A fit of insomnia coupled with twitchy muscles drove me out of bed and into my unpacked sewing room. If I couldn’t sleep, at least I would be productive.
This new room has a smaller square footage than my previous sewing room, but it has a closet for extra out-of-sight storage.
When I finally started to get the furniture in place the space felt cramped. I also realized that the available wall space did not sync with how I would be working at these tables. In good kitchen design, you want to be able to flow between the fridge, stove and sink when you are cooking. I wanted to achieve that ability to flow through the steps of my sewing projects; from design concept, to material storage, to construction, and finally to documentation.
On a whim, I looked up Feng Shui for craft rooms. I am not an active follower of Feng Shui, neither as part of my Chinese heritage or as a New Age western life philosophy. But I have experienced the mental effects of a dimly lit, cluttered work space and I want to avoid that. I am also an archaeologist who studied how people build and use the physical spaces around them in their everyday habits and routines. If people have followed these Feng Shui principles for centuries, there must be some reason for its persistence.
I did not understand half of the blog posts because they either were vague “Feng Shui works” proclamations or assumed you already knew the specific vocabulary of the practice. The full Feng Shui process seems to involve colors and a bagua grid which attributes elements, emotions, and areas of your life (career, family, etc) to the rooms of your house, based on relative location to the main entry. This was beyond what I needed or had the insomniac mental capacity for.
I was still able to glean enough inspiration to move forward on a sewing room that would inspire creativity and confidence:
Always have an eye on the door – sewing table and cutting table are oriented toward the east wall so that the door is rarely behind me and I can always see who is entering the door (my husband, the cat, or perhaps an inspirational spirit).
Work tables should face the design wall – The sewing table was already facing east so I established the east wall as my design wall, ensuring I can keep an eye on my inspiration throughout the creative process. The orientation of the cutting table has the added bonus of protecting the shelves and their contents from direct sunlight. My sewing books bleached in the sun at our condo because one half of the cubes were always in the sun.
Rule of thirds – the articles did not say as much, but I think there is an underlying rule of 3. The diagrams of the bagua are divided into 9 sections or three groups of three. Taking a bit of inspiration from photography composition, I pushed my cutting table to the west 1/3 of the sewing room rather than being smack in the center. This opened up more space at the room’s entrance and between the sewing and cutting tables. Chi (if you follow this philosophy) can flow better into and around the room.
The first thing(s) you see when you enter should be inspiring you to work – I also moved Mrs. Utt to the east design wall (not pictured). The first thing I will see is her, open space and any projects in progress.
A couple articles recommended keeping books and knowledge visible for inspiration and to cultivate learning. Rather than keep ALL my sewing and knitting books visible, I think I will buy a shelf (frame shelf from IKEA) that allows me to display a few books that I am currently using or feature techniques I want to learn next.
As you can see, I am not done unpacking. I will share some of my small storage and organizational solutions in a follow-up post.