Organizing The Little Things in Your Sewing Life

Last week, I shared my sewing goal for the new year: making a king quilt. But before I get started on this project, I need to organize my sewing tools.

My sewing tools storage mess.

The root of the problem lies in the nomadic lifestyle I led in my 20s. I moved from New York to Colorado to Massachusetts, and once I landed in Boston, I still did the yearly apartment shuffle.

I had little room to display or store sewing tools and notions, and needed what I had to be portable, so duffle bags and reusable shopping bags became my storage method of choice.

Now, married, in my mid-30s, and setting down roots in a new (to us) home, it’s time to shake my shopping bag storage habit. The picture to the left shows just how neatly I currently store fabric scraps, thread, needles, pins, hoops, and whatever else can be thrown in and tucked away.

Call it early spring cleaning, or an organizational self-intervention, but I’m determined to make this ugly little problem a thing of the past.

I’ve decided a wall hanging organizer is the right choice to store sewing tools and notions, and I plan to get started making one as soon as I can. Now the fun part: picking out fabric.

If you’re looking for organization tips and tricks, check out the Get Organized! Sewing Collection available in the Sew Daily Shop.

Do you have an organizational project you’re getting started on for your sewing area or stash? Do you have a secret little messy something like me? I can’t wait to hear.


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sew Daily Blog, Sewing Tools & Notions
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

8 thoughts on “Organizing The Little Things in Your Sewing Life

  1. HI Abby,

    I have the same problem, and you can’t see whats in those shopping bags and duffles either. so I switched to 6 qt and 16 qt clear plastic storage bins, like the ones made by Sterlite. I can usually find them at Big Lots or Walmart or the grocery store.

    the small ones are typically called “shoe boxes”

    Whats great about these is they are clear so I can see instantly whats inside. the are uniform in size so they stack neatly on the top shelf of my closet and are squarish in shape to easily hold folded fabrics. I even have a couple set aside for the 2 1/2 and 4 inch strips I cute from almost every piece of fabric I buy.

    On the closet top shelf 3 high of the large and 4 high of the small is perfect. I’ve even gotten my 77 yr old mom to start doing this, she’s loving being able to see whats in them so she isnt searching for a whole day for just the right piece of fabric, or giving up in disgust and buying more!

    I bought a block of the month kit just this month,m complete with the backing & binding, just needs to add the batting. It’s for myself and I know I wont get to it for a couple of months with the projects that are already in the pipeline. So it got its own tub (yes a 16 qt one LOL) and its there ready and waiting and all together for me when i’m ready for it. I do this same kind of thing for other quilts too, like a baby quilt for my boss’s boss’s boss at work. all the fabrics are together ready to cut n sew.

    I have some projects already cut, but still in tubs. If the project is a small one, a zip-lock baggie will contain it, along with extra fabric in case I muff some portion of it.

    Happy sewing & organizing!

    Sammi G
    Mesa, Az

  2. Get bookcases at flea markets or auctions. Refinish. Use storage containers of your choice: Plastic, cardboard, or wood. Remember acid free for fabric. Make small, medium and large zippered bags using clear plastic to store items that are for specific purposes such as a travel/car sewing packet. During school supply sales get pencil boxes on sale for as little as $.25 and pencil pouches for a binder. Use 40% coupons at big box stores to get something specialized.
    Have fun organizing. Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

  3. I’m working on getting all my thread into one place on the wall and off the floor. Creating a peg-board dowl system. This is my one chore for 2014. Let’s hope I complete it!

  4. I desperately need a place to put large drafting tools within easy reach of my work table. Although it seems to be a evolutionary thing for me. I have moved my work place around three times. I’ve recently added a serger and a table for the serger where I also put my sewing machine. Now I have a cleared spot that is where the sewing machine was. It’s an old school desk. Maybe I’ll put my tools there. Patterns, fabric, books. Around somewhere here. Someday.

  5. My husband and I bought a dresser and chest of drawers at an auction. They don’t need refinishing, but I did have to wash out the drawers with a vinegar solution to remove the cigarette smoke smell. I had a stash of drawer linings in various sizes and shapes that I cut to size for each drawer. My stash is divided by color, and I went to a paint store and got paint chips to affix to the drawer fronts with double-stick tape so I can easily find the color I’m looking for. Some of the drawers have dividers, which is a nice touch. My messy something is the tray on my sewing table that holds everything from scissors to bobbins to spools of thread. I plan to make a pin cushion with a thread-catcher basket and pockets for the scissors. And then I’ll put those bobbins and spools of thread into their containers! Wish me luck! Good luck to you in getting your stash organized.

  6. Hi Abby,
    My sewing room doubles as a second guest room. It is rarely used but I do need to keep myself organized so that if needed I can house guests. Fortunately the room has a very large walk-in closet to which I added shelves on two walls. I use see through totes for large fabric cuts and a small bin system on wheels for sewing notions. I have a dresser we picked up at a thrift store that I use for smaller cuts of fabric leaving a couple of drawers for guests. My next project is new curtains for the room and a skirt for the cutting table so I can “hide” a few things when guests come. I sew on an old desk that can be cleared off and I have a pretty mirror that pops on top for guests to use as a vanity. I’m loving having my first ever sewing space – so much so I’m thinking about retiring!

  7. I love the tote idea never thought of that I don’t think its awful or messy Ill take a photo of what is in them and pin to the front they can go on the one shelf I have for work in progress [or I could sew a clear pocket on them then slide in the photo
    But I can lift one bench seat and its given me a great idea…. its full of junk… the clear box idea is great…. much better than stacking plastic bins which sit in the annex when im not on the move
    thanks for the ideas
    I’ve downsized from a 3 bed home to a mobile home and there isn’t much room I’ve always been worried about the stuff in the annex but never thought about plastic box’s for the sewing stuff wow go figure

  8. I was going to make a hanging pocketed thing for the back of my door in the studio for: glues, small hot iron, Embroidery flosses, sewing threads sorted into color families, ant etc. However, I realized that once in the pocket I couldn’t see it so I bought an inexpensive clear plastic shoe holder. It is hidden behinde the door and I can see everything-best tool in the studio and I didn’t have to make it!