About once a year I go through my sewing room and organize everything. I throw away, donate or recycle the things I don’t need and arrange the rest. This year I came up with several good organization solutions that I want to share with you.
1. DIY tin box for storing used sewing machine needles
How to keep track of those machine needles that you have used but that still are in pretty good shape? You don’t want to mix them with your new needles. You also want to know whether you actually have a used needle before inserting a new one into your machine.
I devised this little needle box/pincushion out of an old Barkleys mint tin. I made a pincushion with a grid that has places to those needles I use the most: universal, stretch, super stretch, jersey micro-tex and topstitch. The top row of the grid has the needle sizes: 60, 70, 75, 80, 90 and 100. The mint tin has room for 15 boxes of Schmetz needles.
2. Keeping your ribbons tidy
I got bored with my ribbons getting tangled up in their storage box, so I wrapped all my ribbons around pieces of cardboard. The local craft store outled sold sturdy and perfect sized pieces of cardboard and 10 pieces cost only 1 €! This organization of ribbons keeps everything visible and they actually fit into smaller space.
3. Storing your most often referred patterns
Perhaps you too have a few patterns that you always refer to? I have my self-drafted bodice and sleeve, my trouser sloper and a puffy sleeve from Sew Over It Kate dress that I think has the perfect amount of puff in it. I kept taking out those patterns all the time for comparison and that made a mess.
What I have now done, was to transfer all those important pattern pieces onto cardstock. I punched holes through darts and other markings. I then hanged the patterns onto my wall using this giant clothespin I found on Clas Ohlson hardware store.
4. Silk thread organization
Sewing with silk is a luxury I love. Silk is strong, it doesn’t tangle easily and it slides smoothly through the fabric. Unfortunately, my pre-waxed hand silk comes in big hanks. Before using the threads the hanks need to be wound onto balls or spools. I tried balls but they kept unravelling because the silk is super slippery.
I finally bought giant wooden spools on Etsy and wound my thread onto them. That could have taken days but I used my son’s Technic Legos and made a little electric winding machine that made the winding process much less painful! See for yourself here!
The final organization solution revealed itself when I emptied this pretty wooden box my grandfather had once made for my grandmother. I had used it to store my oil paints that had dried out years ago. However, originally it had stored my grandmother’s sewing, crocheting and knitting stuff. So, it was very appropriate to use it for that purpose again. Besides, my newly wound spools the box is big enough that I can store all my silk buttonhole twist, silk machine thread and the unwound hanks in it.
5. Storing your crochet hooks and knitting needles
I have a whole collection of crochet hooks and sewing needles and I want to keep them organized. I have found out that the makeup brush cases are a perfect for organizing double-pointed needles and crochet hooks. You can keep the different sizes in separate compartments and the whole thing rolls up neatly.
6. Sewing tool organization with little apothecary cabinets
I love the look of old-fashioned apothecary cabinets. I also think that they make a perfect organization solution of those little tools that a sewist needs: presser feet, marking pens, bias-binder attachments, screwdrivers, pliers, tweezers, tape,… You can pick up a whole drawer and place it next to your machine when you are working and then just put it back after you’re done. The labels help you to find what you are looking for.
I made this out of an unfinished chest of drawers that I picked up at a local hardware store called Bauhaus. They only needed a few coats of shellac and Label Holder Pull Handles that I got from Amazon.co.uk. I happened to have actual dry shellac flakes lying around so I made my own polish by dissolving them into ethanol.
Shellac is very easy to use and it dries quickly so I could spread it in our bathroom. (Even if it smelled like the worst student party afterwards!)
… I also made two other sets of drawers…
7. Small white chests of drawers
These much smaller chests of drawers also came unfinished. I painted them white and attached the same kind of label holder pull handles. Now they sit on both sides of my sewing machine and host little things like needles, measuring tapes, pattern weights, wonder clips, etc.
8. Wire baskets to contain messy things
Unfinished objects and materials for my on-going projects are perhaps the two things that create most of the mess in my sewing room.
I have now bought two big wire baskets that I put inside the closets in my sewing room. One is dedicated solely on unfinished objects or UFOs (Thus the name tag “Area 51”!) and the other stores ribbing and scraps of the ongoing and recent projects that I want and easy access to.
9. Travelling sewing basket
Nowadays I often take my sewing with me. I frequent a free sewing club at the local library, I sew when I wait for my daughter to finish her dance lesson and I may even take my sewing to my work at Ompelino. So, I wanted a big basket that could hold every project that I may want to carry around.
I got this old-fashioned big woven basket meant for groceries and it is now stuffed with my mending, some current projects and little things I can easily work on.
10. Separate the special project materials
Generally, it is useful to organize like with like. It helps you to find the things you need and prevents you from buying double things. However, in sewing and crafting, there are projects that use almost completely different methods and materials. Making lingerie requires lots of special elastics, foams, fabrics, findings etc. that I almost never need otherwise. So, I took out all my lingerie things and separated them from the rest of my sewing materials. This also helps me to see all the lingerie materials at once when I take out the lingerie material bins.
Leatherwork is another project type that uses a lot of tools and materials that are unpractical to store with the rest of the sewing things. I bought this cute pink toolbox for my leatherworking tools. I also store my leather separately all rolled into one big roll around a cardboard tube. This keeps the leather neat and prevents forming creases.
Thank you for reading and see you soon. Check out also this post about making an ironing station for your sewing room! Happy sewing!