I've been in my formal living room turned sewing room for about 6 months now. It is so nice to have room to move about, and I'm staying a lot better organized since I have places to put stuff. The only thing that was bothering me was the lack of a theme. When I was younger, I was so matchy-matchy and theme-oriented with my decor, but that kind of disintegrated once I started a family. I figured since this is my space, I could decorate it in a way that suits me perfectly. Since I *am* the Scientific Seamstress, a lab theme seemed to be the natural choice.
Don't worry - I didn't go too crazy...no frogs in formaldehyde or radioactive isotopes. I just incorporated the colors and images that made me happy back in my science days. The result is a fun work space where I can conduct my sewing experiments.
I installed a shiny black lab bench under the windows. I got the piece of countertop for $5 in the scratch and dent room at Ikea. I put teloscoping legs in the front and cheap brackets in the back. It is actually 3 feet off the ground because I like to sew standing up (makes it so much easier to go back and forth to the computer or cutting table).
I turned the desk that I was using for the sewing machines into a cutting table. It is soooo nice to have a functional place to cut! The large mat is from JoAnn (got it on sale online). I had to cut it down a little bit with aviation shears, but it works just fine.
I decoupaged the sides of the table with pages from an old Merck index (if I really want to know a chemical structure, I can google it), and then painted a fun soybean plant (the subject of my graduate research) on one side.
On the other side, I installed two GRUNDTAL knife magnets from Ikea. Not only do they hold my scissors and rotary cutters, they keep little metal things like seam rippers and tiny screwdrivers close at hand.
I spray painted two desks with Eden Green by Rustoleum. To me, this is the quintessential "Biology Department Green" I remember from college. At the time, I thought the color was so pukey and ugly, but now I find it quite lovely. Above my work desk are a few things that make me feel happy and loved. The wall quilt was made by four good friends and given to me for my birthday last year. Next to it are my B.S. and Ph.D. diplomas. My dad made the frames and the cool thread rack on the adjacent wall. Above that is the Scientific Seamstress sign my friend Cathy gave me last month...she is such a doll! To the right of the quilt is a thimble collection my mom gave me - I'll take that over dead bugs any day!
Vintage glassware makes for great little vases. You can find pieces on Etsy, or just hang around the doorways of retiring professors' labs.
Lots of storage in the shelving next to the desk. Most of the bins are full of scraps, of course. I glued some chalkcloth to the wooden bin that holds various stabilizers. Now I have a place to write formulas or derive equations when the need arises (totally kidding...I keep my math to rudimentary geometry and algebra). Bessie, my only employee, is OSHA compliant in her lab coat.
The shelving on the opposite wall holds my reagents, equipment, and some books. Notice my copy of Girl's World by Jennifer Paganelli? It is a must-have for the sewing library!
I purchased some beakers to store my buttons, zippers, embroidery floss, etc. They were a bit of a splurge ($10 each from a science supply store), but they are absolutely perfect. The 2000 mL fits my shelves nicely, and the tops are open so I can just reach in and get the item I am after.
Finally, I needed some "artwork" to hang over the beaker shelves. When I worked in a lab, sales reps were always giving us neat posters with science info (and of course their logos). I decided to make my own "Periodic Table of Sewing Elements" poster. Each element letter has a sewing term underneath (and some boxes even have a texture or pattern to correspond with the term). Periodic tables usually have groups of different colored boxes to classify the elements, but I decided to make mine all different colors to look like a patchwork quilt. One of the terms is the same for both chemical elements and sewing elements...can you figure out which one it is?
Click for larger image
Geek out your own sewing space with a Periodic Table of Sewing Elements!
Click the link above to download the small file for printing at home in 8 x 11.5" format.
Click here to download the large file (20 x 30 format, can be printed online or at a local print shop).
Note: Some eagle-eyed readers found some out of place duplicates in the original table. I've made the corrections and swapped out the files :)!