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advice about garage to sewing room conversion and fabric storage

ednamillion | Posted in Fabric Guidance on

My family has just downsized to a much smaller home with no space for my sewing machine or fabrics. We also have a sort of run down old small barn / garage space on the property that would be just the right size for a sewing space, so we are working on finishing the space to convert to a sewing space. I’ve done lots of googling / reading online and am confused by the many articles that encourage people to “build a she-shed!” and “convert your garage into a craft room!” while, at the same time, pretty much every article about what *not* to store in your garage or shed has fabric right at the top (how do all of these she-sheds work if you are not supposed to keep fabric in a shed?). What I can’t find is a good article about exactly what considerations I should keep in mind for how to turn a shed /garage space into a finished space that is safe for fabric storage. We are caulking / sealing the whole space, removing the garage door, covering walls with plywood, adding some insulation (though not every wall can be insulated), and putting in a better double paned window. The barn structure is made of wood with a shingle roof. We live in a mild, coastal climate where it is never very cold and it is not very humid, but we do sometimes have rainy winters. The floor is concrete (though it looks like some kind of shiny finish on the concrete). Can anyone walk me through what else I should be thinking about to make this space safe for fabrics and sewing machines to live?


  1. veggielover53 | | #1

    I can only give you my experience.
    We poured a concrete floor, installed drywall, insulated everything. Installed a nice window AND AC unit and dehumidifier
    We lived in Columbia SC at the time
    Maybe if the room was used everyday it may have made a difference, but a mildew smell began , which
    I bombed on a regular basis, and the fabric felt damp.
    Returning from vacation things were not so great
    You see, the dehumidifier can’t run continuously unless you know how to install a pipe to run water outside . I think that would have helped tremendously!
    We kept the AC on
    Someone told me that the moisture was coming up from the concrete floor
    We bought flooring to put down but ended up having to move
    I would try putting down that apoxy stuff they use on garage floors.
    It is pretty and impervious
    ( I did not know that at the time)
    I have seen it used in a cat shelter. They used it up the walls too
    Far less expensive than putting a vinyl floor down
    I hope you can learn from my mistakes!!
    Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

    1. ednamillion | | #6

      thank you, this is helpful! I live in CA where it is quite dry - probably much less humid than SC. but god idea to think about how to seal the floor.

  2. chinita7 | | #2

    Consider a dehumidifier, even if you live in a climate that isn't humid. You want to keep your electronics rust-free and any fabrics or paper supplies from getting mold or mildew. Also, if you have some fabrics that you know you won't be accessing for months (or years) at a time, put them in air-tight bags. Put in some indoor/outdoor rugs/carpeting suitable for your climate...concrete is not comfortable if you plan to do a lot of standing. You don't mention the wiring, but make sure the wiring can handle all the electronic gear you plan to use. Same with wi-fi connection.

  3. User avater
    ruthyleee | | #3

    This video is quite good https://youtu.be/CTZGiownEYo

    1. ednamillion | | #9

      thanks! She doesn't seem to really get into structural improvements to the floor, walls, or weatherproofing, though. It seems to be more about decorating and organizing, which isn't so much what I'm worried about.

  4. user-7864574 | | #4

    Hi. I advise you to try using the services of a repair specialist. Personally did a workshop in the garage for myself and understand that without the help of builders I would not have done it.

    1. ednamillion | | #7

      yes, we are working with a contractor to help seal, weatherproof, insulate, and make sure there is flashing at the bottom of the building to keep rain out

  5. lottiesmith | | #5

    I live on a farm and customized a small outbuilding/barn for my studio. Be certain the barn is located on ground high enough to provide good drainage from rain. You may need to consult prior owner if you've not experienced a year in the location. Remedy any problems, including gutters and downspout disposal of rainfall, before you start anything else! Add windows for good natural light and install commercial ceiling lights with LED tubes. Put in more electrical (both circuits and outlets) than you think you're going to need, include heat source and air conditioning. Install an oversized outside access door - makes moving furniture, etc. lots easier... you will change your mind about your equipment/furniture; have a covered porch which helps with moisture abatement. Seal the concrete floors. Insulate what you can - helps with temperature control. I keep a fan running 24/7 year 'round to keep air circulating. When I'm not in the studio I hang pest strips to control insects. Also, I have wheels under everything (machine and fabric storage cabinets, cutting & ironing tables, book case, even my design wall is moveable) so I can move everything around easily. Set up can be overwhelming, but in the end you'll be happier with a well-thought-out result. Also, a "powder room" would be nice... I still don't have one, but if you're going to spend much time in your space, it's very handy. OH, yes, wi-fi IS a must and you can likely tap into your home system: check with your provider. Good luck with your project.

    1. ednamillion | | #8

      thanks, lots of helpful advice! we have added windows. rain / flooding is a question / concern. our house is at the bottom of a hill and does gather rain water we've heard (though we haven't lived here during a rainy season yet). the previous owners installed a sump pump and french drains that do seem to work to prevent any rain intrusion.

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