Hi everyone! This is Susan, Melissa’s assistant. Let’s talk about that topic we love, or maybe love to hate… studio organization. In the Facebook group a few weeks ago we were discussing sewing goals for 2017, and this is something that came up.
Melissa and I are quite different in this area. I have more stashing tendencies than she does (to put it mildly). I also tend to be drawn like a magpie to fun gadgets, new marking tools, crafty books, etc. Melissa is more minimalist, except when it comes to her vintage sewing machine collection. Ahem. 😉
However, where we’re similar is in our desire to be organized about the things we have. So today we’re talking about a few of the practices we use to keep our studios in order.
By the way, this post contains some affiliate links – thanks for supporting this blog with your purchases!
The right way to store my stash is my biggest organizational challenge. (Of course it would be easier if I had less. Is my husband in here??) When I began sewing and my stash was just a baby, I found it easy just to keep it in a bin or two. But the problem with that, especially as I acquired more, was that out of sight was out of mind. If I couldn’t see it easily, it would never get used. And that would cause me to make unnecessary purchases because I didn’t remember that I already had what I wanted.
So, I have been making the most of my visible shelf storage for quite a few years. But I’m ready to step up my game a little.
I’m endlessly inspired by the neat rows of evenly folded fabric that people achieve with comic boards (or a variety of other tools). But I have to admit I was skeptical that it would work for me, because it seems that most of the posts I’ve seen for this method are for quilting cottons or small yardage.
I’m happy to report that it’s working great for me! These are the boards (affiliate link) I recently purchased, and that’s just a few of my stash pieces above. I’ve been able to wrap several yards of wide, mid-weight apparel fabric around each one without any trouble.
Melissa here – I like to think my influence has pushed Susan in this direction too. I’ve been wrapping my fabric on cardboard for years.
Because of the size of my stash, I also use the Cora app for digital organization. Cora was designed by a woman who sews, and it shows – it has all the fields you could want for cataloging your preciouses:
It even includes a spot for you to record how much you paid for each fabric, but I’m pretending that one doesn’t exist.
Melissa: Susan is ahead of me in that regard – I do not have a fabric file for when I’m shopping. But as she noted above, I stash less fabric than she does, so I generally know what I have without a database. You can see an example of my fabric storage below; this is about half of my fabric stash.
My guess is that everyone reading this has been in a discussion about pattern storage! We have printed tissue patterns (with different size envelopes) and digital patterns (printed on thicker paper). We have our TNTs (tried-and-true patterns), the ones we want to make soon, and the ones that we want to make “sometime.”
Even when I was a complete sewing beginner, I had already started collecting patterns. I found it so inspiring to look at the different designs and dream about the skills (and wardrobe!) I’d one day acquire. I keep the bulk of my collection in a file cabinet, so when I transitioned from making “Big 4” patterns to mostly independents/pdfs, I really wanted a way to keep them all together neatly. I finally found these envelopes (affiliate link), which are about the same exact size as most printed patterns.
For the several patterns that I remake again and again, I keep them separate in a little box as shown. And for those I’m currently working with, I love to use these hangers from IKEA to keep them neat! That way, if I need to go back to a pattern piece, it’s easy to access since I haven’t folded it up.
Melissa: I use clear bags to store my pdf patterns, and I just write the name of the pattern on the bag in Sharpie. Then I stand these in shoeboxes. When I’m feeling crafty I cover the shoeboxes with fabric or decorative tape, but I also have bare ones.
Notions — AKA stuff. Even a sewist who wants only the bare necessities is going to collect a good deal of it. Thread, zippers, buttons, elastics, ribbons… And these can be the hardest things to keep neat so that you can find just what you need.
I’ve adopted several tools for this (tools for our tools? oh boy.), but perhaps the ones I like best are these mini drawer units (affiliate link). I like that they are clear, but of course I still use labels to help me easily remember what is where. Any excuse to use my p-touch! (affiliate link)
And speaking of labeling, that bottom picture is my newest addition to my organization. I purchased a few of these last year, and they are so useful! This is the one I use for my vintage machine’s presser feet. Thanks to Pinterest for that idea! (The ones I got say no longer available, but these (affiliate link) look like the exact same thing.)
Melissa: My Baby Lock Elizabeth came with a lot of presser foot storage built in, so I use that for most of my feet. I also have this vintage sewing notions tray that I keep in a cubby next to my machine for my frequently used threads, bobbins, needles and other tools.
I hope this helps give you some ideas! Do you have any favorite ways to organize that I should check out?