My Life in Studios


You could call me a little obsessed with sewing spaces and studios. And mine have run the gamut, from minimalist to downright lavish. Growing up, I used my grandmother's Singer (you know, the kind that folds away inside a table). It was tucked into a corner of her farmhouse guestroom, right next to a window overlooking the cornfields and doubled as a knickknack station. She kept her notions in a little kit in the closet. The compact, yet highly functional, operation impressed me to no end. On the other hand, my mother had a fully tricked-out space, with a wall of every notion imaginable, each in its own carefully labeled case; a sewing machine AND serger station; and a closetful of bins of luscious fabrics (much of which I've inherited).

Designer Polly Danger's Oregon studio

My own sewing spaces have included a nook in a Brooklyn apartment, a lakeside studio, and a motley progression of kitchen tables. Currently, I alternate between a walk-in-closet-turned-atelier in my Boston apartment and a home office / studio in my house in New York. I love my two-city setup with its luxurious roominess, but I think that my favorite all-time sewing area was in a historic New England home, with a window alcove big enough only for an old industrial machine that was set on a skirted table. Notions were cleverly stashed beneath and spools of thread were speared neatly by big hardware nails on a wall-mounted plywood board. Yankee-frugal and simply brilliant.

I have always been fascinated by small sewing spaces and that's why I've fallen in love with accessories designer Polly Danger's airy little Oregon studio in the latest issue of Studios Winter 2011. A one-time porch, the narrow 7'-x-12' converted room has been blessed with walls of windows, but all that natural light sacrifices precious wall storage space. Here are some ingenious solutions Polly has developed for keeping her studio wide open, uncluttered, and cheerful, while also getting maximum use:

An antique Singer
is tabletop storage.


  •  All that natural light allows for the room to do double duty as a photo studio.
  • An unused downstairs bedroom serves as her office, where she has a shipping center and stores all her finished products.
  • Craft show fixtures and less frequently used supplies live in plastic tubs in the basement.
  • Keeping only essential supplies in the studio lets her focus on the task at hand.
  • A careful selection of soothing colors makes the room light and clean.
  • Pretty notions are stored in glass jars, and odds and ends are in labeled boxes.
  • Fabric scraps and glue go in a small cabinet.
  • Fabric yardage and projects-in-progress get the run of the tall bookcase.
  • An antique Singer sewing machine base has been turned into a charming table to hold jars of supplies.
  • During the busy season, a little chaos adds to the cheerful environment.

Get your copy of Studios Winter 2011 and share your thoughts on your favorite sewing room setups on the Sew Daily blog.


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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

3 thoughts on “My Life in Studios

  1. I have a beautiful sewing room in my basement. The Amish built my cabinets to my specs. No wasted space in the cabinets and room for lots of sewing items. I am a full time seamstress and use this room almost 365 days of the year!
    I also have another part of the basement with the longarm standing in it that I just started using last week finally!

  2. Your newsletter extols the virtues of a sewer’s craft space where the owner has:

    “An antique Singer sewing machine base has been turned into a charming table to hold jars of supplies.”

    GEEZE. I am so sick and tired of reading how “clever” these folks are turning those sewing machines into tables.

    Ok, let’s just take my chain saw to your granny’s mahogany cupboard, because we’d rather have a coffee table!

    It annoys the heck out of me when they get rid of these machines. If they don’t want the machine, give it to someone that appreciates it for WHAT IT IS.
    Anyone that loves old machines is horrified! Do they know how HARD it is to find parts for those machines? and what did they do with the head? because, those old machines rarely failed mechanically, they probably just didn’t do anything but a straight stitch, which won’t suit them in this computerized world where they think the machine should do everything, including making them a cup of coffee.

    Ug, it disheartens me to no end to see this happening. It’s just like the antique quilts being cut into teddy bears or pillows. Those items have an intrinsic value that doesn’t fall into our gizmo’d, instant gratification-computer-fast world.

    Don’t do it. Just don’t.