Monday, July 18, 2011

The Near-Insurmountable Task of Orgazining One's Sewing Room

If it must be known, I'm a bit messy. Okay, a lot messy. I'm one of those cluttered people who likes to think she's such a slob because she's so artistic. Ha. As is often the case, I married someone who is excessively neat and tidy. (He's also very artistic; don't know how that happened. Total fluke.) Anyway, my sewing room became my dumping grounds and the only place I could be as fully slovenly as I desired.

As it turns out, I've had enough of being quite so slovenly. Or perhaps my husband's had enough, I can't remember which came first. We made a pact to organize the damn room together. We took a trip to The Container Store and spent nearly all weekend straightening and cleaning.

I don't know much about organization, but what I have learned comes from The Sewing Studio, where I teach. That place beyond orderly, and I've been picking up tips. Here are the two rules I can tell you so far:

  1. A system of shelves + containers is key. I got a couple of these shelving units and a bunch of different sized-bins and went to town.
  2. Every container must be labeled, and everything that's in the container must be listed on the label. No exceptions! No just throwing in a French curve with your pins--unless that is, you change the label to say "Pins/French Curve." You must hold yourself to the standard that the labels have provided.

Beyond those two rules, I'm kind of winging it. I got a little label obsessed and decided that each presser foot I own should have its own drawer.
I am quite proud of my little needle drawers.

I've made sure to give myself a ton of bookshelf space, since I'm a sewing book junkie. I'm also lucky enough to have an industrial coat rack to keep garments on. 

I'm using these canvas bins for patterns, divided into separates and dresses, with separate bins for vintage and contemporary. 

I'm happy with the progress I've made, but there's still a lot to be done. There's a pile of yet-to-be organized stuff shoved in one corner. Exhibit A:


I will now purge your minds of that unsightly image with this: kitties! My adorable kitties!

But the real point of this post is to ask you, dear readers, if you have any tips for organizing a sewing space. Please share--I need all the help I can get!


  1. I haven't any tips on organizing your sewing room, mine is just a corner in the bedroom but it's a big corner. You have though given me some ideas on storeage. And the kitties are cute thanks for posting their pics it gave me a smile this morning. I have a tuxie who "sews" with me. he loves it when fabric scraps fall all over him and lays under them til I take them up off him. I know weird what can I say?

  2. I'm a little compulsive about organization. My sewing room is not always neat, but it's fairly easy to get it back into shape after I finish a project. If you stick to your container rule, you'll be fine. Yes, I have way too much stuff, but everything fits into labeled containers. My #1 rule is this: Don't own more stuff than you have space for. I refuse to have sewing stuff all over the house. Once you establish a system that works for you, it will be easy to keep things organized.

  3. I'd offer that you should have some wall hooks or pegboard where you hang hang things you use all the time. For example, if I had to put my scissors in a a drawer they'd never make it there, but I can hang on a hook with the best of them.

  4. hehe. You sound just like me! ;) I feel as though I'm in a constant battle with the chaos that follows almost every project I start. Although eventually it does get to me (or maybe it's just that I can't find something?! ;) and I neaten it up. Lately my rule has been that I have to tidy up after I finish a project, before I'm allowed to cut out another. It stinks, but is a huge motivator!

    I also find that not only labeling, but keeping things nearby that I use a lot is handy. For instance, all my machine feet are in a tiny drawer set I got at Ikea on my sewing desk. Along with most of (not all) of my thread and bobbins. Needles are also there. I find that this way I don't leave as much of a trail of mess behind when I go digging, because they're right in front of me and I can grab them as I sew (and put away whatever I was swapping it out for! ;).

    One thing I still haven't figured out is where to store scraps. Especially those little lengths that are good for trims or bias bindings, but are almost too small to keep on my fabric shelves... I have most of it in a bin, but that is just messy too. haha.

    Oh, and another organization idea I just recently implemented is using clip boards to organize projects I'm either working on, or planning on starting soon. I have a few hung on the short wall near my sewing machine table, and clip either the pattern envelops to those, or little zip bags with the pattern, instructions and pieces/trims that I've assembled for the project. It makes it handy to keep in front of me what I need to sew and get done, as well as find the pattern pieces when I need them!

  5. Where was Jeff when you were a teenager?

  6. I wish I could be that organised! My sewing space is definitely more of a before... My fabric is vaguely organised in a drawer unit, but that's full to capacity. My sewing desk is a bombsite at the moment and I couldn't sew anything without tidying it up first...

    I long for shelves and containers and I'm going to nick Casey's clipboard idea.

    Shelves and hooks and clipboards - that's where I think my sewing organisation will take me...

  7. My patterns, vintage and modern both, live in two large boxes, organized by size. My fabric, though... that lives in what I term the Black Hole. It's a largish walk-in closet that's piled high with fabric and supplies. Once something goes in, there's no guarantee that it will ever see the light of day again. Eventually, I will get it organized, but with a toddler and a baby in the house, it'll take a while...

    I intend to get about a dozen large bins and organize by color, since I sew with woven cotton mostly, anything else would just be a little on the insane side.

  8. I had the "organization" problem too. One of the reasons was because I didn't have a room to use as a sewing room. Luckily, that has changed since I re-married 3 yrs ago!

    I bought shelving and lots of plastic drawers and totes. I still can't fit everything into one room...sigh.

    Anyway, it looks like you're off to a good start with your organizational system. You didn't mention fabric storage. Mine is stored according to use (craft, clothing) and it's also color coordinated (mostly).

    I don't know about you, but one of my favorite relaxing activities is to sort through my fabric/embellishment stash just to look at it and touch it. Wow, in the written word that looks kind icky - like I'm weird or something. Maybe I am...

  9. I organize my sewing room about once a year. I have to start by completely emptying the room, which is a HUGE endeavor! I took video the last time I organized it, which you can see here:

    For me, the most important thing is the work flow and putting tools I need where I use them. Also putting like with like. Hope this helps!

  10. Oh wow I'm so like you, I'm messy it's a real effort for me to stay sorted! However I love some of the ideas you posted here and some of the others have posted in comments, this is my story of sorting my sewing area, you can see the before pics are horrendous!!

  11. I think that how you organize depends on how you think things should be sorted, and sometimes that is trial and error. My problem is always putting things back when I'm done, I would rather sew up to that last minute. I find that I just have to force myself to do it so that I get the satisfaction of coming into an orderly room the next time. Also, word of advise - plan space to grow into!

  12. You just posted the story of my life! I'm Terribly messy! I actually started a process of organizing my sewing room over a year ago and am having to start completely over because the system didn't work for my household. Here is what I learned about organizing a sewing space that I share with my very interesting cats and foster cats:

    1. Storage furniture that sits on the floor doesnt work. Build Heavy duty shelving systems hanging from the wall. First of all furniture that sits on the floor collects all manner of scraps and hair that makes an obstacle course for your vacuum. Second cats love jumping on furniture and they'll find a way to get into your stuff. If your furniture or shelves aren't securely anchored or you are using cheap pressboard stuff, they'll destroy it with all the jumping up aand down.

    2. Everything should have a lid! Not only does this keep the dust bunnies out, but if you have a weirdo cat like my Nabisco an open bin is an invitation for pilfering. Yes even pattern and fabric bins! But if theres a lid, she can't get to anything. So far. Ok she can get into her food bin so make that a lidded bin with a lockdown clip or something.

    I'm just finishing up the Elpha system in my regular closet which made room for my costumes to be stored in there. As soon as I can grab the last set of drawers I'm gonna start designing Elpha for the sewing room. It'll take me years to finish on my income but it will be SO worth it!

  13. I fall in the camp of needing to be organized in order to be able to use my sewing room.

    I have my walls lined with shelving units and my fabrics are folded and color coordinated, by type. Polar fleece one section, quilting cottons many sections lol, Clothing variety another section etc. That seems to work pretty good for me. I have two drawer unit thingies that have wicker drawers, I use those for pins, pencils, scissors, etc. Those could use a little work. But I Try to keep like items in each drawer. My embroidery machine thread which ummm is taking over I have wall hanging thread racks for, which hang right by my embroidery machine. My other threads I keep in baskets by type.

    Your container rule is a very good one and should keep you on track I think!

  14. This just inspired me to finally organize my sewing stuff! I'm a very messy person too (always have been, my parents never let me forget), but I do like when everything is organized. It's a little harder because I don't have a sewing room (or my bedroom=my sewing room) and I don't have a lot of storage space, but I'll just figure something out :)
    btw, do you have a UFO-bin? Mine just lie around between my piles of fabric (I know, not good..)
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. I like Elaray's comment about the importance of being able to get it back in order after a project. I can't stand to have anything "messy-looking" out in the open, but I've found that it's better to sacrifice appearances for the sake of true organization. For example, my baskets of fabric look gorgeous out on my shelves, while my cases of pins and needles and other doodads just looks tacky sitting out. I spent the longest time trying to keep those "ugly" tools in the closet, even though I need them constantly when I'm working. I'm having to force myself to make my room less beautiful and more utilitarian. Tools that I need often are now right at hand, and my beautiful color-sorted fabrics are on the hidden closet shelves, since I don't really need them at arm's reach.

    I saw that someone mentioned pegboard - I love this idea. This may be next in my room. I've seen some creative pegboard designs but even just a garage-worthy board would be a super handy way to hold things but not take up surface space.

  16. Ah! I also love Casey's clipboard idea for holding onto projects in-process.

  17. I agree with Elaray, don't buy stuff you don't have place for. Hence I am currently on a self imposed embargo because my allotted shelf space for fabric is filled to the brim.
    I have a very small apartment, so keeping it neat is de rigeur! My Burdas are all stored according to issue date, all the transferred patterns are stored in plastic sheets and referenced correspondingly. I have boxes for haberdashery labeled in the exact way you described. But the best piece of advice I can give is to pretreat your fabric the moment you buy it and take a photo of it. I have a special folder on my computer that has all the fabric I currently own, along with the composition and amount written down.

  18. My husband and I are constantly at odd about my mess of a sewing room! He is an architect, and EXTREMELY organized. If his space is messy, that means a pencil fell out of his pencil case (oh yes, he even has a pencil case). My husband has about a panic attack every time he walks by my room, so I keep the door closed. I'm very impressed you decided to tackle your room, it's making me think it is possible after all!

  19. I am the queen of organizing. My daughter is my biggest client. She is going off to college soon and I am determined to teach her how to stay organized before she heads off.
    The number one problem I encounter when people organize is that they don't leave enough room for new stuff. When organizing I leave lots of empty shelves, bin etc for new incoming items. Organizing gets off track when every thing has it's place and then you bring in something new and it doesn't have a home. I also think that putting your presser feet in their own drawers is wasting space. When you consider the size of the feet and that you could fit a few into one draw leaving more draws empty for future items that will need to be homed.
    Just my thoughts.

  20. I agree, shelves and containers are the best way of organising all your sewing paraphernalia. I like your labelling idea too!

    By the way, is that a Colette Parfait dress I spy? It's lovely!

  21. Since my sewing stuff lives in the corner of my living room, I just aim for getting everything in a drawer. They are vaguely organized into patterns, scraps, notions/interfacing, fabric I plan on using soon and fabric I don't plan on using soon. I keep unprewashed fabric in the closet. Anything I use regularly-pins, scissors, patterns for the will be using soon fabric,seam ripper, etc-are in a basket on the floor, which is a great step up from just being on the floor where they used to be. Larger patterns and sewing books are in a canvas box next to my drawers. And there's currently bags of fabric all over the place as I have entirely too much fabric....

    But yay for kitties! I want one so bad (there were 4 in my house growing up) but my stupid apartment is not pet friendly. :(

  22. I just saw a huge square shelf bookcase at the thrift store. It looks like a shelf unit used to hold shoes at an old bowling alley. I'm trying to convince my husband to buy it and paint it for my sewing room. It would be perfect for patterns and fabric.

  23. As a fabricoholic, that tends to be my biggest organizational challenge. It's not easy to confine such categories to boxes without having each box runneth over, but I separate fabric by fabric type: linens and linen-like fabrics, cottons, wools, and silk and silk-types. Within these categories, I separate by dominant color, with black carefully segregated from navy and white separate from cream (because these are too easy to confuse in poor light).

    I do allow myself one container of "I'm seriously considering these as my next project," which can be any fabric type or color -- and when fabric enters this box, I'll often do a survey of both my closet and of the rest of my stash to find items that coordinate. After all, what's the sense of being organized if all those classifications don't help you leverage your time and money?

  24. Hey Gertie!
    You are off on a great start! Three things that help me are lots of ziploc bags in various sizes (trims and scraps, matching buttons, patterns that don't fold back up into the envelope, etc.), Sharpies in different colors for labeling, and a p-touch labeler. I have recently discovered that a roughly 11 x 17 box (about 4" deep) is great to put all the pieces to a single project together if I am working more than one at a time- the lid goes on and I'm never tempted to use that buckle or whatever for "something else". Good luck!

  25. I keep my interfacings all rolled on marked tubes and put them in a decent looking wastebasket. I found it is a big help.

  26. I just went through the same thing last week, and boy what a project! My husband has been gone, so he has no idea what all I have done. I can't wait fro him to see it tomorrow afternoon.

    Because my room is small (7' x 10') I have to make sure all my station areas have everything they need. Above my cutting and drafting area, I hung peg board (which I covered in some fabric since I hate the look of pegboard-doesn't make me happy and my sewing room is my happy place) where all of my rulers hang, I can clip up the pattern I am using and the directions. My slopers hang there as well as all of my cutting tools and a mini dust pan and lint roller for the inevitable fuzz. My pressing station has all it needs (iron, seam roll, ham, squirt bottle, etc.) And I have a small wall of shelves where I have baskets for patterns, current projects, drawers of notions, boxes of feet, and boxes for threads-mind you drawers and boxes are mini... I use two 5 gallon paint buckets (one for trash, and one for scraps) under the shelves - which is right by the door and an easy arm swing from my cutting area.

    Now just let to tackle the closet, the fabric is organized, but the other stuff in there resembles a combination of the leaning tower of Pisa and an earthquake disaster area... But I have a muslin to make for my 30th bday and that has priority :).

  27. I have a cutting table that is a 36" wide door set on legs to be counter top height. That gives me alot of storage room underneath. I use cardboard office type boxes with lids. When stacked, at least 12 boxes fit neatly under the table top. In a colorful plastic trash can I store interfacing, lining and muslin on cardboard tubes. That makes these common items easy to find. (I also store boxes of fabric under the guest room bed, and my cat can lift any lid and burrow in)

  28.'re off to a great start. Perhaps you can get some ideas from my Sewing Room Organization Challenge on my blog:

    On the right hand sidebar, there are 6 different topics to help you organize your sewing room: Fabric, Patterns, etc. Check it out! Good luck!

    With friendship,

  29. My sewing room is also used for other things, it has the computer in it, so is used as home office, entertainment (hubby plays RPGs), I run a t-shirt decorating business, so there are t-shirts, many types of paper, extra printers/cutters and of course a heat press. So, I keep my yardage in a closet in the spare bedroom, hung on pant hangers. I am a visual person and need to see things, but I also hate clutter. My scraps are rolled and tied with curling ribbon and in bins; I also have various other things already suggested - drawers, bins, tote boxes and so on.

  30. Sewing & Tidy?.......not a combination I see often. But, I am organized. (there is a difference) :)
    I second the vote for Ziploc bags. I use them for everything. Saves time & space.
    I also love the wall hanging, peg type cup holders. I have them all over. They are great for things that I use ALL the time, especially tape measures, straight edges, pressing cloths, etc.
    Love the idea of interfacing in the tubes & garbage can. Will be doing that one.
    I have been using tubs from restaurant supply stores for years. The ones they use to bus tables with.... I keep current projects in these, stacked in a bookcase. They pull out like drawers, last forever, and hold a ton of stuff.

    You've given me a push to tackle my sewing studio ......again!

  31. i loooove organizing stuff, especially crafty spaces. my sewing room is definitely an ode to my fascination with everything having a tiny labeled drawer to hold it :)

    i think you've got a good system going, but make sure you hold yourself to it! try to clean up your messes every night before you call it quits in the sewing room. i clean up after every big project, but i'm not sure how feasible that is for you (i'm very monogamous with my projects - i always finish one before moving onto the next). don't forget to utilize your vertical storage, especially if you are tight on space.

    oh, and the most important part - make sure your room is pretty & pleasing to the eye :) you might go as far as to paint it & hang fun art, or as simple as putting up a couple framed pictures that make you happy. when a room gets super super organized, i feel like it starts to look kind of stark & bare so it is important to keep some personality in there (and NOT in the form of clutter! no! bad!! haha!)

  32. I bought folders that only open at the top to keep my patterns in. I cut the front and back of the pattern envelopes and glued them to the front, as well as, labeling them on the tabs. Since I sew mostly for children, I have my patterns organized by size and gender in a cabinet that my husband's grandfather made many, many years ago, but that works perfectly. The only problem is that I have lots of patterns that I haven't fixed, yet, and my cabinet is nearly full. I have an open shelf that I am thinking might be just right for holding the rest of them.
    I bought clear shoe boxes and labeled them, similarly to what you've done. I have a huge cabinet that I purchased on sale that has the perfect sized shelves and even a rod for hanging things.
    All of my fabrics are in larger clear plastic bins, sorted by color, and stored on shelves that are under a stair case closet. This closet is awkward in that it slants to the floor near the back, but I keep the things I use the most often are near the front, and only things I use rarely are in the back.

  33. It's funny you should ask...that's exactly my task at the moment. I'm sure the cats definitely prefer the mess--so much fabric to luxuriate in. Your organization system is one I aspire to, and I covet your containers.

  34. OMG, I am also very messy and I am constantly trying to keep things tidy. My biggest problem is fabric storage, I put it in boxes but every time I need to find something it gets messy again. Same with patterns... I store them in binders but it takes me ages to find it back. Not to mention project ideas..I make a list and forget that I did it in the first place or don't find back the project
    I am now giving Evernote a try. But I think a new head would be better.
    BTW, I am also with a very tidy and organised guy...must be Murphy's law or my mom's and sister's revenge ;o)

  35. Dedicated sewing rooms are supposed to be messy. I only clean to the point where I can find stuff and I can sew on my table. And I vacuum after every project. That is the extent of my cleaning.

    Sewists with too clean a room are suspect to me....

  36. Its really hard for me to keep tidy, especially when I'm in the midst of a project, but I've come to realize that its essential because otherwise I end up loosing things. When I start loosing things, I end up being on the verge of tears when I can't find whatever it is I lost. I hate that frustration! I have several tubs full of fabric and then a few organizing bins for tools and I recently made a pegboard organizer that hangs on my wall! This is my favorite, absolute favorite, organizing item at the moment. All my shears are hung plus other little tools that I always loose are all hung prettily and easily. Here's the post I did on mine:

    Its just an idea I stole from Martha Stewart! Totally recommend! You would love it! Best of luck with all your organizing! xoxo, Sunni

  37. I just finished re-organizing my fabric after I discovered that one of the cats was using a fabric bin for a bed. Apparently she'd been doing it for quite a while (based on the depth of hair) and it was gross. Everything has been reshuffled and I gave her a nice cushy bed of scraps high on the shelves (the better to keep watch on everyone) to keep her out of the bins. Seems to be working thus far.

    One thing I did was organize all small scraps into plastic bags and put them in one large bag. It's made digging through the small scrap stash (SSS) much easier.

    As for scissors - I have a tendency to put them down while sewing and lose them constantly underneath things (or in the kitchen?). So I made a scissor apron with a loop so my scissors stay tied to my person at all times.

  38. One of my suggestions is to remove patterns from their envelopes and put the pattern and directions in a plastic bag or file folder (acid free versions are available). The envelope can be placed in a plastic sleeve in a three ring binder (acid free versions are available). You then have your own version of a pattern counter catalog to find patterns faster or just look at them. Both the patterns and envelopes can be organized any way you want them to be. I organize patterns numerically and envelopes by category, and then numerically within that category, but organization can be any way that works for you.

  39. I am amazingly organized. I also just moved and had to re-set up my studio. A pegboard is a must for me. I have pegs for my threads, cutters, scissors etc. and bins that mount on the board for everything else. Everything is where I an see it. Quilting fabric is in a wire basket system. Garment fabric is eiher folded over a hanger and on a rod or folded and placed in clear tubs. My patterns...a four drawer filing cabinet, just purchased and painted hot pink! A gift wrap organizer holds interfacing, pattern paper and the like. I purchsed Ikea map cases to hold elastics, zippers, buttons and all that jazz. They fit perfectly under my cutting table. I love my sewing space. I have other storage systems as well for some of my craft stuff, but that is the

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. (oops, wrong link, trying again!)

    I fight the constant mess struggle! Every few shows/projects I have to re-organize because I am so bad about putting trims, scraps, etc away as I go. Here is my room after a recent purge-- I have to say the BIGGEST lifesaver are pegboards.

    My sewing room

    Other than that, I'm the same with lots of little drawers for notions, file boxes for patterns (there is a big bookcase that isn't visible that holds all my books and patterns, as well as three more sets of plastic drawers).

    I also have a vintage hanging closet bag (with shelves in it) that shares space with stored costumes and in-progress pieces on my clothes rack. I keep folded pieces, petticoats, accessories, etc in that. And then large storage bins in the closet hold larger folded fabric. I have WAY too much fabric!

  42. Since I have never successfully organized the entire sewing room in one go I can't give you any guaranteed no-mess tips, but the biggest help so far has been transparent bins for the fabric. If I can't see the fabric easily I'm likely to forget what I have and buy more. I know a person can't have too much sky-blue silk tweed, but a person can definitely have an out-of-control credit card balance!

  43. I am constantly tweaking my arrangement to find one that works. My sewing time is fairly limited because I am a stay at home homeschooling mom. So when I have a few moments to spare, I want my space to be clear and ready to go! Sometimes there's a pile of stuff on my desk, but for the most part, I find that my system works for me, and that I only have to do a deep cleaning twice a year. I have lots of baskets and shelves for storage, but I prefer to have most of my stuff in plain sight. It's inspiring to me to see all that pretty fabric and yarn! I also like to have a separate set of (smaller) shelves for my wip's.

    Here's the first version:

    Here's the second version:

    I should take some more pics because my setup has changed a bit since then, but you get the idea!

    Good luck getting (and staying!) organized!

  44. What a coinky dink! Yesterday I spontaneously started pulling apart my overgrown art room so I could move it into a larger room. In the process I'll weed out all the things I don't need and reduce the amount of make-do (and large) furniture that crowds the space. The end result will be a larger, more spacious room with less things jamming up the flow.

    One of my favorite solutions to using my art space is a smooth surfaced art table (white melamine from the hardware store), built at kitchen-counter-top height. Since sewing settled upon me as a favorite sport, I get an achy back bending over the fabric for tracing and cutting and drawing. The taller work surface is a back saver.

    On the organized storage front, I use an old industrial blueprint drawer cabinet to house large flat items like matboard and glass (for photography projects), art papers (for bookbinding), but it works just as well for smoothed flat tissue paper sewing patterns. The patterns never have to be improbably refolded to fit their envelopes, and the instruction papers lay spread out on the tissue pieces identifying their garment. A large make-shift manilla folder holds neatly them by kind, flat in the drawer.

    My 1958 Singer sewing machine came with it's little wooden table and four small drawers. These drawers are proving invaluable for keeping presser feet and pins and fray check, etc at my fingertips. I am delighted how useful they are.

    Fabric scraps are separated into kinds (print woven, solid woven, brocade, vinyl, silky lining, almost-white, etc) and folded into 12"x15" home-sewn clear vinyl envelopes with triangle muslin flaps held fast by velcro. All the envelopes stand on end in a cubby like books on a shelf, with easily viewable contents on display.

    Yardage of fabrics waiting to be used are washed, dried, pressed, folded and hung on hangers with clips in the closet.

    Pin cushions are lovely in and of themselves. I like to make different colored ones and fill them each up with one kind of pin. When I start using a different kind of fabric, I already have a cushion pre-loaded with the necessary pins. It saves my thin dress pins from getting inadvertently bent up by being forced into heavy bag-making materials, etc.

    Ribbons and trim are wound on squares of acid-free matboard. Some are vintage and others may undoubtedly become vintage.

    Lastly, a few pieces of inspirational imagery are tacked near my sewing machine. Right now they include a portrait of St Omobono, patron saint of tailors, lovingly drawn by a dear friend, and a Czech postcard of a painting of a woman riding sidesaddle in her 19th century tailored jacket and full length skirt, waving her feathered hat.

    Happy Sewing-Rooming!
    Maybe now I can get back to my bombshell dress. :)

  45. Quite a while ago, I did the same thing you did but more needs to be accomplished. To others, the room seems organized, but I need to do some resorting. And I need to find a buyer for my Professional Freehander quilter which I purchased on a whim, but have yet to set up and use. I'll put shelving up there when I do and continue to organize. My fabric stash is in containers that are frankly too heavy for me to safely handle as they hold a lot, but get very heavy. I buy zippers, thread, elastic, interfacing etc. in bulk and I need a good place to make the storage more accessible. I don't have any of the smaller storage units with the cool drawers. I had once looked at those professional mechanics tool drawer units but do not have the floor space as they are massive, but extremely cool with large, thin, often padded drawers. Your room looks good so far. And I agree with many people that chaos does not beget creativity. Messiness is more habitual so while things get moved around and messy while I am sewing, I still try to remember to put things back in the proper spot. Always before I start a new project I clean up the space, put everything where it belongs (even if it will be used in the new project) before I start. Good luck as it is a daily scrimmage.

  46. Wow Gertie, looks like you have a good start. I have organized everything from tiny closets to large medical trauma units, the key is to study how you work. No matter how you set the space up, if it is cumbersome it will be difficult to maintain. If you use it often, it needs to be near, if not, it can be stored. I keep a master list of items and their location. I update it regularly. I moved from a large studio space to a very small one. Not everything is close, but I know where it is. And the last key element, and I know that this can be offensive to some "artistic-types" but it requires discipline. After each day, take 10-15 minutes and sweep up threads, put scissors in their safe place, organize for the next day. I keep a work-box to the right of each machine and each task area. I get these little wooden divided boxes at IKEA. Each area is stocked with the tools needed for each function, cutting, marking, sewing....unsewing....!I make sure everything is in its proper place for the next day. I could go on but you will find that a few minutes per day will eliminate that mess that so quickly accumulates. A little aside...yes, I am a little compulsive and obsessive, I admit.

  47. Most of the storage I have available is closed drawers, not open shelving. I can't see what's in a closed drawer, and closed drawers stick, so many of these drawers are empty, which is a shame. I'd rather have a shelf made out of cinder blocks and two-by-fours than the fanciest chest of drawers for convenience sake. All of my fabric is piled in the floor. It's a mess. :( But your sewing room is looking good!

  48. My sewing space is in a public place in my house, so I am motivated to keep it neat so the pins and fabric don't come out and attack people. ha. I think being organized makes me a more efficient sewer...especially since I don't have a lot of time to sew.

    I use clear, locking fishing tackle boxes to organize my threads and notions. That way, they don't spill and I can see what I have at a glance.

    I pack away all my yardage by season/weight/fabric type into opaque rubber bins with lids. This has protected my precious stash from dust and light for more than a decade. I keep them in the how do I know what I have? Weeelll, I also cut a swatch of each piece of fabric and staple it to a piece of paper in a notebook so I can see at a glance what I have to work with when I am choosing a project. I know, I know, it's a bit OCD, but it works for me. It's also helped me keep my sewing stuffs accessible through multiple moves.

    The other thing I do is I spend a day every month or so cutting out the projects I have planned, slip them into big ziplock bags with the pattern and any notes I've made and into a "cubby bin" like the ones you have pictured. Then, when I have time to sew, I just grab a project and start.

  49. Oh, I also wanted to mention a book that really helped me learn organization. Yes, I had to learn it. I was a very messy child/teenager. It's titled, "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern. It may be worthwhile to check it out, especially now that you are freelancing it. Best wishes!

  50. I'm still in the slow process of turning our spare bedroom (we only have 2 LOL!) into my sewing room.
    Some of the few things I have implemented are:-

    (1) Comic Book Bags
    to keep patterns in (new or vintage). They're acid-free and will preserve vintage patterns from sticky fingers/ripped corners. Plus, if you can't get the tissue back into the paper envelope you can just tuck it behind inside the plastic bag.
    (2) Active paperwork/patterns for projects are stored in large clear plastic wallets (like these so I can see what's inside - plus I don't have to re-fold bits of paper up too small again (handy for not having to press those pesky creases out repeatedly LOL!).
    (3) Fabric/notions/thread for active projects are stored inside of large A3 (420 x 297 mm = 16.5 x 11.7 in) clear PVC mesh-weave zippered wallets (like these).
    (4) I'm planning to make an Inspiration Board using a magnetic board next to a drywipe board(or make blackboard for chalk?) so I can write to-do lists, shopping lists, and thoughts quickly & see them every time I enter the sewing-space :)
    (5) My Shears, scissors, and rotary cutters are about to receive little ribbons on their handles, and then to be hung from small cup-hooks which I shall screw-into the underside of this little shelf I bought at my local B&Q (DIY store in the UK). The shelf has a shallow "lip" around the edges - which should stop things falling off of it - as I plan to position it above my wall-mounted folding cutting-table, and pens/pencils will live in little pots on it too!

    A fab book I finished reading the other day is Dream Sewing Spaces: Design & Organization for Spaces Large & Small (NB: The 1st edition has a yellow stripe along the top of the front-cover, the newest 2nd edition has a red-stripe). It's truly sparked off so many ideas in my head about arranging & organizing my space I couldn't put it down :)!

  51. It took me the better part of a summer to finally get my sewing room organized (and it could still use more work!). You live and die on labels. I use plastic bins so I tape a sheet protector on the outside, make a list using Word, print it out and insert. If I decide to add or use the bin for something else I can just amend my list. I use ziplocks of all sizes for patterns I've used, or patterns with partially sewn projects that I really do mean to get back to. I put the pattern in a regular zip then put inside a larger one with the fabric, muslin etc. I write on the outside with a marker. I have a designated bin for UFO's.

  52. PS I had my husband build me a large cutting table with storage underneath including a shelf so I can get two rows of bins stored. I keep the fabric bins, sorted by fabric type (okay, it's a dream but I try).

  53. Not having a dedicated sewing room means I have to be able to put stuff away between projects. I've been keeping my fabric and yarn stashes in giant clear storage bins with lids, and all of my buttons/needles/bobbin cases/miscellaneous doodads in big fishing tackle boxes.

    My scissors, pin cushion, and a few needles always live in a little wooden box on the shelf so I can access them easily for small emergency jobs like replacing buttons or repairing seams.

    By the way, I love your blog. Every time you post something new I want to give up finishing my PhD and just craft full time!

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  55. I have to say that reading all the comments and references to sewing rooms is making me v jealous! A room? if only. I have a space between my tv and my dining room table where everything is "neatly piled". Here's hoping this will change soon when me and my cat Frankie get somewhere bigger - can't wait!!

  56. Love it! I used to excessively neat, now I'm just forgetful, so I box and label everything or I'll never find it again. My favourite trick for the terminally impatient me is sticking buttons in those small ziploc plastic bags, about 2x3" size. They're in the only boxes I could find, old WWII tins my MIL was tossing, labelled by colour. Same with zips, sorted by colour. I have boxes of white elastic, black elastic, rickrack, binding, cording, etc. and a 5 drawer dresser with interfacing, lining, quilting cotton, house trim, etc. one category per drawer. And, rolling bins with drawers that fit under the cutting table for patterns. And more boxes of vintage patterns. I keep a basket beside the machine with the tools I use most often so I don't have to hunt for them. It's always a struggle as sewing means you need notions and tools, but no more so than serious wood working or furniture building would require.

    Love your clothes rod! I have an old hall stand which works but not as well. Hmmm. Right now I have a huge stash, first ever, because I couldn't sew for a while, but that didn't stop me from buying fabric. And, I sew for the house. Given that single lined drapes take 12 yards minimum, it has added up.

    So, do you feel liberated? Or, like me after I organize, a bit dazed and wondering where all my goodies went?

  57. I am relatively organized - not overly detailed. I have an old bureau that I store my fabric stash in. Each drawer contains different fabrics based on the type of garments I would make out of them. An armoir has my patterns in the drawers (I have them sorted by skirts, blouses, dresses & jumpers, suits, crafts. Another cabinet in the armoir opens up to reveal shelves. This is where I keep fabric that has been cut and is waiting to be sewn, garments in need of repairs, and my serger thread.

    I have 2 spool racks on the wall full of various colors & types of threads. I have another small dresser that has excess fabric cutting supplies in one drawer, notions and trims in another drawer, and cut out crafts & surplus interfacing in a third drawer.

    Items I regularly use are kept in the small drawer in the machine cabinet (scissors, needles, pins, ripper, presser feet, marking chalk), with user manuals, extra bobbins & "go-to" books in the larger drawer.

    I'm based out of my living room for now. I hope to move into one of the bedrooms when the children are gone. This will enable me to spread out a bit and be more detailed. Good luck with your organizing!

  58. Hello, Gertie! I just read your blog, but my sewing room is a disaster! And I sew much more, and more efficiently when its organized.

    I keep my patterns in a filing cabinet (box), organized alphabetically by type (dress, toddler pillowcase).

    After my fabric is washed and dried, I fold it and stack it by size on shelves in the closet.

    Any fat quarters, or other sets are kept in an old dresser I have. Each drawer is dedicated to a specific theme (fat quarters, vintage sheets, etc.)

    I also keep about 6 clipboard hanging on the wall, each labeled (current projects, designs, quilting, etc.) This really helps me visualize what I've got going on, and a place to keep notes whenever inspiration strikes!

    Happy Organizing!

  59. Like a lot of the others, I too am in the process of organizing/making over my sewing room. I've painted the walls (floors will have to wait until the Fall) and have started the storage process.

    I have several of the carts with clear drawers. I need to rearrange and label them. I already had a shelving unit and last year bought two bookcases to add to it after watching the fabric storage videos below.

    Serena Smith has a series of videos on YouTube that are an excellent reference for sewing/quilting/embroidery space organizing and storage. (Try not to drool over the space she has.) I love the idea of covering the bookcases and thread racks with fabric and she shows you how to do that too. Very cool!
    Sewing Room Tour - Pt 1
    Sewing Room Tour - Pt 2
    Sewing Room Tour - Pt 3
    Ironing Station
    Sotring Notions

    Even though I will be storing my fabric in bookcases like Serena does, I will be rolling the fabric like Gigi did instead of folding it flat.
    Gigi's Sewing Room Organization - Pt 1
    Storing Fabric - Pt 1
    Stotring Fabric - Pt 2

    Serena also has a way of using Pizza boxes for storing projects. I just called my son and told him not to throw away the pizza boxes. LOL
    Storing Projects

  60. What a timely post- my entire sewing room looks like exhibet A !! Thanks so much for the inspiration to get on it this week and stop putting it off.

  61. I agree with your #1 & 2 rules about containerizing and labeling.

    One thing that makes a HUGE difference in the labeling is to invest in a P-Touch or the like and use printed labels, rather than handwritten. It's so much easier to find what you need at a glance.

    In addition to my crafts blog, I also have one about organizing. You might find some helpful tips at (Not trying to advertise, just thought you might find it helpful!)

    I love organizing my sewing/crafting room, I always find "lost" treasures. :-)

  62. Love the system you've started. You could hang some of your fabric that you'll be using in the near future and put the rest in clear bins or on a set of shelves. You could also hang up a peg board to hang scissors, rulers and other tools.

  63. Any tips for organizing fabric scraps would be greatly appreciated.

    I am planning to install a peg board above my sewing table for various items . . . shears, pin cushion, measuring tape, etc.

  64. The real question is: Do you have any tips for getting ones own sewing space... sigh.

  65. I too am messy. Not just in sewing but in general. My house is an embarrassment. I say I am a stay-at-home MUM not a stay-at-home HOUSECLEANER but this is just an excuse to cover-up my inability to keep my home tidy.

    I say my home isn't dirty it is messy and messy is ok but messy is not ok and it is hard to clean when it is messy.

    For the first time ever I have a whole room just for sewing. I used to keep my fabric stash in lidded containers under my bed. Now I have an ensemble bed so the containers are in my sewing room creating more flat space to create clutter on top of.

    I want to have an organised sewing space and I'm starting on it too. No ideas though!!

    I do have a question though, which any one with an opinion can answer: Do you think your fabric stash needs to be in a closed container or is it ok to just fold it onto a shelf? I've seen both. I wonder if the fabric will get ruined being just on an open shelf?

  66. Help! my sewing space looks like yours in exhibit A :) I need help too! You've given some great tips so I better get started....well, maybe in a day or two ;) hehehe.

    Your new tidy space looks great.

  67. Gertie, you've gotten off to a solid start. You have received much good advice in he comments, so I will add my $.02.

    1) I love my label maker. It looks neater than handwritten labels. But then, I'm probably a bit, er, compulsive.
    2) I use small bins to keep my projects organized, because I always have several going at once. I got my bins at Ikea, but I'm sure you can find them at TCS.
    3) I keep heavy upholstery fabric in plastic storage bins, fashion fabric hanging on hangers in my sewing room closet. The bins hide under my worktable, behind a curtain.
    4) There is a daybed in the sewing room, where I like to handsew, warmup, nap, read, etc. It's also where guests sleep, which makes me keep it clean. Because I like to relax in there, that motivates me to keep it tidy.
    5) I have the studio painted a fun color, which makes it happy and creative.
    6) I have a place for everything, and every thing gets put away when I am done with it. That's most important - put stuff away when you are finished with said stuff.

    I actually have a picture of part of my studio posted on my blog, here:

    I had high hopes of building out my closet myself, but that ain't gonna happen, so I am going to hire someone to do that. That will make for better storage options in there.

    It's so nice your hubby is helping you organize. It took a while to get where it is now, so take your time getting it organized. I think it helps to draw out an overall plan (sketch your room) and divide it up into areas that you can tackle one at a time.

    Good luck! Show us the reveal when you are done.

  68. I could use our second bedroom as a sewing room, but I like using the dining room table (so I can talk and hang out with hubby while I sew). For me, they key is constantly purging what I do not need, and not buying random fabric unless I love it, or will use it right away.

    I organized all my sewing into four medium sized plastic, clear rubbermaid containers, and I used four smaller boxes -- two for patterns, and two for notions. Everything is labelled (by hand, until I can print out cooler fonted labels!) I think you did a great job organizing, and I beleive the key is to put things away -- after every stage of a project, I quickly sort things out -- after the zipper, I get rid of unusable scraps, before finishing, I put away odd threads, etc.. This quick tidy up between steps help me maintain the organization. Good luck with organizing.

  69. Hi Gertie, I'm a total neat freak. I admit it. I drive my hubby crazy. I like everything in it's place, sized, color grouped etc...
    Here are 2 rules that I am always telling him (he's not orgainzed at all)...

    Rule 1 ~ put whatever you got out, back where you got it when your done

    Rule 2 ~ Anything new, put where you want it and again, once you get it out, then put it back.

    PS: Your sewing room looks awesome! I do the same thing with my sewing feet too. I have them in a clear plastic floss box (works great!)

  70. I store my fabric on bolts I cut out of foamcore, in built-in shelving (though it would work just as well in a bookcase with adjustable shelves). It makes it easy to see what I have without digging through bins or drawers and wrinkling things. Like so:

    I also enthusiastically endorse a pegboard system. My only available wall is too flimsy for one, though, so I improvised with some big steel pushpins and keep my rulers, embroidery hoops, and jeweler's saw on the wall with them:

  71. Wow, so many tips here! I've been collecting a stash for a while and have just starting creating stuff with it, so it's not out of hand yet. But I'll definitely be using some of these ideas to keep it under control :) Thanks for sharing!

  72. I don´t even have a sewing room now, so storage is always a bit of a problem. I have fabric in all rooms but the bathroom right now, actually.

    A couple of smart things that I do:
    1. I have a bunch of biiig plastic storage bins that have to be in the cellar, and that is where I keep the fabric I don´t use regularly. They are stacked on top of each other, because we don´t have much space, and I used to have to go through everything in all 6 boxes to find the things I wanted, even though they are transparent.
    So when I organized them last, I took a digital pic of the contents I wanted to go in each box. When I want something from the cellar now, I check my photos first to see if it's down there, and what things I will find it with.

    2. I have lots of pattern magazines like Burda and Ottobre, and found myself always dragging out all the magazines and flipping to the middle pages where the overview of all the patterns is. I was trying to find the right pattern for the project I had in mind.
    So I started photocopying these overview pages and keep them in a little plastic envelope next to the magazines. So now it is much easier to find the right pattern, and I don´t have to take out all the magazines. The copied pages have written on which magazine they come from, off course ;)

    Good luck getting organized. It sure isn't easy, but sooo great to find everything you want more easily.

    (Sorry if my English is strange, I am actually Norwegian :) )

  73. Husbands can come in handy, in the most unusual ways.

  74. My living room/dining room is also my craft room, but I actually have mostly stopped kidding myself on that it's a living room or dining room as I can't invite other people over to it - it's almost entirely devoted to crafts. Oh well!

    Anyway, I get a lot of my organising stuff in B&Q, the British version of Home Depot. You can get some fab organising trays for small things that have lids and can be carried about - I use quite a lot of them for small things. They also have carts with nice deep drawers for fabric.

    My cutting table is from Ikea, and consists of a table top, one chest of drawers, and a saw horse, so I can put patterns in the drawers, and pile things like interfacing and fusible fleece on the bottom shelf of the saw horse, as well as fitting a few baskets of things in the space in between underneath. Ikea also has lots of cheap wee bowls that you can put often used things in on your table top.

    My finaly useful item is a large sheet of MDF that I put hooks on to hang tools I use most often out of the way of the table top, and have hung above it.

  75. I learned this from my husband, who loves to cook. The kitchen sink must always remain clear and ready for use. I adapted no longer let dishes "sit and soak".

    I applied that attitude towards my sewing nook. I put things away when I finish and it's nice to return to a clear space. The seam ripper, scissors and pin holder sit in the same little spot next the the sewing machine, but nothing else.

  76. I had to organize my sewing room - via a "suggestion" from my husband - in June and did something very similar to the ladies on here, as well as some of the things you did, Gertie. I already had Ikea Billy bookcases in my room and some of their storage boxes, but nearly everything was in a tangled mess on the shelves and on the floor. I had to call in the cavalry though - my very well organized friend - to help me find my way out of the clutter.

    We started by emptying the entire room and separating out everything into piles in my living and dining rooms (I had many piles). We ROY G BIV-ed the hell out of the fabric, with neutrals and browns at the beginning, and flat rolled them (fabric alone took up an entire bookshelf, nearly floor to ceiling), so I can see what I have.

    We organized all the notions, pins, scissors, measuring tae and rulers, etc..., by use and how close it needed to be to the sewing machine.

    We hung the scissors on the bookshelves with hooks, as well as the rulers and measuring tapes, so they are easily accessible and easy to put away. All rotary cutters are in an old enamelware camping cup that burned the hell out of my husbands hand while camping, so I figured that was the best second use for it.

    We have an old rolling encyclopedia cart where I have all my books and patterns stored. Now I can roll it over when I need a pattern, then roll it back against the wall when I'm done and it isn't in the way.

    The room looks really awesome now and I feel much better when I walk past it - and I'm not constantly being harassed by my husband to get stuff off the floor. And it's way easier to work in there now!

  77. Peg boards are great- and you can paint/decorate them anyway you like- you do not have to keep them the ugly 'garage-brown' color. Also- Ikea sells a tension line and hooks that you can hang on your walls- great for hanging some finished art work to keep you motivated. Of course- the real project is keeping it neat after you organize it.

  78. Those are great tips. I can see the value of labeling everything when it's a shared space. I have a modified version of it at home. But the bottom line is, organization only works when I diligently use it, which I don't always do. I have to sew in our dining room (machine), iron (basement) and by hand (on the couch in the family room). Therefore I have a portable basket for the current project and supplies. I am disciplining myself for my current project to only have my current project on the dining room table, so I can easily lay out the fabric for pinning and basting, mark different details from the pattern, etc, etc, etc. Therefore my key tip is to put away everything but the current project.

  79. My name is Elisabeth, and I have a lot of fabric.

    One of my fabric storage solutions is to get a bundle of the bolt tubes, and roll my fabric on it (I use a staple gun to attach the end so I can roll it neatly). Then I store the bolts on a set of cargo hooks that I bought at the hardware store. I can get 4 - 5 rolls of fabric on each set of hooks.
    Fabric I can see is slightly more likely to get used than the fabric that is stowed away in a blanket chest or zipped up in a storage bag.

    My craft cottons get folded up neatly and stored in old shoe boxes. You can fit a lot in one box, and especially in a boot box. They stay there quite neatly... until I next use them. I'm working on long term tidiness.

  80. I have two fabric stashes - quilting and dress/costume. They live in tall cupboards, neatly folded in colour related familes, directly on the shelves. SO when I open the doors, I can see waht I have, and when the doors are closed, the room looks tidy. I keep everything else in containers I can SEE THROUGH. Plastic baskets or clear plastic cubes. That way I don't need to label the heck out of everything. I learned that early on! :) Projects in progress each get a plastic basket - the thread, fabrics, patterns, buttons, zip etc all go in the basket on a shelf. It is all very organised, until it isn't ;-)
    I also choose containers that have straight sides wherever possible to maximise the space - it annoys me when I lose shelf space to the shape of containers.

  81. Keeping my sewing space organized is a continual challenge. I totally agree with you on the labeling thing, though - I have a Brother label machine and I use it obsessively.

    My sewing area is in the master bedroom. Hubby rarely sleeps here (no, it's not the sewing mess - he's just a light sleeper and I snore LOUDLY, so we *sleep* in separate rooms), so I am probably even more messy than I would be if we did share the space. I try to keep the sewing stuff contained to the work table, shelving and smaller closet, but once in awhile it manages to creep into my bed (*that* bugs him a little!).

  82. Oh, one more thing - about scraps - a few years ago I came to the realization that I am *highly* unlikely to ever use scraps for *anything* (unless I have a significant amount left over, like a yard or more). So out they go at the end of each project.

    Seriously, the amount of psychic energy those little bits of fabric took up (in addition to the physical space!) was just TOO much. I don't feel guilty, and it's much easier to stay organized.

  83. You are so organized! I need to learn from you, Gertie!

  84. I repurposed an old chest of drawers to store and organize my extensive fabric collection. The top drawer houses my longer, uncut lengths of fashion fabric, the second drawer holds shorter pieces, the third drawer is home dec, and the bottom drawer has all the little scraps and pieces leftover from other projects. I keep my patterns in recycled storage boxes from The Container Store, organized by brand. My vintage patterns are in a special box, of course! I have a curtain rod mounted on the wall to hang garments in process on hangers. Clear storage bins reside under my cutting table, holding notions, trim, and oddball fixings.

    Most importantly, I always make it a ritual to clean up my sewing room (which, ironically, was my playroom as a child) prior to starting a new project. Then I let it get as messy as it needs to be while I'm in process.

  85. Wow your post sounds like my life- sewing area is chaos and I have also recently purchased shelving to try and organise things. Add to that a super tidy freak (artistic) partner- I drive him nuts with my mess. I like all the little things you have thought of 9needles etc) so might have to pilfer some of your ideas.

  86. would you talk please about how you store your patterns once you open them? maybe do some pros and cons of different storage options? my uncut ones are easily filed, but once i unfold and use them, i sort of make a mess.

  87. I like to get interesting baskets & jars from thrift shops for storage -- it's more visually appealing to me than plastic bins. I also like spice tins with clear tops and magnetic bottoms for sorting small things like buttons, and I have a couple of old cookie sheets drilled into the wall to hold them.

    While I know covered bins are better for protecting fabrics, I keep mine folded on open shelves -- half of what I love about sewing is the fabrics, and I like having it all out to look at and touch. Plus, in the process of organizing my stash recently, I kept opening bins of fabric I'd forgotten about, so now everything is where I can see it. To keep it all neat, I wrap longer yardages around a cardboard bolt, slide the bolt out and fold the fabric in half. I do the same for pieces smaller than a yard, using a quilting ruler instead of a bolt. I stack them with the folded edge to the front so it's tidy and easy to see what's there.

    I don't have a *ton* of fabric (though it's way more than I will sew in the next 12 months), so I separated everything into just 3 categories: natural fiber wovens, synthetic fiber wovens, and knits. Each occupies its own shelf. And my patterns are in a canvas bin next to my fabric, so I can pick out a pattern and look to see if there's anything suitable in my stash without taking a step.

  88. this makes me feel better. I have a limited space my sewing room is shared with tons of other stuff including a baby who pulls things off the shelf next to her crib. I make a lot of excuses... I like the idea of one of those magnetic knife strips for the kitchen and tons of little tin containers. it could be fun to find little vintage tins for the task too. I may have that some day.

  89. Well, in my experience, when you try a new pattern for the first time, you must leave bigger seam alowance because this allows you to enlarge the diferent aprts in case is too short, or too tight, or the armholes too deep, or your sleeves too short, etc. Once and piece fits me (o whoever i'm making it for)I sew it and them cut the seams to 1cm, which of course allows the fabric to strech and to be better acomodated. And once the pattern has been proved right, or has been modified to reach the precise measures, then minimum seam allowance makes a lot of sense to me. Sometimes, I cut small seam allowance everywhere except for a suspicious area.
    REgarding pinning and basting prior to sewing, it again depends on the seam you are sewing, but my mum taught me, first pinn, then baste, try it on, make the necessary adjustments, and finally sew. With curves or complex pieces like smoking necks, i can't imagine not fastening it first somehow, becasue sometimes you must force the fabric to move in ways opposite to its natural trend...

  90. Gertie, first of all I am in LOVE with your blog and all your ideas, I recently inherited my daughter's room after she got married and now empty nester's that we are, my husband while off for 3 surgeries, surprised me with having her room customized into an actual sewing studio, since I was opening up the room as a business to take in alterations & making garments. It is the dream sewing room to die for. NO it's not customized with the expensive sewing furniture that's out there, but to me far better. The room is only 10 X 10 so space was the important issue, my son who is a contractor by trade, gutted the room and we ripped up carpet, exposed the hardwood floors for ease of cleaning, he put in all new cabinets and drawers with a sewing station just the perfect height for sewing, with all the proper storage space right there at my side, then behind me he put in another cabinet full of drawers & shelving for a cutting station again just the perfect height for cutting without any strain. He installed a wall iron unit that shuts up beautifully, and customized my closet with drawers, shelves and a hanging rack for finished garments. if you would like pictures of the finished room and the other little perfect storage ideas we came up with, I posted a blog about it at: I am sorry I took up so much space in my comment, it's just you inspired me so much, hopefully I can inspire you with some of my ideas. Thanks Gertie

  91. Must be something about this time of year - a couple of weeks ago, I spent my day off building Ikea storage furniture and a desk and setting up my multi-tasking sewing/writing/storage space! It's a tiny store room, but I've managed to fit a desk and chair in as well as my dress form ... right next to the mop and our toolbox! I'll be posting about it this week.

    I am with you on the labelling tip - I've got a set of drawers with labels, which is very helpful. I also made some fabric pockets that hang on the wall (from One Yard Wonders), each pocket has a planned project/WIP in it with the pattern, fabric and all the notions inside. For me space is really at a premium, so if something can hang on the wall, even better! (Loving the wall pegs idea for shears, etc.)

    I've also got a pinboard with inspiration images, bits of pretty trim and reminders, as well as notes for my writing. It's great to be able to look up and instantly see something that gives me pleasure. I think it's good to have a sewing space that looks pleasing to you and that you enjoy being in as, surely, that'll keep you in there and coming back!

    Probably the most important thing, though, is to have seating and a desk that looks after your back! I'm planning to get one of those kneeling chairs at some point, because I have terrible posture and that needs sorting out, for my own good!

  92. Reading this my first thought was 'duh' (and that's directed at ME not you). Labels. Never crossed my mind LOL and I'm always scrambling in about 10 different places for stuff.

    Office P-Touch machine is now in my bag for labeling tonight! Thanks for the inspiration, Gretchen!

  93. I've thought about this post a lot and ended up writing a blog entry with my tips for a tidy sewing space:

  94. Ohhh I actually have a good tip for this! I have a craft room where everything has a "home," but it never looked clean because all my projects were out and about. I'd think, "Well, as soon as this project is done then the room will be clean." But of course by the time that project was done, I'd started 3 more. SO... this lady I know who is ridiculously organized told me what she does. She has a bunch of stackable plastic drawers that are "work in progress" drawers. Um, DUH! I never would have thought of that on my own because I'm not a very organized person by nature, but apparently everyone else thought that was obvious. Whatever. The point is, I got some drawers from Wal-Mart, and each one contains a "work in progress." That way I can just dump it in there at whatever stage it's at, and pull the drawer out the next time I'm working on it. NOW my craft room finally looks clean, which makes it much more inviting to work in.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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