Are you constantly losing your sewing supplies? Do you have a bin full of scissors because you keep re-finding ones you previously lost. Do you spend more timing searching for lost fabric then actually sewing? Me too. “I know I have it here somewhere,” is my catch phrase. There are a few others, but let’s keep this PG. I had an epiphany the other day and realized life would be easier if I would just stay organized. But as a self-proclaimed mess-aholic, I seriously struggle with keeping organized. Some people are naturally successful at cleanliness. I am not. Never have been, never will be. But, to be able to accomplish my goals, I have to increase my efficiency. When I really thought about it, I figured I spend about 20% of my day cleaning, re-cleaning, searching, losing, and walking around aimlessly. Time to regain control. And by controlling your environment, you can shift your focus to more important tasks, like remembering to feed and bathe the children.
Theory of Organization: Functional and Personal
I don’t claim to be Martha Stewart, but I do have years of experience watching my Mother creatively organize. I don’t know how I missed that gene hand-off. Either way, I have one big theory of organization: functional and personal. There is no point in cleaning/organizing if it doesn’t provide a faster way of locating items and putting them back. And if you don’t spend time making your space personal, then why even keep it clean? There has to be some level of pride. There are two parts to this activity. First, de-trash, de-clutter, and organize. After everything has its own place, then it’s time to decorate and personalize.
If you’re on a low budget, welcome to the party! Use what you have as much as possible. Use any container you can find, because eventually we will go back and dress everything up. It doesn’t have to match or be expensive. Basically, we are totally McGiver-ing this. Challenge yourself not to spend any money. If you really have nothing to work with – limit yourself to the dollar store and under $10. You can do it!
Reality Check – Efficient and Practical Use of Space Structured Around Your Behaviors
Getting organized effectively doesn’t happen in a day. Or a weekend. To truly discover what layout works best for you, you need time to actually test it out. Give it a week, then adjust accordingly. How many of us have set out to get our sewing rooms (or any area of the house) organized, only to have it fall right back in the same mess a week later? Next thing you know, you’re mentally kicking yourself for being such a slob. I was ALWAYS messy and never understood why I couldn’t just keep my area looking nice. And here’s why ; I didn’t consider my habits. Yes, my fabric might look prettier if it was all folded and arranged by type, but I would rather be sewing than constantly refolding fabric. And when I’m in the sewing zone, I’m not going to carefully remove layers of fabric to get to the bright purple silk right smack in the middle. I’m totally throwing fabric on the floor until I find the one I want. And I wondered why I was losing everything. Now, I roll the majority of my fabric up into remnants and wrap with tape or paper and stuff it in color coordinated drawers. Much easier than folding and readjusting.
Find Your Sewing Lounge (like a man cave, only cooler)
You need a space all your own. This doesn’t mean you need an extra bedroom for sewing (although that would be awesome), it just means you need a section of real estate for yourself. We’ll call this your “Sewing Lounge”. Find some way to separate it from the rest of the house. Before, I had my sewing room/office spread out across the living room, dining room, breakfast room, bedroom and den. Everything was everywhere and I couldn’t keep track of which room had what supplies. So, I said, “Screw it! I’m taking the Den!” Then, I was reminded that the Den was my son’s playroom. Fine then. I’m taking half of the den. And I soooo did. I even separated the space with rugs. I also plan to create a partition to really isolate my space.
Getting Started: Chuck all the Trash
Start by sorting through all of your stuff. And you know you have stuff all over the house. Ideally, you want all your sewing/ craft stuff in one area because their uses tend to overlap. Sometimes space issues make this impossible, but try as best as you can without over stuffing. I like to dump everything out on the floor and de-trash. You’ll be surprised at how much trash is taking up space, like the 1/4 inch ribbon you saved from birthday gifts and will never used. Junk…lots and lots of junk.
Categorize: Macro and Micro
Categorize your supplies and separate into bins and boxes. There is a drawer or a box for everything and it’s all kept together as much as possible. All my glue – in one box. All my glitter, in one drawer. Sometimes items fit in to 2 categories. When that happens, choose the category that first pops in your head. For instance, glitter glue. It’s glitter and it’s glue – but my first mental association is made with glitter. So, it goes in the glitter box.
For Example –
Fabric: I put some easy-to-stack fabric on display as decoration. Specifically because it goes with the colors of the room and is relaxing. I have so much fabric, I can’t really keep it all in my half of the den. I filled up as many of the drawers as I could. The rest is in clear bins under my bed and on high shelves in my bedroom. Is it ideal? No, but I’m working with little usable space. Apparently, “the house is not my workshop.” Insane, I know.
Rulers – Chalk and Fabric Markers – NeedlesScissors
Tools (non specific) – I have a screwdriver, awl, kitchen knife, pliers, snap tool, and utility blades in the fifth drawer of the jewelry box.
Sewing tools – (tiny screwdriver, seam ripper, spools holders)
Paint – Stencils and Stickers – Office Supplies – Receipts
Thread (regular and serging) – Big, yellow dollar store bin. They end up all over the place anyways, so I just keep them all in one area instead of trying to keep them stacked somewhere. I never ended up putting them back.
Batting – Muslin – Fasteners – Binding – Presser Feet – Instruction Manuals – Trim – Zippers/Elastic – Pins – Safety Pins – Measuring Tapes – Books – Sewing cords – AccuQuilt Supplies – Crafting Paper – Ribbon – Non specific cords – (extension cords, chargers, USB, etc) – Cameras – Beads – Bobbins
You get the idea. Everything is categorized. Each category has its own little place to chill.
There is something even more important than everything having its own little area. You need it to be spaced out. For those of us with small sewing areas, space may be hard to come by. However, to keep your area looking ‘open’, you’ll probably need to arrange and re-arrange until everything is space without feeling cluttered. Trust me, it works. I rearranged at least 5 times before I came across this set up. For instance, I could fit all my sewing and crafting supplies on one big bookshelf, but I would have to take the whole thing apart to reach what I need. That wouldn’t be an efficient use of time. You and I both know we probably aren’t going to re-stack every time when need the glue that’s stuffed behind the sewing books.
It’s like a fabric shop and Toys R Us threw up in my den.
See what I’m saying? Not very inspirational.
Muuuuuuch better. My son’s toys are on one side and my toys are on the other.
At this stage, nothing matches. Right now, most of my furniture is either borrowed or passed down from family member to family member. I’m a little hesitant on painting any of it. We’ll figure that out in another post.
My son thinks he’s a painter and any white surface is fair game. Hence, blue marker meets closet door. And as a family, we are a little sticker-happy. No judging. The black and white bin hold patterns, many of which are stored in ziplock bags and labeled. The purple bin has non-sewing cords.
DIY Glam Up Series
Now that everything is nicely put away and practical, the next step is to personalize your space with decorations. I want to come to my area and feel relaxed. I don’t want to be too over stimulated, but I want to still feel energized. I started to doodle on the pictures to a get a visual of what I may want:
Sans the Bert and Abby stickers. However, the Monster stays.
What do you think? I’m having trouble with the two different bookshelf colors. I really don’t like the white one – but I can’t paint the brown one. Any suggestions how to make them flow better?
We will be doing a monthly series to cover ways to glam up your sewing area with little to no cost. Stay tuned!
Do you have a secret way to stay organized? A idea that has been a life saver in the sewing chaos? Leave a comment below – we want to hear from you!