing Zone because you’ll be going back and forth between them as you work on your project.

An ironing board set up next to a wall .
Pat’s pressing zone is right behind her sewing zone. She can quickly swing around in her chair to do a quick press.
A kitchen island cart on casters used for sewing storage and pressing.
Debbie has a kitchen island cart on casters in her sewing space. It serves multiple purposes. When it is her pressing zone, she puts an ironing mat on top. When she uses it for other crafts she protects the cart with a plastic cover. The drawers and bins provide storage.

The Storage Zone

In a perfect world, all of your sewing supplies would be stored in the same location. That’s not always possible. Depending on your home and the amount of sewing stuff you have, your Storage Zone may need to be located in different places.

Kris’s storage zone is along one wall of her sewing space. She uses the space inside the cabinets as well as on the top. Her husband made her the thread storage cabinet seen mounted on one of the cabinet doors.

Storing Small Sewing Tools

If your sewing space needs to be a pop-up space, you want to store your frequently used tools in a sewing box or basket. This will allow you to keep your tools in one place for easy setup and breakdown of your space.

Storing Large Sewing Tools

Your sewing machine, ironing board, small pressing board, iron, and cutting mat may need to be stored if you don’t have a designated sewing space where you can leave them out all the time.

A closet or corner of a room works well for these items. Try to keep them all together, if you can, for easy setup and breakdown of your space.

left image - closet used to store fabric and other sewing supplies; right image - a dresser with a cutting mat on top and rulers in the drawers.
Rose uses her closet to store items not needed in other zones. She uses the drawers in the cutting zone to store rulers and pressing tools.

Storing Supplies

Thread, interfacing, and trim are some of the supplies you may collect depending on the type of projects you sew. These can be stored in containers or on a closet shelf for easy access.

Storing Books and Patterns

Books and patterns are stored easily on a bookshelf.

Sewing books stored on a built-in bookcase and in front of a fireplace.
Sandie uses the built-in cabinets for most of her sewing library. Overflow is stored on the fireplace hearth.

Storing Fabric

Fabric can be folded and stored in a chest of drawers or in a closet. Depending on how much fabric you have, it can be organized by color and separated into bins or baskets. If the amount of fabric is a yard or more, it can be hung on hangers and stored in a closet.

Fabric hanging on hangers in a closet.
Sandie has a large fabric stash. She stores some of the fabric on hangers in one of the bedroom closets.

If you have a large stash of fabric, you’ll find helpful tips and tricks in Storing Fabric to Maximize Space and Reduce Hassle and be inspired by Successful Ideas for Storing Fabric.

Fabric stored in custom closets.
Pat uses custom cabinets to store her fabric. She utilizes the space on top for additional storage.
Fabric stored in bins in the corner of the spare bedroom.
Pat has a large fabric stash and uses labeled bins to store some of the overflow. She keeps these bins in the corner of a spare bedroom.
Three utility shelves in a garage. Covered bins are stored on the shelves.
Sandie uses utility shelves on casters and covered bins to store other fabric, precuts, notions, and UFOs. These she keeps in her garage.

Storing Unfinished Projects

It’s not uncommon to begin working on a new project before you finish your current project. You may find yourself side-tracked by a project that catches your eye, get tired of something you’re working on, or even find yourself frustrated by the construction of an item and need to take a break from it.

Regardless of the reason, you’ll need a plan for storing unfinished projects. Bins, baskets, drawers, and bags are all good options. It’s a good idea to store any of the notions and supplies you bought to complete the project with it. That way when you’re ready to sew on it again, you won’t need to hunt and find everything.

A cutting table with bins below it storing unfinished projects.
Pat stores her UFO’s in bins below one of her cutting tables.

My Sewing Space

Sewing spaces evolve over time. Take a look at how my sewing space has changed over the years.

This is me in my first sewing space – the kitchen table (1993). Because we ate in front of the TV, I didn’t have to clean up my projects every night.

From 1993-2018

For almost 25 years I had a semi-permanent pop-up sewing space. I could leave my sewing stuff out for a few days to a week but would always need to get it cleaned up for one reason or another.

Many times I used the kitchen table for my Cutting and Sewing Zones. The layout of the houses we lived in over the years were open floor plans. So, when my son and husband were in the living room and I was sewing, we were all together even if we were doing different things.

My husband ironed all of our clothes in the living room while he watched TV. He would leave the ironing board and iron out when I was working on a sewing project. They were set up near the kitchen, so my Pressing Zone was near my Cutting and Sewing Zones.

My Storage Zone for several years consisted of a sewing basket that held small sewing tools and supplies. A portion of our hall closet held fabric and other supplies I wanted and needed for future projects.

When I wasn’t sewing, my machine and large supplies were stored in the spare bedroom/office. The ironing board and iron were kept in the laundry room.

Throughout the years, the number of notions and sewing supplies I have has increased as has my fabric stash. When we moved into the house we live in now in 2008, we attended a local auction and bought a great piece of furniture…an armoire with 4 doors! It fit perfectly in our main living space and was in excellent condition. I was able to store almost all of my fabric and sewing supplies in one place.

Around 2019

In October of 2018, my 24-year-old son moved to California. Sad to see him move so far away, but secretly happy there was finally a free room in our home, I transformed his bedroom into my permanent sewing space. You can see how much it has evolved over the last 4 years.

(While I don’t have a picture showing the entire room, you can see each of the zones.)

workbench repurposed for a cutting table
My cutting zone – a repurposed workbench I had picked up from an estate sale.
sewing table and chair
My sewing zone included an antique table and an Ikea chair.
dresser top is used for pressing zone
A dresser top once served as a small pressing zone. I used the drawers to store fabric.
storage in a sewing room
This was my main storage zone around 2019. The bookshelf holds books, patterns, and cutting rulers. Some of my unfinished projects are stored on the top. The ironing board leaned against the wall until I needed it. Thread, pins, and other notions are stored in the multi-drawered piece.

In 2022

Image of a sewing space with 2 sewing machines, shelves, and a cutting table.
Overview of my sewing space from the room’s doorway. You can see two sewing zones, the cutting zone, and one of my storage zones (shelves on the wall and the brown cabinet). I removed the closet doors and replaced them with curtains. This is where I store my fabric stash.
Left image - Sewing books on a black shelf. Right image - fabric stored on shelves in a closet and organized by color
The image on the left is my sewing library. It’s located in my office. The right image is my fabric storage behind the curtain.
A sewing room with two sewing machines.
This is my sewing space taken from in front of the closet. Against the far wall is my pressing zone and more storage.
A cutting tools are organized on the cutting table and on a pegboard hanging on the wall.
The table in my cutting zone is on casters and has leaves that can be raised or lowered.

Summary – Organizing Sewing Supplies

Your sewing space and all the items in it will grow and evolve as your sewing skills improve. Sewing is a lot of fun, and your sewing space is a key player in having wildly successful sewing experiences.

As you consider the space available in your home and how much time you’ll be able to spend on sewing, keep in mind you will need to organize your tools and supplies so you know exactly where everything is.

Whether your sewing room will be a permanent one or a pop-up space, remember the four zones:

  1. Cutting Zone
  2. Sewing Zone
  3. Pressing Zone
  4. Storage Zone

Thinking about your space in smaller sections will help you effectively organize your tools and set up a place where you love to sew.


You did it! You just finished the Starting to Sew series.

Now let’s get you sewing some projects that will help you gain confidence using your machine. You can find several projects that will inspire you in Sewing Projects for Beginners.

If you missed any of the previous 11 lessons, check out the main page for Starting to Sew: A FREE Online Class to Learn How to Sew on a Machine.

Let’s Connect

My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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2 Comments

  1. This was THE BEST and most thorough sewing course that has finally allowed me to pull my sewing machine back out. I was so frustrated 10 years ago because I had no clue how to operate it, or how to fix seam problems. Your course did the trick for me — so THANK YOU!!! 💗

    1. Thanks, Courtney, for your compliments about this course. I’m so glad you found it helpful and have started to sew on your machine. Good luck and have fun! ~Nicki

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