Our Basement Conundrum

Last Friday I shared that I’m working hard to put together a space in the basement for sewing. I mentioned the display cases along two walls that the previous owner used for displaying Matchbox Cars (or maybe they were Hot Wheels? I can’t say for sure) and how difficult it’s been for me to figure out how to utilize the space. A couple of you asked for pictures, so here they are in their dusty and messy glory. I’ll warn you that I did nothing to stage these photos or tidy, so you’re getting snapshots of exactly what I have!

The display cases were thoughtfully and lovingly designed. Each section of the wall even had glass doors to protect the collection from dust, but we’ve taken them all down in an effort to gain access to the shelves. Our big dream is to build a greenhouse out of the glass, but we have no idea how to do that!

Here’s a full shot of one wall (the wall is behind me is an exact replica). I do like the mirrored walls because they throw so much light. The cases are quite large – each case is 92 inches wide and there are two cases on each wall. Your can see that I’m storing almost everything in boxes on the floor because there’s very little wall space for other shelving.

I’ve tried taking some of the shelves down so that taller objects can fit, which you can see in this shot if you look at the top shelf. The challenge then is that the glass doesn’t support very much weight and it starts to sag because each shelf is so long. And the shelves are shallow, so you can’t quite fit anything wider than a spool of thread. I’ve tried displaying yarn and fabric. The yarn fits well, but gets dusty because we took down the doors. The doors weren’t built to open and close, only to display, so it would have been difficult to actually access my yarn when I was ready to use it. The fabric requires fussy folding to fit on the shelves – and forget about folding up yardage in a way that would work.

(You can see a collection of the removed glass doors behind my sewing machine. They are are heavy!)

Each shelf is stabilized in the center by a carefully cut piece of PVC pipe. It seems like there are hundreds of these, but that’s probably an exaggeration. Someone took a lot of care and precision to get this set up!

Jordy suggested displaying thread on the shelves and that’s a genius idea! I already had some of my overflow spools lined up on one of the shelves. Again – the challenge is height. I can fit these normal sized spools but not cones of thread, and I have lots of that, too. Plus, it would take a lot of thread to fill up all of these shelves!! I’d really like to have the space available to store more than just thread. I have so many quilting tools and it’s hard to put my hands on just what I need when everything is so willy nilly! The simplest job requires a ton of searching, which is a turn off for me.

Here’s the thing: I don’t need a huge space. I need clever fabric storage, a table for my machine, a table for cutting, and lots of wall space for hanging tools that are most often utilized. I have no wall space in the main part of the basement, but there is this little nook tucked away in the back:

It’s where my husband dumps everything that I ask him to get rid of. His solution? Put it in the darkest section of the basement and forget about it. You win the prize if you guessed that it drives me bananas. So there’s a lot of work to do here, but this is what I’ve been daydreaming about:

Sewing table along the right wall (and I can still glimpse the television that’s to my right but out of this shot). Cutting and ironing station on the left wall where that utility shelf is right now. Shelves along the back wall for fabric. There’s lots of wall space to hang peg boards and mini-quilts for display. I could also put up additional lighting if I need to.

But we work very slowly. I don’t want to spend any money, which requires us to be thoughtful about what we have and how we use it. We have very little brainspace right now, so it’s hard to really sit down and think about it. It also requires time for us to work on this together, and we don’t have a lot of time with just the two of us. Everything is done in tiny bites and I have to figure out a way to be okay with that because it’s not going to change anytime soon. And maybe one day, miraculously, my sewing space will look like this:

Photo by Camille Roskelley, Thimble Blossoms

Ha! That’s Camille Roskelley’s sewing room. She’s part of my favorite fabric designing duo, Bonnie and Camille. I know my space will never look like this and that’s okay — I’m not a professional quilter! But isn’t it fun to dream?

If we ever make any sort of progress, I’ll keep you updated!


17 thoughts on “Our Basement Conundrum

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  1. WOW. That is a really beautiful room! I really love the shelves (my father is into model trains, so I’ve grown up with cases like that (his are smaller though), and that it is such a bright place! Except for the Dark Corner of Doom. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Dark Corner of Doom is the perfect name for that nook! I love it ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel really lucky to have this space. We’ve been in the house for just over 7 years now (!!) and it’s time to really make this room work for us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The good news is that you have a space you can use, it’s just not set up for how you want it right now! This would be a much bigger task if you had to start by creating the space. I think a good first step is clearing it out and seeing how pieces that you have fit into it. Have you checked things like Craigslist and freebie sites to see if anyone is giving away shelving or tables? I suspect the built-in shelves are never going to really work well for what you want to use them for because they were created for such a specialized reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, the previous owner had a LOT of cars!! I do love the mirrors and how bright the space is … wish I had something helpful to offer about how to handle the shelves. (also, wow, that dream space is …dreamy!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, it was jaw-dropping when we viewed the house. The display cases were FULL! His brother still lives next door to us and his other brother lives a few houses down… they are a family of car lovers!

      I love so much about the dream space in this post – the colors, the furniture, the set up! One day!


    1. I wish I could figure out a way to use the shelves, but I don’t think I can ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Good to know that many men have these dark basement corners. It must be a part of the Y chromosome!


  4. Hmmm, this is a conumdrum! Could you slide folded fabric on the shelves and achieve a similar look to the “dream” photo? It looks like folded goods would (but that would block the mirrors a bit. I also like the dismantle suggestion… I bet there is a collector who is drooling over your set up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tried all sorts of fabric folding tricks for those shelves and have found nothing that works. The shelves are just too shallow to hold anything significant!! I also like finding a collector for the set up – it hadn’t occurred to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I would get some wallboard that you can cover with flannel and mount it over at least one section of those shelves to make a design wall. That doesnโ€™t solve the fabric or yarn storage but my design wall is what gets my quilting mojo going. You can also check out By the Lakeside on You tube. She recently did a sewing room tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, that’s a great idea! Thanks for the YouTube suggestion. I have a big design wall in my bedroom because that’s the last place I kept my sewing machine. I think it would be somewhat easy to take it down and move it into the basement… I’m going to think about that some more!


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