I recently posted a book review for Love Your Creative Space, a book about designing and organizing creative workspaces. However, I had a few criticisms of that book, and didn’t really see it as a must-add sort of reference for the sewing library. However, in the comments birdmommy mentioned that Dream Sewing Spaces was their go-to in terms of sewing room inspiration, so I decided to get a copy and check it out for comparison.
Dream Sewing Spaces is a really comprehensive book in terms of thinking about, designing, and setting up a functional sewing space. The book goes through the steps in a pretty logical order; it starts by having you analyze your space and needs, review the “human energy” component and the importance of ergonomics, and consider how cabinetry, work surfaces, and lighting all factor into the functionality of a space. It then talks about the importance of designating “work centers,” and reviews practical types of storage. It also has a few bonus sections on looking at how some of the inspiration studios are set up and incorporated into a multi-purpose household space and sewists might utilize existing household storage, as well as discussing the special needs of professional at-home studios, including those for custom garment sewing, bridal, quilting, home dec, and art sewing.
I have to say that, as someone who does not own a home (and is very unlikely to afford one, let alone fixing one up, anytime soon), the sections on lighting, flooring, and custom cabinetry were inspirational, but not really applicable to me at my current state. I think it could be good to have as a reference for the future, and I will say I learned a lot more about the ergonomics of flooring and the properties of different types of lighting than I ever thought there was to know. And I will say that getting multiple Ott Lights in my sewing corner has been something of a revelation, I’m obsessed with my squishy floor mat that I stand on by my cutting table, and that the new pressing station I made myself last year does lead me to fully understand the importance of all of these topics.
Personally, I think the chapters on “Primary and Secondary Work Centers” and “Organization” were probably the most interesting or broadly applicable to anyone, regardless of how much sewing space they have. The idea of having your Primary Work Areas (where you store materials, sew, cut, and press) and Secondary Work Areas (where you plan, fit, and hang items) is really interesting, and very helpful for master planning a space. It’s a setup that I sort of reached organically (I now have a very distinct sewing space, cutting space, and pressing space), but I think that if you can master-plan the setup of these work stations before doing a lot of furniture purchasing, installing, and moving, it will probably make the work systems and the setup of the space much more efficient. I will say that I also tend to use the cutting area as sort of a catch all, since it’s such a big work surface. I now use it when I’m doing Cricut work, or cutting fabric, or making patterns, or planning projects…. it really does a lot of work. But based on this book and understanding the issues with my own workflow, I think I need to make a better planning/staging area, where I can store things for upcoming projects that doesn’t require me moving books, patterns, and fabrics back and forth from the cutting table to the sewing space 20 times a day.
Another thing I appreciated about this book was that it discussed floor and furniture layouts with actual numbers and measurements. While everyone might not have the exact same space allotments in their dwellings, having a general idea of how much space is needed for a good cutting surface, pressing surface, or sewing table can help with planning or purchasing decisions. I think it is especially useful to note in the section on specialty sewing spaces, since those types of projects take up a lot more space or require additional considerations.
In comparison to Love Your Creative Space, I think that Dream Sewing Spaces is probably the more versatile sewing-space book. It seems to have better organization of content and be more generally applicable to a variety of sewing needs. However, I also want to point out that Love Your Creative Space is available in digital formats, whereas Dream Sewing Spaces is not. It is possible that having a physical copy of Dream Sewing Spaces may have made the book feel more cohesive or tangible for me, in a way that Love Your Creative Space just couldn’t in the digital format. I would also note that Love Your Creative Space is a more modern book, and thus references some of the more recent furniture and storage trends, such as using the IKEA Kallax style square cube storage spaces, which were not a trend back when Dream Sewing Spaces was written. I think that these two books together would be an excellent starting point (along with Pinterest, YouTube, and other internet resources) if you were going to design an effective sewing space from scratch.
Overall I really enjoyed some of the ideas and content in Dream Sewing Spaces. I think it has helped me realize what some of the shortcomings of my own sewing space are (I know it still hasn’t reached optimal efficiency yet, but I couldn’t exactly articulate why until after I read the book), and it has also provided me with some inspirational and aspirational sewing room ideas. I think if you are looking for a few cute organizational ideas, you might be better served by going to Pinterest or looking for internet blog posts, but if you are planning a more substantial sewing space overhaul, or are new to sewing and want to get your space set up in a logical way, or even if you are just imagining how to build your some-day fantasy dream sewing space from the ground up, it’s a great book to check out.