Tips for Moving a Sewing Room

Whether it’s to a new neighborhood or a new state, moving can be stressful and chaotic. But it can also be an opportunity (sorry, I can’t think of any way to make it fun; “opportunity” was the most positive thing I could think of.)

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently moved to a new home. Luckily it was only two and half miles away. Unluckily we’d lived in our previous home for fifteen years – and had the accumulated stuff to show for it. I’m going to list some thoughts and tips on moving in general and a sewing room specifically, in no particular order. I hope it’s of help to you in your next move!

Start packing now. Now being as soon as you decide on a new home; don’t wait until a week before the movers arrive to start packing. That goes for the whole home as well as your sewing space; start packing up everything that you won’t need between now and your moving day.

Leave yourself one box that you move yourself, that holds any essentials you’ll need those first few days. Think of it like a carry on – what do you need to have with you in case your big suitcase is lost by the airline? What will you need to have easy access to in case you don’t unpack all your boxes that first day? (Because you won’t, unless you’re moving out of a dorm room, and even then you may still not be completely unpacked.) That can be one box for household essentials, one box for personal essentials, and another box for sewing essentials, especially if you need to keep sewing during your move.

Label those boxes! And I don’t mean “kitchen” or “sewing room”, I mean write down as much detail as possible on the outside of that box about what’s in that box, because when you need that one thing so you can finish a project or cook dinner, you don’t want to have to wade through 45 boxes marked “kitchen” or 62 (yes!) boxes labelled “sewing room.” Yeah, it takes a lot of extra time, but you’ll spend a lot more timea lot more time – looking for stuff if you can’t get unpacked within the first week (or longer.) And no, “sewing room, supplies” isn’t specific enough, not when you have three or eight boxes labelled that way. As an aside, I had over 220 boxes – and that’s not counting the stuff that didn’t get packed because I couldn’t get it to fit in a box – or because I just ran out of boxes.

Don’t forget to take your machine boxes out of the attic. Because you saved them like you were supposed to, right? This is why you saved them – so you could safely move your machines. Whether you’re moving down the road or across the globe, pack your machine with its original box and stuffing. Because I had my original packaging, I felt just fine about letting the movers handle my machines.

Consider sending your machine(s) to the spa. I really should have done this myself, dropped my machines off at the dealer to get all spiffed up while I was setting up my new house and sewing room. I went two and half months without sewing as it was, that was plenty of time to get them all their annual tune-up (I have five that I use regularly.) If you have more than two machines, you might call your dealer in advance and make sure they can take them all at once. This way if you didn’t save your boxes, you can have them safely put away somewhere until you’re ready to bring them to your new home.

Make a diagram of your house, showing where all the rooms are. Then, label each room – on the door, or the door frame – so the movers know where each room is, and they can put those boxes where they belong. Hang the diagram by the front door so the movers can see it and don’t have to ask you about every box and piece of furniture – they will be so thankful! I myself am thankful to my sewing buddy Jodi for this wonderful piece of advice – thanks Jodi!

Take the time to cull your belongings. This is a popular one with advice columns (blogs?) because it’s a good one – if you get rid of your crap stuff first, you won’t have to move it! Genius, isn’t it? I wish I had gotten rid of more stuff before we moved, because we got rid of a heckuva lot after we moved, I can tell you. Really go through your stuff too; you’ll be touching each and everything anyway, you may as well decide whether you should keep it, toss it or give it away.

And if you have lots of time, make an inventory of your sewing stash if you need to. I stash patterns, fabric, buttons and ribbon. And buttons. Did I mention buttons? I love buttons.… Ahem. I actually started to inventory my fabric and patterns long before we even though about moving. You see, I was having trouble keeping track of all my thoughts and ideas in regards to projects. I tried several different methods, I even tried a couple of different programs (software?) Nothing really stuck. My latest revelation was that I like to browse my stash for inspiration, So I came up with – wait for it – an excel spreadsheet, with links to the photos of my fabric. In addition, I have folders with subfolders on my computer that have the photos from my patterns. Yeah, I know – boring and old school… made more so by the fact that I keep a running list – on paper! – of project ideas… go ahead, giggle, it’s good for you. Where was I… You can actually do your inventory before or after you move, since you have to take it all out of the boxes again anyway. But doing it before gives you the opportunity to cull, instead of just shoving stuff into boxes.

Know where your furniture goes before the movers’ put it there. Huh? Yeah, I know. What I mean is, get the layout for your sewing space (or any room really) decided beforehand so the movers can actually put the furniture where you want it, instead of saying “oh, put it anywhere, it’s all on wheels so I’ll just move it later if I want…”  Moving it later is a bear, because it’s not all on wheels, there are dozens of heavy boxes in the way, and it’s holding your collection of very heavy books that you now have to take all down to move the bookcase and then put all the books back – know where you want the furniture in advance!

About those boxes – keep them small. I know how tempting it is to get great big boxes and fill them as much as you can, but eventually you or someone else has to lift those boxes, and stuff gets heavy fast. Save the medium and big boxes for pillows, comforters, batting and other exceptionally lightweight stuff. I found the “book” size boxes – about 12 inches square – to be the most useful. Small enough for me to lift, even when actually filled with books.

Find a place to stage those boxes. We were lucky; we park in our garage, so we only had to move our cars to the driveway for a few weeks while we slowly filled the garage with most of our boxes. And the movers were glad too – it was all right there when they pulled up the truck. They only had about a dozen boxes to pull from inside house, in addition to the furniture. Speaking of…

If it has to be disassembled, do it at least a few days in advance. I know: you know how to take apart that piece of furniture or exercise equipment or playset or whatever it is that needs to be disassembled. Guess what? Something will happen, and you will be frantically trying to take apart that easy-to-get-undone thing while the movers stand there waiting for you to take it apart because it’s the last thing that needs to go on the truck… and then put your back out and cut your arm while doing it. Because that didn’t happen to me or my husband… right.

Bookmark your projects in some way. I pushed to get all my hangers-on projects done before we moved. Not that I didn’t have a few projects that were long term hangers-on… and this is something you should be doing anyway, because you never know when you may have to put a project down or be able to pick it back up again. I go into a bit more detail in my post here.

Well that’s about all the wisdom I gleaned from my recent experience in moving. I hope you were able to pick up some good tips, and if you have any to share please do so in the comments! See you here next time…

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