Inspiring Creativity in Your Studio Space


Everyone would love to have the perfect studio, well organized, stocked with every fabric we’ll ever need, and overflowing with creative vibes. We surveyed quilters to learn what atmosphere inspires creativity in you. The answers were as amazing and diverse. To kick things off, here is a word cloud of the responses…

The popularity of the words displayed are shown in size.


Question 1:

Besides your sewing machine, what stations or areas do you use for piecing?

#1 – Nine out of ten quilters use a Cutting Area 

#2 – Eight out of ten quilters use a Ironing Area

#3 – Five out of ten quilters use a Design Area

#4 – Two out of ten quilters use a Quick Pressing Area

#5 – Two out of ten quilters use a Staging Area for Units & Blocks

Setting up these top five areas in close proximity to the sewing area helps streamline the piecing process.

Question 2:

What lighting solutions do you use to keep your work space well lit?

#1 – The most popular light sources are ceiling lights. Several wrote in that they use special bulbs in their fixtures to improve the quality of light.

#2 – Half the quilters responding reported using portable lights.

#3 – Just over 40% of quilters responding said they also benefit from floor lamps.

Of course it’s no surprise that the most popular write in answer was sunlight. If only the sun would shine bright every time we quilted.

Question 3:

How do you store your stash? Here are the favorites…

#1 – Shelves

#2 – Clear Boxes

#3 – Plastic Tubs

#4 – Drawers

#5 – Baskets

Question 4:

How large is your quilt library?

#1 – 25-50 books and patterns

#2 – 200+ books and patterns

#3 – 75-100 books and patterns

In the spirit of filling our studios with creative vibes, let’s take a look at some simple ways to create calm in the studio.

Sort drawers to see everything

Drawer storage space offers so much storage in a small space, but without some dividers, it can end up looking like the junk drawer. Create themes for a drawer so everything in a drawer makes sense together to you. For example, there is a “Sharp Things” drawer in my studio which has every cutting tool with an exposed blade (like rotary cutters and scissors) and a single awl, because where else would I put an awl? It makes sense to me, and that’s what matters in organizing our creative spaces.

Use smaller containers and dividers that can be seen through from above to further sort the contents of a drawer. Pictured above is a drawer with small containers holding Wonder Clips, sewing machine needles, miscellaneous machine parts, and hand needles. Above that are boxes of pins, a tin of hand quilting supplies ready to go, and another tin of sewing machine needles. In the center pencil organizer is sewing machine tools, and in the other is marking tools, a seam ripper and Tiger Balm to go with the hand quilting tin. Everything in this drawer is visible upon opening the drawer, making it easy to grab exactly what is needed.


Fold fabric with a guide for uniformity

It’s tempting to store fabric yardage however the person cutting it off the bolt decided to fold it, but this usually leads to some really different sized stacks of fabric. Create uniformity by making a folding guide.

To do this, grab some cardboard, a pencil, a ruler, and a cutting tool other than your fabric scissors. First, decide how you want to fold the width of the fabric, from folded edge to selvage. Most fabric is 21″ from fold to selvage, which can be divided equally into thirds. If you want to fold the width of fabric into fourths, cut the folding guide 5 1/4″ wide. Then decide how long you want the fabric to be when folded. If it suits your space, 9″ is nice because it’s a quarter yard, so most yardage cuts are easily divided by 9. Cut the length of the cardboard fabric guide to the size you prefer.

To fold, place the guide at the folded edge in the center of the yardage and fold the length of fabric in towards the guide. Do this until the fabric can wrap over the guide. Remove the guide and place it on top of the fabric. Holding the fabric and the guide together, fold the fabric towards the other end twice and slide the guide out from between the fold.


Pack UFOs for the future

When you pack up a UFO, you’re making a creative care package for your future self. Follow these tips for packing up UFOs, and your future self will thank you!

  • Use a clear, breathable storage container, unless you know you won’t be returning to the project for a long time, in which case, try an acid-free box.
  • Place larger pieces like borders and extra fabric in the bottom of the storage container.
  • Sort and store all like units together.
  • Pack smaller pieces towards the top of the storage container.
  • Make at least one block for inspiration and motivation, pack it near the top so it’s one of the first things your future self pulls out.
  • Place the pattern and/or a picture of the quilt on the very top so it’s the visible and easily identifiable through the clear lid.

What ways do you inspire creativity in your studio? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Nancy Batenburg

Very recently I engaged in a complete EMPTY, sort and organise of my studio space. Long overdue, it took quite some time because I discovered over the years, I must have been a collector. Like a serious collector of eclectic things. I seemingly collected an example of every small scissors known to man or woman, many (like seriously many) pin cushions and for some strange, alien reason, measuring tapes. I think I simply purchased new ones ‘just in case’ (and then promptly put them in safe places). Forgive me for laughing but you know that tidy drawer for sharp things?… Read more »

“Studio” area has now been reduced to 10 feet of bedroom wall. Organization is now sanity preserving necessity! Under stairwell closet has shelves of 30 plastic “lettuce boxes” for small fabric pieces to fat quarter by color storage; wall of thread spools; lunch meat boxes attached with velcro to slanted ceiling containing pins, needles; drawers of thread cones; baskets of large tools. The door has hooks holding rulers; pattern notebooks and sewing machine manuals have top shelf; In “studio” space wall hung cabinet has folded fabric and bookshelves have quilting books. We won’t mention what is stored under bed or… Read more »


Love the article. I’m sorry I missed the survey… at least I think I did. I’m confused! I can’t figure it out! I need some drawings! I just CAN’T SEE in my mind how you’re doing it. “To fold, place the guide at the selvage edge in the center of the yardage and fold the length of fabric in towards the guide. Do this until the fabric can wrap over the guide. Remove the guide and place it on top of the fabric. Holding the fabric and the guide together, fold the fabric towards the other end twice and slide… Read more »

Thank you for your wonderful comment, Margie! I’ve updated the post with pictures of the folding process. Hope that helps a fellow visual learner! -Emily


So funny! Loved scissors remarks. We all need to do that, it’s like being at a quilt store with old friends. Good job.

Linda Homa

My small room is shaping up to be the perfect sewing room (actually serves as guest room too). I hung a flannel planning board on the back of the door which still has hooks for guests. My iron and press board rests on the futon and I can pull up my chair and press sitting down. Work surfaces for Cutting, sewing and pinning fold and hide away in a sewing cabinet when not in use. Even put a magnetic strip for tools and thread rack inside. Wire cubicals stack baskets for fabric storage. Works for me and an occasional house… Read more »

Connie Broy

I had 28 years of collection in my studio (10′ x 14′) and only a path to the sewing machine. Now most of that collection is taking up the other car bay in the garage. This new studio, (same room), has 4 station; computer, iron, cutting station, embroidery, and sewing machine. I started a month ago after the new floor and fresh pain to bring in the items that are used all the time. It is a nice cozy working studio.