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Thread: How to organize sewing space - out of control fabric, UFO's

  1. #1
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    This topic may have been previously discussed and if that's the case, kindly accept my apology. I am organizationally challenged and not sure why. My mother & grandmother were teachers and organized beyond belief so I'm confident they got the lion's share of organizational DNA which explains my deficiency. My home and sewing area aren't nearly as bad as some pix I've seen but, nonetheless, I sometimes buy items and fabrics in duplicate because I can't find the original. I've decided it's time to tackle the sewing room but, the thought of it overwhelms me. I've read lots of articles and agree it's best to try and take it in 20-25 increments. Any other suggestions or lessons learned out there?

  2. #2
    Junior Member cindyjean's Avatar
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    When over whelmed, I have a rule of "3".. Just take care of 3 items each day. Often times when I do this more than 3 things get taken care of amd if not, then at least 3 things are put away..

  3. #3
    Power Poster Mariposa's Avatar
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    Start in a small area, take a break, have a cuppa, then consider doing more. It will happen, just keep moving forward~ :)

  4. #4
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i store my fabrics in stackable plastic drawers. i can see what's inside, but they don't get dusty or faded from the light.

    the drawers are fairly inexpensive and available at most discount department stores.

    i try to organize by color. i usually mess up my own system when i shop my stash and so i "have to" reorganize a few times a year. i don't mind because i rediscover all sorts of things. :-)

  5. #5
    Super Member sewwhat85's Avatar
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    i love the 3 rule that is great

  6. #6
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    messes can be overwhelming especially if you think you have to get it all done now before you can do anything else. When getting my boys to clean their out of control room I set the timer for 15 minutes each day. That worked really well for them. As for not being able to find fabrics for planned projects have you tried to put them in extra large zip lock bags? If you have a pattern planned for fabric make sure you put that with it and anything else you have planned. Put this bag into a basket or tote for planned projects. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Senior Member luvstoquilt301's Avatar
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    There are lots of ways to do it but remember the golden rule. You cannot organize too much stuff. Sometimes a purge is necessary.

  8. #8
    Super Member quiltlonger's Avatar
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    Try not to get side-tracked: oh peek in this book , fondle this material, set aside this..thats my three for the day!!!Take pics before, during and after to inspire the rest of us

  9. #9
    np3
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    I am so different from most of you!!! When I decide something needs to be purged or organized, it all comes out of the closet/cupboard/hiding place. I put it on a bed/floor/whatever. This lets me see how much I have and I can decide on the best method of organizing. If it isn't all out of the way, there isn't room to start putting it back on shelves or in totes. I label my shelves/totes and then start putting things back. Nothing goes back in until I know that it is the place where it needs to stay. I get so excited about how it is coming together that I don't mind the bed or floor being piled high while I am getting it done. Just me I guess!!!!

  10. #10
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    This is one topic that needs to be repeated so I thank you for bringing it up!!!
    I'm just like you- probably much worse. I'm a total scatter-brained person.
    My main problem is starting out and then getting side-tracked.
    I tore my sewing room apart in November and it still isn't finished!! But the good thing I did was stuff bags full of fabric to sort while watching TV- I gifted a lot of it, sorted through, reorganized my shelves.
    I have plenty of space but then Thanksgiving, Christmas, now my Mom's surgery got me side-tracked. Now those are legitimate reasons but I have way more that are just dumb.

    Again, thanks for the post. I may learn something new. There are always good tips here :D:D

  11. #11
    Super Member missgigglewings's Avatar
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    About every 2 weeks I get an urge to organize, clean, purge and sort! When I have spent all day doing all of that I can't find anything!

  12. #12
    Senior Member LovinMySoldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by np3
    I am so different from most of you!!! When I decide something needs to be purged or organized, it all comes out of the closet/cupboard/hiding place. I put it on a bed/floor/whatever. This lets me see how much I have and I can decide on the best method of organizing. If it isn't all out of the way, there isn't room to start putting it back on shelves or in totes. I label my shelves/totes and then start putting things back. Nothing goes back in until I know that it is the place where it needs to stay. I get so excited about how it is coming together that I don't mind the bed or floor being piled high while I am getting it done. Just me I guess!!!!
    My thoughts as well!!!!!! You can't start to reorganize if you have no where to put the stuff. I pull it all out too! If you are lucky enough to have your own sewing room you can just shut the door when you are done for the day. I don't. So when I pull it all out it motivates me to get it all put back away so it isn't all over the bedroom!

  13. #13
    Super Member Wine Woman's Avatar
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    I have moved my sewing room from my guest room into my family room so I have literally touched everything again. I had rolled my material on coroplast boards previously and have them behind glass doors. The material is easy to see and easily accessible. My smaller folds are in a shelf that was intended for shoes. Both groups of fabrics are color coded and it looks beautiful. I don't like to dig for something when I'm looking for it. Everything is easy to get to. The closet was shelved (it's one thats under a staircase) and peg board was hung on one wall for scissors, rulers, only things used when sewing. Everything has a marked area-I like to use the boxes from Ikea. On the outside it's easy to label. Notions, quilt patterns, scraps, crumbs, thread etc.

  14. #14
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    I have become very organized over the years and having my sewing room organized has brought me so much pleasure! I'm working on a friend's sewing room now and I've been told I should hire myself out to organize sewing rooms. Boy, I would LOVE that as a career! Set aside time every day to work on organizing and do a little at a time. But stick to it! Here's how I keep organized. I started buying plastic project cases (ArtBin flat boxes with handles) one at a time, every week with a JoAnn's coupon or a few when they'd have 50% off plastic storage. These stack nicely and I use them for all my UFOs. I have 18 of these and believe me, they are all full! I can grab one and take it with me when I travel or sew with friends. Next, I bought clear plastic drawers that stack for all my fabric scraps that are cut into different size strips and squares. I have three sets of three drawers, so nine drawers of scraps. Cutting my scraps took a long time, but I kept a basket on my cutting table and cut a few every day. Next, I stole a wire shelf from my bathroom that holds baskets and all those odds and ends go in the baskets. I have a basket of zippers, men's ties for a future quilt, orphan blocks leftover from other projects, etc. Also, I bought a canvas hanging shelf that hangs in the closet from the rod that also holds misc. items. I use lots of zip lock bags for small or loose things. I have a small plastic drawer set on my sewing machine cabinet that holds pens and pencils, tape measures, my bobbin box, post-it notes, pins, snips, etc. - small things that I use all the time. I use a lot of plastic baskets on every surface for things that I use there, like one on my cutting table for my rotary cutters, one for small scraps as I cut, one on my sewing machine cabinet for small squares or triangles that I use as leaders and enders (which makes another quilt as I sew on other projects.) I have three tall bookcases, one for quilt books, two for fabric. I have all my patterns that I've pulled from magazines over the years, inspiration pictures, etc. in page protectors and put in large 3-ring binders, filed by type (baby quilts, stars, curved, log cabin, 9-patch, 4-patch, etc.) My fabric is sorted by style first, (homespuns, 30's, civil war, florals, borders, baby, flannel, batiks, xmas, etc.) and the rest by color. All are folded to the same size, stacked on shelves. I have a separate small shelf that hangs on the wall for my fat quarters. I keep batting, ironing board, my travel case for my sewing machine, hoops, etc. in a closet. And I keep a tv tray next to my sewing machine cabinet to hold my radio and stuff for my current project. The most important thing for me is having a place for everything, using plastic baskets, boxes and drawers so I can see everything and I know exactly where to find things. Good luck!

  15. #15
    Member QuiltNGanny's Avatar
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    Hey. I have recently reorganized and moved my entire sewing room. I found that if I rewarded my self with time quilting following a organizing session and kept the times limited it worked well for me. I bought plastic bins for my WIPs and for my stash. I have one area that stores the bins of WIPs which contain fabric, pattern, thread, etc for the project and another area in which the smaller fabric cuts are kept in bins. Larger cuts are kept folded on a shelf. I have a bookcase for binders, books and such and several different sized rolling carts for supplies. That way for instance my embroidery stuff can be rolled close to the machine when I need it and stored under my cutting table when not in use. Easy to access and easy to put away. I will also say that my enjoyment of quilting has taken off since sorting and organizing and that I have had a spurt of new projects finished. Best of luck.

  16. #16
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    The most important thing I have learned to do is LABEL every box, bin, tub, package, drawer and tote.

  17. #17
    Member grandmaofeight's Avatar
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    All the suggestions are great. I had to move my sewing room out of my guest room and am moving into a converted shed. I have bins of fabric and "stuff" in every closet of my house, under beds, and stacked in corners. My goal is to have a well organized "Quilting shop" of my very own. Thanks for all the tips!!

  18. #18
    Super Member Kappy's Avatar
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    Do you vacation in Minnesota by any chance hmmm????
    I'd gladly supply the coffee, hot chocolate, tea, pop, and goodies..I had to sit down and rest after just reading how you get organized! LOL Good for you, I have such good intentions and then......

  19. #19
    Senior Member NDQuilts's Avatar
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    I have found that keeping one container beside the sewing machine with packaged ufos is great. I am more likely to reach for them than something new. The container holds more than one project, so when I get bored, I switch. It also creates a limit - if it is full, I need to finish/purge something to create space for a new project. When switching projects, make a quick note of where I left off in a pattern and put all the pieces/pattern in a plastic sack and into the bin for later.

  20. #20
    Super Member ladyredhawk's Avatar
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    I buy the see through shoe plastic containers at the family dollar store some times I have found the for .50 to 1.00 each and thats so much cheaper than the storage boards and i'm on oxygen so every thing gets covered in a fine dust along with the normal dust and I don't go around dusting all the time so this storage system is the way for me to go. If you stack the material you can see each color you have. ty, Tommye

  21. #21
    cjr
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    Lots of good ideas, as usual. When doing a major organizing project of any kind I have to clear everything and start fresh. Then it really looks nice when you are finished. In between I really try to put away stuff dragged out for a project , but my brain worksd faster then my body. It is always a challenge.

  22. #22
    RST
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    A label maker is a great thing -- label every blessed thing -- drawers, boxes, shelves.

    I also like to take a photograph of the nicely organized area, print it out, and post it, say, inside the cabinet door, or on the drawer bottom. It helps me keep things where they belong, it's a quick visual reference of what I have in that box or drawer, and if I have the photos in a file on my handheld or phone, I can use it as a quick reference when shopping, and thus avoid re-buying things I have already.

    If you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff -- one strategy that might work for you would be to box up and store something like 25 to 50 % of your stuff, and just get the remainder under control and in a system that works for you. Then, once you feel under control, you can "Shop" in your storage boxes, and slowly add those items into the working stash. They key there would be to avoid buying anything more before checking on what you already have in storage.


    RST

  23. #23
    Super Member cathylynn's Avatar
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    nope, np3 - this is the only way I can get stuff organized. have to see it all to know what to keep, give-a-way or toss. but friends think I have ocd so my sewing room usually doesn't need a thorough reorganization that often. which gives me more time for this board and quilting!

  24. #24
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    When I finally got my room organized just the way I wanted a few years ago, I make myself put everything away when I complete a project. One thing I found very helpful was putting a basket beside my cutting table. After cutting all the fabric I just toss all the scraps in the basket until done...sometimes I have to pull out a fabric to correct a mistake. When project is done, I take the scraps and cut them into 1/2yd, fat qtrs, 10", 8", 5"squares and 2 1/2" strips and put everything in the appropriate container.

  25. #25
    Super Member Aurora's Avatar
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    I am with NP3. When I organize, everything comes out. It is like a free shopping trip, I find things I forgot about buying and I really don't mind if it takes me all day. It is a day well spent. A glass of wine certainly makes the process a lot more enjoyable.

    My problem tends to be that I get too organized. But once I organize (or over organize) I live with it for a while to determine what might work better for me. What works for one will not necessarily work for others.

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